First Anniversary!

It has been one year since I made this blog! It was my first attempt at blogging. I had attended the 2017 Mississippi Water Security Institute and wanted to share some of my thoughts about how Mississippi could take better care of its resources.

The blog has grown more than I thought it would and I really appreciate all the people I have connected with through this platform. Surprisingly it isn’t only my mom who reads my blog (she doesn’t even read it)!

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I just finished up the 2018 Mississippi Water Security Institute, which has allowed me to return to what I believe is important. This year at the Water Security Institute we focused on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

 

Here is what we learned that really stuck with me:

Living Lands and Waters

Chad Pregracke was our keynote speaker and he was truly amazing! Chad decided that if no one else was going to clean up the Mississippi River, he would. At the age of 23, Chad founded Living Lands & Waters, a nonprofit that began cleaning the river. Today, the organization has grown to include a full staff and fleet of equipment and has expanded to include Student Educational Workshops, The MillionTrees Project, Adopt-a-River Mile, and Invasive Species Removal, as well as The Great Mississippi River Cleanup.

During the two week program my friends started calling me Chad Jr. Apparently I also pick up a lot of trash.

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pick pick pick up trash!

Round Island

As sea levels are rising more than two inches per year, islands just off the coast of Mississippi are disappearing under water. This is a big problem because barrier islands protect us from hurricanes and storms as well as maintain our brackish water at a very specific salinity. The salinity is perfect for oysters, shrimp, and other seafood that dominate our blue economy.

While this is happening, industries are moving into coastal towns. This leads to dredging out areas so that their ships can get to where they need to go. The excess material tends to be placed out into the Gulf of Mexico. To save money, they could place the excess material where it is needed on top of barrier islands to bring them back above surface. Not only does this save money, but it preserves our coast both physically and economically.

Round Island has been sort of a pilot project for this idea. We went out there and were able to see all of the migratory birds that have claimed it as their temporary home. It is still bare, but that will be finished up soon. I hope all of the coastal states continue this trend.

Beach Outfalls Challenge

Another big problem that contributes to a decrease in our blue economy are the storm water drains. They pump storm water from all over our coast into the Mississippi Sound (the water between the barrier islands and the mainland). The water is full of garbage, sediment, and nutrient runoff. This causes plenty of problems alone, but on top of this, the pipes look very similar to what I would imagine sewage pumping into the Sound would look like. This is not good for our tourism industry at all.

 

another pipe

Example of a storm water drainage pipe.

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Not aesthetically pleasing or safe for people to walk on.

The Beach Outfalls Challenge is a public prize challenge sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and is funded through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (NFWF GEBF). We want to enhance Mississippi’s ability to restore and maintain ecological integrity by providing measurable improvements to water quality and reducing significant sources of degradation, which will of course provide improvements in the aesthetic appeal of the beaches and therefore help tourism as well.

For the challenge, teams were able to send in plans for addressing the problem and the top three teams would be able to bring their designs to life. From there, water quality could be tested, locals surveyed, as well as other measures of performance to determine how to continue.

I believe this idea is brilliant because there are so many problems being faced by the Mississippi Gulf Coast with one thing after another from Hurricane Katrina of 2005 to the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill on 2010. Can’t wait to see how it all is coming along in the months to come.

 


Germany!

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Today is also a big day because it’s the start of a big adventure. Today I’m leaving my hometown in Mississippi and tomorrow I’m landing in Germany! I’ll be there for about a year!

I’m planning on studying and exploring, but mostly exploring! I’ll definitely be updating you guys on my German adventure (you can see more about it at my school’s study abroad blog)! 🙂


The 2018 Mississippi Water Security Institute has inspired me to work on quite a few projects that will be coming to you guys in the coming months while I’m in Germany!

Peace out,

Kris

Ecofeminism with Western Roots

As mentioned in my last post about Ecofeminism, these philosophies can be divided into three different categories. This post will cover the first of the three.

Western Philosophy

It wasn’t until destructive human-nature relationships were truly revealed in the 1970’s that topics about the environment entered Western philosophy. Questions were bubbling up about whether or not humans are superior to other animals and if our culture/”needs” (wants) were to take priority over nature. Both feminist and non-feminist Western environmental philosophies emerged during this time.

Environmental ethics is an important conversation behind the Western philosophy of ecofeminism. Western environmental ethics says that humans are morally responsible to nonhuman animals and nature, although they disagree on any number of things beyond this point.

Some argue that nature (including nonhuman animals) have more value than what they provide to humans. Like human beings, they have intrinsic and inherent value. This ecofeminism perspective is one that uses key concepts and theories of Western philosophy, but extends them to include nonhuman animals in the moral community. Personally, I agree with this.

Ecofeminist ethics goes beyond general animal and environmental ethics in the following ways:

  • It emphasizes that canonical Western philosophy’s view of humans as rational agents, who are separate from and superior to nature, fails to acknowledge that humans are also animals, therefore we are a part of nature.
  • It makes visible the interconnections among violence against women, violence against nature, and pornography.
  • It demonstrates the role played by language in creating, maintaining, and perpetuating the exploitations of both women and nature.
  • The culture versus nature argument has not been gender-neutral in the past and still isn’t. The argument is associating men with superior culture and both women and animals with “inferior” nature.
  • It locates the exploitation of women and animals in mutually reinforcing systems of unjustified domination, particularly sexism, racism, and speciesism.
  • It raises the question of whether or not the absence of a gendered perspective in traditional animal ethics makes those positions on the mistreatment of nonhuman animals incomplete or inadequate.

The Land Ethic

Aldo Leopold’s view was published as an essay, “The Land Ethic,” in his 1949 book The Sand County Almanac. Leopold’s land ethic was the first genuinely environmental ethic as opposed to an animal ethic. We continue to draw on Leopold’s land ethic in ecofeminism today. Leopold’s land ethic advances four key claims:

  1. The moral community should include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or, what Leopold calls, collectively, “the land”
  2. The role of people should shift from conqueror to an equal member of the land community
  3. We can be moral only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, respect, admire, or otherwise have faith in
  4. “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community; it is wrong when it tends otherwise” is Leopold’s ultimate moral maxim.
Ego VS Eco

Making the Shift

Whether an action is right or wrong is determined by reference to the consequences of those actions. This is rooted in Utilitarianism, a tradition stemming from the late 18th- and 19th-century English philosophers and economists Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. However, for Leopold, the relevant consequences are in nature. Leopold introduces these four moral concepts that go beyond those made by either Western philosophy or  ethics that emerge later such as animal ethics.

Leopold believed that an ecological interpretation of history shows that “the rich diversity of the world’s cultures reflects a corresponding diversity in the wilds that gave them birth.” Cultural diversity reflects ecological diversity. The preservation of cultural diversity and biodiversity are key to maintaining a balanced society and Earth.

As we say where I’m from, “Y’all means all!”

It is important to care for all people and all animals and all of our Earth!


Which part of the graphic do you resemble: Ego, Eco, or somewhere in between? Is it because you haven’t really thought about it or what are your reasons? I love to hear from y’all!