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“The Gulf Between Us” by Terry Williams gives a first hand account of the oil spill in the Gulf and how the local citizens were effected. I personally had never thought to worry as much about the local citizens, instead I have always felt more for the living organisms that are directly harmed. This article helped me to realize that there are people who are harmed just as much by the loss of jobs from oil spills. The people in the Gulf have lost a number of food sources and felt a hit to the tourism industry in the Gulf that a number of people rely upon.

Oil spills are tragic “accidents” that seem to happen time after time in water bodies. Bp has had to pay retributions for the economic and environmental harm that they have caused, but its really more like a slap on the hand. Bp felt some economic harm when the spill first happened, but people came back and continued buying oil from BP. Even if oil was boycotted from BP, it has more of an affect on the local gas station owner who relies on the gasoline sales to support their family. BP is run by corporate businessmen who don’t feel effects as much as a single gas station owner or employee.

The harm BP has caused is tragic. It is sad that some man made mistake can have such harm on the entire earth. There was a tanker crash in the San Francisco Bay a couple of years ago when I was in high school. This event was tragic, but it didn’t have the massive effect that the gulf oil spill has. This was cleaned up relatively quickly, and being in a bay with only one outlet made it easier to keep the spill contained.

In order to stop another oil spill like this from occurring, I suggest that we reduce our dependency on oil. We are like a bunch of addicts who just need another fix, and will go to any extent to get the smallest amount of oil. It is sad, and we need to find alternatives that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Wars have been fought over this resource. It is stupid, and I think that there are alternatives out there that we can find. For how smart we are as a species, I find it sad that we haven’t been able to come up with some sort of technology that doesn’t emit as much toxic waste, and that we can rely upon to be there in the future.

A create spoof of the oil spill has been made by South Park. It is called “We’re Sorry.” Here is a link!

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/360436/were-sorry

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The other day I found an article online about a Sophomore high jumper at WSU who had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2009. The athlete, Shawn Swartz, had to leave school and go back to Canada in order to get treatment for this disease. Shawn took the approach of playing ignorant to the side effects that could occur from the treatments he had to go through. He made sure not to read up on the potential side effects, because he believed it would be better for him to not know what would happen. Knowledge of certain side effects can lead to exasterbated side effects and even more stress. His mother however read every single article about leukemia and the particular side effects from the radiation treatment. Her hair fell out before his did, and she wasn’t even being treated. The point being, the mind is a very powerful healing tool, and one can decide to worry about particular side effects of a disease. I particularly believe that the best way to heal the fastest is to leave the medicine and treatment to the doctors, and not worry about whats supposed to happen or what could happen. Let your body react the way its supposed to, not the way that people tell you it should. Why worry when you are already at risk of dying? There’s no reason to put your body through even more stress than it needs.

This article reminded me a lot of MCS and the movie Safe. In the movie it is hard to distinguish whether what Carol has is a psychological or physical problem. Her doctor sends her to a therapist, but the symptoms that she is showing are real. It is hard to distinguish whether the problem was originally psychological or physical because what she has can’t be diagnosed by doctors. If she believes that she has a problem it could probably lead to a more intensified version of whatever she originally had. This may occur from the stress and constantly thinking about what it is that is going on within her body. When she sees the advertisement about fumes at the gym, she automatically assumes that fumes are the reason that she isn’t feeling healthy.

I believe that some people are more sensitive to the Environment around them than others. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is very hard to diagnose, and it is often seen as a mental illness by a lot of people around the person suffering. I think that there is a snowball effect that occurs, where a person is in fact sensitive to the environment around them and then they begin to worry more and more about chemicals and toxins, resulting in a weakening of the immune system. I personally know a family friend who is always sick and constantly getting worse because of the chemicals or environment around her. It is hard to say that it is just psychological when she and other people are showing actual symptoms.

Here’s a link about Shawn Swartz. http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/apr/29/theres-no-hole-in-his-heart/

This is a sign from a local beach where I live. The beach is called Stinson Beach, and it is located just north of San Francisco. The waters here are part of the Red Triangle, which is known as being to a large number of great white sharks. However, sightings are often rare and shark attacks are even more rare. Only two shark attacks have happened at this particular beach. The chances of being attacked are so slim that it may not even be worth the risk of  worrying about sharks. On the board right above the “Shark Advisory” is information on”Dangerous Currents,” which are more likely to cause harm to beach goers. The shark on the sign takes away fear from rip tides that often occur at this beach and can easily cause inexperienced swimmers great harm. When you see a picture of a huge great white, all you are going to be thinking about is the potential for a shark attack to happen. This could lead to a person panicking to a greater extent when they are dragged in strong currents. We take risks every time we enter the ocean, but it is also best to know what the greatest risk facing us is and way the pro’s and con’s of partaking in surfing or any other water related activities. Shark attacks do occur at Stinson Beach, but the likely hood of it occurring is very slim.

It is seen quite often in White Noise that characters are pretending that nothing is wrong during drastic events. Jack and his family act ignorant to events around them, because they figure that nothing bad will happen if they don’t acknowledge the existence of the disaster surrounding them. They think that practicing for disasters will actually lower the chance of the disaster actually occurring because they are prepared for the event. A prime example of Jack and his family pretending that nothing is wrong is when they continue to eat dinner through the warnings about the airborne toxic event. They pretend that nothing bad is actually happening, and that ignoring the situation will make it less harmful to their health. It will be as if the event had never occurred because they aren’t acknowledging its reality.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but ignorance in the case of toxic events and natural disasters isn’t the safest way to avoid the disaster. Toxins are still able to harm a person even if they aren’t willing to accept the fact that there was some sort of toxic outbreak where they live. Pretending like nothing is wrong won’t actually solve the problem. The best thing to do in the case of a disaster such as a toxic spill, is to acknowledge its reality and do whatever you can do to get out of the area as quick as possible. After you are out of harms way, you can access the situation and move forward from there. Just sitting around like nothing is wrong is NOT the proper way to approach a potentially deadly situation. Acknowledging a problems existence is the first part in bettering your own situation.

The whole umbrella ideology throughout this book is absurd. Even if it doesn’t rain those days you bring an umbrella, you are still prepared just in case it does rain. And you never know, it may rain one of those days and  then you’ll have something to protect yourself from the rain. Just because you bring an umbrella to work or class doesn’t mean it will never rain. Nature and life doesn’t work that way, you can never assume something won’t happen because you take preemptive measures. It is always best to prepare for the worst situation, and hope for the best. Practicing disaster events won’t actually cause the disasters not to occur, people will just be better prepared for taking action during the actual disaster. Ignorance is never the best solution, it is always best to be well aware of the harms one may be exposed to.

The Idea of Gaia

In Garrad’s book chapter, “Pollution,” he touches on the idea of the earth as one living organism. This hypothesis is known as Gaia, and was originally constructed by James Lovelock in Gaia: a New Look at Life on Earth. Lovelock believed that planet earth is some type of super-organism due to the complex ability of the planet to self-regulate itself through a number of systems on the planet. This theory believes that all biotic and abiotic factors on the planet all combine to make up one entire functioning and self-regulating system.

I find this hypothesis very interesting for a number of reasons. It seems like a very obscure theorem, and when I first heard about it i found it hard to believe that the Earth could be seen as a singular super-organism. However, having had a background in Ecology since I was a junior in high school this hypothesis seems realistic. If we look at one particular ecosystem, say the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil, we are able to see that everything from a particular rock to every living organism has a particular interaction within the ecosystem as a whole. A rock within the Amazon can play a part in a number of various ecosystems from land to the ocean. For example rocks may break down through weathering and eventually contribute minerals into the soil. These minerals can make their way into a river through erosion and eventually can make their way into the ocean as they are carried with the rivers flow into the South Atlantic Ocean.

Why is this analogy important to the theory of Gaia one might ask? If a rock can have interactions with more than just the location where it was originally formed, it seems likely that other biotic and abiotic factors have a greater significance to the entire earth than just the specific location where they are found. I like to look at everything on earth as being part of an ongoing cycle. Every ecosystem is like a small part of a machine that plays a part in making up the entire machine. There is no locale on earth that is separated from any other location. A bunch of small ecosystems interact to make one large ecosystem which we call Earth.

To learn more about the Gaia Hypothesis check out this link on youtube of an interview of James Lovelock himself.

This theory can be seen within the movie Avatar as well.

-Andrew Logan