ABZÛ: A Story of Environmentalism Told Without Narration

Our relationship with the ocean with modern day media is more or less antagonistic. From movies like Jaws to the way many sea creatures are represented in documentaries or science blogs shoehorn the idea that “the ocean is scary” and continue to feed public fear of the deep, blue unknown. The media has more power over public perception than we think. I feel that it’s the responsibility of artists and the media to, rather than brew fear and misunderstanding, make works that have lasting and positive impact when it comes to issues concerning our environment. ABZÛ, a title from Giant Squid Studios, is an indie game that tells a story of environmentalism through a lens unique to video games: the language of interaction.

I will start by saying that ABZÛ is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played. It’s full of vivid colors that make the world feel bright and open. As you swim around, you’re able to explore deeper depths, learn about the diversity of species and interact with everything around you. This is already a vastly different representation we see of the ocean. Rather than the usual portrayal of the ocean’s vast emptiness, this world feels full and gorgeous and fills the player with a sense of wonder rather than dread.

But the greatest thing about this game is in its message. Without spoiling anything, ABZÛ biggest message is about the subjugation of nature, and how human activity has played a major role in its deterioration. The imagery used throughout the game is symbolic and moving. As you dive deeper, you see a less dazzling aspect of this underwater world, with wildlife becoming less friendly along with mines and other man-made hazards littering the area. The diversity begins to slowly diminish as well, showing how human activity has deeply affected the ecosystem. Its message isn’t all doom and gloom wrapped is a beautiful package. It’s as much of a story about human responsibility to the environment as it is one of redemption, a path to mending society’s mistakes and building a healthier relationship with the environment. Technology is portrayed as having both the power to harm and to heal, and the player slowly builds a more amicable relationship with the wildlife they’re surrounded by.

What stands out the most to me is the use of the Great White Shark as its mascot. An animal typically depicted as a vicious antagonist is treated with reverence and respect. As I touched on in my first blog post, a shark is an apex predator. Their function goes beyond just eating things. They regulate population sizes and prevent potential trophic cascades. This makes them incredibly important to the health of an ecosystem. Rather than depicting them as bloodthirsty murder machines, they are acknowledged for their usefulness to nature. Instead of looked upon with fear, they are a companion.

I think a story like this is more beautifully told through the medium it’s in. Unlike other art forms like film, that can only show and tell its message, video games actively make the player complicit in this system of subjugation. It’s a beautiful, immersive, and moving experience that’s told uniquely through the interactivity that video games allow us. By letting players explore the expansive underwater world, it teaches about the importance of biodiversity, the negative impacts of human development, and how we can heal rather than destroy simply through understanding, empathizing with living things we would typically run in fear from. In the face of real-world environmental catastrophe, the message of ABZÛ is an important one. It’s a marvelous and profound example of art being used to spread a positive and important message, as well as challenge our views of the natural world.

ABZÛ is available for purchase on PS4, XBOX, and Steam.


Benefits of Cutting Red Meat

I made a very hard decision last semester, and that decision was to take red meat out of my diet. Doing so has made me feel a lot healthier because when I stopped eating red meat, I lost a couple of pounds in a couple of weeks. Cutting out red meat mean I was choosing leaner forms of protein, so I am now consuming less saturated fats than I was before. After watching a video of cows being penned in these small areas, walking around in their own feces, I would not stand to eat their flesh any longer and watching Food Inc was a good reminder of why I continue to not eat red meat.

There are many reasons to stop eating red meat, and a lot of those benefits are anthropocentric. The benefits affect humans in a positive way physically. Readers Digest has a whole article about the benefits to the body that comes from not eating red meat, and a couple that stood out was the lowered “bad” cholesterol levels, the decreased risk of heart disease, and the associated weight loss.

Many Americans suffer from high cholesterol, and according to the CDC, 95 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels greater than 200 mg/dL. Having a high saturated fat diet is attributed to high cholesterol levels, and if reducing intake of red meat can lower LDL levels, it seems to be worth the sacrifice. Heart disease is one of the largest issues in the United States and kills over 600,000 people per year, and one of the reasons people suffer from heart disease is because of high cholesterol levels. There is an obvious connection between lowered cholesterol and lowered risk of heart disease. According to a research article by Renata Micha, “On average, processed meats contain about 400 % more sodium and 50 % more nitrates per gram. Dietary sodium increases blood pressure (BP), and may also increase peripheral vascular resistance and impair arterial compliance”. The article explains how red meat can cause cardiovascular problems, and it is a commonly known fact that salt is not heart healthy. Burgers, Hot Dogs, and a lot of other processed meats are very salty and terrible for the body.

Why else should you quit eating red meat?

            Removing red meat from your diet is a great stepping stone towards becoming a vegetarian. I want to eventually be a lacto-vegetarian because it is not necessary to eat meat in order to get the necessary nutrients. Quitting meat cold turkey is very hard, so setting parameters and slowly increasing them is a slow way to introduce the idea that there are other foods that are filling and full of protein. Cows and other animals are not meant to live in cramped pens eating corn all day, shuffling around in feces and getting filled with hormones to make them grow. I drove past a cattle farm in Texas, and the smell was so terrible and spread for miles past the “farm”. There was no grass where the cows were, having been trampled on too many times to grow there, and the cows were loudly mooing, and the cows were shuffling around looking agitated. No living creature should live like our meat cattle do.


Works Cited





No Red Meat

At the beginning of this year I told myself that I would stop eating red meat in hopes of being vegetarian once I reach summer. Although I didn’t start immediately I have been more committed to not eating red meat over the past two months. The biggest challenges that I’ve faced so far is realizing how much red meat I actually ate. I didn’t realize it was in almost all of my daily meals. Another thing I’ve realized is how many things at restaurants serve red meat and it has completely changed how I order food in restaurants. I find myself having to opt for the salad or soup instead of a steak meal. At first it was hard to see all of my families and friends eating meat in front of me and me not being able to have any. I loved eating hamburgers, tacos and things like that but having switched to no meat I can’t have any of these. But, I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything anymore because I think after realizing the amount of suffering that these animals go through my conscious doesn’t let me. Although I am still eating chicken and fish occasionally I figured that weening off of meat little by little was the best option because stopping cold turkey (get it?) would be too much all at once. I think that it is really a personal choice that someone has to make and it is hard to stick to but I feel like its the right choice and I’m glad I did it. I’ve also noticed that this has sort of forced me to eat more vegetables and fruits is always a plus since their healthy. Also, I find myself more energetic and I feel healthier. I have more energy throughout the day and not longer need to nap in the middle of the day! This extra time is great because I get so much more stuff done. I didn’t know that this small change in my diet would affect so many other aspects in my life. Recently my friends have noticed this change and have asked me about it, I tell them I’ve been eating healthier and have stopped eating red meat. One of my friends has actually decided to do this as well which is great and I was glad I could influence her into doing so. For anyone that has been considering it and is on the edge of it I would strongly suggest to just try it for a month or so just to see if its for you. Im actually finding myself trying new meals that involve more vegetables and fruits. Its always fun trying new foods and being creative with meals. I am going to stop eating chicken by the end of next month and that will be a whole other challenge but I’m excited to see what happens. My end goal is to be vegan by the end of the year. I know there are some people in class that are vegan so if you guys have any comments or suggestions I would love to hear them !

My Experience With A Whole Foods Plant Based Diet (WFPBD)

On Tuesday our guest speaker, Justin McGonigal, came in to discuss sustainable nutrition and his personal experiences. Throughout my 3 years of being a Public Health Major whose about to graduate this spring, I have learned the importance of a healthy, balanced diet. Last year one of my Professor’s, Professor Lavelle presented us with a project that I thought was not only ridiculous, but difficult being a college student.  She had us, for a whole week experience a whole foods plant based diet and consume 2 to 3 meals a day that were strictly plant based. When she said no meat, including fish I thought that this would be the hardest thing to experience. I decided in that moment that I was not going to participate in this project, I would fake it till the end, how would she know? Well, that’s where my story begins.

When I read over the syllabus for this project I realized that not only did we have a partner, but we had to take pictures of our meals, “accountability is important for this project”…I and my bank account were officially screwed. The first of this project she wanted us and our partner to go to the grocery store and find a meal under $10; which was our budget. Que selfie with partner on aisle 7! Once we figured out what meal we wanted to make; thank you Pinterest, we were able to find all the ingredients and to my surprise we only spent $2 over our budget which wasn’t too bad. After my experience with the grocery store I started thinking that this project might actually be interesting, so I decided to actually put effort into it and ignore my doubts. Over the course of the week I learned about a whole foods plant based diet. I not only lost weight, but I looked and felt incredible, my energy levels were through the roof and my mental state was completely different, but for the better. I no longer felt depressed and anxious, I’m usually the girl that tends to “overthink” everything that goes on in my life and that even seemed to fade as well. My personal experience with this diet was overwhelming and such an incredible journey in a matter of 1 week. That summer after Junior year, I was able to share my experience and actually help someone using this knowledge that I have learned. I just didn’t expect it to be someone that was extremely close to me…that someone was my father.

The summer of 2017 my father had a blocked artery in his heart and he caught it before a heart attack could. The doctors at MUSC were incredible and saved his life by placing a stent in his heart, he say’s that he feels like a new man! All my life he’s always had elevated cholesterol levels. My father has been placed on a diet plan, but he slips up like any normal human; more so than he should. He has become a very athletic 55 year old man. He runs almost everyday, participating in marathons such as the Kiawah and Myrtle Beach marathon alongside my 26 year old sister and boy can he keep up; chicken legs! He’s even joined the Park West, Men’s Tennis League. a bunch of old men playing tennis is definitely a funny sight to see, but I’ll give it to my dad he’s the best one out on that court! I have mentioned to him lately, especially after this lecture with Justin  McGonigal that he needs to be implementing a whole foods plant based diet. I practically retold the whole lecture to him. Like any adult now a days and parent, he laughs at me and say’s that his Paleo diet is “doing just fine”! I guess I can’t blame him, no parent wants advice from their kids and he most definitely doesn’t want to say that I’m right (maybe I should email him the lecture on YouTube!). I love him and he loves me, and I will always keep bringing it up till I’m blue in the face whether he wants to listen or not. I am his daughter after all and you know what they say, the apple does not fall from the tree!

If anyone would like any information on recipes or general information I have a public Pinterest board dedicated strictly for a whole foods plant based diet! I am lactose intolerant and there’s even a recipe for vegan mac and cheese and it’s INCREDIBLE! Here is my link https://www.pinterest.com/lostgirls13/plant-based-diet-recipes/  ENJOY 🙂

Not Just Water

The text is “Not just water” and the subtext would be more about what is in the water and how we, the people, are contaminating water and how it is affecting society (baby bottle) and the severity of the issue. I found this image on Pinterest and I do not have anymore information from where the image was taken from, but I believe their goal was to make people really think and see this image emotionally and see that pollution is a real issue. I also believe this poster may have a correlation with the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis of 2014. Where because of the river water corroded city pipes, the pipes leached lead into drinking water and almost a 100,000 people were potentially affected by the contamination. The motherly point of view is portrayed in this poster to pull on heart strings and draw towards an ethical point of view. The value of life is demonstrated, and a common lifestyle of using regular drinking water to add to formula for bottles. I found this image to be extremely powerful and eye-catching.

Link to picture: www.pinterest.com/pin/148126275215558896
“Ads & Publicity.” Pinterest, www.pinterest.com/pin/148126275215558896.

News Report- Overfishing

The article that I came across was titled “Ending overfishing would stop the population declines of endangered bycatch species about half the time”. The source of the article came from a study conducted by the University of California- Santa Barbra and was published on the 15th of March 2018. The study mainly focuses on the issue of overfishing and the negative affects that come along with it. The article also makes a point to mention what/who is affected. The concept of overfishing is when fishers/fisheries are excessively fishing, which is ultimately causing decline in populations of fish and other species that are caught during fishing. It is an unsustainable use of the ocean! However, overfishing does not only occur in the ocean. Other areas that are affected are ponds, rivers, and lakes. An important question to ask is: why is overfishing happening? Today, fishing fleets are 2-3 times larger than what is actually necessary to catch fish. They are catching fish more than its ecosystem is able to recover/reproduce these fish and other species. There is also a lack of protection for these areas, which could regulate how large fisheries operate. Another problem is the mindset of fisheries who believe in open access, which refers to catching as much as possible neglecting the idea of leaving fish in the ocean. During fishing there are other species such as: mammals, turtles, and birds, that are unintentionally caught. They are known as bycatch. The article mentions that by ending overfishing populations that are on the verge of being endangered have the ability to make recoveries. When these marine species are endangered, it not only effects that population, but the oceans biodiversity as well. The article was very interesting because it had many associations with what we discuss in class. For example, the concept of the ecological footprint. Also, how unsustainable practices, like overfishing, is causing populations to deplete. If overfishing continues there will be several things that will be impacted. Certain species of fish will become endangered or extinct, which will ultimately create an endless trend. Therefore, when one species becomes extinct fisherman and fisheries will venture to other species. Eventually there won’t be anything left to fish for. Once this occurs fishers will go out of business, leaving behind a major problem that could have been regulated and prevented. After learning about this issue, I had other concerns and questions. I wanted to know what areas, city and state wise, are mainly impacted by overfishing. I also question whether these areas had any policies that could regulate the problem. The article suggests that in order to save endangered bycatch populations the fisheries would have to choose between two things. The first idea was that they would have to limit their amount of fishing, however they would be sacrificing profits that they receive. Another idea is to improve their technology that is used to fish with the aim of avoiding bycatch. The co-author of the experiment Rebecca Lewison, stated that, “Recognizing the benefits of rebuilding fisheries to endangered populations allows us to also focus attention on other key sources of endangered species mortality, like egg poaching, invasive species, pollution and habitat loss.” The article wasn’t biased at all, it simply focuses on the effects of overfishing as well as the benefits of ending it.  The article was very informing and eye opening to me.

Image result for overfishing bycatch


What’s Cookin’ ?

Good evening ya’ll! My post is about my new found love for cooking and whole food plant-based meals! Professor Saunder’s boyfriend really inspired this interest – I began looking up recipes right after the lecture on Tuesday. I found a website: http://forksoverknives.com, where I found numerous recipes to help me transition to a whole-food, plant-based diet. So far I have cooked/prepared four meals including the ones shown below and Apple Oat Pancakes (yum). I have been pleasantly surprised at how the meals have turned out because I’m a newbie at best when it comes to cooking, but the recipes are so outrageously delicious that it’s hard to mess up. One cool thing is that Forks over Knives has even gotten me to consume Apple Cider Vinegar, a product I never thought I would swallow due to the smell alone.

I highly recommend checking out what a whole-food, plant-based diet has to offer if you haven’t already. http://forksoverknives.com is a great place to begin because the recipes are easy to follow and the ingredients are conveniently listed for each meal. In addition, there is a documentary on Netflix titled Forks Over Knives that should be interesting to watch, I know I’m going to. Enjoy the pictures I captured from tonight and let me know if you plan to get cooking, maybe we can together! 🙂

Sweet potato with chick pea chili! 

Raw Apple Crumble cake from Forks Over Knives! SOOO GOOD

Gina helped cook tonight’s dinner 🙂 Friends make it so much easier.


Here’s What I’ve Made So Far:






Thank you:)

Wall-e; the environmentally woke robot.

I want to use this blog to discuss how the Pixar movie Wall-e was not only cute, but an environmentally woke film. In the movie Wall-e; an empty, waste filled earth is shown as the current state of the planet. I feel this is one example (extreme perhaps) of what the future of our planet could look like. I believe this movie is a good representation of the result of our actions if we don’t get on the right track of reducing the damage that we do every day to the only Earth we have.

Not only does it show a polluted, trashed Earth, but they show in other aspects of the movie how we as a society live the lives of consumers. During the movie the humans are shown as overly obese people who ride in floating chairs on a space ship that they live inside of instead of Earth. The Spaceship is run by a brand “Buy N Large” that keeps the people on an endless cycle of buying their products and living in and off of everything Buy N Large. The food is junk and keeps the people fat and lazy and continuously living of off these products. This is a good representation of how our society is run off of consumerism. We keep these big businesses like McDonald’s and Burger King running, when all they are doing is putting bad food into us. This cycle is not just affecting our health and the way we live but, it’s effecting the health of the earth by all the waste these companies produce. In Wall-e the earth is full of piles of metal and garbage, much like our landfills are. If we don’t change our waste to Biodegradable or something of that nature, eventually our planet will fill up too, and we will have to find our own ship to live on.

It also goes along with the nutrition discussion we had because everyone was obese and the ship ran off of their cravings for junk food. Americans today are overly obese and our society runs off of these cravings, like I said above. Although the movie is obviously exaggerated, it still gives an idea of the future of our health if we don’t get it together in the next few centuries. If we don’t stop our pollution and consumption of bad products and fast food, we will all be obese and living on an aircraft floating above an abandoned, and damaged earth.

Towards the end of the movie, Wall-e finds a small sprout from a plant and protects it in order to show it to the people, which eventually leads to hope; a hope that there is a future to live on earth again. However, I don’t think we should have to get to that point. If we as a society can continue to put forth the effort in making changes that prevent more harm being done to our planet, I believe that we can eventually make the earth a better, more livable place for us and the other creatures we share it with. And just maybe, we can stall the building of large Spaceships.


Last Wednesday, scientists of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology revealed SoFi, a soft robotic fish. The New York Times claims that its purpose is to observe the life and habitat of fish, which scientists believe to be conceivable because of SoFi’s ability to mimic a real fish. Scientists across the globe have experimented with robot fish in the past, but SoFi is noted as a more advanced robot fish. PhD Robert Katzschmann stated that, to his knowledge, SoFi is the first robotic fish to swim untethered in 3D for extended periods of time. SoFi is water proof, runs off of battery power similar to smartphones, and has the ability to control its own buoyancy and weight distributions. This fish also has a camera, a two-way hydrophone, environmental sensors, an operating system, and a communication system. SoFi is relevant to society in part that it may become more prevalent in the future. Scientists foresee SoFi being a pollution tracker, environmental monitor, and a piece of collective intelligence. Scientists also believe that it can be essential to understanding and protecting marine life, therefore, future investments in robotic fish are highly possible. In relevance to our class, SoFi is a great demonstration of the assumptions made within mainstream economics. The first assumption being that environmental issues that arise can always be fixed with technological innovations. Secondly, the economy uses the environment as a supply depot to better equip the economy. For instance the majority of the New York Times article brags about how flattering and informative this experiment will be as humans get to explore the habitat and behavior of fish species from the perspective of a fish and “uncover the mysteries of marine life”. Scientists are taking advantage of marine life for their own entertainment and technological advancement without thinking of the repercussions to marine species. For instance, the lead scientists of the SoFi experiment stated, “If a shark would have come and ate our fish, that would have been the most amazing footage”. What about the shark’s health after ingesting this high-tech device? Will this robotic fish make matters more complicated in its potential efforts in benefiting endangered environments? Why spend tons of money on an unsustainable piece of technology that’s bound to have malfunctions? I don’t see robotic fish being dependable solutions for environmental endangerments. There’s a possibility that SoFi may be making these environments more vulnerable all while stealing the attention of scientists from environmental health concerns and steering them towards making more efficient robotic fish. The first time I read through this article I became greatly biased against SoFi and did not see any reason for investing in such a thing. One reason for becoming biased came about after making the connection with mainstream economics and its heavy intrinsic value in the economy over the environment. The main reason was due to the author’s ironic title choice, “Robotic Fish to Keep a Fishy Eye on the Health of the Oceans”. The title gave me the impression that SoFi was made with the intent of protecting and resolving endangerments of marine environments, which is not the case. Katzschmann admits that the primary goal of the robotic fish was to provide an advanced tool for biologists.



MIT reveals soft robotic fish for documenting marine life

Event Blog- Service Opportunity MEDLIFE

As many of you may have seen via social media or heard from your friends, the College of Charleston MEDLIFE chapter sent 47 students to Lima, Peru to work on community development projects. MEDLIFE stands for Medicine, education, and development for low income families everywhere. The trip consisted of a reality tour (in which we toured the villages surrounding lima to understand their access to basic needs such as sanitation, plumbing, electricity, water, etc.). Four days of mobile clinics in which CofC students assisted on everything from general doctors’ visits, pap smears and mammograms, and filling cavities and extractions. And on one other day students built a staircase so people could access their homes safely and transport items up and down without the worry of falling. In addition to this building stair cases helps these people access land titles which in turn can help them break the cycle of poverty since a large majority of them are illegally squatting. These Immigrants come from areas of rural Peru and Venezuela where they are fleeing in hope to gain access to education, medicine, and an all-around better life in Lima. Poverty is a wicked problem which MEDLIFE actively works to solve through the holistic approach of working hand in hand with the community to provide education, medicine, and development. At the core, MEDLIFE believes working with the community side by side will prove to be a more sustainable relationship rather than relying on donations and aid alone. This is especially critical when local governments change all the time cutting funding and access. There is environmental resistance such as access to food, shelter, and disease which limit the amount of people able to live in these areas sustainably. Carrying Capacity varies from village to village which reflects the access to resources, standards of living, technology and electricity, and waste generation. These villages currently have no waste disposal system in place so they bury their garbage or leave it to disintegrate which negatively impacts their health. MEDLIFE’s mission has similar aspects to that of Hans Rosling’s teachings. That in order to improve child survival allowing developing countries or regions need to have access to resources, medicine, and education and the western worlds role to lead by example. One huge influence that MEDLIFE also draws their inspiration from is a man named Paul Farmer. He is most known from the term coined ‘Structural Violence’ which in an essence means the systems we have in place inadvertently create barriers to access fundamental needs such as education, medicine, and development. It is my hope that by reading this you all become more interested in issues in development and the importance of becoming a global citizen to combat these complex system problems we have. Paul Farmer has lots of wonderful work and I encourage you to research him more. Also linked is the MEDLIFE website. You do not have to be a member to attend a service learning trip and they happen every year. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (hesskr@g.cofc.edu) if you’re craving to have your eyes opened to the world. https://www.medlifemovement.org/ You can also follow MEDLIFE on social media: (Instagram)@medlifecofc . Our next meeting is April 4th 7-8pm in SSMB 203 in which students will be sharing their experiences. I highly recommend you attend if interested there will be food.