Archive for the Uncategorized Category

HAROLDS, INTROS, AND ALL THAT

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2011 by Conor

Hello Sarah and fellow academic laborers,

Anyone else ready to go to a class where we can talk about Shaun of the Dead and The Book of Eli without being accused of wasting time?

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When It’s All Said and Done, I Want It to be Over: Final Blog Post

Posted in Natural Disasters, Post-Apocalypse, Risk & Fear, Uncategorized on April 28, 2010 by cjreevesii

As I sit here writing my last blog post, I am reminded of all of the others that not only I, but my classmates have written before. A various range of genres flooding my thoughts, but all pertaining to one specific subject: eco- collapse. During my time in this class I have learned a lot about what makes our world go round, and if I may correctly say, what will eventually make it stop turning altogether. However, after everything I have learned from this class, two questions continue to pop in mind. Is the earth really going to end? If so, why are we trying to stop it? Although I understand that we as humans are selfish and would love to preserve our time spent controlling every possible element of the earth we can, I myself think that it would be better to let the earth die.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone want the earth to die? Surely that would mean the death of all mankind dying with it. Well, I will tell you why. After much reading (thanks professor Ray) and discussion on what direction our planet is heading, I have determined that the conclusion is not good. Surely after all of the war, pollution, extinction, deprivation, death, global warming, natural disasters, (and the list goes on) the earth will be a ball of flames, born anew out of ashes, spinning without us. Although this may seem a bleak and out willful future, I believe it will ultimately do the earth more good to continue without us. Honestly, it’s no secret that we humans have done nothing to help restore the balance in the world. More accurately, we are almost always the cause of any bad thing happening on the planet, and sadly we do not seem to see the error of our ways.

Alan Weisman, the author of The World Without Us, gives us an astounding realization of our behaviors when he says “Every four days our population raises by 1 million. Since we really can’t grasp the effects of the numbers, we will crash and burn just like other species have done in the past.” It’s clear to see that from our own destructive ways we are harming the planet more every day. Would it be so much of a stretch to think that we humans could have one act of selflessness and ‘take on for team earth’? Surely we all know that the earth can go on without us. I would even venture to say that it will do quite better without human influence misguiding its path.

Well, from my perspective, when it’s all said and done, I want it to be over for us humans. Although I am eager to see just how many other share my opinion. Weisman seems to think that no matter what (even if the human race becomes extinct) we will never truly leave the earth alone. He ended his essay (which I will leave you with as well) with these last haunting lines. “Or even one day-long after we are gone, unbearably lonely for the beautiful world which we so foolishly banished ourselves- we, or our memories, might surf home abroad some comic electromagnetic waves to haunt our beloved earth.”

Charles’s Job IV

Posted in Climate Change, Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 28, 2010 by Conor

Charles watched his screens, observed his computers, interrogating their square faces, watching for ticks and twitches that would hint at a hidden truth his instruments could be hiding from him. Finally satisfied that the world was still fucked up beyond his stone chambers, he turned and walked to the nursery. As he walked in, he looked up to track the simulated sun as it passed across the ceiling. The ceiling, actually a giant screen, ran a program that simulated the passing of day and night and it was seasonally sensitive. During winter, the photoperiod was shorter, the night longer, and the ambient temperature of the room dropped a few degrees. Even though it wasn’t in the original programming, Charles eventually rewrote the program to include clouds, snow, rain, all with a simulated appearance on the man-made sky. He would spend hours in there, watching as the clouds floated across the ceiling, looking for shapes, trying to ignore the fact that it was on a loop and every twenty minutes, the same shapes would crawl above him. Although he could program the ceiling to simulate storm clouds, to make it seem as though he was looking up into a pouring sky, and even as the recording of rain drops throwing themselves into the soil played over the speakers, his face still remained dry and he didn’t feel the tiny liquid bombs exploding on his forehead, on his closed eyelids, the flowers of H20 blooming from their tear shaped buds across his cheeks and the shrapnel and spent petals rolling down his face finally leaping from his chin towards the soil. Nothing touched him, though the phantom memory of rain did brush his skin, phantom spray from a childhood sprinkler. Despite the absence of rain, his cheeks were still wet when he opened his eyes.

Charles continued through to the second chamber of the nursery, partitioned off by one revolving door immediately followed by another. As Charles passed into the gene nursery he stood and waited for his eyes to adjust. In the previous room the light was changing constantly but here it was a consistent low, red glow bathing everything in an ominous light. The sound was just as different. Where as the patternless, chaotic patter of rain filled the previous room, this one was filled with a deep throbbing. When Charles closed his eyes he always felt as though he was inside a giant bass drum. He opened the cabinet in the corner, donning gown and mask and gloves. Charles stood for a moment and gazed down the gene nursery, more like a wide corridor than a room. On each side of the room were vats, the size of trash cans, filled with a clear liquid. The vats nearest the door appeared to be empty but as he walked down the room the contents changed. A small dot, or speck for the first few vats, then larger and larger objects. As he progressed down the room, each vat was filled with a more recognizable shape. A fetal curl, the neck, bent as though in prayer, a thoughtless lump asking forgiveness for sins not yet enacted. Moving down the aisle, toes became distinct, ears, a nose, after a certain size umbilical cords tethered the fetuses to nourishment, which was precisely regulated. After passing to the rear of the chamber, he turned to the last vat. A fully formed human male, his DNA donated by healthy Government employees that had passed the genetic screening. He had Charles’s nose. And Dr. Daniel’s mouth.

Charles wheeled over a stool, locking it in place so that it wouldn’t skitter out from under him as he brought his fragile son into the world. Charles unclasped the grips holding the glass womb in place and manipulated the hinges attaching it vertically to the wall, extending its support arm like a boom, bringing the second to last human he knew for sure was alive to a rest, a few degree from horizontal. Opening a vent in the base of the container, the amniotic fluid began to flow into the drain in the floor, a torrential flood of viscous goo. As the last of the fluid drained out Charles gave the base a sharp twist, unlocking it with a wet click, letting it fall clattering to the floor. Instead of reaching in to grab the new-born, he simply let it slide slowly out of the tube that had been its home for the last nine months, the amniotic fluid turning the beaker into a slide. As the child’s weight settled into his hands, he pulled a rubber ear cleaner out of the cradle, squirting two quick burst of air at each nostril, and immediately this bundle of cells, this wet bag of miniature organs, tiny bones, and enormous potential, began to wail. Charles wrapped him in a blanket, and held him close. Leaning in to the baby’s ear, Charles chose his words very carefully.

“Hello Kael, my name is Charles. I’ve waited a long time to meet you. Welcome to the New Earth.”

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.

Fear and Holocaust

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 by briannichols

                We have touched on race and its relation to eco-collapse in reading Don Delillo’s novel White Noise. For example, Jack as a professor of Hitler studies is caught off guard when The Air-born Toxic Event happens in his small rural community of upper class citizens. This is due to his belief that such disasters only happen to the poor or people in underdeveloped countries. Delillo also comments on the media’s role in representing the toxic event, especially, in the case of television.  Mike Davies, in his book Ecology of Fear, explores the issue of race, eco-collapse, and media even further.

                In his book, Davies explains that, “Ironically, the richest and poorest landscapes in southern California are comparable in the frequency with which they experience incendiary disaster” (Davies 98). There are parallels between the two readings, especially in the manner how media generates fear.  In Delillo’s novel, for example, when the Gladney family fled from their homes because of The Air-Born Toxic Event, they  encountered a man carrying a TV set who was more concerned that their situation was not be televised then he was in fear of the disaster itself.  In a similar manner, Davies explains how Malibu, beach home of the stars, receives much media attention with its continual years of fire disasters while tenement fires in the downtown areas of Los Angeles receive little. Media then seems to determine public responses to disaster. If the characters in Delillo’s novel fear media representations of disaster then Davies’ book proclaims that media representations of disaster can have holocaust like affects. For example Davies often refers to tenement fires in downtown L.A as holocaust events in explaining that fire regulations and preventions are often ignored while massive rescue efforts carried out just a few miles away in Malibu.

                Furthermore, wealthy elites have used the media as a weapon against minorities, homeless, and environmental groups. In this manner, they are able to petition protected wild life habitat for the development while restricting access to others. If we have discussed the role of gated communities in novels such as Parable of the Sower we see here the beginning of such communities although like the holocaust minorities seem to be excluded from and targeted by the famous and wealthy.  

Here’s an interesting youtube clip on war and fear:

Just cut your losses.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 by Courtney

Why on earth would you want to move back after a natural disaster displaces you and destroys everything you own – repeatedly? Now living in Alaska, we do have avalanches and every now and then an occasional tsunami warning. We have had an avalanche take out our hydro power lines twice in one calendar year (two separate winters). Though it is true that we had to pay a lot for diesel power, it didn’t really affect my home situation. There was an incident quite in 1958 in Lituya Bay that had a record megatsunami wave that snapped 6 foot thick spruce trees 1,719 feet up in elevation. Now, we do get tsunami warnings occasionally, but because of the inter-island water ways, the islands block us from any wave that would come our way. Lituya Bay was different because a massive land slide at the opening of the bay caused the megatsunami and most tsunami warnings that we get come across the ocean.

Lituya Bay - Oblique aerial photograph of Lituya Bay in the Summer of 1958.  Damage from the 1958 megatsunami appears as the lighter-colored areas on the shores where trees have been stripped away.

Now, having said all of this, if my home was in constant danger from avalanches in the winter, such as tornado season or flooding season, I would take my place of residency with a grain of salt. I would know that my home would be in danger during a certain time of year and either have to live with that fact and constantly be worried about being homeless should mother nature chose it so. If my home almost got destroyed a lot, or did actually get destroyed, I think that I would cut my losses and buy a home in a different place. Now I love living in Alaska, so maybe I would just move towns, Petersburg and Sitka are nice places. But I don’t think that I would continue to live with the stress of having my home destroyed.

For the people of Greensburg Kansas, I have to wonder why they re-built. Their town was completely destroyed by a tornado. Because they have a tornado warning system, I can assume that this is not the first time that it has happened. When it did actually get destroyed, I have to wonder if their efforts will not be in vain a few years down the road if another tornado hits them again.

Katrina-noaaGOES12.jpg

I am thinking that maybe there are just some places that people shouldn’t live. With New Orleans, it is on the coast, but BELOW SEA LEVEL…. and why is this a good idea?

I do not understand why people do not evacuate in natural disaster emergencies. Living on the ocean, I can only liken it to a sinking boat – get off, or die. I would chose to get off the boat. There were also reports of people in New Orleans shooting at rescuers, and even killing police officers because the people did not want to leave. Fine. Leave them. Save the people that actually want to be saved.

But why do people still want to live there even after all of this?

Temporary Paradise in San Bernardino

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2010 by rcspray

A cloud of black smoke descends on my hometown.

As a former resident of Southern California,  Mike Davis’ “The Case for Letting Malibu Burn” made me remember the wildfires I’d experienced. Though approximately 70 miles from Malibu, the same conditions exist: dry foothills and Santa Ana winds. In October of 2003, the ‘Old Fire’ started in the mountains above my hometown of San Bernardino. One site describes the impact of the fire as such:

“Fanned by the Santa Ana Winds, the fire burned 91,281 acres (369.4 km2), destroyed 993 homes and caused 6 deaths. The final cost of the fire was $42 million dollars. It should be noted that a USFS report on the “true” combined costs of the 2003 Old Fire, Padua, and the Grand Prix wildfires which burned at the same time was nearly $1.3 billion. When cleanup, watershed damages and other costs are considered beyond the mere “bill” for firefighting, wildfire impacts are much higher than many realize.

The fire threatened San Bernardino and Highland, as well as the mountain resort communities of Crestline, Running Springs and Lake Arrowhead and forcing upwards of 80,000 residents to evacuate their homes.’”

For a middle school girl, the tower cloud of dark smoke engulfing my city terrified me. The winds were incredible, everything not anchored down took to the sky. And my father’s new pastorate was in the heart of the burn center.

But I’d have to say Barbara Solnit describes my experience the best:

“Few speak of paradise now, except as something remote enough to be impossible. The ideal societies we hear of are mostly far away or long ago or both, situated in some primordial society before the Fall or a spiritual kingdom in a remote Himalayan vastness. The implication is that we here and now are far from capable of living such ideals. But what if paradise flashed up among us from time to time – at the worst of times? What if we glimpsed it in the jaws of hell?”

And: “The positive emotions that arise in those unpromising circumstances demonstrate that social ties and meaningful work are deeply desired, readily improvised, and intensely rewarding.”

The day after the main fire descended on the town, the members of my father’s church, in the heart of the burn area, meet in the sanctuary for organizational meeting and prayer. Across the street, three houses had burned to the ground. So had the houses to the side of the church, yet it suffered only a warped window.

The rest of the day was spent out of the streets as the congregation banned together to provide victims with whatever we could. We barbequed hotdogs and hamburgers and walked the devastated streets handing out food to people who stood in the pile of ashes that yesterday had been there home.

The church has always emphasized community outreach with frequent handouts and Christmas caroling, but that day spent in what no longer resembled our neighborhood was perhaps their best. We stopped at every single plot, gave people everything we could and referred them back to the church for more supplies.

For most of the year, that neighborhood was unreachable. People hid behind their doors, their fences, their walls. But that day it was truly a community.

But, back to Davis, that community didn’t last too long. All to soon the walls started to be rebuilt, and with a different class dynamic. Whereas before, the neighborhood has been a mix from lower- to upper-class families, now only the middle-upper and upper-class remained, rebuilt their dream homes, meticulously landscaped, yet to this day burnt out plots of those who couldn’t afford to come back remained.

Panorama of the 'Old Fire' as it burned at night.