Author: Sophia R Yonezuka

Audit

Writing blogs for this class is very different from what I am used to doing in my other classes. I had to adjust to a different style of writing when writing these blogs because I am used to writing more formal essays. Although this transition was hard to make at first, I grew to enjoy writing these blogs because they allowed me to think more creatively with the books. It was difficult for me to narrow my thoughts while writing these blogs because we were given very little guidelines in terms of the content of the blogs. Although it was challenging to write these blogs because they were very open ended, this aspect of the blogs allowed me to produce more abstract and interesting work.

I had experience writing online blogs in other classes. However, those blogs were on Black Board through the discussion board tool, which was different from this class because our class had its own website that was available to the public. I preferred writing blogs on our class website rather than on Black Board because the information about the course was easily accessible and it was helpful to read my classmates’ blogs before I posted mine. Reading my classmates’ blogs was helpful because it allowed me to think deeper about the books and develop my own ideas. I also felt that my style of writing was different for these class blogs than other blogs that I have written in the past because I knew that the public was able to read them. For example, I thought more creatively about how I wanted to present my information because I wanted my blog to be interesting to my reader. In contrast, when I posted blogs on Black Board my blogs were less creative because I was simply fulfilling a course requirement.

In terms of my attitude towards the blog as a whole I believe that I became more interested in it as the course progressed. At first the blog made me nervous because I was afraid that my blogs would not relate to the rest of my classmates’ blogs. As I grew more comfortable posting my blogs, I became less intimidated by the blog and more open to sharing my ideas. I liked that our blogs were reviews of the books because they allowed for more opinions and interpretations of the books. Being able to freely express our personal opinions of the books allowed for our class community to become stronger and we had more interesting conversations. I enjoyed reading my classmates’ blogs because there were many times that I never considered something that one of my classmates wrote about, which deepened my thinking about the books.

Getting Through the Storm

I really enjoyed reading Hurricane Fever by Tobias Buckell. Unlike other cli-fi novels, I felt that this novel gave a positive impression of the futuristic world. The protagonist, Roo fully embraced dangers of the natural world such as the rising sea levels and the incoming hurricanes. The imagery in this novel of the massive waves crashing illustrates how Roo’s character literally had to face his obstacles head on. He embraces the chaos and enjoys the journey. As a reader I never got the feeling that Roo was scared about these dangers. For example, he would stop to get a drink and talk with the locals about the incoming storms like it was a normal occurrence. I believe that Buckell decided to make the main character so strong minded in order to convey the idea that as a society we should not let our fear or emotions disable us from acting on the issues that we are faced with. This is why I liked Roo’s character so much because he was the true definition of a character that refuses to give up. This theme of perseverance can also relate to the bigger issue of climate change. Many people in today’s society are pessimistic and have lost all hope in restoring our earth. Roo’s character proves to the reader that obstacles can be overcome and it does not have to be so scary.

This book was full of action, such as when Kit claims to be Zee’s sister and joins Roo and his nephew, Delroy on their journey to find shelter. In addition, the flirtation between Kit and Roo also made the book more entertaining. In addition, there was a mystery element to the novel because as the reader I was trying to gather more information about Zee and her death. There was also violence through out the novel such as at the end when Beauchamp shot Roo.

Therefore, this book was very much an easy read and light-hearted compared to other cli-fi novels. Buckell wrote a thrilling novel that made the reader less apprehensive about the future despite the chaos because it was presented in a way that was challenging because the characters had to literally and figuratively get through the storm.

Human Survival

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi provides a terrifying depiction of a futuristic society. One of the central messages that Bacigalupi wanted to express through this novel was the idea of human survival. He examines how far humans are willing to go to survive–what they will sacrifice and what they will do in order to get what they want even if that means going against morality. Moreover, he demonstrates the strength of humanity and how even when a society falls, we bond to one another and do whatever needs doing to continue life.

This novel is considered a sci-fi novel because it directly relates to climate change. It takes place in Thailand, in which there is a great deal of turmoil and corruption as a result of the shortage of food, loss of energy resources and outbreaks of the plague. The only resource that the city has left is seeds because all of the other resources that produce energy, such as fossil fuels, are depleted. This is relevant to today because we are also running low on energy resources. Another issue that deals with climate change is the increasing water levels.

In the article, Megalopolis by Aarthi Vadde, she considers the setting of Thailand in this novel, to be a megalopolis, or a western society that is predicted to fall due to its increasing growth of population. Vadde discusses how this megalopolis is literally sinking due to the rise of water levels. She describes this novel as an Anthropocene, which is a vision of the future defined by the impact of humans on Earth systems. She continues to write that the end of the world presented in this novel was not a sudden event; rather it was a gradual progression of cities emerging in water (Vadde). As I was reading, I also noticed this imagery of water and the sinking of cities. Emiko, one of the main characters, was drawn to water throughout the book. Water was largely discussed in relation to the world coming to an end; however, water was also used as a symbol of the rebirth of humanity.

One of the main reasons why the society of Thailand fell was because the government lost all control over its people. All of the characters in this novel had their own economic or political agendas and went around the government to get what they wanted. For example, Anderson Lake, the owner of the Spring Life factory, kept it a secret that he was in search of the Thai seed bank. In addition, his employee Hock Seng, embezzled from the company in order to plan for an escape. He also wanted to steal the blueprints from Anderson. This shows how the characters lied and stole from one another because they were looking out for themselves during this time of panic. Through these characters’ actions, Bacigalupi demonstrates how humans will do things that go against morality in order to survive.

In addition to these economic and political disasters, Bacigalupi reveals the social corruptions within Thailand by describing the sex trade. Anderson fell in love with the windup girl, Emiko, who worked as a sex slave for Raleigh. Emiko told Anderson about the seed bank and Anderson told her about the village that had new people. Emiko fantasized about escaping to this village through out the novel. Therefore, Emiko’s main mission in the book was to escape from slavery and go to this village. Again, this shows how when society falls the main mission of the individual is to survive, and in Emiko’s case it was to escape from this society completely. Although Emiko never made it to this village, after Anderson died from the plague and she was the only one left in the society, a scientist named Gibbons approached her and promised her that he would use her genes to create a new race of humans. The ending of this novel shows how humans have a moral responsibility to continue life.

Vadde analyzes the ending of this novel. Vadde interprets Gibbon’s idea of Emiko’s genetics being superior by stating, “Emiko’s genetic makeup does not exclude her from “us humans,” nor does the “natural world” exclude a sinking megalopolis” (Vadde). Vadde is making this parallel that Emiko is still considered human even if she does have strong genes and a dying society, as great as Thailand, still influences the natural world. This idea presented by Vadde can be applied to the issue of climate change. The individual as well as the whole society influences the natural world. Therefore, in order to better the earth, changes need to be made on a large and small scale.

The Wind Up Girl is a sci-fi novel that questions what it means to be a human and what humans do in hard times in order to survive. Through the characters actions, the reader is able to see that humans will go against morality in order to protect themselves. From the beginning to the end of the novel, the central theme remains that humanity will always perceiver even when societies fall. Humans will fight to the end because the strongest desire that we hold is to live.

References

Vadde, A.(n.d.). Megalopolis Now. Retrieved March 30, 2015, from http://www.publicbooks.org/fiction/megalopolis-now

The Reality of Science

In the novel Forty Signs of Rain Kim Stanley Robinson deliberately tries to de-stigmatize science by claiming that it is not boring. In class we discussed the excerpt found on page 89 that begins with “It could be said that science is boring…”. I personally have always found science to be boring and uninteresting because I could never relate to it. Although I am still not very interested with science after reading this novel, I can appreciate and understand the work that scientists do and what their jobs entail. Robinson succeeds in overcoming the generalizations made about science and shows the truth of what goes on behind close doors.

Robinson provides a realistic account of what a scientists’ everyday life is like. Often times people are unable to relate to science because they feel that scientists are above them or of a higher status, Robinson shows the reader that scientists live normal lives and are faced with problems like any other person. Specifically, Robinson makes the connection that like any worker in America, scientists also work hard in order to try and move up in their field. For example, Anna Quibler and her husband Charlie are a prime example of this. Not only does she work as a scientist, she is also a mother. Robinson emphasizes how Anna has to balance her career with her responsibilities at home to show how scientists have the same struggles as other people do. Charlie is a science advisor for a senator and he writes science legislation. In addition, he is a stay at home father. Robinson includes this family dynamic into the novel to disprove the reader’s generalizations about scientists. He shows how scientists can be both male and female and can have jobs that involve work outside the laboratory.

Therefore, I believe that Robinson is more successful in showing the reality of science than he is showing how science is not boring. After reading this novel, I have more respect for scientists. The characters in this novel show that to be a scientist you need great determination and patience. Moreover, scientists have to work as a team if they want to make any real progress. This can be applied to the larger concept of how we are dealing with climate change as a whole society. Yes it is true that we cannot fix this problem over night. However, we should adopt the mindset of scientists in that if we continue to work together as a team and take the necessary steps we will be able to make a difference.

 

 

Is Publishing Books on Climate Change Enough?

This article explains this up and coming genre of sci-fi and it questions whether simply writing a sci-fi book is enough to make an impact on society. In other words, how should we ensure that these ideas continue to perpetuate once a book is published? The article also discussed how sci-fi authors are meeting with scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to discuss bigger goals in relation to climate change. This union is in hope to bridge the gap between sci-fi and hard science. This article shows how sci-fi authors are becoming a true value in the fight of climate change.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/20/science/fiction-writers-help-scientists-push-known-boundaries.html?ref=topics&_r=0

 

Audit

I enjoy the blogging component of this class. I like that we have the freedom to choose what we want to write about because it allows for more interesting conversations in class. Overall, I believe the blogging is going well for this class because it allows in-class conversations to go more smoothly. It is helpful being able to see what my classmates post about the book so I can better understand parts of the book that I may be confused about and so that I can deepen my level of thinking. I believe that the blog works well in preparing students for class each week because it gives them the opportunity to process the book, how people reacted to the book and how the book relates to the issue of climate change.

What I would change about the blog for this class is the online participation. I feel that it is easy for students to forget that they need to post comments or posts that are separate from the short reviews. I would change this by having students comment on another classmates’ post each week in addition to writing their short review. In addition, I would have students receive extra credit if they choose to post an article or video that is related to the course.

I have had classes in the past that use blogs, twitter and discussion boards. I like how this blog functions because it is the main portal that we use for this class. In addition for it being a place where students can connect their thoughts about the reading, it also includes information about the course, which is easy to access. In this way, I think the blog is very effective.

Flight Behavior: A story about Faith

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver was a very interesting novel. Personally, I felt that it was a little slow and lacked a plot. However, I was able to connect to the characters because of Kingsolver’s rich dialogue, which made the story more enjoyable.

This novel relates to climate change because it focused on how monarch butterflies were disappearing due to the increasing in temperature. The main character, Dellarobia Turnbow was distraught through out the entire book as she learned more about climate change. Her character can be compared to the everyday person in today’s society that lacks knowledge about climate change. Ovid Byron is the monarch butterfly specialist who informs Dellarobia about climate change. His character can be compared to the small percentage of our society that has knowledge about climate change and is active in solving the problem. Dellarobia is in disbelief while at the same time she experiences a strong urge to make a change. Her reaction can be compared to that of most people’s today’s society. Many people cannot fathom the idea that our earth is warming due to human impact. In addition, many people have a similar response that there should be an immediate change to help solve the issue.

The most prevalent aspect that I took away from this novel was the symbolism of butterflies. Dellarobia, being a very religious woman, sees the butterflies’ disappearance as a sign that the world is going to end. She even goes as far as trying to commit suicide. What stops her from jumping off the cliff is when she sees the monarch butterflies appear. She takes their re-appearance of the butterflies as a sign of hope that the earth and humanity can recover from climate change. Kingsolver uses the butterfly as a symbol for faith, hope, rebirth and nature itself. Kingsolver chose to have the butterflies re-appear during this part of the book to send the message that mother nature will always prevail humanity. Similar to how religion gives people a sense of comfort and peace, nature also supports humanity in this way.

As I was reading this novel, I felt the strong desire form the characters to preserve the butterflies. In this way, the desire to preserve the butterflies can be compared to the desire to preserve the earth. Humans instinctually want to preserve nature because it is precious to us. On the flip side, we can also do harmful things to nature, which is a direct result of climate change. Now that we see the consequences of our actions, we have to make the decision if we want to continue destroying the earth for convenience and pleasure or make some kind of radical change by stopping our selfish ways so that we can preserve what is left.

 

 

The Fear of Change

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler was a novel that analyzed how humans take passive roles, even during times of crisis, because of their fear of change. The main character, Lauren Olamina is forced to move north when the government has collapsed and her family has been murdered in her hometown of LA. Before this crisis erupted, Lauren developed her own religious system called Earthseed from the time she was a child. Within this system, God is not viewed as a person but more of a spirit, like nature itself. Her goal once she moves north is to start a new community based off Earthseed.

What struck me as most interesting about Lauren’s religion is that she had no emotional attachment to God. “My God doesn’t love me or hate me or watch over me or know me at all, and I feel no love or loyalty to my God. My God just is.” Most often, religion is a way that people seek comfort when they are going through difficult times in their life. Lauren, on the other hand, does not have this personal connection to God. Moreover, she believes that God is change, or in other words, that God is the only power that ever prevails. Regardless of our personal connection to God, “God can’t be resisted or stopped, but can be shaped and focused.” Although it is possible for humans to shape God, God will always yield change, regardless of this human connection.

It was understood by the reader that according to Earthseed, God is change. Change was a main theme throughout this novel. In addition, the theme of fear was presented in alignment to change. It was stated through out the novel that humans are innately afraid of change. This relates to the part of the novel when Lauren is talking to her father about the world coming to an end. He is trying to explain to Lauren why she should not discuss the world coming to an end with people because it scares them. “Its better to teach people than to scare them” he told her. “If you scare them and nothing happens, they loose their fear, and you loose some of your authority with them. It’s harder to scare them a second time, harder to teach them, harder to win back their trust. Best begin by teaching.” This quote reminded me of our discussion in class about if we should instill fear in people as a motive for getting them to understand the seriousness of climate change. Similar to how people were talking in this novel about the world coming to an end is what essentially is happening now with the conversation of climate change. I disagree with Lauren’s father that we should simply ignore the issue because people are afraid of it. I do, however, agree that scaring people is not the way of going about making any kind of change. In other words, we should focus less on constructing the perfect delivery of information to make people scared, and we should instead teach people the simple facts of what our future will look like if we continue to not take action.

Knowledge Does Not Equal Power

The Collapse of Western Civilization by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway was an informative and intreaging piece that related the decline of Western Civilization to the current issue of climate change. The book began by explaining how the societies that made up the Western Civilization were able to foresee their decline, however were unable to prevent the fall because the people that had this knowledge did not hold political power. Therefore, Oreskes and Conway are making the argument that from the beginning of history, societies have been limited because only those who hold power in the society are able to make decisions that would yield any significant change. This concept is still relevant today. Although there are people who have knowledge of how to go about solving the issues that we have, this knowledge is withheld from the public because our political systems will not allow this knowledge to be shared. This idea of knowledge production, or the government controlling what information is exposed to the public, is the reason why our society is at a standstill. Knowledge is withheld in order for the government to make money—in other words, the issues that we have sustains our economy. As a result of this corruption, the issues that we have, such as climate change, are worsening.

 

The book describes how the issue of climate change was first developed and how people responded to the evolving crisis. Some people were in active denial in which they completely refuted the idea by justifying that the extreme weather events were only caused by natural variability. Others were in passive denial in which they accepted the idea but continued living their life as if it did not exist. This still holds true for some people today. Although there are activists in our society, many of them do not hold political power. Therefore, they are unable to make any radical change towards making our society more proactive with protecting our earth. In the interview at the end of the book, Conway discussed how our society tends to deal with issues when the damage has already been done rather than taking the proper precautions. This relates back to the idea about the decline of Western Civilization. Similar to how people knew that the fall was going to happen, people today are aware of climate change and of the solutions. The reason why were not taking action this issue is because the people who want to make a difference do not hold power. This is Oreskes and Conway’s point—knowledge does not translate to power.

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through The Science

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through The Science by Philippe Squarzoni provides an interesting account of the modern political issue of climate change. Throughout the book there is a complimentary balance between factual information and dialogue. It is through these bits of cold facts and powerful pieces of dialogue that makes the reader question how we got to this horrifying place where our earth continues to suffer due to our wrongdoing. It makes the reader question why humans continue to self-destruct by making poor decisions that they know will be detrimental in the future. Consumerism is the driving force behind our decisions which is why we cannot seem to unify as a collective society and make any real changes, whether that be concerning our political, economic, environmental or social problems. Through the analyzing this book, the issue of climate change unfolds many injustices and faults that exist in our society.

This book is informative and also relatable because the reader is exposed to various perspectives on the issue of climate change. There are two separate dialogues occurring in the book. One dialogue is between members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the other dialogue is between a man, who is in the process of writing a book about climate change, and his wife. Squarzoni decides to contrast these two dialogues: one of an everyday couple and another of a group of people with more political power and knowledge, to show the different perspectives and attitudes people have concerning this issue.

When the man is talking about climate change to his wife the reader gets an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. He is concerned about how climate change is becoming progressively worse and feels as if he cannot have any impact through writing his book. For example the man says to his wife, “Another problem is that we can’t see the change happening. The climate crisis is still far off, too abstract to shift our priorities (page 250).” Squarzoni creates this tone of discouragement in order to draw attention to the mentality that most people in today’s society have regarding climate change. Most people recognize that it is a serious issue but many people are either uneducated about it or feel that any contribution they have will not make a significant difference in helping the problem. The man continues to explain to his wife that the reason why our society is in this position is because of consumerism. “Sure its true, we make our small gestures to save the planet. Turn off the water while we brush our teeth. Buy energy-efficient light bulbs. But are we ready to forego purchasing the next big-screen TV? A more powerful car? Are we ready to give up red meat? (page 257)” He is arguing that as a society we recognize the problem and will do the bare minimum to help, however we will not make any drastic changes to our daily lives. “Climate change is also a symptom of a breakdown of solidarity, a sign on collective selfishness (page 291)”. Again, he is drawing upon this core issue that we have grown to be selfish beings through consumerism. Furthermore, we are unwilling to sacrifice our personal lives, even if that means that our earth continues to diminish.

The dialogue between the members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also reveals another claim by Squarzoni about our society. These members discussed the issue of climate change from more of a political and economic standpoint. For example, they discuss how climate change is going to result in an increase of diseases, which is going to negatively impact the poor because they cannot afford health care. “Lets say this happens in 2050. The big question is: will the poorer countries of 2050 have health care systems comparable to those of the rich countries today? (page 255)” This excerpt shows the complexity of climate change and explains why there is no simple solution to the problem. Moreover, it shows that in our society the elite are always more protected under our political system than the poor. Again, this relates to theme of selfishness. Through out human history, there has always been a hierarchy of how we categorize humans, which is mainly determined by race and socio economic status.

In the article, The New Abolitionism by Christopher Hayes, he makes an interesting parallel between slavery and climate change. Although the two topics are vastly different, he compares them from an economic and political standpoint. “The connection between slavery and fossil fuels, however, is more than metaphorical. Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, slaves were one of the main sources of energy (if not the main source) for societies stretching back millennia (Hayes).” Slaves produced energy, just like fossil fuels, which is why slaves were viewed as resources instead of human beings. Similar to how people continued to take part in slavery even though they knew it was immoral, people now are continuing to burn fossil fuels even though it is harmful to the earth.

This correlation shows how throughout history, our society has always been motivated by consumerism and individual gain. In other words, by nature, humans are selfish. We will do what is best for our personal lives rather than what is best for the society as a whole. In addition, the only people that are ever in control over the issue, whether it be slavery or climate change, is always the elite. This is represented in the book Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through The Science through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Squarzoni chose to contrast this group from an everyday man to show this social divide that exists in our society. If the elite govern the ultimate decisions that are made in our society and they are only interested in personal gain, our society will continue to be at a standstill while issues, such as climate change, continue to worsen.

Living in the Moment

I enjoyed reading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. It provided an optimistic perspective of how people should view life and more specifically, time. The time traveler explains his theory of time by stating that space has three dimensions: length, breadth and thickness and that time is just a form of space. He continues to say, “There is no difference between Time and any of the three dimensions of Space except that our conscious moves along it.” In other words, he is trying to convey that we as humans have control over time based on the perspective we choose to hold. The time traveler also presents this idea that time moves fast for most people because, “We are always getting away from the present moment.” I can personally relate to this concept of not living in the present and I think many people can. Often times in life we get so preoccupied thinking forward or in the past that we forget to appreciate what we are going though in that moment. Although it is fiction that people can control the speed of time, it is true that time can appear to go fast or slow depending on a person’s perspective in a particular moment. Therefore, I liked the message that H.G. Wells was trying to send to his reader regarding perspective. H.G. Wells also provided an interesting representation of the future. As the time traveler is going through the future he comes in contact with humanlike creatures. H.G. Wells is making a claim that in our future we will be dehumanized due to the problems that exist in our society, such as our dependence on technology. As a reader, I was left feeling unsettled and confused about this representation of our future. I believe that H.G. Wells was trying to warn his audience that our future is in danger due to the poor decisions that we are making in the present.