Friday, May 18, 2007

The Semester is Over...

Ok... This is a blog from ANNA DEGOLIER... Since I have never signed up for the blog and my blog invite has expired I have to use my friend's username to post it. Here it goes...

And so the semester is over and along with it the 3 credit course that should have definitely been a 4 credit one. One thing that I would recommend to anyone taking this course in the future is to make sure they don’t take more than two humanities if they are taking Nature and Culture 268. The class is certainly worth it. Besides discovering something new for yourself you get to be entertained by professor Tantillo’s jokes three times a week. I’ve learnt some of the most astonishing facts such as that Greeks and Romans weren’t really such glorious civilizations as most of the history books try to portray them; indigenous population of America has committed a number of crimes against nature including the famous “buffalo jump”; the development of industrialized cities like Chicago have scarred the face of the earth for many years to come by skinning the land off its vast forests, driving wild buffalos to almost complete extinction and polluting the atmosphere with dirt coming out of industrial chimneys. I’ve learnt that the so-called wilderness has been manipulated by humanity for thousands of years and that people usually don’t realize this to say nothing about giving credit to those people who have maintained the beauty of this wilderness by enforcing its thoughtful management. And can you believe that Niagara Falls can actually be shut down?! …and not just for a second but for a whole summer?!
But most importantly, no nation, or culture, or civilization has distinguished itself for living in perfect harmony with nature. All of us have made a nice share of mistakes and have contributed to the environmental degradation that has been accumulating over the many centuries of man’s interaction with nature. Our main mission though is not trying to figure out who has done the most damage and should be persecuted, but how to improve the practices that are still being used today and minimize their harmful effects on nature while keeping the consumer happy, and how to maintain respect for ourselves not only in our children’s and our own eyes, but in the eyes of hundreds of generations that are still hopefully to come.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Feel like an activist?

Hi guys-- Just thought that it was ironic that this email popped up in my inbox last week. Do with it what you will... :)

Hi Leigh,

With over 177,222 harp seals and seal babies slaughtered to date, it seems like things couldn't get much worse in Canada. Yet, brutality witnessed on the ice this month by the seal hunt observation team was simply shocking. They need your help more than ever.

Sign the petition to boycott Canadian seafood until Canada stops the hunt: >>

The seal observation team helplessly documented sealers flouting Marine Mammal Regulations. Without checking to ensure the babies were dead after an initial blow, sealers have stabbed the still-struggling seal pups with boat hooks and dragged them onto the boats to be flayed. [1]

And perhaps equally horrifying, instead of trying to enforce the law, fisheries officials asked the observation team to move further away from the slaughter. Apparently, the presence of the team was “upsetting” the hunters.

Don’t do business with baby seal hunters – sign the Canadian seafood boycott petition >>

Why is a boycott powerful and effective? Seal hunting is an off-season activity for Canada's east coast commercial fishermen. Only a small fraction of their income comes from selling seal skins to the fur industry. The majority of seal hunters’ annual income is made through seafood products such as snow crab, cod, scallops and shrimp. Do your part by boycotting today:

What's more, global warming has made it hard enough for seal pups – even without this brutal hunt. Thin, broken ice and higher than usual mortality rates have already had a profound effect on seal pups in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this year. Ninety percent or more of the seals born in the southern Gulf this year have died, and sealers targeted the few surviving pups.

There is no way to defend this type of annihilation. But there is hope. Seafood is the main source of income for most seal hunters. If enough people pledge to boycott Canadian seafood, we can force hunters to give up this brutal hunt.

Thank you for doing your part to stop the Canada seal hunt!

Robyn E.

Care2 and
ThePetitionSite Team

Thursday, May 3, 2007

"Environmentalism vs. Skepticism"

I read this debate in today's USA Today and thought it was very relevant to the readings and topics we've been discussing in lecture lately:

Environmentalism vs. Skepticism

It talks about how science is necessarily biased because it reflects the interests of the researchers; it should not be accepted as "pure as a mountain stream." In the same way that Shrader-Frechette questions the validity of using "underdetermined" science in decision-making, Cal Thomas claims that we cannot use scientific predictions about global warming to justify major preventative measures against climate change because these scientific speculations are uncertain. Also, the discussion is reminiscent of Dunlap in that Thomas likens environmentalism to a religion: "For the secularists, planet-worship has replaced holidays like Christmas and Easter." It's interesting (and satisfying) to see a real life example of how the ideas we've been discussing are very pertinent to current discussions of environmental issues.

~Katie Hansen

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Ontology and the Existence of Matter

In the article by Barry Smith and David Mark, Do Mountains Exist? Towards Ontology of Landforms, a philosophical argument is posed concerning the very existence of geographic features as well as other facets of nature that humans regularly interpret. The method of philosophy that underlays the argument of this essay is called ontology, or as the Princeton University web dictionary defines it: "the metaphysical study of the nature of being and existence." Essentially, the essay makes a few key points that I caught on to while reading, they include:

1. Philosophical ideas and particularly ontological ones, have and will continue to change as scientific thought progresses.
2. Ontology is made up of a primary and field based interpretations, by both average people and scientists; creating a basic level of interpretation of the environment all the way through a very advanced one.
3. People use different methods of interpretation to validate what they see in nature. From children's stories to advanced mathematics, many methods are used by humans to compartmentalize and arrange their environment. This is done in turn as an effort to maximize mankind's relationship with its surroundings and to gain peace of mind while considering the meaning of existence.

I am not 100% confident of my interpretation of this essay and I would appreciate anyone who felt they grasped the concepts of the essay to let me know if my insight into the essay was on track.