Burnet Woods is Pathetic Excuse for a Park

This week we discussed landscape, the anthropocentric formation of what nature should look like. Burnet woods emulates a man-made social construction. It is about 90 acres of land, which is less than 0.14 square miles. (Burnet Woods is part of Cincinnati Parks which is a total of 2.3 sq miles). There are hiking and picnic areas, as well as a man-made pond. While the people that planned the conservation of land as a positive impact to the community, it’s hardly real nature. The space serves more as a green space, a small natural space among a largely urbanized area. The woods are themed to be nature-esqe, but i find it hard to be immersed in nature when I can hear the cars passing by on the street. In some parts of the park you can literally see through the trees to the other side. I’ve only seen a few species of animals there.

I think I’m biased from being blessed to grow up with the Cleveland Metroparks and Lake Erie.

The Cleveland Metroparks is 23000 acres or 35.9 sq. miles of natural forests, rivers, creeks, hiking trails, and picnic areas. The land is meant for conservation of wildlife and maintaining sustainable green area. Like Burnet Woods, much of it is meant to be for the man-made landscape, but I have explored so much of this area off trail and its amazing what you find. There is a lot of deer, and they often leave the park to run around the neighborhood backyards. I’ve seen an albino deer, groundhogs, eagles, owls and skunks to name a few. There’s even record of the rare black bear in certain parts. I also find it comforting to know that when you walk into the woods all you can hear is the wildlife around you.

My personal landscape probably differs than most people. depending on how and where people grew up. I think landscape is directly related to ideology and how culture shapes it. When I think of building my own landscape (like how people landscape their yards), I think of lots and lots of plants and trees; I’d probably build a house in the woods if I could. Whereas someone that grew up in a more urban area prefers a place like Burnet Woods and other smaller scale green spaces. Again, its like ideology and a how someone feels in an environment, their “sense of place”.

http://www.cincinnatiparks.com/central/burnet-woods/

http://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/Main/Home.aspx

Jessica Hofelich

“Extreme Ecocentrism”…..brought to you by P.e.T.A (by Gerald Brenner)

Ecocentric; an ideology that promotes a world where no species is greater than the other. Great concept right? Of course, I genuinely agree with the idea. We didn’t start the big bang nor were we the first species to be develop from it. We as humans, should be grateful and “step-back” and really look at how we fit into this large picture. Anthropocentrism, the human-centered ideology holds strong within our society, and even around the world. With these two ideologies, so very different than each other, the one common thing that they do share; extremists!

With any religion, ideology, or belief there are always the extremists. In my personal opinion, people can believe what they want….. as long as it doesn’t affect others. The world we live in today, we have multiple avenues of communication for people to get on their “soap box” and preach to the rest of us and even though the ideas or “speeches” these activists are preaching about are so far from the truth its funny; people will still believe it and take it as fact. Again, people have the choice to believe what they want, and it’s up to them to “fact check” if they want, but it’s the responsibility of the speaker to make sure their facts are straight. Obviously, from my title you can guess what group I might have in mind who fits this category of “extremists”; PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

Obviously, this is a blog and I would be a hypocrite to not disclaim that this is based off of my personal opinion, though with that said, being my career is in Veterinary medicine and I have my certifications in Laboratory Animal Research, I can comment through personal experiences on PeTA. You may ask, “Gary, you work with animals; you care for animals; why don’t you share PeTA’s beliefs?” Well I do believe in PeTA’s overall goal of treating animals humanely and being a “spokesperson” for the animals who obviously can’t speak. We go our separate roads when PeTA’s facts become distorted with subjective facts and their extreme measures to bring awareness to their cause.

To be honest, they as a group, are just as convincing as Hitler was during his reign. PeTA’s biggest arsenal for reaching out and getting across younger generations is the use of celebrities. They are very influential and in their communication because of this and why it is such a issue within our world of communicating about the environment. This is a major problem in our society and I hope more people become aware of this and do their part to help right the wrongs of improper advocating and making sure “extremists” don’t get the attention they don’t deserve.

By: Gerald Brenner

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Recycling is 100% important. But I often feel like people forget how important ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’ are in the process of reducing your carbon foot print. Like I said, recycling is awesome. For plastics alone, recycling uses up to 88% less energy than making new plastics. But, about only 25% of plastics are recycled in the United States. According to Keep America Beautiful (KAP), in 2009 161 million tons of waste was thrown away in America alone. That is about 3 pounds of garbage per person a day. But raw materials are still being harvested to produce products like plastic bottles, disposable cups, ect.

The first process in reducing this over consumption is to reduce our overall consumption. According to the EPA, the benefits of reducing and reusing includes: prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials, saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change, helps sustain the environment for future generations, saves money, reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators, and allows products to be used to their fullest extent. Some ideas on how to start reducing our overall consumption are using drink tumblers for your morning coffee, shop at thrift and consignment stores, maintain and repair your appliances, avoid plastic wear and plates, and avoid styrofoam containers. Even doing 2 of these things can make a great impact.

The EPA website has many more tips and ideas to help reduce, reuse, and recycle. Also, there are local resources to learn about living green in your city.

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^This is a kitchen for a school on an island in near Nicaragua called Little Corn. It is completely made out of plastic bottles and second hand material. I volunteered on this island for a week helping with similar projects to help keep the island more sustainable.

Here are some cool sources I found for Cincinnati.

recyclecincinnati.com/

www.cincinnati-oh.gov/recycling/

http://www.cincyrecycling.com/

Sources:

www2.epa.gov/recycle, http://www.kab.org

Gretchen Marie Semancik

Throwing Away Our Future

Since the time man lifted that stick and struck down the being next to him, the ideology of our species has been set in stone. An Ideology is a set of ideas or a big picture view on things; often learned and passed down from those before us and widely accepted by the masses. The situation gets even worse when we present our poor environmental ideology.  Humans have developed an unfortunately twisted and widely accepted environmental ideology of Anthropocentrism which is the general stigma of our species. we as humans have developed this belief system in which we see ourselves as the alpha dog of planet earth. It suggests that everything from natural resources and other animals are here primarily to benefit and aid our existence, this is the thought process that is quickly digging our grave. Yet on the contrary, a way of life exists which allows us to live harmoniously with the environment and all the creatures whom inhabit it, this is known as Ecocentrism. Being strongly correlated with ancient civilizations and native americans, the idea that humans are equally connected and interlocked with all species within the mechanism that is life is one that very few people practice. There are so many different causes or reasons as to why we have this destructive sense of self which lie heavily in the fundamentals of certain religions and even political structures such as capitalism. Its the kind of thinking that wont be changed without some kind of mass redecorating of our principles and ego.

This skewed way of thinking is precisely what perpetuates our destructive behavior and causes atrocities such as The Great Pacific Garbage Island to become reality. Whats garbage island you ask? Many miles off the Pacific Coast lies in the ocean gyres which are essentially a plethora of currents swirling and moving around each other creating a kind of vortex, a land mass made up entirely of garbage twice the size of Texas. These gyres act essentially as a collecting point for this garbage to accumulate; its more or less a floating, self-created landfill. This baffling disaster is occurring all over our worlds oceans, but the Great Pacific Garbage patch is one of the worst. Weighing in at over 7 million tons, this behemoth is nine feet deep and I want to reiterate, twice the size of freaking Texas pardon my language. While Conservationism and Preservationism are constantly acting to aid in the reforming of a tragedy like this, its not enough. not enough regular every day people are getting up and saying no to plastic bottles or recycling their trash, we need a revolution. I was fortunate enough to have so many wonderful, direct experiences with nature and i feel extremely connected to this world and feel the need to act when I find out about these ecological monstrosities, and to that I owe a big thanks to my parents and even siblings as they instilled this sense of connection with the world in all of us.

Alec Utz

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/garbagepatch.html

http://www.vice.com/video/toxic-garbage-island-1-of-3

Are We Able To Live Green?

When speaking about the environment, it could be focusing on number of different groupings or surroundings. Your environment could range from the room you are currently sitting in, to the unknown universe that our planet resides in. Caring for our environment and the other living organisms that make it up has become our responsibility as a self-proclaimed superior species. From an anthropocentric view, we as humans rule at the top of the hierarchy. We are separate from nature and the resources it produces are solely for us to use up until it no longer benefits us. This is the kind of thinking that has lead us to ignore the harm on our natural environment so long as the next greatest factory produces the next greatest product to profit off of. Living for the profit of now rather than the impact these choices will have in the future is a selfish, human-centered way of life. The alternative ideology is ecocentrism. As humans we are an integral part of the biological world, but no more or less important than any other living or nonliving organism. Every aspect of the environment is valuable and should be respected. Living up to this standard of life is very difficult to attain in our current culture and global technology. The Native Americans lived like this long before this land was colonized, but it is no longer easy to live fully “green” as people once did. This results in each of us falling somewhere along the ecological ideology spectrum based on how anthropocentric or ecocentric our lifestyles and beliefs are. Many of us likely fall into the conservationism category. We are aware of the issues and genuinely care for the natural environment, and so individual changes to our lifestyles are made in the hope that it is making a difference to the environment. This could include using natural resources sparingly, protecting and building national parks and forests, installing solar panels on homes, or even buying an eco-friendly car. All of these changes are great and definitely aid in an environmental reform movement, but that is all that it is; reformist. The changes are not radical, or drastic enough to reverse the fundamental ways we relate to the environment and each other. Becoming the radical who holds the ideology of deep ecology can isolate a person from the social community. Becoming an outcast for a “save the world” cause is difficult and it is not in our human nature to desire public hate. We all yearn to be included and therefore the more popular choices are the ones we are likely to follow. This spectrum shows the lengths people are willing to stray from current culture to save our planet. The further we go from the norm, the more we stand out for better or worse. Over time our population may work its way up the spectrum towards ecocentrism, but for now the majority prefers a reformist approach to a radical one. Will it be too late for our environment once we finally reach the desire for radical change?

Ashley Stieber

Cities Don’t Float

Most of us have heard many of the alarming facts. Starving polar pears due to the loss of ice caps. Insane weather patterns including hurricane Katrina, devastating tsunamis, and most recently the threat of hurricane Patricia. But the threat of global warming is to an extent much more terrifying and extreme.

According to the Hadley Centre for Climate Science, by 2030 we will need two planets if we continue with out current resource consumption and disposal.

Seems ludicrous, doesn’t it?

Consider this; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has concluded “After 2014 was declared the warmest year on record, a Climate Central analysis showed that 13 of the 15 warmest years in the books have occurred since 2000, and the odds of that happening randomly without the boost of global warming is 1 in 27 million”.

Doubting the existence of global warming and the devastating impact it has on our planet is, unfortunately, a common believed fallacy. Immediate action needs to be taken to salvage the possibility of sustaining life on this planet for future generations. As my very conservative parents like to say, “the earth just goes through warm and cold cycles”. This is true in the past, but it is absolutely undeniable that our actions including consumption, pollution, and our aversion to really change the way we run corporations is having devastating affects on our environment.

According to NASA, “The Greenland ice sheet, covering 660,000 square miles — nearly the area of Alaska — shed an average of 303 gigatons of ice a year over the past decade, according to satellite measurements. The Antarctic ice sheet, covering 5.4 million square miles –larger than the United States and India combined — has lost an average of 118 gigatons a year.”

As the title states, cities do not float my friends. And this is not meant to guilt trip anyone. The real source of the issue is our worldwide corporations and deluded governments not making the proper efforts to save earth. These efforts are extreme, but necessary. How long will it be till the problem becomes unavoidable to the ruling leaders of our governments?

 

It Is A Network, Not A Hierarchy.

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“You are acting like an animal” as common and simple as this phrase is, I think it is one of many ways we not only draw a dichotomy between humans and other species but also put ourselves in a pedestal where we are blinded to our dependency. It is important to understand our reliance to the environment and the fact that no matter how much control we think we have over other species, we belong in a network where every aspect is expected to function accordingly, not manipulative. The air is being polluted, food is disappearing and water has become some sort of delicacy in part of the world, all the while the forest and species living in them are dying just because we cant imagine our lives with out the comforts we have! It is clear that we have gone about our relationship to nature the wrong way and this is proven everyday when people experience the droughts, floods and displacement caused by climate change.

“Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn’t make a corporation a terrorist”. This is a quote spoken by environmental and human right activist, Winona Laduke and it is a quote that resonates with me the most. How come wanting to fix what is broken and damaging make you a radical, what is radical about wanting clean air and food on your table. Has out society and culture really forsaken humanity for the sake of a few dollars? Movements across the world have spurred many people to act and try to make a difference in their governments and communities. Giving environmental issues a spotlight in mainstream media is an accomplishment itself but we still have a long way to go in order to restore and secure our future as a part of this planets network.

Nora Soto