Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bowling Score for Yesterday:

121! (and I got 2 strikes in a row, but choked on the third so sadly I didn't get a turkey...)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Winter Hike

Today I decided to check out one of the Metroparks that I've never been to before. I was surprised at how close and nice Hills and Dales park was to campus. I didn't care for the fact that it was bordered by a golf course, but I still enjoyed the hike. Here are some pictures I took during my hike:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Roadtrip, Ithaca NY, and a Wedding

This weekend I traveled to Ithaca, NY for a wedding and it was so fun! I miss getting away for some adventure. Here are some pictures from the trip:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My teacher assigned me a paper where I was allowed to rant...

Concern for the natural environment is not a new phenomenon, but perhaps its importance is more crucial now than ever before. Everyday the number and scale of environmental problems increases as humans create them and as knowledge of the damage is better understood. In addition, these issues are becoming increasingly complex due to the scales of human influence and growing globalization. With world population rising, the excessive overconsumption and heavy reliance on fossil fuel energy, associated with the industrialized standard of living, all exacerbate the overwhelming situation facing citizens today and those of future generations. Of course there are many factors that contribute to the why and how of each individual and interconnected environmental issue, but as Aldo Leopold claimed in his 1949 Sand County Almanac: “The land relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations.” I believe that this statement still rings true today, over sixty years later, and lies literally at the heart of the problem. As a society, the people of the United States are mentally and physically disconnected from the natural world, which means there exists a lack of understanding and respect for what has become other.

When respect for the environment is lost a reinforcing cycle of separation and domination occurs. For example, increasing numbers of people, and most upsettingly children, are spending the majority of their time indoors. This means they mostly interact, understand and feel comfortable in the human-built environment, rather then in mixed or even natural areas. While this separation may seem benign or even preferable to some, it is closely related to the reality of domination and control that humans inflict upon the natural environment, especially natural resources seen as valuable to human society. Mountains, huge timeless peaks, are being blown apart to extract coal that fuels the insatiable need for electricity. Oil is drilled with little regard for its impact upon the surrounding landscape. Fossil fuels are burned and along with industry, produce harmful toxins that intensify air pollution. Forests, including evergreen, deciduous, and rainforests, are clear-cut for paper products or cropland. Practices of industrial agriculture utilize large amounts of pesticides and herbicides, genetically modify crops and plant monoculture fields all for the sake of control and production, not growth. Fisheries are being depleted to beyond repair through a tragedy of the commons. Fresh water is disappearing as pollution increases or is used for irrigation. Massive mountains of waste grow in landfills fed by a throw-away mentality, as more electronic and hazardous waste is shipped overseas to places without regulations. Clearly, these issues are all important from an ecological perspective, but they also have components of social injustice, especially in connection to human health, racial inequality and class divisions. Here, in order to correct environmental externalities, is where environmental policy becomes very important, and difficult.

If a democratic republic is to effectively represent the community which it governs in a just and timely manner, thereby ensuring the legitimacy of its authority, then the governmental bodies in the United States need some improvement related to environmental resource and justice issues. Politics and policy relating to environmental problems are currently bogged down by bureaucratic processes, lobbyists, and segregated policies and governing bodies. In particular, if the US is to get serious about addressing environmental sustainability problems, then the Environmental Protection Agency needs a stronger and more respected ability to enforce regulations or incentives. This is also true of other governmental bodies because increasingly it is corporations that must be changed. The Superfund program is one example of a policy that started out strong and effective in cleaning up contaminated sites, but has had its teeth removed in recent years, and needs reinforcing. Some strategies have worked better though, like the Acid Rain Policy which has reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide pollution over the past decade. Interestingly, other countries have been much more effective and timely in their approach dealing with environmental issues politically, which begs the question of why, and what can the US learn from them as we move forward?

Attempting to initiate changes in social perceptions is just as difficult as creating effective environmental policy, but both are necessary if any significant progress is to be made in terms of environmental sustainability. It is doubtful that technology alone will be able to solve environmental problems, and may in fact create further dependencies on technology that simply serve as band-aids and not solutions. What may be able to help is grassroots reclamation of empowerment stemming from a humbling land ethic that changes people’s hearts and minds so they in turn want to create effective, just and sustainable policies. Leopold explains the idea of a land ethic when he says, “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land...In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.” Thus, since society is merely the affirmation of what individuals have collectively chosen to create and accept, then I see no reason why we can’t just choose to choose a more just, happier and sustainable society.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Cheers to a new start! Let us be awash in adventures, grateful for the small things and joyful throughout.