Sustaining the Good Life Raul Meza Arenaza, Vanessa Roque, Jesse McElveen

OBJECTIVES: Identify and analyze key elements of a good life that balance social justice, economic prosperity, and the limits on natural resources.

What makes a good life sustainable so the needs of the present are not at the expense of the future?


Conservation and Appreciation of the natural environmental

"The Land Ethic" by Aldo Leopold: “It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for land and a high regard for its value. By value, I of course mean something far broader than mere economic value; I mean value in the philosophical sense.”

There are some things that shouldn’t have an economic values. Analytical approach.

Consciousness of the land

"Unbowed: Chapter 6" by Wangari Muta Maathai: “Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don't need a diploma to plant a tree.”

Personal experience working with native tribes to increase the number of trees

“Although I was a highly educated woman, it did no~ seem odd to me to be working with my hands, often with my knees on the ground, alongside rural women.”

"How to Protect the Oceans" by Sylvia Earle: "No one imagined that we could do anything to harm the ocean by what we put into it or by what we took out of it. It seemed, at that time, to be a sea of Eden, but now we know, and now we are facing paradise lost."

The end of coral reef, big fish, and the pyramid of life.

Connecting to the future. "For the children of today, for tomorrow's child: as never again, now is the time."


"There is as yet no ethic dealing with man's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land, like Odysseus' slave-girls, is still property. The land relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but no obligations" (Leopold).

Sustaining is about more than using as much of something as possible. It's about using the right amount of something to last a period of time that will benefit multiple generations. There are many factors that we need to take into greater consideration when deciding what to do with land.

Economic benefit is greater than environmental benefit. Society today has become consumed more so than ever by the idea that "money makes the world go 'round". Money can buy many things, but it can't buy time. When the resources run out, there will be nothing left to spend the money on.

The good life is one that is long and prosperous. A long and happy life cannot be obtained if we run out of natural resources. We need to maintain the balance in order to ensure that not only we, but the land, survive for as long as possible. How can you be living the good life if you know that there may not be enough resources for your future generations?


Coral Reefs:

2015, 40% of corals in Dongsha Atoll reef in South China Sea died. The most severe and massive of its kind in the past 40 years.

Pacific El Nino, the open ocean around this reef was ~2 degrees warmer than normal- and without the usual monsoon winds that help circulate water and keep temperature near the reefs water above reef similar to surrounding open ocean water was ever warmer (an extra ~4 degrees warmer).

Global bleaching event has been going on since June 2014.

As temperature increases, corals expel the symbiotic algae that live inside their cells- without them corals become bleached, starved and eventually die.

Paris Climate Treaty – goals are to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and work to eventually limit increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Sylvia Earle referred to the ocean as “the blue heart of the planet”.

Coral reefs dying as a result of ocean warming reflect the overall health of our planet – coral reefs house and help many organisms including but not limited to fish, lobsters, clams, seahorses, as well as sponges. They also protect our coasts from waves, storms, and even floods.

Discussion Questions:

Sustaining is defined as strengthening or supporting physically or mentally. If sustaining is strengthening, are we not sustaining our existence by using the most of our resources at the present time? Are there multiple kinds of sustaining (long/short term)?

Who should have authority when it comes to conservation: the government or the people? Is it enough to just hand over a chunk of money to the government and say "this is what we want," in hopes that they choose the best option?


Created with images by markusspiske - "vegetables harvest cultivation" • cdrummbks - "sand county almanac" • Mot the barber - "Oranges" • Alexas_Fotos - "sun flower bees summer" • xxun0125 - "marine great barrier reef blue"

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