Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Agents of (S)influence

I don't know what we did to deserve this presidential election. I personally, do not feel represented by these characters. There are many people who feel this way, and, like me, are waiting for someone to come out and say that this is all a joke and that we are going to get new people to vote for next year. These agents of influence are dividing the nation into dangerous groups of ideas and thoughts. These groups are so dangerous because of the attacks that they cast on each other because they want to prove to the others that their ideas should hold more weight over decisions than the other group's. This kind of behavior is immature and honestly scary. There are so many tumultuous decisions that are about to be made and people are arguing and picking fights. The fighting stems from the immaturity that is seen on the public stage from our presidential nominees. No one is truly civil and it is setting a precedence for the rest of us to act in similar ways. I do not care for this behavior, and I am sure that many others feel the same as I.

Our wonderful presidential nominees have their opinions on global climate change, but have not focused their efforts on this subject as much as they should, in my opinion. But I guess its better that they don't so that people are not misled by some of their ideas. Some great contributors in the media for global climate change include Leonardo DiCaprio, Bernie Sanders, and President Obama, just to name a few. They address that there is climate change, which is a huge step in representing these issues. They reach out to others and represent the facts of the issues for the grand masses. These agents are great for the general public's understanding of the struggles that are facing our earth. However, many of my agents are my professors and fellow classmates. We explore facts in depth and look at causation and solutions. We are the people who provide the facts for these famous guys and that is incredibly cool. I definitely value my academic peers and masters because there is so much that can be learned from them that can be backed with so much knowledge. I am only able to trust the famous people because I have learned so much about the issues that are prevalent from my professors. It is entertaining and great to hear that famous people are addressing these issues, but for me, I don't really deem them influential in my life in this area. My academic community is so amazing because we share similar values and have a common purpose.

I feel as though I don't have too much influence yet to my main influencers because I am still on my way to achieving their level. However, the more I learn, the more I feel like that I can make a difference and help to spread the truths of our academic community. Tonight, I sat with my friends and I explained Mie scattering to them over beers and they thought it was so cool. If I can convince them that Mie scattering is cool and that I am smart, then there is hope that I can one day influence people in a positive way for our earth. My values are very important to me and I am trying to match my actions to them at all times because I feel like that is one way that I can influence people is through leading by example. If I practice what I preach and continue to learn, there is no telling how many people I could influence in my life, hopefully for the better. That is my goal.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thoughts for Food

This past week, I made a commitment to track what I was eating to see how sustainable my lifestyle is. I already knew my food lifestyle is the least sustainable thing about me. I literally leave my house before 8 AM every day and am running late for everything, so I resort to a lot of eating out. Since school started, I have been eating out at least once a day, sometimes three times in one day. Luckily for me, I was working forty hour weeks before I started school, so I have been able to sustain this unsustainable lifestyle. I have to eat and I don't always have time to pack food, so I do the best I can to survive. The past couple have days have been slightly better than my first three weeks back in school. Let's take a look:

Day 1: Definitely drove 3 miles out of my way to go to school to get Dunkin Donuts for my Iced Dark Roast Coffee and breakfast sandwich. I brought lunch that day (Chicken Stir Fry and Fried Rice from dinner the night before). After I got out of practice, I went to happy hour at Eureka with my friends and got a turkey burger and a beer (so goooood).

Day 2: I had a banana for breakfast as I was running out the door. For lunch, I grabbed a turkey cranberry sandwich from the restaurant in my office park (third one of the week). For a snack, I had pub cheese and crackers. For dinner, my dad brought home undercooked Little Caesar's pizza (ugh dad, really?).

Day 3: I did not have breakfast because I woke up and washed my car, then rushed to go play some water polo. When I got home, I think I had a quesadilla and then went to coffee with my mom and got a donut. Later, I made some nachos. For dinner, my dad brought home an italian sub (redemption for the night before).

Day 4: My mom made pumpkin bread and I went and got coffee. For lunch, I made the best gouda-sharp cheddar sandwich. For dinner, we had picking food which all revolved around different cheeses. (Probably my favorite day ever).

Day 5: For breakfast, I had a slice of the pumpkin bread my mom had made the day before. At lunch, I made some hot dogs right before leaving to go get coffee before school. My mom made lasagna and chicken sausage for dinner.

Well, the past five days were not the healthiest, but also not the worst I have eaten. I made an effort to eat at home when I could. My major downside that I hate to admit is my coffee addiction. I only drink Dunkin Donuts coffee because it is the best. But in order for me to get my fix, I have to drive six miles round trip, which is a lot. And then I don't even use a reusable cup! I am the worst! But thankfully, in a month or two, they will be opening a Dunkin Donuts that will not take me out of my way at all and will save me so many miles. I need to get a reusable cup so I can keep up my coffee habit. But then again, coffee is a water intensive crop, so maybe I need to reduce my coffee intake too to make this habit more sustainable.

Other than my coffee binging, I don't think that I had an excessively bad weekend. I was more aware of what I was eating and more conscious of what I was eating with and on. I used only one paper plate this weekend, when I usually use a couple a day. That in itself is a victory. Let's not get into my napkin needs, because its bad. I cannot eat anything without a napkin, and of course its a paper napkin. But I feel like I use napkins so well that it's not wasted. If a majority of my napkins were free of food residue, I think I would have a problem. I don't know.

I am a work in progress. I do my best and try to lead from example. Other aspects of my life are more sustainable, like my showering habits. I take 4-6 minute showers everyday. I only take water that I am going to drink. I recycle like crazy. But it is all about finding balance. I cannot force sustainability into my lifestyle, I have to adjust to it. Making the conscious effort is the hardest part. After I do that, it will all seem drastically easier. I don't think that I will continue to track my food, but rather take the extra moment to make better decisions. Tracking is good when you know you're not doing so well. Now that I have done that, I will make a better effort towards reducing my food impact on the world.

Monday, October 10, 2016

BioBlitz: sacking declining biodiversity

National Geographic and the National Park Service are calling a blitz on declining sustainability. In May 2016 during the centennial celebration of the National Park Service, the BioBlitz was introduced. A BioBlitz is a 24-hour event that brings together scientists, children, educators, and members of the community to identify as many species of plants, animals, and other organisms as they possibly can. This past year, BioBlitzes occurred at over one hundred national parks throughout the United States of America. There was an event close to Orange County in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area. 

These BioBlitzes are helpful in getting a sense of what kind of biodiversity there is in the world right outside our door. There are so many species of plants, animals, and other organisms that is almost overwhelming to think about. Even more overwhelming is the fact that many species are in jeopardy of going extinct. When we go outside and identify species, we can gain a better understanding of how small our existence as a species is and how large our impacts is on every other species. Comprehending the biodiversity that is evident in our surroundings is useful in promoting sustainability for various reasons. Many people love animals and plants, so when they find out the shear extent of biodiversity in their regions, they can become more in tune with the preservation of these ecosystems. Also, abundant biodiversity is also helpful in research for medicinal purposes which is also another way that the promotion of bioblitzes helps sustainability. I think as a general rule in my life is that the more you know about your world, the more you care. If people are exposed to the varying levels of biodiversity in their lives, it could help lead them to a path of sustainability that will further increase biodiversity.

In my writing last week, I don't believe I mentioned preserving nature per se. I wrote about respecting the environment as a my way of understanding sustainability. Within being respectful to the environment, there is a large space for preserving nature and promoting biodiversity as well as managing nature in a way that is respectful to the resources and to the future generations that will rely on those resources. Biodiversity is so important in nature because it creates complex and highly productive ecosystems. When you destroy biodiversity, you promote disease, homogeneity, and an extremely unproductive ecosystem. We need to think of biodiversity as a part of sustainability because its more than just keeping the earth beautiful; its about keeping it healthy and productive.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Respect. My parents taught me the meaning of this word before I even could understand what it was. I have always tried my best to be respectful to others and to myself. As I get older, I have come to realize that its not just people that you need to respect; you need to respect all aspects of life on earth, especially the things that aren't living.

Sustainability is synonymous to respect in my books. Current definitions of sustainability emphasize resourcefulness and equity. When a person, a culture, or a society is sustainable, they are respecting their current resources, they are respecting the needs of their people, and respecting the lives of people who aren't even in existence yet.

The concept of connecting sustainability with respect is easier to write about than it is to put into action. I value the idea of respect very highly, but I definitely continue to struggle with my respect in regards to sustainability. In our society, we have been raised on the idea of consumerism which has created a culture of wastefulness. It's hard to make these sustainable choices when it goes against what you had grown up with. Even though I struggle at times with living sustainability, I believe as I get older that it is getting easier to wrap my head around the changes that I should make in my lifestyle. When I was younger, I remember being taught the three R's and that has stuck with me for most of my life. But no one really told me about how destructive my lifestyle was to others and to the environment. High school was the first time that someone had shed the light on how modern societies ravage the land and exploit people in the process of providing modern comforts and "necessities." After learning about these ideas, that's probably when I really started caring about the idea of sustainability. Learning about the large scale effects of living the way that we do definitely gave me the perspective I needed to understand that all of my actions, no matter how small, affect the world that I live in. That's kind of crazy. As I am getting older and making more of my own choices, this idea is having more substance in my life.

If I were to live my life more sustainably, I would probably be even more broke than I currently am. Living sustainably is more expensive because of the extra care and thought that is being made while producing products and services. As a college student, it's hard to remain on a sustainable track because I don't always have the time to think about what I am doing and I don't have the means to choose the most sustainable product over the cheapest product. But I am starting to realize that I need to start taking more care when I am shopping so that I can start being more sustainable now so that I can make this a habit to keep. The largest obstacle to sustainability in my life is the price of it.

I would like to think that I live according to my sustainability ethic most of the time. There are times when I don't and I definitely acknowledge that. I'm still figuring out what I care about in this life and how I want to live it. I'm on my way to being the person I want to be and I am pretty certain that I want to be a more sustainable person.