Morales, December 2014

One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

This semester, I have grown both academically and personally. I have progressed into a more informed, environmentally friendly person. To be honest, before this course I was not the type to recycle, I was not the type to pay extra for organic foods, I thought eco-friendly people were hippies, and I thought that I had idea about the severity of animal conservation needs. I was wrong. I was ignorant. I was stuck in the mindset that unfortunately most United States citizens have. I am so glad I took this course, not only so I can make decisions that place me closer to a sustainable lifestyle, but now I find myself able to have more intellectual conversations regarding the food sources that we, citizens of a developed country, potentially put in our body.

You know how you do not really realize how much you have learned until you find yourself in the middle of a conversation or situation. All of a sudden it hits you, as you realize not long ago you probably did not know all the terminology that you were currently using or were not as informed about that topic. This is the situation I found myself in about a week ago. I was at my friend’s dorm, as the conversation turned towards GMO’s and pesticides and there effects on living organisms. Myself and my friend, Alex, found ourselves in the debate against each other. Meanwhile, a third friend, Molly, sat in the corner with eyes glazed over and an expression of confusion upon her face. Towards the end of the conversation she looks at both of us, as she states that she had no clue what we were talking about, asking what the difference was. It was then that I was very thankful for taking environmental science and given the tools to be more informed on such topics.

While the atrazine and bush meat debates were my favorite activities that we did in class, it is my opinion that the most important assignment in the class was the land ethics blogs. In the debates I learned the most about one topic in a short period, I learned each side of it knowing the strengths and weaknesses in argument so that I could argue for either side, and be better informed to come to my own conclusion. However, the land ethics blogs helped me develop an increased appreciation and awareness for nature on my own time. Without this assignment, I probably would not have noticed how much pollution is in the local park I visit all the time, changes in the landscape at one location in a matter of four months. These blog assignments paired with the book, A Sand County Almanac, written by Aldo Leopold, gave us guidance while letting us come to your own conclusions as to what our personal definition nature and its importance to us.

The word cloud results are interesting. A lot of the terms used are very general, nonspecific terms. This could be for a number of reasons including students who did not know how to accurately describe the nature they observed, students who pretended to complete observations unable to describe specifics, or students observed things so differently only these general keywords were the common thread between observations. I think water is one of the most prominently used terms, because in Texas we always hear about how where to drop and we need to conserve water. I think this makes us more conscientious of this natural resource. Unfortunately, I feel like while many people pay attention to natural water sources, they do not translate that attention to the use of water in there every day life. I noticed the word creek was used, not stream or river, creek. This could be because many students may have gone to Blunn Creek Nature Preserve or because the amount of water on average that we had flowing through the various parts that people observed typically did not reach that we would call a river, nor was it classified as a flowing stream. Looking at this word cloud, I am surprised that I do not see more visual descriptions words, such as color or size. Looking at the words I feel like some of us sometimes got stuck in describing what we were doing instead of going into more detail about what we were seeing. This focus with ourselves is what hinders conservation awareness and efforts. This assertion is supported by the probably use of words such as unfortunately, early, thinking, decided, people, etc..

I used two quotes because I think they show my evolution as environmental science student. I was a laymen, as defined in the “at the top of the page. I think I had minimal regard for how my actions ultimately affected my environment. Well I was not littering or dumping waste into water sources I was not doing anything to help the environment which is just as dangerous. I think that the last quote expresses in more liberal wording how I felt when I learn the facts. Some of these facts included the stats from the world wildlife report and that if we were to protect approximately two percent of certain land areas on earth and we would be able to help concert sixty percent of the population that would potential be depleted otherwise.

Civilization has so cluttered this elemental man-earth relationship with gadgets and middlemen that awareness of it is growing dim. We fancy that industry supports us, forgetting what supports industry.” ― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

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