A poster session to cap off the semester was held on Tuesday night, featuring many posters by students in the Science, Technology, and Society 297 class exploring different facets of human, nature, and the “slash” in between.  One of the posters I visited was Will Vinke’s, on the Maine company Backyard Farms.  Backyard Farms specializes in tomatoes.  Thanks to greenhouses, they are able to grow the tomatoes all year round.  While people may be able to find tomatoes in grocery stores even in winter, most of them do not taste very good; instead they have been chemically treated so that they turn red and appear ripe without really being so.  Backyard Farms, however, grows ripe tomatoes all year round and sells them locally.

Rather than having one Master Gardener, the company has a couple of hundred gardeners, each of whom is responsible for a section of tomato plants, and makes all the decisions for their section.  Backyard Farms’ philosophy on decision-making is that small decisions are better than big ones because they are more easily corrected.  Somewhat to my surprise, they find their business model to be profitable.  The success of Backyard Farms is an inspiration to other medium-sized farming companies.

I also looked at Rachel Bird’s very large poster detailing human/nature interactions in art during a number of different eras.  She sees earthworks, cave paintings, pastoral paintings of nature scenes, and many other forms of art throughout human history as ways of mediating between humans and nature.  One section that I was especially struck by was the one on land art or earthworks.  Although she categorized this has being an art form of only the past couple of hundred years, I would argue that a similar thing has existed for much longer.  Both Celtic and Native American peoples, for instance, built large earthworks as burial mounds, forts, or other, unknown uses.  The Nazca lines, for instance, are giant line drawings made in the desert that depict monkeys and other animals when viewed from a height.

A third poster I looked at was Jay Moore’s, on climate change as it relates to terrorism.  He had chosen to focus on a speech by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, in which he linked drought to the rise of ISIS.  While of course there are may more factors that go into making a terrorist, I agree that the devastation that global climate change is causing and will continue to cause contributes to the poverty that causes people to look for someone to blame and allows groups like ISIS to position themselves as saviors to people they can indoctrinate.

Water is perhaps the most important natural resource of all, being absolutely vital to survival, and drought is a major fear with global warming.  Jay provided the example of the India – Pakistan border, which is at a river and which has so many floodlights it that it can be seen from space.  This shows an example of the kind of international conflicts over water that may increase with climate change, and contribute to violence and terrorism.