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Continuing from the post below on the mighty river and a country’s effort to keep it at bay. We have seen a magnitude of devastation in the Mississippi and Louisiana areas from strong tornadoes and severe weather. In response to a surging Mississippi River that is threatening to flood out larger cities downstream the government in conjunction with the Army Corp of Engineers have opened up spillways and removed earthen levees to relieve the banks of river. The excess water is diverted to flood plains and low farm communities, a small price to pay in comparison to flooding out larger populations closer to the Gulf. We do a lot to control this 2,300 mile river but for how long should we allow this and how long will the river allow it?

In their natural state, rivers are dynamic systems. Over the course of hundred of years, sediment builds up in the river bed causing the river to meander. A river as long as the Mississippi changes course radically every thousand years or so.” (The WEEK, Vol 11 Iss 518 pg 13). The Snake River here in the Northwest has evidence of deviating up to 100 miles from its present course. That does a lot for changing ecosystems and landscapes.

“The levees lining the Mississippi have saved millions of lives over the years, but some argue they’ve caused an ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The levee infrastructure siphons river sediment through a single waterway out into the sea, preventing it from building up to form natural defenses for Louisiana’s wetlands. As a result the Gulf’s waters have steadily eroded the state’s coastline. More than a million acres of land have vanished over the past hundred years; by 2100, some scientists say, New Orleans could be an island. The only solution may be to demolish levees and let the river run wild, says Christopher D’Elia, dean of the School of the Coast and Environment at Louisiana State University, but that would displace thousands of people and harm industries that rely on the river. “We’re absolutely hamstrung about the situation” he says.” (THE WEEK, Vol 11 Iss 518 pg 13)

I think this topic is really interesting, we have reached a breaking point with this river system and we know it. A stagnant ecosystem like the one at the end of the River heading into the gulf, is an unhealthy ecosystem. From this to the loss of biodiversity described in the post below there needs to be a snap to get the area back into healthy operation. D’Elia and others are torn between decisions and what’s to be done. However the river has been ‘set free’ upstream to prevent the flooding and damage of more populated areas downstream. A similar course of action would be to let the River run wild now before it reaches a critical or surprising point years from now. Handle the situation while its still manageable.

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Earlier this morning I was beginning to write this. For whatever reason the day started a little rougher than usual and my attitude was defiant. I described a world that doesn’t respond to effort or care, broken. That to live for personal fulfillment was selfish in this time and that our generation was truly hopeless in saving itself. Throughout the day my attitude improved, as it usually does when I’m in a slump. But one thing is for sure… Listen to Public Enemy.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEJoCuVUN4Q

A few weeks ago my roomate and I heard a story about some tragic death of a number of people somewhere in the world. She asked how I felt about things like that, making a reaching connection between sympathy, my studies in environmental science and geography, and my general nature. In short I described my position as apathetic which was apparently confusing so I went on to explain myself. This is a tribute…
The things I do or that I plan to do with my life I don’t for the people around me, those present on the globe. While I enjoy my life and it is self-fulfilling I don’t do it for myself either. I do it for the kids. This roomate of mine also has a little boy, he is three who I swear is the coolest, cutest little dude. I see him around and ingesting constantly what we learned to be toxic, he has no idea. Then I think about all the kids being cute and awesome and full of promise doing the same thing in worse conditions somewhere else. I do it for their kid. I hope to inspire little Miles so that he grows up with a positive attitude in a world that is closing in on itself. Then he can inspire those after him. Those little youngsters deserve better than what we got from our older generations and the reason why is because we are smart enough. We’re smart enough to create new standards. We are in the midst of the greatest realization of the lasting and large scale impact of humanity on our environment and even ourselves. Our scope has never been so great. The principles that we live by now are different than those before us. Now we are beginning to know the magnitude and depth of our current presence. I am part of something, a continuation that is greater than myself.
Little boys and girls really look up to us, us big kids. It is like humans looking to the edge of the universe. We know it is there and in our mind nearly conceivable, yet just out of reach. If and when we get there, what will we do? Set a good example and just like Gandhi says “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Fuck the bullshit, just do it.

The past week of class and discussions has an an underlying theme: the need to speak up and speak out. In Williams’ The Clan of One-Breasted Women the author tells of a certain mindset beginning on pg 285. “…The King can do no wrong. In Mormon culture authority is respected, obedience is revered, and independent thinking is not. I was taught as a young girl to ‘not make waves’ and to ‘not rock the boat’… For many years I have done just that – listened, observed, and quietly formed my own opinions, in a culture that rarely asks questions because it has all the answers…” While this paradigm may seem at first hand case-specific to Mormon culture, in reality it is an illustration of the American culture as a whole. While there are many special circumstances when I look upon the people in this nation I see too many that don’t wish to make waves or rock the boat. I see too many who are obedient to a level that is unhealthy and where an independent thought is unheard of. Without question this mentality must change in all cultures for we are now in such proximity to each other and so interconnected that the proverbial boat might as well be in class 5 white water. So make some noise because your neighbor needs to know how you feel about things, so do the folks one town over, so does the authority that you don’t respect. In truth this is ultimately done because you care about those around you and for those who will come after you; to act as stated above without the compassion for life around you is to do so in vain.

I look back on the movie Safe and our discussion afterward and I think about Claire’s quest for a sympathetic doctor.  A person who is responsive to her symptoms and her lifestyle. A professional that recognizes that her condition is comparatively unusual but not deniable; that the symptoms happen for a reason that must be determined and treatment will most likely be non-conformal (This makes me think of applying for a medical marijuana card). Now Claire didn’t have a whole lot of heart but she finally made herself heard by being persistent (in a more miserable and less heroic way) in her quest to discover what ailed her. It’s hard to determine if she enlightened anyone to begin diagnoses for MCS but she was a pioneer, an entrepreneur, a first run in discovering just how much ‘our boat is being rocked’. People like Claire are like the first time victims of HIV, Ebola, soldiers with post-traumatic stress, or the young girl in the Clan of One-Breasted Women: They offer a window to an unknown world that has life-altering effects on them. Only they have the ability to show us these unknowns and only we have the responsibility to react, acknowledge, and know that they are real and indiscriminate in a world that is in constant change around us.

This old time classic is about a nerdy kid Melvin who winds up falling into a drum of toxic waste after being chased by some bullies. While the scenario seems tragic the disfiguring  mishap gives him super-human strength which he uses to fight bad guys like drug dealers, crime lords like Cigar Face, and corrupt politicians like Mayor Belgoody. The Toxic Avenger kicks ass and is a motivational story for anyone who has ever been picked on and wants to settle the score.  But similar to Alex Mack the great power came a at a great cost. When I was young I wish something like this happened to me, toxic spill, radioactive spider bite, etc. just so I didn’t have to adhere to modern society. Wishful thinking, like hoping for that one big car accident so you can get that huge settlement and smooth it out for the rest of your life.

At the same time I thought to myself two things: One this plot among others, promotes an idea that toxic sludge, waste, and whatever else are so omnipresent that a situation like this could happen to anybody. And two it depicts that while mishaps like this may be bad at first (Melvin burst into flames after he fell into the container filled with a viscous, life-altering, toxic waste) in the end you can use the situation to get back at all the bad guys that are treating others like shit. This includes the above stated suspects and of course scum that make the Earth unlivable by destroying the environment.

The Toxic Avenger began as a live action movie (1985) with two sequels. Cartoons ran into the early 90s for the kids and Marvel made and eleven issue run The Toxic Avenger.  This character is not to be confused with the French DJ The Toxic Aveger who is going for the same theme as Daft Punk.

Documerica: A picture is worth a thousand words, what a picture depicts may last a thousand years. This statement rings true as I read the article and considered the residency timeline and effect of what I saw in those pictures. However two things occurred to me as I went on: Human intuition and the signs of our technological prowess. While these characteristics have had detrimental effects on the environment and those in proximity I can’t help but see the iconic beauty. The iconic beauty of success, of our old Manifest Destiny, of our will to make daily life easier through technology. Post-industrial landscapes have a certain splendor to me, a skeleton of what once was, and a testament that all things do come to pass. It yields and beckons to a creativity and innovation that is inaccessible when only considering the natural world. The next set of possibilities I believe will come from the tatters of our post-industrial world. Reuse, recycle, and make art.


This article also made me think of our time and space now. Do we yearn for environmental and ecologically purity for the system’s health or is it more because we desire a stark contrast between the world we live in and the world we strive for. Once this land was choke with what only nature had to offer. On the other end of the timeline was it so quickly altered because our ancestors saw a blank canvas in contrast with their populated life? Did the American Indians stack up teepees and create dwellings, step back and admire their creation against the backdrop of purity and silence? On the other end now many of us strive to return to the natural landscape that contrasts with our post-modern construction.
This human dilemma is fascinating and most likely unending. The Tao states that the way of the Earth is natural, and that humans naturally disturb that natural flow. I step back and admire the duality; bittersweet, a hopeful tragedy, a relentless struggle.