Well, my time in Dr. Eisner's class has come to an end. While I am very ready for summer, I am a little sad to have completed the semester for the Crowded Greenhouse. It was definitely my favorite class of the semester! I really enjoyed learning all about the environment, as well as how and why climate change is occurring. It was also very interesting learning about population demographics and how those demographics can impact the environment. Overall, I think the part of class that has stood out the most for me was our activity with the ecological footprint. By plugging in my current lifestyle, I saw how irresponsible I was being in terms of taking care of our environment, and I have now decided to make some lifestyle changes that can help make a difference in protecting the world we live in. It was definitely a great class, but hopefully even better ones will follow!
This week Dr. Eisner asked us to discuss how, despite the United States' success in many areas such as climate change and environmental research, in others we are not doing so great. I chose to discuss infant mortality, which we had discussed some in class, and how our ranking is far from superior. Then, I came up with a few ideas of how to move ourselves up the list so that the U.S. wouldn't be ranked so low in terms of infant mortality.
Although the United States is number one in some of the aspects of climate and the environment, we are lacking in terms of the health of our citizens. While I wasn’t surprised to learn that we were not leading in terms of infant mortality, I was shocked at how low we were on the list. I knew that because the U.S. lacks universal health care, there was no way that our country would be number one in terms of infant mortality. However, I did not expect to be number 54, beneath many countries that are not nearly as financially successful as we are. I think that the United States is so low on the list because we lack universal health care and there is a huge gap between the rich and the poor. There is a correlation between income and infant mortality because those with more money can afford health care if their child becomes sick; children born in poverty in the United States are more likely to die from illness because the treatments available in the U.S., while superior, are not available to all that need them. In addition, impoverished people are more likely to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol, which could result in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome among other birth complications, further creating a high infant mortality rate. In order to get the United States higher on the list in terms of infant mortality, I think that the best solution would be to provide universal health care. While this is by no means an easy feat, I think it would definitely decrease infant deaths because vaccines and medicines that are needed would be provided, regardless of income. In addition, however, I think that the United States should promote more family planning, especially in lower-income areas of our country. If fewer children were being born in financially unstable regions of the United States, then there would be fewer infants that are unable to receive health care. I am not sure whether or not these measures are possible to implement, but if they are I think that the United States would begin move up on the list and maybe even eventually become number one in terms of infant mortality.
This week for our blog we read an article from the New York Times about the growth of cities in the Amazon Rain Forest. I thought that this topic was a little random, considering that we have mostly been talking about population and demographics for the past few weeks, but it was very interesting to read about. I for one have always been very interested in the Amazon, what with computer games such as The Amazon Trail (seriously, I lived off that in Elementary School). Next year I hope to take a class where there will be a research trip to the Amazon! Anywho, I was asked to give my opinion about the growth of cities in the Amazon Rain Forest in Brazil, and whether or not the people or the government should do anything the protect the forests. This is what I said, with a link to the article at the end!
Even after reading the article “Swallowing Rain Forest, Cities Surge in Amazon” I believe that the rise of cities in the Amazon affects the entire world. Since the Amazon houses such a vast number of trees, which help to reduce global warming due to their absorption of carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, if these grand forests were to be destroyed and replaced with cities climate change would continue more rapidly. After our discussions in class about climate change, I think that this would be mainly a result of a combination of the loss of trees, which absorb
CO2, coupled with the addition of cities which pump out large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In addition, whole ecosystems would be wiped out due to deforestation, which would upset the balance of life in nature. However, despite deforestation negatively affecting the global environment in terms of climate and natural cycles, if cities were to rise in Brazil the quality of life for the people there definitely has the potential to improve, as seen in the article. Already Brazil is developing into a richer and more sophisticated country, and I believe that the creation of new cities in the Amazon would definitely propagate this. I just wish that there was a better way to both improve the quality of life for Brazil as a nation while still protecting the rainforests. In this way, I do think there should be some sort of government protection program for the rainforests. The article discussed sectioning off certain areas of the forests that would be protected, but I believe that these areas should be more widespread and that the local wildlife should be taken into account, such as for the presence of endangered species are species that can only live in that area of the forest. If the cities must continue to be built, however, at the very least I think that the slash-and-burn technique of deforestation should be discontinued, due to the large amount of CO2 that are subsequently released into the atmosphere due to the flames.
Dr. Davis - Climate Change, Public Perception, and Tipping Points: Is it (past) time to pull our heads out of the sand?
Last Friday in class Dr. Mary Davis from Ohio State University came in to give us a lecture about the public perception of climate change and tipping points. Dr. Davis is a professor at OSU who specializes in ice core analysis and has travelled all over the world researching ancient climate changes through use of these cores. During her lecture I learned a lot about how public perception is changing more as a result of recent events such as hurricane Sandy rather than reports from scientists. In addition, I learned about the notion of tipping points, which is the concept that there is a climate threshold for different environmental factors that, once reached, will cause rapid and severe climate change. This is what I had to say about her presentation (her slideshow is at the end!):
I really enjoyed Dr. Davis’ lecture last Friday because I thought she did a good job explaining both the American perception of climate change and connecting that into tipping points, or the points of no return for the climate. The part that made the greatest impression on my was probably actually some of the graphs presenting peoples’ changing views on climate change as well as some of the quotes from articles. For instance, one of the slides presented a quote saying, “They don’t believe what the scientists say, they believe what the thermometers say…Events are helping these people see what scientists thought they had been seeing all along.” This made an impression on me because in my opinion it is true that most people have to experience an event with their own eyes in order for it to become factual in their minds, regardless of scientific data. I was surprised, however, when she said that climate change being a “hot potato” was largely an American phenomenon; I thought that since significant action against climate change has not been occurring in other countries, the battle for the “truth” of global warming must have been occurring elsewhere, too. Although I am glad to hear that other countries such as China have enacted legislation to control carbon-based emissions, it also makes me shake my head in disbelief that us Americans are too stubborn and argumentative to settle and do the same.
I think also that Dr. Davis made a compelling case for the existence of tipping points. What particularly convinced me was her slide illustrating the varying tipping elements in the climate system, such as deforestation, circulation change in the ocean currents, and melting. What also helped convince me were the maps showing the projected climate alterations if there were to be disturbances in the ocean currents. For instance, the local weather patterns will be greatly altered globally, which would cause devastation to the wildlife in such areas. After listening to Dr. Davis’ lecture, I learned more about the American viewpoint of climate change and how in order for many Americans to believe in climate change, they need to see the evidence with their own eyes instead of from a scientist’s report. Also, I learned more about tipping points and now I believe that we will, eventually, cross those thresholds and will have to adapt to a new world.
This past week in class we watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth while Dr. Eisner was away giving a presentation in Michigan. We were told to discuss the video, it's impacts then and now, and what we learned. Here's some of what I had to say.....
I thought that the film An Inconvenient Truth was very interesting and helped me better understand the concepts we have learned thus far in class. It did make an impression on me, even though much of what Al Gore discussed in the movie was also taught in class; in particular, I think his use of photos, such as the photos of the receding glaciers, was very effective in illustrating how global warming was changing the planet. In addition, I think that his use of videos, such as the one where the greenhouse gas “gang” barred the radiation from leaving the Earth, was useful in explaining some of the concepts of global warming in laymen’s terms, so that even those who were less educated would still be able to understand his message that global warming was occurring and needed to be stopped. Since most of what Gore discussed in the film was taught to us both during our class and in the Dire Predictions book, I didn’t learn much more other than specific percentages and facts. I do believe, though, that this helped reinforce these concepts that we’ve learned and influenced me to reduce my ecological footprint even further. I would, however, like to learn more about global warming and its effects on the ocean currents and tropical storm patterns, because I found it particularly interesting that hurricane Katrina started out as a category 1 hurricane, but because it passed over warmed waters in the Gulf of Mexico, it developed into a category five.
One impact of the film, according to the companion website that was provided, was that five countries (England, Scotland, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Germany and British Columbia) incorporated An Inconvenient Truth into their secondary schools' curricula. When I researched a little online, I found out through one website that the High Court of London ruled that the movie was a form of political indoctrination, and as a result in order to show this movie to the children teachers must make clear that the film is a political work and promotes only one side of the argument and nine inaccuracies have to be specifically drawn to the attention of school children. So, even though the film is continuing to be shown in these schools, it is not able to have the complete lasting impact that was intended because of the court rulings. Another impact of the video, according to the website, was that President Obama created the new position of Assistant to the President for Climate and Energy. At first glance this appears to be a lasting impact because Carol Browner, who was the Assistant, for a couple of years. However, in 2011 Congress decided to no longer fund the position. Overall, I do not think that the film is as effective today as it was when first released. When it was first released, carbon was offset at first, but now it is still accumulating. But now, measures that had been set after the release of this movie are disappearing, and I think the only way to turn that around is to create another movie similar to An Inconvenient Truth, so that the public will see how much the climate has changed even in the few years after the movie was presented.
An ecological footprint is a calculation of the pressure humans place on the planet and illustrates how many planets would be needed to support different lifestyles. This Friday in class we discussed the concept of ecological footprints and then did an activity to determine what our own ecological footprint is, along with how to make it lower so that we would be living a more sustainable lifestyle. During the reflection part of this assignment, a question was posed about the “fairness” of world land use. According to the worksheet, the U.S. has an ecological footprint of 23.7 acres per person while the 35 low-income countries average 2 global acres per person. Should there be laws governing how large a country’s or individuals ecological footprint is? I believe that it is a good idea to try and limit a large country, such as the United State’s, ecological footprint because that country will have a greater impact on the Earth because of a larger population. To do this, I think that there needs to be limitations put on the country as a whole, trying to promote the use of local goods and cleaner transportation; however, in my opinion there is no way to make laws against the individual because there would be no way to enforce a lifestyle on all of the people of a large nation. For the United States, if there were laws governing how large an individual’s ecological footprint was allowed to be, there would go against some of the basic principles of our nation – our people are free, and shouldn’t be forced to live particular lifestyles, even though it would benefit not only the United States but the world as well. In addition, I just don’t think that there is a realistic way to enforce individuals’ ecological footprints because it is largely an abstract concept. I think it would take too much of the nation’s money (which is already lacking, might I add) to monitor each of the 315 million people’s footprints that are living in the United States. I think that the best way to convince people to reduce their ecological footprint is simply by explanation and exposure. As for myself, until reading the “Dire Predictions” text and taking the ecological footprint survey, I didn’t even know what an ecological footprint was – I had only heard of the carbon footprint, and these are two entirely different concepts. If more people simply knew about the ecological footprint and its implications that we are not living a sustainable lifestyle, I think people would be more likely to alter their lifestyles, even if it is just a little bit. Also, I believe that if respected public figures were to illustrate reports and the problems facing the Earth because of our current ecological footprints, then the general public would be more likely to respond. For me, after doing this activity I am definitely going to try and change part of my lifestyle in order to reduce my own ecological footprint, and urge others to do the same so that the Earth Overshoot Day will be delayed.
So, take your own ecological footprint survey! http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/personal_footprint/
Hello! This week in The Crowded Greenhouse we read an article titled "America's Science Problem." Basically, it discussed how America has become increasingly disenchanted with science, and even our leaders are not quite up-to-date on some of the most important scientific topics, mainly climate change. After reading the article, I was asked to write whether or not I thought that America had a science problem, if I am convinced that this is a topic for discussion and action, and what I thought could be done about it. This is what I said.
A link to the article will be found at the end.
After reading Scientific American’s article, “America’s Science Problem,” I am more convinced than ever that there is, indeed, a science problem with America. I already knew that in recent years the average scores for science and math in United States’ school have been dropping, and as a result some of our nation’s competitors, both economically and technologically, such have China have far exceeded the US’s “average” student. So, it wasn’t a surprise to read this in the article. What I was surprised, and frankly, a little alarmed, about was that both presidential candidates appeared to have a relatively superficial knowledge of environmental science. For several of the questions asked about science, neither Romney nor the President gave clear answers. For example, when asked how to combat climate change, President Obama merely restated the “modest efforts” that had been done before him, without presenting a solution to solve the issue worldwide, which is important since climate change affects the entire globe and not just the United States. On the other hand, Mitt Romney reverses and earlier statement and instead replaces it with an inaccurate one. I find this pretty pathetic that someone who thinks they can become the president doesn’t even have the right information about such a topic that is so crucial in all of our lives today. However, I think this particular lack of knowledge of Romney’s side partly stems from a “denial of science” that has traditionally risen from the Republican Party. The GOP has always been considered a more conservative party than the Democratic party, and its attitude towards science has tended to reflect this nature, in that many within the party don’t believe in science and instead attribute it to religion. For example, in the Scopes Monkey Trial, a teacher was arrested for teaching the theory of evolution instead of fundamentalism. The verdict was that he should be allowed to continue to teach about evolution, much to the dismay of the conservatives. This attitude has tended to stay the same over the years, in that many people simply choose to believe in faith over science. I don’t think that there is a way to change this for those who have already decided; however, I believe that if science where to be taught more and earlier in education, the next generation will believe in it as well. Also, if more rigorous science classes are taught in both public and private schools, then the next generation will surpass those before it, raising our nation’s math and science standards so that there will no longer be an “American Science Problem”.
This semester I decided to take the honors seminar The Crowded Greenhouse with Dr. Wendy Eisner. I'm not really sure what to expect with this class, but I know it's about climate change and population dynamics. I think it will be a nice change from the music classes I'm taking in CCM, so I am very excited for it to begin! The syllabus for class says that we are required to do blog posts as a part of our grade; so here I am! I can't wait to start class,
Y'all know my name is Juliette. So I'm taking an honors class at Cincinnati called The Crowded Greenhouse, and it is basically about climate change and how it is being affected by population growth. As part of our assignments, we have to write blogs, so I thought I'd write them here!