The Communication of Health, Science, and Environment

I happened upon this class by chance, and I am so glad that I did. Environmental science was my favorite class in high school, not because I thought I could save the world by recycling, or because it was easy. I loved it in part because it was applicable, just as this class is. We have learned about the worlds perception of health, the support of medication by the media, to the common persons perception of science and scientists, to the unadvertised idea that there is hope for reversing global warming. We have learned how heavy the medias impact on societal beliefs is, and we have discussed how this may be changed.

I took this class at a time when I needed to feel  like I had a purpose, and like my education wasn’t a waste of time or money. I have been able to expand my mind and open it to new ideas and new perspectives by learning about accurate data representing food deserts and fast food restaurant locations compared to economic and racial demographics.

Although we may not have built a class environment that will last in group texts (with the blue message bubbles), I have grown as a person through this class and with my peers. This class may not lead every single one of us to become communication  activists or environmental activists, but it could be that first stepping stone for one of us to begin changing the world in that way. It certainly was a strong stepping stone laid in each of our paths, and it will influence the direction each and every one of us takes for the rest of our lives. I hope everyone enjoyed this class as much as I did, and hopefully you learned as much as I did, particularly if you didn’t expect anything but an easy enough work load.

 

Halle Van De Hey

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Biofuels

The cars we drive, the busses we take to work, and the airplanes that transport us half was across the world account for just under a third of our greenhouse gas emissions. This is a problem people have know about for years, but it is also one that has been relatively untouched in the public eye. Between big oil corporations, to people just not wanting to change their life style, it is perceived that we have struggled to fine a way to make any kind of impact on this problem, but that is not true.

The solution to this problem is not to stop driving gas powered machinery or to carpool or only drive electric cars. There is this thing called biofuel, or a fuel or fuels derived directly from living matter, that has not gotten enough support. With the advancement in technology, the advancement of our understanding of greenhouse gasses, and the help of dedicated individuals, our options for fuel have grown and will continue to grow. There are fuels that are made out of vegetable oil and animals fats, to algae, which is a renewable resource because it grows itself! The best part is many other these biofuels have little to no emissions .

Now if we have all of these great options, why aren’t we using them? Just like tobacco companies fund non tobacco related cancers, many big gas companies have spearheaded research in this field, and then with held their discoveries hoping to make the most profit off of our current energy supply. So what can we do to change this? Start by watching “Revenge of the Electric Car” on Netflix. This documentary is a great watch and can give even more powerful details about current problems and potential future successes.

Halle Van De Hey

Rebranding British Petroleum

British Petroleum or BP is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world. You may recognize their yellow and green logo from the side of a gas station, or more infamously from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. There had been other major spills under BP’s care before in places like Alaska and Texas as well, but the devastation the 2010 oil spill called for a fundamental change in the company. After this spill, BP claimed they would take initiative to clean up the spill and attempt to restore the ecology in the area. After time passed there was little change, but people did not question BP’s actions, or inaction rather.

BP’s newest wave of rebranding originally began in 2000 when they revamped their logo to appear more eco friendly, along with implementing a new slogan that reads as, “Beyond Petroleum.” A simple idea, two words that revolutionized the idea people had of this company. They also began to put (some) focus and money into renewable energy and bio fuels. This rebranding greenwashed BP as a company, convincing people that the company was eco-friendly, and green, ultimately  leading to more consumer support. People bought into this idea that BP fed them. Although they were spending some money on researching and supporting bio fuels and renewable energy, they did not even make a dent in this technology.

People did not begin to truly question or research the validity of BP’s claims until years after the 2010 oil spill when ecosystems and beaches and food supplies were still and continuing to be destroyed. Although I did not include every detail, this is just one of many examples of greenwashing and how extremely effective but also extremely detrimental it can be. Society has convinced us that we need to be “green” because it somehow in turn makes us a better person. We have bought into this idea of helping by supporting “green” products without considering whether they are actually green or not. This is an idea that we need to change, but how?

Halle Van De Hey

Change

Androcentrism is defined as the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing male human beings or a masculine point of view at the centre of one’s world view, culture, and history. This term came to be because of the male monopoly on leadership, and shaping our culture. We can see this idea displayed in the most inner workings of our lives, from the work place, to religion. This prevents women from bringing their own ideas, beliefs, and point of views into solving worldly problems. Androcentric culture impacts views of human existence down to the smallest ideas from things like light and dark, to left and right, and life and death creating androcentric gender symbolism. In this gender symbolism the female is always the other, the less than, or the negative.

This has occurred not only with gender, but with races, with economic statuses, and more broadly it has happened with the environment. This discrimination led to a cause called Ecofeminism. This term was coined by a french writer in 1974 to describe movements and philosophies that link feminism and ecology. Ecofeminism seeks to abolish all social injustice. The belief is that the ways in which women and nature are discriminated upon are extremely similar.

The division in today’s societies will not be overcome until we address androcentrism and stop treating our environment as an object to be exploited as a means to an end. If we wish for change,  we must first begin to understand the connection between different forms of oppression and begin to evaluate injustices as a whole. Learning about ecofeminism has helped me understand the relationship between patriarchal violence against minorities and nature. Ynestra King explains, ecofeminism is about wholeness, connectedness between theory and practice.”It asserts the special strength and integrity of every living thing.” It is now clear to me that we must move beyond our individual struggles and embrace our diversity in creating a coalition of movements that addresses all oppression.

 

Halle Van De Hey

Planned Obsolescence

I have always cared about the environment. Words I’m sure you have heard over and over again from some girl walking around in Birkenstocks, or from someone on TV. I recycle and read articles on sustainability, I carpool often and even dream of owning a Tesla. But simply caring about the environment is only the beginning.

In high school I took an environmental science class, as i’m sure many of you did. This class, and my teacher redirected the way I saw myself, our world, and my role in it. I discovered I wanted to be an industrial designer a few years before this class, originally because I wanted to pursue a career in the art field, and it happens to be one of the more practical career tracks. I spent a lot of time researching the field, and the people who pioneered it. At its core, industrial design is about streamlining products, the advancement of technology within it, and aesthetic. When I first started thinking about what I wanted to do with an industrial design degree I looked at companies like Apple and Tesla. Each of these companies create revolutionary technology while creating simple, aesthetically pleasing designs, while making billions of dollars every year. What I admired in these companies, particularly Apple, was their true respect for design. Steve Jobs set out to revolutionize personal technology, and he did. But as my passion for environmental justice was cultivated, I began seeing the corporate motives that were built into this company when the focus shifted from design to revenue. I’m sure you have all experienced this on some level, for example, after the iPhone Seven was released, and I updated to iOS 10, I immediately began having problems with my, now, one generation old iPhone. This idea that a company would put an expiration date on a product is not a new idea, but it is certainly one that baffles me. By principle, that idea should go against everything any designer believes in. It goes against everything that I believe in and everything I want to do. This betrayal of trust from corporate industries is creating a lasting distrust in consumers, and without that trust, where will our technology go? Not to mention the impact this has on the environment, as we talked about in class. I hope that maybe one day this idea of planned obsolescence is something that I can change, at least where I work. Where do you think planned obsolescence is taking us and our environment?

 

Halle Van De Hey

The Environment of my Education

The word environment has a multitude of definitions, or rather interpretations. Not too long ago we discussed the environment of science and humanities classes throughout our educations.  A topic I feel is a very important, and very overlooked. Throughout my education I have attended a public elementary school, a private middle school, a public magnet high school, and now an out of state, for me, public university. Experiencing this wide range of schools, as well as my own curiosity has brought me to think about this topic quite a bit. I am white, and part of the upper class. While these traits may not necessarily define me, they do impact who I am immeasurably because they change the way I experience and interact with the world around me. In contrast to that I am also a gay female. These traits have also impacted the way I interact with the world, or rather how the world interacts with me. Specifically in education these traits have impacted my relationships with teachers, students, with the material we are taught, extracurricular activities, and much more. More clearly stated, it has impacted the environment of my education.

In elementary school I was discriminated against by classmates for being a girl. From having spitballs hit me, for every day of fourth grade, during class, to not being allowed to participate in the same types of learning games as the boys. The underdeveloped curriculum in my elementary school taught us to memorize, rather than learn information, as well as continues to teach patriarchal ideas, and historical inaccuracies. In middle school this did not change. As a girl I was pushed in one direction, while boys were pushed in another. I saw this most when it came to our teachers expectations for grades, extracurricular activities, and our clothes. This gender discrimination was what was most apparent to me as a child, and it was also relatively consistent from a lower income public school to a religious private school filled with and run by the one percent. Once reaching high school, discrimination towards more than just gender became apparent. I was blinded by my privilege and age growing up, but as I began to open my eyes I think I began to benefit exponentially more from my education.

As much as you can blame not knowing fractions on your fourth grade teacher, or as much as people want to blame a boys inattentiveness on the girl sitting in the front of the class  wearing a tank top, what I have realized is for as much of our environment that we cant control, there is so much more that we can. I understand this topic is much larger than what my five hundred words can say, and there are challenges I will never have to experience, but if theres one thing I can emphasize it’s this : Your education is driven by your passion to understand the world around you.

Halle Van De Hey

Global Warming and the Media

I was surprised to see that global warming was not a hot topic for this blog post. Global warming has always been an area of interest for me, in part because my father is one of the people that does not believe global warming is actually occurring.

This was always a frustrating thing for me, seeing as you can watch videos of glaciers melting just by searching it on YouTube. I have put a link to an example below. I believe my dad’s false belief has come from the media, or lack there of, about global warming, as well as a distrust in science. When my dad and I get into debates about global warming, or environmental news in general, he constantly says, “they’ve been saying that since before I was born.” He would say, “I used to be just like you. Advocating for the environment and lower taxes and free education, but I grew up.” If I back him far enough into a corner he will then nervously say, “Well if it is happening, which it isn’t, it doesn’t matter because you and I will be long dead before anything  bad actually begins happening.” Now my father is not the uninformed type, and he is not religious, and yet, he still does not believe the scientific facts laid out for him.

From what we have talked about in class, as well as what I have researched, I don’t believe the stance my dad has taken in necessarily because of ignorance, or misinformation. This mass of people that oppose global warming is a creation of the media. How are people supposed to understand or advocate for something if they see little to no coverage about what we claim to be such an important topic? Yes, you can Goggle climate change and find 100 results that confirm global warming without a doubt, but you can also find 100 results that refute the idea. We also discussed how our technology is customized to us, so if someone spends most of their internet news searching on Fox, their results will dramatically vary from the results of someone who primarily uses MSNBC as their news outlet.

As I began to research this more, I found a cycle of blame. People are misinformed because of the media, but the media doesn’t cover it because people do not want to watch it or read it. This cycle goes on and on, and no viewer or news station has tried to break this cycle. If we want to see a change in the media, we have to show that there is a change in the people, so where do we start?

 

http://www.cnn.com/videos/weather/2015/08/31/glaciers-melt-before-your-eyes-extreme-ice-survey-climate-change-orig-mss.cnn

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/16/climate-change-tv-news_n_4606313.html

 

Halle Van De Hey