Global Environmental Problems has been one of the most intriguing and one of my favorite courses I have taken. In this class we learned about current issues, and were encouraged to not just know, but fully understand and problem solve. The biggest take home lesson I have learned is how much human nature truly makes everything not only more complicated, but worse. But also on the other hand how humans cannot change the course of nature and we can’t manipulate the environment to our specific specifications. I have learned this from many on the case studies we read for the ancient Anasazi civilization to the current everglades. In both these situations the humans tried to control the environment instead of coexisting with the environment, which cause the same end result in both cases, failure. Another skill I learned is to look for the root cause of the environmental issue in order to solve the problem.
This course shed light on global environmental problems and also changed my view on these problems. The one that stuck with me the most is that even though the fate of the environment seems like a dead end, there is in fact hope. This course showed me that there is a way to make a difference in environmental science, but most effectively through working together. This course taught me that working together is key. If not everyone knows then it is a problem that cannot be fixed. In order for environmental sustainability to be achieved we have to work with people who are opposed to sustainability or just have no knowledge of these global environmental issues.
I believe that one large step on the path to sustainability will be investing in renewable resources. This transition will most likely be the most largely accepted step towards sustainability, therefore the most effective way. This class has truly taught me how to be an advocate for the environment.
Global Environmental Problems is the most interesting class I have taken ever. It is a class where we learned what the real issues were but instead of just listing those issues and forgetting about them our discussions allowed us to discuss the issues and try and come up with some ways of solving them. This class gave me the tools to start making a difference. I can now pick a reliable non-government organization to support thanks to my classmates presentations. I know the small things I can do like investing in renewable energy resources as well as limiting my impact as much as possible. I now know that it will take massive change to ensure that the world is passed on to our future generations.
One of the main things that I’ve taken away from this course is that our environmental problems are not able to be stopped by one person or even one country and that it will take lots of time to create a sustainable and resilient society. From taking this course I also now believe that our society will not be able to change on its own. Something will have to happen before we take action its just human nature to continue going until something happens and than change. The greatest thing I gained was the knowledge of how to talk to people about environmental issues. Before this class I thought if I were to try to talk friends or family about environmental issues I would be seen as a bit radical but with all the information I have now and the practice of talking to people in class I can now say I can put forth a valid argument of why environmental problems are the biggest problems facing the world.
I believe the first move the world should take into becoming more sustainable is by investing more in renewable resources. I think this will be the most effective way of starting the transition into a more sustainable future.
As the course came to an end, I gained a sense of a new beginning. A start that can push us to get more involved with environmental conservation and human well-being. I learned a lot about the negative side effects of the consumerism culture that predominates the developed world. It was truly interesting to understand and connect the benefit of one though the suffering of the other. I began to value the place where conservation is viewed with value and concern. Where I come from, people do not take any environmental issues into consideration. Recycling method does not exist and local rivers and streams get extremely polluted with excessive trash, including plastic bags and dead animals.
Therefore, I was very inspired by some of the brightest ideas regarding environmental preservation, and human interconnection with nature. I understood why it is important to decrease the high consumption of resources in the first world countries and to reevaluate our perspectives on what is most important, community’s effort to develop in a sustainable way, and how to get benefits for all equally. I understood how the agricultural practices had changed with the growing population and why it is so difficult to equally distribute the food to all the people in the world. Learning about new and sustainable agricultural techniques was quite inspiring. I learned about crop rotation and how economy affects the agriculture.
I learned a tremendous variety of NGO’s and how effective these small-scale community organizations can be. Organizations such as World Banks and UNICEF inspired me to pursue my future career goals in this area of non-profit world. It was a truly thought-provoking course that taught me not only about environmental problems, but also about hope for a brighter future that can be realised if we all work together and build our tool kits in the same direction.
I would say one of the main things that I will be taking away from this semester is that through all of the negative environmental issues in the world and their impact on our future, there’s still always something that can be done. One prominent discussion we continued to have throughout this course was that people are uneducated about these present issues. And that even those who are educated, a lot of times those people don’t care enough to do something. However, as mentioned there’s always steps that can be taken to improve these issues. One person actively trying to make a difference can inspire others to do the same. Simple changes such as starting to recycle at home or even becoming more aware of the products we use on a day to day basis can have a positive impact on the environment in the long run.
in the past year or so, I’ve definitely become more interested in the Earth. I’m fascinated by its natural cycles, the creating of mountains, ocean basins, the recycling of tectonic plates. To me, Earth is this massive living organism that allows us to use its resources for our benefit. However, it knows how to take away just as much as it gives, and if we continue down this path we’re heading, climate change can be an detrimental issue on our society. Species have gone extinct due to the changing climate, and we are not exempt from that concept at all. People need to become aware of our actions, and more importantly aware of how these actions will affect our future in the long run. Everything comes full circle, and if society as a whole makes an effort to do better and take care of our earth without continuously extracting resources, we will see improvement.
This class has opened my eyes to how one resource can be the downfall of a society. We need to let history lead us in our ways to be better, learning from the mistakes of the past. A difference can be made, it just takes a little time and effort.
This class has provided me experiences and knowledge that I will never forget. The sheer immensity of our world’s environmental problems, and learning about them, has created such a change in me. I feel I have a much more informed view of the environment, and I can speak effectively and knowledgeably on the subject. I cannot wait to impart this information on those around me that have not had the same experience as me, as it is vital to educate as many people as possible (which we have stated over and over again in our facilitations).
Not only have I learned how fragile the Earth is, but I have begun to realize how fragile and dependent human beings are. One doesn’t normally think of where all of our materials or food comes from, and it is terrifying to think that all of the things we consider to be household items may be luxuries one day. If we continue our unsustainable practices, my children and grandchildren will not enjoy the same normal things that I have had the luxury of using.
I believe that this class has given each of us a wider perception of the world and our place in it. I now recognize how important my actions are to the environment, and how I can enact positive change. I cannot wait to go home for the summer so I can educate my parents and siblings about the extreme conditions the world is facing, and how we (as a family) need to make some lifestyle changes.
Some, and not all, of the concepts I will “take home” with me consist of: humanity’s report card, grassroots building block approach to achieving change, my personal toolkit, and the IPAT formula. Each of these concepts is incredibly important to understanding the various aspects of global environmental problems. Humanity’s report card allows us to analyze our tendencies and develop solutions/ways to work with human nature. The building block approach Friends of the Rappahannock implemented demonstrate an effective and successful method for grassroots organizations to achieve small scale change. Additionally, understanding what it is in my personal toolkit and maximizing those strengths will enable me to become an individual that can successfully enact change. Finally, the IPAT formula allows us to understand what has driven a number of our problems.
Again, I have enjoyed every minute of this course and I will continue to look through our course texts to keep myself informed.
As we wrap up this semester, and the stress of finals rolls in, thinking about global environmental problems is probably the last thing I want to think about. However, it is essential that we continue thinking about them because it is a luxury, and irresponsible, not to do so. I continue to make more environmentally conscious choices in my life after taking this class; I can fully appreciate why those choices matter and I can take steps to make changes.
One thing I took away from this course is finding the core to an issue. The course material challenged me to reflect critically and to continue asking those essential “why” questions. I naturally started to do this with other assignments from other class—never realizing the full benefit until I had those a-ha moments. I also learned to appreciate views and opinions that differ from my own. The in-class discussions not only help formulate my ideas, but also helped me defend them.
The in-class discussions also brought up many good points about how to change in our day-to-day life to make smarter choices. This idea of a dualistic life, one where you are fully aware of the problems the Earth is facing but are not fully committed to making the change within yourself, is a major problem of our generation. I think it was appropriate to end the class with a reflection back on our responsibility. Now that we have all of this information, what are we going to do with it? This class definitely reiterated my interest in working for a non-profit on an environmental issue. While I am interested in the social aspect of environmental issues, such as environmental justice, this course opened up a new perspective that I will continue to refer back to through the rest of my school career and life.
After finishing this semester with the new knowledge I have gained from this course, I feel as though my eyes have been opened. I can see so much more than ever before, with what is wrong in the world. A few months ago, I would have been able to tell anyone that the world was under great distress as any other college student (who believes in the collapse of the world) would. However, I don’t think I would have had a better understanding of it until after this class. I was given history of older civilizations that collapsed under the pressure of development and progression, and examples on how we are following those same patterns today.
Human beings are greedy people that think of what they want to make their life better/ to achieve their dream. We “buy buy buy” without thinking, denying and/or ignoring what others say about our obsession with consuming. Is it our fault? or is it how we are wired? Many of us prefer to not talk about the “end of the world” because of the fear it creates. Some are able to over come that fear and pull a positive outlook on the situation instead. But doesn’t that still make it our fault? The fact that we know there is a problem and not educating those who are blindly making things worse, doesn’t that make us the bad guys?
Are we the bad guys if we have a good message to share but contradict ourselves (exhausting resources) while expressing it. We can try to educate those who are not informed, but they are still allowed their own opinion. If we were to “force” change there would be an uproar from parties who do not approve. We can’t make everyone happy, but if we are doing something that has an over all positive result, couldn’t we sacrifice a little for the benefit of a lot.
Honestly, I can not tell if this course made me more optimistic or pessimistic when it comes to environmental problems. It has made me feel that though I am one person I can do what I can to make a change. I have a voice and facts that can not be pushed aside and there are other like me that want to help. If we work together and focus on the things that are most important, we have a fighting chance to reverse our mistakes.
This course has been very eye-opening. I am an environmental communications major and I run into the same problem in every environment science class I take: the people in the class cannot see a world outside the classroom. This is the first class I have taken here that recognized the global environment and realistically discussed the changes facing environmental activists and talked about strategies to combat them. In my eyes the biggest problem with environmental issues & activists is the lack of communication between the people involved. There is already such a disconnect between people in the industrialized world and the natural world and a highly politicized issue like climate change for example is connected to different things for different people all around the country and the world. For some it is the most dangerous issue facing humanities tied directly to big fossil fuel lobbies, to others it is tied to economic loss and liberal hype, for some it Is literally life & death as villages flood and for many is remains a thorn in their side, a constant nagging voice telling them to take the bottle to the recycling bin or face being a bad person. Humans interact with the environment on so many interconnected and personal levels that a singular approach to talking about them is not effective. That is what I learned from this class. You cannot approach environmental issues through the lens of “Science says so and you are wrong for not believing or caring” and expect positive results. There are real costs to people by engaging in environmentally sustainable practices. It means changing infrastructure, culture and lifestyles and none of these should be taken lightly. Making these shifts requires patience, cooperation and education and there is no way it is happening overnight. I learned that sitting down with people and hearing their concerns leads to real dialogue and that the best route is too listen and respond. Some cultures rely on environmentally unstable markets for food security and their lives matter just as much as the life of a person in the U.S. who throws away perfectly good produce because of an arbitrary “sell-by” date. We have gone over so much throughout this course and it has been the most valuable environmental science course I’ve taken at UMW. The focus on the human element to these issues and the complexity was often disheartening but more than that it was inspirational. Looking at failed societies & NGOs that fight even the smallest battles and win made me realize that I am part of the generation that needs to put a stop to the “next generation ill handle it” mentality. I am part of the generation that has been handed mess after mess and told the whole time that we are entitled and lazy for not having solved them yet. Millennials are going to do so much good and as I continue to fight these battles to better our society and our environment I am going to remember the core value of this class which was that you shouldn’t ever give up, there is always a solution even if you need to dig for it and compromise it something can always be accomplished if people come together and care enough to work towards a goal.
This class has made me understand that there are defiantly extremists that are crazy about saving the environment but at the same time we all might have to be a little extreme to get things done. One of the most important things that I gained from this class is that we as individuals can make a difference; in the world, our state, our county and defiantly our community. Dr. Tippett gave us so many different examples about how we the people can force our government to do things for the good of the environment, with dams, rain gardens and so many other different things. Another thing that I learned is that we as a planet have many issues but us as Americans have many too such as fishing subsidies and oil subsidies that we could use for many other needing areas of the nation.
Personally I am one that will support my country until it is fixed and then work on the others, and I now see that there are many different ways that I can do this through NGO’s or getting a job working with the environment and problems that it possesses. If Dr. Tippett taught me one thing this year it is to do something that is personally important to you and use that love as drive to succeed at the issues at hand. I hope that one day I can get into soil science weather it is with quality for farming, environmental cleanups or something similar to help the issues of soil degradation and water quality from an environmental prospect. One of the last things that we talked about in class was Biochar and I had just read a soils paper about this using chestnuts to make Biochar and how it can improve soil quality for hundreds to tens of hundreds of years, this would be an awesome area to go into so that we could maximize quality without adding any nutrients to soils that can run off and cause eutrophication.
I have learned many things about our global environmental status from this class, and have also been able to share many things that I know about the environment as well. However, one topic that we covered has had a much stronger impact on me than all of the others. This topic came up in our discussion of how Professor Tippett and his colleagues worked with local developers over a few years in order to create new regulations making rain gardens and changing storm water management systems. The topic of professional relations, networking, and more importantly, the importance of being able to work with other people, and at times, the opposition.
I have always been a very science-minded student. I soak up facts about nature and animal and plant names, I enjoy math formulas that can be applied to the real world, and I certainly have an experience-driven, proof seeking mind. In all honesty, I prefer to work on my own than with other people, as long as it is realistic. That’s part of the reason I enjoy the independent challenges of science so much. Throughout the plethora of science classes I have taken in high school in college, I learned how to handle everything from toxic chemicals to an EPT Biotic Index test. However, the one environmental aspect that I was never taught to handle were the politics of people.
By taking Global Environmental Problems, I realized that in the environmental field, cooperation is everything. I recently attended a symposium called Environment Virginia, and all of the companies and organizations there work together. They build upon each other in a synergistic, symbiotic way. In order to do this, they need to be able to branch out to each other, share knowledge and data, and devise integrated solutions for the integrated world we live in. Chemists, engineers, geologists, biologists, and more work together on projects, and being able to bridge gaps and facilitate discussion is crucial to this.
So now I know that sometimes, I have to let my fact-driven, scientific mind take the passenger seat while I listen to what other people have to say about the current topic. And more importantly, I might even have to change my view on something in order to meet at a compromise.