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Emily's Journal

The three biggest challenges that society is facing today are overpopulation, climate change, and a lack of natural resources.

First, climate change can be lessened with a few differences in the way that we live everyday. Of course, we have all heard many times what we are supposed to do to fix this. We should walk instead of drive and try and produce less waste, and lots of other things that are easier said than done, but still entirely possible. Technology can help out a lot in this regard, because we can develop more efficient public transportation that does not use chemicals and things that are harmful to the environment. Science can look to all of the causes of climate change, besides the elements in the air.

Another problem that faces society is lack of natural resources, this includes oil and water, among others. A way that science could help in this regard is by trying to identify other resources that could be used instead of oil and put those into use. And a way to use the ocean's water as drinking water would also be a big step in helping to solve these problems. Ways to bring water from areas that are have an abundance to areas that are lacking would also be a good development.

Overpopulation is really at the center of all of society’s problems. If there were not so many of us, we would not be lacking in natural resources, and we wouldn't be slowly destroying everything around us. One option to solve this problem is to do what China did, because that certainly helped the populations problems, but I feel that there were far more issues with that solution than there were benefits. Technology has already been developing contraceptives for a long time. However, more effective or easier to use contraceptives can be developed.

In reality, most of these things that science can do to solve all of these problems have already been discovered. Japan has the bullet train that makes transportation easy, packaging has been reduced in order to eliminate so much waste product. We know about electric cars and not to waste water. We have contraceptives that can prevent people from having dozens and dozens of children. Of course more can be done, I think that we will always be discovering ways to make our lives better and be less harsh on the environment.

But people don't want to do any of these things. People will not walk to work or take the train or the bus. It is not convenient People do not want to use contraceptives, for many reasons, one being religious beliefs. Los Angeles is sending a huge percentage of their fresh water into the oceans because people will not accept the idea of drinking recycled water, even though it is entirely possible to clean this water to drinkable standards. It's not so much what science and technology can do to solve these problems, it is what will it take to make people realize that what they are doing is not helping the world and that they need to stop. Perceptions need to change, a refusal to change the way we are living is the biggest problem that society is facing. I certainly am not advocating living in tents with no electricity or heat, boiling my own water to drink but I think that with what is already out there we can, as a first step, improve the way we are living and be on our way to eliminating these issues.

Atmosphere 1
The atmosphere exhibit at the Science Museum focused on climate change and the cause and solution. This exhibit was structured somewhat differently than many exhibits at other science museums I have visited. Throughout the exhibit there were many places that allowed visitors a more interactive view of the information presented. I found this to be very helpful and fun, because it is not all that often that people are allowed to play with things at the museums but it allows for more connection to the subject at hand.

I thought it was very interesting how much the exhibit focused on the human connection to climate change, including the roles that humans had in causing many of the problems, as well as what humans will have to do in order to reverse or at least end further damage to our environment. One of my favorite stations was the one where you tried to reduce carbon emissions now or in fifty years. Of course, to really improve the environment, change needs to start happening now. I think that because the language in the exhibit was not always easy to follow, these stations are good for children or less-scientifically inclined people such as myself. I discovered that one of the stations was not working as well as it should have, and that was very disappointing, because it seemed like the one that would be the most fun.

Overall, I really thought that this exhibit was really well done and I liked it a lot. It was good that although they talked about climate change, the basic science of the environment was included. The interactive stations were my favorite part, but the information that was included was also interesting to read.

Greenland Review
Greenland is a play about climate change, and it does not pretend otherwise. Overall, it was an interesting play with a good cast. I would not say that it was too preachy, but that it did have an agenda and there was no mistaking it. When it first started I was a little worried that it was going to turn into a musical, and was very relieved when it didn't. It was interesting to see a play that focused on climate change, because I have never seen a play with such a politically charged message. I feel like this was accurate scientifically. The program did not have a works cited, but I feel confident in believing their claims.

As an arena for speaking about climate change, Greenland was much more emotional than a textbook or a museum. Because the play focused on people and their action and emotions regarding climate change, it was much easier to feel connected to the subject. The arc with Lisa was the most interesting to me because she was shown as a person who was completely passionate about climate change and was willing to move away from everything she knew in order to fight for what she believed in. But then she met a man, and what she was doing became more about him. Her emotions became more important than the cause she was fighting for, and when she ran off saying she was going to join Greenpeace, It was more like she was giving up the fight altogether. In this part, and throughout the overall play, what people are doing about this was the most important message. So often in museums, what we need to do to change is explained, but no room for a transition is given. This way of giving us information about climate change demonstrated more of the human emotional side of the issue. People are not always willing to change, or they cannot fathom what is happening and therefore shut it out. I enjoyed this play and its subject, but I feel that the human element was the most important aspect of it, rather than scientific fact about climate change.

As we discussed in class, I think that most of the people attending this play already had similar opinions to climate change and were not there to have their minds changed. While I might be inclined to attend a play that I knew I would not agree with, I like to do stuff like that, but most people do not. Therefore, I don't know if a play is that affective at creating change with its message, unless of course, they surprised viewers with its contents after the play already began. Plays have tendency to be somewhat sensationalist and while I agree with everything they had to say, I think that was the case with this play.

Reflections on Climate Change
Over Thanksgiving break, I was able to hear many lectures about how climate change is not real and that rather than changing the way we live to be more environmentally sound, we should be preparing for the end times. I knew that a lot of people felt this way, but it was not something I was used to hearing on an everyday basis. However, I was never convinced to believe their claims, considering they did not have much evidence to back themselves up.

However, the Atmosphere exhibits and Greenland play did have evidence and science to demonstrate the claims that they were making. I feel like the exhibit was showing us what was going on in the world and what the future would hold. I came away from this exhibit knowing a lot more about climate change than I had originally, but did not feel that I was being preached to in any way. I did feel that I was at the play. At the same time, both mediums got their message across and I left both feeling like I knew more about climate change. If I had to pick my favorite, I would say the exhibit.

In a museum, it is sometimes like reading a fancy, interactive textbook. Textbooks are fine, but sometimes they can get really boring, no matter what the subject. I go to museums, especially science museums to learn something new, and because I do not know much about climate change, I wanted to learn more. Plays are much more about entertainment, and while I did learn something about climate change, I learned more about how people feel about climate change.

I feel like all of these mediums are trying to put forth the same message; that climate change is happening and if we as humans do not do something about it, our way of life is going to fall apart. We are able to get background on how we are creating the changes that are leading to future problems and what needs to be done to change it. There were some differences in how this was portrayed here and how I have seen it done in the States. I feel like in the States, there is sometimes less blame placed on humans. I couldn't imagine a play like Greenland being played at a conventional theater. People are so much less likely to accept that climate change is actually happening, or at least from what I have seen. To be fair, everything that we have done here in London is on the side of climate change, there could be a just as active anti-climate change population that I have not met yet.

Technology and Sustainability Talk
This lecture was much better than the previous one. It was actually about sustainability as I understand it. There was some overlap to what we have been taught in class, but I assume the idea was that more non-Earlham people would be there. At lunch that day we had talked to two of our classmates , suggesting they attend, but they were unconvinced, not even really thinking that sustainability is a problem.

I always like hearing about new technology because it always seems so strange to me. I think that technology is working to create a perfect world for us to live in, and some of the things that others are able to come up with make so little sense to me, that I cannot imagine what it took to come up with them. Some of the things introduced in this presentation, like the sky mirrors, are just ridiculous in my mind. Maybe they would work, But I cannot even imagine. But it was interesting to hear all of the ways that technology is working towards a more sustainable world, with both far-fetched and viable options.

More pictures, graphs or charts would have been nice, because visual elements like that help me to understand what is being said. The information about the new technology being created would have made more sense to me if I was able to see examples or diagrams. However, the lecture itself was very interesting and I did not have any trouble following along and did not get bored.

Science at Kew
At Kew Gardens, I was for some reason most excited by seeing the giant compost heap. The tour guide said that it was the largest in the UK, and this made it very important. It was also extremely difficult to find, because it was hidden by trees and what not. I suppose most people do not go to botanical gardens to see a compost heap, they go to see what plants are growing with the help of the compost. The science behind compost is certainly not new but it is important, in terms of fertilizing plants to help them grow, and putting waste products to good use. I feel like I frequently latch on to the most random things that I can in any event, and I am glad that Kew had giant compost heap that was somewhat hidden, so my day could be that much more interesting. Of course, other science there is more advanced and this was also nice to see. Biodiversity was something that I knew very little of, and I feel like Kew helped me to understand this.

Overall, I really liked Kew Gardens. It was like a giant park with better plants and more things to do, where I was also able to learn about nature. A big part of what they do is finding new plants and what they do and ways that they can be useful to people who live near them. As another way of encouraging sustainability, greater understanding of plants will make it possible to rely less on chemically made products and across the world shipping.

People need to have a better relationship with the plants around them, and learn how to use different plants and how to protect the ones that they are familiar with. Kew Gardens, through its research and the gardens, is able to help people realize their relationship with plants is important and care should be taken to understand and respect them. Their seed bank is something else that is extremely beneficial, because species go extinct all the time, and if Kew has a stock of seeds then if problems should occur, then the plant population could be built back up.

Astronomy and the Cosmos
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Assorted Chapter Questions