The New Opposition

Last Thursday me and a couple other ESS students were huddling and working on our senior projects when we heard the news from our Professor: someone had heckled at a climate Cafe. In our minds this news had a bit more of significance because we were holding a climate cafe ourselves the night of March 14th. As an approach to talking about environmental issues, a climate Cafe can be utilized as simple as a round table discussion or it could be a multifaceted event with multiple speakers. In the case of the disturbed event, it was the latter and included many members of the environmental community and the commonwealth.

Shiva Ayyadurai disrupting a climate Cafe
Credits: Carl Russo/Andover Townsman

It was held in the Memorial Hall Library in Andover, Massachusetts and was attended by hundreds hoping to listen to Anthony Janeto, a professor from Boston University, talk about his research on climate change. Shiva Ayyadurai, an independent candidate, like any other citizen was allowed to participate but soon became very disrespectful to both the audience and Dr. Janeto. He started to call the professor a “liar” and making unfounded claims about how climate change is hoax. This uncivil discussion escalated more and more which led to the police being called and the event was shutdown.

The Memorial Hall Library
A different angle of The Memorial Hall Library

Shiva Ayyadurai is a product of the zeitgeist of Trump Era politics, In a similar manner to Trump he uses  subversive language to attack his opponents. In addition Shiva has made questionable claims about his qualifications claiming to be the “inventor of email”. For those who are unfamiliar his most recent efforts  was an independent bid for senate. Where he used similar tactics of “organic” publicity stunts and attacking the media to gain attention. He represents the new opposition to the environmental community and its ideals

I talk about this particular event because it encapsulates the  polarization of environmental politics today. Which wasn’t mentioned a lot in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal,Vegetable,Miracle and or a lot of the other recent readings we as a class have read. The exception to the rule was the Food Chains where they talk about the nature of the opposition. The movie talks about corporate interests like Publix not coming to table to discuss both the importance of sustainable practices and workers rights.  

Data representing the ideological divide in politics
Credits:Pew Research Center

A segment of our  citizenry have their own skepticism when it comes to environmental policy-making  and this is backed-up by data from the Pew Research center.  According to the data seen below subscribing to a particular ideology has an effect on your perception of  the effectiveness of environmental policies. Comparing these contrasting ideologies the data reflects that  conservatives have little faith in these climate policies and that liberals more often than not support these policies. A healthy sense of skepticism is important for a democracy to flourish. It when the skepticism becomes toxic that is when we have a  real problem on our hands. I hope in the near future that we are able to convince a lot of the climate skeptics that we are willing to include them in the conversation. But it’s more important for us as a citizenry to use that skepticism and constructive criticism to make these climate policies more effective. In the hopes that this sort of situation doesn’t happen again.

-Bram Kools

The Exploration of Hawaii

Found in one of the places that my family stayed

Going to Hawaii was one of those once in a lifetime experiences because of it’s great distance from the mainland. It’s colorful and deeply bio-diverse landscape passed by our every moment on our 10-day journey. It is also a place of contradictions, there are gated communities vs. where the locals live. There are certain places like Honolulu where every square foot is developed and there are places off the big island where nothing is going on for miles.   

In terms of food that I ate I can recall a variety of experiences. Because at certain portions in our trip my family was staying at Airbnb, we primarily went grocery shopping for our breakfasts. Unfortunately, we weren’t always able to invest in the local economy and my family just settled for whole foods.  Which imports a variety of foods that we are accustomed to. This was our experiences at airport hotels and other similar establishments. One unique thing about Hawaii is it’s long-distance from the mainland. There are certain consequences because of this food have to be imported from far off places. People pay higher prices for food and it’s a higher cost of living if the essentials aren’t as cheap.     

Is representative of consumer trash that can be found on some of the beaches

In contrast with our whole foods experience we did eat from a variety of local restaurants. Unlike here where you might find a Burger King, McDonalds or Wendy’s off the side of main street. There are a variety of successful local restaurants that can be found off of the highways. One of the surprising finds was a rather small looking restaurant which served primarily comfort food with a local charm. What made the experience very special was owners took their time and talked with us. Even pointing out certain tourist attractions that we might have wanted to visit in particularly a beach with green sand. When transitioning from one hotel to the next my family didn’t prep ahead of time. So, we were hoping to depend on restaurants but there were none open because it was Christmas. We ended up eating some Spanish bread and vegetables from a local market. We were hungry by the end of the day but it was more important that we contributed to the local economy. This situation felt fairly equivalent to a story my parents tell each thanksgiving. That in 1998 when me and my family first moved here from Belgium, we didn’t necessarily understand thanksgiving. They thought that all the shops would be open and they could eat something for dinner.  Surprisingly this wasn’t the case and my parents ended up buying food from a gas station. In that way my trip to Hawaii let me accept different cultural experiences that I hope to share with others.    

Picture of the first months in the U.S

Bram Kools (2/17/19)