An Unsustainable Yikes

Yikes. Screaming the word “yikes” when it comes to the environment and how unsustainable we are is completely appropriate. The word “sustainable” has always been sort of a foreign concept, in my opinion. This week has been rather eye opening to me and has created many questions for the rest of the semester. I even learned my one true love (clothes and fashion) is becoming a problem for the environment as well! Pesticides, overused energy, waste…oh my! How do we even start becoming sustainable when unsustainability is all we know? This week I got a simple understanding of what sustainability actually is – meeting the needs to survive. Individuals push “going green” on each other, but are we really actually “going green”? By the readings and discussions, we most certainly are far from “going green”! A lot of concepts were brought to my attention this week just from the readings and discussions in class. They really make you want to become some sort of superhero and change the way our society treats the environment.

What stood out to me the most was the film “The 11th Hour” (sorry Leo, it wasn’t all about you this time). In the film it pointed out many times that individuals just aren’t willing to change, which is so completely true. Many of the agricultural practices that people are using just aren’t sustainable enough and aren’t helping our environment at all. Who would’ve thought something as simple as farming was harming the environment? These simple questions keep popping up, but can hardly be answered. We can’t change overnight when behaviors harming our environment have been happening for years. The article that we read “A New Green History of the World” about Easter Island was just as eye opening as the film and sort of tied together, in a strange way. A very prominent quote from the reading “dependence of human societies on their environment and of the consequences of irreversibly damaging that environment” basically compared Easter Island to modern day and extremely similar to the quote “individuals are not willing”. We take advantage of our environment – simple as that. Easter Island failed because they didn’t know how to be sustainable with their resources and just weren’t willing to figure out ways to become sustainable. There were scarce resources when they first arrived, which after they arrived didn’t improve the conditions at all. A claim to reason that Easter Island failed was like the article explained – individuals were over using resources they clearly didn’t have. Deforestation was a huge issue. It was considered the “death knell” and had a drastic effect on everyday life just as it would on everyday life now. When first arriving, there was practically nothing on the island to destroy. As years progressed and as the population increased with trees planted and growing they needed to be cleared. But, it’s obvious we need trees to live, right? Although there was good explanation for some of the trees being cleared on Easter Island (agriculture, fuel, etc), there was a not so smart reason deforestation was happening. People of Easter Island had statues that needed to be moved around the island and there was no other way to move them other than sliding them. Although these statues are ceremonial today’s society is very similar. How so? We cut down trees making land for building houses, buildings, etc to meet the needs of today’s society and making more room for overpopulation, which is what they were doing…meeting the needs of their society with these “ceremonial” statues. It’s a clear and simple understanding that we need to be smarter with our resources. Like I said, we can’t overuse what we already don’t have and aren’t able to accommodate. So is Easter Island some sort of foreshadow to the future? Only time can tell.

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