Monday, March 29, 2010

Don't Forget

If you haven't given a report yet the time remaining to do so is dwindling -- we can do three tomorrow at the beginning of class. Just provide a link to your campaign or artists or whatever before class or just after so we can explore more on our own. Also: precises about essays we've read or are reading still need to be posted. Don't put this stuff off, you have more time now than you will as the end of term draws closer.

On a different note, any initial impressions of the Natural Capitalism or Greenwashing materials?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Here is the link to the organization i am doing my presentation on

its the self-proclaimed world leading think tank fighting overpopulation. (UK based)

Thomas Chung

Monday, March 22, 2010

Your Keywords Final Exam

There are well over a hundred keywords listed below from among the many more terms we have taken up or will take up over the course of our readings and conversations this term.

For your Final you are to create three categories (conceptual, practical, figurative, whatever) entirely of your own choosing and design, and then subsume under each of these categories a number of keywords from the list below which seem to you to be related to one another in a significant or useful way through each of your chosen categories and in respect to your sense of the overall subject of our course together. "Green" is not a Keyword in the list -- but your own idiosyncratic inhabitation of Greenness, your own sense of what Greenness most importantly consists will likely emerge in the Final taken as a whole.

For each keyword you choose, provide a clear and concise definition of the term (nothing more than a sentence, at most two) in your own words, and then follow that definition with a quotation from one of the assigned texts from our syllabus. The quotation should be one that is especially illuminating for the definition you have made in some way: the quotation can be a definition that yours is a variation of, the quotation can be an example or illustration that supports your definition, the quotation can provide an analogy or figure or frame that inspired your definition, the quotation can even be something that seemed so wrongheaded to you that it provoked your definition as a kind of protest or intervention.

Your final must provide definitions and quotations for at least thirty-six keywords but no more than forty. None of your categories can contain fewer than seven keywords and none can contain more than sixteen keywords.

Each of your categories should have a title and a general explanatory paragraph (and I do mean a paragraph, not an essay) indicating what you take the category to delineate.

You can hand the final in to me personally at any time starting from April 27 to the end of term (you won't have a real sense of the range of the course until we move through the Permaculture and Green Eats readings, so don't try to complete the final before tackling those readings as well as the others before them), but I ask that you send it to me as a Word-readable attachment in an e-mail if you cannot place a hard copy directly into my hands on our last meeting or whenever. Think about when your other finals and projects are scheduled and when any other papers are due and fit this final Keyword Project into your schedule in a way that best suits your own situation. If you have time to get this done early rather than last minute, by all means do so. You should give yourself a good few days to do this work, since scouting through passages and notes across the whole term often yields unexpected syntheses that lead to revisions of your initial categorizations and keyword groupings. I hope this exercise is an enlightening and enjoyable one for you all rather than a drudgery. Be experimental, exploratory, earnest about it and you are almost sure to get incomparably more benefit from it.

If you have questions, always feel free to post them in Comments, e-mail them to me, raise them in class, or talk to me before or after class.

Here are the Keywords I'm having you choose from:

Access-to-Knowledge (a2k)
Appropriate Technology
Biosphere II
Cap and Trade
Climate Change
Climate Refugees
Climax Ecosystem
Common Sense
Consensus Science
Creative Commons
Deep Ecology
Ecosystemic Services
Edible Landscaping
Endangered Species
Energy Descent
Environmental Justice Movement
Environmental Racism
Farmers Market
Industrial Agriculture
Input Intensive
Instrumental Rationality
Integrated Pest Management
Intentional Community
Intellectual Property
Natural Capital
One Size Fits All
Peak Oil
Peer-to-Peer (p2p)
Political Ecology
Precautionary Principle
Public Good
Resource Descent
Seed Saving
Seed Sharing
Slow Food
Small Is Beautiful
Smart Grid
Social Ecology
Technical Metabolism
Triple Bottom Line
Urban Agriculture

Reports Tomorrow?

There should be three at least, otherwise some folks are going to take a real hit in the final grading because I'm not losing the whole final day to everybody just doing perfunctory reports everybody put off for no discernible reason. No more than three or four reports each meeting from here to the end. First to declare intention to report or post a link to the object of the report, first served.

The US Patent System Legalizes Theft and Biopiracy Precis by Chris Corrente

News-flash: United States interests are wrongfully laying claim to the innovations and materials of other cultures.
Well, there's certainly no historical precedent for that!

In this article, a very rational, common sense, and legally considered perspective is offered on why "biopiracy" is an unethical and undesireable phenomenon. Essentially, biopiracy is a continued form of colonialism.

The problems with allowing corporations to patent substances already recognized by other culture are numerous. There are the obvious ethical quandaries involved in exploiting the resources of other nations, but ethics, unfortunately, are not the grounds from which corporate and governmental influences base their decisions.

The article also points out that legally speaking, bio-piracy is allowed to go on, but a change in US patent should occur.

In US patent law, innovations of other countries are not protected under the "prior art" clause. If an idea is new to the US, it is considered new.

The idea behind patent law is that creative individuals should be protected and rewarded for their innovations. The article points out that patent laws were originally molded so that the fledgling US could borrow industrial innovations from the British. now, with the US as the imperialist power, these laws are being used to allow US corporations to lay claim to the innovations of less powerful, or at least less protective and monopolist cultures.

The laws are set up so that the US can pirate innovations from other countries, then ferociously defend them as their own. This endangers the diverse knowledge systems of indigenous cultures. There are many instances of biopiracy happening right now, and the continued trend of allowing US interests to claim as their own the innovations of other cultures sets a dangerous precedent for the future, clearing the way for the powerful to deny indigenous cultures of that which they have always depended on, and possibly blocking access to new innovations from which they could benefit.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Tinkered With the Sylaabus...

It should reflect the nudging forward I had to do to make up for that sick day. Some weeks have crazy anounts of stuff in them, and I'll probably remove some of it by the time we get there. By the way, how many precises and reports are on the menu for tomorrow morning? See you all soon!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

these articles came to mind while I was doing the readings and I thought I'd share. Largely on the topic of land use displacing/disadvantaging the inhabitants. The Boston globe links are mostly pictures.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I know I mentioned Dirt! The Movie in an earlier post, but I just realized that Wangari Maathai (the woman Norman talked about in class) as well as Vandana Shiva (who was interviewed in one of our most recent readings) are both profiled in the film. It's worth checking out, if only to learn a bit more about these two inspirational activists.

Monday, March 01, 2010

If it makes you money, it can't be that bad.

Here is an article about all of the wonderful economic opportunities that the melting ice caps will create. Included in this frozen goldmine is an estimated 90 million barrels of oil, which we obviously could never live without! And experts say it could begin to become available as soon as 2013!

My favorite part is when the journalist phrases what is at stake as "the arctic riches".

Mommy, What is ecofeminism?

Ecofeminism By: Rosemary Radford Reuther
Precis by: Thomas Chung

According to Rosemary Reuther Ecofeminism is the union of the deep ecology movement with feminism. Deep ecology examines the psychological and ethical patterns of why humans destroy nature. Feminism is concerned with transforming the patriarical socio-economic system we currently live in because it is at the expense of women. Many feminists compare the domination of women to the domination of nature by man (or, men). That is part of the essential connection between feminism and ecology. The author asks for a solution from the ecofeminist movement to strive for, which is similar to our questions in class about the green movement at large.

Reuther then goes on to summarize deep ecology into 8 key points:
1. The flourishing of human and non-human life on Earth has intrinsic value beyond human benefit.
2.Diversity of life is a good thing.
3.Humans have no right to hurt this diversity except to sustain themselves
4.Present human interference into nature is excessive and the situation is getting worse
5. Non human life requires less humans.
6. Political policy must change in order to save nature.
7.Life quality must go down in order to make positive change, good news is you can replace it with appreciating life.
8. If you believe these rules you must participate in their manifestations (or womanifestations).

Reuther then admits to not being competent enough to make the necessary changes, she explains she is more into the history of culture. She then explains that she will trace connections between the domination of women and the domination of nature. Then she says she will offer a possible cultural alternative.

Pre-Hebraic roots:
Anthropological studies have suggested that the identification of women with nature is ancient and widespread. It implies that nature is separate from man. In early society men had more leisure time because their roles were less time consuming than women’s. Hunting took less time than raising kids, picking poisonous berries and sewing revealing loincloths. Because babies came from women’s bodies and life came from the Earth, the two were likened. Patriarchy increased when farming became prevalent and land became owned. Plow agriculture placed women into a role of property because men became put into a mindset of ownership over nature therefore women too since they were seen as closer to nature.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Calvinists began to claim that nature was not holy it was depraved. Then during the scientific revolution and Newtons time nature became inert mass to be wielded by man. This further hurt the status of women due to the nature/women connection.

In recent times population increase due to longer lifespans and lower mortality rates for infants is outrunning the food supply. The gap between the rich and the poor grow wider. “Population explosion, exhaustion of natural resources, pollution and state violence are the four horsemen of the new global apocalypse. The critical question of both justice and survival is how to pull back from this disastrous course and remake our relations with each other and with the
earth." After this quote the author goes on to explain how our social ideas should be changed.

One element to creating an eco-feminist ethic is reshaping the dualistic concept of soulless natural matter and transcendent male consciousness. Nature runs fine without us. Humans are parasites right now. Humans must recognize their dependence on the Earth. Mutual interdependence replaces hierarchies between groups. Men need to take on more feminine roles like child care and cleaning the toilet. The sense of self in relation to the life cycle must be rethought as well. We are creating immortal garbage that must be recyclable either by us or the Earth.

It seems that Ruether believes the place to start in ecology and feminism is with ideology. She calls for a transformation of the Christian God into something closer to Mother Earth. She believes we must wake up and see that the Earth sustains us. She believes that during the Enlightenment the idea of male transcendental consciousness separating from nature hurt both mans relationship with women and with nature since the two were linked during the time of man taking up the plow. However, no solution is given to how these necessary ideological shifts should be made manifest. Perhaps the author is just stating what she believes to be a fact of how we must change in thought to save ourselves.


Green belt movement

Tomorrow I (Norman) will be presenting Wangari Maathai and especially her founding of the greenbelt movement but her other work as well. She is a leader in environmentalism and an inspiration to grass roots movements especially in the developing world. She is especially important to feminist theory in general. Here are some videos:
watching her acceptance ceremony and speech at the nobel peace prize awards I hope with fill your heart with warmth as much as it did mine... tear:

Nobel Peace Prize press release awarding her the prize:
Presentation speech:

Hello --

I'm feeling better -- for tomorrow we'll just do everything we were going to do last week. I'll find some way of shaving two weeks into one later on in the syllabus. Everybody who was prepared to do reports and so on, tomorrow we're a go. If a couple more of you want to join in on the report/precis bandwagon, by all means, the more the merrier.