Extra Credit

After attending “After Sustainability: The Histories of Climate Change” by Robert Markley, I realized that the issue about global warming and climate change is not something our society talks about. Yes, there is a big emphasis on addressing the issue of global warming but no one is taking action in fixing what we have done. People do not care about our planet and what is happening to it because it is not an immediate impact on them. Climate change takes time and does not show its effects easily. There are groups of people out there who care about our planet but they are not taken seriously because a majority of our society believe that they are over-exaggerating climate change and making it more of a big deal than it is.

In our last blog post, we looked at two satirical cartoons that depicted slavery. In a way, both cartoons are addressing the issues of slavery but at the same time, making fun of it. Slavery wasn’t seen as something serious and was not addressed accordingly. In Cruikshank’s cartoon, you can see African slaves dancing and having fun in the background. It is telling us that slavery is not a bad thing and should not be taken seriously. Near the front of the cartoon, there appears to be young children signing the petition to end slavery. It shows that the petition is a joke because there are children signing it who do not understand what they are signing for.

Both of these topics show how humanity does not address issues within our society. Instead, we push it aside and make fun of it.

-Naomi Van

The Future of the Ecosystem and Humanity`s Past(Extra Credit)

Sustainability, as the main topic of discussion in Professor Robert Markley`s lecture “After sustainability: (The future) Histories of climate change” poses an important connection between the oppression of different cultures throughout human history and the mistreatment of distinct ecosystems around the world. Professor Markley began his talk by offering two separate visions of this planets future in sustainability. He asks, “What do we envision being sustained?” First he proposes the idea that mankind wants to sustain the earth as a whole. As an alternative he presents the notion that mankind would rather preserve the productivity of the natural world so that we can maintain, improve and extend first world standards of living. The latter is an incredibly colonialist mentality in my perspective.

Instead of human beings living in harmony with the undisturbed balance of nature, we feel the need to want to transform it into something that we consider “better.” Based on the political cartoons that we analyzed for the previous blog post, it seems as if humans are to the environment what European colonialist are to the victims of imperialism. One of the pictures depicted the Anglo –Saxon settlers as living in turmoil. Despite their technological advancements, governmental order, and political power they are portrayed as sad and poor individuals who liv in squalor. The setting is glum and lifeless despite the presence of buildings which emphasis their development in juxtaposition to the native’s land on the other side of the picture. The natives seem happy and free. More importantly, their land is untouched and not disturbed by the shelter that the natives have built and the food that they eat. Instead of altering their environment to allow them to live in a better and more civilized society. The natives used the resources that they were given coexist with the land. In doing so, they were able to sustain the beauty and purity of the land.

The most prominent point that intrigued me the most about Professor Markley`s lecture was how he mentioned in William Damipier`s map of the pacific trade winds, which was made in 1709, shows how land that appears along the same latitude lines contain and sustain the same plants and animal. Not only does Markely touch on the subject of slave transportation with this information, it also served as an interesting interpretation of the political cartoons spatial imagery. The picture by the unknown artist, depicting the two opposing lands so close together grew more significant as I learned that species that grow along the same latitude lines can thrive even thousands of miles apart. This interested me because it seemed as if the artist was showing how it isn’t he land that is unkind to the natives when they are transported. It is the people who ruin that land and oppress the natives. This is the warning that Markely`s talk contained. Sustainability is a matter of maintaining nature in the state that it is in naturally. Instead of trying to make something better by transforming it into something else, we should co-exsist with the environment and help it thrive as it naturally is meant to do.

-Kamani Morrow

Extra Credit

The presentation reminded me of the cartoons used for the most recent blog post assignment. In the cartoon, there were two shores, on one shore was the British in a seemingly dire situation due to lack of jobs and multiple political struggles going on at the time. On the opposing shore, an African community is enjoying life. On the British shore, one man attempts to look at the Africans using a telescope to see what is truly going on over there. Naturally the cartoon itself is a statement regarding slavery but, change it ever so slightly and it makes a perfect correlation to the presentation, which was regarding climate change and endangered species.

Turn the British shore into a shore of factories from any part of the world with, say, lumber mills and such along with an extremely tall tombstone with the word “endangered” at the top. It would represent the steady decline of climate across the world due to air pollution and lumber mills cutting down forests, allowing endangered species to die off. On the opposite shore however, which this can be confusing since I said every part of the world could pertain to the factory side, is a bustling forest. In this case it would be the reserve that is under construction in New Zealand as a way of keeping at least part of the island safe from invasive species. On this shore, endangered animals could roam without worry of being extinct and the climate is near perfect. It’s the perfect description of Globalization of companies vs. The fight against climate change.

Eco-Violence: The Genocide of Germination

sustainability

After attending Professor Robert Markley’s lecture, “After Sustainability: The (Future) Histories of Climate Change,” on Monday afternoon, I couldn’t help but draw connections between the sort of issues he was discussing in terms of “eco-violence” (or violence against the environment, especially plant-life) and the different forms of colonial oppression that we have been encountering time and time again, in every work we read in this class.

One of the most interesting aspects of Markley’s lecture was the controversy over what does stability really mean? Especially in an English course, diction is important. According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) sustainability means: The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level OR avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. I take the time to point this out, to illustrate to you how this word that is  so readily thrown around in various forms of rhetoric actually explains very little about how to achieve its means. This is a utopian word, which sounds great in concept, but is an island away from practical application in most senses.

That is not to say “sustainability” is not an admirable goal, or even an essential one, but the means necessary to bring that utopian ideal into realistic existence cannot be accomplished by spotting speeches and padding pamphlets. Even in “ideal” circumstances, or under the best conditions, in order to obtain “sustainability” in one area, sacrifices must be made in another. In fact, many times efforts made to “save the planet” or to improve the environment backfire in unexpected ways. For instance, in the lecture Markley mentioned that redwood trees had been transplanted to New Zealand, whose volcanic soil promised three times the average rate of growth. However, due to this fast development, the bark of the trees did not mature in the typical fashion and ended up being too soft to be useful.

Many oppressors of the environment, like those of people, seem to have rhetoric which implies that they are doing the landscape a favor by making necessary improvements. Like many foreigners in “savage” lands (since the ways in which the area had developed, or been “cultured” was unknown and not understood by them) they decided it must be backwards and in need of being “liberated” from itself. Many forests have been cut down, marshes drained, foreign species (primary grasses and crops) planted all under the guise of “cultivation.”

Does this rhetoric sound familiar? It should because we have been reading about it all semester! Does it sound religious? Kind of like the religion justification similar to “the divine right of kings” that Johnson uses when he makes the dictionary, essentially “weeding” out the words that weren’t quite up to his standards. Kind of like the thought process of the Houyhnhnms (highly educated horses) in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travel’s, who advocate for the wiping out of entire species (in this case humans) in order to maintain “balance.” More recently we see ideas of “cross-pollination” at the end of Equiano’s narrative when he poses the solution of intermarriage as a way to “eradicate” African heritage and “breed” in European culture.

This is a running narrative that still continues today and is being propagated by officials in our country, the United States of America, who seem incapable of drawing inter-disciplinary connections between the uprooting of invaluable resources in terms of both people and the planet. Hopefully this blog will help some of you also see the way in which these running narratives of oppression are not only cultural issues in terms of people, but also the planet at large, making them truly global concerns. Unfortunately, oppression is a fundamental aspect of co-existence, whether it be between two clashing groups of people, or humankind and the planet. The sooner we accept this in all its various forms, the sooner we can make a conscious effort to create a society that actually supports sustainability.

Elle Lammouchi