Author Archives: bbivens

Last Blogs! Prompt 2: Climate Change


I do not believe that failure to mitigate climate change is a result of limitations in science and technology; as a plethora of scientific evidence indicates, climate change is having monumental effects and is primarily the cause of human activity. I agree with Ausubel that “on a technological plane,” (159) we can reduce CO2 emissions and thus help mitigate climate change. With California as an exception, the problem largely relates to policymakers’ and governments’ resentment about straying away from “business as usual.” I agree with the “redesign of our civilization” that Ausubel prescribes, and that this requires decentralization and more efficient, localized systems of governance. I also think that more education regarding the issue of climate change is necessary; if constituencies are more aware of the problem and potential catastrophic effects of climate change, they are more likely to work to get governments to adopt policies designed to mitigate it.

I do not think that a climate change mitigation scheme will easily fit into government policy as it has been operating, but that is why a systemic redesign is necessary. Environmental concerns like climate change are not necessarily conducive to the primary government aims of growth, economic development, technological innovation, and increasing globalization. Thus, I think it is going to take a massive reconsideration of priorities in order for climate change to make it onto the policy agenda in a way that will help mitigate the crises associated with it. As Ausubel mentions, education and decentralization are critical components of such an endeavor.

Blog Response Week 11, Prompt 2


The CDQ is theoretically appealing given that it provides economic opportunities for people of coastal Western Alaska. However, while this quota is marketable and allows the poor to participate in the market, it does not help empower these local populations. In order for empowerment to occur, education needs to take place. It is of course understandable that a global agency wants to work to “incorporate residents into the capitalist market,” (Mansfield 495) but this agency must first immerse itself in these local settings in order to craft a program most suitable to each unique area and situation instead of offering a blanket solution. Additionally, empowerment comes through political education; I think these locals need to not only have access to the political process, but they need to be taught how to mobilize and successfully participate in such a forum. This lack of education is a historically-entrenched problem that is really inhibiting true empowerment.

I do believe that industrialized countries have a responsibility to protect the natural resources in developing societies. Instead of distantly creating programs designed to solve the social and environmental inequities, industrialized countries would make the biggest impact if they instead helped implement local education programs so that the people of each community are themselves empowered to instigate change and justice. As Sen emphasizes in “The Ends and the Means of Development,” social opportunities like education and health care are the tools that are going to lead to greater participation in economic and political activities.

Week 7, Prompt 1: Buddhism


     I certainly think that the advent of industrialization and technological innovation has lessened the influence of eastern religions that emphasize affinity with nature. Because economic growth in capitalist societies has led to environmental degradation and exploitation for the purpose of consumption, nature’s value has been inherently lessened. Buddhism’s emphasis on the development of empathy with the natural environment is threatened when a society like modern-day Japan places value on industrialism rather than religious and personal growth. Thus, it seems as though the tenets of Buddhism may be becoming less practical in today’s technological society.

     I don’t necessarily think an economic growth mindset is the primary reason why individuals engage in activities that do not go hand-in-hand with environmental health. Rather, I think the mindset that greater consumption=greater happiness is the issue. If people change their worldview into a more simplistic one a’ la Thoreau and focus namely on subsistence needs, there is a much greater chance for appreciating the environment and considering oneself to be a member of a larger biotic community.

Round 4 Blog, Response to Prompt 1: On Rationality and Environmental Stewardship


I believe that both Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas’ views on environmental stewardship are quite extreme and ultimately irresponsible. While I agree regarding their stance that nature serves to be of service to humans, I think there is a fine line between utilizing nature for survival and sustenance and blatantly over-exploiting it. I concur with Kant that one should treat the environment and nature with care in order to maintain a disposition of respect for things overall. For instance, treating nature disrespectfully and exploitatively may cause one to develop a habit of treating all things, including humans, in such a way. While I am not necessarily on the other side of the spectrum from Aristotle and Aquinas (a’ la Francis of Assisi) wherein recognition of intrinsic value in nature is necessary to treat it with care, I think we should position ourselves in a middle ground that advocates stewardship of the environment.

                For me, lack of rationality of animals and other life forms is irrelevant; like mentally handicapped individuals and infants, animals are still living things and deserve to be respected and maintained for what they are and the purpose they serve, despite their lack of rationality. However, as long as one practices some degree of environmental stewardship, whether one views nature as having purely instrumental or purely intrinsic value is unimportant. It is our physical interaction with the environment that matters, not necessarily the values behind such an interaction. For example, I do believe animals and the environment have a high degree of instrumental value, but for me, that does not warrant me to simply overexploit it. My weakly anthropocentric viewpoint inclines me to want to act as an environmental steward in order that future human generations can sustainably enjoy what the environment has to offer. Thus, overall, I believe that both Aristotle and Aquinas and Francis of Assisi (on the other side of the spectrum) are too extreme of views; both are unrealistic and ultimately inapplicable in today’s society teeming with concerns of population growth and resource depletion. A middle ground wherein nature’s instrumental value and one’s duty as an environmental steward are united seems ideal.

Response to Prompt 2 on Norton’s essay


      Like Norton, I do not uphold that recognition of intrinsic value of nature and other species is necessary for us to work toward their continued preservation. In a society where an ecological contract does not exist and relationships are defined primarily in terms of human individuals, arguments based on intrinsic value are not the most effective route to achieving environmental preservation. We must frame the case for ecological preservation in a way that seems personally and immediately relevant for the human race. Thus, I, too, advocate for a sort of weak anthropocentrism wherein ecological preservation is ultimately necessary for the continuation of the human race. For example, Norton mentions that we can feel free to use all of the resources we’d like to meet our luxurious fancies as long as we can find a substitute or replacement that has the same function so that future generations are not hung out to dry.

      I do believe that our quickly-developing technology is certainly jeopardizing our relationship with nature. As we, especially in Western culture, become comfortably accustomed to our technologies, we are simultaneously depleting our resource base and threatening biodiversity on many levels. Furthermore, I think there is a lot to be learned from third world countries regarding this dichotomy between nature and technology. Third world countries, lacking many technological, industrial advancements that we have in the Western world, often value the preservation of nature for survival and spiritual reasons; thus, because they are living among nature and rely upon it for their livelihood, they engage in sustainable exploitation so as to not deplete the resources on which they depend to survive. If we do not find a way to manage our technologies in a sustainable way and slow down this exponential resource depletion, human life on earth is ultimately going to suffer. However, the struggle for environmental preservation and reform continues to lie in emphasizing the salience and the immediate relevance of these potentially dire consequences to constituents who often fail to prioritize change in an area that does not seem immediately threatening to their livelihood. Waiting, however, is no longer an option if we are to continue the human race a ’la Norton’s weak anthropocentrism.