EnviroThursday Fall 2002

Presentations take place at 12 noon, Olin-Rice Room 250

September 12, 2002

"Price of Power"
Speaker: Ken Bradley, Campaign Coordinator for JustEnergy

JustEnergy supports environmental clean-up of the existing hydro projects, the prevention of further social and environmental harms, the development of cleaner energy options, and respect for human rights. A great deal of environmental damage and human suffering has been caused by Manitoba Hydro projects, which have harmed about one-quarter of that vast province and thousands of aboriginal people. Currently, Minnesotans purchase over 90% of Manitoba's exports, which account for almost as much power as is sold in the within the province. The families of Northern Manitoba pay the price and Minnesota families get the benefits of electricity - Is that good for business ­ Is that good for our families?

Ken Bradley is the Campaign Coordinator for JustEnergy (formerly known as C.R.E.E). Ken is currently serving his third term on the Sierra Club Executive Committee and also Chairs the Sierra Club Twin Cities Group political committee.

September 19, 2002

"Mammoth Cave"
Video

Mammoth Cave is one of the most outstanding natural features of the United States. Native Americans initially visited this cave about 4,000 years ago. In the last 300 years scientists, adventurers, and the general public have explored this cave. Today it constitutes the center of the Mammoth Cave National Park. This video shows the subterranean waterfalls, lakes, and rivers, as well as some of the most amazing fauna it contains, including blind crickets and the legendary blind cavefish. Also presented are the current environmental threats to the cave due to pollution and over visitation.

September 26, 2002

"Envisioning the Ecozoic Era"
Speakers: Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd

Geologists have divided the last 550 million year into three eras of life: the Paleozoic (oceanic and early land life), the Mesozoic (dinosaurs, ferns, redwood trees), and the Cenozoic (flowering plants, birds, mammals), the human impact on landscapes, ecosystems, and biodiversity is now so great, that one can make the claim that the current geological era, the Cenezoic, is coming to a close. To empower a shift to a restorative relationship with Earth, cultural historian Thomas Berry urges us to envision a new era, the Ecozoic, of harmony between Earth and humanity.

We will explore this new era with Connie Barlow, author of Green Space, Green Time (1997, Copernicus) and From Gaia to Selfish Genes (MIT Press). She is a correspondent for Wild Earth and a contributing editor for Earthlight, and has written for Natural History. She will be presenting with her husband, Michael Dowd, author of "EarthSpirit: A Handbook for Nurturing an Ecological Christianity" (1991, Twenty-Third Publications), a gifted speaker and well-known teacher on sacred and psychological implications of a science-based cosmology. He has been a pastor at Church of Christ congregations in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Michigan, and has worked with Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Protestant leaders across the country on religious and environmental issues.

October 3, 2002

"Chasing El Niño"
Video

El Niño has become one of the most feared natural phenomenon in the last few decades - floods in South America, storms on the U.S. West Coast, ice storms in Canada, and droughts in the Midwest. These and many other natural disasters are the fueled by El Niño. Through spectacular film footage, ground breaking research, experts' interviews and colorful computer simulations, this documentary produced by NOVA explores El Niño;'s myths, reveals its devastation and explains its fascinating origins.

October 10, 2002

"Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences"
Speaker: Susan Stein, Assistant Director of Enrollment Services

Come and learn about the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The Nicholas School is one of the world's premier graduate/professional schools for the interdisciplinary study of the environment, combining resources from the biological, physical and social sciences. The school fully integrates science, policy and economics in its environmental sciences program, providing both theoretical and practical education in Earth and Ocean Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Policy, and Coastal Systems Science and Policy.

October 17, 2002

The Political Ecology of Cotton Production, Environmental Change, and Household Food Economy in Mali
Speaker: Bill Moseley, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Macalester College

The belief that the poor and hungry will often destroy their immediate environment in order to survive, and that this group is most directly affected by environmental change, is pervasive in the development, economics and geography literatures. This study examines this hypothesis, as well as how cotton has influenced the rural poverty-environment dynamic in the Sahelian nation of Mali. The study pays particular attention to the proximate and ultimate causes of soil degradation, to the interactions between the food economies of relatively rich and poor households, and to the links between national policy and local production strategies. The study's findings are based on household interviews describing past and present food economies, a simulation of household vulnerability in face of crop failure, discussions with donors and national policy makers, an assessment of remotely-sensed vegetation trends, and an analysis of agricultural soil quality measures (infiltration, bulk density, pH and aggregate stability) for relatively rich and poor farmers.

October 31, 2002

"Do Ideologies Matter in Urban Transport Project?"
Speaker: Dr. Jyotsna Bapat, Visiting Professor, Sociology Department

The assumption that planned and time bound implementation of a policy leads desired outcomes is questionable. One very important insight of this case study of Mumbai (Bombay) Urban Transportation Project (MUTP II) presented here is the favorable outcome could not have been predicted. The outcome is a result of social contestation and a series of opportunistic decision making by the various stake holders. The stumbling block of the urban transportation project was the clearance the railway tracks from encroachment by slums. The Rehabilitation and Resettlement of these slums was a major issue. The various social groups involved in the project each having a stake in a specific outcome. Each of these groups had their loosely or firmly defined ideology and based on which they chose a path of action. This lead to a series of contestation and opportunistic decision making leading to a fairly successful resettlement of the PAPs.

Dr. Bapat is a Fulbright scholar currently visiting the Sociology Department for one year. Her doctoral degree is in Social Sciences from the India Institute of Technology Bombay in 1989. Since 1991, she has been a faculty at the Department of Sociology University of Bombay. Her research interests, academic work and professional consultation is related to Social Impact Assessment of large infrastructure and development aid projects in rural and urban India.

November 7, 2002

"Environmental Study at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center"
Speaker: Gary Deason

Located on 2100 wooded acres overlooking Lake Superior, Wolf Ridge is one of the premier environmental education centers in the nation. Gary Deason will talk about experiential and holistic learning at Wolf Ridge, and about college programs offered there. He will describe the Superior Studies program providing summer field courses and wilderness experiences for undergraduates. He will also discuss the Graduate Naturalist program offered in conjunction with the University of Minnesota-Duluth and leading to a M.Ed. degree in Environmental Education.

Dr. Gary Deason is President and Executive Director of Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minnesota. He completed degrees in mathematics and chemistry and in the history of science at the University of Texas and Princeton. He taught history of science and environmental studies for twenty years at St. Olaf College before moving to Wolf Ridge. Gary is an avid canoeist and kayaker and the father of Macalester junior Grace Deason.

November 14, 2002

"Charles Darwin's Evolution Voice"
Video

Charles Darwin is one of the most influential scientists in history because he changed the way we see the living world. However, his life was quite unusual even for a scientist. This documentary examines not only his ideas but also his life and how it shaped his thinking.

November 21, 2002

"Grassroots Organizing 101 or What You Can Do with an ES Major"
Speaker: Catherine Neuschler '02

Catherine Neuschler, a 2002 Macalester Environmental Studies and Political Science graduate, will talk about her job at Grassroots Solutions, a political consulting firm in St. Paul. She will also explain what they do in terms of grassroots advocacy and engaging everyday people in shaping public policy.

December 5, 2002

"The Political Ecology of a Common's Tragedy in Bolivia's Multiethnic Indigenous Territory"
Speaker: Montgomery Roper, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Grinnell College

In the fall of 1990, the Multiethnic Indigenous Territory was created by executive decree in response to the Beni Indigenous Movement's historic "March for Dignity and Territory." The territory was defined as collective property that is inalienable, indivisible, and not subject to expiration or seizure. At this moment, the future for indigenous inhabitants of the new territory looked hopeful and representative organizations began to turn their focus to addressing the collective management and development of natural resources within it.

By 1998, however, the situation had become a disaster. All efforts at collective management had collapsed and whatever ideology of an indigenous collective that had existed was largely gone. Communities within the territory were divided, and communities outside of the territory were struggling to regain access to the territory's valuable resources. The organizations representing the territory were debilitated, and two distinct organizations were claiming the right of control over the territory. In place of collective development, what had evolved was a "tragedy of the commons" involving widespread and uncontrolled extraction of fine woods by indigenous individuals and communities in collaboration with logging companies.

This talk will explore what went wrong by reviewing, within a framework of political ecology, the history of collective development efforts in the region with particular attention to the role of indigenous organizations. I will argue that three mutually reinforcing factors have been responsible for undermining local indigenous organizations and resulting in the chaos that was evident in 1998. These include: 1) the persistent pressure of state supported logging interests, 2) institutional weaknesses within the territory's representative organizations; and 3) the initial lack of a collective ideology among inhabitants concerning the use of natural resources.