g ., photosynthesis recycling carbon dioxide H u m a n i t i e s

g ., photosynthesis recycling carbon dioxide H u m a n i t i e s

In their own distinctive ways, chapters 11, 17, and 18 describe the demands that humankind places on the natural environment during the modern age and humanity’s attempts to manage environmental change. The natural environment provides us with resources and services. Natural resources include both energy (e.g., coal) and material (e.g., lumber), and natural services include the absorption, dilution, and processing of our pollution and waste (e.g., photosynthesis recycling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere). The natural environment also presents us with challenges. Environmental resource and service capacity is finite, and natural systems also present us with hazardsthat threaten human life and property rather than helping to sustain it.

Respond to this discussion assignment as follows:

Post an initial response to the discussion prompts below.As a general guideline, this initial post should be a couple paragraphs long (approximately 250 words). You are notexpected to address every question listed below, nor are you expected to write about all of the chapters around which this discussion is built. Instead, pick out one or two broad themes or specific ideas that caught your attention from any of these chapters and summarize them for your classmates, highlighting why you think these themes/ideas are interesting and important.

Add additional posts responding further to the discussion. You may highlight additional themes and ideas as you continue your reading, but you also should read and comment upon your classmates’ responses. These discussion assignments are intended to serve as a virtual reading group where we work our way through the same book together, through interactive question and comment.

The Discussion Prompts

After reading the three chapters, are you more or less optimistic about the prospects of modern humanity managing natural environments in a sustainable way?

What do you think have been our biggest successes and failures so far?

What do you think is our greatest challenge ahead?

Wallach illustrates his book with numerous current-event anecdotes. Since the book is more than 15 years old, these events are no longer so current. Find and share a recently published news story that illustrates an idea in chapters 11, 17, or 18, as if you were a research assistant hired by Wallach to help with writing a revised second edition of the book. In addition to a URL hyperlink and a brief bibliographic description of the published story (author, headline/title, name of publication, date originally published/posted), write a quick summary of the article along with a short discussion of how it could be used to revise the book. The article you share could potentially correct or update a fact that appears in the original book, or it might challenge or extend an idea that Wallach presented illustrating that the world of 2021 is not quite what he had envisioned back in 2005.

  1. YOU ONLY HAVE TO PICK ONE PROMPT FROM ALL OF THEM TO RESPOND TO AND YOU MUST READ CHAPTERS 11, 17, and 18 of our assigned book, Understanding the Cultural Landscape by the geographer Bret Wallach of the University of Oklahoma. 

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