Environmental Literature | Social Justice | Sustainable Futures

Kevin Bhimani- Blog #3

January 26th, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Bhimani in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Keyword: Evolution

The dichotomy between schools of thought surrounding the topic of evolution presents an intriguing, yet incredibly divisive situation. On one hand there is the argument for religion and the notion that humans and the world filled with the biodiversity that we see today was created by a higher power that we cannot fully understand with our current technology. And on the other hand there is the argument for science and years of evolution that have created the world as we know it. The latter, backed by concrete evidence, has opened up a number of doors to the interpretation of evolution and the origins of every life form that we know exists. As Adamson put it, “evolution repositions humans as mortals within a temporal continuum; it connects us integrally, not only with all animals but also with our microbial ancestors…” (Adamson 113). The notion that we all started as eukaryotic cells that have evolved over time to become animals, fungi, and more is an unbelievable concept. In recent memory, there have been numerous debates about the concept of evolution and it remains one of the most controversial topics today. This video additionally presents a clear argument for the evolutionary theory made famous by the findings of Charles Darwin by observing the organisms on the Galapagos Islands. The natural selection that he observed in finches made a breakthrough in thought similar to the days of when the geocentric point of view was debunked for the accurate heliocentric model. I believe that moving forward, there needs to be increased emphasis on our evolution as beings not simply at a biological level, but in the way we think. We need to realize the gravity of our actions and make a connection to hold ourselves accountable if we want to remain on this earth that we all too often take for granted.

Works Cited:

Adamson, Joni, William A. Gleason, and David N. Pellow. Keywords for Environmental Studies. New York: New York UP, 2016. Print.




Blog Post 1- Victoria Grant

January 26th, 2017 | Posted by Victoria Grant in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Prompt: “What is your favorite movie with an environmental message? Why? Do you think films that show what you value and do not want harmed (such as beautiful sunsets at the beach or healthy children playing at a park) or document a problem (such as people walking through apocalyptic floods or dirty water coming out of someone’s faucet) or portray a fictional time and place motivate people more? Why?”

Since I was little, I have loved seeing children’s themed animated films: Disney and DreamWorks alike. Although a vast amount of time has passed, I have not grown out of love with the films I saw in the theaters as a child. Majority of the movies I saw still resonate with me especially the environmentally conscious film, Happy Feet. The 2006 film was not only enjoyable for all ages, Happy Feet introduced environmental issues in a relatable manner which allowed all who watched to understand the issue. Despite my young age, I could understand the message the screenwriter wanted to portray to their audience. Leaving the theater, adults, and children younger than me discussed the environmental issue they had been educated on. Happy Feet conveyed the message to even some of the youngest members of the audience and influenced viewers, like me, to choose to join efforts to improve environmental conditions.

Several avenues can be taken to address the environmental issues including: apocalyptic portrayals or upbeat animated films. Happy Feet was particularly effective because, the movie was understandable. Documentaries and informative films express their information which may not be relatable to everyone who observes the production. Environmental education varies from region to region: person to person. A general problem acknowledged between science and society is a lack of understanding. Scientists have discovered their limitations in progress and awareness because, the average citizen does not have an equally extensive education: preventing them from understanding the impacts of their findings or how science relates to them. With films like Happy Feet, society becomes connected to the scientific world at a basic level of understanding and can influence change.

Works Cited.

Kingdom Feature Productions ; Animal Logic ; Kennedy Miller Productions ; Village Roadshow Pictures ; produced by Bill Miller, George Miller, Doug Mitchell ; written by Warren Coleman … [and others] ; directed by George Miller. Happy Feet. Burbank, CA :Warner Home Video, 2007. Print.

Cox, Robert, and Phaedra C. Pezullo. “Chapter 4 The Environment in/of Visual and Popular Culture.” Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2016. Print.

Name: Victoria Grant

Hometown: Lawrenceville, Georgia

(Intended) Major: Environmental Science and Policy and Biology (?)

Three topics/ideas/issues that intrigue me: Conservation Genetics, Animal Conservation, &  Environmental Law

Interesting Piece of News I Read Today: Badlands National Park is Tweeting Out Climate Change Facts in Defiance of Donald 🙂

1. Some climate scientists and journalists have complained that the public cannot “see” global warming. How would you solve this problem? Which medium do you think can most compellingly express the impacts of prolonged drought, rising sea levels, disease, and so forth?

I think it is a matter of time before it “hits” the public’s thoughts that global warming is actually at our footsteps- but we all need to actively show that global warming is happening NOW. Yes, there are existing efforts underway that attempt to show this, but I still personally perceive this to not be enough, as some of the efforts are diluted in telling the public that global warming will affect humans immensely in say, 150 to 300 years. It is in human nature to not take immediate action against their behavioral norms when they feel that their actions might not have an immediate consequence. I feel that to many of us, the issue of global warming has been thrown around so much, and so broadly, that we all kind of feel that global warming is a very slow thing and that we are all, at the moment, “ok”.

By focusing our efforts on showing the effects of global warming NOW, I think the message will be much more effective, and by nature, it will allow the public to “see” global warming. Personally, I at one point, felt somewhat detached to the issue of global warming by this very precise reason. I knew of it because of books, and what I learned from my teachers – and I definitely believed it. But I always had the view that this was one of many problems humanity faced, and this particular issue can take a backseat to those problems because the timescale is larger than say, people’s health effects by drinking water from a polluted lake. My perceptions were immediately changed when my parents took me to Bangladesh, the country of my ancestry, in the summer of 2010. I had been to Bangladesh many times in the past, but it was always in the North, were my grandparents and relatives lives. This time, my father took me to the southern coastal region of Bangladesh so then I could see the different, much more difficult life those in that region were living. I was stunned to see that in many places, I was knee deep in water. I noticed the ruined remains of homes due to the high elevation of the water. My father told me that 30 years ago, this region was always dry – but steadily, as sea levels rose, the region progressively flooded more and more, to the present state of today.

When I got back home, my father showed me pictures of what the region looked like before, back when he was a kid. It struck me hard – global warming was real, AND it was happening NOW. People’s lives homes and belongings are being displaced, and their lives ruined.

So I feel the most ideal thing is to physically show people the places directly affected by global warming as I had seen – but clearly this isn’t feasible. The next best thing is to spread the pictures and videos of regions like southern Bangladesh via online video sites like YouTube, and television programming. This is the next best thing to do. Increasingly , the issue of low-lying lands being affected by rising sea levels is coming to the doorsteps of nations like America, which arguably have had the greatest impact on causing global warming to begin with. I believe that once this starts to happen on a larger scale, such media propagation via television and online websites will dramatically increase.


“Rethinking How to Help Water-logged Communities in Bangladesh.” IRIN. N.p., 01 Dec. 2015. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.

Cox, Robert, and Phaedra C. Pezullo. “Chapter 4 The Environment In/of Visual and Popular Culture” Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2016. Print.

Intro Blog: Thabit Pulak

January 24th, 2017 | Posted by Thabit Pulak in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Name: Thabit Pulak

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Major: Environmental Sciences and Policy , and Biology

Three topics/ideas/issues that intrigue me: Clean Water, Sustainable Economics, Life expectancy/Quality of Life

Most interesting bit of news I read today (or lately): President Trump has passed an executive order to move forward with the construction of the Dakota Pipe Line this morning :/

Intro Blog: Nanki Singh

January 23rd, 2017 | Posted by Nanki Singh in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Name: Nanki Singh

Hometown: New Delhi, India

Major: Public Policy and Global Health (Potential)

Three topics/ideas/issues that intrigue me: Public Health, sustainability via technology, Evolutionary Biology

Most interesting bit of news I read today (or lately): A new study has found that parrotfish are critical for coral reef health!!


The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
What a Plant Knows by Daniel Chamovitz


Water: Friend or Foe? Exploring water, life, and ethics
“This year’s Ethics Film Series investigates the ethical and moral questions that arise when water becomes “the enemy,” the cursed necessity that is too scarce or too polluted. Without water, there is no life, and film provides a spectacular means of depicting the unfortunate cases when water can ruin one’s life. This series splits its time between examining water scarcity and water pollution as drivers of human action.”

Scientific Communication

The US environmental movement needs a new message

Getting a scientific message across means taking human nature into account

How to Convince Non-Recyclers to Ditch the Trash Bag

Prompt: “What is your favorite movie with an environmental message? Why? Do you think films that show what you value and do not want harmed (such as beautiful sunsets at the beach or healthy children playing at a park) or document a problem (such as people walking through apocalyptic floods or dirty water coming out of someone’s faucet) or portray a fictional time and place motivate people more? Why?”

When I was in tenth grade, I watched the ABC program Earth 2100, which attempted to predict the events of the next century based on our current [something] climate change, energy use, and treatment of natural resources. I wouldn’t necessarily call it my favorite environmental movie, but it is definitely the one that has had the biggest impact on me. It was terrifying to see that level of death and carnage laid out in a way that seemed entirely plausible, especially since they relied on an array of experts to make fact-based, logical predictions about the course of history. It gave me the impression of a dystopian future that was quickly approaching and nearly unstoppable, and I felt an overwhelming and slightly panicky sense of urgency by the end.

The advantage of depicting this hypothetical future was that the filmmakers had the ability to portray problems of a nature and dimension that have never been scene in modern times. Because it was a combination of the fantastically unprecedented and disconcertingly plausible, I think the film had a much greater emotional impact and motivated me more than it would have otherwise. Additionally, it not only showed what the world might look like if humans continue to ignore environmental disasters and global warming, but also took the audience through each failure and missed opportunity for action along the way, which made the subsequent destruction and loss of life far more devastating to experience.

Works Cited:

Bednar, R., Bicks, M., Avellino, R., Hirsch, L., Hanan, M., Neufel, J., Thomas, A., … MPI Home Video (Firm). (2009). Earth 2100. Orland Park, Ill.: MPI Home Video.

Cox, Robert, and Phaedra C. Pezullo. “Chapter 4 The Environment in/of Visual and Popular Culture.” Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2016. Print.

Many people have become motivated to care about ecology (particularly air quality and water quality) because they have or know some who has asthma, cancer, or another illness that is environmentally triggered. Do you or someone you know have health concerns that shape your relationship with the environment?

It has always been intriguing to me the way that people choose to think and behave based on an issue’s closeness to them. An issue can be easily dismissed by people who do not feel an urgent or immediate conscience of said issue. Our perceptions of a situation are impacted by our own personal relationship to the problem at hand. While air and water quality are definitely environmental concerns, the urgency to change public attitudes and behaviors relating to these problems only comes when they are viewed as human health concerns. The fault in this phenomenon of thinking is the initial separation of the environment and humans. The Environment is perceived to be some far off, distant entity that we as individuals have no direct impact on; when in reality, the environment is everything from the air we breathe to the ecological systems that we disrupt with light pollution.


Protestors of Flint Water Crisis (http://www.blackbottomarchives.com/blackpapersocialjustice/2016/10/11/flint-still-doesnt-have-water)

By connecting human life to the environment, there is more of a responsibility felt on our parts to ensure healthy relations and behaviors. My relationship with the environment is undoubtedly shaped by the health of people in areas who are either affected by environmental oppression, or people in nations that have harsh ecological conditions which hinder development. Cox speaks of “sacrifice zones” which are essentially areas in which legislatures feel less responsibility to protect the environment due to the race or socioeconomic status of the people in said region. This discriminatory, illogical thinking strips people of the basic right to a clean, healthy living environment.


Work Cited

Cox, Robert, and Phaedra C. Pezullo. “Chapter 2 Contested Meanings of the Environment.” Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2016. Print.

Prompt: Is wilderness merely a symbolic construction? Does this matter to whether or not you want to protect it?

Our perception and understanding of the word ‘wilderness’ is a symbolic construction. Cox presents the contested history of Yosemite Valley as evidence of this construction, noting that the Mariposa Battalion cleansed the region of Native Americans in order to establish “pristine wilderness.” As a result, Watkins’ famed photographs of Yosemite depict spotless landscapes, untouched by humans, solidifying the symbolic construction of wilderness. Much of the modern perception of wilderness in the United States can be traced back to the events in Yosemite, when humans decided that wilderness meant “an uncultivated, uninhabited region.” By evicting the Native Americans from the valley, they decided that the presence of humans in the wilderness would compromise the wild qualities of those regions.

This distanced, human-free construction of wilderness hinders the ability and drive for humans to protect it. We are inherently driven by gains: economic, interpersonal, individual. Because wilderness is depicted as an isolated system, independent of human life, it doesn’t provide the same motivation to protect as other things do. Our history with Yosemite and cultural definitions of wilderness have forced a disconnect between ourselves and the wild. The symbolic construction of wilderness represents a mental state in which we believe that wilderness is a place that we do not belong since it must be untouched.

In order to protect something, we must find value in it. It must matter to us personally, because it affects us personally. When wilderness becomes relatable, we are more inclined to want to protect it, and by extension protect ourselves. As the symbolic construction of wilderness stands now, there is little incentive to protect, however this does not prevent the symbolic construction of wilderness from changing and becoming more accessible to the public in the future.

Works Cited:

Cox, Robert, and Phaedra C. Pezullo. “Chapter 4 The Environment In/of Visual and Popular Culture.” Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2016. Print.