Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Tragedy of the Commons

I finally understand the tragedy of the commons! I don't know why I didn't get this in my ecological issues class last year. I think I may have spaced out in class and then never caught up on what it was, but I vaguely remember it being an important concept and while I got the gist enough to understand the discussions, I never exactly knew what it was. Turns out, it's pretty simple. Basically, there is often a large resource that is consumed by many people (the classic example that I'm getting a little sick of learning about: fisheries) and it benefits each person individually to take more and more from the "commons," in our usual case, each person takes more and more fish. These people each have more fish, they make more money, and they are happy. But, eventually, the commons cannot sustain this much use, and it will collapse. The problem is figuring out how much each person can take sustainably, and convincing everyone involved that they can't have as much as they're capable of taking or there will be none left for anyone. I hope I got this right... It seems so simple now that I actually paid attention in class, like there's probably something I'm missing.  And hey! Just in time for Earth Day! 

The only Earth Day-related thing I did today was attend a ceremony where I was given an award I won/earned about a month ago for working at the Botanical Gardens and writing an essay. I say won/earned, because I've been working there for about a year now and I feel like I've put a lot of myself into my lowly intern position, but I truly love it there and so I also feel lucky to be rewarded for my work. In addition, I had to write an essay to apply for this award, and I'm very very proud of it. I do not consider myself a good writer, but I feel like I expressed an entire summer's worth of discovering new things and learning about myself very eloquently in my two page limit. I don't usually win things, and I'm usually pretty modest about such things, but I feel like I put a lot of effort in our projects at the Garden's and that essay, I'm proud to have won it too. 

I really have many other things to write about, but my two hardest finals are in the next two days and I haven't really started studying..

Edit: I have Nutella and a Zingerman's baguette.. my most favorite comfort food :)

Monday, April 20, 2009


I'm making artichokes for dinner! I haven't had them in a very, very long time, and they've been mentioned a few times over the weekend so I started craving them. I'm still not sure what to do about the dipping sauce - I had a very dizzy moment when I thought I'd just call my mom and ask her how she did it, but I got over it. I'm thinking yogurt and something, but I haven't figured out what yet. Apparently you're supposed to use melted butter, but I think I'll change it up. While I was at Whole Foods just now, I planned on getting some bay leaves as well and thought I remembered that they had bulk spices - apparently not, the bay leaves were either $6 or $9 for a jar, I forget. Eek! So i went to the Co-op, where I spent thirty-four cents on about 15 leaves. Hooray! I hope these are as good as I remember...

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I'm taking a psych class on environmental stewardship right now, and while I'm thankful it's almost over because it had the slowest lectures ever, I've really learned a lot and I think this class might actually be useful in life. Granted, I'm in the middle of studying for the final, so my mind is full of minimum justifications and intrinsic motivations and educational models, but there's also the disproved misconceptions that people have about behavior change and some other important stuff I hope I remember past tomorrow at 3:30. 

While it's not the most critical thing we've discussed, the psychology of fear really struck me. Apparently, when we are scared of something, the only thing we want to do is flee. This applies to attempts at behavior change. While its so tempting to say "You should recycle or we're all going to die," trying to scare people into doing good, they're just going to ignore you. This is very frustrating to me, because it's easy to think that if everybody only knew what was happening to the world, they would try to help. Apparently, it's way more complicated. 

Another lecture I feel should be more widely understood is extrinsic motivation. This can be anything from a reward for an action, a penalty, feedback, or social praise. Tons of people think that the strongest motivator is monetary incentives - we see this from the government all the time in incentives and tax breaks. But in getting people to change their behaviors, these are not the strongest tools! I'm still figure out what exactly the best motivators are (it would probably help if I had paid more attention in class..) but I do know that money isn't the best. Furthermore, it often works once or twice, but never lasts. I can see how so many people would think otherwise, since everything in our country is so focused on the economy, but it's facts like this that could help so many incentives to work better if just more people understood them. 

How is anybody supposed to make a difference if we're going about it all wrong? And which way is right? I can't wait to figure it out. 

First Post, or I can't sleep

I can't sleep. I can't sleep because my mind is so full of everything I want to do, everything I want to learn, everything I want to see. I've been toying with the idea of a blog for awhile, but have shied away because I've always been a terrible writer. But I've decided to try, because if I can't ever figure out how to say what I'm thinking I'm never going to get anywhere in life. I feel like I should outline my blogging intentions and set a theme, but really I just want to explore my thoughts to further articulate them before I frustrate boyfriend with another rant he can't figure out because I can't find the right words to tell him.

I've found myself full of ideas of things I want to do in life but feeling constrained that I can't jump up and do them. I want a garden, but I have to wait until the semester is over. I want to cook delicious, organic, healthy, locally grown meals that took more than my microwave. I want to figure out a way to make people understand what is happening to the planet without sounding like a snob, and I want other people to want to change the world just as much as I do. Technically, I'm in school to do just that, but I'm still unclear as to how it's actually going to happen. Mostly, I want to make myself a better person without the fear that I'll just be lazy and give up on everything. I guess I'll just have to work hard and be patient.