assignment

First part

This part you should read this part then there are two questions in red. You have to rephrase them

In this piece, the final chapter in Lovelock’s book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning, he writes that, “We know that we have made appalling mistakes but we have cast aside the old idea that we are born evil and now acknowledge that the whims of our fickle natures were amplified by technology, so that like a drunkard driving a tank we have accidentally trashed our world. Guilt is inappropriate; we seek restitution and the restoration of our lost world, not punishment” (p. 150).

David Suzuki made a similar point in the film The 11th Hour, where he suggests that the very quality that set us apart (above?) all other animals — i.e. our intelligence — has, in the long run, been our undoing, as it led us to develop technologies that (eventually) destroyed the environment and to live ways of life that we considered to be removed or apart from nature.

With this in mind, and having read Lovelock’s chapter, answer the following questions:

1. Do you agree or disagree with the suggestion that, from an environmental perspective, were we always a doomed species? By that, I mean has our unique development of and reliance upon ever-more complex technologies (starting with sticks and fire) — and the exploitation of resources they entail — always thrust us into conflict with nature? Give your reasons.

2. Even Lovelock ends on an optimistic note: “How could anyone be a pessimist and imagine that the global heating crisis is the end for us or Gaia? We will probably both survive and from our descendants could evolve the wiser species that could live even closer in Gaia and perhaps make her the first citizen of our Galaxy” (p. 162). With this in mind — and given the fact that our industrial mode of life of the past 250 years represents less than 0.2% of our existence as a species — are you optimistic or pessimistic about our very long-term prospects for survival? Explain why.

1. I agree with the suggestion that, from an environmental perspective, we as a species have always been doomed. People are inherently lazy, greedy, and scared, coupled with our intelligence we will always look for ways to make any task easier. Tools and practices are developed without any regard for the environment because the long-term effects are considered insignificant compared to the immediate gratification.

The dependency on increasingly complex technologies will always send the human species into conflict with nature because of the exploitation of natural resources such technologies require.    

2. I am pessimistic of the long-term prospects for our species survival because over the past 250 years with our industrial lifestyle the majority of people have lost the knowledge of how to live deprived of technologies and all the services that make our daily lives so comfortable. With the collapse of our civilization i feel that because of the complete depletion of natural resources, those who survive will be living in a stone age. There will be nothing to build out of the ashes and so i feel humans, as a species will inevitably fall to extinction. 

Second part

This part You should pick one topic from these questions?

1. How has a focus on the environment fundamentally reshaped the ways in which we study the human past?

2. What is ‘environmental determinism’ and what are its strengths and weaknesses as an approach towards the study of humanity’s evolution?

3. What role did the environment play in shaping the essential features of the human species over the past 2 million years?

4. What environmental factors help explain (a) the movement of humans (i.e. Homo sapiens) out of Africa c. 50,000-100,000 years ago and/or (b) the pattern of human migration across the world over the next 40,000 years or so?

5. Why did the Neanderthals become extinct?

6. What are the strengths and weaknesses of foraging (i.e. hunting and gathering) as a means of exploiting the environment?

7. Did humans kill off megafauna (i.e. large mammals and birds) when they arrived in new lands (e.g. North America, Australia) and if so why?

8. What environmental factors shaped the domestication of (a) the dog and/or (b) the cow and/or (c) the llama?

9. Compare and contrast the relative environmental benefits of a nomadic or foraging lifestyle with a settled and agricultural lifestyle.

10. What was the environmental impact of the so-called ‘Agricultural Revolution’?

11. What are the key environmental features of ‘civilization’?

12. Discuss the main environmental features of any of the following civilizations: (a) Sumerian, (b) Egyptian, (c) ancient Chinese, (d) Roman.

13. What role did (a) soil erosion and/or (b) deforestation play in the downfall of any one of the ancient civilizations studied in this course?

14. Compare and contrast the view of nature held by Ancient Roman, Ancient Greek and Early Christian civilization.

15. What is the ‘Malthusian Cycle’ and how does it explain the rise and fall of civilizations?

16. Are all civilizations doomed to fail due to ecological over-expansion?

17. What key environmental advances were made during the Middle Ages between c. 500 and 1500 AD?

18. Was the Black Death of the mid-1300s an environmental crisis?

19. What environmental factors underpinned the so-called ‘European Outthrust’ of the 1400s that culminated in Columbus’ voyage to America?

20. What was the ecological impact of the Columbian Exchange on (a) native Americans and (b) Europeans between 1500 and 1700?

21. What was the ecological impact of the Columbian Exchange on Africa between 1500 and 1700?

22. What was the ecological impact of the Columbian Exchange on Asia between 1500 and 1700?

23. How and why did the Columbian Exchange end the environmental isolation of Afro-Eurasia, the Americas, the Pacific and Australasia?

24. What were the environmental origins of the Industrial Revolution of c. 1750-1850?

25. What was the environmental impact of the Industrial Revolution?

26. In marking a shift in reliance on renewable energy sources (e.g. human, animal, wind, water, etc.) to non-renewable energy sources (i.e. fossil fuels), the Industrial Revolution marks the greatest single transition in human history: discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this proposition.

27. The Industrial Revolution ensured that the future fate of the majority of mankind would to become wage-earning labourers rather than independent, self-sufficient peasant farmers. From an environmental point of view, was this a positive or negative development?

28. What environmental impact did the rise of industrial cities have in the 19th and 20th centuries?

29. The roots of global warming lie in developments that took place during the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago: discuss.

30. The world’s population reached 1 billion for the first time c. 1820; it reached 2 billion in 1930; by 2000 it had reached 6 billion. What are (a) the environmental causes and/or (b) the environmental impacts of this unprecedented scale of population growth in the 20th century?

31. The majority of the world’s population live in developing or underdeveloped nations in conditions that resemble pre-industrial or even medieval lifeways: what environmental factors explaining this enduring and even increasing scale of inequality between various regions of the world?

32. What are the distinctive environmental features of the modern city in the 20th century?

33. The 20th century saw two fundamental demographic developments: (1) the decline of the peasant and the rise of the urban labourer and (b) the global rise of the urban poor and city slums. With this in mind, to what extent do cities represent (a) a sign of progress or (b) a sign of decline in terms of environmental sustainability?

34. Why do vast numbers of the underdeveloped world continue to die of diseases that have long been eradicated or contained in the developed world?

35. In the developed world, leading causes of death include automobile accidents, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity-related illnesses. What are the environmental factors that make life in the affluent developed nations so dangerous?

36. By raising productivity (i.e. production per person) and exploiting overseas resources and markets, modern industrial nations have broken that Malthusian Cycle that doomed all previous civilizations. Do you agree or disagree with this statement regarding the long-term environmental sustainability of the world today?

37. Human activities have always resulted in pollution: in what ways did the 20th century mark a revolution in the level and nature of human pollution of the planet?

38. The USA represents 5% of the world’s population and consumes 25% of the world’s energy: this fact alone ensures that world is headed towards a crisis that can be delayed but not, ultimately, avoided. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

39. What is the ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ (as proposed by James Lovelock) and what are its implications for human survival?

40. As a species, humans have (so far) had a mid-range longevity of c. 200,000 years or so. Yet in that short time, we have transformed the Earth and its biosphere more than any other species in the history of the planet. In the event of our extinction, what lasting environmental impact will we leave on the planet?

Then When you pick one topic, you should follow these steps to write the assignment:

What follows are a few guidelines/suggestions of things to think about when preparing your critical reviews and the entries for your annotated bibliography. They are, I should stress, only guidelines. Feel free to be as creative as you wish! That said, they may help you to focus on what needs to be covered:
1. Who? Who is the  author, and what are his or her qualifications or credentials in relation to the topic they are discussing here? Have they published other work on the topic?
2. What? What is the reading in question? Is it part of a longer book, or is it a ‘stand-alone’ article? Is it aimed at a general or popular audience, or is it directed to a more academic readership? Does this matter?
3. When? How recent is the reading? If it is relatively old – say more than 20 years — might this affect its reliability or relevance? Has subsequent research or thinking outdated its conclusions?
4. Thesis/argument. Is it possible for you to summarize the main idea or argument of the reading in a single sentence? What is the author really trying to say?
5. How does the author develop and support his or her argument? Does the reading follow a logical line of argument, or does it jump around all over the place? What kind of evidence and examples does he or she provide to support the main thesis? Do you find them convincing? What gaps are there in the argument?
6. Conclusion. By the end of the reading, are you satisfied that the writer had made their case? Does the conclusion flow logically from the evidence and arguments presented, or do you feel there is something missing? Are there alternative conclusions that you feel the evidence also might support?
7. Finally, what in your opinion are the overall strengths and weaknesses of the reading? Remember, you can’t simply say that it was ‘well-written’ or that it was ‘dry’ — be honest, just say what you really feel having spent a little time in reading it!

You should write 500 words in this assignment

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