Friday, April 30, 2010

Worrying, disturbing oil spill in America

On Earth day an oil rig sunk in the gulf of mexico. There are around 5000 barrels of oil being released into the ocean each day. From Stuff/Associate Press:

An oil spill that threatens to eclipse the Exxon Valdez disaster is spreading out of control and drifting inexorably toward[s and is already at] the Gulf Coast of the US, as fishermen rush to scoop up shrimp and crews spread floating barriers around marshes.

"It is of grave concern," said David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling... The oil slick could become America's worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, one of the world's richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life. "

The spill was both bigger and closer than imagined - five times larger than first estimated, with the leading edge just 5km from the Louisiana shore. Authorities said it could reach the Mississippi River delta by Thursday night (Friday NZT).

From The Wallstreet Journal:

The slick was expected to make landfall at any time. The spill could turn into one of the biggest in U.S. history. An estimated 5,000 barrels a day of oil are flowing from the well, and officials said it could take up to 90 days to cap it, making for volumes that could exceed the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska and a 1969 accident in Santa Barbara, Calif.

People along the Gulf Coast braced for environmental damage and disruption to businesses, such as the rich shrimp and oyster fisheries along southern Louisiana. President Obama said he will commit "every single resource" the federal government had available to combat the spill, as the military began mobilizing Thursday to help prevent environmental damage.

"Regulators will want to understand how this occurred and quite reasonably wish to introduce additional regulation, if that's appropriate, to prevent it happening again," Chief Executive Tony Hayward told The Wall Street Journal. "You certainly won't see BP standing in the way of that."

An eco system, a regions industry and source of employment practically destroyed overnight. Not to mention the lives lost on that rig. This is a terrible tragedy. BP is going to receive a huge backlash for this. The plane has crashed, we can find the fault but the damage is done. This is all the more reason to find cleaner alternative energy systems and make oil companies more accountable.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Origin of Paula Bennett

In light of the recent Paula Bennett scandal...
Update: TV3 was bullshitting everybody and based their story off facebook comments. Too bad the comic still applies.

Water Poverty: How to combat it (from the WHO)

DEVASTATION: This startling picture of the White House, by Saddington & Baynes for WaterAid and End Water Poverty, marks a meeting of 30 nations to discuss the problem of water poverty.

Four days after my last post discussing water and oil, the World Health Organisation released its annual sanitation and drinking water report.

"There is no doubt that if ministers and leaders had to endure these conditions in their own backyard they would take immediate action. Today they have the opportunity to do so and help bring an end to this scandalous crisis." - Barbara Frost (on Stuff)

The Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) (warning, 23.7 MB)

The report found that diarrhoeal disease in children has a greater impact than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined. Improving sanitation and drinking water could reduce the death of 2.2 million children a year. Sanitation would save a lot of money for these developing countries. Money that could be spent on healthcare, food, protection and education. There is four reccomendations in it:

Recommendation 1 - Developing countries and external support agencies to demonstrate greater political commitment to sanitation and drinking-water, given their central role in human and economic development.

Reccomendation 2 - External support agencies and developing countries to consider how to better target resources to accelerate progress towards meeting the sanitation and drinking-water MDG(Millenium Development Goal) target

Reccomendation 3 - Developing countries and external support agencies to strengthen national and subnational systems to plan, implement and monitor the delivery of sanitation and drinking-water services, especially to unserved populations.

Reccomendation 4 - All stakeholders to work in partnership to support the development and implementation of national plans for sanitation and drinkingwater, using their particular skills and resources and aligning with national systems.

So what do these reccomendations mean? What are supporting agencies, stakeholders, subnational plans and the MDG target? Do these words really mean anything? Let's have a look. Specifically at page 70, where they expand on these reccomendations. However instead of writing in UN english, I'll be writing in plain english or at least trying to.

Recommendation 1 - There needs to be a bigger commitment to clean and drinkable water. Specifically from developing countries and any supporting agencies like the Red Cross or United Nations Development program. This is because water's essential for health and their businesses. Here's how you do it:
  • Increase money and effort into sanitation and getting more drinkable water. This is done through developing countries and external support agencies, like the ones mentioned. (R1a)
  • Find how much resources(eg. money, volunteers, vehicles) you need for drinking water and sanitation compared to other social services. This way you can use them more efficiently. For instance, if your village has two cars available, use one to pick clean water up early in the morning from the well. Then use it to do whatever the village needs done the rest of the day. Have the other one reserved as an ambulance. (R1b)
  • Convince the people affected by water poverty, mostly the government and citizens, that having more drinking water and sanitation will boost the economy. That it's worth working towards. (R1c)

Reccomendation 2 - Think of how to use resources more effectively. This is so a country can reduce by half people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation(Millenium Development Goal). This means:
  • Have your highest authorities discuss resources available for basic sanitation and drinking water for people without access to them. (R2a)
  • Measure your progress on reducing the people without clean water and basic sanitation by half. Have set goals per year. It's a bit like going on a diet. You're a 160 kg overweight man trying to get down to 80 kg. For your first year you aim to lose 10 kg, a year after that 15 kg etc until you're down to 80. (R2b)

Reccomendation 3 - Strengthen national and regional systems to plan, implement and monitor the delivery of clean drinking water and sanitation. Make sure this is done especially for people without access to clean water and sanitation.
  • In country development plans, make sure there are clear roles in institutes responsible for delivering sanitation and drinking water. The leading institutions and roles are accountable for delivery. This gives a clear frame work to work in and wont cause confusion. (R3a)
  • Make sure that accurate and reliable data is available for regions. This means nobody's slacking off or making up figures. (R3b)
  • Prepare and implement plans to use people available who will get sanitation and clean drinking water. This means who will be cleaners, water deliverers and who'll be responsible for maintaining certain facilities. (R3c)

Reccomendation 4 - A partnership of people with the needed skills and resources to implementing national clean drinking water plans.
  • Have external support agencies find ways to deliver clean water and sanitation. Let them partner with investors wanting economical benefits or organisations that have money to support them. Don't reveal who they are. Their role is to give money and follow their legal contract to give it. (R4a)
  • Have the countries and citizens work with external support agencies to lower by half people without clean water or sanitation. (R4b)

Of course these are only reccomendations. Some developing countries might try something completely different. But I hope these developing countries will get access to clean and safe drinking water. It will be a cornerstone for peace. For more information on Water Poverty, you can check out the WHO's booklet: The Right to Water

“Access to safe water is a fundamental human need and, therefore, a basic human right. Contaminated water jeopardizes both the physical and social health of all people. It is an affront to human dignity.” - Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Weird dream I had, a beat'em up game with aliens and people

I was traveling to the top of a cliff on an airship with Bart Simpson. This cliff was on a medium sized mountain surrounded by the ocean. Bart was trying to get to Michael Jackson's funeral. Along this cliff are two unmarked ways you can go. Bart went into his limo and drove down the road. The limo driver asked him “Which way do you want to go?” Bart replied “I don't care. Just take any of them.” So the limo driver took the left one, which made them fall off the cliff and into the sea.

After seeing this I walked down the road and took the right road. It was getting to be a long walk so I thought to myself “This is taking too long. I'm not going to get anywhere this way.” So I did a Super Mario 64 leap off the cliff. If you don't know what that is, think a superhuman longjump. So I leapt off the cliff, across the ocean towards I island I had seen. When I landed I was greeted by some members of the US army fighting a alien queen monster. It looked like a giant caterpillar with two spider legs coming out of its mouth. It grabbed one of the men and swallowed him whole. She then said telepathically “You will now be a part of my eyes and brain.” Suddenly the dream camera zoomed into her eyes where all the olive-coloured alien fluid was. The soldiers eye sprouted inside of it. Then the camera shifted to her brain and the soldier's body appeared with a shocked expression on its eyeless face. The camera then zoomed back out to me.

The world turned into a beat'em up fighting game. I pulled out a laser sword and cut the caterpillar in half. I then started fighting other caterpillar aliens around the place with the US army. After moved through the island fighting caterpillars I came to a town, the next level. There was a red sky overhead. People were attacking me while laughing, trying to kill me. I wasn't using a sword this time. I smacked people over trying to attack me until their health bar became lower and they fell unconscious. The US army wasn't around anymore. Then a teenage girl who tried to stab me. I did a upper cut to her teeth and her health bar was exchanged for the words “FATALITY”. She keeled over. It was then that I woke up.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meritocracy: Whose reward?

Ah that Genghis, what will he do next?

On a serious note, finding a balance between being awarded for work and being able to live from it is an issue. Many people work in sweatshops to earn what a checkout person in New Zealand earns working for 15 minutes. Thats if your lucky. shares several facts about Sweatshops. Facts such as how many earn as little as 1/4th for their basic human needs. Most of their income is spent on food. The US government also selectively gives aid to countries that have sweatshops operated by US companies. The Anti-Slavery society gives more insight into sweatshops: "Many children in Asia are kidnapped or otherwise trapped in servitude, where they work in factories and workshops for no pay and receive constant beatings."

In highschool I remember a world vision volunteer visiting my class before New Zealand's yearly 40 hour famine. He discussed how the conditions in sweatshops were better than many alternatives. These alternatives included digging in the trash, trying to look for garbage to sell. If you were blind or disabled, you would dig in the garbage at night. I think he didn't want to break our young spirits by explaining other some of the other alternatives. Unfortunately I think some of us could already guess.

Harvard Business School doctoral student Neeru Paharia and Professor Rohit Deshpandé have several ideas to stop sweatshops. They include:
  • Stopping the desire for sweatshop products
  • Empowering consumers to drive the opinion on how products should be made
  • That shoppers become more self-aware about sweatshops themselves
Neeru Paharia also had this to add: "It's troubling that so much of our social and economic system is based on our moral judgment, especially if it's easy for us to justify our actions based on what we want." If you want it, it's yours as long as you can pay for it. You can be awarded for your work. No worries about the child's award for all their hard work. Their hard work can be your award.

This is a problem with Meritocracy in our system. Of course in New Zealand we aren't a pure meritocracy. We do have a mininum wage and a welfare system that is suppose to ensure people aren't in poverty in New Zealand. However problems do exist and so does poverty in New Zealand for that matter. Who receives an award can vary based on age, race and sex.

Individuality does have a link with Meritocracy. Humans have a long history of working towards their goals and being awarded for doing so. However some people forget that we don't all play on a level playing field. The work we can do is influenced by our DNA, the circumstances we were born under and the community. As well as this there are people who want to steal awards and claim them for themselves. Sweatshops are an example of this.

Dr. Joseph H. Saleh is Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He was also a technical consultant for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. When working for the Michigan Institute of Technology, he had some comments and suggestions for a fairer Meritocracy:

"Consistency and transparency on what constitutes merit are necessary conditions for a meritocracy to actually be one... Meritocracy requires that we first articulate what constitutes "merit," and what constitutes merit in turn should reflect 1) our values, 2) what kind of people we want to attract and retain, and 3) what kind of behaviors we want to promote and encourage. So while talking about meritocracy, perhaps even better while talking about a "caring meritocracy," we can also talk about our shared values at MIT."

With this combination of ethics and engineering, maybe we could use this to benefit New Zealand's social and economic system? We could make our system:
  1. Have more transperacy about how products are made and come from
  2. Reflect Aotearoa New Zealand's values
  3. Attract people to our country that appreciate these values
  4. Promote and encourage behaviours based on Aotearoa New Zealand's values
To some extent our system does these four things already. But not to a totally large extent. I'd say many some products sold in New Zealand have involved slave labour in some form unfortunately. I also think the Warehouse wouldn't be too pleased if people knew where their bargains were coming from. However recognising a problem is usually the first way to fixing it. As well as this, some people feel they are too small to change the system and may be blind to the benefit of working as a group.

As for Aotearoa New Zealand's values, they can be hard to pinpoint. Our national anthem doesn't give us much of a clue about what these values are. I'm all for saving the Queen but I'm also for saving other people as well. The well-regarded New Zealand historian Michael King does give us some suggestions about where New Zealand's values come from.

In his interview with Kim Hill Michael talked about the values within New Zealand which are from Maori and Pakeha(NZ Europeans): "Pakeha culture is largely derived from Europe, its more individually oriented whereas Maori culture is more communally oriented. Pakeha culture has all sorts of other values that New Zealanders think are precious, like protecting the underdog, not having great extremes of wealth and extremities of poor. There’s a whole list of these things." How do you define a underdog? What is extremely wealthy or poor? And how can you have a combination of collectivism and individuality? For instance in individuality you usually earn your respect. Generally though in Maori culture, you are already born with it due to your inherited mana. As Michael explains, the values New Zealanders share are many. Investigating some practical definitions would be helpful.

Dwight Furrow is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at San Diego Mesa College, USA. Furrow(2005, p.4) explains in his book Ethics that humans often base their ethical behaviour on beliefs and habits they've learned early in life. Infact Furrow(2005, p.1) also says teachers and parents are responsible for teaching ethical behaviour. We are all individuals with our own individual needs and thoughts. But there are things that must be taught by the collective in order for people to be in a safe society. A collective teaching and encouraging New Zealand's values would play a part in a fair New Zealand Meritocracy.

David Perry director of Vann Center for ethics at Davidson College gives some insight into preventing people being exploited by meritocracy. Within his review of Tobias Wolff's novel Old School, he states that "our ethical system [at Davidson] is opposed to the contemptuous, arrogant and cruel sort of meritocracy advocated by Ayn Rand (91-96). Our code of honor at Davidson, unlike hers, is joined at the hip with mercy and forgiveness." He acknowledges that problems and unfairness happen in the real world and meritocracy should make room for this.

Genghis Khan shows us some of meritocracys pros and pitfalls. We can earn rewards through hard work. But these rewards aren't always earned fairly, they can be stolen from others and we don't always get the same rewards for the same work. Rewards play a part in our individuality and can help us gain meaning to our lives. But exploiting others for rewards makes us earn them unfairly. This hurts society, which hurts us for being part of society.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ANZAC day: Red Poppies, White Poppies and the White Feather

There's been some controversy recently about Peace Movement Aotearoa selling white poppies before the Returned Services Association's red poppy day. The money sold from white poppies goes to peace scholarships. These peace scholarships were started by Professor Cynthia Enloe where the scholarship would go to students studying the effects of war on society. The money sold from red poppies goes to the RSA's welfare services. This is a controversial situation. There's been quite a bit of animosity from some war veterans and the RSA over what Peace Movement Aotearoa has been doing. The White Poppy has also been compared to the White Feather, often thought of as a symbol of cowardice. I want to prove that The White Poppy doesn't have to be gawked at. I also want to prove that the White Feather is the complete opposite of the coward's symbol it's been made out to be. But first let's look at the Red Poppy.

The Red Poppy

What is it?

It is an international symbol of rememberance.

Where is it from?

As the RSA explain to us: It was verses by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae (1872-1918), a Canadian Medical Officer, which began the intriguing process by which the Flanders Poppy became immortalised worldwide as the symbol of remembrance:

Moina Michael, moved by John McCrae replied to him after his death:

"We Shall Keep the Faith"

Oh! You who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet-to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With all who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valour led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms
above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy red
We wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fiel

Madame E. Guérin, conceived the idea of widows manufacturing artificial poppies in the devastated areas of Northern France which then could be sold by veterans' organisations worldwide for their own veterans and dependants as well as the benefit of destitute French children. Throughout 1920-21, Guérin and her representatives approached veteran organisations' in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and urged them to adopt the poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

So what is the White Poppy?

The White Poppy

What is it?

It is an international symbol of peace.

Where is it from?

As the BBC's well-researched rememberance page explains: The White Poppy was first introduced by the Women's Co-operative Guild in 1933 and was intended as a lasting symbol for peace and an end to all wars.

Worn on Armistice Day, now Remembrance Sunday, the White Poppy was produced by the Co-operative Wholesale Society because the Royal British Legion had refused to be associated with its manufacture.

While the White Poppy was never intended to offend the memory of those who died in the Great War, many veterans felt that its significance undermined their contribution and the lasting meaning of the red poppy. Such was the seriousness of this issue that some women lost their jobs in the 1930s for wearing white poppies. The White Poppy Appeal is now run by the Peace Pledge Union.

Professor Paul Gough, Dean of the Faculty of Art, Media and Design in Bristol has this to say about the white poppy. "There is, of course, a fundamental difference between a war monument that purports to encapsulate and define memory, and a peace monument that aims to extend a process, or to further a cause. Inevitably, the issue of political legitimacy is central to the issue of peace, as its pursuit has never served the state’s monopoly on violence. Being associated with internationalism, organisations such as the Peace Pledge Union, the white poppy movement and such like, represent a threat to the nation-state which regards an anti-war stance as anti-nation."

Of course, the white poppy isn't as internationally recognised as the red poppy. However it still features internationally. There has been controversy around its presence as well. It disappoints me that the white poppy has existed for over 70 years and many people are still worried about it.

Well-known New Zealand blogger David Farrar has accused the Peace Movement of Aotearoa of "[effectively] stealing money from the RSA". The thing is however, you're kind of playing with semantics when you wonder if money's being stolen or not. It's like being asked to give money for food or give money to research diseases. You can do both. Multiple charities can co-exist together and work together. This isn't a news paper advert asking for $500 so you can win at race horses. These donations fund scholarships given by a professional long-standing academic so people who have been affected by war can study it and learn how to help prevent it. You don't have to buy a red or white poppy. That's why it's called a donation. They are both valid and nobody's disrespecting anybody. It's been around for over 70 years. This isn't Cola vs Pepsi. They are both legitamite symbols. Everyone has there own interpretation of them and that's fine, this is a democracy after all.

There has also been associations with the white poppy and the white feather. The White feather has been known as the coward's symbol. However I think it's a symbol of courage and I'll explain why.

The White Feather

What is it?

In the Online Etymologhy dictionary, they describe the White Feather "as a symbol of cowardice, 1785, supposedly from game-cocks, "where having a white feather, is proof he is not of the true game breed" [Grose].

However, Margaret Orbell(as cited by Ana Pallesen, page 4) gives us another explanation in her book, Seabirds and people: the cultural importacne of seabirds, the illustrateed Encyclopedia of Maori Myth and Legend. The albatross(white) feathers were a spiritual symbol of peace to those affiliated with Taranaki iwi, “Let this be clearly understood by all Maoris, pakehas and all other nations. The white feather is a sign that all nations through the world will be one, black, red and all others who are called human beings. This feather will be the sign of unity, prosperity, peace and goodwill.” Te Whiti o Rongomai(Parihaka's founder) and Tohu Kakahi(Pariahaka's prophet) used the white feather as a symbol of Parihaka's non-violent resistance movement.

Where is it from?

The first explanation is from eugenics. It states if you have a white feather, you are not "true game breed" or of "good stock". This means you aren't built to fight and you aren't strong or desirable. Personally, war is not desirable. World Vision explains about war's causes to us: "Conflict is more likely to happen in poor countries, partly because people are more desperate for land, rights, water or even food. Of the 150 or more major conflicts since the Second World War, 130 of these have been in poor countries." The more we can reach solutions with peace the better. Peace is an ideal, but it's an ideal worth striving for and it can be a reality. It's an ideal the ANZACs and the people at Parihaka died for. It was a symbol of Parihaka's non-violent resistance movement and this is why I consider it a symbol of courage, as well as peace.

It will be 94 years since the ANZACs arrived at Gallipoli. While we remember our soldiers, it seems many countries have forgotten about peace.

I hope this post has given you some food for thought. Please enjoy your ANZAC day. People of Australia and New Zealand, remember the victims of war, remember our soldiers and remember what they fought for.

Screwed up Thomas the Tank Engine dream I had.

I was in a second hand shop and I saw Thomas the Tank Engine for Sega Megadrive. The case looked pretty legit. I thought “Hey I didn't know there was a Thomas the Tank Engine game for the megadrive. I wonder what it's like?” So I bought it for $5. Took it back home, stuck it in my megadrive and turned it on. The pixelated screen came up saying “Thomas the Tank Engine”. On it was a picture of Skarloey. If you know Thomas the Tank Engine you know he's nearly the opposite of Thomas the Tank Engine. He's a small, red, humble and old steam engine. He is not Thomas the Tank Engine.

So I press start and I'm playing as Skarloey. The game is in a top-down view. I look to be in a rain-forest level. But something is different about him. He has missle launchers, laser guns attached to him and a turret gun on top of him. Also he's on a single rail line with no support underneath. Railwaytracks have two lines and have a big bridge to support it if it's so high. With multiple rail lines around him. I was thinking “Hey this isn't what Thomas the Tank engine is like!”. So I play as him and go along the track. Then another green train passes by me. It's name appears above it as “Maiota”. I was thinking “Wtf? Thomas the Tank Engine has british sounding names. Not foreign sounding names. Also what are with these weird engines?”

Anyway so I went along the rail line and into a friendly train village. There were a bunch of other trains as well on single rail lines. They were purple, black, grey, teal and didn't look like any engines in Thomas the Tank Engines. They and had their own weapons like homing missles, flamethrowers. I went up to one to talk to it and it said “We have to stop Astol from destroying planet.” I was wondering what was going on. Then I realised I was playing a Chinese bootleg of a Japanese railgun mech RPG where all humans have been destroyed and they rule the planet. They translated the script and editted the graphics. But they didn't even try to change the script to make it remotely fit Thomas the Tank engine.

Then I woke up because I reminded myself I needed to get to my course. :(

Monday, April 19, 2010

Peak Oil VS Peak Water

I hear about Peak Oil. There is growing concerns that the world will not meet its energy supply needs. It seems to me that we have a much bigger problem on our hands. Humanity's water supply is limited right now. But let's compare Oil and Water first.

Let's look at Oil first.


How much do we have?

According to the US Government's Energy Information Administration, at least 1184.208 to 1238.892 billion barrels of oil. Infact according to the International Energy Agency: "The world’s energy resources are adequate to meet the projected demand increasethrough to 2030 and well beyond." In 2006 we were consuming 30 billion barrels a year. Of course I'm not saying we own the earth(Private property is theft rar rar. Just kidding.). I'm talking about the oil we have available.

So why the fuss?

Well, according Kjell Aleklett(Professor of Physics at Uppsala University, Sweden, and President of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas): "The oil industry and IEA accept the fact that the total production from existing oil fields is declining."(World Watch 2006, p. 10) As well as this, the US military says our surplus oil production capacity could disappear as early as 2015. This means while we have lots of oil, we aren't able to get to it enough to meet our needs.

The use of oil also contributes to the widely academically accepted fact of man-influenced climate change. As well as this the oil we mostly have is in countries with a track record of corrupt government.

Now I think we need to eventually switch to an alternative. But right now there's just not anything like oil to help us. We need it for our ships, our planes, cars and buses.

So what can be done?

Well I think we can do quite a bit. We could invest more money into energy research instead of war. We can make use of economical vehicles. Yeah this is pretty basic.

So here's something complicated: "[Government] Policy[s] should impose a large Btu or carbon tax on energy that is phased in over a long period, perhaps 20 years. This would signal entrepreneurs that there will be a market for alternative energies. Furthermore, increases in the energy tax should be offset by reducing other taxes, such as payroll or corporate taxes. Economic studies show that such an approach can generate a win-win solution—reduce energy use (and the environmental damages not paid by users), stimulate research and development on alternative energies, and speed economic growth."

So what is Rober Kaufmann(World Watch 2006, p. 20-21)(Professor in the center for Energy & Enviornment studies at Boston University) saying? Make a oil tax that slowly increases over a 20 year period. At the same time, personal and business taxes would slowly be reduced. Entrepreneurs will try to make alternative economical fuels or very economical engines, hoping to get rich. It'll be win win for both of us. Personally, I'd prefer for governments to do the research. If there's an alternative energy business monopoly it could screw everybody over. It could be more expensive than oil, though more enviornmentally friendly. However this is something we could do.

Now let's look at water.


How much do we have?

They say if aliens discovered earth, they wouldn't call it earth. They'd call it water. That's because at least 70% of the earths surface is covered in water.

So what's the fuss?

Canada's Enviornment Department says our drinkable rivers, aquifer and lakes are limited. They are 2.5% of the water in the world. It's scattered and not everybody has access to it. Over 1 in 6 people don't have access to safe drinking water. Nearly 5/12 people have no water sanitation (UN 2005). As well as this, 2/3 people could face water scarcity in the next 20 years due to political and climate issues. (UN 2009)

So what can be done?

The World Health Organisation states that a clean water supply and sanitation is one of the greatest things we can do to reduce poverty. Infact they state for every dollar put into drinkable water and sanitation, we would achieve a return of 3 to 34 dollars. That's a 1:3-34 cost to benefit ratio. The cost of drinkable water and sanitation is $11.3 billion a year. Considering the world has around 2.5 billion people without proper sanitation, that would be $4.52 per person. $4.52 a year to give someone a basic necessity of human life (WHO 2005, p. 32). United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro has also warned we need to insure we have integral ecosystems. This "means promoting peaceful collaboration in the sharing of water resources, particularly in the case of boundary and transboundary water resources.” (UN 2009)

Now let's draw a conclusion.

I think we could live in a country where oil is strictly regulated if we end up with not much oil. It would annoy us at first but we could adjust. I doubt we'll be doing that however. It's too authoritarian for peoples tastes. But the fact is oils likely to get more expensive. I don't think we could live without water. One of my biggest fears is that we will neglect the issue of accessible drinkable water in favour of looking for alternative energy. Political corruption and terrorism is affecting humanitys supply of water. Lack of water is affecting humanity far more right now than a lack of oil.

"Human ingenuity is one resource that won’t peak—but whether it can be mobilized quickly enough to surmount these challenges is not yet clear." - Christopher Flavin, President of the Worldwatch Institute.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

They say a picture's worth a thousand words.

Credit goes to Joel Pett, who drew this for USA Today

First Post / Introduction

Look at me I'm blogging! Now let's see what I can talk about. I guess I should say a bit about myself. I'm a young male student from New Zealand who's studying social work. Most people would call me left wing. I value the enviornment, welfare and individuality.

I think we need more protection and conserving for our enviornment. It's a limited resource that doesn't quickly replace itself. It's essential for a high quality and quantity of life. We need to bring more focus on creating more sustainable food, technology and ways of living. A healthy society relies on a healthy enviornment.

Welfare is also a vital part to ensuring a strong and stable society. Humans are social creatures by nature. If a human cannot meet the needs of their well-being, neither will their society. Society and individuality are inter-connected. If we don't help the people failing to meet their well-being, who will? I'm not saying we should all volunteer 16 hours a day. But we need to support those that cannot support themselves, or we fall together. A welfare system is vital to supporting individuality as well.

Individuality is what gives meaning to life. It is our inate desire to express ourselves. It's why we listen to music, eat different food or joke. I'd like as much as possible for us to express ourselves while meeting our vital human needs. Our need for food, water, shelter and love. Yes love. We don't have to be hippies and live in a lovey dovey commune to have love. A parent or caregivers love is important for children to be healthy adults. People generally can love each other for being human with all their faults. But when you take away love you have fear and when you have fear you have war, starvation and devestation.

I hope you enjoy my posts. I'm not sure how long I'll go with this but I'll try to update this at least weekly. I have other interests as well and will post about those. Looking forward to happy blogging :D