Management of the Biophysical Environment - 2016

About this class

This course examines the role of the state in environmental issues. We examine the rationales, challenges and pitfalls inherent in state-led resource management. Students will be blogging on media coverage of important environmental issues throughout the course of the semester.

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3 années 8 mois ago

Great post! As someone who has lived in several National Parks, I really enjoyed reading this and hearing about the visitors who rate preservation and development and equally important. I think that development is a controversial topic to people who live in or near a park and are in the environment of the park often. It is disturbing to see some of the natural elements of a park taken away. I think it’s also important to keep in mind that a lot of visitors are coming to see a pristine, undisturbed natural environment, and with the continuous development of parks, this sought-after aspect could be tainted. I also loved that you supplied alternate ideas for attracting visitors in your article- this supported your opinion of the issue. I would be intrigued to hear more research surrounding park attendance and development- has increased development had any correlation with increasing number of visitors?

3 années 8 mois ago

The way you began your piece was really interesting- stating the unbiased opinions of both sides- it really strengthened how you continued to form your stance on the issue. There was a bit of choppiness between paragraphs and connecting ideas which could be improved on. Overall, this was a great article. You smoothly related everything to course content and backed your opinions. I am so happy to be reading this after the official rejection of the Northern Gateway Pipeline!!

3 années 8 mois ago

Hey AJ!

This was a very neat post to read, as it is from a perspective that I am not accustomed to seeing. Here in Canada (specifically Southern Ontario), we too have required vaccinations starting at a young age, but there is far less argument against it in comparison to the United States. That's not to say we don't have people here who do not vaccinate, but it is just not as common, considering everyone I know is in support of vaccination (as such, this is just an assumption, and every province is different).

I think your post was very well written, and makes excellent use of the articles supporting this stance on vaccination. Vaccination is a complicated issue, and there is definitely a lot of controversy around it. The issue at hand is that the sciences, unlike political decision making processes, are not so black and white. One of the main reasons why there is so much misunderstanding from the general public towards science is because science evolves and changes, and it is difficult to say something is 100% true through scientific literature. It is only possible to discuss your findings, and give a reasonable conclusion. If your findings are convincing, and multiple studies have the same results, then it is more likely for something to become accepted as scientific fact. This is also where the confusion of the word "theory" stems from. In the public, people say scientists are not sure because it is only just a "theory", but that does not mean it is a guess. Even a concept like gravity is a theory.

Now the reason why it is important to discuss these issues is because one of the major struggles in the scientific community is trying to express your research to the general public in a way that can be absorbed. So when it comes to vaccination, it is understandable why so many people are skeptical of the idea. A major thing to remember however, is that correlation does not equal causation. I recall from my statistics lectures that 60% of cancer cases are random. That means almost two thirds of all cancer cases cannot be linked to any cause at all. Even more ridiculously, something odd like "potato chip sales" was strongly correlated with "highway accidents" (you can look up odd correlations on google, and many many results will show up!). This can also be compared to Autism, where scientists are still puzzled as to what the cause is. It is up to the public then to decide what is more important: vaccinate and have a very high immunity to a preventable disease, or not vaccinate because of a slim chance (if at all) that there are side affects? There is also an underlying moral issue at play here, where people have to decide whether a preventable disease is worse than autism or not.

I really enjoy posts like yours because they are about important current issues that have so much uncertainty around them, and revolve heavily on education, science, and public opinion. Sparking discussion is one of the most valuable things that academia has to offer! Thank you, and keep up the great work!

3 années 8 mois ago

Hi 22paris. I really enjoyed reading this article, the title immediately caught my attention. I think that CoverGirl having a male model is an awesome and huge step for our society to start recognizing trans gender equality. The facts you have provided about Target and Zara incorporating a gender neutral line is also interesting, and I am glad you have included that because I would not have known otherwise.

Personally, I have always been a bit confused about what being trans gender means, because I have found that each trans gender person has a different story and different way they like to identify themselves. After reading your article I googled James Charles, and read this article about him : http://www.allure.com/story/covergirl-james-charles-controversy . At the bottom of the article is a 8 minute video about different trans gender people sharing their stories of how they began identifying themselves and how they interpret the meaning of trans gender. This a great video and I recommend watching it. Again, thanks for a great post, it was thought provoking and informative.

Reply to: Heroin Epidemic
3 années 8 mois ago

Your post was very informative. I always underestimate impacts of narcotic use on individuals, perhaps because I have never experienced anyone who is using them. You highlight the severity of this problem with the fact about there being more opiate influenced driving accidents than alcohol in Fort Thomas, this is very disturbing. Here in Guelph I know that we also have some issues with opiates because in the summer I worked for the City of Guelph and would hear about bathrooms having to be closed because so many needles were found there, and we also received sharps training on how to properly dispose of needles if we found any. If I had not worked for the city I would not have been aware of this problem in Guelph. I have also never heard of Narcan before, it sounds useful but who would be administering it? For example in the Indiana case the mother was overdosing with her child in the back seat. I understand that it is useful and important, but in situations where someone is getting high by themselves or multiple people are overdosing at the same time the presence of the Narcan would not make a difference.
Thanks for an informative post.

3 années 8 mois ago

Vquach94

I think this is a very interesting and complex issue, and there are many factors that are not covered in the article that your blog post is based on. Like any news article, there is always some bias, if not a lot of it. For this particular article, one thing that is not covered is the comparative emissions that natural gas is responsible for relative to other energy sources. As discussed in the article, the main markets for this project are in Asia, which relies heavily on coal and petroleum. As we all know, natural gas is without a doubt far less degrading than coal and petroleum. While this does not mean that these countries will have lower emissions for this reason, there is however an opportunity for these countries to lower their dependence on less environmentally efficient energy sources.

Conversely, I think another issue is the economic benefits of the salmon market. Salmon not only has intrinsic natural value, but it is also a major part of the British Columbian economy. This proposal, despite having economic benefits for larger corporations and high skilled workers, may come at the cost of average local workers, which is harmful for the economy. Therefore I would not only say this is an interest conflict based on who should pay to preserve salmon habitats, but also in terms of who should benefit from the project.

Very well written!

3 années 8 mois ago

Hi there,
This is a really interesting post! I had no idea that Denmark was thinking of this. You did a great job explaining the benefits as well as well as bringing up questions that the article didn't address. I was immediately drawn to your title because I'm a vegetarian for primarily environmental reasons. People always ask me why I don't eat meat and lots of time I feel like I can't really tell them all the reasons because I sound like quite the downer, which isn't always appreciated over a meal, especially when they are eating meat. I feel like this is a great tool to put the relationship between animal agriculture and climate change on people's radar. You pay a environmental disposal fee when you buy a printer etc., why not for meat too!? I think it is true that ignorance is bliss; its often easier to ignore personal contribution to issues but implementing economic instruments is a great way to get the message out to everyone that every choice has an impact. I hope that this would turn attention to more healthy and sustainable plant-based options instead of just making protein and adequate nutrition inaccessible to those in lower socioeconomic situations. If you are interested in this topic further I would suggest the novel 'Eating Animals' by Jonathon Safran Foer. It is his personal account of investigating the environmental, social and ethical implications of eating animals because he has a new son being born and wants to do more to be a responsible consumer. It was definitely a catalyst in my choice to be a vegetarian and made some points that I could not ignore. If the environment pays, why shouldn't we?

3 années 8 mois ago

Hi there,
Awesome post! I chose to comment on this one because I have been following the Standing Rock protests closely and was interested to another opinion on it and to see some coverage on it as it relates to class. You did a great job summarizing the issue. I have been thinking a lot lately about water protection due to Nestle buying a well in my community (Elora). It is astonishing to me how hard people have to fight to protect the water because to me it just seems like common sense. How far is this protest really going to go before the government will address the human rights abuses going on as well as what the people want, not big oil? I feel that decisions are constantly being made to accomodate to the economy (which could sustain or thrive with a switch to green energy) instead of to the environment (which can't just be altered to physically tolerate fossil fuels without a change). Here is a link to a recent article I think is really interesting about U.S veterans joining the Sioux fight against the black snake. I think it is interesting because these are people who have take large sacrifices for their country (and/or country's desires) and now they are standing up for the kind of country they want America to be. http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/standing-rock-north-dakota-1.3877269

3 années 8 mois ago

This is such an important topic. I am a strong supporter of eco labelling myself and I believe it is the first steps towards informing consumers of their impacts and what happens before the consumption of products. As a former marine biology student I understand the importance of all phylogenetic levels of the aquatic ecosystem (or any ecosystem for that matter) form the krill to the whale and everything in between. Mass removal of one species sends everything out of balance and disrupts the former dynamic stabilized system. This impact is not often thought about when a consumer is looking for a tasty snack. Ecolabling cupped with education is the next steep to sustainbility!

Great post and Intresting article!

3 années 8 mois ago

Hello hlvolpe, you have chosen a very interesting topic in the sense that you make some compelling arguments about how and why educators and institutions would be placing these 'caps' on how many students are allocated special education services. You make a good point that it is very unfair that certain 'selections' of students are picked over others and how we should revamp this practice as well as implement necessary means to ensure this does not occur, as this is a troubling but real circumstance. However, a possible but ambitious remedy to this situations is that there does need to be a set amount of special education services for students, but it should be based on how much it is needed. In order to ensure that the students who need it most get those services, there needs to be a certain set of qualifications that need to be satisfied in order for a student to be given them. This could act as a remedy for some of the situations you stated above, as there will be no "selection" of someone over another by their ethnicity, where they are from, or what they look like, but rather those who need it most will be given that opportunity. With that being said, you shed light on the fact that the state needs to use the authority they possess in order to ensure the resources and institutions they have set in place are used effectively and efficiently. Using discursive power that they posses or even by an activist organization to spread awareness and educate the public on the issue, and certainly drive change to hopefully allow for those students being neglected to be given the services they need. In order to ensure a positive future, we need to focus on educating and providing opportunity to all, and that begins by eliminating issues like this.

SUNY Genesee Community Colllege

SUNY Brockport

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Associate Professor of Geography, University of Guelph.

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