- How many of the follow words or phrases do you think would sound familiar to your parents when they were your age? Which would they have paid attention to?
Acid rain, air pollution, smog, thermal inversion, deforestation, global warming/greenhouse effect, carbon sequestration, indoor air pollution, landfill over-crowding, low level nuclear wastes, meltdown, eutrophication, urban sprawl, ozone depletion, Kyoto Treaty, radiation from power lines, species extinction, sustainable development, biodiversity, toxic waste dump, desertification, green politics, green consumerism, NIMBY syndrome
I have what some would call “older” parents, ranging between 60-68. Going off of their current opinions and feelings towards the environment and my knowledge of the growth of environmental awareness during the 70s, I believe that they would have been familiar with deforestation, smog, air pollution, acid rain, and species extinction. These environmental problems were probably the first to gain public attention because of their physicality and accessibility. Smog, and air pollution are both very visible problems that are noticeable to one visiting or living in an urban area. Species extinction is a popular topic due to its empathic appeal (Save the Whales!). It is hard to say if acid rain was a public problem during their adolescence, but I believe it was starting to gain notice during the late 70s.
The media has made environmental issues much more attainable, and awareness to such topics has inspired the new generations to become interested in the earth’s future early on. Words that my parents would not have recognized such as “green politics, Kyoto Treaty” show progress in international interest in stalling climate change. However, phrases like meltdown, urban sprawl and ozone depletion show that we have a long way to go.
- What are some of the layers of culture and civilization that tend to separate or insulate you from the “natural” world? What activities are you regularly involved with that connect you to nature? How has your thinking about the environment shifted over your own lifetime? Does your daily routine include being in the natural world? Do you normally experience nature with aesthetic appreciation, as a resource to be used, or as an intrusion to be minimized in an otherwise comfortable environment?
As a young adult in an increasingly electronic, and media infiltrated world, it is difficult to disconnect. If a moment of free time appears, my first reaction is to check my phone or computer for any social media updates. This innate reaction shows that through the Internet and constant contact, I have become emotionally dependent on these services. I would consider my phone to being my biggest barrier from the natural world as it is a constant separation from ’real life’. I love exercising and being outside which are directly connected to nature, but truthfully I do not spend enough time purely connecting with nature. I am the most centered and relaxed when outside and relaxing, exercising, playing a sport, or napping. Nothing beats taking in the ‘fresh’ air, and not looking at a screen. I always look at nature with aesthetic appreciation as opposed to a resource. I grew up in an urban area so there was a lack of nature in my daily life besides trees, squirrels and a local park.
- What is the “NATURAL” World?
The natural world is difficult to define because everything around us originated from its most basic form: plastic comes from oil, desks come from trees, and phones come a variety of metals, minerals, sand etc. It is what we make these objects and spaces through the addition of social constructs that make them unnatural, in my view. Life has not always, and does not require one to have these material objects in order to survive. However, in the world in which we participate some may consider these things as vital to survival in society. The natural world is objective, and in order to remain a piece of mind, I consider the natural world to be what it originally was: green, open, wooded, and flowing nature.
- Why are you taking this course?
I love the idea of involving a social aspect to environmental studies. Without catering to and understanding the people, we cannot make changes to help the environment. People today innately care first about their financial stability, and without that they will not make efforts to be more sustainable. As environmental studies major, I am trying to figure out what aspect of the overarching topic interests me the most. I am interested in seeing how natural disasters affect society, and learning about social environmental inequalities. I hope that this class will help me better understand public policy with environmental issues, and clarify how I can make a difference in our hurting natural world.