Here you will find posts offering the environmental version of ‘what would you do.” There are no right, nor wrong answers of course--we just hope to challenge your perspective and encourage discussion on related scenarios that will test your ethical nature. Please feel free to add one of your own nature-related situations! We would love to join in the discussion :)

Now, what would you do...

Jun 22, 2009

Trash Talk

There is so much discussion about global consumerism and waste, and rightly so. Our consumer, nuclear, and technological waste(s) alone creates serious ecological threats to our planet--first our land, then our air, our water, our oceans, and now outer space?!

Consider this article, Archaeology of Space Garbage, by University of Arizona professor and Senior Editor of Discover Archaeology magazine, W.L. Rathje. Here, leading “garbologist” Rathje shares his view on the enormity (and threat) of space garbage orbiting Earth, left behind from space missions, as well as "exo-archaeology" - the study of the artifacts of outer space.

I find his article appropriate here because his number one lesson addresses the fact that we create numberless commercial/technological products without considering its disposal issues. Who is responsible for our global waste? Individuals? The companies that make these products? We, who buy them? Individual nations? The global economy? Global environmental sanctions?

How do we better eliminate this growing mountain of trash?

Read the article here:

Jun 15, 2009

Researchers Argue Leave No Trace Does Leave "Traces."

Shared by a Caliso friend--definitely “something to ponder.” This latest article discusses the environmental ethics beyond Leave No Trace outdoor practices in today’s environment and economy. Hmm, it’s getting harder and harder to find an appropriate balance regarding our environmental impact. This article topic opens up a whole new consideration, although I believe in the value of LNT practices. I also agree, this gives us something to think about!

From an e-mail “Media Advisory” received:

This June 13th is National Get Outdoors Day, and researchers at Stanford University and UC Santa Barbara are revealing how wilderness visitors who dutifully follow the popular Leave No Trace ethic may confront a contradiction in terms. Leave No Trace, the researchers argue, does indeed leave a trace.

“The Leave No Trace program sets up a paradoxical alliance,” says lead author Gregory Simon, an associate professor now at University of Colorado Denver who completed the study while at Stanford University. “In order to leave no trace, backpackers are routed through recreation equipment stores and required to buy an assortment of outdoor gear. Consumption becomes an antidote to environmental degradation,” he adds.

The study, published in the spring/summer issue of the journal Ethics, Place & Environment, illustrates that while the Leave No Trace principles are critical for protecting the backcountry and backpackers, “traces” are displaced from wilderness areas to other locations along the commodity chain of outdoor recreation equipment. For instance, hikers are advised to buy stoves to replace campfires, tents to avoid using native vegetation for shelter, and water purification systems to provide safe drinking water from streams. These advised activities are somewhat beneficial but can be geographically-nearsighted in that they have significant impacts outside the wilderness area, such as local degradation at manufacturing and mineral extraction sites in the developing world and increased carbon emissions along ocean shipping corridors.

The researchers describe the history and practice of the Leave No Trace program in the United States and the need for a 21st century environmental ethic that is more sustainable and democratic.

The study’s abstract is found here:

Jun 3, 2009

Hoppin' Habitat!

You've created a backyard habitat and are beginning to enjoy the benefits of watching several native species enjoy your carefully chosen habitat elements. Some have even taken up residence! One day you notice that the birds, rabbits, and butterflies you enjoy seeing are beginning to attract their natural predators to your habitat haven. How do you respond?