From Earlham Cluster Department
Technology and Sustainability Talk I thought that the talk on sustainability was very interesting and remembered a lot of the material from discussions that we had in class. I felt that you did a good job incorporating a large amount of material from various perspectives on climate change into a well-timed presentation. I felt that the presentation was very engaging and despite having heard some of the information before I still enjoyed hearing it again. My only suggestion is more discussion and/or audience participation; I would’ve liked to see more inclusion of the audience other than the limited time for questions that there was at the end. Overall I think it was a well organized, comprehensive, and insightful talk.
'Science at Kew
Kew Gardens are involved with the preservation of seeds in danger of becoming extinct. It is responsible for the Millennium Seed Bank whose goal it is to save plants that meet the requirements to be considered endangered. Their goals are to preserve plants as an important piece in the fabric of our eco system as they provide things such as clean air and water, fuel, food and materials for goods. They also understand plants ties to clime change and the negative effects that a lack of diversity of plant life can have on the environment. To combat this, Kew has set up headquarters around the world working on the preservation of local plants. Evidence of scientific understanding within Kew Gardens was seen in the diverse array of plant and marine life species in the Tropical Extravaganza exhibit, this shows Kews commitment to research and public education about plant diversity. The short-term benefits of Kews work are seen in their substantial work in education by providing a pace where people can come and learn about plants and other living things. The longer-term benefits of the work done at Kew are the sustaining of plant species that otherwise was likely to become extinct.
Reflections on Climate Change
I believe the take away message from the recent weeks lessons on climate change is that global warming and its effectual relationship with human activity (i.e. the burning of fossil fuels) are present and very much real. Knowing these facts it becomes increasingly important, vital really that action must be taken on every level (nations, individuals, etc.) to counter act the effects of global warming. The most effective modality for myself was the play Greenland because I am a visual learner and its marriage of the scene (i.e. the water, the paper, etc.) with the voices of the characters acting out scenes demonstrating the facts and questions surrounding climate change created an easy to understand medium with which to learn about climate change. I think the main difference between the European perspective and the American perspective on global warming is that climate change has already been established as a rarely disputed fact, so the debates that occur here are not about global warming’s existence (as they are in the U.S.) but rather they are about what should be done in regards to it. I think that this difference is really similar to the difference between attitudes on the Earlham campus and the attitudes seen around much of the U.S., at Earlham global warming has been widely accepted and the focus is much more on the solutions rather than its existence that is debated in U.S. politics.
I found the play Greenland to be educational and full of good information. It was able to cleverly incorporate a vast group of both opinions and approaches to the issue of global worming and our carbon print. From what I could tell the information they gave in the play was all accurate but it was also very much skewed to represent a particular perspective (although it was the one that I myself hold). As we discussed in class, a play was an unfamiliar medium for the presentation of scientific information, which made it, at times, difficult to take seriously (not because the information wasn’t accurate, but because of its dramatization). As something to shape public opinion the play did not do a good job. Although it represented different opinions in a very realistic way and the realities of people that do not believe global warming is a real issue it did so in a way that seemed somewhat divisive rather than bridging, i.e. the parents seeing their daughter as a radical and never agreeing with her and blissfully ignorant. This ignorance would be hard to identify with if this was your real world situation, or rather it wouldn’t be someone you would necessarily want to identify with or that would help you change your opinion.
Which specific aspects of climate change did the designers of atmosphere choose to focus on?
The designers of the Atmosphere exhibit choose to put a very significant stress on climate change at it relates to global worming.
How well sourced was the science and technology discussed in the kiosks?
The information in the kiosks seemed to be very well informed and at the same time put into digestible formats.
What was the most surprising thing you learned?
I was most surprised by their predictions for the future. I have of course heard of scary predictions of the effects of global worming but to have the information presented in the way that it was both shocking and educational about what actions can, are and should be taken.
Which of the interactive kiosks did you find most engaging? Why? Which of the interactive kiosks did you find least engaging? Why?
I played and interacted with most of the kiosks and found the one which involved the extraction of fossil fuels to be most engaging but I think that that night have been because I liked the game the most. They all did a good job of mixing information and entertaining/interactivity but the space was all so stimulating that it was very difficult for me to force in on any one activity/station.
Plan for Paper
I plan on researching and analyzing the process and effects (both positive and negative) of genetically modified organisms. I am interested in understanding the how GMO can be useful to science and technology and the possible dangers associated with tampering with the natural world. As an area of research, I will look at its value and importance.
I think this is a good topic with lots of interesting material in the areas of science, technology and society; make sure to cover all three. There is science in the how this is done, the technology that makes it possible, and (lots of) societal issues in terms of who can afford it, why it's done, etc. There is also a lot of useful and interesting history here, we've been modifying organisms for thousands of years with little outcry from the masses, e.g. dogs, corn, and lots of other things. Carry on!
Fifth STC Question
The 1980 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of the right of scientists to patent human made organisms was the case looked at when the first genes were being discovered and patented in the human DNA. Some prose to scientists being able to patent their discoveries are that by doing this it is insured that they will get full credit for their work and it offers greater motivation for researchers to find useful gene sets because they will be paid a great deal for their use.
On the other side of the argument, by patenting parts of the human DNA, issues of morality are brought into the discussion. Unlike scientists and researchers that work on creating new drugs or even GMOs, issues of whether a person has the right, mealy because she isolated it, to clam ownership of a gene that every human has in their bodies is questionable. Also be patenting genes you are creating layers outside of hospital charges and medical bills for people to jump through who might benefit form the use of treatments developed as a result of the isolated gene.