Since Day One this class has afforded me the opportunity to gain new insights and fresh perspectives. One thing that has really stood out in my mind is the parallel drawn in the first lecture – the financial analogy between human finances and Earth’s ecological finances. This correlation really drew a “big picture” and set the tone for how to consider the topics of the rest of the class semester. I really took to heart the aspect of “living within the budget” or in other words, consuming less than the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) of Earth’s resources. I plan and look forward to the opportunity to use this analogy when talking to others about environmental sustainability issues.
As a young scientist I appreciated the fact that this class approached the science of global environmental problems but then also made evident pathways to a solution as well. A lot of the problems that we (as the human race) are facing today are combination issues: social-ecological systems instead of just unconnected troubles. I have a slight change in view now in regard to root causes of modern-day issues. This would not have happened without awareness gleaned from class readings in Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse.” Environmental degradation on Earth cannot be fully understood without connecting root causes such as population growth and resource consumption.
As at one point I considered getting a degree in History, I still have an interest in that subject and was excited to learn more about past world civilization histories but with an environmental spin. Past and present environmental crises can be compared and vision gained for our future on this Earth. By aid of this class, I have tried a new approach to evaluating past and current environmental problems through looking at both scientific and social aspects. I had not done this before. Moving forward in our modern life, I can only hope that I can have a part in overcoming the challenges of achieving a sustainable society today.
Mr. John P. Tippett, Professor, University of Mary Washington, January – April, 2016
Brooks, M., Foster, C., Holmes, M., & Wiltshire, J. (2011). Does consuming seasonal foods benefit the environment? Insights from recent research. Nutrition Bulletin, 36(4), 449-453.