All posts by efrost

Final Reflection: “In this existence, I’ll stay persistent & I’ll make a difference!”

alohakeaakua

As I reflect upon everything I have learned over the past few months in Professor Tippett’s Global Problems class, I find it difficult to summarize the impact it has had on me. Words truly cannot do justice to what my mind and my heart have experienced this semester.

When I first decided to major in Environmental Science, all I knew was that I wanted to get paid to be out in the woods and on the river all day. Granted, I still hope for such working conditions….but my goals have gotten much bigger and more meaningful. I’ve never felt more passionate about anything in all my life as I do about the health of this planet and ALL of the people and other living creatures that inhabit it. I truly want to change the world, and refuse to do anything less than devote my life and career to creating a brighter future for the next generations. I dream of a future where everyone on this earth has food security, access to clean water and air, and the ability to trust that their leaders will look out for their best interests. I dream of a world with a STABLE climate- where resources are sustainably harvested and greed isn’t the norm.

I’ve spent so many years drifting through college, going through the motions while wasting time and money (I should be a damn doctor by now with all the credits I’ve accumulated!) But in all my years, I’ve never been so inspired by a class. It’s taken me 3 years of community college and 2 more at UMW to reach this point….but through the guidance and passion of one VERY dedicated professor, I finally feel like I have discovered God’s purpose for me. Until recently (about a week ago, in fact), I was terribly embarrassed and ashamed of the fact that I’ve been in college for five years and only have an associate’s degree from Germanna to show for it. But none of that matters to me anymore. Upon conclusion of this semester, I experienced a real-life, “full circle” moment that literally brought me to tears. I finally realized (and accepted) the fact that every little thing I had done in my life up to this point – every seemingly bad decision, every action or lack of action, every ounce of hard work- it has ALL brought me into the light of my life purpose. For the first time all my 27 years of life, I do not feel doubtful. I do not feel afraid. I do not feel like I am on the wrong path. So what do I feel? Friends, I feel awake. I truly hope and pray that every single one of you gets to experience the same blissful joy I felt the moment I realized my purpose. We all struggle through our own personal turmoil, and all of us have been through hell and back in our own ways. Do NOT let times like these discourage you! Keep on keeping on, fellow environmentalists! May you all continue on your journeys, follow your dreams, and BELIEVE in yourselves! You can and WILL accomplish everything you put your mind to!

Finally, since I’m submitting this on Earth Day, I want to remind everyone that EVERY day is Earth Day! I also want to share this song by one of my favorite bands, Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People. This is my personal environmental anthem, hope you all enjoy!

Final Reflection: “In this existence, I’ll stay persistent & I’ll make a difference!”

alohakeaakua

As I reflect upon everything I have learned over the past few months in Professor Tippett’s Global Problems class, I find it difficult to summarize the impact it has had on me. Words truly cannot do justice to what my mind and my heart have experienced this semester.

When I first decided to major in Environmental Science, all I knew was that I wanted to get paid to be out in the woods and on the river all day. Granted, I still hope for such working conditions….but my goals have gotten much bigger and more meaningful. I’ve never felt more passionate about anything in all my life as I do about the health of this planet and ALL of the people and other living creatures that inhabit it. I truly want to change the world, and refuse to do anything less than devote my life and career to creating a brighter future for the next generations. I dream of a future where everyone on this earth has food security, access to clean water and air, and the ability to trust that their leaders will look out for their best interests. I dream of a world with a STABLE climate- where resources are sustainably harvested and greed isn’t the norm.

I’ve spent so many years drifting through college, going through the motions while wasting time and money (I should be a damn doctor by now with all the credits I’ve accumulated!) But in all my years, I’ve never been so inspired by a class. It’s taken me 3 years of community college and 2 more at UMW to reach this point….but through the guidance and passion of one VERY dedicated professor, I finally feel like I have discovered God’s purpose for me. Until recently (about a week ago, in fact), I was terribly embarrassed and ashamed of the fact that I’ve been in college for five years and only have an associate’s degree from Germanna to show for it. But none of that matters to me anymore. Upon conclusion of this semester, I experienced a real-life, “full circle” moment that literally brought me to tears. I finally realized (and accepted) the fact that every little thing I had done in my life up to this point – every seemingly bad decision, every action or lack of action, every ounce of hard work- it has ALL brought me into the light of my life purpose. For the first time all my 27 years of life, I do not feel doubtful. I do not feel afraid. I do not feel like I am on the wrong path. So what do I feel? Friends, I feel awake. I truly hope and pray that every single one of you gets to experience the same blissful joy I felt the moment I realized my purpose. We all struggle through our own personal turmoil, and all of us have been through hell and back in our own ways. Do NOT let times like these discourage you! Keep on keeping on, fellow environmentalists! May you all continue on your journeys, follow your dreams, and BELIEVE in yourselves! You can and WILL accomplish everything you put your mind to!

Finally, since I’m submitting this on Earth Day, I want to remind everyone that EVERY day is Earth Day! I also want to share this song by one of my favorite bands, Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People. This is my personal environmental anthem, hope you all enjoy!

Luray Caverns: Not my week to blog, but I have something to say!

I went to Luray Caverns yesterday, I place I used to love visiting! This trip wasn’t like any other, however,  and I know that it is because of what I have learned in Global Problems and other environmental science classes. Despite the fact that the tour guide explained very loudly and clearly that NO ONE is to touch the rocks due to the sensitive nature of their formation processes, I saw at least 20 GROWN ADULTS putting their hands on everything they saw! What really blew my mind and infuriated me was one instance in which a little girl told her father several times, “Daddy! You aren’t supposed to touch!” His response: “Aw, it’s fine. They just have to say that.” Next thing I know, the little girl was putting her hands on the rock walls and running them alone the sides as we moved through the tour.

I guess you could say I had an epiphany in down in those caverns. If mankind hand never stumbled upon these caverns, gone down and illuminated them, then the beauty of this place would NEVER be seen by a single soul- it would forever remain a glorious secret in the darkness.

Had humans never discovered Luray Caverns (and others like it), then I guess you could say there would be a great loss of opportunity to appreciate the beauty of nature. There’s no denying, something “magical” happens when feel completely awestruck by the infinite power and beauty of nature. We feel a deep, spiritual, primal connection to the earth in places like this. This connection is what has inspired me and many others to dedicate our lives to protecting these places. Therefore, this is a certain necessity for people to be allowed to experience this feeling of connection to nature.

The problem is, you can love something to death. I fear that within the next 100 years or less, Luray Caverns will no longer be an awe-inspiring place of wonder- but a memory of what once was. So I ask this question:  How do we bring mankind into contact with nature- so that he or she may be filled with the love and inspiration it brings- without destroying that very nature?

A Further Look into Endangered Species

I found this week’s discussion on the 6th Mass Extinction to be very alarming. It’s a difficult concept to wrap your head around, especially when our day to day lives here in the United States don’t really reflect what’s going on in the rest of the world among fellow humans and all other creatures inhabiting this planet. To get a grasp on the variety of life forms at risk, I did a little research and found some info from the Center of Biological Diversity. I was not able to find many dates on the website, so I am not entirely sure how up to date this information is, but still find it relevant to our current discussion.

Amphibians are very unique creatures in the animal kingdom. They breathe through their skin, thus making them extremely vulnerable to air-borne toxins and pollutants found in water and on land. This makes them an indicator species, one that is very sensitive to environmental conditions. There are roughly 6,300 known species of amphibians that are currently extinct, which is 25,039-45,474 times the background rate (Center for Biological Diversity). Some threats to amphibians include habitat loss, pollution, U.V. exposure, invasive species, and disease.

Birds are another indicator of environmental conditions, especially those regarding the biosphere. In 2009, studies revealed 31% of known species of birds were of concern for endangerment, 12% were considered threatened, and 2% were considered to be at extremely high risk for extinction.

Though we may not always consider the tiny invertebrates of the world, they make up 97% of species on earth. Creatures such as butterflies, mollusks, earthworms, and coral reefs make up this category and face endangerment from habitat loss, pollution, deforestation, soil degradation, and coral bleaching. Of all known invertebrate species, 30% are at risk of extinction.

Fish make up another category of endangered species, at risk from overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and global warming. In North America, 39% of continental freshwater species are endangered and 82% of marine species.

Plants are extremely vital to our survival. They provide oxygen, food, they filter CO2, and provide the vast majority of medicines and products we use every single day. One of the reasons endangered plant species are at higher risk for extinction is that they are not mobile, and cannot relocate when conditions change. There are over 300,000 known plant species in the world, and 68% of them are endangered from climate change, invasive species, deforestation, soil degradation, urbanization, and agriculture.

 

Of all known reptile species in the world, 21% are endangered. 32% of species of the United States are endangered, which constitute 9% of the total number of species. Since there year 1600, 28 species of island reptiles have become extinct from habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change.

Last, but not least, mammals. Our closest relatives, primates, are becoming endangered at an alarming rate. About 90% of these primates live in tropical forests, and at risk from habitat loss due to deforestation and climate change.

“The IUCN estimates that almost 50 percent of the world’s primate species are at risk of extinction. Overall, the IUCN estimates that half the globe’s 5,491 known mammals are declining in population and a fifth are clearly at risk of disappearing forever with no less than 1,131 mammals across the globe classified as endangered, threatened, or vulnerable. In addition to primates, marine mammals — including several species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises — are among those mammals slipping most quickly toward extinction.” (Center for Biological Diversity).

 

With these statistics, we cannot just take a “business as usual” approach about the environmental problems threatening these species, and us. The fact is, we may be on the verge of a 6th Mass Extinction. Realistically, with the rates of loss of unknown species factored into the equation, it has probably already begun.

 

Works Cited

Center for Biological Diversity. (2016, April 8). The Exctintion Crisis. Retrieved from Center for Biological Diversity: http://www.BiologicalDiversity.org

 

Small Actions x Many People = Big Change!

This week’s discussions and readings (particularly Brown’s Plan B) really got me thinking about what we can do as individuals to manifest the changes we wish to see. Lester Brown laid out a very thorough list of ideas and potential actions the world can take, including the cost of such actions. The further I move into my degree, the more passionate I feel about seeing to it that we make this planet habitable and harmonious for future generations. Many discussions have been had about what we need to do as a global community- “big picture” kind of stuff. But any kind of large systematic change begins with individual effort, and that is what I would like to discuss today. I don’t want to come off preachy, and seem like I’m telling people what to do, so the way I’d like to approach this topic is to discuss some changes I’ve made since starting this class, and how those changes have impacted my life.

 

I’ve taken several considerations about my lifestyle, and have taken inventory on everything from the amount of water I use to how I can cut down on the amount of driving I do. Rather than cover a broad spectrum of changes I’ve been trying to make, I’ll just focus on my first major alteration to my lifestyle: My kitchen! In my household, there has been a dramatic increase in concern for where our food comes from. Coincidently, around the same time I started this class, my fiancé ended up in the hospital with ulcers in his stomach. His new health issues obviously required a dramatic shift in our diet, so I started doing quite a bit of research. I started combining information about his specific health problem with what I had been learning in our Global Issues class, and realized that one of our first steps was to become “locavores.”

Ever wonder why you (essentially) see the same stock of fruits and veggies year-round in some grocery stores? It’s because they’re shipped in from all over the world and often times grown in with methods that defy nature’s natural rhythm. In our lifetimes, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have come in to play in order to supply an ever growing demand for food, and compete with other industries. Personally, I don’t like the idea of being a guinea pig food for industries. I’d much rather shake the hand of the person who (sustainably) grew my tomato than take a gamble on eating the products money-driven scientists are trying to feed me. Plus, there’s simply no comparison in quality! I’ve spent the past few summers working in a greenhouse and have gotten to enjoy a vast variety of fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the vine, grown during their proper seasons. I’m sure that anyone who has ever been to a farmer’s market or gone apple picking in the fall will agree, nothing beats fresh and local!

I’ve never been a huge meat eater (not a vegetarian, just not a fan of most meat), and with my fiance’s health problems, his days of growing up on a cattle farm eating all the meat he wanted are long gone. That doesn’t mean that we never eat meat, but when we do, we take a lot more time to find out where it came from. Instead of purchasing our meat from places like Giant, Walmart, or Food Lion, I’ve been taking trips to the Old Town Butcher. After speaking with the manager about where they get their products and the quality of life the animals have (free range versus cages, grazing cattle versus corn fed, etc.), I’ve decided that they seem pretty legit as far as trying to build a business around sustainability sourced products. As far as price goes, I will say that some of their red meat is a little expensive, but I’ve found their chicken and pork to actually be cheaper than most chain-store AND much tastier! Not to mention, the quality of meat is absolutely amazing when compared to major grocery stores! It’s amazing what a difference it makes when animals aren’t pumped full of hormones and spend their lives in small, unsanitary areas. Plus, eating local also reduces environmental impact by cutting down on emissions from imports

These are just some of the changes I have made in my own life recently. I hope this class inspires everyone else the way it has inspired me! Small actions x Many people = Big Change!

 

Small Actions x Many People = Big Change!

This week’s discussions and readings (particularly Brown’s Plan B) really got me thinking about what we can do as individuals to manifest the changes we wish to see. Lester Brown laid out a very thorough list of ideas and potential actions the world can take, including the cost of such actions. The further I move into my degree, the more passionate I feel about seeing to it that we make this planet habitable and harmonious for future generations. Many discussions have been had about what we need to do as a global community- “big picture” kind of stuff. But any kind of large systematic change begins with individual effort, and that is what I would like to discuss today. I don’t want to come off preachy, and seem like I’m telling people what to do, so the way I’d like to approach this topic is to discuss some changes I’ve made since starting this class, and how those changes have impacted my life.

 

I’ve taken several considerations about my lifestyle, and have taken inventory on everything from the amount of water I use to how I can cut down on the amount of driving I do. Rather than cover a broad spectrum of changes I’ve been trying to make, I’ll just focus on my first major alteration to my lifestyle: My kitchen! In my household, there has been a dramatic increase in concern for where our food comes from. Coincidently, around the same time I started this class, my fiancé ended up in the hospital with ulcers in his stomach. His new health issues obviously required a dramatic shift in our diet, so I started doing quite a bit of research. I started combining information about his specific health problem with what I had been learning in our Global Issues class, and realized that one of our first steps was to become “locavores.”

Ever wonder why you (essentially) see the same stock of fruits and veggies year-round in some grocery stores? It’s because they’re shipped in from all over the world and often times grown in with methods that defy nature’s natural rhythm. In our lifetimes, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have come in to play in order to supply an ever growing demand for food, and compete with other industries. Personally, I don’t like the idea of being a guinea pig food for industries. I’d much rather shake the hand of the person who (sustainably) grew my tomato than take a gamble on eating the products money-driven scientists are trying to feed me. Plus, there’s simply no comparison in quality! I’ve spent the past few summers working in a greenhouse and have gotten to enjoy a vast variety of fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the vine, grown during their proper seasons. I’m sure that anyone who has ever been to a farmer’s market or gone apple picking in the fall will agree, nothing beats fresh and local!

I’ve never been a huge meat eater (not a vegetarian, just not a fan of most meat), and with my fiance’s health problems, his days of growing up on a cattle farm eating all the meat he wanted are long gone. That doesn’t mean that we never eat meat, but when we do, we take a lot more time to find out where it came from. Instead of purchasing our meat from places like Giant, Walmart, or Food Lion, I’ve been taking trips to the Old Town Butcher. After speaking with the manager about where they get their products and the quality of life the animals have (free range versus cages, grazing cattle versus corn fed, etc.), I’ve decided that they seem pretty legit as far as trying to build a business around sustainability sourced products. As far as price goes, I will say that some of their red meat is a little expensive, but I’ve found their chicken and pork to actually be cheaper than most chain-store AND much tastier! Not to mention, the quality of meat is absolutely amazing when compared to major grocery stores! It’s amazing what a difference it makes when animals aren’t pumped full of hormones and spend their lives in small, unsanitary areas. Plus, eating local also reduces environmental impact by cutting down on emissions from imports

These are just some of the changes I have made in my own life recently. I hope this class inspires everyone else the way it has inspired me! Small actions x Many people = Big Change!

 

The Dark Side of Tourism

Tourism is a complicated, often ironic, double edged sword. In a positive light, it provides countless people with jobs as well as an influx of money to economies in desirable areas. However, the benefits that come from the tourism industry are often overshadowed by negative consequences. This week in class, we discussed the concept of Future Discounting. I think this ties perfectly into what read about the Coral Reefs in the Caribbean and Australia. These extraordinary wonders of nature provide several ecological services to the planet and play a key role in the life cycles of organisms throughout the oceans. . Despite their impressive resilience to natural disturbances such as hurricanes, coral reefs are incredibly fragile and vulnerable to the practices of humans. Mankind is gradually destroying these reefs through overfishing, pollution, and practices that contribute to global warming. Species extinction and coral bleaching are direct results from human activity. While tourism isn’t the root of these issues, it certainly plays a role in some of the irreversible damages that coral reefs and other natural areas face. When billions of people visit the same area over the course of a year, the area is greatly impacted. These people all require food and water, which increases local consumption. While some of these costs are offset by the flow of money coming from tourists, environmental externalities aren’t always factored in. Some of these externalities include the costs of waste/sanitation (which requires water), trash and litter (which can harm local wildlife as well as introduce harmful chemicals), and pollution (which contributes to global warming and severe health problems among people/plants/animal). Not to mention, just the act of being present in some natural areas can affect the areas themselves. This is where irony comes into play. People have seemingly inherent desire to connect with and experience nature. Whether it’s engrained in our DNA, part of our religion/spirituality, or simply because we (humans) are animals ourselves, there’s no denying the “pull” we feel towards aesthetically pleasing, natural areas. The problem is, not everyone is equally environmentally conscious when they visit these places. For person A, a hike through the Grand Canyon may mean a back pack, sleeping bag, water purifier, first aid kit, good boots, and some food. This person is extremely conscious, has educated themselves about the local plant and wildlife, and follows the camping motto “leave every place you visit in better condition than it was when you got there.” They spend the day enjoying a quiet, peaceful hike through the canyon, respectfully soaking up the beauty around him/her. Then there’s person B. Person B rolls into the Grand Canyon campsite in the biggest, most expensive, gas-guzzling RV on the market. This person is normally so busy posting pictures of their “adventure” to social media that they barely even look up from their screen (unless they’re taking a selfie). Person B can’t find a trash can, and didn’t bring a bag, so they toss their litter on the ground. They continue on their hike and decide it would be more fun to “blaze their own trail,” thus, going off the marked path and trampling precious vegetation-. At the end of their day, they can be found partying outside their giant RV, beer bottles scattered all around, and music blaring loud enough to successfully scare the living hell out of every animal within a mile.

So what is the answer? How do we keep people who don’t respect the environment out of precious areas of wilderness? I’m not sure. The only solution I can come up with is the same one I seem to always end every blog with….EDUCATION! Earth is our only home, therefore, the emphasis on understanding how it functions ought to be quite great throughout elementary, middle, and upper education.

 

 

 

What will it take to survive a global disaster?

In our facilitated discussion group on Thursday, February 18th, we discussed the potential outcomes of a catastrophic, mass extinction event with few survivors. Some of the questions that came up were: Who would survive such an event? Would society rebuild? If so, how would the new society be different from current times? I have some pretty strong feelings about these topics, and the necessity of basic survival skills. That being said, my goal with this blog isn’t to bring about feelings of doom and gloom. More so, I would like to contribute my own opinions about what it will take for people to survive a global disaster.

There are many different events that could bring about a collapse in society. If one such event was to occur, and the majority of the global population was eliminated, the only people who would stand a chance would be those who have invested time and interest into survival skills. The survival skills I speak of include, but are not limited to, the basics: fire and shelter building, hunting, gathering, fishing, medical skills, communication, mental and physical capacity, etc. The other skills that are critical to survival include understanding of resilience, (vulnerable flexibility, bounceback, adaptive transformation, renewal, persistence, and self-organization)(Week 6-“Everglades”powerpoint), as well as a thorough understanding of how a functioning socio-ecological system operates. This means that the current societal model of “optimizing for maximum efficiency,” (Walker & Salt) will no longer be the way of the world. Instead, the new society will have to be able to adapt to changes and shocks to the system. They will need to possess basic survival skills to get through the initial post-disaster period, but in the interest of long-term renewal and flourishment of civilization, people will have to completely change their ways.

So what will it take to prepare people for such an event? By the time such an event occurs, will society have adapted a resiliency-based way of thinking? As we have been discussing the numerous issues humanity is facing around the world and how we are impacting the environment, I’ve been thinking a lot about future generations. I look at my nieces and nephews, and worry about the kind of world they are going to grow up in. I am deeply disturbed by the fact that most kids today would rather gaze for hours at a cell phone screen rather than go outside and interact with nature. Young people today seem to have a very strong dependence on technology. It makes me wonder how these generations will cope with the potential environmental disasters they are facing in their lifetimes. This is why I feel very strongly about the idea of placing a stronger emphasis on environmental science and sustainability in elementary education. I believe that if we instill positive environmental values in young children, it will become engrained in them and shed a light of hope in a dark future.

 

What will it take to survive a global disaster?

In our facilitated discussion group on Thursday, February 18th, we discussed the potential outcomes of a catastrophic, mass extinction event with few survivors. Some of the questions that came up were: Who would survive such an event? Would society rebuild? If so, how would the new society be different from current times? I have some pretty strong feelings about these topics, and the necessity of basic survival skills. That being said, my goal with this blog isn’t to bring about feelings of doom and gloom. More so, I would like to contribute my own opinions about what it will take for people to survive a global disaster.

There are many different events that could bring about a collapse in society. If one such event was to occur, and the majority of the global population was eliminated, the only people who would stand a chance would be those who have invested time and interest into survival skills. The survival skills I speak of include, but are not limited to, the basics: fire and shelter building, hunting, gathering, fishing, medical skills, communication, mental and physical capacity, etc. The other skills that are critical to survival include understanding of resilience, (vulnerable flexibility, bounceback, adaptive transformation, renewal, persistence, and self-organization)(Week 6-“Everglades”powerpoint), as well as a thorough understanding of how a functioning socio-ecological system operates. This means that the current societal model of “optimizing for maximum efficiency,” (Walker & Salt) will no longer be the way of the world. Instead, the new society will have to be able to adapt to changes and shocks to the system. They will need to possess basic survival skills to get through the initial post-disaster period, but in the interest of long-term renewal and flourishment of civilization, people will have to completely change their ways.

So what will it take to prepare people for such an event? By the time such an event occurs, will society have adapted a resiliency-based way of thinking? As we have been discussing the numerous issues humanity is facing around the world and how we are impacting the environment, I’ve been thinking a lot about future generations. I look at my nieces and nephews, and worry about the kind of world they are going to grow up in. I am deeply disturbed by the fact that most kids today would rather gaze for hours at a cell phone screen rather than go outside and interact with nature. Young people today seem to have a very strong dependence on technology. It makes me wonder how these generations will cope with the potential environmental disasters they are facing in their lifetimes. This is why I feel very strongly about the idea of placing a stronger emphasis on environmental science and sustainability in elementary education. I believe that if we instill positive environmental values in young children, it will become engrained in them and shed a light of hope in a dark future.

 

Blog 1: Response to Brown’s Plan B- “Population Pressure: Land and Water”

Water shortages and dust storms are issues I am all too familiar with. I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and actually have a very clear memory of April 18, 2001 when the gargantuan dust storm mentioned by Lester Brown in Plan B occurred. I was 12 years old at the time, and remember feeling completely dumbfounded and awestruck by the enormous wall of dust and sand that was making its way toward my home. It was a very frightening sight, even more frightening when it finally reached my house. I remember staring out the window, there was absolutely no visibility. It was like a white out, but brown. The sound of billions of dust particles bombarding my house lasted for about twenty minutes before the storm finally moved past us. The aftermath wasn’t much better….a thick layer of grit covering everything the eye could see, vehicles scratched, people caught outside in the mess were hospitalized with breathing issues; it was something I will never forget. I was amazed, but not surprised recently when I read in Plan B that the dust wall stretched from Arizona all the way to Canada. As a kid, I had no idea what forces could generate such storm. To be honest, at the time I just assumed it was because I lived in a desert and it was a windy day. I would have never guessed that it came all the way from parts of Mongolia and Northern China. It wasn’t until my early adult years that I became aware of how the irresponsible practices of overgrazing and deforestation in some parts of the world can affect others by creating such storms. It makes me wonder what percentage of the population is actually informed about issues like this. Until I started studying environmental science, I certainly wasn’t!

Another issue I became very familiar with during my time out west was water shortages. I remember my parents making us wait until after 9:00pm to do our laundry and take showers because it was substantially cheaper to use water during that time of day. However, twenty miles outside of where I grew up, the town of Fountain Hills, was known for its glorious fountains in the center of town. This always baffled me; how could a state with severe water shortage issues allow such wasteful uses of water for the sake of aesthetics? Especially during a time prior to the most recent recession, when (in Arizona), houses were barely being built fast enough to keep up with the demand of people moving into them. If water shortage was already an issue, and the population was spiking rapidly, why didn’t city and state officials step in and enforce more strict water budget policies? In that context, waiting until late at night to run water seems like a very meager attempt to fix the problem. It has been 8 years now since I left Arizona, but in that time, things haven’t gotten much better. In fact, with drought conditions, they seem to be getting worse. According to meteorologist, Eric Holthaus, in the year 2015, Lake Powell was down to only 45% capacity. It is only a matter of time before the lake dries up, and a place where I made so many teenage-summer memories will be a thing of the past.

The issues out west definitely hit me close to home, but they are only a small part of the overall global issue of water shortage. In class this week, we discussed how to get to the root cause of environmental problems. I think the problems such as massive dust storms and water shortages stem from a demand to provide food and water for a population that exceeds the earth’s capacity to provide. This also includes the staggering populations of livestock around the world that destroy grasslands, contaminate water sources, and simply live to feed a growing need to consume. Despite the excessive abundance of livestock on the planet, there are still more people starving than there are people who are well-nourished. There are countless examples around the world of places that are so overpopulated, people are forced into situations of starvation, poverty, and war. So why do people keep having babies? There are several reasons such as family values, cultural beliefs, necessity for labor/income, lack of education about birth control, rape, and many more that I won’t fully dive into. The question I want to focus on regarding population control (since it seems to be the root issue of most global problems) is: Who on earth has the right to tell someone else, “You are not allowed to have children (or any more children).” Sure, some countries like China have tried to enforce such laws, but is it ethical to do so? Many, including myself, would say no. But then again, is it ethical to overpopulate the earth and doom future generations?

Works Cited

Brown, L. R. (2009). Plan B 4.0: Mobilizign to Save Civilizations. New York & London: W.W. Norton and Company.

Holthaus, E. (2016, February 1). Science. Retrieved from Slate: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/05/arizona_water_shortages_loom_the_state_prepares_for_rationing_as_lake_mead.html