Environmental Literature | Social Justice | Sustainable Futures

Author Archives: Kevin Bhimani

Final Project Abstract – Kevin Bhimani

April 7th, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Bhimani in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Kevin Bhimani Final Project Abstract


Tesla, Solar Energy, and the Next Wave of Innovation in the 21st Century


The world in which we live in today is essentially unrecognizable to an average citizen in the 1920s for example. The level of advances that we have seen in the past few decades has absolutely revolutionized our world. It has been a period in which we have seen the most rapid change in human history. What I will detail in this project is the new wave of innovation that we not only have begun to see, but will see in the future and how that will impact our environmental well-being. It seems like there has been a shift in ideology—before innovation was centered around the notion of pushing the boundary for the sake of advancing our knowledge and making our lives better and easier, whereas now much of the focus has shifted. We have started to look at how we can leverage this technology to ensure the long-term well-being of our planet. I will analyze how the intersection of economics, politics, and private companies dealing with products in electric cars, solar panels, solar roads, and more will shape our world in the future.


I will do research pertaining to this topic and then conduct a hands-on survey of students on key concepts and issues in order to gauge a better understanding of this and will then incorporate my findings into the final project.

Blog #9 – Kevin Bhimani

March 31st, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Bhimani in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Kevin Bhimani Blog #9 3/31/17


“Permanent-Permutable Permacultural Futures”


By reading about Permaculture and especially getting an in-depth look by watching Inhabit, it is hard to argue that there is any better way to plan for the future. The whole idea behind Permaculture is rooted in the notion that it is “permanent agriculture” so that all of the needs that plants have are met by the natural world. I think one of the most intriguing concepts behind it is thinking about how nature works and getting a true understanding as to how the different parts function. It is a very difficult task to do and seeing the ways in which people have come up with entire farms based off of nothing but rethinking the way in which they organize, design, and populate in order to ensure success for what they hope is eternity. Essentially recreating an ecosystem that nobody can teach you how to make—you simply have to observe “the teacher” in a forest for example and figure out a way to engineer your space to fit those loose guidelines. It is really an interesting concept and it was incredible to see people like the man on the rooftop garden having a very well thought out design for his space even with bees for natural pollinators, or the group harvesting mushrooms on logs in the forest, needing nothing else but the sunlight and natural ecosystem to grow them. The movement is something that could transform the way in which we source our food as it requires such essentially no power, and currently every form of mass food production uses tons of energy. If we move to having our own food sources or even have food that is produced with no power, we will be able to thrive as a society with the ability to make food and harvest other resources just like they used to do it. It reduces our carbon footprint as a people and prolongs our time on this planet—something that seems like a no-brainer situation.

Blog #8 – Kevin Bhimani

March 24th, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Bhimani in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Kevin Bhimani 3/24/17 Blog #8

Environmental Art

Seeing what our world has come to to express the need for change is a humbling moment. The need for ice sculptures to make an impact, or a visual representation of endangerment, or the need to show people what our future could look like with digital representations of the beautiful fauna that we see today gives a new perspective on our standing as a society. The type of environmental change art that has become an increasingly popular medium for commentary is alarming as it means we are not listening to the problems that we are facing. On one hand, the art itself is incredible at what it does. Having a visual representation of issues such as global warming for example, bring that to the front of people’s minds and they begin to inquire further as the impact that they can have is great. However, I believe the inherent notion for the need of this is what is troubling. The anti-environmental change rhetoric that is seemingly being more and more dispersed by the leaders of institutions does not bode well for our collective sentiment. The reasoning behind this is more complex dealing with private business-political ties, but that idea of greed against the well-being of our planet is an absolutely absurd concept to me. The ongoing battle between environmental artists and others in the space that are attempting to change people’s mindset and climate deniers is a discord that should not exist. Essentially it boils down to rooting for the destruction of our home vs. telling people to not partake in such activities and preserve the place we have been gifted. However, regardless of which side one lies on, nobody can deny that from the likes of Chris Jordan, Agnes Denes, Nils-Udo, and more the environmental art movement provides a great commentary on human nature and a glimpse of our future if we continue down the path we are on now.

Blog #7 – Kevin Bhimani

March 10th, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Bhimani in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Kevin Bhimani 3/10/17 Blog #7


By spending some time after class and really thinking about what we did, I decided to make this blog post about the Paris Agreement. The obvious answer when you think of something like the Paris Agreement, a multi-national agreement on climate change detailing the future of our world in terms of actionable items by the member countries—you would think that the actual document itself would be almost unreadable by your average citizen. But it is just the opposite. The actual Paris Agreement is almost trivial, looking like something that we could have came up with in class as opposed to a masterfully synthesized piece of international legislation. By going over it article by article, one can quickly see that there is nothing in the actual piece that calls to any tangible action items, rather most of the rhetoric is along the lines of “we should be doing this” and “these countries should invest in this and that”. Even the Pope, who has published his own encyclical, Laudato Si, on climate change praised the “historic” agreement. In my opinion, it is likened to more of a recommendation document than something that has been hailed as a transformative agreement to our society as a whole. This is incredibly concerning for the future of our planet as we see our world leaders coming together and producing effectively nothing. Nothing for countries to be held accountable for, nothing specifically delineating steps that countries will be taking, just a few general takeaways to maybe put in motion, maybe not. Even if President Trump wants to abandon the Paris Agreement, will it do anything? I think that reading this has made it clear that although I still believe the best way to get true change to occur for our planet is through institutions such as our government, we can not trust them to actually make that effort. As people, we have to recognize the problem and ensure that the fate of our collective home is in our hands. With or without the support of our respective governments, we need to take steps sustain what we have.







The Root of the Problem: A Look into Monsanto Co.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are defined as “organisms in which genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination” (WHO). In our current climate, there is widespread debate not only in the realm of if these GMOs have benefitted our planet in the aspects of long-term food production, yield, health, and more but also as to whether or not they should even be allowed.

Source: Organics

At the core of the controversy surrounding them is a certain company called Monsanto. Founded in 1901 as a chemical company, Monsanto found its claim to fame (or more poignantly, infamy) by innovating the agribusiness/biotechnology sphere in the 1980s by changing the genetic makeup of plant cells. They have pushed to make seeds that are resistant to pesticides, grow bigger fruits and vegetables, add supplemental nutrients, delay the ripening process, and more in an effort to revolutionize the age-old techniques of farming (Bruso). Yet, not surprisingly, this “innovation” has led to a plethora of problems currently plaguing not only the farming industry, but our society as a whole. The use of legal power to overrun farmers, an enormous yearly revenue to buy out competitors, and inherent dangerous effects of their chemical imprint has led to a scorched trail of health problems, harmful environmental impacts, and jobless farmers in its path. The following analysis will point to the root of these issues and a give a detailed look as to what impact it has had on our society.

One of the primary notions leading to the controversy surround Monsanto is the ruthless strong-arming and lobbying that the company has used in order to pursue their own revenue-driven agenda. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that in 2016, 94% of soybean acres and 92% of corn acres were planted with biotech varieties—Monsanto owns 90% of the market share in those sectors (Bunge). They then use this to drive a $13.5 billion a year revenue to increasingly raise prices of their seeds and drive organic farmers into bankruptcy if they cannot afford the hikes. With this in mind, one might be curious as to why farmers buy into the model of using the genetically modified seeds in the first place, being as though almost all seeds used today in the U.S. are genetically modified. The answer lies in the fact that these seeds not only provide for increased crop yields due to the incredibly detailed way in which they were engineering, but also the fact that it is an enormous convenience to farmers to use “Round-Up Ready seeds” as they are resistant to many pesticides.



Source: NY Times

Farmers simply have to plant the seed and spray the chemicals on their crops, killing everything in its way besides the plant itself. Yet, many farmers today cannot buy the seeds as they have become far too expensive to purchase as crop prices continually decrease overtime.

Source: Wall Street Journal

It is a problem likened to the Epipen today, as these seeds often times are viewed as a necessity to make a living, but many farmers can simply not afford them at the price they are at today.

Now if you just so happen to have these seeds on your land without having a costly and exclusive contract with Monsanto, rest-assured there will be a powerful force of private investigators (or the “seed police” as they are colloquially called by farmers), lawyers, and more coming for your small operation. Take for instance Gary Rinehart. In 2002, he was visited by one of these Monsanto cronies at his general store that he owns in the 350-person town of Eagleville, Missouri. The man asked why he was illegally using Monsanto-patented genetically modified seeds for his farm, when Rinehart in fact was doing no such thing. Yet, Rinehart was still brought to court, forced to hire a lawyer, pay exorbitant fees, all to have the case dropped as it was clear no foul-play was at work. And in the end, Rinehart was left with an incredibly expensive bill, detracting from his livelihood as he was working hard to maintain his store, whereas for Monsanto, this was just another day’s work in which thousands of farmers just like him are being persecuted (Barlett and Steele).

Source: Vanity Fair

The concept of patenting seeds in and of itself is far-fetched, as for “nearly all of its history the United States Patent and Trademark Office had refused to grant patents on seeds, viewing them as life-forms with too many variables to be patented” (Barlett and Steele). However, in 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a five-to-four decision to change the classification of seeds into widgets, thus opening the door for Monsanto and other companies to exploit this and patent their own technology surrounding them. (Barlett and Steele).

However, even though Monsanto may make GMOs, they do not want consumers to know that the food that they are eating has been genetically modified. The case of Proposition 37 in California, which proposed “to label all GMO foods, including processed foods that contain GMO ingredients, to prevent GMO foods from being labeled or advertised as ‘natural’” is a good example (Frostenson). Agriculture company giants funded a massive resistance to defeat the proposition from Monsanto leading the way to Pespi Co., Nestle, and more all contributing huge sums.

Source: Sunlight Foundation

Monsanto and friends are so large and have so much cash flow that they can simply lobby politicians to get their way in most every scenario that benefits them. By referencing the aforementioned statistic that Monsanto owns 90% of all GMOs, they essentially control the food supply for the U.S. They are able to control what type of food is planted in terms of how the seeds are genetically modified, they control who has the rights to use their seeds, and they can lobby to control the labeling (rather selective mislabeling) of the food that their seeds produce. And if all the above does not work to stop their competitors and opposition, Monsanto can and will buy them. In 2005, Monsanto “paid $1.4 billion for Seminis, which controlled 40% of the U.S. market for lettuce, tomatoes, and other vegetable and fruit seeds” (Barlett and Steele). Then two weeks after that, it bought out Emergent Genetics (third-largest cottonseed company) for another $300 million. They have put such a stronghold on the market for GMOs, unlike any other company in any other industry. And with a market capitalization of $50.66 billion, it makes them one of the largest companies in the world regardless of industry. A long history of mergers and acquisitions activity, coupled with future interests could “lift the new value [of Monsanto] to more than $100 billion” effectively giving them the monopolistic power to acquire and eliminate any and all competition in their way (Hakim).

Furthermore, the use of harmful chemicals on Monsanto’s part negatively impacts the environment and people alike. One such instance of the type of environmental detriment that Monsanto has caused can be seen with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) among bee populations. The benefits bees have to the food supply cannot be understated. Many of our fruits, vegetables, and more are reliant on bees pollinating them so that they can grow with the proper nutrients, something that is a problem if bee colonies are collapsing. True to fashion of eliminating opposition, Monsanto acquired a company called Beelogics whose primary focus is to combat and control Colony Collapse Disorder (Alliance for Natural Health). Monsanto’s use of pesticides has been linked to CCD in many instances, yet the overwhelming power that they have always finds a way to subvert this.

Source: NY Times

For example, organic beekeeper Terry Ingram had a catalog of fifteen years of research backing his claim that “Round-Up Ready” crops were causing CCD. However, when he asked the Illinois Department of Agriculture to test one of his honeycombs because the bees would not go near it, they did not test for chemicals, rather “foulbrood, a disease that affects bee larvae” and followed that up by confiscating every piece of bee equipment that he had, including the bees themselves. They destroyed all his evidence in the process as well (Alliance for Natural Health).

Another such reference comes on March 8, 1949 in which Monsanto’s plant in Nitro, West Virginia exploded, sending tons of chemical vapor into the air, covering the surrounding town (Barlett and Steele). This chemical, known as dioxin, has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a “known human carcinogen”. Workers and citizens across the town had skin eruptions within days following the explosion, pointing to the dangerous effects that the chemicals Monsanto is putting in the food that we eat can cause. Monsanto is even in the pockets of the Environmental Protection Agency when it comes to health concerns as a recent court filing on the behalf of a number of people claiming that Monsanto’s Roundup gave them cancer details how the EPA is reportedly colluding with Monsanto (Gillam). The claim is that top-ranking EPA official Jess Rowland “who oversees the EPA’s cancer assessment for glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s weed-killing products, is a key author of a report finding glyphosate was not likely to be carcinogenic” and is using this to work with Monsanto to help them in their legal battle. There is even direct discord in the EPA, as toxicologist Marion Copley cites evidence from previous animal studies that “he is almost certain that glyphosate causes cancer” (Gillam). It abundantly clear that the chemicals that Monsanto uses in its products we have most definitely encountered are harmful to not only humans but the environment as a whole, yet once again with enough power (read: money) they can change the rhetoric to further their cause.

In terms of solutions for combatting Monsanto, there have been numerous rallies and organizations formed attempting to stop the agrochemical giant. However, Monsanto actually believes that it can change the perception of its own company by future innovations that they will try and introduce. One of these being an “RNA spray”, which is supposed to kill harmful pests that destroy crop fields and “be no more harmful than orange juice to humans” (Regalado). Yet, just like with anything Monsanto does, their biggest battle is from a public relations standpoint. As Regalado put it, “the real problem can be summarized in a single word: Monsanto. For half the world, that is enough to know it’s evil. But Monsanto is also the best way to make this real. For the scientifically literate, this is the dream molecule.” There is some merit in trying to push the boundaries and make good on decades of turmoil that has been caused, but unfortunately this is still not a reality in its current state. In addition to supporting organizations that fight Monsanto and the injustices that they bring upon farmers, everyday citizens, and the environment every day, you can make an impact by simply boycotting the Monsanto line of products.

Source: Organics

Currently, this is the best way to advocate against the company as the only way to fight a company that’s only concern is money is to take that away from them. And consumers around the world have the power to do just that.

Blog #6 – Kevin Bhimani

February 24th, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Bhimani in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Kevin Bhimani

Blog #6 – It’s not Climate Change, It’s Everything Change



The article by Margaret Atwood was intriguing in more than one aspect. Simply the artistic format of the piece gives it incredible effectiveness as it is able to marry the notion of visual depictions with the message she is trying to get across. And the message is where it shines. Painting our future world in different scenarios (pictures as she calls them) and then reminding us that we are in total control of which picture ends up coming to fruition solely based on the actions we take is a very powerful concept to think about. Whether it be picture one with everything working out so that we almost live in a utopian society or picture two in which we run out of oil and something out of the likes of Mad Max is a reality or picture three in which some countries and people adapt to the rapid environmental changes we see whereas others don’t—all have the underlying idea that we are in control of them. It is a sobering thought to ponder as by watching Before the Flood and reading other articles about our future, it is all the more apparent that we cannot be apathetic with our actions. It’s countries like the U.S., like Canada, like Germany, and the other leaders of the world that have to start making changes if they want to see the developing nations follow suit. One of the points that stuck with me from the film was hearing that India and China were moving rapidly to increase their solar, wind, and renewable energy foothold in general whereas the U.S. up to this point has not yet made such strides due to the seemingly trivial aspects of Congressional hold-ups and such. Politics cannot get in the way of something that is so much more important like climate change, yet with our incredibly institutionalized society, it does. Ensuring that our structure of government does not impede the progress of that we need to see happen will be instrumental going forward.




Before the Flood (2016) by Fisher Stevens


Blog 5 – Kevin Bhimani

February 16th, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Bhimani in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Computer in the Anthropocene

I am a computer living in the year 2217. My owner Kevin used me today to see whether it was ok to go outside as the air quality has been exceptionally poor recently. I recommended not to go just to be safe. However, at the very least he will have to go outside for a second to put me in the sun to charge. It’s the only source of power nowadays as the fossil fuels of old are a distant past. Later, he turns me back on to hang out with his friends. The idea of driving over and hanging out in person at a bar or someone’s house is no longer feasible as electric and solar powered cars have become far to expensive to own in the new global climate. He does this everyday, as the only representation and interaction people now have is the holographic images I portray of them across the internet. It is a fascinating life, far different from what people used me for hundreds of years ago to aimlessly watch videos, play games, keep informed on the current news, and more. Times were simple then, but for rather different reasons, they are even more so now.

Blog #4 – Kevin Bhimani

February 10th, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Bhimani in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Blog 2/10/17

Kevin Bhimani Blog #4

The book Oil on Water presented an interesting take not only on the issues of pollution and degradation resulting from oil extraction in Nigeria, but it also gave a look into how this was not simply just a black and white conflict. There are multiple factors stemming from the geopolitical atmosphere that need to be taken into account as this is such a complex situation. The novel revolves around a reporter, Rufus, and his quest to find a missing woman along with his friend and mentor, Zaq. This led to a journey filled with encounters that shed light on the issues of land control, corporate greed, hypocrisy, and more. My main take away from this story was the huge cultural disparity between how people in other countries view the environment versus how we in the United States and other 1st world countries do. The natives in the book had such a deep connection to their land which is why they were so passionate about protecting it, whereas in the U.S. we simply view it as something that is there for our disposal—just another tool that can make our lives easier. There is a fundamental difference in ideology, which is expounded upon in this research paper. The notion of protecting our Earth as humans won’t come to fruition until there is a common sentiment amongst all people and cultures. Our land and natural resources are something that we should preserve and cultivate so that we can use it for generations to come, not something that we exploit.

Additionally, the short story The Petrol Pump and the short film Pumzi were to me the two most intriguing things that we have been exposed to in the course thus far. The dystopian nature that they gave off was something likened to Netflix’s Black Mirror, a show in which different scenarios are presented in which the world has a significantly twisted, and sometimes bleak view. The idea of producing no waste, or not having any sign of life outside the bubble that has been created to further the human race are notions that seem all too distant now, but very soon we may realize that this is not so far off. I believe the objective that Italo Calvino is going for when describing the last bit of gas being pumped into that sports car or Wanuri Kahiu is representing when depicting a hypothetical world after WWIII “The War of Water” is that we won’t be focusing on the trivial aspects of life anymore when the very basic needs of our planet cease to exist. If we run out of gas, water, food, etc. then our entire dynamic as a society fundamentally changes, and it is interesting to see directors, artists, and more take this topic on and give it their own view. Films such as Mad Max, Blade Runner, and books like Fahrenheit 451 are all other examples of this genre that I personally find to be fascinating.


Works Cited

Calvino, Italo, and Tim Parks. Numbers in the Dark: And Other Stories. New York: Pantheon, 1995. Print.

Habila, Helon. Oil on Water: A Novel. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. Print.

Pumzi by Wanuri Kahiu




Blog Post #3- Kevin Bhimani

February 2nd, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Bhimani in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Kevin Bhimani Blog #3

Topic: How do environmental issues register differently in different cultures?


I believe the notion of environmental issues, like many other issues on this planet, is entirely subjective. Some may think that immigration laws are not a problem, whereas others would care to differ. Some may think that countries shouldn’t go to war and that there is no point, but others will do anything to protect their country. Some people may think that there is not a global warming problem, whereas others would offer evidence refuting such claims. It is a situation that is not exclusive to just environmental issues such as degradation, fossil fuel consumption, biodiversity loss, and more. At the core of this though, is the sentiment that everything takes on a different connotation depending on who you talk to and the region of the world you are in. Different cultures will inherently have different mindsets on certain topics.

Angela Penrose detailed a story in her excerpt from Loosed Upon the World how a farm in Mexico was saved by a landslide by using old “junk” that was re-purposed into being an effective measure to preserve the crops. This “junk” was saved by the Abuelo in the story, and it was described as “piles of stuff he saved for some day when it might come in handy” (Penrose 335). Just that sentence can explain the dichotomy our society faces today in which most people in the U.S. would not think to save scraps of metal and Styrofoam, but in another country (in this case Mexico), these are seen as useful materials that could be very beneficial to have lying around. Additionally, we see that people in developed countries have no appreciation for things such as water because it is so readily available, but in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, this issue can be one of life or death. Moreover, pollution in a place like Beijing makes it dangerous to even be outside as the air quality is so low, but people here in Durham, North Carolina do not face the same problem. This discord with issues in my opinion stems from the immediacy of the issue to a person. A citizen living in Beijing will by very privy to the issues of air pollution as it is something that tangibly affects their day to day life, but a similar person in the United States might not have such a deep concern over the same issue. The same goes for people that call the Amazon rainforest their home and the fact that it is being degraded heavily affects their lives, but an average person in London for example will not share their plight. I think to advance the cause for making our collective home, Earth, a place that we can all share for centuries to come, we must be aware and have concern in environmental issues that don’t directly affect us. It is only then that we will be able to overcome the vast amount of problems we face today concerning the state of our environment.


Works Cited:

Penrose, Angela. “Staying Afloat.” Loosed upon the World: The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction. New York: Saga, 2015. N. pag. Print.





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.