Week 4: RecycLA and Midterm Proposal - Cultural Knowledge and Science

In 2017, Los Angeles issued a new recycling program named “RecycLA”. RecycLA provides a franchise service provider that is available to everyone in the city of Los Angeles; before the “RecycLA” program, there were multiple private haulers that would provide service at varying rates and quantities. The program requires businesses and multi-family buildings to recycle. Prior to the new program, recycling was voluntary. I am very interested to know many of the materials that we recycle end up in the trash, and how many are indeed successfully recycled.

 Dr. Ggimzewski made a statement in class that “we might as well throw our plastic coffee cups into the trash can, because it is likely not going to be properly recycled by the city of Los Angeles, anyway”. Dr. Ggimzewski also mentioned the recycling program in Sweden, where almost 100 percent of all household waste is recycled in one way or another (Sweden.se). However, in order to implement such successful recycling programs, waste must be responsibly separated into multiple different piles, as there are different types of papers, cans, plastics, and so on. 

Source: https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/recycling/blogs/sweden-runs-out-of-garbage-forced-to-import-from-norway

I found it difficult to find any information on how much of LA’s recycled materials are thrown away, and how much are actually recycled. Even if I did find such information, I wonder how much of the information would be accurate and how much would be misleading.

Regarding my midterm project proposal, I am hoping to make a PowerPoint that would describe a museum exhibit that would showcase through pictures, videos, descriptions and so on, the ways in which public/cultural knowledge is often important for scientific research. Science often debunks many aspects of cultural knowledge, which is counteractive to the goals of science and harms the relationship between science and the media/public. The project would aim to enlighten readers of the complex, yet sometimes limiting nature of the scientific process. Specifically, how does science interact with culture and cultural ways of knowing, such as superstition and pseudoscience? In what ways does science sometimes undermine public and cultural knowledge of the natural world, in a way that overlooks the potential of further scientific research/legitimacy?

To give examples, one part of the slideshow/exhibit would focus on cultural “myths” that actually turn out to be partly factual and potential topics of further research. The “Chupacabra” is a creature that in Puerto Rico and much of the Americas is said to attack and suck the blood out of farm animals. In 1995, more than 150 farm animals were reported attacked and/or dead. Scientists have often debunked stories of the “Chupacabra”, but such actions do not explain the factual events of reported killings.

Source: https://www.wokv.com/news/what-the-chupacabra/sGAxIaa0J6R6762IfoVqRO/

As science and biotechnology improve in their methods of inquiry, researchers should consider the legitimacy of cultural knowledge of the natural world.  To state another example of a related phenomena, we must jump to the island of Flores in Indonesia. On the island of Flores,  there were stories of the “Ebu Gogo” creatures. The Ebu Gogo were like tiny humans that would steal and eat peoples babies. In 2003, a skeleton was found in Flores and was originally thought to be the skeleton of a child. Upon DNA analysis, researchers realized that the skeleton actually belonged to a previously unidentified Homo species. The species, now referred to as Homo Floresiensis, is one of the most recent human relatives we know of; it lived as recently as 13,000 years ago on the island of Flores.

Source: http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/monster-week/monster-articles/the-legend-of-the-ebu-gogo/

Works Cited:

Stromberg, Joseph. “For the First Time in 35 Years, A New Carnivorous Mammal Species Is Discovered in the    Americas.” Smithsonian. Accessed April 28, 2018. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/for-the-first-time-in-35-years-a-new-carnivorous-mammal-species-is-discovered-in-the-americas-48047/.

“Sweden Runs out of Garbage, Forced to Import from Neighbors.” MNN - Mother Nature Network. Accessed April 30, 2018. https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/recycling/blogs/sweden-runs-out-of-garbage-forced-to-import-from-norway.

Than, Ker, for National Geographic News PUBLISHED October 30, and 2010. “Chupacabra Science: How Evolution Made a Mythical Monster.” National Geographic News, October 30, 2010. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/10/101028-chupacabra-evolution-halloween-science-monsters-chupacabras-picture/.

“The Cannibal In the Jungle: When Cultural Memories Meet Science.” Animal Planet, May 8, 2015. http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/monster-week/monster-articles/the-legend-of-the-ebu-gogo/.

“The Swedish Recycling Revolution.” sweden.se, November 15, 2013. https://sweden.se/nature/the-swedish-recycling-revolution/.

“What Is the Chupacabra? | Depend On WOKV - Jacksonville’s News, Weather, and Traffic | Www.Wokv.Com.” WOKV Radio. Accessed April 30, 2018. https://www.wokv.com/news/what-the-chupacabra/sGAxIaa0J6R6762IfoVqRO/.