“Education, I fear, is learning to see one thing by going blind to another.”
~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
It’s hard to be an optimist when you work with environmental issues. That’s the story line that I hear anyway. It became the basis of such a common question in my environmental science courses – ‘how can you teach this course and not be completely depressed?’ students would ask – that I began to interject empowerment clauses throughout the semester to stop students from becoming despondent. My final lecture is now a discourse on optimism and possibility and is probably the antithesis of anything you might expect by way of concluding a semester spent groveling in the wastewater of civilization.
There are two separate majors that can prepare you for environmentally-oriented careers: environmental science and environmental studies. In the midst of all of the other confusion you are bound to feel as you try to determine what to do with your life, this is an unwelcome addition. Let’s sort it out.
Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring as she was battling cancer. It would become a seminal book on humanity’s misguided propensity to undermine its own well-being through the widespread use of chemical poisons. It would also become recognized as the starting point of the modern environmental movement. It’s no small irony that I had never read it despite having introduced it to countless audiences of introductory environmental science students.
This documentary touches on a variety of topics, though I found the treatment of Brazil’s biofuel program to be particularly worthwhile.
Available on Netflix beginning this Friday, the 14th. I’m looking forward to it.
In the news there is a beautiful story of a river in New Zealand that has been granted the legal status of a person, so that damage done to the river will be punishable as an encroachment on the rights of a human being. Maybe this is the future. Maybe this is what we should have been doing all along. Read about it here.