Archive for the ‘human animal interaction’ Category

Obese Primates

February 22, 2011


from The New York Times

Update: The following post is very rant-like, my apologies.  The research on monkeys upsets me.  Do we have to do this to these creatures who can’t make choices to prove that not getting outside and moving one’s body and eating poorly can be deleterious to health? I’m glad we have medical interventions that can help.  I also wish that we all could observe a better social ethic around living healthily. Seeing monkeys and humans lose the graciousness of their being in this way makes me ache. There is no other way to say it.

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This article in the NYTimes described obesity research being conducted on primates.  Why does reading about primates confined to cages, eating bad foods as they gain pound after pound, tear me apart more than my knowledge of all the people who live this way? So many people get out of bed, trudge to work, eat donuts/muffins/bagel with coffee on the go, sit or stand all day enclosed in a small space, snack to forestall boredom and fatigue, eat unhealthy take-out lunch, then sit, stand and snack some more until its time to go home and watch TV (and snack). Are we any different than those poor research primates, save the fact that no one is studying us? (more…)

Psychology and Environment: Summary

June 29, 2010

photo from http//

For the past month I have been participating in an on-line seminar about psychology and the environment. The seminar ended (see previous posts here, here, and here) with many questions.  Do psychologists have any special contributions that can help with our environmental crisis?  How can psychology contribute to the discussions on climate change? See my final thoughts after the jump.


Gulf Oil Spill

April 30, 2010


I’m working on pulling together words and ideas from psychological theory to explain why we let this happen, how it will affect us, and what we can do to encourage people to stop hurting our planet.  As the sick and wounded wildlife covered in oil begin to appear, and as life forms are decimated- from the small organisms that are the foundations of existence to the people who died – this disaster looms large. My son tore his pillowcase to shreds.  Kids who care feel pretty hopeless.  I suppose adults can’t manage it any better, really. We have however signed up to volunteer. What follows are some helpful links to stuff that I have been reading and comments from colleagues. If you have others please send them along.  I’ll be posting updates as I encounter them.

UPDATES from Glenn Albrecht and Renee Lertzman after the jump.

News: here, here, here and here

Blogs: here, here, here, here,here, and here


We the People: A Response to Evan Thomas and Al Gore

March 2, 2010

An adolescent with whom I work discussed the complexity of privilege.  “My parents paid just over $12,000.00 for our family to go on a 5-day wilderness backpacking trip, with a service that provides the gear, the food, a plane to transport you there and a guide. I loved it and it changed me, like any amazing experience your parents buy for you. But the fact that it didn’t come from within me made it seem like another thing that someone gave me. Maybe it would have felt less strange if having that relationship to the wilderness wasn’t something only wealthy people could buy, but just a more natural and expected part of how kids are raised.”

His comment reminded me of a question: how will people who have been raised in a time of excess choose to live sustainable lives ?  Evan Thomas said in this week’s Newsweek, “The problem is not the system. It’s us – our ‘got mine’ culture of entitlement.”  I know the people of whom he writes. They are not of any particular subculture but rather inhabit every landscape from poverty to opulence with a unfamiliarity with limits and boundaries of any kind, as well as personal needs that seem small in comparison to what the planet has to offer.

And, Al Gore is asking these people to be the opposite of who they are in order to save the planet. How does the culture of excess shift gears to become a sustainable one?


Whales and Humans

July 13, 2009


Someone else has finally articulated my long-held but private thought that there really is communication between ourselves and other mammals. Whales, it seems, are checking us out. When Charles Siebert described the female humpback swimming around her rescuers in “joyous circles” and then “nudging them all gently as if in thanks”, a whole series of experiences with whales and other mammals came to mind.


More on Birds

March 16, 2009

One of Riverside Park’s Red-Tail Hawks was spotted in a tree near the tunnel at the 83rd street entrance to the riverwalk.  The kids watched in awe, feeling sprited and enlivened by his presence.  Why do these wild birds make us so happy?  Do they remind us that we can still be free? Yes, but I think it is more complicated than that.  It seems more like running into people you haven’t seen in a while.  If feels so good to know that the connection is still there despite all that has happened.  It is a reminder that the past still lives somewhere even if it is in a memory or a momentarily revived passing connection to an old relationship.  We miss our collective past, a time when the natural world was more a part of us.  A hawk that thrives in a city like NY supports our belief that that a long lost time can still be a part of who we are.

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