As an environmental studies student, I am constantly exposed to global sustainability issues, whether it’s in class, while researching for papers or just surfing the net. Today I stumbled upon an article on deforestation in The Guardian. I found this story very interesting because it encapsulates the classic problem of balancing that countries face, regardless of their level of development. The Amazon forests, verdurous lands that are rich in biodiversity, portray the wondrous expanse of nature. With its extensive species and plant variety, the forest has become synonymous with the word, diversity. It is definitely in my list of top five places to visit. I can only imagine that to be surrounded by so much natural beauty would be a humbling and adventurous experience.
The issue of deforestation has been ever present in this part of the world. Soya farming and intentional fires are the main drivers of deforestation in the Amazon. Recently, the government was pursuing a bill that intended to weaken Brazil’s efforts to protect its forests. However, yesterday it was revealed that twelve clauses of the bill were vetoed by the Brazilian President, Dilma Rouseff. The code attempted to slash the requirement of farmers to keep a portion of their land as protected areas including riverbanks and forest areas. A study from Sao Paulo University revealed that the changes in environmental policy proposed by the new Forest Code would lead to the clearing of another 200 million hectares of forestland. Approximately, 20% of the rainforest has already been destroyed. In 2008, the Brazilian government improved its enforcement of environmental laws through the installation of a satellite tracking system. It is reported that the deforestation levels have lowered since then. Thus, the proponents of the bill sight this reduction in deforestation levels as evidence and propose that a loosening of strict forest code laws can occur. On the other hand, environmental activists groups express their concern over the fact that the government police force only comprises of 1400 officials who are expected to monitor and perform surveillance of the vast Amazon forest. Moreover, to assess the overall reasons behind the slashing of deforestation levels, the economic front needs to be considered as the fluctuation in supply and demand of Brazil’s natural resources in the global market is directly linked to resource extraction.
The majority of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions, about 75%, are a result of rainforest clearing. Especially in wake of Rio+20, Earth Summit 2012, it is critical for Brazil to demonstrate environmental leadership. The sustainable growth challenge of how to properly integrate environmental, economic and societal concerns is brought to light with this example. Financial and societal interests of farmers as well as ecological welfare and value of natural services provided by the forests need to be balanced to ensure Smart Growth on a local level. Legal institutions, policy frameworks and enforcement come into play because they influence social, environmental and corporate welfare.
The questions of how countries can go about recognizing and achieving sustainable developmental goals need to be answered, which is why summits like Rio+20 are significant as they bring together world leaders to discuss about sustainability progress. Commitment from nations on environmental front varies across the board which is why such conferences are often muddled by disagreements amongst countries. However, I think that is where the voice of the public comes in.
If you are interested, in this issue I encourage you to become a part of DeforestACTION and have your say in reducing the negative environmental impact of deforestation.
There is something about being young that fuels the desire for taking a positive action in the world. Perhaps it is because we have not yet developed into pessimistic cynics, but, I feel that optimism keep the soul young. The inherent feeling of hopefulness and that conviction of yes we can make a difference and change things for the better if we put our mind to it. There are numerous pressing issues in world that need to be addressed by citizens, which make up the government, businesses, workforce and students. The entire basis of a successful democratic society is civic engagement and public participation.
Education and knowledge are the most invaluable and effective weapon a community can use to end violence. A peaceful and harmonious world that we’ve dreamt of is possible only if we work towards it. Wide scale action, collaboration and cooperation are required from, between and amongst local, national and global societies. Throughout history, the most impactful change has spurred from grass roots movements, and with the involvement of zealous, intelligent, and tactful young people.
If YOU share a passion for making change and see yourself as a proponent of peace, TakingITGlobal invites you to have your voice heard by participating in the Promethean Planet's first youth-only Education Fast Forward debate. Students will be able to join live from the Cisco offices in their respective cities and form connections with youth worldwide. Jeremy Gilley, the head of Peace One Day is also involved in this initiative. Peace One Day, celebrated on September 21, is a global movement against violence. The organization supports education as the basis of establishing peace and tranquility.
The Education Fast Forward 5 will seek to gather student engagement on how to make a positive impact on conflict reduction. As a youngster, YOU have the ability to become a part of this global movement on July 10th. The topic for the next debate is “From Learner Voice to Global Peace” highlighting the significance of education in the world. Youth panelists are invited to bring a fresh and personal perspective on the subject to further the discussion and participate in a community of global educators. Education, through books and experience, raises awareness, and expands the mind and consciousness of an individual. By teaching the youth of today, we can hope for a brighter future.
If you have something to say on this issue, apply today. Applications are being accepted until the deadline of June 11nd.
Bullying is a conscious repeated hostile act that takes different vicious forms. It can be verbal, social, physical or cyber but the magnitude of pain afflicted on the victim is the same. It is a ghastly social epidemic that hurts the society. It has negative impacts on the victim, their development, and self-esteem. Power struggle and imbalance is the underscoring theme of bullying. It is a form of emotional torture the scars of which can extend way into the future of its survivors. However, the depressing truth is that not all victims survive it. It is a possibly deadly societal disease that must be dealt with as a real problem.
And it is not merely confined to the walls of the school. It happens amongst kids, teenagers and even adults, in the school, the playground and even the workplace. The aggressor and the victim are not the only part of the equation. The individual in the capacity to act is the bystander. As it is said, seeing injustice happen right in front of you and not doing anything about it, makes one as much a culprit as the person acting unjustly. Oblivion and ignorance leads to inaction. If we want to stop bullying, we have to do something about it. In a school environment where the pressure of “fitting-in” weighs heavily on children, bullying is often a result of attempts of power assertion. Injustice, discrimination, prejudice and bullying are all linked together and thrive of off each other. I am sure all of us have sometimes in our life taken a form of a bully, victim or a bystander. Some may have personal stories and unpleasant memories that they’d rather not recall. By staying mum when someone is being harassed or verbally abused, regardless of the intention, one is inadvertently condoning bullying.
Today is International Stand Up to Bullying Day which calls for bystanders to speak up, ask around for help and help the victim. It is mainly a North American event but the movement is growing and gradually expanding internationally. Today, over 3100 schools, workplaces and organizations have signed up to take a stand. On this day, pink is worn to show support for the cause. The whole idea of wearing pink was started from Travis Price and David Shepherd, two students who stood up for another student being bullied, by wearing pink t-shirts.
The politics of climate change was brought to the forefront in the wake of the recent Heartland Institute scandal. It serves as an unfortunate reminder of that fact that objectivity of scientific facts is often muddled by conflicting political agendas. The incident is revealing of the dirty behind the scenes manipulation that goes on in a democratic society of America. One of the main goals of the Heartland Institute is to subvert the established science on climate change, which can only be qualified as an outright example of propaganda. Peter Gleick, a renowned climate scientist, obtained confidential policy documents from the staff of the Heartland Institute by pretending to be an “insider”. These documents reveal the sources of financial support received by the institute such as Koch Oil, and its plans to influence the alteration of school curriculum to discourage teachers from educating students about climate change. Moreover, the papers disclose that Heartland funds bloggers and companies that work to disrepute such science. For instance, an unnamed individual donated a whopping $4.6 million in 2008 to the organization.
It bothers and saddens me to a great extent that the workings of such an organization can misguide the future generations. They aim to essentially misinform the leaders of tomorrow about the state of the world by feeding them lies about the absence of climate change. The necessity of evaluating our sources of information and considering where it is coming from, its purpose and bias, strikes me as a lesson to be learned from this episode. It is scary to think that such institutions have the ability to influence school curriculums and impact what the young children can learn. Students who in their developmental age do not have the maturity to decipher the credibility of the information they are provided and place complete trust in the authority of knowledge. The attempt at distortion and manipulation of information by merely a small group of people is appalling, even more so in a society that is considered to be democratic.
Although the exposing of Heartland Institute’s attempt at infiltrating the education system and plans to undermine the current climate change research is the core matter of concern, the issue that has received more attention in the media is the criticism of Gleick’s method of retrieving the information. Shouldn’t t it be expected of them to divulge and repudiate organized and dull efforts that misrepresent their science. While Peter Gleick came out into the light to admit his role, and issued a statement sighting that he was “his judgement was blinded by his frustration with the ongoing efforts to attack climate change.”
The incident exposes the industrial manipulation of data and information, and its efforts to influence the public. Major oil and heavy industry companies like Koch Oil and Exxon Mobil have all been identified as funders of the Heartland Institute. It is rather distressing that such an institution, which is funded by companies that gain from the subversion of climate change science, is a significant lobbying link to push industrial efforts in public policy formation.
Walking through a museum is like wandering through numerous periods of history, akin to time travel. Museums are elaborate visual representations of the past and a repository for artifacts. Ever since 1977, International Museum Day has been celebrated on May 18thby the International Council of Museums to raise awareness about the significance of museums to societal development. Museums preserve cultural heritage, glory of civilizations, societies that thrived and perished, and wars that were won and lost. They provide us a peek into the world we read about in our history textbooks, a world that may seem disconnected and irrelevant on paper but once it is enlivened with proof, a whole new perspective is formed. This year’s theme of the day is “Museums in a Changing World- New Challenges, New Inspirations.” The topic encompasses the ideal prospective of sustainable development and the issues that will be encountered in the pursuit of that endeavour. In this context, history of various subjects, including that of culture, traditions, sociology, science, ecology, technology are all relevant especially considering that progress requires integration and evolution of all these disciplines.
My favourite museum experience was last summer, when I went to Washington D.C. I visited the Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum as well as the National Museum of American History, all of which added a new dimension of my sight-seeing experience. When I was in Grade 6, I remember taking a class trip to a local museum in India. We were learning about the Indus Valley Civilization, the remnants of which were merely 2 hours away from my school! I recall me and my friends being especially fascinated by the ancient gold coins.
Today, thirty thousand museums all over the world from Pakistan to Canada and Algeria to United States are holding special exhibitions and events. I think museums enhance our learning experience, allow us to revisit the past to better prepare for our future. Apart from serving as a vital source of inspiration for artists, authors, fashion designers, museums serve as a great educational tool.