Author Archives: troyeblack

About troyeblack

-Full time student -Part time coffee snob -Armature musician -Disciple

Response to Prompt 2:

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There are some things that are just clearly out of our control. We cannot control the weather. We cannot control other people. To an extent, we are able to predict and manipulate these things, but never with complete certainty. Without a doubt, this was the aim of the Kyoto Protocol, Montreal Protocol, and the Copenhagen summit of 2009.

Ausubel claims that the reason climate change still exists in its current extent is because of the “biggest political failure in the history of civilization.” While it may be a bit of a stretch to call today’s political environment the worst in the history of civilization, I think I can see where he’s coming from. After several intentional meetings between world governments and organizations to curb necessary industrial processes which contribute to the “carbon footprint,” not much progress has been made. The error in Ausubel’s thinking is that just because little progress has been made, the blame should not be placed on the temporarily elected appointed “decision makers.” It is not out of the corruptness of their hearts that presidents, secretary generals, prime ministers, et cetera refuse to shut down factories, rather it is because such a decision would be unwise. Both the short and long term effects of such actions cannot be justified against the ever-changing scientific evidence and discoveries regarding climate change. As science and technology are able to place more of the pieces of the puzzle together, we will be able to make more concise decisions. Also, it is not that we are being held back by current scientific limitations, rather we are being pushed forward by them – we are just not as far along as we wished we could be.

Response to Prompt 3: “Animal Rights and Speciesism”

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There is a lot we just don’t know. Some things will be discovered and others will forever remain a mystery. For example, we know for a fact that certain species of animals can experience both pain and pleasure. We know that some also have strong parental instincts. However, to the best of our knowledge, we believe even the most “advanced” animals do not have a “moral system.” This means that animals do not debate their decisions in terms of right or wrong, but rather in terms of immediate and long-term survival. Since animals are said to be amoral, does that means humans are given free rein to deal with them immorally? When it comes to animal rights, I do not think it is wise to agree completely with either Singer or Cohen. Animal testing has certainly yielded positive benefits – some of which could be considered trivial and others which are seen as giant steps in medicine and science. One example can be seen in mining. It used to be common practice to bring a canary into the mine to detect the presence of deadly gasses. One bird would be unwillingly sacrificed to save the lives of several miners, so they could continue to harvest coal and other precious minerals. In this instance it is easy to see how the trivial interests of man can impose on the well-being of individual animals. However, I do not believe that cancer research is trivial, and if medical advancement requires the use of lab-rats, then so be it. As long as the animals are being handled by professionals, living in comfortable conditions, and measurable results are being achieved, there should be little to worry about. The biggest issue (one that I certainly do not have a definite answer for) is deciding which experiments are worthy of animal testing. Is shampoo testing as important as medical research? Why aren’t humans being used more frequently as test subjects if the products are intended for humans anyways?

Ultimately, I agree with Polyface Farm’s belief that the negative (or positive) manner in which humans deal with agriculture is a fairly decent indicator for how we as humans treat each other. Developmental psychologists can determine a lot about the temperance of a child simply from the way they play and interact with toys behind closed doors. Following this train of logic, children and professional scientists can be viewed in a similar manner.  A society which performs a large number of cruel animal trials will likely also care less about environmental and humanitarian policies. Likewise, there is a good chance that a population which uses animal experimentation is careful moderation and treats the subjects with dignity will likely have a sound environmental policy, and treat other humans with an even higher respect.

Response to Buddhism in Japan

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Technology is inanimate, and economy is a make-believe rule book that has only been around only for mere moments in the grand scheme of the universe. To say these things have caused a disconnect between the influence of religion and the way the environment is treated is not only irresponsible but also foolish. It would be absurd to say that microwaves are destroying the rain forest, or that the new healthcare bill is responsible for the endangerment of elephants native to Africa. One could definitely find a connection between the each of these cases, but there is definitely not a direct relationship. Instead, man is solely responsible for the disconnect between the influence of religion and the way the environment is treated. Many years ago, before electricity was ever harnessed and before any banks were established, people lived together in much smaller concentrations, ate radically different diets, and were employed at much simpler occupations. Because of these circumstances, it was almost essential for there to be a strong religious presence and a maternal dependence on the land. If a field or forest were to suffer maltreatment, there would a direct negative consequence. If even a single water supply were to become contaminated, entire villages and communities could totally disappear. Today, that is not the case. Population has increased in a manner that is impossible to ignore, and resources are harnessed in a gluttonous manner. Again, this is a result of the greed of man, not the strength of the processing plants we have created. Furthermore, we are able to predict the weather days in advance, have instant access to basic and essential medical treatments, and have made the concept of “harvest” irrelevant to the modern consumer. Religion is simply not practical anymore. It is not essential to a good life, nor does it ensure a long life.

One of my best friends is Chinese graduate student who is working on earning his Master’s Degree here the University of Florida’s Computer Engineering program. According to him, you could ask pretty much anyone on the street what they believe and they will either tell you that they are a follower of Buddha or Confucius. This is not always a perfect indicator though. According to him, “most of them only go to the temple when they have a job interview or exam the next day, and that’s it – maybe for a holiday if their family makes them, but that’s not too common.” Even on the other side of the planet, people still have jobs and responsibilities which have been deemed more important that strict religion and much of the grandeur of Buddha’s teachings have been buried under the rapidly growing skylines and smokestacks of urban China.

It is not always easy to be “environmentally friendly,” but we should be careful about making unnecessary martyrs of ourselves. There is a stark contrast between being “economically stable” and living in excess. It is entirely possible to live a simple life within our means, providing for a small family with a steady income, and still get more in tune with nature. Just as it is absurd to drive a large van across town to buy Lunchables in bulk, it is equally illogical to force your spouse and children to pull a “Thoreau.” Environmentally speaking, a life in thoughtful moderation is a good life.

Responce to Native Traditions

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It is important to share ideas and philosophies. There is much good that can be learned from individuals of different walks of life. I believe that there is a great wealth of knowledge from overseas that is invaluable to life in the Western word. The “peaceful protest” example set by Gandhi in India practically revolutionized American political and social activism. However, it is important to note that his Hindu belief system or vegetarian lifestyle did not leave much of a sizable impact on American culture.
I agree with Ed Mcgaa, when he speaks of the importance of adapting some Native American values, but I do not think it is necessary to for the United States to actively practice their religion to its full extent. The population size and political complexity of today’s world is a stark contrast to Native American life a few hundred years in the past. It is almost like comparing apples to oranges. All the Native Americans knew about the world at that time was seen through the lens of their culture, and as a result, they managed to formulate values unique to their situation.
Contrary to the Native American view of being equal with nature, The United States still has a fairly anthropocentric view of nature. Some of our most popular slogans are “Only you can prevent forest fires,” and “We’ve only got one planet.” This allows for a stewardship relationship to take root. There is nothing wrong with being stewards, so long as we are good stewards. For some this may carry a negative connotation, like we are ruling over nature with an iron fist, or only concerned about ourselves. If we intend to be stewards, we must be good stewards, and to be good stewards, we must respect what we are given stewardship over.
Perhaps the most important argument Mcgaa makes is for the respect of nature. He says that it is made up of three things, “A belief system, an ultimate moral attitude, and a set of rules of duty and standards of character” Whether you belong to an Abrahamic, Non-Abrahamic, or a non-religious worldview, each of McGaa’s three essentials could (and should) be applied.

Should be all begin praying to the Great Spirit? Perhaps not. Should we learn a few lessons from the native inhabitants of our country concerning respect? Of course.

Prompt: Biodiversity

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It is fairly easy to argue that biodiversity is essential to life. Inter-species relationships support the well-being of entire eco-systems, which in turn support populations of other animals, plants, and humans. Nevertheless, the approach to maintain healthy, thriving biodiversity on Earth is not quite something that is unanimously agreed upon.

When put up against the timeline of the universe (or even the Planet Earth) new species come into being and go out to extinction in no time at all. If all life on the planet suddenly stopped evolving, it would have catastrophic consequences. It is also without a doubt that  humans are responsible for the extension of hundreds of species of animals. Thankfully, large strides are being made to slow down and eventually prevent this entirely. However, are we moving in the right direction? Are our current methods of preserving and/or conserving biodiversity effective, or are they halting the time-honored tradition of natural selection?

 

http://www.mnn.com/local-reports/south-carolina/local-blog/how-much-human-intervention-is-too-much
http://www.globalissues.org/article/170/why-is-biodiversity-important-who-cares

Romanticism Prompt: A Responce

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            The overwhelming trend of mankind is to advance. Forward progress is always a goal. Even in periods of renaissance or re-visitation, much more new is gained than old is recovered. Why is this? Why must we keep on racing from achievement to achievement? Is there any explanation for this epidemic malcontentment with the present, and can it be cured? Moreover, should it be cured? This is precisely the core issue in the argument for romanticism vs. anthropocentrism.

            In a nutshell, romanticists believe that mankind has  advanced too far. Under their view, technology has brashly interrupted the natural, intended flow of the earth, the environment, man, animal, and plant. Industrial power plants pump out hazardous waste by the ton, and there is a sharp, undisputed correlation between the size, amount, and usage of factories, cars, energy plants, waste sites, et cetera, and the amount of pollution. Large cities such as Shanghai, China, and Los Angeles, California are almost known for their unclean air. Furthermore, names like Chernobyl and Fukushima have practically become household names. As global demand for natural resources such as fish, wood, and fossil fuel skyrocket with the population, irreversible damage seems to be done to their respective ecosystems. Time after time, the blame is always pointed at technological advancement, almost as if it had appeared completely without invitation.

            Anthropocentrism is the belief that mankind is the single most important species on this world and on worlds beyond. If this is true then a tremendous weight has somehow been placed upon human shoulders. It is beyond debate that man is set apart from animals. Even if it could be proved that genetically and physically we are identical to the rest of the Animal Kingdom, there is still something more to mankind. You can call it consciousness, you can call it a soul, you can call it whatever, but you cannot deny it. By a dictionary definition, anthropocentrism does not explicitly call for humans to use technology to solve all problems, but it certainly allows for such a doctrine to take root. Albeit technology may sometimes cause messes, it has certainly taken us leaps and bounds in the right direction. Can you imagine a population as rapidly advancing as our own trying to feed all 7 billion without the use of harvesting, processing, shipping, and nutritional technology? Where would waste go without the vast disposal and recycling utilities which have been painstakingly engineered over the past several decades? Personally, I do not believe it feasible to even recommend living in such a manner. To ignore all the hard work, the sweat, the blood, and the tears which have been sacrificed for our own good would not only be insulting but also suicidal. It would be like a child refusing to eat a home-cooked meal because his mother burnt her hand reaching in the oven. Yes, harm was done, and yes it could have been avoided, but we are here now. Things may seem discouraging for the moment, but that is never the whole story. If it were not for the horrific conditions of the Industrial Revolution, many of the work-related salary, safety, and health benefits we take for granted would never have come into existence. Everyday research is being conducted to relieve the carbon footprint, patch the ozone, and discover clean, replenishable fuels. While it may be vain to believe that humans are the center of the known universe, I do trust that humans have the power to fix and overcome any challenges which may await them. A brighter day is coming, but until then will you use light bulbs or torches?