The End

This class opened my eyes to a lot of things I was only somewhat conscious of before but not on a level where I knew enough to feel as though I knew what I was really talking about.  It is so important to be aware of the products you’re using and making sure you’re not falling into a consumer trap.

Honestly, I really did enjoy this class, it’s one of the first classes I’ve ever had that I haven’t skipped.  The workload was definitely reasonable as well and I feel like I still learned a lot of valuable things.

As an aspiring environmental journalist, I hope to take what I learned in this class and utilise it in my career.  It is so important to understand the best way to communicate with your audience and consumer behaviour is something to considre as well.

 

Victoria Obermeyer

I’m Sick of Talking About Climate Change

Many Americans, especially those who lack a significant background on the subject of the environment, feel that climate change is talked about too much.  It’s too depressing but it’s also something that we do not need to worry about just yet.  It is too far in the future.  We need to focus on national security, bringing jobs back to our country, immigration.  However, those who make these arguments tend to forget how much our planet’s health can affect all of these issues.

We already have Americans feeling from climate-related causes (see NYT article).  We see how droughts affected political climate in Syria (see Scientific America article).  We forget more people are now employed through green energy than the oil business and this industry is continuing to grow every day.  Conflict over natural resources like water pose a serious threat as well and we’ve seen problems/ lifestyle changes it can cause in our own country (i.e. the south-west).

So why is it that the media has been talking less and less about it in recent years?  A big part is that it’s not what people want to hear about anymore.  It’s the same old thing, were doomed.  There is nothing we can do we might as well not even try.  It’s not clickbaity enough.

But what I’m really sick of is trying to convince people that climate change is something that we NEED to talk about, that it’s  not some far-off, distant problem but something that has potential to affect our lives (yes, middle/upper class, midwestern Americans) dramatically within the next 20-15 years.  It is something you can change, but it can only be changed through education and personal example.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ominous-story-of-syria-climate-refugees/

Another interesting article on news coverage and the climate crisis: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-32131142

Victoria Obermeyer

Why MOST shampoos suck

Since I was really little I’ve had trouble finding products that don’t irritate my skin.  This has gotten harder and harder over the years because there are so many products that promise “natural” ingredients.  Another downside to sensitive skin is just because a product is “natural” doesn’t mean it won’t irritate your skin.  There are plenty of things in nature that are not necessarily good for you or can have drying/irritating effects on your skin.

Obviously, the demand for these products have grown over the years and so many companies are trying to push this whole “green” aesthetic.  One example is Herbal Essence, which although seems to make your hair soft and silky is actually doing a lot of damage to your hair in the long run.  I know it’s nice to come out of the shower smelling like a tropical breeze but a lot of times those perfumes can really dry out your hair and scalp in the long run.

Additionally these bottles are non-reusable and contribute further to the plastic crisis.  One way to avoid these issues is to look at the back of your bottle.  Do your research on the brand before you start buying.  See if their products are made in a more sustainable way than other companies.  Use bars instead of bottles of shampoo and conditioner.  If that’s not something you’re interested in trying there are some companies even allow you to send back your bottle to be refilled.  A brand I highly recommend is Dr.Bronners, you can get your bottles refilled, its ingredients are clearly listed and explained on the website, and its non-irritating even for me!

 

Victoria Obermeyer

 

Green Lawns Ain’t Green

As we discussed in class, lawns, for the most part, are not in any way natural.  The lawns we think of today were first introduced in England during the early 1700s by Capability Brown, a landscape architect.

Obviously, one of the biggest problems with lawns are the harmful products used to maintain them; pesticides and herbicides.  One thing people tend to forget when it comes to lawns is the amount of water they use.  For example, in places like California or Nevada, where the landscape is supposed to be literally desert, people still have lush green lawns, which is obviously totally unnatural.

Another downside of a lawn is how much they take away and have potential to destroy a lot of natural landscape.  America has an extremely diverse variety of landscapes and all of the differing plant and animal life are there for a reason and have been adapting for thousands of years in order to efficiently survive in whatever part of they country they are found.

Why is it that refusing to participate in something so potentially destructive to so many ecosystems so taboo in our culture?  Clearly, it has to do with social status and fitting the cultural norm within our country.  But why waste so much time, energy, and money, on something detrimental to environmental diversity?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-hostetler/are-lawns-bad_b_1362571.html

 

Victoria Obermeyer

Before the Flood

In case you already didn’t know, Leonardo Dicaprio’s film Before the Flood premiered this weekend on National Geographic.  It is also available on Youtube (yes the whole thing): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90CkXVF-Q8M

If you haven’t already seen I recommend checking it out.  Fair warning, it is a pretty depressing film for almost the whole time, but near the end, they get a bit more positive and tell you what you can do to change things.  But if you want to see something really depressing just read the comments below the people.  Even though there are a lot of people saying positive things, there are a lot of people denying climate change.  People saying it is Leo’s best performance, that it is liberal propaganda.

It also touches on a lot of different aspects of climate change, from showing how it is affecting our planet currently, to how it is projected to affecting our planet in the future.  It touches on the meat industry, palm oil, and other various issues.  It covers what most climate change documentaries already has but it was also really well produced and of course having a huge celebrity host it brings in a lot of attention from people who might not be viewing it before.

The fact that they also made it available online for free really shows that they’re trying to promote awareness and hopefully more people give it a chance.

 

Victoria Obermeyer

What Happened When I Climbed a Mountain

Okay so I didn’t technically climb a mountain but now you’re here and you might as well read my story.

After a summer of working, I had enough in my savings for a trip to Seattle.  On my way to the Pacific Northwest, I was blown away by the huge mountains we were flying over.  Even in a plane they seemed to dwarf those I was used to seeing on my hiking trips to the Appilacines.

Our first day we went Rainier National Park and this was definitely my favorite hike of the entire trip.  I’d never experienced a landscape like this before.   The trail was lined with wildflowers and pines and the air was clear and clean and fresh.  We hiked through snow in the middle of August.  I have always had love and deep appreciation for nature, but ever since this trip, I see “wildness”differently.  Its not the kind of feeling that can really be conveyed in a picture but its an entire experience.  All of the pictures I’ve seen haven’t even compared to what it actually felt like to be there in person. As a photojournalism student, this trip changed my approach on documenting nature and trying to find ways to convey such an awesome experience through visual storytelling.  But again, the pictures don’t do it justice.

 

Victoria Obermeyer

Your Aunt’s Facebook Posts

We all have one.  Whether it is someone you are actually related to, an old friend you haven’t seen in 6 years, or just some acquaintance  you regretfully added without knowing how not so privately ridiculous they are.  Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and having friends with varying opinions from your own is a great thing to have.  However, we all have at least one friend on Facebook who clearly has no idea what they’re talking about whether they’re anti-vaccers, climate change deniers, or something along those frightening lines.

We all also probably know when it comes to questioning their article on why tearing down the rainforest is all part of God’s plan there is no arguing.  Any facts given are “manipulated” or unable to be trusted because of the “liberal” source they came from.  Who knew the UN was biased?  Of course, a lot of the media we consume is far from perfect or unbiased.  And it’s good to look to multiple sources in order to gain a balanced opinion, but ignoring all facts and reason and professionals who dedicate their entire lives to what they study is ridiculous.

For example, before Harambe become some huge joke, I posted a status on Facebook about how we should take the time to focus on conservation of his wild counterparts (which is still relevant, I don’t find any part of the whole Harambe “joke” in any way funny) with this link: https://gorillafund.org/ (which you all should check out).  It was then followed my “Aunt” arguing that species depletion is irrelevant to human population size and will never affect people, as well as the claim that polar bears are in no direct danger because of climate change, so don’t worry “she did the math”.

It’s sad to think how many people out there really do just deny the truth and almost seem to be offended by science.  Hopefully one day the gap between science and the public will be less obvious.

Victoria Obermeyer