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On “Healing the with Howls: Rewilding the Souther Rockies. ” Posted for Stacia T

This article is a discussion on the problem of unbalanced ecosystems due to
extinction of wild populations. The article opens with a discussion of the extinct
wolf population in the Southern Rocky Mountains, which leaves a large imbalance
in the local ecosystems. The author emphasized the importance of the role of
large predators in ecosystems, calling them a keynote species.  A keystone species
is defined in the article as, “their influence n ecosystem function is
disproportionately important relative to their low abundance” ().  Michael Soule
and Dave Foreman have argued that the current widely used approach to
conservation, the “putting out brishfires” approach is not working and we are in
the middle of a mass extinction event. Therefore, they advocate for a new
approach called Rewilding. Rewilding is defined as, “the scientific argument for
restoring big wilderness based on the regulatory roles of large predators” (). In
other words, the role of rewilding is to restore self-regulating land communities.
They believe that the reintroduction of large predators into suffering areas that the
rest of the balance will restore itself. The author says, “once large predators are
restored, many if not most of the other keystone and “habitat creating” species
(eg. Beaver, prairie dogs) ‘keystone systems’ and natural regimes of disturbance
and other processes will recover on their own”().
Based upon this idea, the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project was founded.
The importance of this project is the realization that Soule and Foreman came to,
“our current system of preserves does not adequately protect the region’s major
ecosystem types” ().  The three-pronged approach to this project is first about
“Preserving remaining Roadless areas as core protected areas “. This is to prevent
the fragmentation of species as roads create barriers between habitats. The
second prong of this project is “Ensuring appropriate use and adequate protection
between core areas to facilitate landscape permeability and connectivity” (). This is
important because it refers to the necessity to work with lawmakers to better
protect the land. The last prong of the plan is, “Reintroducing wolves and other
missing carnivores to the eco-region”(). This plan, as explained earlier is to help
restore a natural balance in the Southern Rocky Mountain Region.

I believe that this approach is an interesting idea, however I don’t understand
how the reintroduction of one major preator will balance out the rest of the
ecosystem. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect other populations to redistribute
in any particular way because of the intense interconnectedness of each individual
ecosystem. I also think that ecosystem is too broad of a scope, there are different
levels of ecosystems, so my question is, what level of the ecosystem are you trying
to repair? I think that since nature is always changing, it is foolish of people to
think they can predict how an entire ecosystem of animals will react. It may just be
that I’ve watched Jurassic Park too many times, but I think that reintroducing an
animal into a territory where it is now extinct will have unpredictable
consequences on many different levels.

My questions to the class are:

Do you agree with the rewilding approach as opposed to other forms of
conservation?

What do you think the scope of ecosystem should be for this approach?

Do you think it’s reasonable to assume that other populations will return to
previous levels with the reintroduction of wolves into the ecosystem?

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Healing the West by Cowell , Collinge, and Limerick.

by: Kaity Plath

heal-mind.jpg

 

The Introduction to Healing the West by Andrew Cowell, Sharon K. Collinge, and Patrica Nelson Limerick intended firstly to emphasize the objective of the text as both ‘”a call for action and a provocation of thought”, and secondly to define the word ‘healing’ with respect to this collection of passages.  The authors begin by proposing that there is a multitude of varying problems regarding the American West, all of which can and should be imperatively addressed. It is believed by the authors that the distinctiveness and large range of these issues is a direct outcome of the extreme diversity of Western human and natural landscapes. With this, the authors put forth that it is in the greater interest of productivity to refrain from “wallowing in too many details”. Instead it is useful to take generalizations from each field of study and attempt to find common themes or issues. When doing so, one will find that behind a majority of situations in the world and every situation described in the book are people. Thus the solution to every problem is also people. Once this becomes clear, the problem is not finding a solution, but achieving it. In most cases this requires a social consensus and a lot of politics.

For example, scholars in California are trying to restore vernal pools many of which are located underneath housing communities. In order to save vernal pools that have not been built on, the Californian government would have to propose laws that would decrease development. This is very unlikely to happen. There is no line that can neatly be drawn between general societal problems and formal expertise; there will always be opposition. The second part of the introduction pertains to the definition of healing. In this context, ‘healing’ must be used as a metaphor in respect to the array of ways it can be used. For example: ‘Healing’ can be used in a more spiritual fashion like Terry Tempest William’s book about healing the land and the soul, or it could be used in more technical terms like in the recent issue about stabilization and healing of sick landscapes in the Journal of Wildlife Management. The authors also suggest that ‘healing’ is more than “dealing with”, “solving”, or “resolving”, because ‘healing’ must address the underlying issues. In this way, using the word ‘healing’ can also be dangerous because it insinuates that there is an ideal state of “health” or an equilibrium that the patient can return to.

On the other hand, use of the word healing allows us to “clarify our goals” without imposing our solutions because full recovery may not always be possible. In addition the authors propose there is a third level, which allows us to look at the relationships between groups as the underlying theme behind most issues. The authors state, “We must acknowledge that injured relationships have produced many of the West’s problems.” Finally the mythology of the West remains attractive to the American citizen because of the overall sense of individualism, frontier utopian possibilities, radical social reform, and limitless ecological capacity. In conclusion the authors stress that facing the “real” west is the only way to face the problems, and identifying the similarities will potentially land you at a solution.

I think that the authors of Healing the West would agree more with Hollings definition of equilibrium because they disagree with the idea that the ideal ‘health’ of an ecosystem can defined. There is not one constant equilibrium, but a multitude of possible equilibriums that change through time and through the different interactions/relationships of groups. I really enjoyed this passage because I think it respects the importance of deep research but also values generalizations because together they can lead to a more profound solution. I also enjoyed the author’s use of the word ‘healing’ because it suggests a progression towards health or a ‘solution’, which I find important since there is no instantaneous remedy for any issue. The word ‘heal’ encourages us to keep trying.

Questions:

1. Do you think that there is a state of ‘ideal’ health that the American West can return to?

2. What is your response to the author’s use of the word ‘healing’?

3. Do you agree with the authors that people are behind every problem and solution?

The Noble Savages

At the top of Dawa la’s blog there is a video about Tibet situated just for my viewing pleasure.  I click on the video, which starts with scenes of kids smiling and looking cute, accompanied by melodic guitar music to really capture the mood.  The next nine minutes of the video show panoramic views of Tibet, pilgrimages, and other Tibetans living out their everyday life on high definition slow motion film.  The narrator starts saying cute Buddhist quotes along with the film, but then things get complicated.  During one clip he states, “I can still smell blood.  That’s from the last 50 years.  Chinese and China’s blood.”   Shortly after, shots of Chinese flags on top of buildings take over the screen.  Then quotes from Tibetan kids saying how wonderful their lives are and how much they love their country (now China) in Chinese.  Then a list of all the wonderful things China has done for Tibet.  Then he says comments along the line of, “when will people see this new era for what is?”  By the time the video is through, I’m confused.  Isn’t China oppressing Tibet?  Isn’t that the reason half of Boulder has a “free Tibet sticker” right next to their Grateful Dead sicker on the back of their cars?  What’s going on here?
As I read further into the blog I realize that the video was created in the bias of the Chinese.  Interestingly enough, the Chinese view Tibetans as noble savages.  Noble savages have been defined in the blog as simple-minded people that are pure and ignorant to the happenings of the modern world.  They also have a deep connection with nature that allows for immense wisdom of life.  When I look at the definition of the “noble savage” in conjunction with the video, the correlation between the two is extremely apparent.  Almost the whole video is stoic clips of Tibetan’s living their simple lives, and smiling while doing it. Examples of China’s improvements to Tibet within the video also make the stark argument that china is helping the Tibetan savages for the better.  That Tibetans don’t know what’s good for them, so China’s current occupation is a good thing.  Although we would argue against the Chinese point of view of Tibet, We come from the same exact position as the Chinese.  To us, Tibet is a society of Noble Savages.  We imagine people living with only the basics, in harmony with nature, and meditating for hours on end.  The only difference between us and China is that we want to preserve that Noble Savage way of life.  So who’s the bad guy now?

 

The Chinese/Tibetan author, Woeser La, makes an interesting comment on the post.  For background purposes, Weoser La is a Tibetan scholar that is virtually on house arrest in China along with her husband because of her potential ideological upset to the standing system.  She comments on a metaphor used in the video.  The narrator of the video states that he is a Tibetan Mastiff.  What?  What Woeser, as well as Dawa la, relate this to is the idea of the ‘noble savage’.  Noble savages are basically human versions of pets; they can’t take care of themselves, they need outside resources, and they can’t connect to the modern world.  Woeser relates this idea to the current political issues between Tibet and China.  She states Tibet and China has had a fickle relationship with each other for sometime; a relationship in which Tibet acts a certain way to seek the approval as the most loved of all the minorities in China.  This relationship is kind of like the relationship between a mastiff, or any other dog, and its owner.  However, the events that took place last March were the equivalent of the mastiff biting its owner.  The fake relationship faded, and now China is trying to beat the dog to death.  The problem is, Tibet is not a pet.  Tibet is a country of people that don’t want to be submissive the way a dog is to an owner.  Tibet wants to be Tibet.  They want to in and of themselves.

 

This post was extremely interesting because of all the subliminal messages that where shoved into out faces in the course of nine minutes.  If I wouldn’t have known better (and I don’t even know if that statements true) I would have believed the message the video was feeding me.  The video was like a present wrapped up with the most beautiful paper with the foofiest bow on top.  Wouldn’t you want to open it?  This made me think about the Giblett and the Lefebve articles we read for class.  How do media sources, such as this video, shape what we know about the world?  How can we so easily be manipulated?

 

Questions:

What were your initial thoughts after the video?  Where you as confused as I was, or did you know better?

 

What were your thoughts of the comments below?  In particular, the user dugdak, that rebuttals the post?  Does she have validation to her argument? (I’m sorry I didn’t talk about her at all)

 

What makes a media source so easy to rely on as the truth?

 

Any other comments…..

 

 

 

The Lhakar Diaries: By Coco

Coco Carey

30/11/11

The Lhakar Diaries

The two blogs I read, and video I analyzed, address conflicts within Tibet. These blogs are from the 2011 Lhakar Diaries. The Lhakar Diaries is a, “blog dedicated to the movement inside Tibet where, by buying Tibetan goods, eating Tibetan foods, wearing Tibetan clothes and speaking Tibetan, ordinary men and women resist China’s occupation. We want to highlight these actions inside Tibet, and show solidarity by promoting similar actions outside Tibet by posting our personal journey to explore and honor our shared cultural heritage and identity.”

Both blogs were Tibetan’s reactions to the live broadcast of Tibetan artist, Tenzing Rigdol’s, art installation in Dharamsala, India. The simple installation included twenty tons of soil from Tibet, which was located on a stage in a square area at the Tibetan Children’s Village basketball court. In the video, it looked as though the installation transformed into a ceremony. Hundreds of people, mainly Tibetans who have fled to India, were able to touch the soil and present their feelings in response to the ceremony. The people who watched the broadcast of this event shared their outlooks on the installation in the blogs I read. In regard to some of the soil being taken to the Dhali Lama (who was exiled to India), the author of the first blog said that this bringing of soil, “invoked extreme happiness in me that His Holiness was able to come into contact with a piece of his homeland, but this was obviously quickly followed by deep sadness that this tray of soil has been the closest thing to returning to the home he lost at such a young age.The author’s friend was going to Tibet, and the friend asked what the author’s wish list was; the Tibetan author requested Tibet’s earth.

The author of the second blog went into greater detail about the ceremony. In the blog, a summary of the ceremony, the reactions of older Tibetans to being able to touch their homeland’s soil, a video of the entire broadcast, and the author’s response to the broadcast, were included. One reaction of an old Tibetan monk was, “After all the years in exile, I have grown old. Over the long years, I had given up the thought of ever seeing my home. But after walking on this soil, I feel hope, that soon I can return home. I want to go back. Everyone should know, soon, we will all return to Tibet.” The author’s response to the broadcast was, “I have never seen older members of our community express their desire to return home so publicly. The way they felt the earth from Tibet and the longing for home it evoked were so painfully emotional. I feel the change in the air. I feel like I was seeing the sentiments of my people, young and old, born in Tibet and exile, being expressed for the first time together. We all will return home, SOON.”

In order to fully appreciate my summary of the blogs I read, it’s necessary to have a general understanding of what’s happening in Tibet. At the beginning of the 1950s, China gained sovereignty over Tibet; although Tibet wasn’t recognized as an independent country before China’s take over, they enjoyed de facto independence. Since China’s take over, Tibetan’s religious freedom and human rights has been completely violated. This violation led to the 14th Dali Lama’s exile, and many Tibetans fleeing their country. An article that reveals crimes against Tibetan’s human rights is located at this website,

http://www.thetibetpost.com/en/news/tibet/1308-china-crackdown-on-tibets-religion-culture-like-language-continues

These blogs unveil the strong connection people have to their land and environment. When Tibetans felt the soil, some of them cried and admitted how happy they were to feel their land’s earth. I also think, that in the bigger scheme of things, the Lhakar Diaries is a form of resilience. Tibetan culture, weather it exists in India or other places in the world, still exists. These diaries provide a way for Tibetans to stand up for their identity, rights and freedom. So, in relation to Holling’s definition of resilience, Tibetan culture might not be the same culture is was fifty years ago, but it’s changing, adapting, and existing in response to China’s disruptions and disturbances in Tibet.

Both blogs, and the video, really affected me emotionally. I had goose bumps from reading the second blog because I was so touched by the older Tibetans’ and author’s responses to the ceremony. That being said, I want to know your reactions to the blogs and video; how did reading and watching them make you feel? What’s your personal connection to environmental aspects in your homeland? What’s your response to the human rights violations committed by China on Tibet?

 

 

 

Land tenure and deforestation patterns in the Ecuadorian Amazon: Conflicts in land conservation in frontier settings

by

Joseph P. Messina, Stephen J. Walsh, Carlos F. Mena, Paul L. Delamater

The article, Land tenure and deforestation patterns in the Ecuadorian Amazon: Conflicts in land conservation in frontier settings, presents a case study explaining how the Cuyabeno Wildlife Production Reserve, “has shaped the landscape within the protected area”(114). This is a protected reserve in Ecuador created, “to promote the ‘production’ of wildlife,” through the protection of both plants and animals (114). This reserve unfortunately has became plagued with complex, multi-dimensional highly political conflicts regarding developmentalist and environmentalists. Eventually the, “land tenancy status from “protected area” (non-agricultural activities) to “patrimony forest”(communal agricultural activities) increased the process of deforestation and fragmentation in the patrimony forest area”(117). Aside from deforestation due to agriculture, guerilla warfare on the Ecuadorian-Colombian border coupled with the discovery of oil further intensified this process.

This article is really interesting and illustrates the very nature of the Ecuadorian atmosphere right now; complex. The 2008 constitution of the Republic of Ecuador is very progressive, as it states that Ecuador is a plurinational state. It recognizes castellano and kichwa, the dominant indigenous language, both as the official languages of the state.   The preamble addresses both men and women, and recognizes every individual’s distinct race, “la Pacha Mama” or mother earth being vital to their existence. These rights, as illustrated through the article are being ignored through dominating external political forces. Domestic limitations are derived from, “national population growth, poverty, high unemployment, land tenure regimes, urban development policies, mechanization of agriculture, and globalization of markets”(124). President Correa is unable to effectively implement any policies that would protect the Amazonian environment or the people within it ultimately because of the economic incentive that this region provides through the exploitation of natural resources, only further complicating the situation. What initially seemed to be a political stride toward a more democratic nation, fighting for equality through all races and granting rights to la Pacha Mama, has arguably resulted in the opposite outcomes for many of these Amazonian pueblos.

Mutant Ecologies, Masco

Olivier. Image from the movie Them! Digital image. Alpha Sy Humanities and Human Nature. 1 Oct. 2006. Web. 28 Nov. 2011. <http://lumiere.ens.fr/~alphapsy/blog/?2006/10/01/71-honey-i-shrunk-the-kids&gt;.

Masco’s article, Mutant Ecologies, exemplifies the post-nuclear affect on the American West and describes different resilience efforts in relation to the environmental evolution that has sparked because of the post-cold war affects of radiation.  The article begins by introducing the affect of post-Cold War radiation in terms of potential environmental mutation.  Masco discusses the affect of mutation on the nature-culture relationship, where the world has been altered and its previous identity as been compromised because of the presence of radiation on Earth.  He points out that there is a new understanding of self, nature, and society where mutation is existent in all.  Because radiation has been carried throughout the world, and its presence is not technically contained in the sense that it is found everywhere, it’s scope is vast. Yet, there are specific areas and people who are more at risk.  He dramatically describes how biology and culture are affected by nuclear projects in the American West as societies are banded together not by national affiliation but by exposure levels, health affects and fear.  The second half of Masco’s article goes on to describe and evaluate the multiple resilience models for the nuclear age.  The DOE, INEEL, and Long-term Stewardship Program, as well as work with Area G are examples given and evaluated by Masco. He finally concludes the article by describing videotape he watched of Area G, linking the cultural world of the American West with the difficult labor required to contain nuclear waste.

Masco’s argument that American nuclear projects have transformed the biosphere, reinventing it as a nuclear space with new mutation embedded species is reflective of the resilience model ideal that nature’s identity does not cyclically return to normal over time, but rather exists in its ability to transform.  The article describes how each of these efforts such as Area G, INEEL and the Manhattan Project all focus around the ideal that Masco introduced at the beginning of the article-that the world was altered by nuclear force and therefore the identity of living things is altered.  These programs attempt to control nuclear radiation and it’s affects, while doing-so under the premise that species are altered.  These projects show the resilience efforts of the American West in coping with the changed state of natural existence by accepting that nature has changed, and will continue to evolve. According to Masco, the nature-culture relationship in the American West has been heavily shaped by past nuclear occurrences, and it is not expected to return to its previous state but rather evolve to fit the identity it has now embodied.

Do you agree with Masco’s argument that American nuclear efforts have re-invented the biosphere-“transforming entire populations of plants, animals, insects and people” (6)? Or do you see this as an extreme evaluation of the post-Cold War affect on nature?

Do you find any particular project to seem more helpful or successful than the others? Do you see any project as failing to embody resilience successfully?

Political Ecology and the Politics of Environmental Science (the introductory chapter from the book “Critical Political Ecology”) by Tim Forsyth

Image

Tim Forsyth’s book, titled Critical Political Ecology: The Politics of Environmental Science, argues that environmental politics and sciences are mutually related in a effectual relationship. In other words, a productive discourse about environmental sciences should always include mention of environmental politics regarding that science. Forsyth disagrees with those environmentalists who argue that science can describe environmental issues in a way that is “politically neutral.” (2) Forsyth sees defining this connection between environmental science and politics important because it will prevent “the replication of inadequate science” and will enable “the production of more biophysically accurate, and socially relevant, science.” (2)

He also addresses the worries accompanying the under-realized connection between politics and environmental science in that if it isn’t understood how politics affect the science being done about certain environmental issues, then the science will not be appropriate and/or adequate.

In his introductory chapter, Forsyth compares various scholarly authors’ definitions of and approaches to ‘political ecology.’ He argues, with success in my opinion, that many authors have described what is meant by the word “political” in “political ecology,” but the definition of “ecology” has surprisingly varied between these authors. In his examples, Forsyth describes definitions of “ecology” used by various authors, some of which are geared more toward human interaction with their environment while others address interactions within non-human ecosystems. Forsyth disagrees with these definitions saying that they, “either adopt a priori concepts of environmental science and explanation; or take insufficient steps to avoid the separation of environmental explanation and politics in the analysis of environmental politics.” (4) Then Forsyth offers a preliminary definition of political ecology as, “… the politics of ecology as a scientific legitimization of environmental policy.” (4)

An overall theme of Forsyth’s book seems to be the interconnectedness of nature and human existence. This is evident even in his initial argument that science and politics should always involve one another with regard to environmental issues. Furthermore, Forsyth talks about the history of the term “political ecology” and that it first arose to address human impacts on the environment in the 1960s. He states the human-nature union ever so clearly, “…the new philosophical approach of looking and people-environment interactions as a whole.” (4)

Something that seems to be very important to Forsyth in his studies is giving the topic fair perspective. He disagrees with other scholars who are extreme in their beliefs on either end of the spectrum. For instance, in his section entitled “The Domination of Nature,” he refuses to say that all environmental degradation can be attributed to human negligence. However, he still points out the importance of considering human impact as a factor in the larger resulting environmental changes. Similarly, he admits to criticizing some assertions of environmentalists, saying that he is neither an extreme environmentalist nor is a supporter of “brown lash” (or the undermining of environmental concerns in order to continue damaging an environment). Forsyth seems to stay in the middle ground, where he sets up a realistic approach to the ongoing debates within political ecology.

Forsyth’s introductory chapter to his book lays the foreground for topics we’ve discussed in class. He at the very least mentions, and I assume goes into detail about later in his book, approaches to studying political ecology like indigenous narratives, the debate between “local” and “global,” comparison of “culture ecology” and “political ecology,” the subjectivity or objectivity of science, and so on. Forsyth also maps out the basic tensions within the study (i.e. perspectives of the separation or lack there of between humans and nature) which we’ve talked about in class.

Some questions I raise for the class are:

As most of us agreed, this chapter of Forsyth’s book was dense to say the least. What kinds of questions did you initially have when you read this chapter? What was confusing to you (if anything)?

Do you have a better understanding of those questions now that we’re at the end of the semester? Could you answer some of your initial questions?

Do you think Forsyth sufficiently describes what he means by political ecology?

Photos: http://personal.lse.ac.uk/FORSYTHT/tim_forsyth.htm

The man himself.