The main things I will take away from this course are some of the environmental problems that I did not know about. I knew population growth, deforestation, mining, and Carbon emissions were all big issues. However, I learned quite a few very important problems that I had been missing. Food security, for example, is a big one. I knew there are people in the world that don’t have food, but for some reason, that never occurred to me as an important environmental issue. It never occurred to me that per-capita resource consumption of first world countries could be linked so strongly to issues with solving world hunger. It never occurred to me that livestock agriculture took up such a large percentage of crop consumption instead of that percentage being used towards the world starvation crisis. It never occurred to me that fossil fuel demand, specifically Ethanol demand, weighed so heavily on cultural practices and societal norms in Mexico and the livelihood of farmers across the United States’ Midwest. Connecting these dots and reading further into the issue is certainly not an everyday practice nor is the topic of such issues an everyday thought or concern.
When faced with issues like food security once the dots have been connected and concerns and effects of the issue are so apparent and broad, it’s difficult, from first-hand experience, to keep a positive perspective of future solutions and the time frame in which things can and will get done. However, when learning about possible solutions that, yes, aren’t perfect, but at least address the problem and are moving in the right direction, you can’t help but feel somewhat optimistic about possible future solutions. While watching these videos of idea proposals or having class discussions about innovations in a field or idea, it helps to know that we aren’t alone in the fight; there are others, very intelligent others, that are already fighting the fight and creating major headway for when you get to the front lines.
Though, even with the positivity and optimism, it’s important to keep a realistic view. With solutions sometimes comes more problems, and it‘s become imperative to try to anticipate these problems before they become a reality so the issue of perceiving the problem is not such a struggle. This is when it becomes a need to be an activist, and with activism comes communication, networking, and relationships. This can be another struggle in and of itself. When challenged with an opposing viewpoint that comes with evidence contradicting your our belief, people tend to have more faith in their belief because they become defensive (principal known as the “World Backfire Effect”). This is an example of the importance for positive communication that offers positive advancements for the future of all involved parties. Such is only one of many tools within the toolkit for environmental science problem solving; show the world all the positives of helping and advocating for the environment without making it too eco-centered.