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Where all life takes place

Free Rein's picture

“It starts with the earth. How can it not? Imagine the planet like a split peach, whose pit forms the core, whose flesh its mantle and whose fuzzy skin its crust-no, that doesn’t do justice to the crust, which is, after all, where all life takes place” (p.1). All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki is a novel that advocates for non-chemical agricultural methods. Besides the enormous family drama involved, it is also cornered at agribusiness and environmental activism. The seeds of resistance, an irrepressible eco-activist group, spawned protest In regards to genetically engineered foods. They stormed supermarkets and even went ahead to uproot the planted inorganic plants at Will’s farm. The novel contrasts anti-genetically engineered foods utopianism and pro-GMO utopianism which are both hinged in the western civilization. The collapse of Western Civilization is like All Over Creation. It addresses the grim issues of future change in the climate system, critiques neoclassical economics and externalities and forebodes the future demise of the western civilization. Both novels vocalize on the real issues happening to the planet and create an arena to reformulate the possible actions that can be taken to correct what has been bent.

“While analysts differ on the exact circumstances, virtually all agree that people of the Western civilization knew what was happening to them but were unable to stop it. Indeed, the most startling aspect of this story is just how much these people knew, and how unable they were to act upon what they knew. Knowledge did not translate into power” (P.2). “But a shadow of ignorance and denial had fallen over the people who considered themselves Children of the Enlightenment” (P.9). “Then legislation was passed (particularly in the United States) that placed limits on what scientists could study and how they could study it, beginning with the notorious House Bill 819, better known as the “Sea Level Rise Denial Bill,” … Meanwhile the Government Spending Accountability Act of 2012 restricted the ability of government scientists to attend conferences to share and analyse the results of their research” (P.11).

“Other scientists promoted the ideas of systems science, complexity science, and, most pertinent to our purposes here, earth systems science, but these so-called holistic approaches still focused almost entirely on natural systems, omitting from consideration the social components. Yet in many cases, the social components were the dominant system drivers. It was often said, for example, that climate change was caused by increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Scientists understood that those greenhouse gases were accumulating because of the activities of human beings—deforestation and fossil fuel combustion— yet they rarely said that the cause was people, and their patterns of conspicuous consumption. Reductionism also made it difficult for scientists to articulate the threat posed by climatic change, since many experts did not actually know very much about aspects of the problem beyond their expertise” (P.16).

“…between 1992 and 2012, total CO2 emissions increased by 38 percent.12 Some of this increase was understandable, as energy use grew in poor nations seeking to raise their standard of living. Less explicable is why, at the very moment when disruptive climate change was becoming apparent, wealthy nations dramatically increased their production of fossil fuels” (P.19).

“Japanese genetic engineer Akari Ishikawa developed a form of lichenized fungus in which the photosynthetic partner consumed atmospheric CO2 much more efficiently than existing forms, and was able to grow in a wide diversity of environmental conditions… In public pronouncements, the Japanese government has maintained that Ishikawa acted alone, and cast her as a criminal renegade. Yet many Japanese citizens have seen her as a hero, who did what their government could not, or would not, do. Most Chinese scholars reject both positions, contending that the Japanese government, having struggled and failed to reduce Japan’s own carbon emissions, provided Ishikawa with the necessary resources and then turned a blind eye toward its dangerous and uncertain character” (P.32).

“Western civilization became trapped in the grip of two inhibiting ideologies: positivism and market fundamentalism” (P.35). “A key attribute of the period was that power did not reside in the hands of those who understood the climate system, but rather in political, economic, and social institutions that had a strong interest in maintaining the use of fossil fuels” (P.36)

Works Cited.

L.Ozeki Ruth. All Over Creation. New York: Penguin. 2004. Print  




Anne Dalke's picture

You start with a comparison of our last two books, both critiquing capitalism as the source of environmental trouble. Then you pull out quotes from the latter…how will you shape these into an argument for this Friday’s paper? What might your analysis be?