ENVS101 Schedule, Readings, Questions & Assignments
CLICK: on each class below to link to the list of readings and questions for each readings(you can also simply scroll down the page). Assignments are marked in red.
BEWARE: This syllabus may evolve during the semester. I suggest that you not print it and that you check it regularly
● CLASS#22 4/23: Local Sustainability Roundtable with David Sonner (Chair, Oberlin City Council), Eric Norenberg (Oberlin City Manager), Steve Dupee (Director, Oberlin Municipal Light and Power), Nathan Engstrom (OC Sustainability Coordinator)
Note: Be certain that you understand how the website is organized, how this class is organized and what I expect from you. Bring questions to class!
Q:What is the "levels of organization" concept?
Q:What is a hierarchy?
Q:What do the authors think is wrong with examining “levels” in isolation?
Q:Provide some examples of how energetics, evolution and regulation are principles that occur at different levels of organization.
Q:“all of them were caught in something larger than themselves.” Explain
Q:What is the nature of the causality associated with “the monster”?
Q: Who/what is responsible for moving the farmers off the land? How/why is this essay relevant to our current situation? How is it an example of a system-level problem?
Q: What are the four principles of sustainability?
-This is a tough read, but important. If you choose to tackle it, focus on understanding the sections "The nature of causality" and "An origin of formal and final agency". Don’t worry about understanding the equations.
Q:Be able to define, explain and provide examples from your own life of the first and second laws of thermodynamics
Q:Define energy, available energy, and entropy
Q:If energy is never consumed, can it be recycled?
Q:How does entropy relate to energy efficiency?
Q:What is the least useful form of energy?
Q:Some have claimed that complex living organisms violate the 2nd law. Explain why this is not the case.
-Many of the questions for the Ehrlich reading are applicable here, so you can skim this one and focus on how the second law of thermodynamics constrains the human economy
Q:What is the difference between free energy and bound energy?
Q:Explain the difference between a thermodynamically open system and a thermodynamically closed system. Which one is a better model of our biosphere?
Q:Does the presence of life increase or decrease entropy? Explain.
Q:What are the two sources of free energy on earth? Explain how one is a "stock" while the other is a "flow". Which one is the primary source for life?
Q:"Every time we produce a Cadillac, we do it at the cost of decreasing the number of human lives in the future." (pg. 85) Explain.
Q:Define: exponential growth, doubling time,
Q:Explain the three types of production versus time curves on page 123.
Q:How and why do the idealized growth curves for the exploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources differ?
Q:"we have evolved what amounts to an exponential-growth culture" (pg 125). Explain.
Q:So why isn't everyone as scared as Paul and Anne Ehrlich?
Q:If pond weed grows exponentially at a doubling time of once per day and completely covers a pond on day 40, how much of the pond was covered on day 39? According to the Ehrlichs, how is this relevant to our current situation?
Q:What is "nature's" population control program?
Q:How/why is unwillingness to face population issues built into our genes and culture?
Q:What are the Ehrlichs' views on food redistribution as a solution to the population problem?
Q:Why is "the left" resistant to talking about population issues?
Q:Read footnote 6. If the total population growth rate in the US were a fairly low, but constant at 2%/yr, in what year would US population be double what it is today? (Assume constant rates of immigration, emigration, birth and death over this time period).
Q:In what ways does the journey of “x” embody the laws of matter and energy in ecosystems?
Note: Some of the information on energy and entropy is redundant to readings for previous class. Skim these parts.
Q: Definitions: Matter, element, compound, ion, organic compound, inorganic compound, energy, kinetic energy, potential energy, electromagnetic radiation, conservation of matter, population, community, ecosystem, biosphere, abiotic, biotic, law of tolerance, limiting factor, autotrophs, heterotrophs (producers and consumers) detritivores, herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, level, food chain, trophic level, ecological efficiency, gross primary productivity, net primary productivity
Q:What is the pyramid of energy and how does it relate to thermodynamics?
Q:What is biodiversity, what are the measures of diversity at the different levels of ecological organization (i.e. at population, community, and ecosystem levels)?
Q:What is a limiting factor?
Q:Know the general equations for photosynthesis and respiration (pg. 35)
Q:What are the primary forms in which carbon exists on the earth?
Q:How is CO2 in the atmosphere influenced by biology? Why is the atmospheric concentration of CO2 much less than it was when life first evolved and why has it been steadily increasing since the turn of the last century?
Q:What are the primary forms of nitrogen in the biosphere? How do humans alter the nitrogen cycle?
Q:In what ways is the phosphorus cycle different from both the carbon and nitrogen cycles?
Q:Define the major terms associated with the hydrological cycle: evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, runoff
what ways has human transformation of land affected biodiversity and climate?
Q: What are humans major impacts on the coastal zone and ocean?
Q: How do we know that most of the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere has resulted from burning fossil fuels?
Q: How have humans changed the nitrogen cycle and why is this important?
Q: What is meant by the term "biological invasion" and how and why are these invasions important?
Q: How does the issue of scale play into issues of biodiversity?
Q: What critique does Woodwell offer of many of the contemporary efforts to "preserve global biodiversity"?
Q: What does Woodwell suggest as the best way to conserve species diversity, locally and globally?
Q :As far as Berry is concerned, how is the mutual benefit of nature and humanity dependent on scale?
Q: What does Berry see as wrong with the critique that humans are anthropocentric?
Q: "The monocultural landscape is totalitarian in tendency, the landscape of harmony is democratic and free". Explain what Berry means.
Q: What is, "the ideology of technological heroism"? What's the problem with it?
Q: What concrete steps do you think Berry might advocate for preserving biodiversity?
Q: What new challenges does climate change pose for conservationists?
Q: In response to changes in climate, what new characteristics are conservationists seeking in the ecosystems that they preserve?
Read the summary of this report.
Q: Understand the distinct roles of over harvesting, alien species introduction, pollution, habitat fragmentation and habitat destruction in loss of biodiversity. Which is listed first as most important?
This series of short online articles by a respected wetland restoration researcher provides an understanding of the opportunities and challenges of wetland restoration
This is a long report and I don’t expect you to read the entire thing. Carefully read the Forward and the Introduction and then skim through the rest of the report. Pay particular attention to fig. 22, 34
Q: What does the “Livable Plant Index” measure? What trends are evident in this index?
Q: What is ecological footprint? How has it changed over the last 45 years?
Q: What actions does the study recommend for reducing global ecological footprint?
Q: How does the per person footprint in the U.S. compare to other countries (see fig. 22)? Which countries are higher and lower?
This is an older article than the Living Planet report, but provides a good description of how current amounts of natural resource use relate to earth’s capacity to sustainably produce goods and services. Focus on understanding the concepts embodied in the questions below:
Q: How do human demands on the planet currently relate to the regenerative capacity of the earth?
Q: what is the objective of footprint analysis? What key assumptions are build into ecological footprints as a measure of human activity?
Q: Explain the concept of ecological overshoot.
Q: Explain how human activity can be divided into different types of land necessary to support these activities.
Q: What are the documented and predicted effects of elevated greenhouse gasses (GHGs) on: temperature, fresh water supply, sea level, storm intensity, agricultural productivity and disease, polar ice cap, glaciers, snow pack, ocean temperatures, and mosquito-borne disease?
Q: Figure 3 in the Overview section depicts the so-called “wedge” model published by Pacala and Socolow in 2004. What is expected to happen to GHG emissions between 2005 and 2055 if no action is taken? Explain the wedge concept of reducing GHG emissions. What do the authors suggest as some of the possible wedges?
Q: How do per person emissions differ between U.S. citizens and citizens of Europe?
Q: During what period have the ten warmest years in human history occurred?
Q: What is a “cap and trade” policy and how does it stimulate emissions reductions?
Q: What is the Kyoto protocol and to what extent is the U.S. participating in it?
Q: What two factors related to climate change explain rising sea levels?
Q: What are the three main greenhouse gasses?
Q: The authors write that, “the true costs of greenhouse gas emissions are not reflected in the market price.” Explain what they mean.
Q: Activities that take place within the built environment (i.e. buildings) are responsible for about what fraction of the total CO2 emissions? What fractions are due to transportation and industry?
Q: What does “carbon sequestration” mean and what role might it play in stabilizing GHGs?
Q: What are the primary options available for reducing the GHG emissions associated with buildings?
Q: What are the primary options available for reducing the GHG emissions associated with transportation?
Note: I don’t expect you to read this entire document, but I would like to glance through it to get a sense of the climate document that is mostly widely read by the world’s policy makers. The “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” (IPCC) was established by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Association to be a clearinghouse for information on climate change. Over two thousand scientists contributed to and reviewed this report before it was published. It is challenging to get scientists to agree on firm numbers. As a consensus document, this report is likely very conservative in its predictions of changes; it is more likely to understate than to overstate observed and predicted change. For example, a number of prominent climate experts (e.g. James Hansen of NASA and Lonnie Thompson of OSU) have suggested the IPCC report substantially underestimates the danger of major sea level rise.
Q: What evidence exists to support the assertion that there is a “scientific consensus on climate change”?
Q: What is a cap and trade
policy and what are the advantages of this approach over taxes and
“command-and-control” approaches to reducing CO2 emissions?
Q: What are the differences between “upstream” and “downstream” approaches to implementing cap and trade for emissions reductions?
Q: What is an “offset”
Q: Explain the concept of “Additionality”
This web site is maintained by Pulitzer prize-winning author Ross Gelbspan, and is one of the most comprehensive collections of recent news on the science and policy issues associated with climate change.)
This is a comprehensive review of the status and impact of climate change in the Great Lakes region of the United States
Q:How does Costanza define "social trap"
Q:What 5 distinct causes of social traps does Costanza identify?
Q:What are the 4 method for escaping social traps, which one does Costanza favor?
Q:What societal characteristics are likely to render a religious/moral code of ethics an effective or ineffective means of escaping social traps?
Q:Which of the social traps relate directly to issues of scale?
Q:Which methods of escaping social traps focus on imposing feedback structures (positive or negative)?
Q:Given an environmental problem, be able to identify the associated trap and a means of restructuring the situation to escape the trap.
Note: this is probably the single most frequently cited environmental essay of this century.
Q:How does Hardin define "technical solution", why is it insufficient to focus on technical solutions?
Q:What is wrong with the goal of "greatest good for the greatest number"?
Q:What is, "the tragedy of the commons"?
Q:How does the tragedy relate to the logistic growth equation?
Q:"Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons."
Q:How does the tragedy apply to our national park system?
Q:"The morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed", how so?
Q:"Conscience is self-eliminating ", how so?
Q:Explain what Hardin means by the phrase, "mutual coercion, mutually agreed on".
Q:"An appeal to independently acting consciences selects for the disappearance of all conscience in the long run?" Explain.
Garrett Hardin died in ‘03. You can get a sense of the power that his thinking and writing have had on others by reading the “tributes” section of this site.
Q:Explain the difference between “distributive justice” and “participatory justice”.
Q:Explain how the issue of environmental justice is scale dependent – what are the central issues at national and international scales?
Q: “Environmental racism” is often defined so that it includes the unintended as well as the intended effects of policy and implementation. What moral arguments are used to support a definition that includes unintended effects, what arguments are used against this definition? How have U.S. court decisions and laws interpreted this issue?
Q: Why are the “less developed” countries sometimes reluctant to agree to the constraints on resource use that many feel are necessary to solve global-scale environmental problems (e.g. global warming, CFC production, etc.)?
These press clippings describe some of the work that Michael Lythcott has recently been engaged in.
Q: What appears to characterize the approach that Lythcott takes to resolving environmental conflicts?
Q: Shiva is highly critical of the concept of “development” as currently advanced by western industrialized countries. What assumptions does she argue are embodied in this concept of development? How is development (or “maldevelopment” as she calls it) damaging to women, peasants and tribal people?
Q: Shiva distinguishes between two types of poverty, “culturally perceived poverty” and “real material poverty”. Explain the distinction and explain how these two types of poverty are related.
Q: What does Shiva mean when she uses the term “patriarchy”?
Q: Explain how the term ‘productivity’ may mean different things different contexts.
Q:Contrast Berry's view of the relationship between men, women, and nature with Shiva's. On what do you think they would agree, on what would they differ?
Q:What does Berry see as being wrong with male-female relations?
Q:What causal factors does Berry implicate in the "environmental crisis"?
Q:Many in society view acquisition of scientific knowledge as unquestionable good. What is the alternate position advanced by Sinsheimer, and on what reasoning is it based?
Q:Sinsheimer writes that, "The basic tactic of natural science is analysis: fragment a phenomenon into its components, analyze each part and process in isolation, and thereby derive an understanding of the subject". This is an example of the dominance of which scientific world view? What does Sinsheimer see as the consequences of this world view?
Q:Does Sinsheimer believe that social institutions can adapt to take advantage of all new technologies and knowledge? What is his position on the resilience of both ecological and social systems?
Q:"The scientific approach focuses rigorously upon the problem at hand, ignoring as irrelevant the antecedents of motive and the prospectives of consequence." What three conditions would be necessary for this scientific approach to be socially and ecologically justifiable?
Q:What is the "uncertainty principle" in science? What converse position does Sinsheimer advocate? How is his converse relevant to the search for new scientific knowledge?
Q:Thus far constraints on science have largely "been the work of bigots and charlatans" (e.g. the Inquisition). Given our current social and political context, how could this be different?
Q:How does Winner define, "artifacts" and "technics"?
Q:A number of folks have used nuclear power as an example of a technology that possesses inherent political attributes. What are these attributes?
Q:Compare solar energy with nuclear energy. In what important ways does solar energy technology differ from nuclear technology. Does nuclear energy have an inherent politics? Does solar energy have an inherent politics?
Q:Define, "technological determinism", is Winner a technological determinist?
Q:Winner distinguishes between two ways that technology might determine social order. The first has to do with selection of technology, the second with inherent features of particular technology. Explain and provide examples of both.
Q:How did the introduction of new technology alter the culture and economy of tomato growers in CA?
Q:Explain the, "technological necessity" perspective.
Q:Explain the attributes and benefits to society of technologies that require "economies of scale"
Q:"Americans have long rested content in the belief that arrangements of power and authority inside industrial corporations, public utilities and the like have little bearing on public institutions, practices , and ideas at large." (36) In terms of both common perception and "objective reality" (or as close as our biased little minds can come to objectivity) is this true for technology?
>Chapter 6: The Consumer
Q: Pollan ascribe the increase in obesity that began in the 1970s to what principle factors? What tactic did marketers take to increase food consumption?
Q: The average American now consumes 66 lbs of HFCS. “The cheapest calories in the supermarket will continue to be the unhealthiest”. Explain.
>Chapter 7: The Meal
Q: Pollan has the components of a MacDonald’s meal analyzed using a mass spectrometer that can calculate the fraction of the carbon that is derived from corn and found the following: soda (100% corn), milk shake (78%), salad dressing (65%), chicken (56%), cheeseburger (52%), french fry (23%). Why does this matter?
>Chapter 9: Big organic
Q: Who was Sir Albert Howard (p. 145)? What role has his writing played in the development of the organic farming movement? What was Howard’s critique of the “NPK mentality” (p. 146)?
Q: “organic farming has increasingly come to resemble the industrial system it originally set out to replace.” (p. 151) Explain why Pollan feels that this is so.
Q: Big scale organic agriculture often entails extensive tillage – tractors with cultivation equipment are run over the fields multiple times to remove weeds. What are the ecological costs of this approach?
Q: Small scale farms, which often come closer to achieving a sustainable model are as productive as large scale organic farms (p. 161). So why is the vast majority of organic food produced on large farms?
Q: “Rosie” the chicken from Petaluma farm is marketed as a “free range” chicken. Explain why this marketing might be misleading.
Q: Is organic food generally healthier for you than the conventional alternative?
Q: Pollan describes industrial organic production as, “floating on a sinking sea of petroleum”. Explain
Note: This includes both a 1 page editorial by Michael Maniates and a second page in which Maniates has categorized the many written responses he received into five categories. Read both
Q: What does Maniates identify as the three assertions that permeate the pages of the “simple steps to save the environment” literature?
Q: “Never has so little been asked of so many at such a critical moment.” Explain what Maniates means.
Q: To what extent does Maniates believe that individualistic, consumer centered actions can solve our environmental problems?
Q: Are you personally best characterized as falling into the group identified with, “Environmental hogwash”, “Simply is beautiful”, “Alone in the woods”, “I knew it!”, “Goldilocks dreamers”? What does that say about you?
Scroll through these pictures and take note of volume, variety, processing and cost
Q: What would your families table look like?
Q:What is the "Baconian creed" that White speaks of, and what turning point does it mark in human history?
Q:"Wilderness area mentality invariably advocates deep-freezing an ecology" (p 1204). What does White mean by this?
Q:What sequence of causal events (i.e. conceptual model of causality) does White evoke to justify his assertions regarding the relationship between Christianity and our ecological crisis?
Q:How did the soil of England contribute to the advancement of technology?
Q:What attributes of Judeo-Christian heritage persist in our secular culture that explain our relationship towards the environment?
Q:What difference does White identify in the way that Greek and Latin Christians view of nature?
Q:Which of the solutions to social traps does White appear to have most faith in resolving the ecological crisis?
Q:How did St Francis of Assisi's views toward nature differ from the dominant views held by fellow Christians?
Q:What flaws does Moncrief see in White's thesis?
Q:What conceptual model does Moncrief offer as an alternative to explain our "ecological crisis"?
Q:What series of negative effects on the environment does Moncrief associate with the industrial revolution?
Q:What three features mediate against a quick solution to our ecological crisis?
Q:Which of the social traps does Moncrief view as most responsible for our environmental predicament?
Skim through these thoughtful essays that offer views on the environment from the perspective of different religions. Pay particular attention to the essay on Islam and Ecology
Q:What does Orr see as the root causes of contemporary environmental problems?
Q:What does Orr advance as the central goals of ecological design?
Q:In Orr's view, to what extent is ecological design a technological enterprise? Explain.
Q:In what ways do the Amish and other "settled cultures" serve as examples of ecological design?
Q:What common properties are shared by sustainable systems?
Q:According to Orr, what does the architecture of a typical academic building teach students?
Q:How is the Environmental Studies Center designed to educate? Who is it designed to educate?
Q:According to Orr, what is a college's obligation to students with respect to environmental education?
Q:"In the largest sense, what we must do to ensure human tenure on the earth is to cultivate a new standard that defines beauty as that which causes no ugliness somewhere else or at some later time." What practical criteria would Orr suggest to appraise "ugliness".
Q:What constraints did Oberlin College place on the project.
Q:What criteria were used to select the technologies used in the building?
>Chapter 1: Our National Eating Disorder
Q: What is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)? When did it come into existence? What is it used for? What does it have to do with beer and soda? How are we evolutionarily designed to deal with it or not to deal with it? Why concerns does Pollan identify related to its use?
Q: What relationship do glucose, maltodectrin, ascorbic acid, lecithin, dextrose, lactic acid, lysine, maltose and canthan gum have to corn?
Q: “We north Americans look like corn chips on legs”. Explain.
Q: What accounts for the enormous success and dominance of corn as a species and as a key element of modern culture?
Q: How have human beings manipulated corn genetics? What is hybrid corn and why is it ecologically and economically important? What are the principle attributes that incorporated into today’s genetically modified corn plants (GMO = genetically modified organism)? What is “yield” and how has it changed over the last century as a result of hybrid and GMO technology?
>Chapter 2: The farm
Q: What are the principle economic pressures faced by George Naylor on his farm? What does he grow and why? How have species diversity and farming practices changed since Naylor’s father’s days?
Q: How has corn transformed the cattle industry? How were cattle raised prior to the advent of cheap corn?
Q: How is the emergence of corn linked to the end of WWII? What role does nitrogen play in fertility? What is the Haber-Bosch process and how did it transform farming? What are the negative consequences of nitrogen use?
Q: What role has the federal government played in the growth of a corn-based economy?
Q: What role does big business (especially Cargill and ADM) play in the corn economy?
>Chapter 4: The Feedlot
Q: Explain the coevolutionary relationship between cows and grass. Why does the industry choose to feed cows corn instead of grass? What challenges are associated with raising cattle on a corn diet and how are these challenges addressed by the industry?
>Chapter 5: The Processing Plant
Q: What is a “wet mill”? What happens to corn in wet mills? What happens to its constituent parts?
Q: What role does corn play in processed foods? What are the economic advantages to a company of creating highly processed food versus selling “whole” foods?
Q:Who was Justin von Liebeg, and how did his revolutionary insight relate to scale?
Q:What's wrong with having tenant farmers, or renting farmland out? How much of U.S. farmland is rented out?
Q:Why/how did WWII have a profound effect on agriculture? Come up with several examples.
Q:What are the environmental costs associated with the physical separation of population centers from agricultural centers and of plant from animal production?
Q:What specific problems with modern agriculture do Foster and Magdoff cite? What specific solutions do they offer?
Q:In Berry's view, how is farming fundamentally different from industry?
Q:What major point(s) of agreement are there between Berry and Foster and Magdoff?
Q:What is wrong with simply allowing the market economy to govern agriculture?
Q:What is "productivity", and why might it not be the best measure of the health of agriculture?
Q:How does Berry define "family farm"?
Q:"There is a ratio between eyes and acres, between farm size and farm hands, that is correct" (pg. 164). Explain.
Q:What are "industrial values" based on?
Q:What is necessary to rejuvenate the family farm?
Q:Name five key principles of the Amish that according to Berry exemplify good farming practices.
Director Brad Masi (OC ’93) manages a 70 acre parcel of college own land as an example of environmentally sustainable land use, food production and ecological restoration. Familiarize yourself with NAC’s projects
>Chapter 8: Grass
Q: Why does Joel Salatin describe himself as a, “grass farmer” and how does this relate to the goals of “Polyface” farm?
Q: How does the biodiversity of plants, soil organisms and animals distinguish Polyface from most contemporary farms?
Q: What is similar and what is different about George Naylor and Joel Salatin’s farming practices?
Q: How might Salatin define sustainable agriculture? In what ways does Salatin consider his practices, “beyond organic”? Why would Salatin prefer to purchase feed corn from a neighbor who uses pesticides over commercially available certified organic feed corn?
>Chapter 10: Grass
Q: What do Joel Salatin’s animals eat
Q: What is “management intensive” or “rotational grazing”? Why does it maximize benefits to move cattle from location to location?
Q: Why did cattle raising in the U.S. switch from a grazing based system to a corn based system?
>Chapter 11: The amimals
Q: What roles to chickens play in maintaining the fertility of Polyface? What is an “eggmobile”?
Q: Explain Salatin’s concept of “stacking” and “holon” (p. 215).
Q: How is forest land integrated into Polyface?
Chapter 12: Slaughter
Q: Joel Salatin states that the way he slaughters and sells chickens, “an extension of my worldview” (p. 227). Explain.
>Chapter 13: The market
Q: What is “relationship marketing”? Who purchases food from Polyface?
Q:Compare and contrast ecological engineering with traditional engineering.
Q:Compare and contrast ecological engineering with biotechnology (genetic engineering).
Q:What is "self-organization", what role does it play in ecological engineering?
Q:Describe the range of scales in ecological engineering projects that have been undertaken.
Q: Explain how the burning of fossil fuel, the erosion of soil and the flushing of toilets can all be viewed as part of a high entropy of human society.
Q: How are changes in the way that nutrients and other materials move across the landscape linked to fundamental changes in use and flow of energy?
Q: What are the potential benefits of greenhouse-wetland treatment systems? In what ways can they be viewed as “end-of-the-pipeline” solutions?
-Good alternate perspective on ecological engineering .
-Written by the designer of Oberlin's Living Machine .
Q:How does Leopold define "ethic"?
Q:What is symbiosis and how does it relate to ethics?
Q:What does Leopold see as flawed in the current relationship between land and people in the U.S.?
Q:"In order to make conservation easy, we have made it trivial." Explain.
Q:"Obligations have no meaning without conscience, and th problem we face is the extension of social conscience from people to land." How might Garrett Hardin critique this statement?
Q:The field of ecological economics is premised on the notion that the value of natural things ("natural capital") can be expressed in economic terms. How might Leopold respond to this idea?
Q:Leopold criticizes the American conservation movement for its focus on legislation. What would he propose to augment this strategy?
Q:What are the implications of Leopold's assertion that, "We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in."
Q:"[T]he formerly localized and self-contained circuits are pooled on a world-wide scale" What circuits is Leopold referring to here? What are the consequences?
Q:How does Leopold define ecosystem health, how does he define conservation with respect to ecosystem health?
Q:The land ethic: "Examine each question in terms of what it ethically and esthetically right, as well a what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." Be able to identify examples of human actions that meet this standard and ones that do not.
Q:Explain Leopold's use of the "Round River" analogy, and how it is connected with land-use.
Q:Would you categorize Leopold's scientific views as primarily holist or reductionist? On what basis?
Q:"You can not love game and hate predators". Explain.
Q:"If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not." 190. Explain.
Q:Explain the "cog and wheel" analogy that Leopold uses. What two criteria does Leopold suggest for appraising the ecological impact of human alteration of ecosystems?
Q:What does Leopold mean by "biotic fever" (pg 198 in my edition)
Q:What farming practices might Leopold advocate, why? What critique of public land management does Leopold offer?
Q:What does Leopold view as the two key objectives of conservation education?
Q:Define and contrast ethical humanism, humane moralism, and the land ethic with respect to: their focus of attention; location of moral value; views towards humans, animals and the environment; inclusiveness; criteria for evaluating harm to an individual organism; and the extent to which they represent reductionist vs holistic perspectives.
Q:Does the fact that Leopold hunted and ate meat indicate a hypocrisy with respect to his land ethic?
Q:What does Callicott mean when he refers to the land ethic as, "third order"?
Q:Callicott quotes Bentham (1823) as writing, "The community is a fictitious body comprised of the individual persons who are considered as constituting as it were it members. The interest of the community is what?
Q: the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it." How would Leopold respond? How is this relevant to the issue ethics?
Q:According to Baird, what is the fundamental problem of applying animal liberation to domesticated species?
Q:Explain the logic behind Callicott's assertion that, "A vegetarian human population is therefore probably ecologically catastrophic" (pg. 335)
Q: Take a good look at the Figure 1 on population size and age distribution – make sure that you understand these. How do these graphs relate to the concept of “demographic transition”?
"It took from the beginning of time to 1927 to put the first 2 billion
people on the planet; less than 50 years to add the next 2 billion people (by
1974); and just 25 years to add the next 2 billion people (by 1999)."
Q: Explain how it could be that the global population growth rate (number of people born per existing person) peaked and then began to decline in the late 1960s, but the global population continues to increase.
Q: In 2000, the United Nations predicted a world population of 9.3 billion by 2050. In 2002 the UN revised this estimate to 8.9 billion. What phenomena cause them to revise their estimate?
Q: What is happening the ratio of rich/poor as population increases and why?
An excellent summary of philosophical basis of animal rights
Q: What principle philosophical views support the philosophy of animal rights?
Q: Are there points that Regan raises that are not addressed by Callicott?
Generally considered a radical activist group that, “carries out direct action against animal abuse in the form of rescuing animals and causing financial loss to animal exploiters”.
Provides a nice introduction to deep ecology and its context
Q:Distinguish between growth and development, how do these terms apply to the economy?
Q:What are the characteristics of a sustainable economy? Define steady-state.
Q:Explain how GNP can increase without growth in developed countries. Why are similar patterns not likely to alleviate poverty in poor countries?
Q:What policy strategies does Daly advocate for transitioning us to a steady-state economy?
Q:What is a "revenue neutral" taxation scheme?
Q:Contrast progressive versus regressive tax structures.
Q:Contrast the likely outcomes of two pollution reduction policies. In the first, a law is passed requiring the installation of specific pollution reduction technology. In the second, the industry is taxed for each unit of pollution that they produce.
Q:What is "ecological tax reform" and what are its principle objectives?
Q:Explain how/why taxing fossil fuel use without further adjustments could have a regressive effect. Explain further actions that could be taken to maintain an overall progressive tax structure.
Q:Explain why Bernow et al. believe that it is important to phase in ecological tax reforms over multiple years rather than all at once.
Q:How might pollution taxes within a country affect international trade, what actions might be necessary to prevent negative effects?
Q:What general categories of incentive options are available for stimulating the preservation of natural capital?
Q:Which of the strategies offered in Costanza's paper on "Social traps and environmental policy) (1987, see readings for March 16) does Tietenberg appear to advocate most strongly?
Q:Describe the objectives and strategies of "offset", "bubble", and "effluent emission charges" policies.
Q:How might a global CO2 control strategy be structured to promote environmental development in developing countries?
Q:How did the Exxon Valdez oil spill affect our national economic ledger (i.e. GNP)?
Q:Explain Contrast Tietenberg's attitude towards growth with that of Daley.
Q:Provide an example of a tax incentive that encourages rather than discourages depletion of natural capital
Read the entire document,
but focus your attention on energy related issues
Q: What are the principle features of Oberlin's environmental policy?
Q: What does Orr view as the principle parallels between arguments for slavery and arguments for inaction on environmental issues?
Q: What human population is hurt by the “externalities” that are not included in costs of doing current business?
Q: Explain Orr’s principle of, “environmental debt and descendents”
Q: What special role does Orr envision for educational institutions like Oberlin College?
Q:What is natural capitalism?
Q:What four key shifts in business practices are proposed to shift business from current practices to natural capitalism?
Q:Explain the concept of "products of service". In what ways does this business model create incentives for more efficient resource use?
Q:If natural capitalism is profitable, why isn't it more widely adopted by business?
Q:Explain the concepts of "closed-loop" manufacturing and "full life-cycle analysis".
Q:How do the authors distinguish between the changes involved in "eco-efficiency" and the "eco-effectiveness" embodied in "the next industrial revolution"?
Q:The authors discuss two types of "nutrients" that exist in eco-effective systems -- biological and technical nutrients. Distinguish between these two nutrients. How do the authors believe that this distinction should inform the design process?
Q:Explain how sustainable design could address equity, economy and ecology.
Q:What is the "design assignment" for the next industrial revolution? Explain how a tree functions as a model for this design assignment.
-A classic reading in energy analysis. The numbers are a bit out of date, but the general predictions are spot-on
Q:What were the objectives of this symposium?
Q:How did different participants define "sustainability"?
Q:What actions have been taken in Chattanooga TN, Osage Iowa and other localities represented at the symposium to foster local sustainability?
Q:What is the relationship between sustainable and affordable housing?
Q:According to Dick Williams, how might Oberlin avoid the problem of "urban sprawl"?
Q: According to Berry, what are the key attributes of a genuinely “defensible” country?
Q: What does Berry see as the ideal role and distribution of private property in society? What responsibilities come with private property?
Q: What role does the concept of community play in Berry’s concept of national defense?
-Donella Meadows is one of the founders of the “Club of Rome”, responsible for the seminal 1972 study, “The Limits to Growth”. She died a little over a year ago.
Q: What justification does Meadows provide for the importance of actively envisioning a sustainable world?
Q: Meadows writes, “Hardly anyone seems to envision a sustainable world as one that would be nice to live in.” Explain why this might be the case and how she views this as problematic?
Q: In the “envisioning workshops” that Meadows and others have conducted around the world with heterogeneous groups of people, to what extent have they found common agreement on these visions and to what extent have they found differences?
-Foreman is a founder of the “Earth First!” group, which advocates an often controversial direct action approach
Q: What relationship is there between the pattern of political boundaries in North East Ohio the pattern of natural features of the land?
Q: What factors have driven migration out of the urban core into new suburbs in NE Ohio?
Q: What is a “bioregion”? What is “bioregionalism”?
Q: What is GIS and how was it used in developing a bioregional plan?
Q: In what watershed is Oberlin located? Where does rain water that falls in our watershed drain to?
Q: What trends have occurred in the population of NE Ohio? Has population increased or decreased? What shifts have occurred in where people now live today vs. where they lived in 1970? Do the most affluent citizens live in the cities or in less urban areas in NE Ohio?
Q: How has transportation policy in this region affected land use and decisions regarding where people live? What type of transportation policy is advocated within the bioregional plan and why?
Q: The authors of the plan argue for high density housing development rather than
Q: What do the authors believe is wrong with the way growth is currently occurring in Ohio?
Q: What is “smart growth”?
Q: What do the authors believe is necessary in order to develop a coalition that can successfully implement smart growth in Ohio?