As this semester comes to an end with this class my only thought that I can think of is that this was by far one of my better classes that I have taken. Before this class I had taken one other communication class and as an environmental study’s major I don’t have to take to many of these classes. With little experience in communication classes I always go into these classes open minded. The last communication class I took defiantly disappointed me because it seemed like the class had no direction. This class however had everything broken down into sections with definitive learning goals set in place. This in my mind made the class much more interesting and it allowed, in my opinion, for us to learn a lot. Not only was there a lot of material that we reviewed but there was a lot of thought provoking subjects that we really went in depth with. From talking about how your environment influences your decisions to how the news media shapes thoughts about our environment. We really as a class went into great detail and thoughts about the world and everything that humans influence and everything that influences humans into certain actions.
Personally though the biggest thing I learned from this class wasn’t the material we covered. The biggest thing I learned from this class was a new way of thinking about problems and how we humans interact in this world. In short terms I learned how to think about things in a broader sense. Everything is influenced by everything and there is no one way of looking at things. This is by far the most influential lesson I learned from this class and it is one that I can take on to other disciplinarians and my future career.
With this years election there was a lot of issues that were brought up about our country and our world. Some key issues were the economy, jobs, and healthcare but one major issue that was brought up was global warming. Global warming is a very hot topic and is controversial to some. Regardless it was found to be a key issue when it came to voting time. In a Yale study it was found that Americans are more likely to vote for a candidate if they supported taking action against global warming. Asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly supports action to reduce global warming, or if it would make no difference, registered voters are three times as likely to say they would be more (43%, up 7 percentage points since October, 2015) rather than less likely (14%) to vote for such a candidate. Conversely, Americans are less likely to vote for someone who doesn’t support actions to be taken against global warming. Asked if they would be more or less willing to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly opposes action to reduce global warming, registered voters are about four times more likely to vote against such a candidate, than to vote for them (45% vs. 11%, respectively). While this may be true across the board for American voters it does vary depending on what party you follow. Democrats are more likely to believe and support action against global warming while Republicans are slightly less on board. Large majorities of Democrats—liberal (95%) and moderate/conservative (80%)—think it is happening, as do three in four Independents (74%, up 15 points since Spring 2014) and the majority of liberal/moderate Republicans (71%, up 10 points). As you can see most Americans are on board with Republicans having slightly lower percentage of people thinking its happening. By contrast, 47% of conservative Republicans think global warming is happening. While a much smaller group in the party, they have seen the most change in percentage of people believing that globally warming is happening. Only 19% believed global warming was happening a few years ago so that brings a 28% change, more than any other group of voters. All in all this is great news when it comes to this important issue because now there is common ground between republicans and democrats. There also is a major shift in the extreme right to where even they are starting to be on board with this change. If this trend continues, and hopefully it does, maybe in the future we will all agree to help save the planet.
As I was shopping the other day for groceries I came across an interesting label, all natural. Being in the classes that I am in for my major and just discussing greenwashing in our class, I knew that all natural didn’t actually mean all natural. But what does this labeling actually mean? Come to find out it can mean a lot of things and there is really no defined definition for all natural products within the FDA. The USDA describes natural foods as being “minimally processed,” meaning salt, sugar, colors, or other artificial ingredients weren’t added to fundamentally change the food. The only problem is the USDA only has authority over certain foods. Much of the authority goes to the FDA and they aren’t doing much about this problem. That in itself is scary and very misleading because many consumers who see this labeling assume that its probably a product not pumped with antibiotics or preservatives or other nasty gunk. Products like these are also most often much cheaper than organic food so this probably seems like a very healthy, cheap alternative. The problem is it’s not and really all natural foods are just organic foods’ impostor, fooling people to believe they are eating healthier. The major problem is companies have taken advantage of this lack of regulation and definition. They have taken all natural as a broad term that can be applied to almost any food including soda, ice cream, and cereal (for a while, there were even natural Cheetos, though Frito-Lay was sued and discontinued the label). If soda is all natural then I want to see where I can find it in nature. Regardless companies aren’t going to give up so easily. In the past 10 years labeling of products as natural or organic has increased ten fold and this corner of the food market is a $40 billion dollar industry. That is a huge amount of money that no company will willingly let go. This makes it up to the consumers to make the right choices and choose to avoid these misleading products.
For years now there has been a floating island of plastic deep in the Pacific ocean. As we know from class this garbage patch is largely composed of small degraded plastics, called micro plastics, that are very hard to clean up. This is one of the greatest environmental disasters to ever take place and the scale of future clean ups will be enormous. There is some hope though, despite the scale and severity. Just the other day as I was on the internet I came across a very interesting article. An article on an actual cleanup solution for the Great Pacific garbage patch. At just 22, Boyan Slat has created a barrier system designed to collect garbage from the ocean that will collect the trash and not disturb marine life. As the CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, Boyan has dedicated his life and company to cleaning the Earths oceans. Currently The Ocean Cleanup is testing their new prototype on the coast of the Netherlands and so far it has worked! Unlike many other cleanup techniques which use nets that could possibly disturb marine life. The Oceans Cleanup prototype uses non-permeable screens to collect trash and plastics, making it possible to keep marine life safe while it is employed. As Boyan Slat explained in the article “It’s sort of like a long floating curtain, which is about five feet above the water and five feet below the water,” he says. “It acts like an artificial coastline where there is no coastline. Ocean currents in the area, they rotate, so it doesn’t stay in one spot,” he says. “We are basically making use of that movement to let the plastic hit the barrier, and because the barrier is in a ‘V’ shape, the plastic gets pushed towards the center.” The companies plan after the materials are collected is to ship them to land where they can be recycled and used for making chairs and car bumpers, materials that have a low probability of ending up in the ocean again. While the prototype is not currently deployed yet in the Pacific ocean, estimates show that the prototype could clean up about 98% of the materials. If all goes well and models prove to be correct this could be one of the greatest clean ups in environmental history.
Last week during class we talked about America’s endless cycle of buying products for happiness. While talking about this and watching the video explaining this cycle I began to think about my last big purchase. My last big purchase was a TV and during the time of purchasing the TV it was very exciting. As a few hours passed, this excitement was gone and life went on. This is true with many of the purchases that I make. There is a brief period of excitement and happiness, then life moves on. The thing is, I am always looking forward to making another big purchase somewhere down the road. I save my money for months and then I find myself buying something.
For most people in America this is very normal and not something that would bring much attention. But as in class last week when I began to realize this endless cycle and insanity. I became conscious of this “problem” and began to reevaluate my purchases. As I was walking home after class. Many thoughts were going through my head and the biggest thought was that I need to just be happy with what I have. Appreciate the things that I have, focus on not what others have or are buying, but focus on myself and loved ones. Life experiences not objects and things. Once I became at peace with this idea, I have been so much happier and life has been much easier.
The problem with our society today in America is that everyone is looking at their neighbors and what they have instead of focusing on what they have right in front of them. While striving for greater objects in life isn’t always bad, it can become detrimental if it becomes an obsession, which it has in America. Now there are probably many factors that weigh into this obsession but one key factor stands out. Advertisements, the main driving force of this obsession has to be advertisements. This was discussed in class last week and I truly believe it is a major aspect of the problem. If someone is exposed to 3,000 advertisements in a day, of course some of them are going to have an influence. Advertisements are always using some angel to get you to buy products, its in their design. So maybe some advertisements don’t affect you but eventually a few will. Its just impossible for them not to with the sheer numbers of exposure. If somehow this could be limited I feel as if people would become much happier. With this being said much more could be done and I hope that one day many more people will wake up to this buying obsession as I have.
By: Edwin Doll
Last week I found the discussion about science in the private catholic schools very interesting, especially since I attended private catholic schools until college. During this discussion I found it very odd that some private catholic schools did not integrate known scientific findings such as evolution in there curriculum. During my twelve years of private school there was not one time evolution was every denied and I found that my science education was very well rounded in the private science education. This being said, the private schools I attended were Roman Catholic private schools, maybe this had something to do with it. Or maybe there has been a misnomer about Catholics being in the science field. In 2014 Pope Francis, the current Pope, came out and said there is no reason to not believe in evolution and that evolution is in fact not inconsistent with the notion that God created the universe. Over the past thousand years there have also been many well known Catholic scientist that have led to great findings in science. Some of the better known ones include Leonardo da Vinci, Saint Albert Magnus, and Mendel. Also in today’s Catholic church there are many priest that are scientist. With this, a majority of about 51 percent of scientist today believe in God or a spiritual higher power. While this is low compared to the general public, it shows that science and religion can, and have been coexisting for a long time. In the subject of Global Climate change, which is a scientific theory, 64 percent of Catholics are worried about global warming and believe/think something should be done. This is a much higher percent of people believing in global warming than even the general american public where about 56 percent believe in global warming. With these examples it could easily be said that Catholics, or just Roman Catholics, believe in science and participate in the science community but this could be just my own little experience. Maybe I got lucky while attending private catholic schools that believed in the importance of science or maybe this type of experience is more prevalent than not. Maybe no one reports on science in catholic schools but instead focuses on the bad or schools, that for example, deny evolution. I truly don’t know but if I were in the news media a story about idiots denying evolution would seem like a much greater story than a story about a catholic school educating kids in science.
By: Edwin Doll
In today’s society there are a lot of problems and many of these problems stem from a culture that has been misinformed. While there are many areas and subjects that have either been ignored or that have been reported incorrectly, the science field is one major subject that has been damaged by this lack of communication. During the 1970’s and into the 1990’s it was not unheard of for around 70% of scientist to be in direct contact with journalist. This was seen as part of the job for scientist during that time and this greatly influenced the communication between scientist and the public. During this time many more people were informed about what was happening within the scientific community which ultimately led to a more informed populace. With this, people had a better understanding of what was happening in the world and the new advances humankind was making. Recently though, scientist are in less contact with journalist and time reported in the news about science has gone down dramatically. This has led to a culture and population that values other subjects more, like for instance sports. While there is nothing wrong with sports. Having an understanding of what is happening within the field of science can be much more beneficial is decisions made in politics and within our culture as a whole. For instance, global warming is an increasing problem for our world but few people actually know the inner workings and causes of global warming. Simple ideas may be known but solutions and the science behind global warming are largely ignored or not known. In recent years there has also been a gap in communication between scientist and journalist, with scientists standing on one side and journalists on the other. While scientist and journalist get along just fine, the form of communication each uses is drastically different. Scientist obviously use more scientific terms that may not be known by everyone and journalist have a more general form of communication that can be understood by most people. This gap has led to many miss communications between scientist and the public which in turn widens the gap between scientist and the general public. So now there is less reported in the news about science and the communication between scientist and people has broken down leading to a major uninformed populace about modern science. Hopefully things can change soon.
Frequency of media contact within the science field.