Parable of the Sower

I did not know what to expect when I began this book. As I moved through the first several chapters I thought I would essentially be reading a story that was exactly like Earth Abides in that it would simply be a slow, crawling storyline of people trying to survive an apocalyptic scenario. This proved to be dead wrong as the storyline really explodes with amazing detail and vivid storytelling. The book follows Lauren Olamina as she is forced to abandon her life in a semi-safe walled town in California as savages eventually come and rape, murder, and defile her friends and family. She must find her own path in a Road Warrior type world where all social structures and norms have disappeared. Octavia Butler weaves larger topics such as race relations, global warming, pollution, and most importantly, at least in my interpretation, religion in with a sometimes painfully realistic and explicit storyline. I found it quite interesting that the author, in many ways, portrays the protagonist as a religious figure. Beyond becoming a leader of a band of survivors and coming up with her own philosophy and way of seeing God/religion, she also personally feels the pain and pleasure as others around her do. I found this to be one of the most intriguing aspects of the story, as she is essentially one with the people around her. This is not a very good condition to have when the people around you experience nothing but pain and suffering, but because of this condition she cannot help but to impact change around her. This poetically goes right along with one of the main ideas of Earthseed, which is that God is change. This book is a disturbing yet accurate insight into the more animal and sadistic side of human nature. It shows just how fast humans can lose all sense of civility and compassion and return to a barbaric, medieval mind state. Butler’s insight into humanity’s evils holds nothing back. This book is slightly over the top and extreme, but the author raises many important questions that we could, at some point, have to face as a species.

Drilling in the Arctic

As we discussed in class, the oil industry plans to profit off of the loss of polar ice by drilling for oil that was previously unattainable. This idea is shocking for a number of reasons. For one, climate change is already an issue facing humanity and with a brand new untapped goldmine of oil slowly becoming more and more accessible it will be even harder to convince companies to move away from fossil fuels. Beyond this problem, we do not even have the technology to safely and effectively drill in deep sea oil fields. This was seen in the Gulf of Mexico, and oil companies continue to downplay how little control they actually have over these spills. As if drilling in deep waters wasn’t difficult enough, companies will be drilling in the much harsher arctic which is harder to quickly get to if a spill occurs. To add even more negatives to the list we do not have effective ways of cleaning up such spills. Currently we only really have three solutions for spills. One of our three possible solutions is simply to burn it once it spills. Intelligent right? Essentially, as we continue to look down the barrel of the gun that is climate change we continue to find more ways to make the situation worse. The scary part about all of this is that many oils spills happen around the world. In America, where we only get news that pertains to us, we do not even hear about these spills. I have attached a wikipedia list of oil spills that have been recorded, and I can guarantee most of us haven’t heard of more than one or two of them. As citizens, we really need to stay informed about these kinds of things. Share this with anyone who will listen.

Leading Climate Denier Found to be Funded by Fossil-Fuel Industry

This is a perfect example of what we discussed last class and what we saw in the documentary Merchants of Doubt. This story reveals that one of the leading “respected” figures on climate denial, Wei-Hock Soon a professor from Harvard, has been taking money from the fossil-fuel industry and specifically from Koch Industries. As we talked about in class, the Koch brothers are a leading force in the industry’s push to ignore climate change, and this story is an example. It is people like this that stand in the way of progress and they are utilizing the same playbook that the tobacco industry used a few decades back. These handful of extremely wealthy and powerful individuals are helping to set up humanity for a most epic downfall, and they are doing it right in front of our faces. My question is, how are there no repercussions for this kind of stuff?


“Knowledge Did Not Translate Into Power”

            The Collapse of Western Civilization is a short book that describes one of the most complicated yet simple problems that humanity faces. In a modern age where everything has become globalized, industrialized, commercialized, and commoditized, we face one of the first true global and communal tests that will largely determine how secure our species’ future will be on this planet, which we like to think we have total control over. The authors describe the paradox of our situation perfectly on the very first page of the book: “Even today, two millennia after the collapse of the Roman and Mayan empires and one millennium after the end of the Byzantine and Inca empires, historians, archaeologists, and synthetic-failure paleoanalysts have been unable to agree on the primary causes of those societies’ loss of population, power, stability, and identity. The case of Western civilization is different because the consequences of its actions were not only predictable, but predicted (1).” The most advanced empires and societies in human history have fallen at some point, but if they were to be resurrected at least they could claim ignorance. What is our excuse? Historians will look back at this time period and they will either say this is the point where a society made a change, or they will say nothing because there are no historians to even look back because we could not get our act together. The US and the world have a chance to utilize knowledge and power to make a real difference. Can we get past inertia and complacency? In this situation can knowledge translate into power?

Simply put, the issue boils down to whether we as people can help ourselves. Can we do ourselves a favor and carry out what we know or ought to know to be necessary? Part of the problem comes down to a question for each and every industrialized nation: can we rethink our entrenched mindset so that we can make aiding humanity’s survival profitable? There seems something inherently wrong about needing to make survival and protecting our one and only planet profitable in order to make changes. But, alas, this is the world we live in, and this is the economic system we have adopted. For the most part, momentum must begin here in America, a nation that is all too comfortable in claiming that it is the land of the free and the leader of the free world. In modern culture, advanced nations must place emphasis on science, math, and education as a whole in order to excel. This is how it encourages and builds a population from the ground up. In order to be the leaders of the free world, America must first lead. It cannot continue to be a self-proclaimed title. One could compare our nation’s situation with the story of Narcissus. As a culture we love to look back at our great accomplishments. It is safe to say that from the mid 20th century to present day America has had great influence in shaping what the world has become. We spread our sphere of influence across the world, impacted real change, and our economy reached unparalleled heights. We continue to stare lovingly and narcissistically at our own reflection as we reminisce to a time when we can say that we stood for freedom and progress. America has reached a point where gridlock cripples Congress and politicians become further and further entrenched in ideologies that do nothing to advance our nation. Meanwhile, life continues and nations pass us without looking back. America has fallen behind in mathematics, science, reading, graduation rates, and education as a whole. I am not quite sure how much longer America can claim to be the leader of the free world when our country ranks behind Iceland, Poland, and Czech Republic in math and science. Not to say there is anything wrong with these countries, but it is hard to ignore the fact that we are losing our grip on leading the world. Much like Narcissus, America is drowning in its own self-affection, as it loses focus on what made it great in the first place. It is a scary concept to think that America is the first domino that needs to fall in order to start the progress on climate change, yet we continue to slip in educational standards.

Many countries have attempted to get America to cooperate in global efforts, but seeing as the coal and oil lobby has a stranglehold on our economy we cannot participate. America is largely one of the only advanced nations where politicians regularly claim that climate change is a myth, despite the fact that the science proves otherwise. When asked about it, politicians such as Marco Rubio and John Boehner say things like, “I am not a scientist. I’m not qualified to make that decision.” Well maybe its time to start listening to the people who are actually qualified. We have a large-scale, behind the scenes war going on in America that no one can see on the surface. Industrialists have an enormous amount to lose if America and other nations decide to move away from fossil fuels, so studies are funded solely for the purpose of discrediting a close to unanimous idea that climate change is real and happening all around us. Lobbyists and Super PACS pay off politicians to say that it does not exist. It is almost like a slight of hand trick that oil lobbyists and industrialist play, particularly in America, even though it does happen in other countries as well. They say, “okay there are these studies saying that we are slowly and steadily suffocating ourselves, but ,WOAH, hey look over here, if we move away from fossil fuels we’ll lose jobs. And let’s not forget there’s no real proof climate change is even real. I’m not a scientist, but I mean, come on people, do you really not care about your countrymen’s livelihood?” This issue should have nothing to do with jobs. While jobs at coal mines, oil rigs, fracking stations, etc. may go away, it is the role of the economy and any country that hopes to advance to create new, better jobs in more advanced fields. The way this is done is by creating a culture where education can be easily accessed by any and all citizens. Advancement lies in an educated populace. In the end, the scales should balance out or even create more jobs than before. The genius of the Industrialists’ media campaign is that they recognize that they don’t have to prove or show you anything real; they just have to plant that seed of doubt in your mind, and then buy influence in Washington so they can have assurances that their interests will be protected. In the latest Rolling Stone issue, Jeff Goodell talks about how, prior to 2008, Republicans and conservatives in America were able to at least discuss climate change. This was at a time when The Pentagon continued to release reports saying that it would eventually become a military, infrastructure, and migration problem. At a certain point lobbyists found this threatening. Goodell writes, “This kind of talk vanished from the party after 2008, when the GOP turned into a subsidiary of Koch Industries. Since then, Republicans have worked hard to undermine any connection between climate change and national security.” The Koch brothers are part of a family that owns Koch Industries, a company that works to produce oil and other fossil fuels. They have used their money to buy influence in government. And their money has gone a long way. The Pentagon continues to write reports warning Congress and our government as a whole of the threats that will come with climate change. What is Congress’ response? Climate deniers in the House of Representatives and Senate threaten to cut their budget. They also passed a bill that prohibited any Pentagon spending on implementing any recommendations from any U.N. panels on climate change. Out of these restrictions comes a political paradox. Conservatives feel the need to throw obscene amounts of money at our defense budget and military complex. It is known that they try to prevent any efforts to curb climate change, but at the same time climate change threatens nearly every Navy and Air Force base along the East Coast, and this is just due to sea level rise. Other bases will surely be at risk as well. Chuck Hagel, the Secretary of Defense, recently called climate change a “threat multiplier that has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we are dealing with today- from infectious disease to terrorism (Goodell 51).” He was later blasted in conservative media for this statement. During the years that Bush was in office, there was a clear and concise effort on the behalf of Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and the Bush administration to prevent any information on climate change from being released. Their goal was to mislead the American public from the facts. A side note that cannot be ignored is the fact that Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice and other members of the Bush administration have personal ties to the oil business. There are endless examples of a conservative effort to completely smother any partisan efforts to slow down climate change, not by proving anything with facts but by creating an aura of confusion around the topic in general. In an economic system where money reigns supreme, how can an industry that equals much more than most nations’ GDP not have an incredible influence on governmental decisions? Oreskes and Conway provide an example of this: “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,” passed in 2012… Meanwhile the Government Spending Accountability Act of 2012 restricted the ability of government scientists to attend conferences to share and analyze the results of their research (11-12).” I am not sure about anyone else but I do not want my governmental officials, many of who personally claim they are not scientists, telling scientists what should and should not be analyzed and shared. That is a blatant violation of the first amendment of the US Constitution.

In conclusion, if America cannot begin to gets its bloated, ideological system in check, we as citizens must educate ourselves about this topic that, if not now, will later influence our lives. We have amazing resources at our fingertips that did not exist 20 years ago; people can teach themselves new topics at the click of several buttons. The information is out there, and progress must be made if we have any hope of slowing climate change down. It will become our personal responsibility to educate others and ourselves. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” We cannot sit back and wait for disasters to force our hand. Knowledge can translate into power if we learn to think for ourselves and remove ourselves from political boundaries.



Goodell, Jeff. “The Pentagon & Climate Change.” Rolling Stone. 26 February, 2015: page48-55. Print.

Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway. The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. Print.

Weisenthal, Joe. “Here’s The New Ranking Of Top Countries In Reading, Science, And Math.” Business Insider. 3 December 2013. Web. Accessed 2 February 2015.

Froomkin, Dick. “Cheney: Neither here nor there.” Washington Post. 21 June 2007. Web. Accessed 2 February 2015.


Climate Change in Greenland

This is a truly eye opening story and example of how climate change is in effect. This story is done by the news company Vice and reported by Shane Smith as he does to Greenland to witness the visual effects of climate change. This kind of stuff does not happen because of natural atmospheric patterns. Climate change is happening people and here’s some proof. The episodes of Vice on HBO are done in half-hour bits and they typically contain two different stories. The second story here does not relate to our class, but it is an eye opening story of modern day slavery in Pakistan. I would recommend this show and company to anyone who is tired of not getting real news from CNN, FOX, etc.

Humanity Abides

The Earth Abides is unlike any other post-apocalyptic novel or story that I have ever read. Many times when you read these types of stories, the author focuses on narrow ideas. Usually the majority of the story revolves around fending off various attackers and simply finding a place to repopulate the Earth while dealing with personality clashes, like in Walking Dead. While George Stewart brings up these concepts, he also focuses on much larger issues and uses the idea of the end of human existence as we know it as a platform to show the reader some of humanity’s flaws, hypocrisies, and injustices. The story begins with the protagonist Ish as he travels throughout America, experiencing a world without humanity. In his journey to discover what life has become, Ish witnesses the ugly side of the human condition after the convenient, organized walls of society come crashing down. He meets a man drinking himself to death, a couple who seem to have gone insane, a fearful woman who ran at the sight of another human, and a couple who still pretend that nothing has changed. Once back in California, Ish and his wife Em form a “Tribe” as they attempt to repopulate the world. Ish states numerous times in the book that he feels like an observer as opposed to a participant in life. He finds himself slipping into the “darkness” as he puts it, until his son Joey is born. Joey is what he had been waiting for, which was someone to continue his line of intelligence. As Joey dies, so does a part of his hope for the future of mankind as humanity resorts back to a more superstitious and simplistic state.


The author uses the absence of a regular society to show us some of the hypocrisies that cultures tend to adopt and to take for granted. He highlights racial injustices, issues that arise from organized religion, sexual stereotypes, the importance of reading and education, the impact society has on the environment, in addition to showing just how blind people can become when survival is not a day-to-day concern.


Perhaps his most important theme is the insignificance of the human race. This is the first thing I noticed as he talks about the various impacts the lack of humanity has on animals, plants, and the overall x. People tend to think that we have this firm grasp on our environment, but in reality we are just as close to extinction as many of the animals he highlights in the book. This is shown on the page before the introduction with the quote from Ecclesiastes, “Men go and come, but Earth abides.” This is the message that I took away from the book, which is that life on Earth should not be taken for granted. We are a part of life and nature; we do not control them. We get back what we put forth into the Earth. AKA Earth Abides.


Climate Changed: An Important Lesson Learned

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science is an extremely effective piece of work. The reader is along for the ride as Phillippe Squarzoni takes a personal journey to understand an extremely significant and inevitable natural phenomenon called climate change. He weaves details from his own life in with larger topics that are pieces of the complex web of the human effort to curb the effects of climate change. He is doing important work that is arguably as crucial as the scientific work done by professionals, which is effectively making climate change approachable and understandable to people who may find the scientific explanation confusing. The author does not come across as preachy in ways that scientists can be on occasion. He enters the topic with a purely curious and open mind state, which is something everyone should be able to appreciate. It is important to understand that climate change is not something we can ignore or forget about, and Squarzoni takes an extremely complicated idea that takes shape in numerous ways and shows us how it can and will effect us on a personal level. We do not know exactly in which ways as no one can predict the effects of the climate, but he shows us how climate change will become a part of everyday life. We are all a part of this issue, and when one begins to see real, tangible ways that it impacts our day-to-day lives, climate change becomes less of a thing to shrug off and more of a threat to our species’ existence. Even if you do not like his story or approach you still have to appreciate how effective he is at getting his point across