Author Archive

Just a thought…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 by rudweiser

Lets quit being hypocrites and actually do something about the environment. Here’s some helpful tips for going green.

“Natural” disasters

Posted in Climate Change, Environmental Security, Natural Disasters on April 14, 2010 by rudweiser

It’s understandable that humans have always placed the blame of natural disasters on external forces completely out of our control. We can’t even begin to conceive the possibility that something so radical, something believed to be solely caused by natural cycles on Earth, could be triggered by human activity. It’s not only wrong to think we don’t play a role, but pure ignorance to not consider ourselves as a factor. Earth’s environment is incredibly fragile and can easily be manipulated through the seemingly smallest activities of humans (i.e. burning fossil fuels, introducing alien species, oil drilling, etc). The real trouble arises when we try to change the environment to suit our needs rather than adapting to it. As we try to manipulate it to conserve our current lifestyle, unforeseen consequences are inevitable as we change Earth’s natural ways.

Adapting to the natural environment or ourselves?

How about our on-going race to secure resources? Everything from mining, logging to solar panels and hydro-electricity are being utilized to capture energy and will be used more extensively as the population continues to grow. These are all unnatural and have adverse effects on the natural environment, another way of changing it to our needs.

Three Gorges Dam

According to National Geographic, the Three Gorges Dam could hold enough water that the weight could tilt the Earth approximately 2 to 3 degrees. What effects could this have on the climate? How this climate shift effect natural disasters?

It’s difficult for me to have an optimistic look on the future. We are the smartest organisms on Earth, yet we cannot figure out how to adapt like all other organisms. We’ve dug ourselves in so deep with trying to maintain our current way of life that we have made natural disasters unnatural. Complete restructuring of our political and economic systems to adapt to the environment is a utterly perplexing and seems altogether impossible, yet the only permanent solution.

I’ll do it tomorrow…

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2010 by rudweiser

We are some of the most fortunate people to be  living in Southeast Alaska, and also some of the most blind. We live in such a pristine environment its difficult to perceive the damages that are being inflicted on the environment everyday. Because we are so isolated, we must ship most of our state supplies via boat, airplane and trucking. We import 90% of our food from other states. Alaska’s harsh environment requires vast amounts of fuel to keep our state running. Yet, we don’t perceive the damage we inflict because we cannot physically see it nor feel it when the damaging effects could well be underway.

Pristine Tongass Forest

For example, logging in the Tongass National Forest. This hasn’t been happening on a large scale, but President Obama has recently approved a contract for logging to re-open in the Tongass. The objective to open logging was to give jobs to loggers that are quickly becoming unemployed. Like in the Diamond reading, there are jobs that benefit some while they tend to hurt others. Logging would be a temporary solution to creating an economy while it destroyed our forests which would be permanent for our lifetime and decades to come. Also from the Diamond reading, there is no reason to wait to save a resource for another day when we can use it today. If the day comes where our forests are being logged around us, will we finally realize the severity of our actions? Will we finally get the motivation to go green when it’s too late?

The point is, we don’t perceive the danger of our actions until we see it. Once we see bare mountains, we are likely to make a change with our daily lives to commit in being greener. People need to anticipate problems before they happen, because once they happen, it might not be reversible.

What to believe? What to do?

Posted in Environmental Security, Risk & Fear, Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 by rudweiser

On December 3rd, 1884, more than 27 tons of toxic gases leaked from a pesticide manufacturing facility in the Indian city of Bhopal. The gas spread to bordering communities, killing thousands and leaving 500,000 exposed. The Union Carbide Corporation based in New York never protected the people of Bhopal by knowingly sending untested hazardous technology there and not implementing an emergency plan for a potential gas leak. The company also withheld critical information for medical treatment. Today, the area still has no been decontaminated and still pollutes the drinking water. Very little compensation has been rewarded.

Sound pretty similar? The disaster in White Noise is almost identical to the one in Bhopal, India. The people had no clue of such toxic materials in the area, there was no evacuation plan (SIMUVAC), and the government didn’t have any treatment for such exposure. Not warning any nearby towns is the number one danger because people won’t be ready for such a disaster. But, possibly not granting the public this information was for the best. Certainly I’m not advocating people should die unnecessary deaths, but carrying on with life is much better than worrying everyday.

It’s frightening how much we trust the government with our health and safety. They can tell us whatever they like and because we don’t know any better, we take their word to be true. In White Noise, Jack ponders to himself, “In a crisis the true facts are whatever other people say they are.” If we don’t have any previous knowledge, we accept others facts to be reliable.

It’s frightening the world we inhabit today. We get the impression that we are protected because “The greater the scientific advance, the more primitive the fear,” when really it should raise the fear since technology is usually the cause of these disasters, especially when people handling these have little regard for the safety of the people around. I guess we’re in the hands of others.

So who or what can we trust?

Exxon has failed to clean up much of the oil. It still pollutes the beaches endangers wildlife

California Drought

Posted in Climate Change, Environmental Security, Natural Disasters on February 24, 2010 by rudweiser

California is one of the nations leading agriculture states, generating a gross amount of 36.6 billion dollars in their agriculture industry in 2007. California is also enduring one of the worst droughts in America today as it enters it’s worst prolonged drought since 1921. Although shortage of rainfall is the main culprit, an underlying problem that many people don’t realize is that the problem is them. Water supplies cannot keep up with our rapidly expanding population.

Droughts in America 2009

California has always been a dry state and never relied on rainfall for their crops. Instead, they turn to the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east for water. Obtaining this water greatly depends on the amount of snowfall during the winter season. Lately, warming temperatures have caused snowpacks too soon, preventing the collection in reservoirs. Farmers depend on that water to be collected in the reservoirs to water their crops, without it, the crops will fail as there is very limited rainfall. While farmers continue to sap water from the Sierra Nevadas, very little water is flowing to the ocean, which is responsible for commercial fishing to not have a season the past two years. Conservation efforts have turned pumps off to farms and allowed water to flow to the ocean. This has caused for many farmers in California to become unemployed because there isn’t a sufficient amount of water to go around, one of the major causes of California’s financial crisis. Water is becoming increasingly limited as populations continue to soar. The hard fact to swallow is that there are far too many people in the world to continue producing vast amounts of crops with water becoming scarce. Do we continue to exhaust our resources by trying to maintain current agricultural output? Or, do we somehow find an equilibrium to satisfy economic as well as environmental needs? We must find an answer soon or suffer the consequences of repeating our history.

You can’t tell me what to do, you don’t OWN me!

Posted in Atwood on February 17, 2010 by rudweiser

Well, technically parts of you are owned. It’s possible today to put a patent on life, and it’s happening.  How can you claim ownership on something that’s naturally occurring within every animal on this earth as yours? It’s not legal to put a patent anything naturally occurring, such as a dog or a plant. But genetically modified organisms such as soy beans or mice modified to be prone to cancer, can be patented. For a gene to be patented, it must be in it’s isolated sequence that is not naturally occurring. Today, approximately one fifth of the genes in your body belong to somebody else. This poses many problems concerning our health. If you have a disease, such as breast cancer and you want to get that tissue tested at the hospital, the hospital doesn’t have any say in the price of that test. It is up to the owner of that gene to charge any price they like. Having to pay royalties to use genes that have been patented have diverted scientists from studying diseases such as SARS due to the fear of infringement. Why would anybody want to patent a gene? Most biotech companies claim that the use of patents encourages investments in genetic research. But if there weren’t patents on genes, they would be available for research by many scientists, allowing for a full spectrum of information that could have practical applications to better society’s health. So, to answer the previous blog post, can corporations kill us? Yes. If you can’t afford a simple tissue test for breast cancer because the owner of the gene is charging royalties, how will you know if you have breast cancer? I find it unbelievable/frightening that somebody can claim ownership of a gene that’s within every human being. I don’t see gene patenting as benefiting anybody except for those who collect the royalties.

Further reading:

cnn – breast cancer gene patent lawsuit

http://www.crichton-official.com/essay-nytimes-patentinglife.html