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Saved by Professor Wayne Hayes
on June 25, 2010 at 1:02:12 pm


Statement of Concern

Please examine my heartfelt but disturbing Statement of Concern that sets my agenda for my thinking on the subject of sustainability. What do you think? How do you feel? Join in a discussion below.


I agree with you and Matt.  What I found particularly scary these past couple days was how little attention is now being given to the BP disaster.  Instead, the media's current big story is about the discharge of General McChrystal, and how the President should handle this situation.  I'd much rather know why the President hasn't been making the BP disaster a top priority.  Since the disaster, I've seen a shot of him down there maybe once on television.  I'd like to know how he plans to hold BP accountable, clean the mess up, and provide support to those who will likely lose their livelihoods because they depend on the Gulf for food as well as employment.  I hope that the recent washing of "tar balls" onto beaches lining the Gulf coast will push the federal government, and the President in particular, to realize that this issue needs to be given the major attention and thought that's been denied for so long.  If not, we'll just see this whole scenario occur over and over again.  Any thoughts?  - B. Burnham 6/25/2010

Agreed, Brad. In Public Policy, I point out how the agenda is ephemeral, quickly passing. Media and public get bored with BP Gulf spill and it slips onto back burner. Obama is not hands-on, as Clinton was. Bush would call military re Iraq almost every day with questions, but Obama seems remote. IMHO, he and his family should spend every weekend at the Gulf, pressing flesh, greeting people, showing that he cares, and he must really care. He owns this disaster as he owns the Afghanistan war. He must demonstrate that he is into the implementation of both. Good remarks. ~WH 6/25/2010


I have to say that I agree with the fact that even though there are so many ways in which we try to prevent things from happening, in time, and overall, things are just going to get worse. I wrote similar to this in my final assignment about global warming. Many people are aware of the situation it causes and the things in which they can help it and yet most people sit back and feel as though it is not their responsibility. Sometimes human activity is such a detrimental effect and it is simply scary. I have to also say that I agree with Matt. So many people are let to believe that their lives should be centered around possessions and wanting more, which is no way to live. It should be the smaller things in life that matter. We do need to be aware and alert and make better decisions as humans. ~C.Marra 6/23/10



I believe that our way of life has been driven by capital and investment for too long.  We are led to believe that the way we live should be centered around your possessions, about wanting more.  But this steers us into an unsustainable way of life.  We see oil companies that premise themselves on this notion in order to gain more profit with safety at stake.  Sustainability is a direction we must shift to at a colossal rate.  As a race we have destroyed much of the Earth and are practicing bad farming practices.  We are overpopulating areas that cannot hold such populations.  Sustainability is the process we must go through to reverse these trends.  Being smarter with water in these developing third world countries is vital.  Sustainability is also reverting from international food trade.  Shifting into more community settings and relying on your own community for the living necessities is becoming more sustainable.  Lester Brown in Plan B provides great examples towards living a sustainable life.  He makes me believe that there is a sustainable future.  Wind, solar, and geothermal energy is the future.  I am very interested in the transportation and housing industries shift toward sustainability, and believe there should be an even greater push.  Sustainability is looking into the future and living within your means in the present.  It is making sure the world for your children is the same as when you were a child, or better.

-Matt Danko 

Matt, spell this out in your final paper. You are on the right track. Try to present yourself as a policy advisor/analyst but provide your personal opinion at the conclusion. Try to integrate a policy proposal around an overall strategy. World Sustainability is about restoring nature and promoting universal human well being. Policy offers means to such ends. ~WH 6/22/2010


 Human activity has had an apparent effect on the world and its nature.  The most obvious example is the recent gulf oil spill. We have taken natural resources from the earth and used them to damage natural habitats. Besides the man-made disasters, there have been plenty of natural disasters in 2010. The earthquakes, the crazy storms that are causing flooding all over the world, the tornados.  

                But really, have we caused so much harm in the little time we have been on this earth to destroy it? Humans have been around for over one hundred thousand years, but less, way less than a million years. One of the oldest creatures still existing today may be the horseshoe crab, which is approximate 445 million years! Humans are just a bunch of babies compared to the crabs. In fact, humans are just a bunch of babies compared to the earth. Our existence can be measured in a blink of an eye compared to how old the earth is. Did we ruin it in such a short period?

                The end of human existence (No, see my response, below. ~WH) is compelling, interesting, scary, and addicting. Why could it happen, how could it happen? We all hope we don’t see it.  I know the earth will turn into a scary place in the future. I don’t think it’s all because of humans though. But just in case it is, people are at least more aware of the threats human existence is causing to our mother earth. And I believe the natural disasters will only increase concern and awareness. People have to be more concerned for their planet and future generations.

-Kate Burger

Kate, we are not talking about extinction of human population at all. Never said or meant that. Rather, the conditions for life within the Biosphere, the thin mantel of the Earth's surface where life occurs, will deteriorate and carrying capacity will diminish. Thus, human population may (not will) crash. This will not be pretty and will reverse centuries of human flourishing, albeit unevenly. This is what the important article on the Anthropocene that I posted from the course schedule and make available here summarizes. The acceleration in human impact is since 1945, the year I was born, when the human population was 2.3 billion --- now pushing 7 billion. Keep this in perspective, but thanks for the comment. ~WH 6/10/2010


Human beings always seem to have this sense of entitlement and self importance yet we have only been part of this planet for such a short period of time.  I think maybe our short sightedness is from our lack of wisdom due to our youth.  Developmentally we are like teenagers.  We think we are indestructible and nothing we do has consequences.  I hope we grow up fast so we can do something about it.  -Jamie Perone

In brief geological time, humans have come to shape the Biosphere. The metaphor of growing into maturity is a central theme in an interesting new book, Eaarth by Bill McKibben. Like the Gulf spill, in which a probability of zero was assigned to such an accident, we learn too late. Hubris might be replaced with humility. ~WH 6/11/2010


I firmly believe that humans are doing extensive damage to the planet's biosphere. The damage has been ongoing ever since people determined it was their right to use nature and their surroundings to improve the quality of their life without regard for the life already residing in the habitat. While people and technological advancements (such as the Industrial Revolution) have done a great deal of harm to the environment, we (the people) are also capable of reducing our impact on the environment and aiding nature in its self restoration process. Nature will inevitably try to maintain a state of homestasis. The sooner human beings realize that we are the CAUSE AND SOLUTION to the environmental problems we face the more effective we will be in our goals to repair the damages that have been done and prevent the occurance of further damages.

Nici Card 6/13/2010


Population control must become a priority, particularly as the countries with the greatest population growth are often the ones which can least afford it.  In order to achieve this the education of women must become a priority.  Studies show that women who are educated and have choices wait longer to have children, have less children overall, and are less likely to succumb to abuse.  In many societies women are chattel of no value.  Educating and empowering the world's women will go a long way in solving the population crisis, and helping to rectify depletion of the earth's resources.

Karen Dougherty 6/13/10

Karen, in the lecture part of the course, I contend strongly that educating girls is the most important single step toward World Sustainability. The other is to plant trees. The former speaks to social justice as well and the latter speaks to restoring nature. Notice that I put this before, say, energy solutions and even climate change. I completely agree with you. Thanks for the comment, ~WH 6/14/2010


On the Statement of Concern I believe that yes the natural causes such as tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes do take a toll on the Earth.  These events do change and modify the Earth, but the existence of humans on it has also caused many changes.  Humans have altered it, but some have improved it while others have destroyed it.  In the 21st Century people are starting to realize that we need to take care of the Earth otherwise it could change the way we live.  We are already seeing some of the effects that the melting of the Polls have had, as well as the break in the Ozone layer.  It is up to the people to change the Earth, by conserving it by using some energy saving appliances and recycling.  Ultimately, it is not up to the people on Earth to decide the end of civilization, but it’s up to God to decide their fate. (6/14/10)

-Nicole Prisco


There are many natural causes that have been harming the biosphere , but humans have been harming the world just by doing little things everyday.  Everyday that goes by that humans do not see or become informed about this topic, is another day gone.  We are not the only cause of the earths issues, but if we can be preventing some then we should be. Tara*

     This past spring semester, I had to do weekly journals for my Geology class based off of recent articles from that past week. The whole concept of a new epoch, the Anthropocene epoch, commencing due to the influence of human beings was introduced to me in an article I retrieved from sciencedaily.com. As I set my eyes on the new topic of discussion on wiki, it was a familiar topic for me. The article and background Professor Hayes provides elaborates on the Anthropocene epoch and its relationship with sustainable development and the part public policy can play. I would like to draw attention to the fact that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old; if this amount of time was compressed into a day, 24 hours, the existence of the human species would only last one second. How is it that humans can make such an impact in such a short period of time? The key to this I believe is the population of the human species.

     The human population is growing at an exponential rate, with numbers having skyrocketed in the past decade. The effects of population are felt worldwide. The main threat, humans claim to be responsible for, is global warming. It is believed global warming is a result of unsustainable practices, particularly, the use of unrenewable fossil fuels that is poisoning the atmosphere with carbon dioxide threatening life as we know it. Overuse of fragile land due to mass producing agriculture and land grazing animals, melting ice caps and raising sea level, flooding, drought, and severe weather are other results of human activity and global warming. The two can be separated, some argue that global warming is a cycle the Earth is going through naturally and humans do not have any impact on it. However, on the contrary, many believe the two feed off of each other. Redistribution of resources, planning, and new practices must be put into effect in order to restore order to the world and the Earth we live on. Here, is where public policy must step in. Without the leaders making the move towards sustainable practices for the human race, those willing to meet this goal will be the minority. Even if they take action, it will not be enough to stop global warming unless the world as a whole cooperates.
-Dana Ragone

Dana, thoughtful perspective on time horizon. As a species, we don't think in generational terms. The acceleration of trends, so tangible to Brown, should prompt a comprehensive response, but doesn't. Elizabeth, below, is on to what we can do, as a start.  Your generation will reap the results of The Age of Acceleration since 1945. We shall see. My concern, which I make clear, is that ignorance will be reinforced by recalcitrant interests (fossil fuels, for example), and the future may be catastrophic. ~WH 6/25/2010


Since humans first discovered that burning fossil fuels can make their tasks and chores easier through machines, we have been working to control the natural world instead of working with it. We can't do that any longer--the systems that we rely on are beginning to fail, and if they collapse, so does our civilization. Policies must be pushed through to change how our society interacts with nature, and quickly. Global negotiations are not likely to occur fast enough and be strong enough to make a real difference, though they should continue--it will be movements and pushes from the citizens that get change made in different countries. As Americans, we can tell our Congressmen what we support, so that changes can be made in the law. There are many organizations that can be joined that will inform you of upcoming legislature that you may feel is important, departments that are accepting comments on issues, and more--Center for Biological Diversity, National Wildlife Federation,and Defenders of Wildlife, just to name a few. It only takes a few minutes to join and then send emails to your representatives or to department heads on issues that you feel strongly about. Changing your own daily actions, such as putting in CFL instead of incandescent bulbs, turning the lights off when not in use, planning errands so it only takes one trip instead of four (decreasing the gas you need)--these all help. These are the actions that will help to break through the status quo to bring about world sustainability.

-Elizabeth Thompson

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