Environmental Literature | Social Justice | Sustainable Futures

Author Archives: Barbara Lynn Weaver

Blog 2: Urban Ecology and the True Price of Consumer Goods

January 28th, 2017 | Posted by Barbara Lynn Weaver in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Pipes reaching deep into aquifers pump ground water up and into a bottling plant. The plant, owned by a private, foreign company, bottles and sells the water worldwide, claiming to be a unique product of “Pacific romance and luxury” that has remained “Untouched by Man,” (Kaplan, 696). The private, foreign company pays rent on the land around the bottling plant to a semi-militaristic nation. That bottled water is then shipped across thousands of miles to you, the consumer. You then tilt the familiar square plastic bottle to your lips and wait for the perfect water to reach your mouth.

And you wait and you wait, and yet even when you have finished the bottle, the perfect water still escapes you. Bottled water is more than convenient hydration or a luxury experience, whether it originates from mountain streams or underground aquifers. The water that comes from a retail bottle is the sum of every distance the water crossed to get to you, every human life that handled the bottle, and every action that occurred as a result of water sales.

There are politics behind every drop of water, economic value within every bottle, and social consequences that result from requiring payment for the most basic life-giving resource. The environment is not independent from human life. As David Harvey said, “It is inconsistent to hold that everything in the world relates to everything else, as ecologists tend to, and then decide that the built environment and the urban structures that go into it are somehow outside of both theoretical and practical consideration” (Heynen, 60). Deciding that the built environment and its human characteristics relate to everything else in the world allows consumers to contemplate the true cost of the goods offered to them, beyond what they see on the price tag. Therefore, drinking a bottle of water can never be viewed independently from the processes used to create it.


Works Cited:

Adamson, Joni; Gleason, William A.; Pellow, David N.. Keywords for Environmental Studies. New York: NYU Press, 2016. Ebook Library. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.

Kaplan, M. (2007), Fijian Water in Fiji and New York: Local Politics and a Global Commodity. Cultural Anthropology, 22: 685–706. doi:10.1525/can.2007.22.4.685

Barbara Lynn Weaver: The Symbolic Construction of Wilderness

January 21st, 2017 | Posted by Barbara Lynn Weaver in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

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.

Introductions: Barbara Lynn Weaver

January 12th, 2017 | Posted by Barbara Lynn Weaver in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Name: Barbara Lynn Weaver

Hometown: Raleigh, NC

Major: Environmental Science or Spanish

Three topics that intrigue me: Urban Forestry, water conservation in developing nations, and the stigma surrounding mental health

Most interesting bit of news I read today: over 2 million citizens in Lima source water from contaminated wells