ST197 came to a close with a poster session that covered a range of interesting topics. I’ll reflect on a couple of the posters that I visited here. One poster, by Jay, focused on a Bernie Sanders quote that directly tied climate change to increasing terrorism threats. Jay noted that he does not necessarily support this view but it is an interesting perspective that connects humans/nature. At a minimum, changes in climate may act as a catylist to worsten or aggravate other issues rooted in political, ethinic, and international conflicts, especially over contested water sources and changes in arable land. Based on this we got into a conversation especially about water availability. Primarily a water crisis is focused around the lack of water or draught that causes decreases in ability to grow crops and hydrate people which can in turn lead to conflict. However, on the flip side, a problem that people may consider less is too much water due to climate change – flooding and rising sea levels that could potentially wipe out cities. The topic of climate change is especially pertinent after the deals that just came out of Paris – hopefully we see some progress there!
Another poster that I was visited looked at a company that grows greenhouse tomatoes in Maine and then sells them locally. While most tomatoes are sourced from a couple of locations, and then sold nationally or internationally (eg. from Florida or Mexico), the company that produces these tomatoes abides by different principles. The company provides more of a human touch with many gardeners attending to their own section of tomatoes. The locally grown movement is especially strong at Colby and can be an important part of supporting local farmers and potentially receiving higher quality and fresher food. This poster reminded me of the lecture we had from Nicola Twilley about mega fridges!
The last poster I wanted to talk about was the one by Lucas Lam about humans intervening in the environment and the unintended consequences of doing so. We often hear about how humans try to “improve” or “restore” and ecosystem but end up screwing things up in hindsight. One example of this on Lucas’s poster was the black plague. With the spread of the disease people began to blame cats and dogs for carrying fleas to spread the disease, but removing cats which killed rats (the real perpetrators), just made things worse. With antibiotics humans have seen great benefits with improving health, and extending and saving lives. However, as I understand it, over-use, abuse, and not finishing a round of antibiotics reduces their long term effectiveness and generates “super bugs.” In fact, very recently I heard on the news, I think it was NPR, that there is a new virus that cannot be killed by even our most powerful drugs, and many strains are mutating to become immune to our efforts. Obviously none of this is good news, but again on NPR I have heard of completely new strategies for killing viruses that could lead to a new generation of more effect antibiotics.