Stewardship of the Natural Environment

I visited the Pretoria Botanical Gardens for the purpose of this blog post. For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised by my experience. It has a been a while since I have been to a nature reserve of any sorts. I forgot how liberating it feels to be surrounded by so many different fauna and flora. Since my visit, I have decided to make a point of making more regular trips to nature reserve areas. I personally think that it is very beneficial for a human’s soul.

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Although  I was not able to identify a lot of the fauna and flora because I was not guided- there were some signs indicating the names of the different plants. The most common that I could find of the fauna, was the cycad. There were cycads of all sizes distributed throughout the gardens. There was a lot of other green fauna surrounding the cycads that I could not identify through my own general knowledge, besides a lot of different types of ferns and oak trees.

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The flora were beautiful, my favourite being the bright Crassulas. Although there was not as much flora as flora, this could have to do with the seasonal changes at the time of my visit as we were moving into to the Autumn season.

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My favourite of all of the fauna and flora was the Ndebele Traditional-use Garden. I felt that this was the most South African-rich area of the entirety of the gardens. I think that this would be one of the most interesting attractions to tourists because it is something that is specifically unique to South Africa. The garden showcases various different herbs and plants that are used in traditional medicine.

The Botanical Gardens are of value to the community because they are not only an area of recreation for birthday parties and family trips, but also a garden rich in heritage and general knowledge on the different plants that surround us. It is important that we as a community are educated on the plants that surround us.

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There were a few cases of pollution in this area. This is perhaps because there are not many dustbins amongst the hiking trails, only in the recreational area. I think that this also has to do with the fact that many children are taken there for school trips, and sometimes they don’t know better than to throw their plastic rubbish on the floor or in amongst the plants.

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This pollution can be remedied with more dustbins in amongst the hiking trails, as well as having a better upkeep system in place. A lot of the pollution looked as if it had been there for a long time, which means that no one bothered to pick it up.

The site can be made more visible to the local community and Pretoria as a whole by advertising and having better upkeep. I think that this area has lost it’s enthusiasm by both its upkeepers and its visitors. By regaining enthusiasm, the Pretoria Botanical Gardens can become a place where people from within its community as well as outside of its community can come to enjoy nature at its finest.

 

 

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What About the Trees?

This blog post aims to tell the stories of human experiences of trees, by means of different people’s narratives. This will be done by use of photo elicitation. Photo elicitation is based on the idea of inserting a photograph into a research interview. According to Tinkler (2013:173), this relieves some pressure from interviewee when they are asked questions because they have a point of reference.The photograph becomes a medium between the interviewer and the interviewee (Tinkler 2013:174). It ensures that the interviewee can supply the interviewer with the exact information that they are looking for. It also serves as a great way to evoke emotions and memories from the interviewee (Tinkler 2013:174).

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The picture above is a very old photograph of a tree that I used to have in my garden, in fact, it was my personal favourite tree. Besides hold a pinata’s for birthday parties, the tree was of great service to my family and I. It provided an area of thick shade over the grass, and it was great fun to climb. I remember my brother setting up both a  fufi slide as well as a dog wash from its branches.

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The tree in the above image, is known by many of my friends and I as ‘The Tree’. It is a tree that can be found on campus behind the Merensky Library. This is a tree of power, because this is the tree where I met a lot of my university friends. In first year, we met a friend who used to sit at this tree- he was a very quirky and interesting guy and always attracted new friends. And so, a system was put into place that was known as ‘The Tree Group’ which involved about 30 people. Different people of different races, cultures and different faculties would meet  under the tree should they have a break in between classes. I loved our system, and I will always cherish the memories and friends that I made at The Tree.

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I have grown up living in the Brooklyn area, and so I have always had a hue of purple around me. I have not attended a single educational institution that did not have Jacaranda trees on its property, and so I have spent many moments moving around in attempt to have a Jacaranda flower fall on my head just before I wrote a test or exam- which is supposed to be good luck. I have also experienced many early morning wake up’s from photographers on the street outside my bedroom trying to get photos of the purple carpet before it gets disrupted by cars.

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In the above photograph there is a group of unruly trees. This photograph was taken while I was on a hike in Cape Town, somewhere near Table mountain, with my aunt. I noticed that many of the trees in the area were being chopped down, as can be seen by the logs of wood in the photo. But I noticed that these trees were in an inconvenient position to be cut down as they were too elevated and too close to the edge of a cliff, and too tall to be cut down easily. It made me feel very happy to see the  trees that refused to move.

Interview 1: My Mother

My mother grew up on a farm in Rhodesia through most of her youth. She was surrounded by trees, and spent much of her time outside with them. Her favourite tree of service is somewhat of an unconditional narrative. My mother used to take piano lessons- which she disliked very much, and so, one morning she decided that she did not want to go to her lessons that afternoon. She found a mango tree, clung to the branch and swung back and forth for as long as she thought necessary. She then went off to her lesson, and immediately showed her teacher her hands that were full of blisters from swinging on the mango tree- the tree did her a great service and she was allowed to be excused from her lesson.

A tree of power that my mother grew up with was another tree on the farm. My mother’s father was an artist, and so he used to paint the things around him a lot of the time. There was a group of trees that my mother was always particularly fond of because they used to create somewhat of a forest effect near their house. On the morning of my grandfather’s passing, he began to paint a picture that included this group of trees. Unfortunately he did not finish painting the picture, because he passed away that afternoon of a heart attack, but my mother cherishes the unfinished painting very much. We now have it hanging up in our house, and my mother will often look at it and remember her father and all of the adventures that she had amongst the trees.

My mother’s tree of heritage of choice is also the Jacaranda trees which loves so very much. She was very happy to move to an area of purple when the opportunity arrived. Not only does she love the colour that surrounds our house and fills parts of our garden, but she also loves the popping noises that the flowers make as she drives down our street.

My mother’s narrative of an unruly tree is perhaps the most unruly of them all. At her previous house the was a very large Mulberry tree that her whole family disliked because of the purple stains all over the floor; not to mention the colours that the birds were constantly leaving behind after eating the fruit. They wanted more than anything to get rid of it, but the problem was that the Mulberry tree was in a very inconvenient place because it was surrounded by their house and walls. There was no possible way of removing it. And so they attempted to cut off some of the branches, which didn’t work very well. The fruit season after they attempted to cut off the branches ended up being the worse yet because there seemed to be double the stains and double the birds than any of the previous years. And so the Mulberry tree stayed, and my mother’s family moved.

Interview 2: My Father

My dad’s dad was a horticulturalist, and so my dad always felt as if he knew too much about the plants and trees around him. Because of this, my dad’s garden’s were always very strategically planned out. And so, my dad’s choice of tree of service is one which was over a large patch of grass in his garden. He remembers always having shade to play in when he was little.

Having an horticulturalist as a father, my dad was always aware of the strategic planning of the trees around him. This shows my dad’s knowledge of the human control over nature. My dad’s narrative of a tree of power includes many trees all over Pretoria. My grandfather often planned the planting and removal of trees near highways (to ensure the safety of drivers). And so, my dad will always point out areas that my grandfather worked on.

My dad’s narrative of heritage and the unruly tree are both about the same tree- the Jacarandas. Like me, my father grew up surrounded by Jacarandas and their purpleness. The difference is that he has a very strong dislike for them. At first, he was rather fond of them- or perhaps it was my mother who convinced him to become fond of them when we moved into the Brooklyn area after he had spent 10 years away from them. But now, 20 years later he can not stand them. He dreads November because he knows that when the purple flowers start to show, rain will follow it. And when the rain arrives, the beautiful purple flowers will turn into brown, bad smelling mush that sticks to the tyres of his car, and makes his pool cleaning much more difficult than it needs to be.

Interview 3: My friend, Kaylyn

Kaylyn’s grew up in Hazelwood with a park full of trees just across the road from her. Her favourite of these trees is the biggest of all of them and it has a swing hanging from it. This is her community’s tree of service. Often, children go across to swing from the swing that hags from the tree. Even at the age of 20, Kaylyn still visits the swing to get in a few moments of serenity into her busy days. The trees around her also assist in this service because of the relaxing mood that they set.

When I mentioned ‘The Tree’ to Kaylyn through the photo elicitation, she immediately grew more excited about the interview. She too, has so many fond memories of the tree where we made so many new friends. Kalyn still thinks it’s funny and so unlikely that a tree would hold so much power and be so unifying to a group of people.

Kalyn’s first thought of a tree of heritage is a tree that stands tall at her primary school. The tree is said to be one of the oldest trees in South Africa (if Kaylyn remembers correctly). Not only does this tree bring about a rich history that Kaylyn loves to mention every time we drive past it, she knows that her primary school is very proud to contain the tree on their property.

Kaylyn’s narrative of an unruly tree is one in her own garden. Her house and the house next door used to be one big house together. It has since been divided into two with the placement of a fence right down the middle of the garden. Unfortunately, there was a tree in the way of the division. The builders were planning on cutting out the tree in order to complete the fence, but the roots were too deep and the trunk was too thick. And so, the fence was built in such a way that the tree is apart of it. The unruly tree refused to move, and preferred to become a part of the fence than to cease to exist.

This blog post has included a photo elicitation which has evoked many emotions and memories from the people that I interviewed. I found that the interviewees were more enthusiastic about their narratives having being guided by my own photographs and narratives. This clearly shows the benefits of photo elicitation.

 

Sources consulted

Dean, J. 2015. The unruly tree: stories from the archives, in Urban forests, trees,and greenspace: a political ecology perspective, edited by LA Sandberg, A Bardekjian & S Butt. New York: Routledge:162-175.

Tinkler, P. 2013. Using photographs in social and historical research. London: SAGE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Violence

This blog post aims to discuss Nixon’s notion of of ‘slow violence’. This will be done through presentation in the form of a photo essay, which identifies an environmental concern that can be regarded as a form of ‘slow violence’, and will be assisted by using images, a narrative as well as symbols which can be used to increase the public’s awareness on the particular concern of plastic pollution.

Nixon (2011:2) describes slow violence as “a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight”.  Slow violence entails a destruction that is delayed and has a slow, but violent effect on the environment. Most people would consider violence to include a quick, mass destruction that occurs explosively out of nowhere, without warning (Nixon, 2011:2). But the most dangerous of the violences that may occur to the environment occur over time. Plastic pollution is an example of this.

When the world began to mass produce plastic, they saw it as a cheap means to make cheap materials. It was considered a break through- a brilliant invention. The people of the time did not realise just how dangerous plastic would be to the environment. Plastic is a non-biodegradable material, and therefore it cannot return to a raw form like other materials such as paper. A lot of plastic materials only have one  use in them, and so they end up being dumped as waste. And unfortunately, the correct procedures for the disposal of plastic aren’t even followed. People throw their plastic waste wherever they want, whether it be in a dustbin, or a flower bed. People do not seem to realise just what the plastic is when they hold it in their hands- the danger of the plastic, the violence of the plastic.

There are many new laws and organisation in place to promote refraining from using plastic, or recycling plastic; but unfortunately, even in the era of ‘going green’ and ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, people are still not taking the danger of plastic seriously enough. And it will catch up to them eventually.

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The image above represents plastic pollution in a garden area. The bright plastic material stands out in front of the green plant life that surrounds it. Bright colours are usually associated with vitality, health and joy (as will be shown in the images that follow), however, in this particular image the plastic material definitely looks out of place. The plastic bags amongst the plant like remind me of a poem that I did in school about Johannesburg. The poem, by Walter Serote, and speaks of the city and it’s pollution and it’s “neon flowers”, which are not real. That’s what the plastic makes me think of- an artificial, obnoxiously bright material that attempts to steal the show from the real beauty around it.

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The second image is of fruits and vegetables taken out of my own kitchen. Here one can see more bright colours, except this time there is a very positive implication intended. My mother always told me that a meal should contain a lot of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, as it is beneficial to my health. This is definitely depicted in this image. There is a sense of irony when one contrasts this image with the one above it, because these fruits and vegetables come from the very soil that is lying beneath the plastic bags. The soil and the plants work together, whereas the plastic stops the soil from doing it’s job. It is also ironic that humans placed the fruit and vegetable seeds in the ground to grow something healthy and nutritious, but they have also placed the plastic material in the way which is creating a polluted, unhealthy environment.

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The above image is also ironic when contrasted to the one which comes before it. Again, bright colours are seen on the very same tray that the fruits and vegetables were on, but one can see that the fruits and vegetables have been replaced with household products which might be beneficial to the household, but are detrimental to the environment.  All of these products are contained in plastic packaging, this plastic will probably not be reused, and therefore will be set aside as waste, adding to the earth’s ever-growing plastic pollution.

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The above image is a collage of various flowers that I took pictures of. Their colours are  bright, and their stems are firmly planted into the ground, unlike the plastic pollution that was shown in the first image. These photos show the natural beauty that is being compromised by the imitating plastic that lies upon the surface of the soil in which the flowers are embedded.

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I have provided a fifth image because I felt that it brought about an important message about the slow violence of plastic pollution. It is clear that us humans are the ones who are planting the imitating, artificial, lifeless plastic into the world, just as this plastic is planted into the pot in  the image above. And so, it is our duty to prevent planting anymore plastic that will add to the slowly unwinding fate of destruction.

Like any slow violence, it is almost impossible to reverse the effects that plastic pollution has already had on the environment, nor can the possibility of the final violence be stopped. But, one could slow down the slow violence even further by refraining from the use of plastic materials.

 

Source Consulted

Nixon, R. 2011. Slow violence and the environmentalism of the poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

 

 

Companion Species

The Companion Species Manifesto (Haraway, 2007:8-9) is described as a kinship claim. Haraway has invented a term to describe this animal-human kinship, which is companion species. This term implies that the man-animal relationship extends to much more than just man and dog, it includes a wide range of insects, birds, and even bacteria too (Haraway, 2007:20). This blog post aims to explore this concept in the form of a photo essay in which I have documented the stories and personal narratives of relations between pets and humans.

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The picture above shows my cousin’s cat, Max. Max went through a rather rough patch in his life a few years ago; the old lady that he had lived with had a fall, and was only discovered three days later- thankfully she was okay in the end. Her neighbour discovered her, and her grumpy cat Max who had not received any attention for those three days. The old lady decided that she was not fit to look after Max anymore. Max was then passed around to various homes where he did not fit in, until my cousin opened her home to him. Max grew more and more pleasant as he settled into his new home, and a year and a half later, he is a lazy, talkative, loving cat who loves his new mother more than anything… Except food and perhaps napping.

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This is my very own best friend, Roxy. Roxy has brought nothing but joy to my family and I since we adopted her as a puppy ten years ago. She is a cross between a labrador and a rotwieller, but it would seem as though she had some sunshine in her genes too, should you meet her. She always seems to be smiling, and is excited about absolutely everything in life. She also does not seem to realise her size, because she often thinks that she is able to fit on my lap. Roxy is also somewhat of a mother figure to our other pets because of her loving and caring ways. I feel really lucky to have her around.

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This is my friend Heather’s puppy, Suki. Suki was rescued from a township when she was only a couple of weeks old. Heather saw a picture of her and fell in love, and so she was quick to open her home up to the puppy when she was well again, at twelve weeks old. Heather describes her as loyal, protective and playful- she also calls her the light of her life. Suki and Heather are inseparable, and depend on each other for their daily doses of love and joy.

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This is Rainbow, my cat. We have a rather strange relationship- I would say that we have quite a sisterly companionship. My family got Rainbow from a pet store about ten years ago, when we walked past a window with a fat cat pressed up against it, and just had to have that cat. Rainbow has a very strong personality- she walks around as if she owns the place, she talks very loudly, and, well, Rainbow often doesn’t realise that she is not a human like me. She’ll complain to me all day long, and nothing that I do can make her happy- but then every night as I head upstairs to go to bed, she is waiting for me on the top step; she then races me to my bed and acts like I’m her most favourite person in the world. As high maintenance as this little fluff ball is, I love her dearly, and I appreciate her for being comfortable enough to be herself around me.

Each photograph and caption in this blog post has illustrated how companion species make space for each other in their daily lives. Through long term interaction these humans and their pets  have developed a kinship, which makes their relationship something special.

 

Sources Consulted:

Haraway, D. 2007. The Companion Species Manifesto: dogs, people, and significant otherness. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.

 

The Soundscapes of the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene can be defined as the current geological age which is viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. This blog post aims to discuss the key propositions of the Anthropocene as shown in the prescribed readings, as well as a soundscape of the Anthropocene as told by my own experience, as well as from my parent’s experience when they were growing up.

The Anthropocene is upon us and there is a narrowing window for opportunities to reverse our effects on the environment around us (Gisli et al, 2013: 4). It is vital that we take action sooner rather than later. Since the Industrial Revolution (Steffen et al, 2011: 847), human activity has increased to a point where it has had a greater influence on climate and the environment as far as destruction is concerned, compared to natural destruction (influences from forces that are completely out of human control). Carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycles have been substantially modified over the past century (Waters et al, 2016:138), these are cycles which effect the fauna and flora of the environment and various ecosystems- if there is change in these cycles there will be a change in the environment effected (fauna, flora, and ecosystems).

I kept sound journal over two days  in which I recorded the sounds which I was surrounded by. I noticed through this sound journal that I heard sounds of nature more during the morning, whereas I heard more ‘man made’ sounds throughout the day. In the mornings, I heard birds chirping when I woke up, although this sound seemed to fade out as the morning progressed, and was completely gone by afternoon. The days that I kept my sound journal were particularly windy, so I heard a lot of sounds such as branches swaying as the wind travelled through them, and wind rushing past buildings creating a sound that could almost be described as white noise. The bird sounds that I heard were from only a small number of bird species- mainly pigeons, doves, sparrows and weavers. As history has shown, there used to be a much larger number of bird species in the area in which I live.

The ‘manmade’ sounds that I heard were constant throughout the day. Firstly, when I woke up each morning I heard the noise from my ceiling fan- a sound which is constant for me because it is the very reason that I put on my ceiling fan each night (I find it to be a comforting sound). As I moved throughout my house each morning I heard more and more man-made sounds from household appliances and cars driving by. Something that I noticed about these sounds was that they dominated the bird sounds as they were much louder. Throughout my days I heard more sounds related to electronics and appliances(computer fans, projectors in lecture halls, coffee machines, and construction vehicles and machines). I also heard more low key sounds which are man-made such as the sound of footsteps, sweeping, and the placement of cutlery on a table. The most dominant of all of these sounds was of cars and a man-made white noise which comes from most electronics and appliances.

As seen in the sound journal that I kept, it is very apparent that man’s sounds were far more dominant and constant than the birds and nature’s sounds. These dominant sounds can be regarded as a soundscape of the Anthropocene. The soundscape of the Anthropocene can be described as (much like the definition of the Anthropocene itself) when man-made sounds are more dominant than nature’s sounds. My sound journal shows that nature’s sounds are completely drowned in man-made sounds.

Whitehouse (2015:53) describes listening to birds in the Anthropocene as being an anxious experience, which is something that I found to be true. I found myself having to make an attempted effort to hear the bird’s chirping in my garden. It has become such an anxious experience for most because bird’s chirps are drained out by all of the man-made sounds that are much louder and more dominating compared to the soft melodic sounds of the birds. The anxiety of this comes about because humans are not used to hearing birds as the dominant sound, and so they feel very eager to notice the birds chirping.

In the reading by Whitehouse (2015:54) there is a section which the writer speaks of the sound of birds in the spring. It is well known that birds fly away from home in the winter and return in the spring, and so, the sound of birds chirping after the winter months is the sign that spring is arriving. Human activity has impacted this sign to a point where there is no longer a dominant sound of birds chirping in the spring because it is drained out by other man-made sounds. This is an example of which shows that humans have heavily influenced the mix of sounds that can be heard in the Anthropocene.

I interviewed my parents in order to gain an account of the animals and bird life that existed in their home areas while they were growing up. My mother lived on a farm in Rhodesia, and so, she experienced much more with animals and birds. She lived on a farm which had cows, which brought about more bird and insect species. She heard birds throughout the day in her garden, and sometimes even owls through the night. My father grew up in a suburb in Pretoria less than 5 kilometres away from where I am currently living. Even though he did not live on a farm like my mother, he too witnessed far more bird and animal species on a daily basis than I do today. He said that heard a great variety of birds chirping throughout the day, as well as the occasional owl at night. He also encountered a lot of frogs and rodents in his garden on a regular basis.

If I compare mine and my parents’ different accounts of soundscape I can clearly see that the soundscape are completely different. There has definitely been a deceleration in encounters with greater species of bird and animal life as time has gone on- especially considering that my father lived so close to where I live now. This is proof that we are currently in the Anthropocene soundscape. I can tell from my own primary school days that there has been a distinct difference in the soundscape’s that experienced then compared to what I experience now. I used hear far more variety in the animal and bird sounds that I heard back then.

In conclusion, it can be said that our soundscape reveals that we are living in the Anthropocene because the man-made sounds that we hear on a daily basis dominate the sounds of nature. And in discovering this, we can prove that the Anthropocene is evidenced by the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity- as we have entered the Anthropocene, there has been an apparent decline in variety of ‘nature’ sounds in our daily lives (as proven when comparing mine and my parents’ accounts of soudscapes).

Sources consulted     

Gisli, P et al. 2013. Reconceptualizing the ‘Anthropos’ in the Anthropocene: integrating the social sciences and humanities in global environmental change research. Environmental Science & Policy 28:3-13.

Steffen, W et al. 2011. The Anthropocene: conceptual and historical perspectives. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 369:842-867.

Waters, CN et al. 2016. The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene. Science 351(6269):[sp].

Whitehouse, A. 2015.Listening to birds in the Anthropocene: the anxious semiotics of sound in a human-dominated world.Environmental Humanities 6:53-71.

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Environmental Humanities and the Media

Mass media has become one of the most important forms of communication in the world. People demand constant access to information on the events in their own local areas, as well as in foreign countries all over the planet (and sometimes beyond). Humans have developed an apparent dependence on having constant access to information and communication at all times; with modern day technology, these demands are met. The problem with this open access to media is that people simply pick through it to find what they think is relevant to them. In doing this, they often skip past important environmental issues which they should be aware of.

It is important that environmental issues are represented in the media, because unlike the social, political and economical issues which are constantly in the limelight, environmental issues have a direct effect on all of the living organisms on Earth. It is important to report these issues and find solutions to the problems in order to ensure that life on earth continues (and in favourable/healthy living conditions). It can be noticed that the media usually reports on the problems involved with environmental issues, although they do not often provide solutions to the problems. This is mentioned in Grant and Lawhon (2014:39-52) when it explains how the media often focusses on an isolated incident rather than on a broader problem. The media holds the most powerful tool to raise awareness about environmental issues, and to promote change (Grant and Lawhon 2014:43).

The articles that I have chosen display this. I chose articles which are based on ocean pollution and how it effects the marine life. I have always found ocean pollution particularly disturbing because I find it completely selfish how humans have polluted beyond the land on which we live- we have now disturbed life in places that we have not even explored yet. The media often reports on these incidents with a very pessimistic view on man’s impact on the world, it is not often that they offer valid and helpful solutions though.

The table below displays the main points of the articles.

National Geographic

Sperm Whales Found Full of Car Parts and Plastic

Global Research

Not a Fish Tale: Humans Are Ingesting Plastic Thanks to Ocean Pollution 

 

Mail and Guardian

Marine Waste Has Killed More Than a Million Aniamls

Who and what are the drivers of change? Researches investigated the thirteen beached whales that were found in Germany. This article is reporting statistics of ocean pollution supplied by various forums, scientists and researchers. This article is reporting some findings of the Environmental Investigation Agency.
What is happening?  The researchers found mass amounts of plastic waste in the stomachs of four of the beached whales. Although this did not cause the stranding of the whales, this would have serious effects on their health in time. Humans are producing extensive amounts of plastic which ends up as waste in the ocean. This mass amount of pollution will eventually result in our oceans containing more plastic than they do fish. This pollution effects the food web and thus compromises the health of marine animals, and could effect our health because of our ingestion of the fish that are being effected. Because of plastic waste polluting our oceans to such a large extent, hundreds of thousands of marine animals and millions of seabirds have been killed.
What can be done?  Not mentioned in the article. Dr Wallace J. Nichols believes that we need a new packaging approach as well as a zero waste approach to consumer goods. The biggest pollutant in this case is plastic. There should be limitations made on plastic. This can be done by increasing the price of plastic (this discourages the consumer from buying it). There should also be encouragement of recycling.
How can this be achieved?  Not mentioned in the article. We need to use more sustainable forms of energy and materials. People should be discouraged from using plastic by increasing the prices of plastic.
What are the means required to do it?  Not mentioned in the article. We need to find the social and political motivation in order to do this. Not mentioned in the article.

The table above shows how the media easily gives information about the problem, but does not offer much information in how to solve the problem. Even in the Global Research article which mentions some solutions, they are extremely vague and don’t aid in telling an individual how they can help fight ocean pollution within their community. This is the problem with the media reporting on environmental issues, it usually comes from a very negative point of view that makes the reader feel completely helpless in the situation- and therefore unlikely to find solutions.

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The drivers for change mentioned in the article have a direct relation to the “Great Acceleration” (Holm, 2150:980) of human technologies, powers and consumption. Human’s have advanced in many ways over the last 70 years, one of these advancements included the mass production of plastic. Plastic has become a main material for most uses for humans. The major problem with plastic is that it is not biodegradable and so instead of ‘returning to the earth’ the plastic pollutes it. Although some plastics are recyclable, most plastic is only used once and then disposed as waste. Some humans decide that the best way to dispose of this waste is into the ocean (if it’s off their land then it’s no longer their problem). And so there seems to be a cycle of this acceleration, the humans use their technology and power to mass produce the plastic, they then consume their mass production and merely dump it so that it is out of their way- and this may end up in the ocean.

The societal, institutional, political and cultural factors that drive the change all ends up being out of selfishness (by majority). In all of these factors, the people seem to think that it’s not their responsibility to solve these problems, even though they are the ones producing and consuming the things that pollute the environment. When in reality, it is their problem because this pollution is going to destroy the world on which they live if they don’t recognise and take responsibility for the pollution.

The absence and presence of solutions relates to the ‘Human Condition’ (Holm, 2015:983). If there is an absence of solutions (as in majority of the articles that are mentioned in this blog post), then there is a sense of helplessness from reader because they don’t know what to do about the issue. There is also a sense of despair and denial because of the helplessness that they feel. Often, people will attempt to distance themselves from the situation in order to get rid of any feelings of guilt. However, when (helpful) solutions are supplied to the reader, one can see that they gain a sense of hope and responsibility, and thus they are more likely to take action.

The proposed solutions do not engage with the business or corporate sector. Businesses that produce plastic should encourage the recycling of their product once it is used. Perhaps they could work on a cheaper refill system should someone bring the product back to the business to be recycled- this could be done for companies that produce plastic bottles. Well known businesses that don’t produce plastic should also promote recycling and disuse plastic products and aim for more sustainable materials and processes.

The proposed solutions and means to do it stem directly from collaborative processes of research, stakeholder engagement and public participation. The solutions stem from collaborative processes in that it is necessary that research is done in order to provide information about the environmental issue- this part of the solution is already being done. The research is being done and the information found by this research is being supplied through the media, but it seems like the process stops here in most cases because there is no solution provided with the problem. The difference here is that the research needs to be taken a step further; rather than just researching the problem, research needs to be done on solutions to these problems. Stakeholder engagement is also involved in possible proposed solutions because it is necessary that each individual takes responsibility for their contribution to the problem. Public participation also plays a role as it is necessary for a community to take action together in order to resolve the problem.

The solutions mentioned in the articles are not practical for the public to achieve. Often, the media is not helpful in informing the public on practical solutions. This is why the public needs to come together as a community and find a practical means to resolve the problem. If the public comes up with their own solutions then they will know that they will be able to follow through with the correct actions to resolve the problem.

In conclusion, the media has great power in reporting information about environmental  issues to the public. With this power, the media should take the responsibility to provide the public with solutions to the problems so that the public can take responsibility for the problems that they themselves created, and thus take action to attempt resolve the environmental issues.

 

Bibliography

Grant, S & Lawhon, M. 2014. Reporting on rhinos: analysis of the newspaper coverage of        rhino poaching. Southern African Journal of Environmental Education 30:39-52.

Holm, P et al. 2015. Humanities for the Environment- A manifesto for research and action.    Humanities 4:977-992

Kings, S. 2015. Marine waste has killed more than a million animals. Mail & Guardian.   [O]. Available:                                                                                                     http://mg.co.za/article/2015-10-07-marine-waste-has-killed-over-a-million-animals Accessed 3 April 2016.

Malik, W. 2016. Sperm Whales Found Full of Car Parts and Plastics. National Geographic. [O]. Available:                                                   http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/03/160331-car-parts-plastics-dead-whales-germany-animals/                                                                                                                            Accessed 3 April 2016.

Jamail, D. 2016. Not a Fish Tale: Humans Are Ingesting Plastic Thanks to Ocean Pollution. Global Research. [O]. Available:                                                                                                            http://www.globalresearch.ca/not-a-fish-tale-humans-are-ingesting-plastic-thanks-to-ocean-pollution/5516583                                                                                                                     Accessed 3 April 2016.