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Equal Consideration: Chickens In The Delmarva

In exploring the Chesapeake Bay area, I have encountered many issues concerning the ethics of citizens and authority. One of these ethical issues concerns the treatment of animals in animal agriculture along the Delmarva. During the beginning of the fourth journey of Chesapeake semester we visited two very contrasting styles of farming. I will focus on the styles of farming used for chicken farming.

The first farm we visited was the Davis poultry farm. The farm produces one million broilers a year in chicken houses. The chicken houses were closed to the outside with no real natural light. The litter in the houses were left to gather and harden as a crust as the litter is rarely cleaned out. The smell was unbearable. The main concern of these farms was to grow chickens and sell as many as possible to feed the world. The thought behind this is genuine enough being that they want to grow enough to provide for the people, but this means that the quality of care going into the care of the chickens decreases. In this operation 300 chickens die a day before they ever reach the slaughter. Chickens are raise to small size, sold, and slaughtered. The chickens in terms of the grower and seller are deemed “healthy”, but when compared to standards of chickens who are truly “healthy”, I wonder if they would match up. For chickens that are allowed to roam and grow outside versus those who are given limited movement solely in order to grow them fatter.

Chickens at Crow Farm were being grown in a free-range style. They had access to unprocessed feed like lettuce and craps from meals. Cages are cleaned every 2 weeks. The chickens looked much fuller and stronger. They were given much more space to roam and live in. The chickens at Crow seemed like they would be able to live a life as close to what they would experience I if they were not domesticated. Maybe even better because of what comes along with both farming styles; food is readily available, there is shelter and protection from predators.

The term equal consideration, has to do with the idea that species other than human deserve to have their interests or needs met just as much as we do. Meaning that we as humans do not have the right to deprive animals of those needs. So, when dealing with an industry such as animal agriculture, where the sole purpose is the to grow chickens to sell and be eaten, this ethic asks us to at least provide a life for the chickens prior to slaughter that is aligned with the interests of that species.

When observing these two ways to raise chickens from this ethical standpoint it is important to consider how opinions differ on what it looks like for a chicken to live healthily and comfortably. On the Davis Farm, the goals that they kept repeating was that they aimed to grow chicken efficiently and fat. The ultimate goal is to serve humans as the superior race. This goes against the ethic of equal consideration because the motivation ignores the chicken throughout its lifespan and continues to selfishly satisfy the needs of humans without the consideration of the other species. On the other side, Crow Farm does a better job in following the equal consideration ethic by understanding and acknowledging that the fact that the chickens will be killed and eaten in the future should not change the level of care put toward the quality of life they allow these chickens to have. Here the life of the chicken is not of less value in a proportional sense.

 

Singer , P. (1976). A Utilitarian Defense of Animal Liberation. Retrieved December 3, 2017.

Stalking 3: Could Tourism be Another Form of Slow Violence?

I will be discussing the idea of tourism as a means of slow violence for small coastal islands of Belize such as Tobacco Caye. During our journey to Belize we made a visit to Tobacco Caye, a small island 10 miles off the coast of Dangriga. Tobacco Caye is inside the South Water Caye Marine Reserve which regulates activities allowed within the reserve like fishing, diving, and recreational activities. Tobacco Caye as of now, according to longtime resident David Gedan, has around 10 permanent residents on the island. The rest of the people inhabiting the island are mostly tourists who come and go weeks at a time. There are a total of 5 resorts on the island. In an interview with Gedan, he explained a bit of the history of the island. Previous to the hurricane in 1961, the island’s population was much higher. There was a school and a church on the island which created foundations for the Tobacco Caye community. In 1961, a hurricane hit tobacco caye that destroyed the church and the school. Many of the island families ended up moving to the mainland. When this foundation was lost population of residents on the island decreased rapidly leaving Tobacco Caye vulnerable to the wave of tourism. Gedan, who works for a locally owned resort on the island in addition to fishing, suggests that tourism is one of the biggest reason as to how the culture, or “local swing” as he called it, did not continue to flourish. Owners from Sweden and Canada own two of the five resorts. Tourism brings in new investors, money, and some opportunities, but some of these opportunities conflict with the residents. For example, tour guide is an occupation that coincides with the changes on the island, but the amount of money to become certified is what makes this a less desirable option and often leads to residents only being on the island a short period of time and/or leaving to find work in other areas.

Slow violence is a gradual negative impact of a community that tends to end in more detrimental and lasting consequences. Tourism has led to Tobacco Caye losing its historical and unique identity. Tourism continued to poke holes in the already tenuous community that was left after the hurricane. It began to push those who lived there permanently, out. When tourism began to come into the island, it created a stronger divide between tourist and resident life. In a paper that talks about the impacts of tourism, specifically cruise tourism, on the natural and cultural attractions, they mention the need for balance between the negatives and positives of tourism (Diedrich, 2010). Tourism can help boost the economy in great ways, but we must be sure that in our efforts to improve economic wellbeing that we do not neglect the need to maintain cultural and ecological aspects of the the impacted communities that are meant to be benefiting. According to Gedan the increased tourism has taken over not only the land itself through development, but the “local swing” as well, which Gedan seemed to think was an essential part of living on the island. The Island looks as though is about to be fully consumed by the tourism industry. While the tourism initially brought in money, that money does not necessarily go to the residents being affected by this industry. Many people who were a part of the fishing community on Tobacco Caye will most likely end up leaving the island which is not only overrun by tourism, but has stringent policy again fishing and diving for conch and spiny lobster.

 

Tobacco Caye was an example of what could happen to a fishing community, foundations are deteriorated, and tourism takes over. On Smith Island, we learned that their declines in population are related to the environmental challenges of sea level rise. As a way for smith island to try to recover financially, they have a plan that discusses the us of tourism as a way to preserve their island. The question here is would tourism have the same effect on smith as it has on Tobacco Caye? If smith island were to build up a tourist industry, would the cultural and history survive development of a stronger and more prevalent tourism platform. I believe the difference between smith island and Tobacco Caye is fact that Tobacco Caye lost two very rooting and foundational epicenters; the church and the school. Smith island still has both of these things, although the school is starting to become more complicated because kids have to travel by boat to the mainland for high school.  These foundational epicenters have truly been able to keep what little population smith island has in spite of environmental impacts such as sea level rise. Tobacco Caye was left vulnerable to deterioration after losing its school and church, but even with its church and school, Smith Island could be susceptible to a similar fate if population continue to dwindle and stride are made to invest in tourism. Tourism for Smith Island might be a great short-term fix for their financial issues, but it could mean that Smith Islanders have to sacrifice some of their cultural foundation for that boost. In the paper they talk about how “The immediate gains of tourism development and the short-sightedness that is inherent to the political cycle overshadow the realization that rapid, uncontrolled growth cannot be sustained in the long run (Diedrich, 2010).” The trade offs must be taken into account. How much do the islanders value tradition and will the interference of tourism create a divide similar to on Tobacco Caye and how detrimental would that be to the residents of smith island?

 

In conclusion, small communities such as Tobacco Caye and Smith Island are reliant on foundational stability, which would develop from the families on their islands. In Tobacco Caye, their stability came from that exact place prior to the hurricane in 1961. After this there was a foundational switch to tourism and this caused a complete shift in the integrity of the culture that once was on Tobacco Caye. Smith Island is similar to what Tobacco Caye was like before its original foundation collapsed. Smith Islands foundation may begin to shift due to population decreases and if their plan of introducing tourism succeeds, what will be lost? It is possible that Smith Island and Tobacco Caye will have the same fate. As tourism comes into play for these communities, what looks beneficial could result in a form of slow violence that ends with the loss of a culture.

 

David Gedan, Waterman on Tobacco Caye, Belize Personal Communication, November 2017

Diedrich, A. (2010). Cruise ship tourism in Belize: The implications of developing cruise ship tourism in an ecotourism destination. Ocean & Coastal Management,53(5-6), 234-244.

Slow Violence

Slow violence is the kind of crisis that develops and worsens over a longer period of time. In “slow violence”, Rob Nixon describes customary violence “as an event or action that is immediate in time, explosive and spectacular in space, and as erupting into instant sensational visibility”(Nixon, 2011). Meaning that violence is obvious and in your face. You can easily pinpoint the source of said violence and where it is going and try to stop and mitigate the issues that come from it. Slow violence on the other hand, is gradual and builds over time and is long lasting. The problem seen here is that, it is harder to get people motivated to work toward change when its hard to even see the initial problems.

writer-activism and representational power; slow violence is “apprehendable” by way of scientific and imaginative testimonies(Nixon, 2011). This meaning that slow violence can be combated by creating a spectacle where one is lacking. In the text they mention Leopold and how he says that we are only ethical toward things we can see. Writer activism can work to make the invisible long-term threat, visible and tangible to the human population. They say, “if it bleeds, it leads, if it’s bloodless, slow-motion violence, the story is more likely to be buried, particularly if it’s relayed by people whose witnessing authority is culturally discounted (Nixon, 2011).”

In terms of environmentalism of the poor “trying to determine effective ways to sustain, regenerate, exhaust, or obliterate the landscape as resource become critical (Nixon, 2011).” Because those in control of natural resources and the way they are being used tend to focus their concerns more toward economic gains and losses for their companies and the government, they tend to ignore the impacts regulations and changes may have on lower classes and the poor. From what I understand this book talks about the need for environmental equality that benefits those who are in higher socioeconomic privilege and standing as well as those of a lower socioeconomic status.

Eutrophication in the Chesapeake Bay is an example of slow violence. Because of the agricultural practices in surrounding areas along the Chesapeake, runoff from these places causes high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment accumulation. This is an example of slow violence due to the degradation in the health of the bay over a long period of time. This can be seen through algae blooms that decrease the amount of oxygen in the water and results in dead zones.  People who live around the Chesapeake ultimately experience a negative effect on their economic and cultural aspects of life.

In Belize, we may experience examples of slow violence in the appearance of degraded coral reefs due to ocean acidification. The degradation of these reefs would have a negative impact on the human population of Belize because the coral reefs act as a barrier against wave energy and storm surges. Without these reefs, tourism would decrease as well as the economic gains Belize receives from their tourism industry.

In conclusion, slow violence, environmentalism of the poor and writer-activism can all be taken into account when trying to determine the optimal ways of improving the health of the environment and stability of the culture.

Nixon, R. (2011). Slow violence and the environmentalism of the poor. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press.

Stalking 2: Human Control in a Nature Dominated World

Humans have an insatiable need to control the natural world that surrounds them. This need stems from a place of vital necessity. Human beings are dependent on the things that nature can provide for us, so we take this into consideration and we try to concentrate the power and energy that nature has to lend us so that we might become prosperous. Throughout journey two, I encountered many examples of how the human race exerts its power over nature in order to prosper from it. Examples of this that I will be focusing on is the Conowingo Dam and development on barrier islands such as Ocean City. I will be talking about the benefits that the human population hoped to gain from these build systems, as well as, short comings and whether it was worth it in the long term.

The Conowingo Dam is a 94 foot tall and 4,648 foot long gravity dam. Constructed from 1926 to 1928, the Conowingo Dam is a human feat that has been providing electricity to the regional system to date (). Human beings were able to harness the energy of one of the most powerful forces on earth, water. This energy would be used to our further society. The benefits here are very clear here. The power that this dam creates provides thousands of people with electricity. Hospitals, homes, and schools are being powered by this dam. These things are highly valued in our human society, so they are often held up on higher levels of importance than things like natural systems and ecological impacts. The Conowingo Dam also disrupts the shad migration, causing a sort of collection of shad behind the concrete walls (). This collection of shad attracts hundreds of American Bald Eagles to this location. This, in turn, attracts many recreational birders and nature photographers to the area. In these ways, we are benefiting from the Conowingo Dam Project.

A man-made intervention, such as the conowingo dam, is bound to have some negative impacts. Here I would like to focus on the ecological impacts that the dam has had on the Susquehanna as well as the rest of the Bay. The Conowingo Dam is the most downstream of five hydroelectric projects located on the Lower Susquehanna River (Wheeler, 2014). The dam has been trapping and collecting sediments behind it since it was built. This has kept the water downstream from the dam significantly less turbid. Though this is somewhat beneficial, the buildup behind the dam is extremely polluted and full of nutrients deposited there from further up the Susquehanna. During storms, or scouring events the sediments from behind the dam are stirred up and washed over the dam and downstream. An example of this can be seen when looking at tropical storm Lee. This high flow event contributed a considerably to the flux in total nitrogen, phosphorus and suspended sediments (Hirsch, 2012). These reservoirs are known to be more than 80 percent filled with sediment (Hirsch, 2012). This causes issues because the nutrient dense sediments, after being released into the water, could increase the development of algae blooms that would deplete the water and organisms of oxygen. This disruption in the health of the ecosystem would lead do declines in fish population and the waters would shift from clear to turbid. This would ultimately negatively impact the recreational value of the Susquehanna, which is attractive to many recreational fishers and bird watchers. The fishing experience would not be as pleasurable because of the declines in fish populations. Bird watchers, specifically those interested in seeing and capturing photographs of the American Bald Eagle, would find a decrease in the value of that area because the Bald Eagle population would have decreased along with the fish population. In this case, Man’s exertion of power over water ultimately has the potential for great repercussions that could have negative impacts on natural cycles.

Another example of our need to control the natural landscapes is one that is mainly driven by economic gain and recreational desire rather than necessity. Barrier Islands are long, narrow islands that run parallel along the coast of a mainland. On the Eastern Shore in the Chesapeake Bay Ocean City is one of 5 major barrier islands. Development on these barrier islands began in 1875 (Dennison & Thomas, 2009). Since then the island has only grown more and more dense with hotels, beach front properties and the Ocean City Boardwalk. These developments have created a strong economy surrounding this barrier island. It brings in millions of dollars in revenue to Maryland due to it being a very popular tourist and vacationing location. It is also a cultural staple for Maryland, as it is a celebration of our love of seafood and the water. All of these things are beneficial to us as a society, however there are setbacks that come with building on this barrier island.

Barrier Islands go through a natural process of landward migration. When building on these islands there was a disregard for this natural cycle. These islands go through this natural move and shift over time that is caused by wind and wave processes such as longshore transport of sand and overwash where sand is transported across the island from the ocean to the bay, allowing the island to migrate landward (Dennison & Thomas, 2009). This means that anything on the island, should not be expected to stay in place. Ocean City was developed as if it was to be permanent. This assumption was unwise. Ocean city has put thousands of dollars into fitting this natural process that leads to shoreline erosion and degradation. The implementation of jetties and seawalls have helped to stabilize the shoreline temporarily, but ultimately, the fact of the matter is that the water will win and the islands with continue to migrate. The question is, will we continue to fight this, or will we except it as truth and learn to adapt to these natural processes?

Throughout journey two, I have seen repeated efforts to fight the natural processes of nature. Starting with the Conowingo Dam as a source of electricity and recreation at the expense of the health and quality of the Susquehanna and Chesapeake Bay, Then, ending with the development of areas like Ocean City in spite of the inevitable movement and migration of the shoreline and island. In examining these two examples of human need for dominance and control over the natural world, I have found the ultimately the forces of nature, in this case specifically water, will eventually win and if we continue to fight it instead of adapting we will likely suffer from the inevitable consequences.

 

Work Cited

Background. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2017, from http://www.exeloncorp.com/locations/ferc-license-renewals/Conowingo/Pages/Background.aspx

Dennison, W. C., & Thomas, J. E. (2009). Shifting sands: environmental and cultural change in Marylands coastal bays. Cambridge, MD: IAN Press.

Hirsch, R. M. (2012). Flux of nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended sediment from the Susquehanna River Basin to the Chesapeake Bay during Tropical Storm Lee, September 2011, as an indicator of the effects of reservoir sedimentation on water quality. USGS. Retrieved October 28, 2017.

LSRWA Integrated Final May 2015 report – Maryland. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2017, from http://dnr.maryland.gov

Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun. (2014, May 06). Upriver pollution, not dam, bay’s major threat. Retrieved October 29, 2017, from http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/green/blog/bs-gr-conowingo-hearing-20140505-story.html

Human Perspective and the Connotations of Wilderness

Man can only ever truly view the world through the lens and perspective of humanity. As much as we might claim to harbor overarching perspectives that encapsulate the way other organisms my see the world, there will always be a bit of bias in the perspectives that we have. And because the only other source of opposing or different ideas in a discourse would be from that of other humans, the ideas remain linked to the bias perspective via humanity. These conclusions are important to consider when we look into rethinking wilderness.
In general all thoughts concerning nature are predisposed to human bias. This is inescapable. In order to gather a holistic understanding, we must stop thinking in terms of humanity and start thinking about things as they can be objectively perceived. This is because to give something a name like “wilderness” we are immediately placing human bias on thus environment. The word “wilderness” can have the connotation of a mysterious and dangerous unknown piece of land. This definition can be challenged by certain perspectives such as the human invented perspective of the sciences. Because science is a purposefully objective tool, we use it to define the unknown. In this way science can be used to redefine the connotations that the “wilderness” holds.
One could also say that using any man made tool to define wilderness would be considered implementing that same human bias. The difference here, is that the sciences open up the possibility for things to not have an explanation that makes sense in terms of human structures such as religious structures.
I entertain the idea that science can also help show natural processes in a way that people will be able to understand even with their human bias. Sciences such as ecology acknowledge the insatiable need that humans have for explanation, whilst also stating the the true conditions and natural processes of the world. Reproduction happens because it happens. Though I do believe that are humans need for understanding it’s valid, I also think that it gets in the way of trying to make an effort to find the most accurate and consistent explanations. The broad definition of wilderness suggest that it is a mysterious and wild. But most things that aren’t clearly defined can be seen as the dangerous unknown. Being uncertain about what lurks within the “wilderness” is what give the word is connotations of danger and maybe even evil. But finding explanation through science and objective thinking that connotation might change. Perspective that leans greatly on  unknowingness shift when science us able to breakdown the elements of wilderness and bring them to the forefront of people’s general knowledge about that environment. Defining exactly where things come from, what things are and why they are here creates less of a mystery and in my opinion less of a mysterious wilderness.

Self-Serving Society

I would like to build on my blog from last week by incorporating some ideas that I formed while studying other courses of Chesapeake Semester. Last week I talked about the inevitable relationship and symbiosis between humans and the land. The idea that treating the land with respect in order to continue benefiting from resources is simple, but through further examination it has come to my attention that there is more complexity to this land ethic when actually putting it into motion within the society.

The negative anthropogenic impacts on the environment are not random. Most of the human impacts do not stem from a malicious attack on the environment, but a societal need that can be solved quickly and efficiently through depleting or disturbing the resources that surround us. When considering how to improve environmental conditions, we must consider the self-serving nature of human. We need to support our species. The goal in depleting the environment in the first place was to maintain our human population and encourage growth. Improving the environment has the same goal. In seeing the effects of an exhausted environment on our ability to maintain our population and grow, the expected response is a movement that encourages recovering the health of the environments that provide for us. What makes this complicated is the fact that in order to improve the health of some of these environment, we would have to at least partially eliminate our impacts. For example, Agriculture on the east coast is a primary cause of eutrophication and pollutants in the Chesapeake. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment are pollutants in the Chesapeake that can be traced back to agricultural practices along the watershed. These pollutants cause many problems in the watershed such as algal blooms that tank oxygen levels in the water and cause dead zones, sediments increase turbidity which can complicate reproduction for oysters and decrease growth rates in SAVs, and ultimately decreasing diversity in the watershed. A sure-fire way to prevent these issues is to cease all agricultural processes and allow for the ecosystem to heal. However, this is unrealistic because without agriculture, our nation that has become reliant on agriculture, will almost immediately experience shortage of food. This, of course, would threaten our ability to maintain and grow our population. This leaves us with the option of compromising.

The complexity here lies in the lack of leniency that humans have to compromise and give things up for long term environmental benefit. Most who study environmental issues and the effects on the human population are usually able to recognize that in order to sustain ourselves, we must give and take from the environment. But our actions rarely match up with this idea is due to our self-serving nature the goes against the land ethic.

Leopold, A., Schwartz, C. W., & Leopold, A. (1968). A Sand County almanac. London, etc.: Oxford University Press.

Symbiosis

The community concept is the idea that there is a sort of symbiotic nature to the relationship between humans and the land. Leopold says that “In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.” This statement suggests that humans have a godlike, ruler of all, perspective on how to treat the environment they live in. This perspective has caused many issues, initially and directly for the state of the land and eventually, due to the symbiotic relationship between both humans and nature, to humans. The reason for this is that we as humans, depend on the environment for resources that fuel our economic, political, and social needs. For this reason, we take what we need and we do this without considering how the land might be impacted. This greed without foresight has caused a disruption in the idea of community between the human race and the land. We have placed our species at the top of the list of importance and when it comes to community, we seem to forget that the impact we have on the environment will eventually circulate back around toward us. For example, if we over fish the waterways this season, we will not have as much of that resource for the next harvest season. In my opinion, we as a species are lacking in mindfulness of our connection to the land and in turn we are unknowingly hurting ourselves along with the land. In short, we need the land more than it needs us and in order for us to continue benefiting from the land, we must treat the land with respect.

Leopold, A., Schwartz, C. W., & Leopold, A. (1968). A Sand County almanac. London, etc.: Oxford University Press.