The Greatest Issue for our Generation: It’s Undoubtedly Going to be Global Warming and the Environment 

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Last summer I watched a three- hour documentary about a hypothetical future of our planet. It used CGI and actors to show what earth would look like and the problems that we would face. It predicted that with the way we are going, and the unprecedented levels of natural resources that we consume, by the year 2100 human civilisation, as we know it will no longer exist. Now this may seem like something that is exaggerated, or fear mongering but scientists to quite extent agree. Most argue, that although Earth itself will recover if we carry on the way we are, our society may not.

Some experts believe that by the year 2056 the world’s temperature will increase by 3C, this is something that will have devastating effects. Methane will be released from the Arctic, which is 70 times stronger than CO2. The areas that will be most hard hit include: Southeast Asia, Middle East and Africa. For example both Pakistan and India will be devastated. According to futurologists, Pakistan will by this time be a failed state, with local gangs trying to seize what little remains. Within Europe food riots will be a norm, with Britain now having a Mediterranean climate, along with southern and central Europe having temperatures like that of todays Middle East and North Africa. Arguably most shockingly, it is predicted that by the 2030’s the Arctic will be ice free – the rise in sea levels will create floods on an unprecedented scale.

 

This will not only create environmental issues, but they will also have a massive impact on the socio/political sphere. Countries could be at the brink of war over resources that we today take for granted, most notably water. It has also been predicted, that due to the swaths of displaced people whole countries become shantytowns – they will then be known as the ‘fourth world’. Futurologists have also predicted that by 2050 there will be 150 million climate refugees, a six -fold increase from 2010. This will also have an impact on democracy. Whereas countries within the Middle East and North Africa are now attempting to move towards democracies, it has been said that due to environmental disasters autocracies and dictators will be able to make a comeback.

Yet, this doesn’t have to be the case. If governments are able to get together now, to sort out the problems, like for example the Kyoto agreements and the Stockholm conference then we may be able to stop global warming before it’s too late. However, it seems to me that politicians are vocal about battling climate change, but seem to be doing little about it. For example recently David Cameron stated in PMQ’s that he believed ‘Man made climate change is the greatest threat Britain and the rest of the world face’, but members of his cabinet seem to disagree. George Osborne recently told business leaders in Hong Kong that although Global warming is happening is should be dealt with ‘cheaply as possible’. This isn’t the correct way to go about tackling the ‘greatest threat’ civilization faces. Instead all governments around the world should work together to stop global climate change. It is not unprecedented for countries to work together, all we need to look at is the recent missing Malaysian plane, which to date has forced 25 countries to work together; including China and Japan. We have a United Nations surely it is time that they start working together in order to stop an inevitable break down of the society that we now live in.

After all, never in human history have we used as much energy from fossil fuels. This is highlighted by a startling statistic: pre-1900 combined did not use as much energy than 1900-2014. As well as this, it is estimated that fossil fuel energy converted into human muscle power would mean that on a 24 hour basis an average human would need 20 slaves in order to perform the same tasks. This includes all electronics, cooking, cleaning etc. and that doesn’t even include humans in the Western world, where it is estimated we would need 70 slaves. This isn’t sustainable, and it must be stopped. My generation cannot face the burden alone, by then it will most probably be too late, change needs to start now, today.

 

– originally posted on http://www.bbench.com

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My problem with Feminism

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Until recently whenever I heard the word ‘Feminism’ I automatically thought about women who don’t shave, who share the belief that they are being oppressed by our patriarchal system; and who subsequently wish for the end of heterosexual relationships in order to stop the domination of men (loosely known as radical feminism). Yet since learning about Liberal feminism my opinion has changed.

Liberal feminism is basically the idea that women should have complete equality, with the emphasis being on the public sphere. In other words: equality of education, employment and political rights. All of this I agree with. I believe that women should have equal opportunities, that gender should have nothing to do with the job you get, or the promotions you are offered. In the 21st century it is no longer right that women get 15% less then men for doing the same job (TUC figures, published in 2013). Take for example the fact that according to catalyst.org out of the top 500 CEO’s in the world, only 4.6% of them are Women. There are many reasons for this, with one being that after having children most women tend to take up part-time work, and thus are never able to properly compete with men. However, I believe that the major reason as to why women still do not have complete equality is because most of society still has a backwards view. The amount of times I have personally been told that it doesn’t matter what I get in my exams, or what degree I do, because in the end I will just be a house-wife is astonishing. This isn’t just from members of the older generation, who may still be stuck in the past, but instead from my male peers. Nonetheless until recently I would never have declared myself a feminist.

The reasons for this is due to my mis-conception, call this ignorance or naivety, but I do believe I was wrong. Feminism has, in my opinion, been given a bad name in the media. This is largely due to ‘Radical Feminism’, and more specifically ‘separatist feminism’. This is the idea that women should choose not to have heterosexual relationships, in order to free themselves as the role of reproducers. As well as this, the idea that Miley Cyrus is now viewed as a feminist, purely because she is “for everybody, for everything”, is somewhat sickening, and completely distorts the core principles of feminism. How can someone who takes off their clothes in order to grab attention be called a feminist. Is that what modern feminism is meant to be? If so, maybe I was right to think that I want no part in it.

The reason I begun to write this blog is due to the experience I had today. I was sitting in a Politics seminar, which was made up of 10 boys, and 3 girls. The tutors first question was to ask us to raise our hands if we viewed ourselves as feminists. No one did. Yet my friend and I looked at each other, put our hands up, and stated that although we are not feminists we do not disagree with it. The next question, the class was asked was whether or not we believe that feminism is no longer relevant, or in other words if the goals of feminists have been achieved. I swiftly said no, after all there is no equal pay. At this point a male member of the class stated that in order for women to be powerful, they need to act like men. This is wrong, women shouldn’t have to act like men in order to gain there respect. Thatcher didn’t, she didn’t stop wearing her pearls and carrying her bag into the House of Commons. Similarly, Hilary Clinton hasn’t begun acting like a man, with the first words on her twitter profile being ‘wife, mother’, not ‘secretary of state’ or ‘former senator of New York’. Thus there is no reason to believe that men are superior, there are no scientific conclusions that back up this point; therefore it is baffling to still see that this is a widely held belief – even after many successful and influential women have dominated business and politics.

Consequently, my main problem with feminism is that it has been mis-perceived, and this has subsequently had a negative effect on young women. That instead of being proud of being a feminist, it is now seen as almost taboo, as something that is strange. This isn’t acceptable, and I am pleased to state that in terms of liberal feminism, I agree.

Anti-Semitism in Europe – it’s on the rise, why?

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Today I was reading my daily copy of  The Times, and I came across an article titled ‘Far-Right Marchers Abuse Jews in Paris Protest’, it quickly made me realise that every time I open a newspaper I am constantly seeing evidence of anti-Semitism. This is a worrying prospect especially since yesterday was ‘National Holocaust Memorial day’, with the liberation of Auschwitz occurring on 27th January 1945. Yet it seems that since the 70 years that have passed since the darkest period in human history, the lessons that were taught have slowly been forgotten. Take for example the Far-Right Hungarian nationalist party, the ‘Jobbik party’. They cite the leader of Hungary from 1920-1944 as their hero, regardless of the fact that he was responsible for backing the Nazis during WWII. Something, which eventually led to the annihilation of 6,000,000 Jews during the Holocaust. Yet this party is currently thriving in Hungary (being the third largest party), with the deputy parliamentary party leader stating that it is “timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary.” – The extent to which this sounds like Nazi propaganda is almost terrifying. Yet this was spoken in the 21st century, regardless of the devastating history that rocked Hungary and Hungarian Jews.

Further examples of anti-semitism have also been found across Europe, with France being a notable example. This has been shown in the public eye by the footballer Nicolas Anelka, who was accused of performing the ‘quenelle’ gesture, which is an inverted Nazi salute. The very fact that he believed he could do this gesture and get away with it is horrifying and also telling – it seems to suggest that anti-semitism is once again becoming more acceptable; that Europe’s oldest hate is rearing its ugly head. Anti-semitism in France is not just shown through this recent example, but also by others – including the killing of three children and a teacher outside a Jewish primary school in Tolouse in March 2012. The man accused however, was not of European origin instead he took the form of the arguably ‘new anti-semitism’, his name was/is Mohamed Merah and he was inspired by radical Islam and trained in Afghanistan. He killed these innocent people simply because he did not like the policies of the Israeli government. A clear example of anti-Zionism blurring with anti-Semitism. According to the Israel Project more than 1/4 of Frances 500,000 strong Jewish population wish to leave France, with 26% stating that they have considered emigrating due to anti-semitism in France, and 86% stated that Anti-semitism is a serious problem. These figures have caused great concern about the future of European Jewry, and these trends are backed up across Europe: 66 percent of European Jews consider anti-Semitism to be a problem across the EU member states (although this figure is much less in the UK being at 11%). There are several reasons as to why this may have occurred, with one of the most significant reasons being the dramatic increase of Anti-Zionism.

The idea that anti-Israel sentiment is linked with anti-semitism is something that has become a lot more noticeable in the last decade, and particularly in my opinion in the last five years. It is this Anti-semitism that has become the most worrying, Jewish people across the world are to be blamed for the deeds of the Israeli government, a government that diaspora Jews do not abide by, and do not vote for; yet Jews across the world are attacked and goaded due their actions. I have personally heard and seen people defend their anti-Semitic beliefs by claiming that they are instead anti-Israeli; although this seems hypocritical, after all if you are going to blame diaspora Jews for the policies of the Israeli government, then how can one possibly claim that this is not anti-Semitic? For example,  the obviously anti-Zionist Hamas included points from the anti-Semitic ‘Elders of Zion’ in its founding charter. This highlights the belief that today world anti-semitism is united, for example the Mayor of an Hungarian town, who is part of the Jobbik party, recently twinned with an Iranian city. Furthermore, it is widely believed across Europe, and in some parts of the Middle East that Jews are controlling the world, that capitalism is a way for the ‘Zionists’ to subjugate the ordinary people  – a point that was consistently made within Nazi propaganda.

Thus it seems to me that the rise of anti-Israel sentiment, something that has correlated with the Israeli army becoming more powerful and successful,  has led to a dramatic increase in Anti-semitism. This is something that seems remarkable, especially across Europe, and is something that must be addressed by all world leaders. In the 1930’s after one of the worst economic disasters in living memory, a small party called the NSDAP went from an irrelevant extremist party to one of the most vulgar regimes the world has ever seen, it used democratic means and insecurities of the public to achieve it’s aims, and eventually became infamous for being the Nazis.  The horrors of the past must never be repeated. Anti-semitism should not be allowed to flourish.