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Ecological Slippage

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Elena Luedy

Professor Cohen



Ecological Slippage


            According to the essay by Anne Dalke, “slippage” is the accidental or unintentional acts that are racially charged. These acts of ‘slippage’ can be big or small, however the result of slippage is often hurtful to someone, even if the perpetrator does not mean it to be so. Although the concept of slippage was first introduced with the concept of race, slippage can come from a variety of systematic oppressions. Sometimes, multiple slippages can occur in the same time. As we have studied the environment throughout the semester, the action of slippage has remained present in the back of my mind. Environmental slippage, as a concept, would be the accidental or unintentional acts that encourage the destruction of the environment. This would negatively affect everyone living in the immediate environment, and more gradually, the rest of the human race as a whole. The question is, how would this issue of ecological slippage be solved?

            While reading Ruth Ozeki’s book All Over Creation, we see several forms of ecological slippage. While the Seeds of Resistance believe what they are doing with their protests is helping raise awareness for various environmental issues, they are often forgetting the many factors that go into why someone would pick a non-organic food over an organic food, such as price. Never in their protests do the seeds mention that eating organic food is much more expensive, and may be inaccessible for some. Similarly, when the seeds are pulling up the Nu-Life potatoes on Will’s farm, they are not taking into consideration that this is Cass and Will’s only source of income, and that they are trying to prevent the most harm for themselves that they can. One can hypothesize that these acts of slippage are indeed unintentional, although critics would say that Geek, a member of the Seeds of Resistance has thought up his plans from a number of different angles. On the converse, in the scenes with Elliott and his boss, we see them reading press of how their company is harmful to the environment, however their only action seems to be to spin the public perception of the facts. They seem to be more concerned with the profit they will get than the actual harm their product may be causing. Could this be a purposeful slippage?

            Unfortunately, companies such as the one Elliott works for do not only exist in fictional universes, they exist in real life as well. Major corporations all over the world often ‘slip’ when it comes to environmental safety in the name of profits. Often, it is not the ones making the decision of whether or not to be environmentally friendly that have to face the consequences of their slippage. It is usually those of low socio-economic status that have to suffer the consequences of the company’s slippage. Sometimes, the corporations know this, and purposefully exploit the less fortunate, as they are unable to protest what is happening due to the lack of time and funds to make their voices heard. If this is indeed the case, is it really slippage? Companies may try and send people such as Elliott to tell the public that it was, just an oversite that fell through the cracks. How then, can a company manage to fill these cracks, to prevent this environmental slippage?

            We live in the 21st century, most of our buildings are permanent slabs of concrete. With over seven billion people in this world, how could we possibly prevent environmental slippage by everyone? Life wasn’t always like this, humans roamed the earth thousands of years ago, from place to place, in structures that could easily be taken down, often made of materials that are naturally occurring, and do not alter the environment. Returning to our nomadic roots is just not possible, however. We as a species have come too far to abandon the comfort of our controlled temperature environment, from the luxuries of our sedentary lifestyles. The trick is, we must look forward. How can our built environment be less of a “slip”? In order to do something efficiently, we must look at all the angles, all the moving parts of the equation. Of course, the physical buildings must be planned out strategically. How could new buildings meet LEED standards to be certified as ‘green’? Can existing buildings be reformed and brought up to green standards? These questions could be answered by a team of architects. Politicians on the other hand would be able to define what standards should be for the environment. They would also be able to answer what punishments a company would face if they would not meet the minimum requirements. Economists would be able to find a way for structures to be built in a cost efficient manner, companies would only resist slippage if they knew it wouldn’t hurt their profit margins. Furthermore, a healthy dialog between those being effected and those effecting would be mandatory. How could a company prevent slippage if they did not first understand what slippage had occurred? It would take a think tank with a team of experts to prevent the most amount of slippage, and even then, could we still catch all the slips?

            Ecological slippage requires constant vigilance on a number of fronts. For one person to ‘slip’, it is perfectly understandable. For a major corporation, however, it is less acceptable. These companies have a variety of experts telling them just how exactly they are supposed to run their business, and why would having an environmental expert be any different? What we need as a community is the ability to have a system of checking and balancing, to hold each other accountable for the slippage we all take part in.