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ENVS 160

Isabella Blair

ENVS 160 Fall 2018

 

Environmental Thought

In the first few weeks of ENVS 160, we have focused on classic and contemporary environmental thought. We have read well-known classic texts such as “Limits to Growth”, Leopold’s “The Land Ethic,” and Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons.” We have also read many, more recent, contemporary texts, almost all of which criticize classical thought. There are even disagreements within contemporary environmental thought, which are often reflected in the Ecotypes we studied in the first week of class. Not all environmentalists agree with each other.

In my first article, “Confronting Our Differences in Environmental Thought,” I discuss the importance of accepting different perspectives and criticisms in environmental studies. In my next article, I focus on American environmentalism and how many of us have a privileged view of the environment: “Are you an American Environmentalist?” Next, I talk about “The Consequences of Sustainability” and how we need to understand that sustainability has trade-offs. In the article “Embracing Our Monsters,” I talk about how we should not cast out technology all together.

Situating Environmental Problems and Solutions

In the next portion of our class, we focused on the importance of situating environmental issues. We situated climate change in the context of Hurricane Michael, environmental justice in the context of Dengue fever in Nicaragua, conservation in the context of the Northern Spotted Owl, and food in the context of GMOs. We even had a guest speaker, Daryl Davis, come to class and discuss his own experience with engaging across differences.

In “Situating Ourselves for a Deeper Understanding,” I discuss the importance of situated research in environmental studies. In “Can We Afford to Continue Ignoring Climate Change?” I situate climate change in the context of Hurricane Michael in Florida. In “Reaching Out to our Enemies,” I reflect on the environmental engagement symposium featuring Daryl Davis and discuss the importance of engaging across difference in the context of the divisions in American politics. In “Income and Race as Factors of Environmental Health,” I synthesize dengue in Nicaragua with “Toxic Waste and Race,” discussing the relationship between poverty and race and environmental health. In “Using Economics to Solve the Conservation Conundrum,” I discuss how a principle we studied in my economics class, Marginal Social Benefit and Cost, can be applied to the issue of the conservation of the Northern Spotted Owl at the expense of the logging industry and other owl species. In “Don’t be Fooled by the Myth Makers!” I talk about the GMO controversy and how the “pure” view of the “buy local” movement is not as perfect as it seems. 

Environmental Engagement

Based on the theme of engagement across difference, in the last portion of ENVS 160, we focused on environmental engagement. We discussed different Grid Groups (egalitarians, hierarchists, individualists, and fatalists) and how these groups affect the way we understand environmental issues. We had guest speakers Robin Teater and Adam Davis talk about their experience with the Dialogic model of engagement in which conversation, a two way street, is necessary. We ended the semester with engagement proposals in which we took environmental scholarship that we have learned and used it to focus on a particular issue situated in a place.

In “Is Portland Ready for the Big One,” I reflect on the possibility of a high intensity earthquake that would cause chaos in Portland, along with the importance of proper dissemination of information. Based on our discussion of environmental engagement, I wrote “Valuing Reciprocal Conversation” about the Dialogic model of communication and how change can be made on multiple scales, starting with conversation. Finally, “Is Recycling for the Rich?” summarizes my engagement proposal of situating environmental justice in the context of waste disposal in Portland High Schools.

Please scroll down to view these articles. If you would like to check out the archive, click here.

Valuing Reciprocal Conversation

Valuing Reciprocal Conversation

This week in Environmental Studies class we discussed environmental engagement. We focused on the importance of the Dialogic model in which one must engage with someone by both listening and speaking. It is a two way street.

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Don’t be Fooled by the Myth Makers!

Don’t be Fooled by the Myth Makers!

The anti-GMO and “buy local” movements have been present since before I can remember. In the past, I have been convinced by the media and the people around me that buying locally sourced foods is the most ethical and the most healthy way to go. One of the key benefits, I have been convinced to believe, is that buying local is the best way to avoid GMOs. So for me, these movements have pretty much gone hand in hand. My understanding of these movements, however, have never really accounted for the environmental costs and benefits of local food and GMOs.

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Using Economics to Solve the Conservation Conundrum

Using Economics to Solve the Conservation Conundrum

The interdisciplinarity of environmental studies became very relevant this week when I learned an economic approach to conservation in my economics class. This approach felt like the perfect mathematical answer to the ideological problem we were facing in the conservation of the Northern Spotted Owl. 

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Income and Race as factors in Environmental Health

Income and Race as factors in Environmental Health

Environmental justice is one of the most important issues that we need to face as a society. People in poverty deserve to live in an environment that does not put them at risk, and they deserve the attention of the government to repair the damage that has already been done. Fifty percent of the world’s population is at risk of contracting Dengue. Dengue is a disease transferred by mosquitoes that can be potentially deadly with repeated infection.

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Reaching Out to our Enemies

Reaching Out to our Enemies

If we stop the “you’re wrong, I’m right” mindset and start communicating, we will no longer be so polarized and offensive, and maybe we can start looking at facts rather than political identities. How are we supposed to solve the problem of climate change if we do not communicate with those who do not believe in its existence? Their view, as activist Daryl Davis puts it, will fester. As leaders, we have the responsibility to engage with people who we disagree with and to educate them.

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Situating Ourselves for a Deeper Understanding

Situating Ourselves for a Deeper Understanding

In the field of Environmental Studies, it is easy to feel that environmental issues are too complicated to address. Situated research is the solution to this problem. By framing our research with these broad questions, and then choosing a place in which to situate our research, we can be more able to tackle environmental issues.

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Can We Afford to Continue Ignoring Climate Change?

Can We Afford to Continue Ignoring Climate Change?

Hurricane Michael was yet another devastating hurricane amongst many to hit the Southeastern United States since 2005. These hurricanes have raised much concern in terms of climate change, and yet many still speculate whether or not climate change is the culprit.

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Embracing Our Monsters

Embracing Our Monsters

I would be a hypocrite if I said I did not like technology, and so would you. I am assuming that you had to use some sort of technology to access this article, just as I had to use technology to write it. Most people living in modern society would not say that they dislike technology. Our lifestyles are completely dependent on it.

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Are you an American Environmentalist?

Are you an American Environmentalist?

When reading Ramachandra Guha’s essay entitled, “Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique,” I felt necessarily called-out for my “American” values.

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