Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Internship Wrap-up

The internship has ended (both in terms of my time at ASOC for credit and my time at ASOC for the year - I'm going abroad in the fall).  All in all, it has been a very rewarding experience.  I had fun, I learned a lot about Antarctica, and I think I'm well on my way toward discovering my personal feelings on environmental ethics.  

If anyone at any time has questions about what it's like to work for a small NGO, the ever important field of environmental ethics, or just what having an internship is like on a day-to-day basis, I can always be reached by email:

Thanks for a great semester!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thoughts on Deep Ecology

Today I watched "The Call of the Mountain," a documentary about Arne Naess and deep ecology with other deep ecologists Bill Devall, Vandana Shiva, George Sessions, Helena Norberg-Hodge, and Harold Glasser. The movie was made in 1997 by Rerun Productions.

Naess's friends describe deep ecology as a social movement centered on a passion for nature.  It is the cooperative efforts of people working together in community based upon ecology (the relationship between organisms and their habitats).   

Deep Ecology encourages people to develop a concern for nature that is deep within themselves through a physical, intellectual and spiritual connection to the natural world.  The motivation for saving the earth should come from a deeply philosophical and religious influence.  For example, Buddhism, which teaches the interconnectedness of all things, influenced Naess heavily.  People are encouraged to act and live in a way that is universalizable and forward-thinking.  Decisions must take into account the potentials of evolutions of the system; they should plan for the unpredictability of nature.

Supporters of Deep Ecology argues that a life live connected with nature in this way will lead to a richer life, both spiritually and in terms of biodiversity.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Teacher/ Student Activity Packet

Hmm...  Blogger doesn't seem to have an option for uploading files...

But, I finished the Teacher / Student Activity Packet and want to share it with you guys.  Let me see what I can do and I'll try and get it up later tonight.

**Update - it is impossible to upload the packet to blogger.  I'll let you know when it is put up on the ASOC website.  If you want to see it before then, let me know and I can print out a copy!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Arne Naess

I figured since I'm getting down to my last couple of blog posts, I'd cover Arne Naess, a contemporary environmental ethicist who had a lot of influence on the environmental movement.

For today I read two articles written by Naess which gave me a basic sense of his philosophy, deep ecology.  Naess advocates for a child-like curiosity about nature.  He claims that we should spend time reflecting on the millions of miracles that take place each day - from the regeneration of our own human cells to the way that soil and minerals can nourish a 300 year old redwood. He want us to imagine ourselves as connected to the larger natural world as a whole and from this feeling of interconnectedness, work to protect nature.  This doesn't mean that humans aren't allowed to value human lives more than the lives of other creatures or that humans aren't allowed to take on any form of a stewardship role (as we saw with Aldo Leopold), but rather just that we must respect nature in all of its diverse forms. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


So I'm at work trying to finish up the children's/teacher activity packet.  I don't think it'll be done today, but definitely by next time if all goes well (meaning if I'm not supposed to be working on something else first).  It looks pretty good so far, though.  I have spent a lot of time editing, moving things around, adding finishing touches, etc.  I have also been learning a lot from doing the research (as you saw in my last two posts) - I can finally identify the 6 different penguin species (for the most part at least - some of them look incredibly similar!).

Other work projects I have been doing as of late are focused on our donors.  ASOC is a registered non-profit and all of our income comes from one of two sources: private donors and membership fees (since ASOC is a coalition, all groups within the coalition pay an annual fee).  I have been sending out copies of ASOC's 2008 Annual Report and when Claire gets back from the ATCM meeting, we will both work together to streamline the entire database.  It's not exactly the most exciting work (stuffing envelopes = blah...), but it does serve a very important purpose.

I have been reading through some writings by Arnae Naess, the founder of the deep ecology movement, and hope to post on those as soon as I finish my HUGE group project this weekend.

Enjoy the spring weather!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The ASOC Take on Antarctic Tourism

I promised this post a little while back...

ASOC has a great pamphlet called "Know Before You Go" that we're getting printed up for distribution at the ATCM next month.  It has important information that people should keep in mind when visiting the continent.  In the past, commercial tour operations have contributed to environmental pollution and disturbance of wildlife.  Though many companies have taken steps in recent years to reduce the impact they have on the environment and the wildlife, tourists can still do a lot of damage if they're not properly educated.

ASOC stresses in the pamphlet that ALL human activity in Antarctica leads to environmental pollution and impacts.  Therefore, it is important for visitors to weigh the benefits of their activities in the region against the negative impacts BEFORE THEY GO.  And, if people chose to visit the continent, they should be diligent in minimizing any and all impacts.  People can accomplish this by doing the following things:

- Minimize the waste they create while in Antarctica.  It takes a lot of fuel to either treat that waste on sight or to transport it back on the ship.
- As much as possible, avoid carrying non-native plants, animals and microorganisms with them on their trip.
-Make sure that their expedition completes an environmental impact assessment before leaving (required under the Antarctic Treaty).
-Avoid disturbing wildlife through noise, pollution, human presence and habitat destruction.  DO NOT GET TO CLOSE TO THE ANIMALS! Close proximity to humans has been shown to cause a heart rate increase of 20- 100% in birds.  Being approached by humans may also cause birds to abandon their young/nests.
-Take extra care not to uproot moss and lichen wherever possible.  

Information summarized from the Know Before You Go pamphlet. (FYI: It's a massive file...)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I'm putting up a few more cool facts today as I continue work on the educational packet.  Hopefully, I'll be able to post the who thing on here once it's completed.  It may take a while, though - I really want it to look professional and I've been taking my time structuring it in MS Word.  I found out I could do some pretty cool things...

Anyway, here are the cool facts I wanted to share:

Many people assume that Antarctica's largest land animal is the penguin or seal. However, the continent largest land animal is the wingless midge, a type of fly that is no more than ½ an inch long. Penguins and seals are aquatic animals - they spend most of their time in the water.

One of the six species of seals in Antarctica, Weddell seals, can hold their breath 30 times longer than humans. This allows them to dive to depths of almost 2000 feet and to spend more than an hour under the thick ice.  

There are two flowering plants found on the Antarctic Peninsula: Deschampsia antarctica (Antarctic hair grass) and Colobanthus quitensis (Antarctic pearlwort). Most other plant life is composed of lichens and mosses.

Scientists have discovered fossils of plants and animals revealing that millions of years ago, Antarctica was much warmer with temperate forests (SHOCKING, right?).