How Capitalism Affects the Environment: My Course Reflection

As I mentioned in my previous blog posts, I have been aware of the concept of climate change and global warming ever since I was in elementary. It wasn’t until my first year at San Francisco State University that I realized how important this topic was, and it was then when I discovered that I had a true passion for caring about the only planet we’ve ever known. Ever since this revelation, I’ve found myself reading articles about things surrounding climate change activism, learning more about some of the key figures that fight for it such as former vice-president Al Gore and child activist Greta Thunberg, and doing my own research on articles explaining the various methods of fighting climate change.

When it came time during this semester that we would be doing a research project on different social/political issues, I knew I had an obvious choice with doing mine on how capitalism affects climate change. At first, I had quite some trouble formulating a research question to kickstart the project. After struggling a little bit and with the help of my peers, I was able to construct a research question: “With the current methods of production in a capitalistic economy, which climates will be irreversibly impacted the most, and what changes in the capitalist system would help prevent further damage?” After doing further research and pondering whether or not my research question was too broad, I decided to make it a bit more specific and finally ended up with this: “With the current methods of production in a capitalistic economy, how will the different climates in the U.S. specifically be irreversibly impacted the most, and what changes in the capitalist system would help prevent further damage?” Ultimately, my research question didn’t change all too much since I originally thought of it, but it has helped make research just a bit more concise.

Analyzing information from different sources was truly one of the biggest challenges for me when doing this research project. I normally don’t struggle with understanding which sources are more right vs which ones are more wrong, but for this research question it was exceptionally tricky. Many of the sources I came across while doing the argument portion of the blog posts were sources that I deemed as trustworthy and factual. Yet, some of them were in direct confliction with one another. This only made me conclude that there is no absolute right and absolute wrong when it comes to solutions for combating climate change. Both sides of the argument in this case can make good points. I realized that it all boils down to what you believe to be the objectively best way is. What I deemed more right was done because it seemed objectively more realistic and effective with combating climate change.

Even though I had a clear choice in my mind for what I would be researching for the next couple of months, I wasn’t too sure about my ability to write blog posts and create an effective/meaningful research essay. Essays and writing in general haven’t been my biggest strong suits for a while now, and I have struggled to be able to coherently summarize my thoughts and opinions into an essay format. On top of this struggle of being able to write good essays, I tend to enter a strange perfectionist mentality whenever I write. These things combined have been the biggest challenges for me to deal with while simply just drafting for blog posts and the research essay. Utilizing feedback and applying it to my drafts were admittedly the most successful part of the revision process as it allowed me to get someone with a more clear mind to read my work, see if it makes sense, and give me constructive criticism in the effort to make it better.

Blogging for a public audience was much more of an easy task for me as I felt that I could effectively show more of my personality and passion for my topic in my writing compared to writing in the long-form essay format for an academic audience. Writing the essay was significantly harder as I had to construct every sentence more carefully as it seemed to be a more “professional” means of writing. Despite this, I felt that in the end that I did a really good job with working on all of my finalized work, including the blog posts and the long-form essay. I can thank Professor Latham and my peers in the class as they were all the ones who helped me along the way with becoming a better writer and researcher. Before this English 216 course, my skills with writing and critical thinking skills were mediocre at best. This class enabled me to reach into my own potential to certainly become a more dedicated and passionate writer, so long as the topic is one that I truly care about.

Link to my research essay.

Second year mechanical engineer at SFSU. Born and raised in the East Bay.