Ten Square Miles

An Environmental Activism Resource

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 7)

Cowspiracy Response

This is an interesting look at the effect of animal agriculture on the environment and its massive impact on how we live. Cowspiracy followed Kip Andersun as he investigates the lack of discussion around animal agriculture as a detrimental cause of climate change. He tries to interview many people from major environmental groups such as Greenpeace, but many downplay the topic or in the case of Greenpeace, refuse to talk to him at all. He learns that the amount of costs and land it takes to run the current industrial livestock model will not sustain itself and there will not be enough room for cattle farming in the future. The amount of food that goes towards feeding livestock also contributes to the starvation of so many people across the globe. Throughout the film, as he learns that even grass fed beef and so called “sustainable” farming practices are not really sustainable, he embarks on a decision to become vegan.

It was really intriguing to see so many of the main environmental organizations not considering animal agriculture as a big contributor to climate change. The documentary seemed to show that irresponsible corporations and their donations could control even these groups. There were a few problems I had with this film however. The director of the film becomes very involved in the narrative in the film, and while that has worked for films like Gasland, in this film it comes across as a tad self-involved. There are multiple shots of just him contemplating in front of a beautiful natural background. I want to see more about the issue and less about how this director feels. I also don’t feel very connected to him as an individual because him even sharing his personal story felt artificial. The film also ignores the classism surrounding vegan discourse, and especially the ability to become vegan. One of the people interviewed in the film even said that cutting out meat comes at no cost, but that is not true. For people from low-income backgrounds who do not have access to fresh food, it is very difficult to maintain a vegan lifestyle, especially if they’re just trying to find just a bit of food to feed their children.

The style of the documentary was interesting. It was mostly intense depth of field interviews with typical wide shots in documentary style. The editing sometimes felt a bit bumpy in order to create a feeling that the people being interviewed were guilty in their secrecy towards the issue. There would be a cut in the interview that would cut quickly to black at an awkward moment in the interview when the interviewee would become flummoxed. This was an interesting tool but it could also come off as bit unprofessional at certain times, as if the editor accidentally left space in between shots.

Overall this was really a great introspective look at the animal agriculture industry and how much it is destroying the planet. I wish it took more consideration into the cost of veganism for the average person, especially people below the poverty line. I also feel like if it focused more on the issues and less on the filmmaker, I would appreciate it more. However, this brings up a really important issue that should be addressed within the environmental community.

White Hawk Eco Village Guest Speaker Response

The speaker on Wednesday from White Hawk was a really interesting one. He told us how he got invested in an eco-village type community. It made sense that this sort of community would be great for children, to run around and play in a sustainable environment. Unfortunately, it looks like much of the sustainable parts of the village are up to the individual, which while is nice to choose if you create your energy, would probably be less expensive for the individual houses if there were more communal systems for their solar panels and their farms. I like the idea of an intentional community, and of sharing common resources such as tools and a common field for growing plants. However, I feel that neighborhoods with people you don’t know before they move can lead to greater diversity and new perspectives.

Recycled Shoes: The new fad?

With all of the environmental discussions going on around the world lately, athletic company Adidas decided to join i
n. Recently the brand created a running shoe out of recycled materials from the ocean.  Partnering with the environmental group Parley for the Oceans, Adidas began collecting waste for the shoes back in April. According to takepart.com, between 10 billion and 28 billion tons of plastic were released into the ocean in 2010. By creating this sustainable shoe, Adidas has high hopes that this will be the shoe of the future.

See the full article here.

Taylor Graham & Taming the Teesta Visit Reflection

I found the speaker today fairly inspiring. I found his work to be remarkable, especially considering that he was still in school. He’s an example of how much of a resource Ithaca College can be if someone puts forth the effort.  To have a piece of work out there that already has recognition before even graduating is a big deal.  I found that his determination to finish his project and to show the truth behind his topic was outstanding. Ithaca College can only do so much with students that don’t apply themselves but when students take advantage of their programs, and teachings, beautiful work can come out of it. As for the documentary itself, I thought the cinematography was great and it made me want to use my own DSLR more.  DSLR’s have more power than they’re given credit and they’re a lot cheaper than studio cameras.  I also thought that he had a lot of courage to film where he wasn’t supposed to, which means he really was passionate about portraying as much of the truth as possible. Although personally I don’t see how I can do anything to fix the dams, I think his approach was successful because it got recognized by people that are higher up and that can potentially do something to help.


To see Taylor Graham’s Documentary please visit here: https://vimeo.com/128624202

Undercover Activists Show How Easy It Is To Buy Off Professor

Corrupt Academics

By Matt Allchin

During the Paris climate talks that have been going on, Greenpeace used the platform of COP21 to release results of an undercover investigation. This investigation revealed just how easy it is to pay an academic to say whatever you want.

While posing as representatives from oil and gas companies, the investigators struck deals with academics from Princeton and Penn State to publish academic articles that promoted the positive benefits of carbon dioxide and the positive impacts of coal to the poor.

One of the academics exposed, William Happer of Princeton, is testifying at Ted Cruz’s Senate hearing on protecting climate denial. This is just another investigation that shows how corrupt our system is becoming.

Read more about this here

Last Call at the Oasis Film Response

Film Response

By Matt Allchin

Last Call at the Oasis, directed by Jessica Yu and produced by Participant Media, is a 2011 documentary about the water crises that is going to be a huge problem in the years to come. The film touches upon many different water problems we are facing such as the decreasing water level by the Hoover Dam, the huge drought in California, and the contamination of many American’s water supply. The main point of the film was to inform and alarm the people who are not aware of this problem because it is coming sooner than many think.

The movie does a great job exploring the many different issues and spends a decent amount of time on each one. Each issue had a pretty simple yet in depth explanation making it accessible to the general audience who may not be knowledgeable on the subject. Each issue was definitely worth mentioning and did a successful job at scaring the audience into realizing we need to stop taking water for granted.

Erin Brockovich was a main character and she brought a lot of personality to the documentary. After seeing the Hollywood movie made about her, I strongly connected with her from the get-go and was more inclined to care about the issues she was covering. There is a part towards the middle in the movie where she is telling the people at a town meeting that they’re water is contaminated and that there is basically nothing they can do to make the government solve it. I felt this was the one of the strongest parts of the film because you witness these people realize how they are poisoning themselves and there is little they can do to stop it.

Throughout most of the film many problems were covered that involved a lot of the uses of water. Towards the end of the film solutions were brought up to help solve the water crises such as recycling our wastewater. I thought when the science behind this plan was explained it was an intriguing concept that we will have to implement in our society in the near future. However, the film then showed the company trying to market the water and use the actor Jack Black as their spokesperson in a humorous way. I thought this was a low part in the documentary because the film goes from talking about the impending doom of our water supply to watching Jack Black make a commercial about toilet water. The marketing team of the recycled water was going about it the right wrong way because people who were asked to try the water on the street treated it more as a dare instead of something we will have to adapt to in the near future. However, I did like how this scene showed how ignorant the public is to the water crises with one woman saying, “If we need to recycle sewage water that must mean we’re in some sort of shortage that I’m not aware of.” This is just an example of how unaware the public is and how little media covers this crisis.

A solution that I am glad the film touched on was turning salt water into drinkable water because this was a solution that I had in mind going in to this movie. However, this is shot down due to the fact of how expensive it would be to do it also produces a huge quantity of green house gases. A solution that I’m surprised was not touched upon and was talked about in class was harvesting rainwater for daily use. This could be a solution any citizen could do at his or her own home and be implemented into future housing developments. It was odd to me that this was not talked about in the film.

Overall, I thought the message of the film was portrayed well. A lot of issues that will become big problems in the future were brought up and made the audience aware of them. It seemed that the main theme of this film was urgency because of we do need to start acting now. This was represented well by scaring the audience by showing what is to come in the next couple of years if we don’t start doing something.

3 EcoFeminist books to get you started

The environmental movement is no stranger to feminism, from female scientists Rachel Carson playing an important role in getting the environmental movement off the ground to the housewives of Love Canal fighting for their health and their environment. Feminism and environmentalism are closely interwoven. Through the years there have been a number of influential eco-feminist books. Here’s just a few to get you started.


  1. EcoFeminism by Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva

A book written by an economist and a physicist, EcoFeminism discusses the troubling relationship between the patriarchy and environmental degradation. This book takes a philosophical approach to the deterioration of nature by drawing on female perspectives from both North and South. Mies and Shiva argue for a new approach and commitment to the environment as well as acceptance of the limits of our Earth.


  1. Feminism and the Mystery of Nature by Val Plumwood

In her book on feminist theory and the environment, Plumwood critiques western philosophy and the “logic of colonialism” in how it controls both nature and women. This insightful book details the relationship between ecology and the patriarchy and the way in which feminist theory is closely related to both.


  1. EcoFeminist Philosophy: A Western Perspective on What It Is and Why It Matters by Karen J. Warren

This book examines the unjust domination of women and the environment by the patriarchal structures at play in the western world. Warren details the way in which feminist philosophy can contribute to a better understanding of environmental issues and the aspects of the movement that lend itself to changing western male ideals of power and control.

Delhi Considering Closing Schools For Smog

Delhi has now surpassed Beijing in it’s pollution levels and is considering shutting down schools as a harsh smog continues over its second month. It is predicted to continue for months and is composed of car exhaust, dust, smoke from fires, and industrial output. Reports say the health negative effects are lasting. There is a plan based on allowing cars to alternative driving and they have shut down 2 coal power stations.

Read the article here.


The U.S. and Climate Change

At the recent environmental conference in Paris, President Barack Obama announced his plan to stem greenhouse- gas emissions. According to U.S. negotiators, this plan will need action from all countries- the responsibility of limiting green house gas emissions can not be placed on only developed countries. The U.S. has also demanded a system for the developing countries to report their carbon emissions and their efforts to reduce them.

Click here to read the full article:



Warning: Footage contains graphic content.

The animal rights organization Compassion Over Killing released an undercover video shot at the Quality Pork Processors (QPP) plant in Austin.

QPP is one of the most productive pork facilities in the country processing between 19,00 and 22,000 hogs per day. However, the speed may be due to the mistreatment of these hogs with footage of hogs being dragged and kicked to the slaughter area where they’re throats are then slit.

Not only that, but footage of animals with prolapsed organs and fecal matter contamination are seen being processed for food. This could cause potential food safety issues to the people who end up eating these contaminated animals.

Is eating meat at the rate we do now worth the animal abuse and food contamination that is going on in the animal agriculture industry?

Watch the video here:

Post by Matt Allchin


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