Gold comes back around?

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So I was thinking about extreme poverty around the world while I was walking to my car today and one place that always enters your mind when you consider human suffering is Africa. I think of the desperation that hunger and thirst and insecurity drives people to do, like killing beautiful beasts for their ivory or fur. This thought process lead me to think about how the corrupt government often takes advantage of that desperation and uses it for control and power. If they make them starve long enough, they will surely do whatever they ask. I know that one of the greatest sources of income for Africa comes from their minerals, diamonds, and gold. Blood Diamond is one of the most important movies to have ever been made in my humble opinion because of the issue it shed a blind nation’s eyes on. So I decided to do some research to see if there has been any decline in the mining and exportation of diamonds in Africa and I came across something really interesting. It turns out that gold is not only extremely valuable, second only to platinum. But only about 160,000 tons of gold have ever been mined in all of recorded history. So recycling gold has always been important, but with the price of gold skyrocketing, recycling it is more popular than ever.

 

Thousands of tons of gold are recycled each year to meet market demands. In fact, more recycled gold is used each year than mined gold. Gold is one of the most reused materials we have available. Not only is it recyclable- but gold itself promotes a greener world. 

Here are some of the manyyyy things you can do with gold:

Gold conducts electricity easily, doesn’t tarnish, and is easy to work with. It can be drawn into wire, hammered into thin sheets, mixes well with many other metals and can be melted and cast into almost any desired shape.

Gold is used in the production of china, earthenware, porcelain, and glass. While gold has been used to make jewelry and decorations for centuries, it’s also the key component in liquid gold preparations, which can contain up to 12% pure gold, and are ideal for decorative brush application and for pastes used for screen printing.

Gold is used when making specialty glass for climate controlled buildings and cases. A small amount of gold dispersed within the glass or coated onto the glass surface will reflect solar radiation outward, helping the buildings stay cool in the summer, and reflect internal heat inward, helping them stay warm in winter.

Gold is also used as a pigment in glassmaking. A small amount of gold suspended in the glass when it is manufactured produces a rich ruby color.

About 10% of all gold is used to make coins or for the financial backing of governments. Gold is the standard for monetary systems in many countries. Aside from gold coins, ingots, and bars, gold is available in other forms like pure gold, gold alloy flakes, foil, gauzes, grains, powders, sheets, sponges, tubes, wires and even single gold crystals.

The most important industrial use of gold is in the manufacture of electronics. Gold is the highly efficient conductor that can carry tiny currents and remain corrosion free. Electronic components made with gold are very reliable. Gold is used in connectors, switches, soldered joints, connecting wires and connection strips.

A small amount of gold is used in most electronic devices like cell phones, calculators, personal digital assistants, and GPS (global positioning system) devices. Most large electronic appliances such as TVs also contain gold.

Gold is also used to treat certain medical conditions. Injections of weak solutions of gold have sometimes been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

One of the most exciting current uses of gold in medicine is in the precision delivery of medication to fight cancer. Microscopic gold covered “medicine bullets” are fired at targeted cells then activated to release their load.

Small amounts of gold are used to remedy a condition known as Lagophthalmos, which is the inability of a person to close their eyes completely. This condition is treated by implanting small amounts of gold in the upper eyelid. The implanted gold “weights” the eyelid and the force of gravity helps the eyelid close fully.

Gold is used to make many surgical instruments. Because it’s nonreactive, many electronic equipment and life-support devices are made using small amounts of gold.

NASA uses gold as a lubricant between mechanical parts on space vehicles like the shuttle. In the vacuum of space, organic lubricants would volatilize and break down from the intense radiation beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Gold has a very low shear strength and thin films of gold between critical moving parts serves as a lubricant – the gold molecules slip past each other under the forces of friction, providing a lubricant action. The visor on the helmet of an astronaut’s space suit is coated with a very thin film of gold. This thin film reflects much of the very intense solar radiation of space, protecting the astronaut’s eyes and skin.

Gold is too expensive to use by chance. Instead it is used deliberately and only when less expensive substitutes can’t be identified. As a result, once a use is found for gold it is rarely abandoned for another metal. This means that the number of uses for gold will continue to increase over time. So remember to recycle gold whenever possible.

 

I know it must be hard to make the connection between what gold has to do with poverty (besides the obvious lack thereof)…but here is my thinking: Often times, the land with the most gold discovered in the earth is the land with the most impoverished people. But to think that gold has been reused over and over again for centuries now and that it has been discovered to be extremely helpful in many ways, including green efforts, makes me feel like this whole thing has come full circle in a positive way. Maybe the gold that was mined from hard workers under the Africa sun will one day be reflecting that sun back into the sky to help cool the buildings that will hopefully one day replace the shacks. Maybe its medical powers will work miracles and not only in the body but within the medical tools themselves. Maybe one day things will be better for the people of Africa because of the gold their parents slaved for because of that very gold. Or…the endless search for more gold and greed will continue to be the root of all evil.

 

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Poverty In Jamaica

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I thought since I am part Jamaican id like to discuss its economic situation for those who may not know already. Population in Jamaica is  about 3 million and among them are many homeless people. The Jamaican Economy is mainly made up from tourism, bauxite, and sugar.  Jamaica has a fairly high unemployment rate of 11.5% (“Jamaica, Cia World Fact Book”) and over 19 percent of  Jamaica is below the poverty line.

 

In the past, the Jamaican government has tried to help the lower classes through social reform but due to the country’s economic conditions, the government lacks sufficient funding. 

And today, the Jamaican economy is faced with several long-term economic problems including high interest rates, exchange rate instability and increasing internal debt 

 

Sadly a lot of children are deprived of education because of not being able to afford the registration costs to attend school, like uniforms, books, supplies, etc. Kinda Like College. Also children who can not attend college also are denied healthcare as well. In Jamaica after the age of three healthcare is provided in schools. VOICES OF CHILDREN JAMAICA jamaica2

So hows a Country supposed to rise from such an economic/social crisis if education can not be provided? The problem of poverty and homelessness in Jamaica increased significantly during the 1970’s, shortly after the country gained political independence, and is still a major problem today.

Poverty and the Environment

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In class we touched on the subject of poverty in relation to the environment and sustainability. Through my research I found that there is a belief that in order for poor countries to develop, concerns about the environment have to be sacrificed until they are out of poverty. This seemed to imply that environmentalism is a luxury that some countries can only address one they are economically stable.

Biological diversity allows a large number of species to work together to help maintain the environment. Humans benefit from this because the environment sustains us with a variety of resources. However, when humans begin to tamper with nature and the change the amount of resources that are available to the ecosystem and other species in it, we start to see some problems.

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Bangladesh has suffered various environmental problems such as increasingly devastating floods that are often believed to be a result of large-scale deforestation. But because of increased pressures from timber companies, agricultural business and local populations underprivileged nations feel they have no choice but to turn to forests as a source of income to succeed. Issues about environment, economics and politics are all inter-related through the way humans interact with their surroundings and each other.

We cannot take the environment for granted. Humanity has a responsibility to each other and to the environment. There have been many important technological advances that concern the environment, but they’re not addressing the underlying political, social and economics aspects. Why do these countries resort to depleting their resources for the hope of becoming a more “developed society”?

Run for your life

Kudzu is a species of plant life that originated in Japan and southeast china, and has caused extensive destruction to both of these areas. Kudzu was first spotted in the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, where it was made out to be a hardy, fast-growing ground cover that could help prevent soil erosion. Within 50 years of its introduction to the United States it coined the nicknames “the green menace” and “the vine that ate the south.” The plant grows at a rate of 1 foot every day in the warm months of the summer, and has the power to break power lines, collapse buildings, and destroy trees. The reason that America enjoyed the plant so much was because of the fragrance of the flowers it produces as well as its vivid green leaves. The main cause for its spread came about in the 1930’s when the government of the United States paid farmers to plant it in order to prevent the erosion of soil. Since then it has thrived in the southern states due to their hot summers and mild winters. This species is extremely difficult to uproot and had no predators outside of Asia. It currently covers seven million acres of the Southeast and that number grows daily. It has become the southern farmers number one fear.

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I thought this was interesting because I have seen this plant before, and it makes me think about nature and its redeeming quality.

Working Class Versus Slow Food

The typical base logo for the Slow Food movement.

The typical base logo for the Slow Food movement.

This might be a little casual for a blog post (if so, please let me know), but after attending the Slow Money lecture by Woody Tasch this past Friday, there are a few things I’d like to talk about this week – specifically about how one’s economic class can affect both the local environment as well as other environments that are heavily used by major food-production corporations.

Based on my personal experiences after moving out of my mother’s house this past summer (my first experience doing so), alongside observing the shopping habits of some of my friends, family, and even strangers, I’ve noticed that your economic level heavily affects what kind of foods one might select at the grocer.  College students like myself, alongside members of the working class (especially those with large families, as it seems is often the case) often spring for whatever they can for the cheapest price, at the cheapest and/or nearest location, which is perfectly understandable.  This includes less fresh produce – which can often be expensive, and is wasted money if not eaten in a certain time-frame – and more preserved goods, from frozen foods to more heavily artificial foods like pop-tarts, cereal, and all other manner of junk food that seems to conveniently stay fresh for weeks and weeks.   This type of food often has more distant expiration dates, and also often cheaper to healthier alternatives that won’t last as long.  Longer-lasting food not only means less to replace, since it won’t expire as easily, but it also means such food can be packed in greater quantities, and mean less time spent going to the store.

Meanwhile, those who have the means to do so may spring for more fresh alternatives; those who are even better off may even have switched over to eating organic food entirely, although as we have seen at Whole Paycheck Whole Foods, an all-organic diet can come at a high price.  Even going to local markets, for local food – or Slow Food, as it may also be called – can be a little pricier, given the fact that growing Slow Food entrepreneurs may not be able to keep their prices competitive with big-name markets, who can produce more food for cheaper than most local farmers.

So what does Slow Food, one’s economic status, and big-name produce corporations have to do with impacting both local and distant environments?

The idea behind Slow Food is that it is locally grown, alongside being environmentally sustainable; buying locally grown food means that the cash-flow for that a particular region is staying there, instead of being taken out of that particular country or region (i.e. Guatemalan farmers raising crops of coffee beans and bananas, and said crops being bought at below-market prices and shipped to be purchased elsewhere by major corporations), and sustainable food means it’s more environmentally friendly to that particular region where it’s being grown.

So what is all of this meant to add up to?

More than anything, I’d like this to act as some sort of starting point for a conversation or debate.  When I first moved out of my mother’s house, I tried going down the path of buying from Slow Food farmers like Jessica’s Farm (this was after both my mother and I had tried only buying food from the local Farmer’s Market – until we discovered stickers indicating that not all the food we had bought had actually been grown in Florida, or even the States).  But Slow Food alternatives were not always an option.  That being the case, what would you suggest for people wishing to support local markets (versus major corporations) but may not have the means to do so?  Environmental awareness is on the rise in the U.S., but even with that happening, people may not consider how even their buying choices for groceries can, in the long run, affect their local environment as well as distant environments being heavily used for farming.

Monsanto Protection Act…signed…..WHAT?!

So while I was browsing through my social network page today I found that Obama signed something. I thought it was related to the approval of same sex marriage  but it turns out to be another issue that has been slipped past for Obama to sign. There was no big coverage about it so I was instantly curious. It turns out to be about the Monsanto Protection Act.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/sign/stop_the_monsanto_protection_act/

http://www.ibtimes.com/monsanto-protection-act-5-terrifying-things-know-about-hr-933-provision-1156079#

With the food industry growing and how much food it is producing everyday it phases us how the process of our food is being made. With the exposure of the internet we have exposed a lot of food fraudulent as well as how corporates have  control over farmers. We are so health conscious nowadays that we would just pick anything off the shelf that is labeled “organic” or “whole wheat” just to make ourselves feel better. But is it really “organic”? Are companies just putting on that label just to attract consumers? Is it still “organic” when it is modified even in the slightest and can last for days?

GMO’s production has been a debate over the years. It has overtaken a lot of farmer’s profits and jobs and people have protested for their rights to know what is put in our foods that we buy and that it is mandated over the years. In the food democracy now website they breifly explain what this protection act is about:

“In the past, legal advocates have successfully won in court the right to halt the sale and planting of unapproved GMO crops while the approval of those crops is under review by a federal judge. This dangerous new House provision, which we’re calling the Monsanto Protection Act, would strip judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops, endangering farmers, consumers and the environment.”

The worrisome thing is that we will always never know what really goes into our food unless some Documentary will expose it.Some farm animals are raised in cruel conditions and force fed to grow faster than it normally can. These are things some farmers can wish they can control the way their raise their animals but the industry has been driven by greed and profit, even the farmers can go against it.

GMO crops have made an impact in keeping up with the demand of our food sources but altering it genetic information to make the perfect “apple” comes at a cost. Knowing that with this protection act untested GMO’s foods can be very dangerous to us and our environment. Imagine an untested perfect “apple” who know what it will do to our body, maybe we’ll mutate to have a third limb or even allow our healthy cells to be prone to activate as cancer cells.

Our foods has already been proven to cause some long last affects on people and its starting to grow worse. A lot of use who are conscious about our food go out of way to buy things from farmers markets or local food sources. It ‘s hard to trust a supermarket these days and its even harder to really help feel really conscious about what we eat because we need it to survive.Even though the Protection Act is viable for 6 months, will this create a larger whole for the food industry and it will affect us and the environment. So how will this turn out in the future? Will our voices be heard and maybe there will be a change for our own food rights?

 

Susan Yung

Dogs and Genetic Variability

Before watching the documentary on dogs in class, I had no idea that they all evolved from wolves. I found it fascinating how many different species of dogs are available to us. It was amazing how you could train a dog to jump higher, and even breed it with a dog with stronger legs, or more jumping ability to get to your goal.

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I have two chocolate labs at home, Bella, and Gabby. About 6 years ago Bella bit the Christmas tree light chord, she got shocked badly, but was all right. To this day she never gets anywhere near the tree not even within 10 feet. This was interesting and also reinforced my belief that animals are very intelligent and can thing about things on a deeper level that most may suspect. We recently moved to a lake and they were not used to swimming so much. At fist they were skeptical of the water, but in only a few days time they were in the water swimming everyday. I thought about this when watching the video in class and thinking about how quickly animals adapt. Do you have any crazy pet stories that show similar behavior?

What Darwin never knew?

It goes without saying that Charles Darwin was a genius, who was incredibly ahead of his time. I am happy that the TV program did not render him as unimportant or his ideas as foreign. Rather, they gave him a place even in contemporary science, and provided us with a background on him and his contribution to science. I enjoyed its description of the interesting species that recently have become known to us. And how it provided us with knowledge that Darwin was not aware of 150 years ago when he was publishing ‘The Origin of Species.’ I wonder how Darwin’s hypothesis’s for the origins of life would have changed if he had been aware of the knowledge we know in the 21-century. One of the most enjoyable times I have had in a class took place in this biodiversity class, simply watching the TED talk and learning about how species adapt, and can, in some cases conform to their environments to aid in their safety. I found this fascinating and deeply engaging. Perhaps the one that was of most interest to me was the salmon that swim upstream, to deposit their eggs, with not food in their body, knowing that they will die.

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An interesting example of an amazing animal adaptation came from an article I recently read on the Leiocephalus Carinatus, which is a predatory lizard living in the Bahamas. The preferred pray among the male lizards is the Anolis Sagrei. This species quickly became longer legged which aids in fleeing from predators. On the other hand, females grew in size, which made them harder to ingest. This stuck out to me because of how short of a time it took for them to evolve and adapt to better suit their survival needs. Have you found any animals that have adapted to their new surroundings?

Who is Responsible?

A Delhi-based environment organization, the Centre for Science and Environment, pointed out that if the poor world were to develop and consume in the same manner as the West to achieve the same living standards, “we would need two additional planet Earths to produce resources and absorb wastes … and good planets are hard to find!”

 

There are alot of fingers being pointed at humans for the main reason the earth is facing so many global issues, however the cause of the  problem at hand is entirely larger and more complex. Let’s take a look at poverty and its effect on the environment. Half the world — nearly three billion people — lives on less than two dollars a day.Yet, just a few hundred millionaires now own as much wealth as the world’s poorest 2.5 billion people. It’s crazy how there seems to be no middle ground just extremely rich and extremely poor people. To highlight this inequality further, consider that approximately 1 billion people suffer from hunger and some 2 to 3.5 billion people have a deficiency of vitamins and minerals. Poor people all over the world face hunger and low living standards that affect the way they probably think about the environment. Some environmentalists, from rich nations especially, tend to raise concerns about increasing populations placing excessive burdens on the world’s resources as the current major source of environmental problems. However,While humans are largely responsible for many problems of the planet today, not all humans have the same impact on the environment. It is important to consider, for example, that the consumption of just the worlds wealthiest fifth of humanity is so much more than the rest of the world, as highlighted at the beginning. Saying that the problem with the environment is rapid population growth is entirely to simplistic. Adding to the complexity is that resources are not going to be around forever. A combination of things like how we use resources, for what purpose, how many, how the use of those resources change over time, etc, that defines whether they are used inefficiently or not and whether we will run out of them or not. It may just be that the world’s resources are allocated to meet a few people’s wants, not everyone’s needs. This is such a big subject that its hard to expand on and many people just see the surface. 

When it comes to who is responsible for the environmental issues, pointing fingers does nothing but create a diversion from the true facts and time is waisted blaming when that energy can be used to help fix the issue. 

 

For a ton of info on Poverty and the Environment:

read more on: http://www.globalissues.org/article/425/poverty-and-the-environmentImage

 

 

“Over Population is the World’s Worst Environmental Issue”

There are over 7 billion people in the world today, over 300 million people in the U.S. alone.  Even though population growth is slowing, it is estimated that we will reach over 9 billion by 2048.

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This is an issue, we have overpopulated, and this means we threaten other species in our habitats. Our population has exceeded it’s carrying capacity, which is “the maximum number of individuals of a species that can exist in a habitat in indefinitely without threatening other species in that habitat.” We can not say that this is not true from all the evidence of us destroying the environment for our own benefit, be it from growing the crops needed to ship out to other countries for a profit, or even just being desperate for food that you are driven to hunt endangered animals.

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Basic resources are strained due to the vast amount of people, people go to bed hungry, clean water shortages, oil and gas, wood for fires and housing, we are taking too much fish and destroying the ocean floor. All of this is a problem. It’s not far to blame certain groups for causing these issues in certain areas, because it’s ALL our fault. The demand of another area is affect another one. 

 

We all try to put efforts into making the world a better place, but that means less for us as a person. Less food, less water consumption, less driving, less space for ourselves. We have our personal freedom taken away with the over growing population if we want to help make things better, and that doesn’t seem very fair does it? It’s not fair, not to us as individuals, and not the environment around us.

 

What can we do to fix this issue? Unfortunately it’s a bit risky to act upon, for it’s a human right to be able to breed, but we can’t just keep sweeping this issue under the rug. 

 

There is no clear way to solve this issue, but we need to all educate ourselves in what we are doing so we can all come together and want a solution to help everyone out.  I feel that education is the first step in the right direction so we all can have a brighter, less destructive further.