California Blue Essay

California Blue Essay

Length: 972 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

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California Blue is a novel about a seventeen-year-old boy named John Rodger. John is in his last year of high school in a small northern California town where the majority of the townspeople, including John's father, work in the lumber industry. As the youngest son of a father who was a champion athlete, John has always felt pressured to excel in his sport of choice, distance running. Because his father considers biologist's opposition to clear cutting of redwoods a threat to the timber industry and his livelihood, John's father also disapproves of John's interest in biology as a major area of study. John doesn't follow either of his father's wishes. In the middle of his senior year John learns that his father has leukemia and that his health is declining. The illness complicates their relationship, which was sometimes contentious and which was never harmonious. The strained relationship becomes even more stressed by John's discovery of a rare species of butterfly in the company forest. John is well aware that if the existence of the butterfly is reported to the authorities and the butterfly is categorized as endangered, all environmentally disturbing activity, including the ongoing clear cutting of redwoods, will be ordered to stop in order to preserve the habitat. Of course this will threaten the livelihood of everyone in the town who is dependent on the timber industry. Knowing that reporting the butterfly's existence to the authorities will alienate him not only from his father but from the town as well, John debates the issues and weighs the consequences. After conferring with Miss Merill, his biology teacher, John elects to fully disclose his findings, knowing that this will go against the morals of his father and...


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... do what he thought was best according to his heart. Dr. Hammond Eggleson, Miss Merill's professor at Berkeley, identified the butterfly as a new species. He advocated the rights of the butterfly, emphasizing the aesthetic and ecological aspects for decision making. His approach to the situation is an inflexible hard line approach that values species preservation above economic interests, thereby rejecting the utilitarian approach.
California Blue teaches that there is clearly no one "right" answer to environmental decision making in close situations. We can all agree that pollution is bad. We may not agree in some situations that the environmental benefits of not polluting or cleaning the environment outweigh the economic costs. We must remember mankind's responsibility to future generations and others not to foul up the earth and to clean up after ourselves.

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