Summary 1: Collapse: How societies choose to fail and succeed
In this passage, the author is talking of the decline in our society and the environment in an area for an extended period of time. The author explains with examples that there are obvious differences between the past and modern society: because of the decade of researches done by archaeologists, climatologists, historians, paleontologists, and palynologists (pollen scientists) that have confirmed that through deforestation and habitat destruction, soil problems (erosion, salinization, and soil fertility losses), water management problems, overhunting, overfishing, effects of introduced species on native species, human population growth, and increased per-capita impact of people, the past societies have created ecological problems that we are facing due to the individuals destroying the environment. Diamond continues by saying that the environmental problem that was caused by the eight categories above led to the shortage of food that caused starvation, wars, and overthrowing of governing elites by the masses. Due to this prolonged problem, there was a decrease in the population size due to starvation, the war, or disease, and society lost some of the political, economic, and the cultural complexity that it had developed. He continues to say that in this modern state, we are faced with the same eight problems that was brought upon us by the past society but four more problems have been added to it which include: human-caused climate change, the buildup of toxic chemicals in the environment, energy shortages, and full human utilization of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity.
Critical thinking: Are societies that damage their environment doomed to collapse? Is ours?
Yes, societies that damage their environment are doomed to collapsed because as our environment is evolving, whatever harm that we do it now (the environment) will always come back to bite us in the a**. we cannot expect to “indirectly” damage our environment and also expect for the environment to be as it is decades from now, (we cannot eat our cake and have it). as we continue to transmit excess carbon through vehicles into the atmosphere, we should expect air pollution and also that the acidity of the rain will increase, same goes to as we transmit excess phosphorus from our detergent and hair shampoos into the water, we are increasing the water pollution and killing the aquatic life.
Yes, our society today is in danger of being doomed because we are partaking in destroying the environment and increasing the pollution of our environment by engaging in deforestation, increased fertilizer use and so on.
Summary 2: The Tragedy of the Commons
Why the things/ resources that we all share starts to degrade, like the pasture and the air, because so many people are using it more and more and it gets degraded cause it is getting renewed easily. There is no reason for them to try and renew it cause others are exploiting it.
The term “the tragedy of the commons” is just a term used by the author to refer to the degradation of resources that are sheared by the population where there is no technology and there is an increased human population and the standard of living. He explains that the degradation is caused by the individuals because they choose to act in their own self-interest and they fail to consider their long term interests. In my opinion, it is tragedy that we are likely to face when the population gets out of control. He uses an example of cattles and herdsman in an open field to illustrate that there is a positive and negative side to the increase in population. Because although the increase in cattles leads to additional sale, it can also lead to overgrazing which can result in erosion and weed-dominance.
There is also tragedy of the commons because there will be an increase in pollution; there is an increase in the amount of waste product (sewage) that is produced into the environment. There is also an overload of biological and chemical recycling as the population increases.
When parents who have too many offsprings are incapable of giving the same necessary and adequate treatment to each child, especially when there are inadequate resources available to the family.
The author of this text suggests that appealing to the populations conscience to reduce reproduction is not as effective as we may think because some people will respond better than others would. Those that choose to ignore the appeal to reduce reproduction are most likely to cause the increase in population and this increase in childbirth is inherited by their generation.
Critical thinking: Why should people not have as many children as possible?
Although this was not mentioned in the passage, some reason why humans should not be allowed to have as many children as possible is that:
- There will be a massive demand on non-renewable resources: non-renewable resources are those resources that we are most likely to run out of due to a large demand of it, like crude oil, natural gas, coal, copper and other metals.
- We can most likely run out of renewable resources (they are resources that can be renewed but they can also become non-renewable based on the demands) because there will be a large demand for it, as because it is demanded for our everyday life, these resources will be exhausted fast and given less time to replenish itself.
- There will be an increase in our ecological footprint (our demand and waste product), which in turn will lead to an ecological deficit. That is, our demand will be greater than our supply of resources (bio-capacity)
Summary 3: A Sand County Almanac excerpt
In this passage, Aldo uses the story of the death of a wolf that he and his colleagues experienced to describe the ecology of the mountain and what it is like to “think like a mountain”. He continues by explaining how the animals of the food web strive to survive and feed, how the deer is in constant fear of the wolves how the mountain is also in fear of the deer and if either of these animals slip a bit in their means of survival, they risk their fight of survival. He explains that there will be an increase in the population of deers if the wolves were extinct. In the second part, Aldo’s main argument in this passage is our land ethics and how human being are treating the land like it is our personal property and it is only profitable to us for economical gains. Aldo also continues to talk about how we treat the environment and how we tend to disrespect the land, the animals and the plants. He explains that man has no ethics and that we have leaned away from teaching land ethics and conservations. We can only treat the community right or increase our ethics when we preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. We have to increase our ethics also by giving respect to the land, our environment, the plants and also the animals.
What is the basic lesson of Aldo Leopold’s “Thinking Like a Mountain”?
Answer: the basic idea behind “thinking like a mountain” is that all living organism no matter how small or how big it is plays an important role in the ecosystem and we as humans should not tamper with the role of other organisms because there is always an impact on us. That means when we hunt or kill a particular specie of animals, there is a reduction in biodiversity and we tend to also reduce our variety after some time. Take for example his example of the wolves, if all wolves are killed, there will be an increase in the population of deers, and every benefit that we got from the existence of wolves is reduced and only the benefits that we will get form the existence of deers remains.
Overall integration of the three summaries:
I have found these articles interesting to read and they are all connected in the sense that they all basically point out that humans are gradually killing the environment and its resources. Diamond talked about how we are killing the environment, or rather how the environment is at risk of collapsing because we are overfishing, engaging in deforestation, the soil problems that we face and so on. And as these problems exist and continue to exist, our environment could collapse at some point later in the future. While the second summary points out how our shared resources are degrading because as our population increases, we tend to use it so much that we are not practising sustainable development and there will less resources available for us to use in the future. Finally, Aldo mentions that we do not have ethics and we need to give more respect to the animal, plants and other organisms and resources that is in the environment because it should not only be used for economical gains.
I believe that our environment is actually at risk because humans are misusing the resources that has been made available to us by the environment and we are only using them for our own benefit and hardly for the benefit of the environment, because majority of the tasks that we perform daily puts our environment at risk of destruction. According to an article by Susan Patterson, she says that “Earth has enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” that is we find ourselves in an ecological overshoot because our basic demand is more than our supply, it is in the nature of man to spend too much, buy more than what they need or can afford “affluence” and because of this affluence of man, our ecological footprint is expanding daily. This expansion of our ecological can lead to ecological deficit. In the article by Susan Patterson, she mentions most of the problems that we face today like water, air, soil pollution, ozone depletion and global warming, we can see that most of these problem is caused by man and its need to satisfy their necessity even though it means jeopardizing the environment and future resources.
In my opinion, so much can be done to improve the state of our environment, if man caused the environmental issues, then man should be able to fix the environmental issues. one way that we can reduce the issues with our environment is by reducing the amount of chemicals that we use, we should switch form synthetic chemicals to the use of more naturals means. For instance, the use of fertilizers, it affects the quality of the soil, the sediments of the soil enter the water and this causes water pollution that kills aquatic life, these aquatic lives die and they consume the oxygen that is in the water, an through the process of respiration, carbon is taken into the atmosphere. We can also reduce the way we spend, we should learn to only n=buy water we need, reduce our waste and learn to recycle and reuse items. In order words we can fix some of the problems that we have caused.
In-class blog question
What promotes human connection to nature?
Answer: the beauty of nature can be connected to humans when humans experience and appreciate the beauty of nature by going to the parks, the lakes and other natural resorts that are available in our environment. In other words, we can connect to nature by experiencing it and taking walks. We also connect by taking pictures of the environment, engaging in camping, hiking and so on
What promotes disconnection from nature?
Answer: nowadays we are getting disconnected from nature because we are too busy to experience nature, we spend more time away from the park and we stay in doors spending more time on the internet and social media, we spend more time working or being busy in school and at the end of the day, we are too tired to enjoy the beauty of nature
Is there a danger to a growing disconnecting from nature?
Answer: Yes there is, because when we get disconnected from nature, we stop to value its beauty and we start to take advantage of the resources that nature provides to us. For instance, if we connect to nature, we appreciate the trees and other natural resources, but when we get disconnected, we start to engage in deforestation, cutting the trees and misusing the natural resources that are available to meet our other needs.
Where do your environmental ethics lie? Anthropocentric? Biocentric? Ecocentric?
Answer: My environmental ethics lies with the Anthropocentrism (the idea that humans are the most important in the universe compared to the ecosystem and the biosphere). I support for Anthropocentrism because humans are the ones that have the intellectual ability to build or destroy the environment. The biosphere and the ecosystem might have the ability to take care of themselves but they are basically useless without the help of humans to make use of their resources.
Spend 1 hour in silence with nature. Walk in the park, along the river through the woods. Focus on observing the natural world around you then reflect on the experience.
Answer: I hardly have time to take walks or observe the nature around me because I am always busy most of the time, but yesterday, I talked a walk and sat at the park for more than one hour and it was an amazing feeling. I say it was amazing because there is so much that I have been missing because I am always distracted by technology or some personal problem. It was amazing how quiet it was and at ease and so peaceful I felt and also the peace from the environment around me. It was amazing how beautiful the evening was and how much I miss by staying in my house basement every single day after my daily activities. I have decided to do this more often, not because I have nothing to do but because I have come to realize just how beauty the environment around me is and how open my mind was to the world around me. My tension was eased and I felt so relaxed and peaceful for the first time in a long while.
Leopold, Aldo. “A Sand County Almanac”. Sources: Selections in Environmental Studies. USA: McGraw-Hill Education, 2014. 23-25. VitalSource Bookshelf Online. Web. 2 Nov. 2016.
Diamond, Jared. 2005. “From Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” Sources Environmental Studies. 4th ed. Thomas A. Easton. McGraw-Hill, 2012. 184-189. Print.
Hardin, Garrett. 1968. “The Tragedy of the Commons.” Sources Environmental Studies. 4th ed. Thomas A. Easton. McGraw-Hill, 2012. 24-28. Print.