The Need to Change our Current Path

In the society that we live in today, there is such an overwhelming desire to just make money and big businesses that are stuck in this capitalist system will not put the environment before edging out their competition. The way that the United States, and the world in general, is headed is going to have catastrophic effects on the environment and in turn, the people – starting from the people living in poverty, even though they are not the source of the issue itself. There are so many ways to reduce waste and consumption and people just need to open their eyes to new ideas and make small changes in their lifestyles. Some of these ways include considering a zero-waste lifestyle, beginning a garden and making some of your own food and recycling as much as possible.

Moreover, one way to reduce waste is to look into what it takes to live a life with zero waste. Yes, of course this is extreme; however, there are a lot of smaller things that people could start to introduce to their daily lives and then go from there. For example, Lauren from her blog Trash is for Tossers says that the process of living a zero waste lifestyle is not something that is just going to happen overnight or even in a week. First off, someone could stop buying plastic packaged items from the grocery store and buy items from bulk using your own containers. Something like this is so easy to incorporate into a lifestyle and in the long run is going to save you money because you will be just paying for the food you want and not all of the extra packaging.

Furthermore, another way to reduce waste and consumption is to start growing some of your own food through a garden in your yard or neighborhood. Ron Finley was even able to start his urban gardening in South Los Angeles. If he was able to do it along the sidewalks of a city, then it is definitely possible to do it in any area. This could make such a difference in a home and could allow a family or neighborhood to start a closed-loop system and then start composting as well. Also, if there are kids in the family or neighborhood it is so good for them to see how they can grow their own food and actually eat something healthy rather than just whatever is put in front of them and they are okay with it. Mr. Finley was so inspiring the way that he brought the gardening to his city in the vacant lots and how he was able to help so many people. He made it very clear that you can do it too, it does not take that much work – just one person to really get it going. Do not sit and wait for someone else to come out and make the change – there is no time for that. Go out and be the change that is needed right now.

Additionally, recycling is so unbelievably important in the way that people discard their waste because it makes a big difference in the volume of things that end up in landfills. It is so much better if people buy recycled goods from the start, if they are not able to buy it in bulk or make it themselves, because that prolongs keeping the items out of the landfill. The image to the right is a landfill with even more waste being loaded into it. People need to realize that the trash does not just stay there. Once landfill gets to a certain capacity, it is then burned off to make more room for the next load of trash that comes in. This is even worse because now the levels of greenhouse gas emissions are higher than they should be and there are no strict regulations on the degrees Celsius of increase anymore. We were pulled out of the Paris Agreement about a year ago and now we are not even held accountable by shame for the global warming we are causing because of our corrupted capitalist system. Ideally, the world’s temperature would not be increasing at all; however, at this rate our temperature will be increasing by seven degrees Celsius and that is going to have a horrible impact on the environment and the ways that people are currently living. The sea levels are rising and soon the houses of people who live close to the water are going to be in danger of major disasters during the hurricane season.

As a matter of fact, recycling would be one of the easiest ways to kickstart reducing waste and consumption and it has a massive positive impact on the environment. This article talks about the easy steps that can be taken to choose items that can be reused rather than tossed into a landfill and the change that it will make in the environment. Buying glass containers to carry food in rather than using plastic zip lock bags every day is just one thing that could be a small change with a large impact. Also, in the long run this would save the consume money because zip lock bags are thrown away after one use and the glass container would just be washed and reused.

All in all, it is so important to take reducing waste and consumption seriously, if not for you then for your future kids and grandkids. We do not want to live in a world full of waste and increased national disasters because we could not make a change now. The changes are not difficult, just start with the small things and work towards a zero-waste lifestyle, growing your own food and recycling as much as possible.

 

 

What Capitalism Truly Costs

From the point of the view of the public, we do not see all of the issues that come along with getting a product for a cheap price. We are actually extremely excited about a “bargain” or “steal” for a good deal. When in reality, it is a steal. It is stealing from not only the people involved in the labor used to make the product that you bought, but also from the environment in general. The major culprit to this negative feedback loop affecting the Earth is capitalism. Humans in this world are so concerned with the prices of everything and saving the money they get rather than putting it back into the economy or truly paying for the products that they purchase. There is no such thing as a good deal, people are just suffering the consequences in other places. People need to care about the externalized costs associated with production because of the effects that they have on people and the environment.

Moreover, one reason that people need to care about the externalized costs of their products is because of the effect that they can have on people in other areas. For example, in this reading from class, there was a story about how a woman named Rosa Moreno lost both of her hands while she was on the job and the machine used to cut metal fell on top of both of her hands and no one could get it off. Then, to make her situation even worse, the corporation offered her such a small amount of money that she would not be able to provide for her family. It is because of the world that we currently live in that they were so consumed with the success of themselves and the profit that they were making to even provide this woman with the money they she deserved after the accident that was most definitely not her fault. Furthermore, as mentioned in this article from class, someone was contemplating all of the externalized costs of a single radio and finally reached how much people are affected. There are so many parts to the production of technology and the people working with the machines were faced with the costs of increased rates of cancer and asthma as well as the loss of clean air in the area where they both live and work. These costs affect the whole lives of these people just for us to have cheap radios.

Another point that is worth noting is why people should care about these costs. There is now information about it out now and people are beginning to see the facts of these costs; however, they also need to know why it not only affects those people directly from the costs but also themselves in the long run. This company put out an article that discusses how they calculate the true costs of the foods they sell and they also have tabs of information that show how by doing this they are helping so many people across the globe. What they are doing is quite the opposite from the average citizen. This society is so consumed with having the best and the newest item that people do not seem to realize the effect that getting rid of technology and appliances before you need has on the environment. The image above is from a landfill full of cars that people have gotten rid of. If today’s society was not so concerned with the newest item then these landfills would not fill up nearly as fast. The negative effects of electronic waste are so awful and need to be slowed down if we want to be able to preserve precious land like parks and national forests. Just because people in certain areas and of certain socioeconomic status have the privilege of buying the newest phone when it comes out or that they can get the best new car when the model comes out does not mean that this is the best thing for the environment and people need to realize that when they make the choices that they do.

Another factor for people to consider is how these externalized costs of production are affecting the surrounding environment. The food production industry is one of the largest and also one of the most harmful and wasteful. This article about the true costs of food discusses all of the issues associated with the food production industry and gives people the facts on how our food is actually more expensive than it is being sold for in the local supermarkets. She pointed out that $20 million goes to subsidies for this industry and additional tax money is needed because of the harsh effects it leaves. This production causes the need for cleaning polluted drinking water, dead zones in the oceans and infertile soil as just the top three issues along with other general mess and disrupted land.

Finally, the effects that externalized costs of production have on both the people that work in the area of production and the environment of not only the surrounding area but in general are finally getting out to the public. It is a small step in a good direction but for people to move from just knowing that there is an issue to doing something about it will take some more education and hopefully just a little bit of time. As a society, we all need to care about the effect on the Earth because we all live here. There is no magical divide for some people to not have to deal with the issues of the environment and once everyone starts to see that then they might make some small changes to their lifestyles.

 

The Truth About Globalization

Thousands, even only hundreds, of years ago, because people lived in different areas of the world, there was no way to communicate with others who happened to live far away. However, in today’s day and age, social media and the internet plays a large role in closing the large distance between countries like the United States and China, for example. Although globalization is a difficult term to define due to the fact that it embodies so many parts and is so much of why the world is the way that it is today, it can be explained as a set of processes that transforms the spatial organization of the world and links distant localities politically, economically and culturally. Although globalization is inevitable and can be considered necessary in some ways, it is bringing societies much closer together culturally than they needed to be with easier international travel, social media and television programming, including even news coverage.

Moreover, globalization is bringing societies together culturally through easier international travel. Due to the fact that it is now much easier for citizens of different countries to visit far away countries, the cultures are becoming mixed more often and in higher volumes than ever before. The advanced technologies and the ability to do this is a positive thing; however, it is blurring different cultures to the point where countries might be losing what previously made them special. For example, in the image below from this textshows how chain stores, Starbucks and McDonald’s in this case, have a massive amount of locations across the globe because now it is easier for companies to break through into other areas despite how far or the language that people speak there. It is something that is no longer apart of the culture of just the United States, but is now all over. Some would say that it is extremely disappointing that a chain like McDonald’s has spread all over the world and this would not have been possible without the easier international travel now, bringing societies together the way that it has.

Furthermore, globalization has also brought societies together culturally through the use of the internet and social media. In the image below, although it is kind of dated, it demonstrates the number of people that used the internet worldwide and the drastic increase from 1999 and 2000 to then 2008, and even now there would be way more people that say they use the internet on a daily basis.

With how many people, mostly young adults, that use social media outlets like Instagram and Twitter it is so easy for people to connect with other people their age on the internet. My high school had a sister school that we did a short exchange program with last year in Spain and the first thing we did when we found out who the kids we were staying with were was to follow them on Instagram and talk to them through there. In so many ways it is so incredible that we can do this and learn more about other cultures if we are not fortunate enough to travel there; however, it does come with some negative consequences. Due to the fact that I was able to talk to these kids in Spain and I did not even have an agenda of spreading American culture, those who do would be able to accomplish this very easily. American culture was just an example but people could take advantage of the connections and communications from around the world and homogenize groups that do not need to be homogenized. This article does mention how the use of the internet can improve human connections and spread knowledge and while this is true and a very positive impact of the abilities of the internet, the culture of each country is unique and different and should be preserved. In some respects, societies should not be brought together in the way that they are through the use of social media because of globalization.

Additionally, globalization has brought societies closer together culturally through television programming and news coverage. With Netflix that is so popular now, people in America can watch shows from other countries, mostly Spanish speaking, that people there watch and vice versa, they can watch typical American shows. For example, in this article, culture is described as something that changes gradually, not suddenly. While this is true, the gradual change could also be started by the smallest thing. A group of young students in school could be on Netflix watching a typical American show and they could start saying things that the American kids are saying or they are interested in wearing whatever trend is going on in America at that time. Of course, that is a small scale but culture is so delicate and should not be affected that much by other countries. As for the news coverage, the ability to exchange information from country to country is on the Global Cities Index as represented here and it is very important for the news to be able to get to other places faster for safety reasons. For example, if there was an earthquake that was going to cause a tsunami somewhere, it would be extremely important for the safety of thousands of people that the information gets there in time so people can escape. The ability to spread news like this is very positive; however, it can also cause problems when politics are brought into the picture and there are more differences of opinion and handling problems rather than just getting a message out for safety. Globalization has brought societies together through the use of television programming as well as news coverage.

Although some people might argue that either globalization has brought societies further apart or that it has brought them closer together in an all positive way, that is clearly not the case when looking at how the effects of cultures, such as the American culture, have affected countries throughout the world. With regards to culture, globalization thrived through the connections of the use of easier international travel, social media and the internet, as well as television programming and news coverage.

The Deceiving Nature of Maps

In today’s day and age, most people get their news online and use digital maps rather than the old-fashioned globes that now only seem to appear in school classrooms, if even at all. While this might be more convenient and useful in the technology driven world, it causes problems that most people don’t even think about. The distortion of size, shape, or area of countries (or entire continents in the case of Africa) can really change the way people think about certain places and how much they care about events going on in these places.

For example, in the article from class where the Ebola outbreak was discussed, people in western countries who see the news more than others didn’t care as much as they should’ve. The news outlet labeled Nigeria wrong and made it look like it was a landlocked country. However, it actually has one of the most popular airports in all of Africa in Lagos and it’s also on the coast where there are multiple trade patterns that go in and out of ports on the coast of Nigeria every day. Once the people that were previously uneducated about the location of Nigeria found out where it really was, they cared more about the Ebola outbreak knowing now that the odds of it leaving the country were higher.

More recently, new sources of formic acid have been discovered in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The map from the image  above shows the concentrations of the acid, where it’s distributed and distance from the coast. Although I’m not sure where the large concentrations are coming from, I do know that this acid is corrosive to the skin and it’s something people should care about when they decide to plan tropical vacations surrounded by high concentrated areas. Although the information on this map is clear and it seems to demonstrate the issue, there are some major problems with it. It hinders the understanding of the issue because of the center they chose and the size of Africa. The center should’ve been the Pacific Ocean because that’s where the highest concentration is. With the larger section of red together in the center, it’s more likely that it’ll attract the attention of readers and hopefully expose the issue at hand. Also, Africa looks smaller than it’s, as it does on many maps, but this time it affects the understanding of the issue because the red section is along the coast and the coast is a lot longer than it looks on the map. In cases like this, with something dangerous to people, it’s important that maps are accurate and represent the issue at hand.

Furthermore, social media in relation to the maps online plays a very large role in how people view issues around the world. Related to the article about the formic acid in the oceans, there is another article about the formic acid in the troposphere layer of the atmosphere. This article talks about how often this topic of the effects of the troposphere or the formic acid is talked about in social media, how it’s “trending”. There are only four news outlets that are talking about this issue and it was only blogged about and tweeted about by one. This could be a result of the maps made by the makers that do not show the true level of concern that this issue deserves.

Moreover, similar to the activity from class, this article discusses the importance of the size of countries and how they are distorted by the maps. Due to the fact that people do not use globes anymore, as mentioned before, it’s imperative that the maps online are accurate and give a realistic ratio of size relative to one another so problems are not blown out of proportion, or on the other hand, they are taken seriously when they should be. In addition to the continent of Africa that always seems to be made too small on maps, the two countries that are affected the most are Greenland and Antarctica at the poles. While they are not that big, they seem to be much larger on digital maps because the poles are stretched out along the edges of the map. This matters because since the beginning of learning about countries, geography and empires being formed thousands of years ago, size has always been an indicator of power in the world. The bigger the empire was, the more power they had. Of course, it’s not the only factor and today more indicators matter, like how strong the economy is and the medicine and technology they have; however, size is still relevant. Arguably the most powerful countries right now are China and the United States and they are definitely not small countries. Map makers need to keep that in mind when distorting the size of the countries, it affects their view to other people, especially kids learning this for the first time in school.

Some people might argue that the common distortions of maps (size, area, shape) aren’t important when in reality it’s just to understand the location of the countries, continents and oceans. They would say that it’s more important to understand what goes on in the countries. However, this is an invalid argument because there’s no way to truly understand what is going on in a country if people can’t understand the size of the country for population density and relative distance to other countries for trading and more economic reasons. Maps are the key to understanding the interconnected global economy.

Contrasting from the last article, another article that was talked about in class was the map that was so accurate that it fit into a globe when it was folded up. This shows the other side of the issue previously talked about and demonstrates how helpful it is to have an accurate map to teach students and to use in general to understand the relationships between countries, trade and different economies. Something interesting about this map is that it doesn’t have the same center that maps usually have. Maybe that’s the key to an accurate map because the Earth is round so why do people keep making the same flat map with distorted sizes? It doesn’t need to be a rectangle like they have been.