9 Public Anthropology Award Winners
San Francisco State University
in Prof. James Quesada's
ANTH 120 (Introduction to Social & Cultural Anthropology)
Chase Wilson, Arturo Sanchez, Karen Galvez, Chloe Cabon,
Dana Yong, Isaac Rich, Miriam Cetina-Antonio,
Cody Hernandez, and Kelly Jerez
Read Their Letters, Please Use Your Search Function)
Developing Positve Discussions Despite Disagreements
Directions for Letters:
1. At the top of your letter list two specific ways the people you are addressing differ from your own position on climate change.
2. In writing your letter, ask yourself: (a) How might you frame your letter to draw those who differ from you on climate change to move toward a position that you both might share? (b) Might you find a common goal to collaborate on in respect to climate change despite your differences?
Seeking Not Who Is to Blame, but Ways in Which
We Can Work Together to Solve the Problems
to Us by Climate Change
by Chase Wilson
At our conference last week on research and data surrounding climate change a group of people mentioned some points about climate change that I found very intriguing. They made a point to say that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere must constitute as environmentally beneficial since plants subsist on it. Increased carbon dioxide means plants would flourish and grow quicker, be healthier, and last longer. They also mentioned multiple times about there being a lack of evidence to suggest that human activity is the primary—or even a major—cause of our current climate change, instead focusing on the precedent of natural climate change due to such things as Earth’s position around the sun, the tilting of our axes, and fluctuations in Earth’s seismic activity.
These are valid and logical points, and I agree with them to an extent. However, I remain firm in my position that the precedence of natural climate change does not rule out anthropogenic global warming. I agree that climate has the ability to change on its own and that even throughout recent history there have been global fluctuations of temperature; both warming and cooling. I would like to point out, however, that human activity would only compound this change and could potentially push the fluctuations into unnatural and potentially even harmful circumstance. I believe the debate shouldn’t lie around who is to blame and how to shut down the causes, but instead on ways to adapt to the preexisting natural climate change and techniques to minimize our footprint in the most appropriate way possible. This doesn’t always constitute government interference or corporate limitations, but instead could be an opportunity to shift the way in which we interact with the environment. Air pollutants are only a small fraction of factors that increase global warming. Industrial run-off, improper disposal of waste, and excessive use of limited resources all contribute to changes in climate. Researching infrastructure that deals with these problems could help limit startup costs and materials as well as create a new field of jobs for the next generation of Americans.
Carbon dioxide also seems to receive the most attention when discussions arise about climate change. It is known that human activity and pollution is the direct cause of increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Human beings, when exposed to roughly a 9% increase in oxygen levels display increased performance and endurance. However, extremely high levels of oxygen show no notable increase in performance and can even damage the soft tissue of our lungs and cause fluid build up. An excess of necessities does not always bring about a beneficial result. However, I think the levels of carbon dioxide are a current non-issue and not something we should focus a majority of our attention on. Methane gas, which is non-toxic but also non-beneficial, is a major contributor to short-term climate change.
Produced in massive amounts by industrial farming (it is, in truth, an animal byproduct), it rises into our atmosphere and absorbs the suns heat, causing it to become one of the most detrimental greenhouse gases present. While it does not last long, it produces a large amount of heat in a short amount of time, which one would think—if it lasts a short amount of time why worry about it? But the problem is we are increasingly and constantly producing more of it by expanding our industrial farming infrastructure to support our growing food demand. There needs to be a massive shift to a larger number of smaller scale farming operations that focus on sustainable agricultural methods.
I lived in Northern California for almost all of my life. It is the agricultural hub for most of the West Coast. There are massive livestock farms all around the countryside. In the past few years we have seen increasing temperatures during our fire season, and since most of the native grasses are dry during the summer months, increased temperatures prove deadly for a lot of people. We have a fire season every year, but the past few years we have seen unprecedented and seemingly increasingly destructive fires around NorCal. We recently had the Redding and Carr fires (some of the biggest in recent history), which caused the smoke levels index to spike to 90 µg/m^3 (3 times the national air quality standard) for a period of two to three weeks; this can prove fatal to anybody having prolonged exposure, regardless of age or health. Not only did it take people’s lives, ruin property, destroy memories, and upturn standards of living, it damaged the wildlife surrounding the area and greatly restricted this regions ability to produce agricultural and industrial goods. The effects were widespread and reached everybody, and it was a direct result of increased temperatures.
The debate about the causes of climate change, or the existence of climate change, is circular and ultimately futile. We, as a global or even national community, need to come together to establish guidelines and practices on how to adapt to, maintain, or ideally reduce the effects which global warming has. It is undeniable that our climate is changing, the evidence is widespread and most often egregiously destructive. We risk more than being uncomfortable because of the heat, we risk losing our major ways of life and assurances of safety, as well as our health.
Caring For Our Climate
by Arturo Sanchez
My audience believes climate change has no drastic effect on earth in the near future and will just adapt as it goes. My audience also believes that climate change isn't primarily from humans.
Every year during August, Emperor penguins hatch baby chicks on land-locked sea ice. Hundreds of baby penguins hatching out of their eggs, ready to take on the world. Their tiny bodies finally walking for the first time, shaking off all the liquids they were surrounded by. Suddenly, the ice they stand on begins to crack and their mother stares into their eyes crying for them to come towards them, but it's too late. The baby chicks begin to drift away into the ocean, dazed and confused. Finally, the ice completely cracks and their wings that have not yet developed their waterproof feathers serve no purpose to them as they slowly are left to die in the ocean. This is a tragedy that Emperor penguins have gone through since 1960 (Shayne Wolfe). As the Atlantic begins to get warmer, sea ice begins to decrease in size. This is an issue that has arisen due to climate change.
Now I know what you might be thinking, this sounds like a horrible issue but surely this is just natural and one of earth's odd phenomenons. The truth is that, we as humans play a significant role in this situation by doing something as simple as cooking for your family. When we cook we need energy to heat up the food, some ways we do this is by burning coal, oil and gas. By doing so, we release gas into the air that heats up the atmosphere, which in turn can change the Earth's climate (NASA). I'm not asking you to stop cooking of course, but I am here to say that we play an important role in the Earth's climate.
Fortunately, we are taking better steps to solving this issue. The first step; however, is acknowledging that humans play a primary role in climate change. The second step is finding alternative fuels to use as energy in order to prevent more heat going into the air. We have already been developing different alternatives such as wind and solar energy. Solar energy may seem as a costly thing to do that may bring you into debt, but it's actually the opposite. Installing solar panels on your house will actually end up saving you money in the long run. According to energysage.com, if you live in California you could save $29,424 in the span of 20 years. That's money you could use on other things for personal use such as an investment or maybe a college fund for your children. The initial price of solar panels may seem a bit scary, but most utility companies offer incentives and some even go as far as subsidizing 50% of system costs.
You don't need to make an investment in solar panels to help the climate, but what we do need to do as humans is to realize our effects on the environment we live in. There are thousands of researches done backing up how humans are a primary reason for climate change, and so few saying otherwise. You don't have to be part of a certain political party or associate yourself to a certain group. You just have to be a human being -- a human being that wants to make sure their children are able to live in the same amazing planet that we live in right now. The same thing goes for our children's children and so on. So please, for humanity's sake lets acknowledge how powerful our role is in this Earth. Let's join together to save the World.
by Karen Galvez
Natural Resources and Human Activity
I believe climate change is a problem because there are many factors that cause climate change. For instance, the chemicals being brought into the environment is a big factor. The chemicals are not only affecting the environment, but humans too.
For example, fracking is contributing to the climate change. Fracking not only pollutes the water underground, but also pollutes the air we breath. Ethane is on of the chemicals that is used in fracking and breathing in ethane can cause nausea and headaches. Climate change is a big issue because there are many things causing it. The greenhouse effect is affecting climate change by retaining the heat by earth's atmosphere. Since methane and CO2 are being used, it is preventing heat from being absorbed back to space. Carbon Dioxide is what is being produced the most by humans and greenhouses and being released into the atmosphere.
Not only are humans responsible for contributing in climate change, but also natural resources. When I say natural resources I mean volcanos erupting, solar output, and orbital changes. When a volcano erupts it releases a large amount of gas and the gas being released can spread all over the globe blocking 5-10% of the sun's energy. An increase in solar output causes sudden warming of the atmosphere. Orbital changes when the distance between the sun and the earth changes.
Although many people believe in climate change, there are many people who do not believe in climate change nor is it a problem. Man believe that climate change will not be a threat in their life because climate change still has a long way to come. Some are aware of climate change, but are not worried about it because it won’t have a big effect until 2050 or 2100. People also aren’t worried about because they are going day by day and climate change is happening slowly. They see climate change as another big issue but don’t worry about it because if it was a huge problem there would be something done. Politics also plays a big role, in 2009 the people who believe in climate change dropped from 71 to 57 percent. Republicans also said that, “the seriousness on global warming is and exaggeration”. This shows that not many people are not thinking about climate change is a serious manner. A major reason why people don’t believe in climate change is because, they haven't noticed a change in weather in the area they live. If people don’t see their weather changing they are going to be skeptical and not believe the news or the scientist.
Climate Change from a Long-Term Perspective
by Chloe Cabon
One way my stance on climate change differs from my audience's is that I often think about it from a long-term perspective in addition to what it is causing now. Only focusing on the current state as opposed to comparing the past's climate to now results in a narrow and static mindset. Another way my stance differs from those I am addressing is that I believe climate change is the result of human activities. I believe that a change in our behavior can cause climate change to slow down and prevent swelling of the ocean and disappearance of our beautiful coasts in the future.
The continuation of climate change can and will cause a difference in humans everyday lives. I know this because it already has. Although it is hard for people to internalize a problem that's consequences seem to be so distant, we are already seeing many results of climate change. Because of these effects, many parts of our livelihood are threatened. Agriculture, our main food source, is threatened by the prevalence of global warming. Farmers heavily rely on our normal weather patterns to decide where, when and how to plant certain things we eat. Losing this ability could be harmful to our food supply. The extreme climates we are experiencing now, such as increased hurricanes and hotter winters, are already exhausting America's disaster relief, not to mention the rest of the world.
A helpful mindset to have when addressing climate change is to keep both the present and future in mind. If you have 5,000 pennies in a jar and you take one out each day, it is easy to feel like not much is changing day by day. This can cause a very static mindset where removing the pennies becomes routine and the results are ignored because it happens slowly. Make sure you consider the short-term and long-term effects of your actions on the climate. It is important to change the conversation around climate change to one that addresses its current consequences instead of focusing on only the detrimental future ones.
Our Population is Culpable for Climate Change
by Dana Yong
To those who deny responsibility for climate change,
You believe that climate change is a result of natural processes that have been occurring in the world over the course of the planet’s history. You believe that humans have nothing to do with global warming.
In recent months, we have been overwhelmed by extreme weather events. Raging wildfires, storms, and hurricanes have plagued the country from coast to coast. Every year for the Fourth of July, my family goes up to my aunt’s house in Napa to enjoy the warmer weather and celebrate with a barbecue. For the past two years, we have been unable to do so. Smoke from fires engulfed my aunt’s home, even forcing her to evacuate for some time. Countless lives were lost, homes destroyed. There is evidence that these wildfires have been a result of climate change.
Change is inevitable. It is a fact of life that we must become all too familiar with as we grow. Every year we move on to a new class. We get a new teacher. We make new friends. Every year we like different things. Every year we look different. The world is in perpetual motion, and so are we. Because of this constant change we have all grown so accustomed to, it is not hard to believe that the change in our earth’s climate is due to its natural processes—the processes that have been occurring for millions of years since the earth’s conception. The earth’s climate changes the same way our music tastes change as we mature. This is a logical conclusion to come to. However, there are many other factors to consider when trying to understand the root of climate change.
The earth’s temperature has gone up about one degree Fahrenheit in the last century. A century may seem like a reasonable amount of time for such a seemingly miniscule change. For instance, it is normal for us to change hairstyles every year. Generally speaking, one year for the average person accounts for about 1.25% of their life, assuming the average person lives to 80 years old. One percent is small, but not negligible. However, the earth is about 4.5 billion years old, meaning that change has occurred within 0.000002% of the earth’s lifespan—approximately one minute relative to our lives. One degree is a lot of change in such a small amount of time.
This rapid change in temperature is unprecedented, and has been proven to be detrimental. Ice is melting, sea level is rising, and weather patterns have become more stagnant than ever before, resulting in extreme weather events. The earth’s processes could have accounted for such a change, but over a much longer course of time. However, over the span of a mere hundred years, the earth’s natural processes could not create such a dramatic change. Rapid industrialization, an increase in vehicle use, and widespread land development are culpable.
The Industrial Revolution began in the mid 19th century, and it has only gained momentum since. This accounts for the uptick in the earth’s temperature in the last hundred years. Our energy comes from the burning of carbon-based fuels. Corporations burn these fuels on a massive scale to produce things that we want or need. Cars on the road have been at an all-time high, resulting in extreme traffic in major metropolitan areas. Land development as a result of agriculture and infrastructure means less wildlife to reabsorb our increasing carbon emissions.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the earth’s climate is changing as a result of our human activity. Thus, it is our responsibility to work towards reducing our carbon footprint, and using cleaner energy methods. In doing so, we can reduce the temperature change, thereby reducing extreme weather events and improving both the planets health, and our own population’s well-being.
Why Would We Not At Least Try?
by Isaac Rich
Two ways the con side differs from my belief and stance on climate change is; that CO2 emissions does not contribute to global warming, also that the ocean’s acidity is still safe at the level it is currently at.
It is commonly known that the Earth’s climate fluxuates. It is not consistent and can have great differences over time, we know this from the history of our planet. The Ice Age a very cold point in the Earth’s climate and it is a much different climate than today. There are many things that can affect the climate from natural things such as how much energy the sun gives off to cow farts. Although we cannot blame ourselves for the common cow fart there are a lot of things we can blame ourselves for and that is why I believe humans are the cause of the harsh climate change.
The emission of CO2 is higher than it has ever been in the history of humankind. Is it a coincidence that it being at a high point, the ocean is becoming more acidic and the overall climate is getting hotter and hotter? I do not believe it is, The greenhouse effect causes heat from the sun to stay trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. As more and more heat enters the atmosphere it keeps heating up and there is no way for the heat to leave the Earth. CO2 and other natural gases we emit on a daily basis is what prevents the heat from leaving. The article on climate change states, “Over the past 650,000 years, atmospheric CO2 levels did not rise above 300 ppm until the mid-20th century. Atmospheric levels of CO2 have risen from about 317 ppm in 1958 to 400 ppm in 2013.” The CO2 levels are definitely a factor in climate change and should have some restrictions on how much we produce.
Ocean acidification, no matter what anyone can say does affect us. The ocean produces a large amount of resources, such as food. The food chain is a very delicate thing, it not only has a lot of parts but it also supports live inside and outside the ocean. The acidification in the ocean has been on a steady increases, and this is caused by the gas emissions we put into the air. Gasses are actually absorbed into the ocean by the water. The more gases we pump into the atmosphere via car or factory the more goes into the ocean. Shellfish are actually dissolving, causing many of them to die. This is greatly affecting the creatures who eat them, and thus the creatures that eat those creatures and then the creatures that we eat. Ocean acidification is not something that can be brushed off, even if the pH is only having a .1 change.
Climate change is not only happening because of humans, but rather a collection of factors. Although it is not us alone, I still believe we as a whole have been the greatest cause. Thus, I believe laws should be put in place to help reduce the amount of gasses we admit. We also should reduce, reuse, recycle. It is an easy thing we can do and if everybody does a little it can make a big difference. After all, why not do something rather than just sit back and let it happen?
Climate Change and Its Effects
by Miriam Cetina-Antonio
Dear Opposing Party,
The topic of climate change has been an extremely controversial topic over the years, due to the fact that everyone has a unique set of values and beliefs. It is an individual’s right to believe that climate change is not caused by human behavior, and that there is no legitimate evidence that exists stating that climate change is in fact a real issue. It is time that we start approaching the topic of climate change not as divided individuals, but rather as a collective group of human beings.
When we step out into the world, we are able to take in all its beauty. We enjoy time outdoors surrounded by trees and small creatures, we take pleasure in vacationing in beautiful parts of the world. The beauty present in our earth is truly incomparable. So, if there is even a slight chance that our daily actions are ruining our ecosystem, we should immediately try and implement change in order to preserve all the riches our earth has to offer. It is a fact, that there is a larger amount of cars present on the road now than there was a hundred years ago. This significant change cannot exist without it having some sort of toll on the earth’s environment. An increase in the amount of cars present on the road leads to an increase in the amount of exhaust and gas emissions in the air, which are contributing factors to climate change .
Over the years, we have evolved as a society. We have become a technologically advanced and smarter community. In addition to those great advances, we have also, unfortunately, become massive energy consumers. We need energy for everything we do in our daily lives— charge our phones, enjoy relaxing T.V. time, or fill up our gas tank in order to get to work. Our remarkable use of energy cannot go unnoticed. When we consume energy, gases are released into the air which warm up our earth, which then leads to a change in the earth’s climate. This affects all of us because it leads to droughts, floods, dangerous storms, and other drastic phenomenon.
When I was a kid, my family and I use to go on fishing trips to a small lake located in San Jose, California. It was a great way to get away from the city’s loud and busy streets, and reconnect with nature. The sound the water made as it hit the shore, while I was surrounded by trees, provided me with a sense of comfort and ease. I was able to leave my kid problems behind and become present in the moment. Years later, as I drove by the lake, I was surprised to see that it had become nothing but a small pond. That is when it became clear that my daily, unconcerned actions do hold power over the earth that I live on.
In the past, climate changed could have been viewed as a non-existent issue due to the fact that we were not well educated on the topic. People did not have to face a significant amount of droughts, storms, or heat waves. Now, the population is facing a completely different set of circumstances. 2016 was reported to be the hottest summer on record, families are bracing themselves to face devastating hurricanes, and firefighters are putting their best efforts forward to fight uncontrollable fires. This is clear evidence that such circumstances do not occur due to earth’s natural patterns. There has to be a much greater force that is putting such events into action—us.
I invite you to not look at climate change from your own unique set of lenses—whether that be conservative, liberal, religious, atheist—but rather as a human being. Climate change is so much bigger than the labels that have been given to us by society. We should work to maintain the beautiful world we live in and all the creatures that inhabit it, whether we choose to accept climate change as a fact or not. It is important that we practice better and more sustainable habits that will help us maintain our earth, because no matter what side we are on, whatever happens to our earth, it affects all of us.
Climate Change Letter
by Cody Hernandez
To whom it may concern,
Since the last major ice age, and even since the early 20th century, the temperature of Earth has risen to new records. This is known to all people, but the argument at hand is if humans have played a crucial role in this concerning event. I personally believe climate change, the change in the climate patterns attributed to mainly the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, is due to humans and the pollution we have poised our Earth with; but there is arguments made that humans can’t cause that much effect on the Earth to do such thing. The people making these arguments have many competitive beliefs, such as the greenhouse gases humans make arent big enough to cause such damage and that the increase in temperature is due to the natural process of Earth. These are very compelling and great points but to put it into perspective the second largest greenhouse gas contributor is transportation, automobiles. In 2010 an automotive trade journal, Ward’s Auto, estimated that there are “1.2 billion vehicles” on Earth and predicted that there will be “2 billion by 2035”. These vehicles are the ones that are producing 6.7 billion tons of greenhouse gases that are being spewed out into our atmosphere. This is only with the amount of cars we have on the roads now, but what will the number be in 2035 when we reached 2 billion or more?
I understand how this can still be put off and deemed inconvenient, but that's only cause we don’t see the damage until it's too late. I have personally seen the terrible consequences of climate change and it’s a sight i'll never forget. I grew up in Southern California in a small town called Hemet, which is located at the base of a beautiful mountain called Idyllwild. Idy, the shorter version we named it, is famously known for its school of art but to me and those growing up in Hemet and Idyllwild is known for its winters. The most vibrant greenery and glamorous snow is what comes to mind when thinking of the winters held up the mountain. That was until these past couple years. In the time frame of no more than 3 years the winters have grew shorter and the snow started to stick to the ground less, the temperature was rising. It wasn't noticeable at first, like the greenhouse gas from automobiles, but out of nowhere our beautiful mountain turned into a fire hazard and no longer the winter wonderland it once was. This past summer, Idyllwild faced a horrifying fire that threatened the homes of my close friends and sadly demolished homes of others. The fire wasn’t created from the heat but it was fed by the dry brush from trees, bushes, and grass that dried out from the longer, hotter, summers and less rainfall. The citizens of Idyllwild returned to their homes after the two weeks it took to put out the fire, some were luckier than others.
We don't need a global event like the Idyllwild fire, known as the Cranston Fire, to take place in order for people to realize the danger that comes with climate change. Whether humans are the cause of it or not, it is real and it is here. There are plenty of ways individuals can help the fight, and even better if you can start a community project that involves acts such as carpooling or anything to help make a greener commute for the working citizens who drive to work. And even as an individual you can invest in reusable water bottles that way you stray away from water that is bottled in plastic. Take action and pass it on.
Climate Change is Real
by Kelly Jerez
I believe in global warming and that humans are a major factor of climate change. There are people who oppose my opinion such as conservatives who believe that the earth is taking its natural course which they use to justify that, that is why there is climate change. Another point that conservatives believe is that humans do not have much of impact towards global warming, that people are small scaled compared to the earth’ size.
The first opposing view I want to discuss is how people believe that earth is taking its natural course, therefore, the climate will change. In 2010, Climate Depot surveyed 1,000 scientists and 15 of them said there was insufficient evidence to prove that climate change is real. (Climatechange.org) The article also explains how most conservatives do not believe that humans can make a huge impact on climate change, in other words, human activity does not cause or cannot cause any kind of climate change.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration also known as NASA have done studies and concluded that human activity does affect climate change. NASA stated that in 100 years the earth’s temperature changed 1 degree Fahrenheit. Which concludes to ice melting and ocean levels rising. Now even though this is earth taking its natural course, that does not mean it doesn’t do damage. Human activity such as using gas operating cars, grills, burning oil, coal and gas can cause the gases to go into our air and damage it. In the long run, the gases and heat inn the air affects our environment. Those kinds of human activities are done everywhere in the world; it’s on a global scale to which is how we can conclude that humans are doing more harm to our world than people may believe.
Besides from the disagreements of climate change, one thing that both sides can agree on, according to Procon.org is that the level of greenhouse gases are rising and that affects earth. Whether or not people want to believe that humans have responsibility over this, governments, especially in the United States, have split thoughts on climate changes. The US Government recently pulled out the Paris Climate Agreement which is a promise that many nations vowed to do everything they can to protect the planet. That makes the country of the free world take a huge step back by not supporting laws that are beneficial to the earth and ultimately the safety of human kind. Small thing such as recycling and cleaning up our oceans can make the largest different to the environment
To conclude, there is currently a strong hurricane named Hurricane Florence that is affecting North and South Carolina. Reports from NASA state that Hurricane Florence is like no other and that due to do climate changed it’s powerful which has caused floods and lots of destruction. I can’t help to think that if human kind were to put all efforts into saving the earth, natural disasters such as Hurricane Florence and others wouldn’t be as bad as they currently are. We need to make an effort to communicate with people who do not believe in climate change or global warming and be able to convince them so they can make changes in their every day lives to help preserve earth. The article states that we need communicate in a way that the opposing side can agree with you such as, finding common ground and not making the conversation political. At the end of the day, the more we inform people the better the outcome we can have.