Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Week 2 Featured Journal Entries

Every week, this blog will feature some of the most thoughtful or interesting journal entries produced by students in POL/EVST2031. This week's entries came from Jon Schlachta, Zak Kamphaus, and Nicholas Keller.

Week 2 Journal Prompts (Choice of Two)
Hardin’s (1968) tragedy of the commons is all around is. It replicates on small, medium, and large scales, and in all sectors of life. The environment is a common-pool resource, but arguably so is the internet, the interstate highway system, and the office candy jar. Because it is difficult to keep people from using these resources and because one person’s use inhibits the use of another, the resources are over-exploited and everyone suffers as a result. For example, most anyone who can access a public library can use the internet and clog bandwidth; anyone with a vehicle or access to public transportation can take up space on a highway and cause traffic jams and air pollution; and when your cubicle-mate takes the last of the M&Ms from the candy jar, you won’t be able to have them for your afternoon snack.

Find an example of a tragedy of the commons in your personal or professional life. Document it using 3–5 digital photos and upload them onto Blogger with explanatory captions. Write a narrative that identifies the resource, explains why/how it its use is non-excludable and subtractible, and describes the consequences of its over-exploitation. The narrative should be 3–6 paragraphs.

Do you consider yourself an environmentalist? Why or why not? To answer this question, you must explain what you believe it means to be an environmentalist. How does an environmentalist think and act? If you are not an environmentalist, do you have explicit reasons for rejecting the label? If so, enumerate the reasons and explain them. If not, speculate on why you have never thought about whether you are/are not an environmentalist.

After you discuss your personal orientation toward environmentalism, think about the concept more broadly. What factors do you think encourage or discourage people in today’s society from associating themselves with environmentalism? Your narrative should be 6–10 paragraphs.

Jon's Week 2 Journal Entry

The Last Cherry Pepsi in the Fridge
To begin with, let me explain something, my family keeps our 24 packs of Pepsi and such in my mom's van. Not sure why, but it's always been like that. However, my dad more often than not, will bring in a Cherry Pepsi (His favorite) and put it in the fridge to keep it cold. I too love Cherry Pepsi and once again, more often than not, I steal the last Cherry Pepsi from the fridge; and I never seem to want to replace it.

     The question, boils down to in my opinion, that I am just way to lazy to go out to the car to get a Pepsi in the first place. Further, why on Earth would I steal the Pepsi then replace it by going all the way out into the car? At that point I might as well just get off my butt and walk to the garage. It's the convenience factor. Why walk the extra 100 feet when what I want is literally in the next room, already cold and ready to pop open to drink? However, the problem is cyclical in nature. The Pepsi is put into the Fridge, the Pepsi is then taken back out of the fridge, and the process repeats itself. The problem is self evident, and both my father and I loose at some point in the process.

The Cycle of the Pepsi Dilemma

(1).  Father Puts Pepsi in Fridge: He had to walk all the way to the garage to get it.

(2.)  I take the Pepsi out of the Fridge: I capitalize on his work, and end up using the  product that my father worked to obtain.

(3.)  No more Pepsi in the Fridge: If either my Father or I wish to have another Pepsi we must go all the way back into the garage. Thus, I loose I am too lazy to go to the garage. My father looses by having to go to the garage to get another Pepsi

(4.)  Father puts another Pepsi in the Fridge: I forced my dad to go out of the way to get another Pepsi, even though he already had one.

(5.)  I take the Pepsi out of the Fridge: The cycle continues on.

     Now, in abstract thought the Pepsi represents a the good, with my Father and I as the actors. The Fridge is a common pool resource. The Pepsi, in nature, is subtractable ergo If I drink it, my dad cannot. If my Dad drinks it I can not (Of course it can be replenished  which begs the question of controlled common resource pools) but in essence, its original status as an ice cold pop, just begging to be drank, can not be achieved. Once again, in abstract thought assume the restocking of the Pepsi (Maybe a day or so) is equivalent to fishing population rebounding after 10-30 years. Looking at it this way, I may have prevented Population X from being able to consume the Pepsi (Fish) and cause them to die out. Now, in reality this isn't so, but I think this very well exemplifies the problems and the tragedy of common pooled resources.

Zak's Week 2 Journal Entry

 In the past decade I feel as if there has been a rise in the number of people who claim to be environmentalist. About five years ago is when I began my journey as an environmental advocate. I was just out of high school and was bored with no hobbies because sports had taken up most of my four years, as it does to many high school students, and now that those games were over I had to find something to do. I always remembered growing up and going camping and hiking with my family. It was just one of those activities we all enjoyed doing together, and we lived right by the Cincinnati Nature Center about 25 miles east of UC. I began to take a liking in the joys and the slowness of nature, and this allowed me to really open my mind and learn who I really was. I have always enjoyed being in nature, and have always respected it, therefore I do consider myself to be an environmentalist.  

    Once I started getting outside more I found myself getting into many new and different activities. I would drive down to Red River Gorge whenever I had time and would hike for a few days while camping and being with the land. I worked hard so that I could purchase a kayak, and I began to go kayaking on the Little Miami River that runs through Milford. I even got a job at a canoe livery where I still work and clean up the river in the summertime. These values are very important to me, and the way I live my life. I believe that to be an environmentalist you must be a person who enjoys the outdoors. and who also respects the outdoors. The environment cannot protect itself from humans, and that it why we, the good people, need to intervene to ensure our future generations can enjoy the same views and spectacles.

    I believe that people in our day and age do not give a hoot about the environment because they do not realize it is depleting. People are straight up ignorant about the whole idea, and they just believe that it'll be there forever because it always has been. They don't understand the changes that occur in nature, or how beautiful they are. Everyone moves far too fast these days to even catch a whiff of a flower, or to admire the beauty of the changing colors during the fall time. 

    Personally I have taken such a large interest in being an advocate of the environment, and I plan to keep it going by improving the ways in which I live and function in everyday life. This is very important to me because without the wilderness and the outdoors we would not have our lives, or anything even near human existence. The environment is the tool that we should replenish because it replenishes us every time we take a breath in. If we destroy all that we have then we are the most foolish creature that ever walked the Earth. 

    On a lighter and more happy note I plan on taking this love of the environment to the next level. To me this means that I must become more sustainable. I am on a different path than most at UC because after college I am moving away to start my life in nature. I wish to be as sustainable as possible, and hopefully be off the power grid someday. This lifestyle fits for what I want and who I am. It will allow me to do my part and help to pass this onto future generations. I have been studying and practicing permaculture ideas, and this will be my tool on honing in with nature to live. 

    Permaculture and urban agriculture are newer ideas that are taking off with a boom. I myself don't understand why people have big yards with green grass, and instead they should have large gardens that produce many fruits and vegetables. I believe in order to take from the environment we must be able to give back anything it gave us and a little more. These ideas and practices will push us past our modern emissions problems. However, these are not widespread practices for the same reasons people aren't even environmentalist. 

    The people in the cities and in our modern society today are largely afraid of anyone who is above them, and they just really enjoy being told what to do. The ideas of environmentalism have been associated with hippies, democrats, and weirdos which is why it is so easy for these large companies to pull the wool over every ones eyes. Most people believe that recycling and cooking at home are the ways in which we will save the environment. They have done a little tiny, and this will help to begin to solve the problem. We cannot just sit at the start line forever. We must take action and save what we have here on Earth instead of finding a new planet to destroy. Environmentalism will begin to catch and the people will take things into their own hands just like we have for thousands of years. GO EARTH!

Nicholas's Week 2 Journal Entry

Tragedy of the Commons: Hogan's Tragedy

We see Hogan depicted in an alert position as he sits in the center of a mud hole created by the many. This is the dog park on Westwood Northern in Cincinnati. As he protects his area he reflects on what caused his territory to become so desolate. Hogan remembers the park as it once was. The park used to be a pedestrian park, until there became a demand for people to take their dogs without worry of them running away. Cincinnati decided to fence in a section of land, creating the dog park. People from all over began to bring their dogs. One small cause what Hogan is envisioning as he reflects in the pit of despair. Dogs and masters were happy together as they shared the new found land. 

We loved our park with all of our being. One of the few places we can be without being dragged around by a belt around our neck or a harness on our back. This is our sanctuary. We play, we wrestle, we run and fight. This is the place that we are free, free to run, free to play, free to evade our owner if we wish as we struggle to be the top dog. For every action there is an equal an opposite reaction, for every event there is a price. Our sanctuary aged faster than natural. With each change of direction our nails dug in and tore at the vegetation. Our masters' feet smothered the grass while we turned the soil (Brink). This the tragedy of the devastation of our sanctuary. 

There is a lot to be said about this story. After Cincinnati decided to allocate resources to build this park, the owners decided to take their dog to this park. People from all around the area began to use this park. This park has been labeled as one of the nicer parks on the west side. With a large area on a non steep hill, this park became popular. Running, loitering, playing became part of the atmosphere of this park. People enjoy themselves. But, as in Hogan's Tragedy the grass began to wear, the dirt became exposed. 

The fact that people bring dogs to the park creates a tragedy of the commons. There is a common pool resource, that grass and land. As a dominant dog they will try to take gain the high point of the park (the top of the hill). This is the common pool area that most dogs (since they are pack animals) are striving for. All dogs represent the dominant self interests. This territory is very rivalrous as most dogs want to be on top of the pack structure. The extremely localized damage they cause to the park can be offset. This would be done by the owners' taxes having the park put wood chips in to delay the degradation of the park. The Edge of Ruin shows how the top of the hill differs from the sides. This line is so prominent that he paused and stretched across the grass because he could make the distinction of the line. 

Environmentalist use stories much like Hogan's Tragedy to help rally support from citizens for a particular cause. A story like this could be used to help try to bring more money into the park system, have the park system allocate more money toward dog parks, or have the city create more so similar trampling problems don't occur. This could potentially become a different tragedy of the commons. 

                                             Hogan's Tragedy Nicholas Keller 2013
Hogan sitting in the middle of the dog park of Westwood Northern. 

                                             One small cause Nicholas Keller 2013
This is a couple other dogs at the dog park in the large dog section.

                                              Brink Nicholas Keller
This is a photo of the small dog section.

                                              The Edge of Ruin Nicholas Keller 2013
This is Hogan in the large dog section.

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