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.

Rescue ME Blondie

Posted in Environmental Security, Popular Culture, War with tags , , on April 21, 2010 by jessicabarranco

Punk heroine to the rescue! Beware of blondes and lipgloss

Well, I can’t find the actual comic strip to post… but I did get a kick out of the movie!

Just wanted to pass it on.

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:

T.M.I. (Too Many Issues) in Natural Disasters

Posted in Environmental Security, Natural Disasters, Rhetoric on April 15, 2010 by Rita

This is my last blog and I feel somewhat slacking in my responsibilities. Yet, on the other hand, I am struggling with this week’s topic: Natural Disasters.

Don’t get me wrong, I know what Natural Disasters are and as you’re reading this I’m sure you’ve thought of at least a dozen recent Natural Disasters. I know that I could have inserted copious numbers of videos illustrating examples of this week’s topic but I felt it would be trite.

I have never been in a Natural Disaster yet, I can empathize with those who have and survived. Reading Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell and the article, “We Know This Place”: Neoliberal Racial Regimes and the Katrina Circumstance by Jordan T. Camp and the constant reference to Sunni Patterson’s poem, We Know This Place, I literally cannot grasp the topics discussed and I honestly do not understand where the authors are coming from.

An example of being unable to wrap my mind around these topics is Sunni Patterson’s relating how the citizens of the Ninth Ward (predominantly poor blacks) in New Orleans were mistreated after hurricane Katrina is in direct relation to the days of slavery. Maybe its my naive nature but I never thought of the issues raised by the authors.

A Natural Disaster is horrendous and we all realize that the media cannot and the vast majority do not report without an agenda or bias, so it is no surprise when listening or watching the news that only what has “shock value” and/or looks “good” on camera is reported on.

I don’t understand why these authors and the communities devastated by disasters feel/believe that their governments must rush in and save them. Is it actually written in any of the constitutions of the governments of the world?

I guess for me knowing how the U.S. government has behaved in the wake of Natural Disasters in this country and how it has treated it’s citizens makes it crystal clear that it cannot and should not be relied upon in a community’s time of need.

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.

“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.