This course examines issues of environmental quality and social justice. It takes the premise that all people have a right to live in a clean environment.
By Patricia Valoy, Contributing Editor, Science and Social Justice
Earlier this month the president of the United States withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, a pioneering agreement formed at the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in 2015. Countries from all over the world came together to discuss the effects of climate change and the catastrophic impact of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The convention culminated in an agreement signed by 195 countries vouching to reduce emissions in order to keep the global temperature from increasing by more than 2 degrees Celsius. Simply put, every country committed to a goal and the responsibility for figuring out how to meet their goal.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FDuqYld8C8 Mni Wiconi features water protectors from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and allies trying to stop the 1,100-mile Dakota Access Pipeline – DAPL. Interviews in the film include Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Chairman Dave Archambault II; Jodi Gillette, former White House advisor for Native American Affairs; Ladonna Allard, founder of Sacred Stone Camp; Winona LaDuke, founder of Honor the Earth; and Cody Hall, Red Warrior Camp spokesperson. Created by Divided Films with support from the WK Kellogg Foundation.
By Kelly Hayes
I write these words on what’s a cold night in my city, and a much colder night where my heart is — with my friends in Standing Rock. My writing, which typically centers movements, often sways between news and analysis. My coverage of #NoDAPL has been no exception. But this piece is neither news nor analysis, because these words are for you, my people, for our Protectors and resistors — for those who aren’t seeking to be heroes, but who are nonetheless members of heroic movements and communities.
In an interview with Peter Mansbridge from CBC News in March 2016, David Suzuki claimed that we have fundamentally failed as environmentalists. This is a worrying statement coming from an acclaimed environmental activist, yet difficult to deny given the consistent need for public protest and outcry over things like the placement of a pipeline or waste facility. The environmental movement inspired by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 has been a long uphill battle. Individuals and communities half a century later are still forced to challenge the dominant discourse of industrial development that denies the right to a healthy environment.
The natural environment exists independently of how we think and talk about it, but we can only know it in human terms through our discourse about it. Our understanding of the environment is unavoidably constructed through the symbols we use to depict it in public discourse. Through scientific studies, media coverage, government hearings and other forums, we define the environment and our relation to nature through speech, writing, and images. And the ways in which we depict nature have profound consequences for what we do to it, through individual acts of consumption or conservation, and social acts of policy making, pollution, and protest. Given the power of our symbol making for the fate of life on the earth, students of the environment can benefit from understanding the tools and theories of public communication. Because all life, including ours, depends on the health of natural systems, students of communication must pay…