Hot, Flat, Crowded

According to Thomas Friedman, the world is getting hot, flat, and crowded. Hot due to global warming, flat because of the computers and software that are available everywhere in order to increase globalization, and crowded due to the amount in which we are increasing in population.
Friedman supplies overwhelming data that the climate is changing. It has gone passed the “it was warm last winter, so it must be global warming” phase. The time is now where people need to stop being naive and blind to the problem at hand. Even if there are skeptics saying that the evidence is not enough to prove that we actually have a crisis, why not change? It’s like what Arnold Schwarzenegger said,

If 98 doctors say my son is ill and needs medication and two say, ‘No, he doesn’t, he is fine,’ I will go with the ninety-eight. It’s common sense – the same with global warming. We go with the majority, the large majority.

We have the ability to change if people accept the challenge and are educated in the harm we have done and what needs to be done in order to reach sustainability. I like the way of Friedman’s thinking that we are pre something and as of January 1, 2000, we have entered the Energy Climate Era. Hopefully, we get on our way of pre-sustainability. Its like I can see my grandkids reading about this time in their history book- just like we read about the Enlightenment and Industrialization. It wasn’t easy for women’s suffrage either, but when there is a will, there is a way. The simple thought that we most likely caused Hurricane Katrina should provide that will for society today. Yet, people continue to be blind.
As for globalization, its hard to imagine the size of the world out of there that is starting to live the “American dream.” The fact that it took four hours instead of the usual thirty five minutes for Friedman to get to an airport in Russia is enough for me for a change. And, as strange as it seems, it really affected me the mention of China and chopsticks because to me that is a tradition that goes hand in hand with the Asian culture. I’m sure the American life is appealing and as flattering as it is that people want to be like us, we weren’t model citizens when it came to treating Mother Nature right. We need to be the responsible role models that go green quick and are able to formulate something that works better for Nature than what’s been done so far. If we don’t, pollution in the atmosphere is going to incease a lot due to the more populated areas that are catching onto the American way.
Finally, as for population, I can remember enough from sociology class the rat studies of John B. Calhoun to understand why over population can be dangerous. Friedman suggests we are fighting both worlds on terror by supplying the money to the anti-women’s rights. It would be good to think that we could control our addiction and that the women in these countries could get educated. Educating the women is one of the ways we can control overpopulation and not only am I for ALL women having rights and an education, I’m all for any right step in the direction of preventing a similar experience as the rat experiment for humans.

The Land Ethic

Our first reading was Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic. This reading set a very dull tone to me for Colloquium. How was what seemed to me a simple topic of being green and eco-friendly, turned into what I could only describe as environmental philosophy? On the surface, philosophy is interesting to me. I enjoy being stumped and directed to see something in a different light, but once you start going into unimaginable depths, my attention is lost. Well what could I do? I was being forced to read The Land Ethic by Aldo Leopold.

At first all I got out of it was blah, blah, blah. Somewhere in the midst of the reading it became evident to me how selfish we have been as human beings. As humans, if we feel as though when we are being wronged, we speak up. As for animals? I’d like to say for the most part most people know what is considered cruel treatment for animals. However, if not, we have animal activists to speak up, but what about Mother Nature? What if Mother Nature could speak for herself?

I didn’t even realize how long ago she would have been fighting our decisions. In The Land Ethic, Leopold gives examples of where farmers and individuals preserve the land community only if they were shown how the consequences directly affected them. It seems that humans have outgrown natural land products for cheaper and more readily available products.

In the lobby of the Corkscrew Sanctuary, it demonstrated Florida pre settlement, settlement, then plans for the future. It displayed how in pre settlement Lake Okeechobee naturally flowed south providing water for the entire southern part of Florida. After the Calusa Indians settled and started to change things to benefit themselves, it all went downhill. The more humans settled and tried to control water flow, nature eventually fought back. For example, there was an earthen dike set up around Lake Okeechobee in the early 1900s, but in 1926 and 1928, two hurricanes killed thousands. Our response? To make a bigger dike called the Herbert Hoover Dike. If we have to start building protection for ourselves from things we caused, clearly we did something wrong!

Fast forward to when southern Florida has I75 and US41- water flow is stopped even more.
Don’t get me wrong, I love taking these roads to get to Miami for the beaches, Tampa for baseball games, and Key West for a great time that I will hardly remember, but The Land Ethic demonstrated to me to at what cost to Mother Nature those luxuries came. It also pointed out to me how much humans are driven by self interest. I would’ve like to think of myself as giving and unselfish, but its hard to see myself as a human being as anything but selfish.

IMAGINE

It doesn’t seem like The Earth Charter is asking much because on the surface, it seems to be common sense- respect, care, and integrity. However, I know it’s a challenge because it’s asking people to change their whole way of thinking.

I found it inspiring to read the Charter where it calls for everyone to take responsibility for each other, the community of life, and future generations. Humans are losing focus of the fact that there are more important things in life than the money in their pockets and the value of their time. If not careful, humans will be totally detached from the environment and each other. Every one that is close to living the “American Dream” has that mentality that success is only measured by your job, what you drive, where you live, etc. Its also sad to think that while the richer get richer the poorer really do get poorer. It drives me nuts to think that with all the money that celebrities make, they are the ones that get all the free endorsements. Why is it that the common middle class want what the rich get for free? It would be nice if it was actually the opposite and the middle class bought from a company who donated to people in need because it was the right thing to do. It would be nice if some of the richer people noticed that their money spent on excessive luxuries could be put to some good use for struggling communities.

It would be great to live in a world where everyone had equal opportunity. I have to admit it truly is hard to imagine. I was completely blown away when I watched a documentary on some of the school systems around America. How is it that at some schools have endless amounts of resources at their fingertips and others barely have classrooms, books, chairs, etc.? I think America would benefit greatly if it incorporated the principles of The Earth Charter in the school systems early on so that students could keep an open mind and start to focus on the bigger picture of what it means to be part of a whole earth community.

At the end of reading the The Earth Charter, it occurred to me that if everyone lived their life based on this principle, it would be the first worldwide constitution that would not involve humans as the main interest. Currently, there is a lopsided way of thinking in which the land is something humans own and can fight for, but when it comes to taking care of land, those same people only take care of it in a way that benefits them.

The world is currently full of racism, hatred, poverty, stress, materialism, violence, etc. The Charter provides a simple concept of embracing diversity, but also unifying the earth as an entire community. In addition, it would be amazing to think of a world where we had a common interest and cared about something greater than ourselves.

Applying the Charter

The above link shows how both the Earth Charter Communities and ASE apply the earth Charter and that there is a possibility of it being successful.

In addition, while reading the Earth Charter, it was hard not to have John Lennon’s song Imagine playing in my head.

How I see it

20120508-223107.jpgIn 2006, what does a 19 year old girl from Long Island, New York think about the environment? Shows such as 10223, Suburgatory, Jersey Shore, and Mob Wives depict women of the area in a way in which it would give many people the notion that they are obsessed with a fast pace, superficial lifestyle. It seems as though the only reason the people in these listed shows do charities or pay attention to the environment are for publicity and self promotional reasons. The stereotypical Long Islander is a 17-year-old girl with Daddy’s credit card, driving a new BMW 6 series, texting on her new Swarovski crystal encrusted Juicy Couture Sidekick and carrying a Gucci handbag. Long Island Stereotype. Many would be quick to assume that the 19 year old Long Islander is absorbed in the superficial-everything-is-paid-for-and-handed-to-me-lifestyle.

After being removed from the hustle and bustle of New York and the shadows of the New York Skyline, how might that same Long Island stereotypical girl think in 2012? Remove her from the taxis, trains, and skyscrapers and it may be easy to for her to find pleasure in the many beaches, parks, sanctuaries, and preservations Southwest Florida has to offer.

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I would like to think I was better than the stereotypes put out there on the internet and/or on television, but perhaps the tv shows aren’t too far from my reality.

My extent of environmental preservation responsibility went as far as the fence in my backyard. The town I lived in provided me with two trash cans, a plastic recycling can, and a newspaper can. Only if I wanted to, I could take bottles and cans to the local store and get my $.05 back for each bottle or can.

As for energy preservation? My father constantly would have to remind me that for every time I turned the lights on, and kept them on for no reason, he could just see right before his eyes the electric bill going higher-more out of his pocket.

My attitude for water usage? If there wasn’t any water restrictions in the Summer, I felt as though water was abundant. It was only when we were in our vacation home in Fort Myers, when my father would point out the water bill we were accumulating.

I feel as though it has become a trend to be more organic and green. In the new movie 21 Jump Street the popular kids are environmentally conscious. Currently, magazines, newspapers, tv shows, and movies are just touching on the subject of sustainability. I think it is important for new generations to be subjected to the topic. Newer generations see the threat of environmental issues and believe is their duty to reach sustainability no matter the cost- a bit different than the older generation.

My boyfriend from Sarasota, Florida is part of the younger generation that has been exposed to current environmental issues and is a contributing factor to the changes in my lifestyle and overall views on the environment. He has exposed me to bike riding, paddle boarding, fishing, and hiking. When you step outside and are constantly surrounded by nature it isn’t hard to become engulfed by it all. I am more aware of the different types of fish, trees, animals, and my overall environment. He loves nature based documentaries and his enthusiasm has rubbed off. Recently, we watched a documentary on food production. Needless to say, I try to eat more organically and stay away from extremely processed foods. My first feat was buying caged free eggs and 99% fat free chicken with no preservatives or hormones added. This was a battle for me due to my father’s voice inside my head that urges me to save money. I had to remind myself of Quality vs. Quantity. At the end of a meal, I am more satisfied when I feel the quality beats the quantity.

As for personal recycling ,my apartment complex provides only ten recycling cans for 408 units. These cans are completely full through out the day. I have learned its up to me to collect all the plastics and newspapers I have and bring it to my parents place in order to recycle. I also bring my tervis tumbler and tupperware to work in order to reduce my use of styrofoam.

I consider myself an open book. I know I am not perfect and far from reaching my full potential for sustainability. I also know there is a lot I still need to learn about the environment. I look forward to the knowledge I will gain in Colloquium and my personal development throughout the course.

Corkscrew Sanctuary

I was supposed to go to the Corkscrew Sanctuary with my boyfriend after he took Colloquium because he enjoyed it so much. I never made it there with him in the last few months. After my own experience with the Colloquium class, I can see why he wanted to take me there. It was said to be a bad time to go since it was pre blooming season and there weren’t too many wildlife sightings. I was pretty excited to be there from the moment we got off the bus. In fact, after watching the YouTube video the night before I was looking forward to seeing the toilet system that filtered water from the restrooms with a plant system. I was surprised to learn that the plants were considered a biohazard due to the metals and nutrients they absorb from our wastes. It’s also interesting to think the project that started there could be offered and used in lesser developed countries to improve their way of life.

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After watching the Youtube video in the syllabus, I came across a video of a Florida panther walking the same boardwalk I would be walking to explore the Sanctuary. It was exciting to imagine the different wildlife that I could come across.
The sign about plume hunting really grabbed my attention. In the late 1800s women’s fashion was all about bird bonnets and it took this one sign for it to really hit home about some of the first conservation movements in history that were just brushed upon in Social Studies. For example, Teddy Roosevelt and how he influenced the start of conserving parts of the nation with National parks. At home, I started reading about Frank Chapman’s experiment in which he counted the amount and variety of birds incorporated on the hats on top of the heads of women. According to archives of the Audubon Magazine, there were a total of 174 birds counted in two afternoons. Completely insane!

I also loved the fact that the oldest cypress trees in Florida are conveniently located in the area. Having that kind of access to a such a preserved natural Florida is a complete privilege. It made me realize that even though I consider myself an outdoors person, I am taking for granted what Florida has to offer. It made me realize that although I feel as though I am knowledgable of the area from Collier County through Sarasota County, I am only familiar with the small commercialized boundaries east and west of I75 and 41. There is still much more for me to explore.

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I spoke with my uncle at dinner about the three different ecological systems that the Sanctuary had and how it differs from upstate New York. Its crazy to learn that in Florida it just takes inches to come across a new ecological system. Even though the Sanctuary is 11000 acres, we were able to see the pine flats, prairie, and swamp in a convenient 2.25mi boardwalk. I told him about the baby alligators being eaten by the father alligator, the red shouldered hawk, the roots of the cypress trees, the Zebra Longwing and even about the video of the panther on the boardwalk. His response? “That’s nothing, you should check out CREW.!” After my experience at the Corkscrew Preserve, I just might have to listen to him.

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