Poetry and the Environment

by Emily Segal

Because our emotions can be equally as important as rationality in decision-making, obstacles to living sustainably can relate to our feelings and attitudes as well as scientific and political issues. Ecocritics believe that approaching climate change from an interdisciplinary perspective, using literature to explore how humans relate to nature, can be helpful. Poets, for example, are experts at exploring the relationship between our internal and external worlds. This can be used to address one of the problems in understanding climate change—it is such a grand concept that it can be difficult to relate to on an individual level. As Garrard (2014) and climate scientist Mike Hulme suggest, it might be time for us to stop thinking about sustainable living and development as a ‘fight against climate change’ and rather deal with the idea of climate change from a more constructive and creative perspective. Poems are a good way to understand climate change because they have flexible structures and multiple levels of meaning, which can be useful in explaining the complex relationship between humans and the environment. Continue reading

Why Environmental Science Needs the Humanities

by Emily Segal

In the past, those working to combat environmental problems were generally thought of as natural scientists utilizing technology, economics, and policy to come up with solutions for reducing and preventing climate change. The truth is that humanist thinkers were an integral part of the first phase of the environmental revolution. They were early journalists, philosophers and historians writing and thinking about the environment and its relation to human beings. It seems that over time, these humanities scholars were pushed aside and took a back seat to natural scientists and economists who were at the front of the environmentalist movement. Continue reading

Marine Mollusc Anti-predator Escape Behavior Impaired with Future Ocean Acidification

by Jennifer Fields

Ocean acidification is known to have significant impacts on marine invertebrates in terms of calcification and reproduction; however, the effects of increased CO2 on marine invertebrate behavior are largely unknown. Watson et al. (2014) predicted marine conch snail predator-escape behavior to its predator cone shell would be impaired with near-future CO2 levels. The authors found that the decision-making of the conch snail was in fact impaired by ocean acidification, leaving the snails more vulnerable to predation. The change in behavior was fully restored by treatment with gabazine, suggesting that changes in acid-base regulation caused by increased CO2 in the ocean interfere with the invertebrate’s neurotransmitter receptor function. These alterations in behavior in marine invertebrates could have wide-ranging implications for the whole entire marine ecosystem. Continue reading