Monday, October 20, 2008

EP&P Statement of Purpose

Environmental Policy and Planning Concentration
Connecting Social Consciousness with Environmental Awareness
John Fitzgerald

To develop a clear and functioning understanding of the biological processes of our environment, study our interactions with them, and attempt to improve upon them is my purpose for choosing my major. Environmental Policy and Planning incorporates three different dynamic fields, environmentalism, politics, and development. Personally I feel that these three fields have very strong ties that will become increasingly important in our future development.
Currently the economic values of our natural resources are not evaluated on a realistic basis. Our producer driven economic system does not support an everyday environmentally friendly schedule. What once was a land of bounty is being destroyed for nothing more than profit at the loss of ideals that we as a nation once held dear. Our environment as well as our politics, and our physical development as a nation are interconnected systems that rely on each other to exist. The habitat we live in provides us with a physical plane on which we can determine how to interact with a: our habitat, b: the other people, animals, plants and various organisms which are sharing this habitat, and c: the best methods for organizing, managing and adapting our activities to promote the healthy function of these systems.
Through my studies in various academic organizations I’ve come to understand that my preferred method of perception is awareness and appreciation of the whole while allowing magnification of more intricate microscopic aspects of functioning. Applying analytical knowledge to systems is a successful approach to gaining knowledge and problem solving. The skill of understanding these systems as whole and their interactions with each other, as well as the smaller processes acting within them and allowing them to function is contingent upon positive development. My choice of major reflects my manner of perception, as well as my personality. I have a strong faith that human beings have a large impact on their surroundings, and have a large potential for positive growth. I think that the promotion of a disconnect with nature is a promotion of a wasteful lifestyle. While at the same time the promotion of a stronger connection with our natural world could inspire generations to come, and restore cultural and traditional aspects of human life.
A major stepping stone in the current environmental movement which is specifically relevant to us, considering our geographic location is mountain top removal. Mountains in the Appalachian region are marbled with rich coal seems. Modern mining methods have embraced mountaintop removal, which is the use of explosives to completely destroy the upper parts of the mountains so that the coal can be easily accessed. The “fill” or debris from what once used to be a mountain is then deposited into the surrounding valleys. The coal is then washed in slurry ponds, which seep water contaminated with heavy metals into nearby water killing off fish and other organisms which cannot tolerate overly acidic water. Damaging our natural systems that provide vital services like cleaning water, providing sources of food for other organisms, and diversifying our environment are small issues that affect the major functioning of our environment. A local organization: Appalachian Voices is one of the major non-profit environmental organizations focusing on this issue.
Creating awareness of these issues, as App Voices does with their paper, is a key part in educating people about the weight of our impact on our planet, which is a first step towards adapting our lifestyle to be one that is in harmony with our habitat. I am mentioning both mountaintop removal, and App Voices, because they are local issues that involve all the aspects of my major. I would like to be involved in the transition from educating the public about our impacts on the environment, to inspiring the public to make a positive change in their own lives, and possibly the planet.

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