Monday, December 8, 2008

IDS Enviro Policy & PLN

Environmental Policy and Planning Concentration
The Dissemination of Environmental Awareness and its Annexation to Social Consciousness
John Fitzgerald

To develop a clear and functional understanding of the biological processes of our environment, study our interactions with them, and attempt to improve upon them is the purpose I choose my major. Environmental Policy and Planning incorporates three different dynamic fields, environmentalism, politics, and planning techniques for development. These three fields have very strong ties that will become increasingly important in the future.
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 raped 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 the habitat itself, the other people, animals, plants and various organisms which are sharing this habitat, and 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 have come to understand that my preferred method of approaching problems is awareness and appreciation of the whole while allowing magnification of more intricate, microscopic, aspects of the issue. 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. Human beings have a large impact on their surroundings, and have a large potential for positive growth. The promotion of a lifestyle that is disconnected with nature is the 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 through environmental appreciation.
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 seams. 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 the polluted 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. I am mentioning both mountaintop removal, and App Voices, because they are important on a local level and they involve key aspects of my major. As a local organization Appalachian Voices is a very influential non-profit environmental organization focusing on creating awareness of 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 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. Another prospective direction for someone with a degree in this field would be lobbying for environmental organizations. One specifically dynamic part of this application would include applying biological field research to the justification of environmental regulations and providing a continuous reminder to politicians that people do indeed care about the environment even, and sometimes especially when it is juxtaposed to the economy.
Relevant to the issues of our environment and our economy is the issue of sustainability. Sustainability is an immediately important idea that is under increasing public contemplation these days. A sustainable future in regards to the principles of human rights, environmental protection, encouraging positive ecological economical investments is the goal of my concentration. The concentration of environmental policy and planning is a framework of courses that encourage the development of a conceptual knowledge of our environment and our interactions with it. An effective method for environmental protection is to teach respect and appreciation for the environment we inhabit. Our race populates this earth in common existence with many other life-forms. To reconnect people to the earth from which we arose is a fundamental idea behind positive environmental action and inspiring others to open their minds to a more harmonious existence. There are many changes we need to make in order to attempt to adopt a lifestyle of sustainability, the root of which occur with the initial change of perception from trying to compete with nature and control it, to developing with nature in mind. The principles of sustainability in conjunction with social leadership skills, a foundation in biology, and an array of classes spanning anthropology, geography and planning, Japanese, economics, anthropology, and ethics classes are the preparatory subjects I have studied and will continue to practice. These disciplines together make up integral knowledge formations which together create a functional manner of approaching our sustainability issue. From slowly drawing connections between these fields and observing their interactions a better understanding of the causes of our sustainability problem can be formed. Through the intricate study of these fields and the application of the skills learned from them, the issue of sustainability becomes increasingly accessible. Integration is a necessary fundamental part of IDS studies in general but also is a life skill which serves as a problem solving tool. This concentration is dependent upon the ability to disseminate the integrated parts of knowledge formations, so that the contributing factors can be observed individually, repaired and then reintegrated into the solved, repaired formation.
While approaching problems that occur on a global scale, such as that of sustainability, it is sometimes easier to compare them to a smaller similar example. Organizing a community garden is probably the most local application of this theoretical solution to environmental degradation. Creating a community garden helps to provide positive physical work for multiple people to contribute and gain from. Helping to reach compromise among contributing neighbors, developing an overall conceptual plan of the land available, organizing with diversity and efficiency included in plots, and finally the work of planting everything are managerial tasks I am currently employing to help develop my skills. What I aim to do could be considered to cause social change by providing a positive example for action, however there are many formations of knowledge operating at the same time, not only will I provide a positive role model for environmental responsibility, but I am also in a location where understanding the power relationships between the rental company; which may or may not own the land being used, the neighbors who have different priorities in what should be planted, what should actually be planted considering climate, surrounding plants, and sunlight are all my responsibility to contemplate and take into consideration. Developing a community garden helps promote diverse social growth, for plants and humans and it helps restore the connection between people and the environment that helps support them. Growing fresh food and preparing it can function as a conduit between people and our habitat, and works to help restore a respectful view of the land.
Developing environmental policy and planning for a sustainable future are two tremendous goals that cannot be accomplished without the skills required to manage and organize tremendous efforts. By redeveloping a cultural respect for the land which feeds us, and recognizing the potential of organized social progression we can make strides toward a sustainable future. Beyond the conglomeration of different subjects and their connection the IDS core classes help develop a method of meditation designed to help organize and renew the thought processes which are used most in academic studies. Observing the learning method by participation in it and analyzing it, helps to increase efficiency in personal understanding, as well as promote healthy emotional growth. By combining these courses and the ideas they promote I will develop and employ my skills to organize and inspire others to create a positive change in the way we think about and interact with our habitat.

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