What I Learnt About Environment Through My CORE Experience

I’ve always had a passion for the environment. However, aside from trying to live a little cleaner than most, and pursuing a major in environmental engineering, I haven’t really done much to show that I care. Since my time in CORE, throughout many of the lectures, and among many of the readings, I’ve slowly picked up and developed several ideologies that have helped me think about things in a different way.

The whole CORE experience has built on top of itself. While the class itself did not necessarily proceed in this order, CORE seemed to start with the introduction of conflict, showing me different problems that I was previously unaware of; moving onto individuals and societies, and showing how I could make a difference; then to language and communication, reminding me that there is something worth fighting for; and finally ending at the future, with all of the possibilities that come with it. All of this has helped to strengthen my passion for the environment, even teaching me more about it, and has helped me think about ways to take a serious step towards making a difference.

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My journey in CORE really began during the summer, while reading The West Without Water by B. Lynn Ingram and Francis Malamud-Roam. In the book, after a brief history of droughts and weather in Western America, Ingram and Malamud-Roam provided detailed coverage of the current water situation in California, and how if we don’t do something soon, we will deplete our water supply. Even though I previously thought I was all for the environment, I never even realized that our environment was in danger. I mean, sure I always heard word of global warming or pollution, but beyond that I really thought everything was okay.

The West Without Water was my first wake up call that, not only are there way more problems than my naïve self could have imagined, but I could be a part of the change necessary to fix it. That is how, even though school hadn’t started yet, I had already unofficially begun the module “Conflict”. It wasn’t until much later, however, that we had actually started the module in school. The lectures from this module were very eye opening, especially Professor Asmeret Berhe and Teamrat Ghezzehei’s lecture “Soil Conservation”.

Between hearing about such an interesting take on a topic I previously didn’t even know had such depth, and hearing Berhe and Ghezzehei talk so passionately about an aspect of the environment, it moved me to think that I could end up like that one day. It was one of the first times that I actually felt like I had chosen the right major. The readings that paired with these lectures were also really interesting, especially a section from Chris Mooney’s “The Truth about Fracking”.

Yet again, CORE introduced me to another issue I previously hadn’t heard of: fracking. Mooney’s article started by introducing the concept of fracking, and then continued to cover a debate as to whether or not fracking hurt the environment. The article stated, “If fracking is defined as a single fracture of deep shale, that action might be benign. When multiple “fracks” are done in multiple, adjacent wells, however, the risk for contaminating drinking water may rise. If tracking is defined as the entire industrial operation, including drilling and the storage of wastewater, contamination has already been found.” (Mooney 8) This part of the article was terrifying, but not as terrifying as the fact that this is still being allowed, as regulators are waiting for better indicators of chemical damage before they stop.

This article actually angered me because I couldn’t understand the idea that people would knowingly damage the environment just for underground gas. Overall, the module “Conflict” opened my eyes to the problems affecting our environment, and pushed me in the direction of wanting to help fix them. The second module I believed to be important was “Individuals and Societies”. While the module “Conflict” opened my eyes to an array of environmental issues, “Individuals and Societies” began to show me that even though people were the cause of the environments problems, people could also be the cure. This was especially clear in a section of Mike Davis’s book Ecology of Fear. Titled “How Eden Lost its Garden”, it described the destruction that precedes and comes with development of land.

It also, however, describes the efforts of some to stop or minimize said destruction. For example, in the third chapter, “Battle of the Valley”, an architect named Robert Alexander attempted to reduce destruction of the Los Angeles valley area that would come with the housing boom that followed the second world war. Despite his efforts, according to the article, “Alexander’s virtuous circle was inexorably transformed into a vicious circle: a total loss of horticulture landscape, excessive accumulation of vacant lots, expensive utilities and schools, a dramatic imbalance to homes and jobs, minimal community cohesion, and low density populations transportable only by private cars.” (Davis 76) But instead of discouragement, I took away something different. I got that with enough people willing to fight, change can be made.

Alexander’s problem was that he tried to fight as an ‘individual’, and not try to get the help of ‘society’. The second article I found important to both my interests in the environment, and the idea of “Individuals and Societies” was Peter Roger’s article “Facing the Freshwater Crisis”. While he briefly mentioned the water crisis we might have to face, the article was mostly about ways that we can not only conserve the water we have, but make it last well into the future.

Unlike many articles which feature ways in which the individual can help to reduce water usage, such as taking shorter showers or turning off their sprinklers, Rogers took it to a larger scale with ideas on how to go about “Keeping the demand for irrigation water in arid and semiarid areas down while still meeting the world’s future food requirements” (Rogers 52), or reduce water used in waste. On top of supporting the module, this article showed me that there is so much work to be done to help the environment, and that I could be the one to help do it. The module “Individuals and Societies” essentially showed me that there’s a lot that can be done on my own, but there’s a lot that our society needs to try to accomplish as well.

The third major module, “Language and Communication”, was quite a bit different for me from the other modules. While the other modules seemed to address my interests in the environment and its issues directly, this module seemed to hit a different mark. Instead of talk about the problems and possible solution with our planet, it seemed to me that, between Professor Tom Hothem’s lecture on “Some Snapshots from the Literature of California” and the various articles, it was trying to showcase the Earth as something worth protecting.

During Hothem’s lecture, he described what California used to be like, using examples of John Muir and how you can really know where you are by experiencing it first hand. This coupled perfectly with one of the weekly articles by John Muir, “Twenty Hill Hollow”. Muir truly paints our land as something worth protecting, saying, “The whole State of California, from Siskiyou to San Diego, is one block of beauty, one matchless valley; and our great plain, with its mountain-walls, is the true California Yosemite.” (Muir 3) This article really did display California in a new light, and reminded me that the reason I care about the environment so much is because I want future generations to be able to see the same California that John Muir did. Those lectures and articles certainly applied to “Language and Communication” in the sense that, just with writing, I can almost experience the same thing as someone else without ever being there myself.

Finally, all of the previous modules built up to the last one, “The Future”. This module was especially important because it was so open ended. In previous module, where I felt shock, anger, or curiosity, I now felt excitement. I felt excitement not just because of the possibilities the future holds, but at the possibilities MY future could hold.

The lectures and articles for the module all revolved around new ideas or concepts that would improve life in the future, with many revolving around ways to improve the environment. I enjoyed this module the most because it gave me the closest look at the kind of future I would be pursuing. Out of all the articles that foretold of great inventions or technologies, the one that stood out to me the most was Dickson Despommier’s article “The Rise of Vertical Farms”. While many of the articles contained really interesting ideas, this one was one of the most applicable to my interest: the environment.

The article covers the solution to a huge problem with agriculture, which is the need for space, by growing crops in huge multi-floored sky rises. It even went as far as to feature designs for them, going so in depth as to feature a ground level restaurant and grocery store. The idea of this kind of technology existing alone excited me, but what really got me was the idea that one day in the future, I could be a part of a team designing a building like this.

In conclusion, CORE and its many lectures and articles have improved upon the way I think about my passion for the environment, as well as giving me a new outlook on how I could be a part of it. Between the modules “Conflict”, “Individuals and Societies”, “Language and Communication”, and “The Future”, I have learned so much about myself, as well as what I want to spend my life doing.

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What I Learnt About Environment Through My CORE Experience. (2023, Jan 25). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/what-i-learnt-about-environment-through-my-core-experience/