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.

Can We Still Help the Earth?

I recently had the opportunity to visit and explore Venice, Italy for a few days on a family vacation around Europe.  While I was roaming the tiny streets of the historic city, one thing in particular caught my eye. It wasn’t the famous Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs, or even the Grand Canal.  What I couldn’t keep my eyes away from was the Adriatic Sea, slowly creeping up the steps of buildings hundreds of years old, destroying the historic buildings. This increasing water level is one of the many destructive results of modern global warming.  Quite possibly the greatest problem with global warming is the fact that it’s entirely cause by humans, just like you and me. This is the greatest problem because it is also the only solution. The only way we can sustain the earth is if we change our lifestyles to incorporate more environmentally friendly practices.

While most of the world understands the effects of global warming, people may ask why all the sudden now is the time to start making changes.  The answer is really quite simple, we should have made changes decades ago before it got to such an aggressive level. The facts don’t lie: the five warmest years ever were all recorded after 2010, ice sheets in Antarctica are melting at 3X the speed they were 10 years ago, and the sea level rose 8” in the last century with the rate doubling in the most recent 10 years.  Pretty scary stuff, right? You can even see how this affects Venice in the image to the right, where algae is now growing on 3 levels of underwater steps that were previously above the water level.  This destruction of a great historic city is sadly a perfect example of the many costs of living a modern lifestyle.

Just like a product you buy in a store has a cost, so do your actions.  The various costs of living a luxurious, and quite wasteful, modern lifestyle are represented by climate change and global warming.  Essentially, global warming is a result of these negative costs. These costs tend to be hidden from the public since firms don’t want their customers to know the damage done in production.  The worst part is probably what you’ve already guessed, the majority of these costs are thrown on the earth and eventually the weight is too much for it to bear. At that point, the earth can’t handle the load of all these costs and thus global warming.  As stated in this article, “In its Fifth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world under the auspices of the United Nations, concluded there’s a more than 95 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet. The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years. The panel also concluded there’s a better than 95 percent probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years”.  Essentially, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that, with over 95% certainty, humans are factually and scientifically proven to be responsible for global warming.  

A question that’s been proposed many times is, why is global warming just becoming a large worldwide topic of discussion when it’s been happening for decades already?  The real answer is that global warming has reached the point where human lives are directly affected and, more than anything, inconvenienced by it. This is the honest, selfish answer no one wants to talk about.  Perhaps the most alarming fact is that the United States is ranked 26 in the most environmentally friendly countries, yet it produces 25% of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning, by far the largest share of any country and only 4% of the world’s population.  According to this article, “The whole world is off course on climate change by that metric, meaning that many countries, including the United States, under-promised in Paris. The world’s commitments thus far, assuming they are realized, would lead to a warming of 3.3 degrees Celsius (5.94 degrees Fahrenheit), rather than the 2 or 1.5 degree Celsius (3.6 or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) targets of the Paris agreement”(Mooney 2).  The main problem with this is that the world’s temperature is rising at a rate that’s insustainable for the earth. If the temperature is even 2.5 degrees farenheit over the target, which it’s current on track to be, it can have horrible repercussions. Therefore, we need to start changing our way of life for the earth to survive. One of the best ways to do this is moving towards renewable energy, instead of burning fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases.  According to this article, only 11% of the United States energy is produced using renewable energy sources.  Wind energy, the fastest growing renewable sources of energy only contributes to 2.4% of that.  In order to make a change, we need to start shifting our mindset towards more environmentally friendly practices.

While global warming is an internationally recognized world problem, there is a small percentage of people that don’t agree.  As you can see, global warming is currently a very large problem and something we need to fix. It’s up to you to help save the world, so start making a difference.


The True Cost of Goods

It’s not too hard to realize that the world is driven by the profit motive, the never ending human want to get more.  This is due in part to Capitalism, the economic system that drives profit maximizing down our throats. Capitalism is an economic system characterized by the private ownership of production, distribution, and the exchange of goods.  It exists as a worldwide system, making global capitalism a vital part to many economies around the world. Over time this has become a problem, as the externalized costs of global capitalism take their toll on our world. Externalized costs are the true cost of a good to society.  These costs can be both positive and negative, but tend to have a negative impact on our world. As global capitalism has taken over the world, increased profits have become the negative external costs of capitalism and are taking a toll on the environment around us.

Externalized costs exist as hidden costs of the goods we use everyday.  These are the costs not shown in that dollar value on the pricetag, they are the costs to society.  They don’t only cause harm to human health, but also harm wildlife, the environment, and social organizations.  While society has become much better about talking about these costs, we still haven’t done much to prevent them.  This chart even shows the constant decline in air quality:

1980 vs 2017 1990 vs 2017 2000 vs 2017 2010 vs 2017
Carbon Monoxide -84 -77 -61 -13
Lead -99 -98 -94 -80
Nitrogen Dioxide (annual) -63 -56 -49 -21
Nitrogen Dioxide (1-hour) -60 -50 -35 -14
Ozone (8-hour) -32 -22 -17 -5
PM10 (24-hour) -34 -30 0
PM2.5 (annual) -41 -18
PM2.5 (24-hour) -40 -10
Sulfur Dioxide (1-hour) -90 -88 -79 -66


This decline in air quality can be largely attributed to the increase in faster, cheaper, and dirtier modern production of goods.  In addition to harming the environment, these air pollutants are related to various diseases and sicknesses. A study about coal pollutants in this article even says, “A Harvard University study, which assessed the life cycle costs and public health effects of coal from 1997 to 2005, found a link to lung, cardiovascular, and kidney diseases—such as diabetes and hypertension—and an elevated occurrence of low birth rate and preterm births associated with surface mining practices”.  These are only some of the health risks associated with modern pollution. As global capitalism creates larger markets and stresses increased profits more, the true costs of production are increasing and damaging the earth more.

Externalized costs don’t just appear out of nowhere, they’re produced as a result of a decision made by firms.  These decisions are made to increase profits by any means possible with the cheapest production and the fastest distribution.  One example of this is the video we watched in class about Walmart’s intense supplier regiment. The video interviewed workers that were laid-off by a business in the United States after Walmart dropped their contract.  As the economists and Walmart executives explained, they simply could buy the same goods in Asia at a fraction of the cost. In my opinion, this is the epitome of global capitalism. Simply put, capitalism seeks out the cheapest possible goods, no matter the costs.  The only problem with that is the non-monetary costs. The externalized costs are increased greatly when production moves to less developed nations, or nation’s with less social and humanitarian based laws. As this article we got in class states, “Who paid for that $4.99 radio? Some people paid with the loss of their natural resources. Some paid with the loss of clean air, with increased asthma and cancer rates. Some workers paid by having to cover their own health insurance. Kids in Africa paid with their future: a third of the school-age children in parts of the Congo now drop out to mine metals for electronics”.  These undeveloped nations have little to no child labor laws, laws controlling work hours, work conditions, and laws controlling pollution and waste.  This allows firms to produce their goods at a greatly reduced monetary cost since their laws and regulations allow longer work days, and they’re able to pay their workers less.  This has resulted in a great deal of externalized costs affecting these nations, specifically nations in and around Asia. As stated in this article, “In 2010, 40% of the world’s premature deaths caused by air pollution were in China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide…The University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health reported more than 3,000 premature deaths in the city in 2013…A poll by the U.S. Pew Research Center found that 47% of Chinese citizens thought air pollution to be a “very big” problem in 2013 (up from 31% in 2008)”.  The deaths labelled in this article are direct costs of modern day production in these Asian nations.  Capitalism has created a craving for increased profits, but as we can see these increased profits to one side cost the other side their lifestyle and in extreme cases maybe even their life.

Externalized costs exist in every economy, not matter the structural or social aspects of it.  While global capitalism creates some of the largest and greatest affecting externalized costs, it may be argued that not all of these costs are direct effects of global capitalism.  Some say that externalized costs can be attributed more to humans and society than to Capitalism. They believe that these costs are created in any economy and are due to firms simply not caring about the effect they have on our planet.  While this is partly true, it doesn’t cover all the information. Without global capitalism we would have significantly less international production. If most goods we used were produced in our home nation’s, we would have a drastic difference in externalized costs and global pollution.  To only touch on the subject, the nation’s using the most goods that create the largest externalized costs have the most intense labor and pollution laws. This essentially means that if global capitalism didn’t exist and international production was minimal, we would have smaller externalized costs.  The only problem is that global capitalism very much exists, and drives the world as we know it, creating externalized costs everywhere it goes.