Final Reflection Blog

Thinking back on this semester, I realized I was greatly affected by all of the problems we focused on. From agriculture practices around the world to deforestation happening in every country, I found  that I was both enthralled and perplexed by all of it. Perhaps the issue that I was most engaged with was deforestation. I was most surprised by deforestation in regards to the effects it catalyzed such as soil erosion which increased devastating events such as land slides and increased damage done by earthquakes and hurricanes.

The specific case of deforestation that I was most interested in was that of Haiti, and its deforestation versus the Dominican Republic. I was very attached to Haiti prior to taking this class because of the earthquake that took place in 2010. I got very involved with raising money and support for those impacted by the earthquake, so this country is very important to me. When I was involved with efforts to help Haiti, I knew none of the scientific reasons behind some of the devastation occurring in the country. It wasn’t until taking this class that I learned that deforestation was a huge problem in the country, with only 1% of the country’s forests remaining. What intrigued me further was that the Dominican Republic and Haiti geographically share an island but due to their locations and political practices of each country, the Dominican Republic still has 28% of its forests remaining, where Haiti only has 1% (Diamond, page 329, 2005). I discussed this issue further on a previous blog post, which can be found here. Haiti continues to interest me and I’m trying to keep up on the progress the country is making in order to restore its forests. This article discusses the current problems Haiti is facing, other than deforestation. It discusses the drought the country is currently going though and how this is the time for the country to get together and put the issues of erosion, climate change, and deforestation on its high priority list.

Source: National Geographic

Aerial view of the deforestation in Haiti.

Aerial photo showing the difference between the degraded and impoverished lands of Haiti and the semi-flourishing lands of the Dominican Republic.

A close look at how both countries on the island have become severely deforested in just 30 years.

Looking back at this semester, I have definitely learned a lot about specific environmental problems that have affected not just the United States, where I’m most likely to hear about, but the entire world as well. Although I found the class a lot to handle, and a bit depressing, at times, it definitely opened up my eyes to a lot of problems in the world – and how to fix them. I also learned that a “one size fits all” approach to solve these problems is not the best idea, considering each area is so vastly different, even from an area that could be less than 50 miles away. This course also opened my eyes to problems that I didn’t even know could impact the world so greatly, such as the coral reefs.

Overall, I really enjoyed this course and think it should definitely be a requirement for all students. It really examines the problems that are real and that are currently effecting all of us. I was very discouraged at times, but I learned over the semester that efforts are being put in place by people all over the world. I was very pleased to learn of organic farms increasing throughout the United States and industrialized countries banning together to help unindustrialized countries, much like with Australia helping the nation of Tuvalu and the United States helping Haiti. It’s very refreshing to see so many attempts to better the world and trying to prevent the dismal predictions made by scientists. This class truly taught me how to pay attention to what I’m doing to the environment and how I can lessen my impact as well as educating those around me on how they can do so as well. This course also helped me examine the problems and asses many solutions rather than a “one size fits all” one. I very much enjoyed this course and highly recommend it to everyone to take in the future!

-Sarah Campbell

Diamond, J. M. (2005). Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Viking.

Haiti’s current drought: An opportunity to build climate change resilience? | Oxfam America The Politics of Poverty Blog. (2014, April 22). The Politics of Poverty. Retrieved April 24, 2014, from http://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2014/04/haiti-drought-opportunity-build-climate-change-resilience/

One thought on “Final Reflection Blog

  1. Dr. Szulczewski says:

    Other students have been very struck by the Haiti case, as well, but it’s probably more heartfelt since you’ve been invested in their recovery for years. There is still hope for a more sustainable future there.

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