Amber Wiley-Vawter: Manifesto

1. We should wean ourselves off our dependency of fossil fuel technology.

Fossil fuel technology has contributed to the pollution of our air, soil, and water systems. More close to home is the mountaintop removal that is happening in West Virginia. In the past, coal was acquired by digging mineshafts into the mountain; however, with advancement of fossil fuel technology, coal can be easily accessed through the process of leveling the whole mountain. This has decreased the labor requirement and increased the technological productivity of fast and efficient digital equipment and heavy machinery that run digitally. As a result, the technology used to get coal has contributed to the destruction of "400,000 acres (1.6 square meters) in [the] four-state Appalachian region, including more than 1,200 miles (19,312.1 kilometers) of streambeds (Mitchell). With the loss of the diverse Appalachian forest we have suffered the extinction and endangerment of numerous species. Many Appalachian locals have been affected by mountaintop removal to the extent of deaths in their family, soil pollution, “slurry” spillage, and flooding caused by the “fill” dumped into the valleys beside the leveled mountain. Society needs to cut our dependency of fossil fuels, like coal, and seek cleaner, renewable energy. Fossil fuel technology uses nonrenewable resources and continues to endanger our quality of life. We may not see the effects of fossil fuel pollution, but many of our water, air, and soil quality issues tie back to it. If we reduce our use of fossil fuel and switch our technology to solar or cleaner energy, then perhaps our future generations will not experience the gripping fear of the “public health problems recent scientific papers have linked to living near mountaintop-removal mining” (Ward). This principle should be considered because the technology used to harness coal and the companies running them, will deny the next generations the chance of seeing green lush steep mountains and in its place they will see a flat, barren surface devoid of any life.


2. We should work towards utilizing less pesticides and switch to hybridized plants or grafting technology.

We commonly use pesticides to ward off bugs and even kill them in order to maintain society’s expectation of perfect looking produce. Pesticides have been known to run off into our water systems and have a shady history of poison and animal endangerment. In fact pesticides like, “neonicotinoids, which are used to protect common agricultural seeds, including corn,” may be one of the newer suspects for the loss in honeybee colonies (The Editorial Board). The bee exposure to this pesticide could decimate the fruit and vegetable crops. Without bees, apples, for example, cannot pollinate and, as a result, produce fruit. Having said this, why haven’t we stopped using pesticides and the technology behind it? Even more, we are advancing the agriculture technology to merge with digital technology, but still continue to use it to distribute poison vs. finding other solutions. Why haven’t we switched to different methods like grafting or hybridized plants? The advances in digital technology has allow us to create and manipulate hybridized plants at a fast rate, but we still use archaic methods like pesticides. Furthermore, using simple forms of grafting technology, like knives, farmers can take a hybrid plant (rootstock) that resists bugs and disease and graft it with a tastier heirloom plant (scion a.k.a the top part of the plant). Through this grafting process the rootstock prevents the scion from getting diseases or protects it from certain bugs the hybrid repels. The only down fall to grafting is it requires labor and, as a result, is very expensive. That being said, grafting and even hybridizing technology is a far better approach than continuing the endangerment of animals and us through the use of pesticide and the technology that distributes it. Therefore, this principle should be considered because we only have one Earth and, as a result, we should utilize our technology to better fit the environment.


3. We should try to moderate our use of technology (i.e. appliances that use energy when not needed).

We have our TVs, computers, iPads, refrigerators, and pretty much every electronic in an average home plugged in. In theory, if the electronics were left off, then no electricity should be wasted. However, “standby power, the power your electronic devices draw if you leave them plugged in when you're not using them sucks up at least 5 percent of U.S. households' annual electricity use, according to researchers” (Didier). I myself tend to forget to unplug my appliances because it is more convenient to leave them plugged in. The idea of convenience, when in regards to technology, appears to muddle the fact that unplugging certain appliances can extend its life span. There are new forms of technology, such as a specially designed, digital power strip, that tells you how much electricity is being used while turned off. These new devices allow you to monitor your electricity use and, in regards to the unique power strip, manually shut off and stop electricity use while in sleep mode (i.e. turned off, but plug in). Technology is an intricate part of our lives and we cannot escape its influences; however, we can stem our electric consumption. Curving consumption can reduce your bill, the pollution pumped in the environment, and reduce your carbon footprint. The idea that technology is too big to control and the pollution pumped into the environment is just a casualty because we cannot live without technology can be overridden through the simple means of controlling one’s own environment and electronic use. Being aware of one’s consumption can help many and make our dependency on technology less of blight on Mother Nature. This suggestion should be considered because the preservation of the environment can start with one tug of a plugged in appliance and everyone can play a part in saving our resources and energy consumptions.


4. We should make recycling methods for electronics more readily available.

The use of electronics has grown over time and electronics, like cell phones and computers, are very common in the average U.S. home. Cell phones can easily die or be broken, but not many people know what to do with them after they are no longer of use. Usually people throw them away. We do have programs provided online, like the Earth911, Call2Recycle, eCyclingCenter, Electronic Industries Alliance, and GreenerGadgets that can recycle electronics; however, the local towns or even the public recycling companies do not offer or talk about these programs. Recycling computers, iPods, iPads, and numerous other electronic devises will help us reduce the pollution issues involved when electronics leach toxins into the soil at public dumpsite. We throw away cell phones because programs like Earth911 are not readily made available to us. If that were to change, then “recycling one million laptops [will] save the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year” (EPA.gov). Even better, “for every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered” (EPA.gov). This can decrease the need to mine for more minerals and in turn, reduce the environmental effect on the planet. By making it known that electronics can be recycled, the government and other countries can help reduce the effect electronics have on nature and make a profit in the long run. We as a society need to encourage the spreading of these programs or make these programs a part of the local recycling systems. Although there have been laws passed to require manufactures to place recycling brands on the product and prepare a recycling plan, we still don’t completely recycle all the electronics we use. This claim should be considered because making recycling methods for electronics common knowledge will help us in the future to avoid further harming nature and in turn, ourselves.


5. We should not completely merge our education (both college and public) to online classes.

For one, not everyone can learn in a completely online basis. I my self do not learn without instruction from a teacher that I can ask numerous questions and get easy first hand examples and answers. Furthermore, we need the college campus experience and interaction to build connections and grow up independently from our parents. Plus, going to classes encourages students to participate because class time is required. Even more, students who enter the college world may not have taken classes online before. I did not take online classes before college and when I was required freshman year, I had a hard time adjusting. This brings to light the idea of converting the public schools (elementary, middle, and high school) to an online program or providing online classes. However, fully emerging classes to function completely online will be hard because not all schools or students have easy access to computers. Even the Internet is not accessible to all U.S. public schools. This also means adding some online classes to the public school will be harder in more rural areas. Furthermore,

“in order to successfully participate in an online program, student[s] must be well organized, self-motivated, and possess a high degree of time management skills in order to keep up with the pace of the course. For these reasons, online education is not appropriate for younger students (i.e. elementary or secondary school age), and other students who are dependent learners and have difficulty assuming responsibilities required by the online paradigm” (Illinois Online Network).

On the plus side, the online classes do allow people the ability to take classes at their leisure. For example, online night classes become available for working adults or students who cannot afford the cost of living on campus. Therefore, instead of leaning towards fully emerging online classes into our education system, we should have the best of both worlds (i.e. offer both online courses and classes). This statement should be considered because education systems are merging classes to be taught online only and not all individuals can use this educational method. More importantly, creating online classes will changed the traditional teaching methods and could have negative and positive results when in regards, to both teachers and students.


6. We shouldn’t encourage ‘checking out’ from your surrounding environment via your cell phone or electronic device.

When I ride the bus or even attend a class at school, I see everyone on their cell phone. The idea of ‘checking out’ never really crossed my mind until Sherry Turkle broached the topic in her book, “Alone Together”. I was shocked when she mentioned children complaining that their parents spent more time texting on their phone than with their children. This lack of attention and care has pushed children towards TV or even ‘checking out’ themselves because they feel the need to seek attention elsewhere. How is this healthy? I even watched commercials where mothers give their crying babies an iPod to distract them so the parents can continue their shopping or driving. Even media is selling the idea that ‘checking out’ is socially acceptable. This to me seems to encourage the idea that we must use technology to escape our family or even parenting responsibilities. This new social norm to ‘check out’ places a toll “on our biological capacity to connect with other people” (Fredrickson). It wasn’t until college that I began to see the differences in social habits or adjustments electronics, like iPads, smart phones, or other interactive devices, have pushed upon society. Many older generations consider texting at the table (‘checking out’) to be rude, but now it’s something I constantly see when I go out to eat or to a friend’s house. I think we should be aware of how much we ‘check out’ and recognize that ‘checking out’ may not be a good thing. I think Fredickson is right that “if you don’t regularly exercise your ability to connect face to face, you’ll eventually find yourself lacking some of the basic biological capacity to do so”. This statement should be considered because society is changing to accommodate interactive electronic devices (cell phones) and it may not be fore the best.