Northern Arizona University/Environmental Ethics/Journals/Jack F's Journal
8/25/09 Where has society’s lust for ownership and possession stemmed from? In past days and cultures, there has been an understanding of a balance and sharing. The evolution of current society turned to an individual mindset of ownership and self enlightenment. It is so inherently rooted in all facets of life; change in my view looks dismal. At which point will the human race awake to what is truly important? Will it be a recession and depression before restructure of community enlightenment? When I speak of community I am of coarse talking about the global and earth biotic community. Every living and natural component of the earth is intertwined in a delicate weave; we have pushed to the brink of unraveling. We as humans must find ourselves connecting with our community members. The idea has been discussed from the dawn of civilization, whether man stewards the land or conquers it. Obviously stewarding is a healthier way of looking at it, but this instills the notion that we are different and above the land that feeds us, quenches our thirst and gives us purpose, gives us life. The balance has been broken! Problems have arisen unforeseen by past generations, inconceivable by past cultures, despicable by past societies. The individual has evolved in such a way to gather knowledge and wisdom from past generations take these ideas and apply them to every day life. We can reason as to what is better for the individual, the family and the greater whole. What must it take to change our perception of the natural world? To where we look deep into our psyche and conscience and find the true belonging of our race and our person. We have great power of mind, and undoubtedly we can use it to further progress our connection and understanding of the world supporting humanity.
9/1/09 Community When looking at the intricate complexities of the natural and biotic world it is hard to see a simple addition equation. All that goes into making up a community which is directly reliant on one another must be more than addition. The statement has been made about various things including the natural world that the total worth of something is only the sum of all its parts. Humans have a way of putting a problem or an idea into something that can be broken down and simplified in order to understand it better. I see this happening often with science, math, etc. because these things are easier to accept and perceive in our brains. What is not easy is seeing the complexities as a whole, and understanding the intricate balance between each creature. There are no separate parts in nature. Without just one part there would be no sum to nature, it would crumble into something unusable by humans and on return humanity would fail. There is an idea that when everything comes together in unison to function with seemingly no purpose so much more is created. As one focuses on the greater picture a different understanding is necessary. A respect stems from the complexities and the beauty of the entire system. There is a beating heart and a thriving soul to the biotic community, which is hard to conceive in our modern understanding and conceptualization of things. How must we get over this? What will help us see the total inherent worth of something that is seen to benefit us and help us gain economic prosperity? As individuals see that economic prosperity is not the way to happiness and in turn detaches us from our life force, they may begin to realize they are apart of the whole community.
9/14/09 community more than the sum of all the parts (revised) Leopold’s writings convey that there is much more to everything, specifically nature, than just the quantitative and mechanical forces. As it is expressed in many locations within A Sand County Almanac and The Land Ethic, inherent worth stems from more than the material makeup of the biotic community. Leopold was a Holist, and agreed with Aristotle’s idea that, “the whole is greater than the some of all its parts.” As an ecologist Leopold believed of the chemical makeup of all living creatures and the biotic community. It is an abstract biological concept which stems from the relationship between all living creatures, and will infuse humans with an interest to view nature more in depth. This is a key moral transition in Leopold’s eyes, and could be the link for humans to truly connect to the natural environment. As so far, in the evolution of human community, we have found that ethics is seen to reside behind the idea that everyone is interconnected. Individuals have there own qualities but when people bond together there is something more, a community; if which functions effectively provides security, wellbeing, and purpose to life. The biotic community functions no differently. There is competition for a spot within the system, but cooperation between the individuals makes it functional. As humans have created a separate social community and become reliant on each other there is an important aspect to remember; our physical presence has a place in the biotic community. Our place is along side the trees, the birds, and the insects, all playing an equal role in the function of the natural world. “The biotic community is so complex that its workings may never be fully understood,” (Leopold 241). While science in its modernity can break things down into the simplest form, the natural interconnection and interdependence is intricately purposeful. Leopold’s land pyramid simplifies the relationship everything has to one another, but truly each and every critter holds within the vitality of the biotic community. With all the parts simply added together or pilled on top of each other, there would be no interconnectedness, hence no community, or survival.
opposition to leopold- reductionism A Reductionist makes an oppositional argument towards Leopold’s claim; in first saying, all things can be broken down into the most basic structure, atoms. From here all things can be understood in the way they interact with each other and how they travel through space. Much of the human thought has followed this idea of reduction, forced upon them by modern science. This simplified method of looking at systems makes an understanding of individuals which can be conceptualized by all. Everything can be quantified and understood by the chemical makeup and the physical properties it holds within its self. There is no real proof to the claim; something is more than just a conglomeration of atoms or animals. These are not tangible ideas that one can touch, feel and directly see. Something can only be real when your physical senses detect it. An abstract idea such as personality, as in an individual, or cooperative interdependence in a community can not be proven. Can you believe in something, love it, or respect it when it can not be defined? A reductionist would say that these abstract ideas, which are not easily defined, are romanticized to an extent where it is unbelievable and not concrete; holism is too debatable and there is no one answer.
9/21/09 Rant on climate change It is impossible in the 21st century to go about daily life without hearing stories, research, or claims that our world is changing more drastically than ever. Much of the time it includes human induced issues such as climate change. It is undoubtedly obvious to me that our current predicament is the result of to many centuries of humans living beyond our means. From the first evidence reveled about or impact towards the global climate I knew that something must change. Sure looking at the evidence it seems as though the human community must rectify our mistakes of the past, and reverse as far as we can, our way of living. I think that it is important for us (as humans) to move past our current lifestyle to one where we cooperate with the biotic world. Our progress thus far as humans has been greatly focused on material needs and want pushed from many facets of society. I really do think in order to accomplish a greater respect and view towards what life is we as a species needs to asses how we conduct daily life. While I think change is necessary, I think it should not be done to on such a humanistic view so important to “progress”. More and more I am seeing the egotistical mindset of climate mitigation. Yes we created or invoked the dilemma our race is now facing, but the way in which we are going about dealing with it is all wrong. The world will outlive us, earth is far beyond our small existence. It is humbling to look at how insignificant our population really is. In the billion and trillion year life span of the earth, species will die off and new ones emerge. It must be recognized that humans will cease to exist in time regardless of what we do or do not accomplish. Instead of looking at how to save the earth, we must first look at how to save ourselves, and humanity. Some people might look at this as selfish, but on the contrary if the individual realizes what is truly important in our short lives, that is a mere fraction that of earth, we will gain much more. This is where a more spiritual view of our existence comes in to play. Physical life is cherished more than almost all things in the popular mindset of society, but is there more? It could be said by many that beyond life on earth there is nothing, which could be true. I also could say it is true a small portion of humanity search for something more. This is a fundamental problem as to the way we treat our earth. This along with our vision of what is important to physical life on earth must be reviewed as a way to mitigate climate change. Let humans focus on progress in happiness instead of progress in development. This is all a life question that takes a lot of effort to implement in oneself. It is easy to continue on the same flat path and bypass trails more steep or rocky, but one never gets as far and is never excited to see what the next summit has to offer the eye. Self realization is the fix to our current predicament against climate change. Human transcendence might not end up “saving the earth” but the earth does not need saving. The earth’s intricacies, values, and complexities are infinite. To match this argument I believe that the human mind and spirit is not different, it has just not been realized by us. In order to understand the extent of the earth we must realize the extent of the mind.
9/27/09 "beauty?" The vast space that separates land forms in Arizona has an effect on the human psyche. One of humbling nature almost overwhelms the senses. Still as I wander through the landscape of Arizona there is no idea of emptiness. The intricacies and complicated relationships of every little ecosystem are infinite. Every individual and system extend far past the material composition, there is something greater that gives it existence and purpose. As a whole, the universe and all of its intricacies and connections between every part explain the infinite properties of nature. With in all of the intricacies in nature, beauty is found and explored through personal worth. Given the idea that the universe and earth is not created to human needs is humbling and can be seen through the smallest of connections and reliance’s in nature. Understanding that the universe has a far greater purpose than to sustain human existence is an essential part of finding what is truly beautiful within your self. For beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or is beauty inherent in all things? Is nature beautiful and man just has to be showed it true value? It must be seen and perceived through the human eye for us to make sense of what nature really truly means and intends to tell us. Is what is being said the backing behind beauty? Or is what we hear the truth for beauty. I say it is a combination; there is something there that is truly beautiful but it must be recognized for its worth to unveil. The greater purpose of nature and the intricate connections it has is beauty in its self, but who is there to recognize this. Again the sublime humbling powers of this woven web of life give tribute to a greater purpose of all things to live and succeed. How is it that our (human race) seems to be the only one that questions the truth and reasons for being? All other creatures almost seem to accept life through all aspects weather it be pain, love, sorrow, beauty, sublime, or inherent worth. Should we as humans simply accept this fact that we are not in the center of existence and accept our existence as is? Look at what has come of the human race and the world from our search of the truth, the meaning of life. Much has been destroyed and much overlooked in our selfish attempts to become something greater
arches Just north of Moab a national park captures the attention of thousands of visitors per day. Arches National park, oh the beauty, the stunning complexities of natural processes. A direct result of many thousands of years in the making combined with many variables make the creation of these natural bridges possible. The creation of rock just to be eroded? The natural processes, do they have purpose? Is it a concrete natural law that creates these rocks so they can be sculpted into humbling molds? Nature seems to drum to its own beat, and dance to it as if not to impress anything. Being impressed is an understatement, being humbled cannot begin to explain my feelings, for the dance has rhythm. Oh, the sound of nature, the trickle of water which erodes the sandstone one granule at a time is true harmony. Harmony which I feel within my soul towards the true spirit of nature. This is how humanity is supposed to feel; one with its creator, nurtured by Mother Nature, safe, and alive. All senses are alive and searching for something new, my mind is calm yet stimulated, content for what is given to me by nature. I have gained a respect for nature over the years but am quickly reminded of the power it holds within itself and over me. I am deeply mumbled over the sublime and powerful nature of the thriving environment. Its purposes are not clear to me, but love, beauty, happiness, and respect become apparent while in its presence, and maybe this simplicity is nature’s purpose. To instill values in the soul, deeply yet quietly. Society has made humanity forget what Mother Nature has to offer. She holds all the answers to ones predicaments and can be one to offer great advice, as long as he willing to listen. Where man has been built up into a pile of rock, over time he will be chiseled down into a work of art, an arch, a bridge over the gap of society and nature.
Aspens We live in a special place, the south west, Northern Arizona has much to offer the eye and mind. One of the many seasons is the precursor to winter, one which tells the trees to loose there leaves and store the water in its roots. In the process of leaves being transformed into soil they ripen on the tree into an array of splendid colors. The aspens in particular create a display on the peaks which stir deep emotion. I drive my truck as far away from people as possible park and then continue to run from society. I am attempting to learn something new for I cannot focus with constant chatter. Here it is peaceful; here nobody is telling me what to do and how to act, only am I receiving suggestions on how to enjoy the moment. I find this a wonderful place to drop all thoughts and clear the mind of everyday clutter. We are social creatures and thrive within certain social conditions. Innovation, progression, and stimulation are all things important to society and modern day culture. All these things can be found in thy self as well. in fact the importance of digging into the soul and exploring what is important is something not done by many anymore. I suggest that this is not a selfish action and in fact a way to enrich others and their lives. In this way it is not a selfish action to spend time by you and self reflect. More individuals should take it upon themselves to reflect!
More Aspen Stories There is an aspen grove in heart prairie of the San Francisco Peaks that I hold very dear to my heart. It is such a beautiful place that really tells a story of the land. The grove is one of the first indicators of fall when the leaves change to an amazing array of colors, containing great depth and texture. In monsoon season the grove reflects the joy from the plants to be alive and fed by the clouds, by bursting into growth combating each other in a surprisingly peaceful fight for space and light. In the winter when snow blankets the landscape there is a calm peaceful silence that engulfing the atmosphere providing comfort and a sense of safety, like the grove will protect you from the harsh climate. These things are what bring me back to the aspen grove so frequently. I can go by myself and not feel alone at all, even though there is not a person for miles. I also love to run through the aspens as fast as I can, racing my friend to the bouncy log, we have “bounce offs” to see who can stay on the longest. These are the things that can make me feel like a kid, where all my troubles are lost and the joys of life are simple and easy to obtain. Sitting on a rock in the middle of nowhere letting the breeze take all the stress and troubles of life while in deep meditation, it was never so easy to clear your mind. Thinking about how the grove spawned out of a fire which destroyed the land quite a while ago gives me hope showing the possibility of new growth and creation after death and destruction. It really puts into perspective the circle of life from the death of one thing there is life in another. Spending time in the woods reminds me that we are really truly apart of nature, we were created by It over millions of years, I believe this is forgotten and the separation between humans and nature continues to grow. When I think of going to this place warmth fills my body and I can’t help my spirit from lifting. When I am angry or mad I can escape to my “happy place” and the world seems to slow towards a pace more comfortable and pleasant. Then this thought of its vulnerability to the developing world soaks in and the idea is crushing. A pain seeps in and weights my sole down lower than it was before. My initial reaction to development of my sacred land would be irrational, but I can not say exactly what it would be. But after I pondered my options I believe I would try and fight it any legal way possible. Development of unique places like these is what separates the human culture from the very thing that created us and maintains our existence. Communicating with others who feel the same, whether it is about the same grove or the desert lands in southern Arizona, is one of the first steps that would need to be taken. Gather support and lobby, express the importance of the land not only to human but to the ecosystem that was thriving.
A set of track homes can be built anywhere but to create an aspen grove this intricate and beautiful takes many years with perfect, natural conditions, and still the grove would not be the same, it is truly irreplaceable. These are the places we have to protect, not just huge national parks but smaller green spaces that are easily accessible for activities just like I enjoy partaking in. Now a days it is all to common hearing about kids suffering from nature deficit disorder, where they have no connection to the natural world, and suffer mundane lives in front of television screens. The only way I see the human race fighting this disorder is finding the simple yet important aspects of nature as a starting point. Then move toward an understanding of all things in our complex system as connected, becoming interwoven within the natural world once again one aspen grove at a time.
history For much of history man has been focused in a selfish manor, egocentrically looking at the world as it gives worth and use to him. There are only manifestations of the earth as it pertains to man and his mindfulness of the earth. It is easy to look at everything in existence through ones own eyes and mind, for this is an easier way of making sense of the world. In reality our consciousness and mind is but a small fraction of the truth of existence. It goes back to understanding that the world was created for mankind to steward the earth, which to me is an outdated stance on life. Over billions of years processes have taken place slowly evolving to produce mankind. Once man has died off the earth and the universe will continue to change and evolve as if we were just a parasite of little to know worth. To believe that earth was created for humans simply depreciates the true worth and intricate complexities of the higher laws of nature. When looking at how complex every system within natures system it becomes more apparent there are infinite connections and processes far beyond our understanding. As if everything was built in a tower of laws and parts, and the infinite magnitude and connection intricacies pay homage to our insignificant existence. Is there a way to find ourselves among such a larger existence? We must accept that we are deep within, and quit fighting against the laws and processes which created us. Self actualization has been something that came about relatively recent in the scopes of the world’s existence. Now that humans have gained the power of ideas and self governing law, where feeling and emotion takes priority over mother earth, how do we regain our connection to earth? Thoreau claims we are to live the good life of virtue. Where our priorities are to nature and in fact virtue is found just there. Lurking in the laws of nature which have been broken by humankind living outside of our means, making our own ideas more important than those, of nature is virtue. We must ground ourselves to what is real and true and not what is manifested by our own minds, laws of nature if followed can guide us toward a life of quality.
view of nature Humans have an interesting outlook upon the natural world. All too often it is ignored and looked at as a novelty, luxury, or a hindrance to society. Somehow the importance of self and society has contributed to a disconnect from what is truly important. This egocentric view of the world is very selfish and does not take into account the holist view. Our way of conceiving anthropocentric life takes into account a broad view, from where a holist perspective is necessary for understanding. The human experience is understood through our feelings, concepts, thoughts, and lawful principals. As we wander through life all these aspects are pieced together so that we can make sense of a greater purpose within existence. Just as the experience of human life stems from a holist greater picture, so does the natural world. From the beginning of society man has struggled with existence, slowly developing ideas and concepts that govern life; in turn we have evolved into diverse social beings. The natural world is no different, stemming from a single homogenous point and expanding its capacity to cradle diversity in life. And within the diversity we see connection between each part. To think that all things came from one single point there must be something which holds all things together in a relationship. The same movement from homogeneity to diversity represents chaos to order a duality that in turn gives birth to reasonableness in the world, systematicity. Order and connectivity takes into account qualitative as well as quantitative properties; for if every thing is broken down into the simplest form there is no difference in quality or quantity, there must be no soul.
Global Climate Change: Effects on Birds in the South West Just as the canary in the mind shaft warns against change in environmental conditions, birds show early signs in responding to global climate change. Migrating birds are changing habits to compensate for higher global temperatures, by moving north every year. Still many birds are arriving at their summer home and missing the hatching of many bugs and blooming of many plants. This slight off set could have drastic effects on the greater ecosystem. Here in the south west where temperature is expected to rise with decreased precipitation, local bird species and migrating bird species could be drastically affected in their life styles. The ecological services birds provide to an ecosystem are quite significant and maintain a balance of everything. When looking at the interconnection of all living things it is important to see the relationships of the whole. The temperature rise will change a whole bunch of biological processes and inevitably change the living patterns of birds along with every other species in the system. How can we mitigate this? This is a question that I do not see having a direct answer. Yes we should look at stopping more green house gasses and mitigating humans impact on the global climate, but there is nothing we can do to stop the species from moving. They are migrating and moving there range for very specific reasons, for their survival. When they move they will leave important niches and invade other ecosystems but it is a matter of survival. The way I see it is many species are going to go extinct and many will change there locations, but in the long run the earth will be here and continue to evolve when humans have whipped themselves out. Our egocentric approach to climate change got us into this mess and will not get us out.
Walnut Canyon; man in nature As I left town west driving towards walnut canyon, thoughts were in my mind of work, school and unimportant matters of life in the 21st century. As I started to get farther out of town I started to leave those thoughts behind, but once I arrived at the ruin sight of the ancient Sinagua people those thoughts were gone. Since it has been so long since I had been there, I hiked along the rim trail to check out the exhibits and refresh my mind with a little history lesson. What a gorgeous view, not only was this a good location for an ancient tribe to live for protection and resources, but how stunning. Northern Arizona is truly a special place and these little side canyons are testament to this. Walnut Canyon is a spectacular place, carving down through the rock layers uncovering history. There is an abundant amount of plant and animal life contributing to the diverse ecosystem. It is remote and where accessible to us, not to generations 700 years ago. These are the contributing factors for why the Sinagua people decided to reside in this area. As I hike down the trail towards the main set of ruins there was energy in the atmosphere that really induced thought. As with any time I approach ruins of past cultures, I try to imagine what the location was like when it was full of people, when it was alive. Now it is like a ghost town; quiet and almost eerie. Even though it is empty, I sense energy within this location. The dwellings were relatively intact for being vacant 700 years; the general structure still resides in the cliffs. All of these dwellings and all of the artifacts tell a story about the cultures residing in the area before us. I think it is important to study the cultures of previous times in order to understand our present and future. All things build on one another and intricate connections reside within each and every object. History is no different in the way humans gain ideas, values and feelings toward the land. It is critical for our generation to be conscience of the practices of other individuals, in doing this; we can not only make sense of our current situation but learn from enlightened groups. One thing that man has struggled with is living in harmony with nature. Since the dawn of man we have been apart of the living processes in a very real and harsh way. The preservation of the land has meant the preservation of the people and the culture. The Sinagua people struggled with this, but were able to survive without outside amenities for a sustained amount of time. Modern day man has lived in Northern Arizona for a couple hundred years, but done so subsidized by the rest of the earth and humanity. I suggest that we take a close look, and examine these cultures’ way of life in understanding the balance man and nature must have to provide life to use both. In examining how the Sinagua people lived in this canyon, we can draw conclusions on how humanity can live within our finite world
find the roots Emerson, Thoreau, Leopold, Muir, are Austin all famous transcendentalist that have changed the minds of many in terms of how humans ought to live. How we look at the picture of life on earth and value it beyond property, or single entities for human consumption. We must look upon the earth as having inherent worth with beauty and sublime properties. These are not things that we can simply replace with other values; they are aspects of nature that are not found anywhere else. I suggest we take a good hard look at what is truly important to live a good life of purpose and meaning. It is a state of the natural of which we came; we are a direct product of an intricate world beyond our senses. Can we take a step back and just understand that it is beyond us and even beyond our ability to comprehend the whole? It is egocentric to assume we know all about the world? Or even try to put laws and principles behind what we see and feel? Humans will continue to attempt to make sense of the world in a way that only humans can understand. Our perceptions of nature is skewed and twisted from the truth and in this view we have destroyed our connection what is reality and important. How do we regain this connection? Just as Emerson, Leopold, Muir, Thoreau, and the like have started to regain a connection to nature by experience all man must do the same. Every individual must find it for himself and experience nature first hand. Find the beauty and experience the sublime of what life is really like. Reconnect to our roots in the natural world. Go to nature; feel it, touch it, smell it, be it