J500 Media and the Environment


Human-Free Zones by jkongs
February 5, 2008, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Business + Politics, Society + Media

Let’s examine for a moment the name “Environmental Protection Agency”. This agency, comprised of human beings, is charged with the responsibility of enacting policies that protect, conserve, preserve the environment. The environment, as in the world “out there”, is where “nature” exists for humans to look at, their noses pressed against the glass.

Our relationship with the environment, embodied by our political actions to “protect” it, has long been dictated by the idea that humans have a God-given obligation to name and watch out for all the little creatures and green plants that inhabit the planet (discussed in this book). We humans are above and separate from nature, not an integrated thread woven into her fabric.

This cultural view of nature has existed in this country since the moment Europeans decided to come and tromp around. It has allowed, even insisted, that the environment is here for human use, that God has designated us the caretakers and thus, beneficiaries, of all nature’s wonders. I would argue that a new look at our environmentalist movement will require a new way of looking at the environment.

At the risk of promoting the idea of the Noble Savage, the indigenous peoples to this area seem to have had something right. They definitely manipulated and changed their environment in vast ways, and in many cases in MesoAmerica managed to outgrow their capabilities and environment to the point of their own destruction. Their inherent philosophy in which humans were a part of nature as much as any other species, can still be useful to us today.
Contemporary indigenous philosophers, including Vine Deloria, Jr., and Kirkpatrick Sale, blame the current state of the environment on eurocentric viewpoints that limit their interaction with nature to one of use and protection. They may have a point, seeing as how our political association with the environment is named the EPA.

Sidenote: If you still need Western Civ. credits, I highly recommend looking into taking it through Haskell with Dan Wildcat – a non-eurocentric (yes, really) look at all western civilizations and their major philosophers and texts.

–Jennifer Kongs

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7 Comments so far
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One reason for the eurocentric ways was circumstance. In pre-history Europe and Asia, some of the animals that lived there could be domesticated and used for agriculture and other needs. In the pre-history Americas there weren’t animals to domesticate so agriculture didn’t evolve in the same way. As societies began building around where you could grow food, more land was allocated for the raising of said animals.

Was this better than the America’s or Africa? No, just different. A situation of circumstance. However, people back then wouldn’t have the slightest idea that we would be in the predicament we are in today because of their choices to farm.

The only question really is, what are we going to do now?

Adam

links :
domesticating animals http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi1499.htm
man from hunter gatherer to farmer.http://beyondtheblog.wordpress.com/2007/05/24/history-of-man-pre-history/

Comment by acbowman

If the EPA is to protect that “other” it’s problematic. We go to national parks to experience the natural world, forgetting we live in the natural world — albeit one that we have tried to mold to fit our desired lifestyle.

What an interesting idea you raise! A call for what we could rename the EPA. (changing its mandate and the whole idea of protecting “other” is another matter..)

-Jen H

Comment by jenh

Very interesting trajectory. And Jen, you have raised a challenge! What should we call “it”?

Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

Hmm… interesting challenge: renaming the EPA in an effort to change how we relate to the environment. Wait – there’s an idea. How about the Environmental Relationship Improvement Agency? The ERIA, for humans who can’t come to terms with nature.

Jennifer Kongs

Comment by jkongs

More importantly, how do we make the EPA or ERIA more efficient and effective?

AC Bowman

Comment by acbowman

I need to talk to you about 1. formatting blogs to include spaces between paragraphs and 2. western civ at haskell? do you have to apply to be a student at haskell and are you dual enrolled?

Sonya E

Comment by Sonya

You do not have to be a Haskell Student, the course listing is under la&s (liberal arts and sciences) and the contact person is Patricia Wakolee. There is a form you fill out at the beginning of the semester to transfer the credits, and that’s it. You take the class at Haskell for KU credit.

Jennifer Kongs

Comment by Jennifer




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