New Hope for a Renewable World

For anyone who doesn’t know, the tragedy of the commons is the idea that as humans progress technologically and learn how to extend more resources, the earth takes the biggest hit. As time progresses and changes aren’t made to become more sustainable, then there could be irreversible damage done to the earth. This is why people to trying to spread awareness on climate change and sustainability movements. The problem is many countries rely on “dirty” things like coal and fossil fuels to run big factories, and, in turn, helping their economy. China is a great example of a huge emitter of fossil fuels into the atmosphere. This seems to be a question of ethics, and it is a question every country will have to answer for themselves. What is more important, the earth or the money?

In fact, what innovations are being made to help the environment?

According to Science Daily, scientists at Ohio State University are in the final steps in creating a new form of plastic that is biodegradable. More than 18 billion tons of plastic a year is wasted and thrown into the oceans, and this is just from coastal regions alone. Having this new bioplastic could do wonders for the effort to clean up the earth. Although this may seem like a small change, this could affect millions of lives. The carbon footprint humans have left on the earth is undeniable, but that does not mean it is irreversible. Small changes like these become big changes in the long run. The environment should be a top priority for the UN and other organizations, and this bioplastic could have a huge impact on the world.

Dickovick, James and Eastwood, Jonathan. Tragedy of the Commons. Comparative Politics. 2016.

“Potential for Earth-Friendly Plastic Replacement: New Biodegradable ‘Plastic’ Is Tough, Flexible.” ScienceDaily, 9 Apr. 2019, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190409083223.htm.

Treat, Laura. Fast Facts about Plastic Pollution. 20 Dec. 2018, https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/plastics-facts-infographics-ocean-pollution/.

India’s Deviant Case of Democracy

India, as stated before, is a deviant case of a working democracy. It faces many different challenges having one of the largest populations in the world while also being very diverse religiously and ethically. The country still struggles with massive wealth disparity and overall poverty, making it hard for there to be a middle class. The Indian government is set up as a federal parliament. India practices a bicameral congress system, with the lower chamber being the Lok Sabha and the upper chamber being the Rajya Sabha. The government basically runs through the Lok Sabha due them electing the prime minister, controlling fiscal and monetary policy, as well as keeping the Supreme Court in check. India’s economy is known for having strong regulation by the government, which is handled by the Lok Sabha and ultimately the Prime Minister.

So does this strong economic regulation by the government help or hurt the people of India?

Well, just this past week, the Prime Minister used fiscal policy to demonetize some old currency bills, and ban their use. This, however, caused large uproar in the congress, especially by the President of the Congress Rahul Gandhi(1). Gandhi stated that this act only made the rich richer and the poor poorer, which is a recurring problem in India. This could be a step forward for India though due to the congress called out the Prime Minister on his wrongdoings.

India has shown a lot of recent growth in many areas, but the massive problems regarding wealth disparity will always hinder them from becoming a great democracy.

Dickovick and Eastwood. “India.” IMTC. 13 Nov. 2018.

PTI. “Note Ban Hurt the Poor, Benefited Rich: Rahul Gandhi in Chhattisgarh – Times of India.” The Times of India, 13 Nov. 2018, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/note-ban-hurt-the-poor-benefited-rich-rahul-gandhi-in-chhattisgarh/articleshow/66603711.cms

Gender, Ethnicity, and Race in North Korea

In ITMC, Eastwood and Dickovick talked about the roles of gender, ethnicity, and race in society today. These are very complex movements in modern society today, but why? Many people attribute the blowing up of these movements to the extreme use of social media, which is a great way to gain traction in a cause. Now, the interesting thing about these movements is that they are vastly different, but all are coming together to change one thing: equality. The gender battle is being fought by feminists, while the ethnicity and race movements are being led by all kinds of minorities. Obviously, the equality being fought for by all of these movements have many ties to the past, and not just in America. Nigeria, a focus country last semester, is still continuing to have ethnic tensions widespread throughout the country. It is harder to give these movements representation within government in authoritarian societies compared to democratic societies, mostly based on the varying ideals of each.

Are their strides being taken in some authoritarian countries in regard to gender, race, or ethnicity?

In North Korea, it seems like there are no strides being made in regard to gender rights. In an article written in the Guardian last year, many women who fled North Korea opened up about the devisive gender roles in place of the country. They also talked about the extreme sexual violence experienced from government officials of North Korea. Obviously, this is not an indication of every authoritarian’s countries views on the struggles facing multitudes of minority groups, but it does offer insight on why it is so hard to adopt change in a country that does not want to.

Eastwood and Dickovick. “Chapter 14: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender.” ITMC.

Haas, Benjamin. “‘They Considered Us Toys’: North Korean Women Reveal Extent of Sexual Violence.” The Guardian, 1 Nov. 2018, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/01/north-korea-women-sexual-violence-report.

Arab Spring = Chinese Winter… What are the effects today for China?

In James Fallows’ piece, Arab Spring, Chinese Winter, he writes about the connection between the events of the 2010 and 2011 Arab Spring and Jasmine protests. The Arab Spring protests were a series of pro-democratic protests starting in Northern Africa and then spreading to the Middle East. The point of the protests were for the people to fight back from the oppression and infringement on civil liberties of the people by their separate governments. And, in fact, many of these protests in these areas were quite successful in doing just that. Many of the authoritarian regimes of those countries had to resign or fled in opposition to these ideas. The article, though, also talks about the Jasmine protests, which were a similar series of pro-democratic protests in China. However, while these protests did put a spotlight on some fallacies of the Chinese government, they were not as successful as the Arab Spring protests.

Since this was about 7 or 8 years ago, are these protests still going on in China? Do the people still want freedom?

Well, according to Radio Free Asia, they are. In Hong Kong, which is a somewhat independent Chinese territory, pro-democracy protests happen annually. Hong Kong has been passed from country to country, but China has agreed to give the territory a high level of autonomy. However, any changes Hong Kong attempts to make to the political system can be vetoed by Beijing. As one can imagine, this causes immense frustration with the pro-democracy advocators, because nothing can ever really be changed. With President Jinping becoming more and more authoritarian as time goes on, the protesters have become more wary every year. However, it is refreshing to see some fight back from the citizens.

Fallows, James. “Arab Spring, Chinese Winter.” The Atlantic. 2011.

RFA. “Hong Kong Marks National Day With Protests Over Loss of Freedom, Democracy.” Radio Free Asia, 1 Oct. 2018, https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/protests-10012018110808.html.

What Does Diversity Look Like in Brazil?

The battle for racial equality has long been fought for in the world, but it seems as if Brazil may be sturggling more than most other countries. The Economist published an article on just how racially divided and segregated Brazil is to this day, and it is shocking. Not only are black or brown skinned citizens unfairly treated in Brazil in a plethora of ways, but the unimaginable thing is that there is still slavery prevalent in Brazilian factories to this day. Slavery was not abolished in Brazil until 1888. Over 50% of slums are populated by citizens with darker skin than the average Brazilian. Whites make, on average, 44% more than blacks in Brazil. All of these problems and more present a serious issue for many reasons, but one massive reason is that the majority of the country (51%), describes themselves as black or brown skinned, and they have no one to represent them in the government. There is only 1 out of 38 cabinet members who is black in Brazil. All of this feels eerily familiar to the pre civil rights movement America, which was racist and segregated beyond belief.

So what is next for Brazil in this fight for equality?

Andres Schipani, a writer for Special Report Brazil, wrote in an article about how affirmative action is helping at least one young man follow his dream. This young man, Mr. Dos Santos, has a dream to one day work at JPMorgan, which for many people with his skin color, is an impossible feat. But affirmative action has helped him on his quest to get an MBA, and hopefully a job at the esteemed financial enterprise. Hopefully these laws end up contributing to other black Brazilians getting their fair shot.

The Economist, print-edition. “Affirming a Divide.” The Economist, 28 Jan. 2012, https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2012/01/28/affirming-a-divide.

Schipani, Andres. “Racial Diversity in Brazil ‘Turns to a New Page.’” Financial Times, 15 May 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/abe60816-3cc9-11e8-bcc8-cebcb81f1f90.