Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Following up on today's discussion ...

Yuriko Saito talks with a student (in her everyday habitat) via
I was doing some research for my final paper and I found a really interesting article written by Yuriko Saito, a (female) Japanese philosopher at the Rhode Island School of Design, titled 'Everyday Aesthetics'. I thought I'd share it, in case anyone remains frustrated with the fine art / nature comparison in environmental aesthetics- this might assuage your frayed nerves a bit. Evan- you know I'm talking to you.

Anyhow, after doing a little library sleuthing, I have found out that her work encompasses the relationship of aesthetic theory and environmental ethics, the moral dimensions of the Japanese aesthetic, and a critique on the primacy of the aesthetics of fine art acting as the main point of departure for applications in environmental ethics / aesthetics ... super fascinating. Here's her website at RISD for more about her.

I'm attaching a link to the article 'Everyday Aesthetics', and I have more of her essays in pdfs if you all are interested. If this doesn't work (you might have to be signed in to Cornell netid), I can email the file to anyone who wants it. Yuriko has been included in a bunch of anthologies on Environmental Ethics/Aesthetics, including the one Jim passed around today edited by Carlson and Berleant as well as having fairly recently published her own book (also called 'Everyday Aesthetics').

Thursday, April 19, 2012

hi guys, just an fyi that the lecture by Roger Pielke Jr. on his book, The Climate Fix, is now available on Pielke's website, and it has been updated to include the slides integrated into the presentation video.

Check it out at http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2012/04/climate-fix-lecture-with-slides.html .


Technology and Aesthetics

I was thinking about our discussion today in class, and was left wondering what role technology plays in our views/emotions towards nature.

Ritwick asked if experiencing nature first-hand is required for that emotional or spiritual connection associated with aesthetics. I personally think it is - none of us really had an emotional reaction to seeing the Double Rainbow footage in the video. Undoubtedly, double rainbow guy’s sound-effects probably took away from that intimate personal experience that we could have had, but I think that speaks to the importance of “framing” or presenting. Although he had a spiritual connection, we interpreted it as being funny and that perhaps took away from the reaction we “should’ve” had towards the double rainbow. Basically, how the natural episode is framed/presented makes a difference i.e. we’d have a different appreciation if a double rainbow was filmed on a Planet Earth special compared to on that youtube video.

Technology is certainly a great way for people who can’t otherwise experience certain places to get a feel for what that area is like; however, videotaping or taking pictures of nature subtracts from the emotional connection that the person could’ve had, in turn, disempowering that natural feature. Do you agree?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Soylent green is people!

I came across two articles today that were both disturbing and intriguing. The first article features a new method for making human based gelatin which is actually more predictable than animal based gelatin. To develop this product human gelatin genes are inserted into a strain of yeast, which can produce gelatin with controllable features. The thought of eating human protein is disturbing, yet is it really any worse than eating animal based gelatin which is composed of cow and pig ligaments and connective tissues? Here is the link to the full article:


The second article features a synthetic meat burger made from protein extracted from human feces. Japanese scientist Mitsuyuki Ikeda (pictured above) uses sewage mud one of the main ingredients in his artificial meat. The process sounds less than appetizing. The protein lipids are whipped into "meat" and make more savory by adding soya and steak sauce. Here is the link to the article:


Neither of these products sound like ones I will be eating anytime soon but it is interesting to think scientists are turning towards humans and their by products as a food source. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thoughts on Ch.3 Sagoff Reading

I just finished reading Sagoff’s chapter, Allocation and Distribution of Resources, and I have to say that I feel a little more ashamed of myself and disturbed than before I picked up the text.

Are the rationale of our day-to-day choices actually that different from our fundamental values? Sagoff seems to think so: “I buy only disposable [bottles] now, but to soothe my conscience, I urge my state senator to outlaw one-way containers.” No question that Sagoff was trying to assuage his guilt in that situation (like mining corps do when they promise to restore the land…), but the contradiction seems unacceptable. The way I interpreted this example – let me know if you disagree – is that he’s very much in favor of regulation. Regulation, if aligned with our ethics system, eliminates the choice we’d have to make between our preferences as consumers and values as citizens i.e. “the consumer against himself as a citizen or as a member of a moral community” I never thought the two were quite so mutually exclusive...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

While I was doing some research about wind turbines, I came across this really interesting - but unrealistic - idea about floating wind turbines...a great source of renewable energy that could be moved. And more importantly, they can climb to relatively high altitudes where wind-currents are slightly more intense, so more energy can be created. Would people have a problem seeing these things floating around in a wilderness environment e.g. places in Alaska?  Check it out: http://inhabitat.com/altaeros-energies-floating-wind-turbines-tap-into-strong-high-altitude-winds/

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Calling All Carnivores: Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat: A Contest

The latest from the NYT Ethicist. I'm sure people in class will be interested in submitting their answers. Here is what the article says -

Ethically speaking, vegetables get all the glory. In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating. From the philosopher Peter Singer, whose 1975 volume “Animal Liberation” galvanized an international movement, to the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote the 2009 best seller “Eating Animals,” those who forswear meat have made the case that what we eat is a crucial ethical decision. To be just, they say, we must put down our cheeseburgers and join their ranks. 
In response, those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say. They say, of course, that, well, they love meat or that meat is deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine or that it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order. Some of the more conscientious carnivores have devoted themselves to enhancing the lives of livestock, by improving what those animals eat, how they live and how they are killed. But few have tried to answer the fundamental ethical issue: Whether it is right to eat animals in the first place, at least when human survival is not at stake.
So today we announce a nationwide contest for the omnivorous readers of The New York Times. We invite you to make the strongest possible case for this most basic of daily practices.
We have assembled a veritable murderer’s row of judges — some of the most influential thinkers to question or condemn the eating of meat: Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer and Andrew Light. If you can make it past them, we’ll put your name in lights (or at least in print). So get thinking. And get writing. You have two weeks and 600 words in which to make sense of our species’ entire dietary history. Bon app├ętit!
Rules: This is a very specific contest. Don’t tell us why you like meat, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose. Just tell us why it’s ethical to eat meat.
Guidelines: Send written entries of no more than 600 words toethicist@nytimes.com. Entries are due by April 8; no late submissions will be considered.
The Prize: The best essay or essays will be published in an upcoming issue of The New York Times.
The Caveat: Feel free to bat ideas around in the comments section below, but to be considered by the judges entries must be submitted toethicist@nytimes.com.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Mother: Caring for 7 Billion

Just heard about a documentary about the environmental implications of human population growth (and also some of the claims of ecofeminism we previously discussed) called “Mother: Caring for 7 Billion” that seemed oddly relevant to our discussion in class this past week and thought some people might be interested in checking it out!

I haven’t seen the film, but they have a trailer on the site (and I think the whole film can be watched for $0.99 for the rest of International Women’s Month) if anyone’s interested: http://motherthefilm.com/ .
The description (from their Facebook page) is:

"Mother is a must-see film on why population growth still matters and what is hindering action to reduce it." -Hania Zlotnik Director of Population Division, United Nations

Mother: Caring for 7 Billion is an environmental documentary that looks at the implications of our earth's increasing population and the effect it has on our planet socially and environmentally. Through interviews with experts in the field of environmentalism, social science, economics, human rights and the main character, who is a mother and activist herself, the film strives not to blame but to educate and to highlight a different path for humanity.

Mother, the film, breaks a 40-year taboo by bringing to light an issue that silently fuels our most pressing environmental, humanitarian and social crises - population growth.

Since the 1960s the world population has nearly doubled, adding more than 3 billion people. At the same time, talking about population has become politically incorrect because of the sensitivity of the issues surround
ing the topic– religion, economics, family planning and gender inequality. Yet it is an issue we cannot afford to ignore.

Grounded in the theories of social scientist Riane Eisler, the film strives not to blame but to educate, to highlight a different path for humanity. Overpopulation is merely a symptom of an even larger problem - a "domination system" that for most of human history has glorified the domination of man over nature, man over child and man over woman. To break this pattern, the film demonstrates that we must change our conquering mindset into a nurturing one. And the first step is to raise the status of women worldwide.

Mother: Caring for 7 Billion, features world-renown experts and scientists including biologist Paul Ehrlich, author of “The Population Bomb,” economist Mathis Wackernagel, the creator of the ground-breaking Footprint Network, Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute, Malcolm Potts, a pioneer in human reproductive health, and Riane Eisler, whose book “The Chalice and the Blade” has been published in 23 countries.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The 26 Happiest Animals In The World

Are the animals happy, or are we just happy looking at them? Who decides? Something light hearted to ease your day.

Courtesy: http://www.buzzfeed.com/animals/happiest-animals-in-the-world

1. This Elephant

This Elephant
Secret To Happiness: Ability to blow water out of nose; having no particular place to be. 
Favorite Thing: Hurrying anyway.

2. Boo, The Pomeranian

Boo, The Pomeranian
Secret To Happiness: Seizing the day; seeing the silver lining; dressing up like a bear occasionally. 
Favorite Thing: Literally everything.

3. This Rabbit

This Rabbit
Secret To Happiness: Looking adversity in the face and squawking contentedly at it. 
Favorite Thing: Apartment-grade carpeting.

4. This Seal

This Seal
Secret To Happiness: An abiding awareness that life is a series of profound absurdities that are beyond his control and, more importantly, not his fault. 
Favorite Thing: Mostly just seal stuff.

5. This Cat

This Cat
Secret To Happiness: A high-minded and esoteric sense of humor. 
Favorite Thing: Cat food.
Via: flickr.com

6. This Crocodile

This Crocodile
Secret To Happiness: Lives in a river. 
Favorite Thing: Probably biting things.
Via: ianimal.ru

7. This Dog

This Dog
Secret To Happiness: An unshakeable belief that the simple things in life require all of our attention all of the time. 
Favorite Thing: Drooling.
Via: pieski.net

8. This Stoat

This Stoat
Secret To Happiness: Advanced hopping/pouncing ability. 
Favorite Thing: Eating small rodents.

9. This Sloth

This Sloth
Secret To Happiness: Strong sense of self worth. 
Favorite Thing: Looking smug.

10. This Squirrel

This Squirrel
Secret To Happiness: Hard work; simple, old-fashioned, American values. 
Favorite Thing: Being a homeowner.

11. This Seal

This Seal
Secret To Happiness: Lives on the beach. 
Favorite Thing: Jokes.

12. This Anteater

This Anteater
Secret To Happiness: Welcomes each new opportunity with open arms and a glad heart. 
Favorite Thing: Ants, probably.

13. These Meerkats

These Meerkats
Secret To Happiness: Delight in companionship. 
Favorite Thing: Eating small rodents.

14. This Elephant Seal

This Elephant Seal
Secret To Happiness: Good humor, kindness, relentless optimism, and a long floppy nose-like facial appendage. 
Favorite Thing: Calamari.
Via: break.com

15. This Owl

This Owl
Secret To Happiness: Ability to see the fun side of everything; ability to rotate neck 270 degrees in either direction. 
Favorite Thing: Eating small rodents.

16. This Dog

This Dog
Secret To Happiness: Persistent, unmitigated enthusiasm without context. 
Favorite Thing: Interrupting.
Via: picfor.me

17. This Rabbit

This Rabbit
Secret To Happiness: Getting it. Just getting it. 
Favorite Thing: Seeing the bigger picture.

18. This Owl

This Owl
Secret To Happiness: Wisdom, grace, refinement, and a philosophical temperament.
Favorite Thing: Eating small rodents.
Secret To Happiness: An unabashed sense of wonder at the everyday marvels that the world has to offer. 
Favorite Thing: Being a little owl.
Via: ohmyowls

20. This Ferret

This Ferret
Secret To Happiness: A healthy distrust of conformity when it comes to the important things in life, like headwear. 
Favorite Thing: Dressing up like an idiot, apparently.
Via: killorn

21. This Puffer Fish

This Puffer Fish
Secret To Happiness: Taking life as it comes. 
Favorite Thing: Being the second-most poisonous vertebrate on the planet.
Via: fark.com

22. This Baby Elephant

This Baby Elephant
Secret To Happiness: Seeing each new challenge as an opportunity. 
Favorite Thing: Rolling in trash.

23. This Duckling

This Duckling
Secret To Happiness: Buoyancy, levity, and an enviable knack for discovering joy in the little things. 
Favorite Thing: Actually being one of the little things.

24. This Dog With Spaghetti On His Face

This Dog With Spaghetti On His Face
Secret To Happiness: A fierce, unshakeable hopefulness paired with a realistic understanding of his place in the world. 
Favorite Thing: Licking spaghetti off own face.
Via: dooce.com

25. This Bulldog

This Bulldog
Secret To Happiness: Stopping to smell the roses; stopping to smell everything else. 
Favorite Thing: Smelling things.

26. This Lamb

This Lamb
Secret To Happiness: Constant prancing. 
Favorite Thing: Constant prancing.