Tag: Earth

October 15 2007

I recently got into another discussion about global warming, and the person I was talking to said they weren’t convinced that humans were the cause of it. Though it’s just foolish to think that the temperature isn’t rising, there is (admittedly) room for debate on how much our presence and actions are affecting the environment. So, I started compiling information into a chart.

If you have updated information or know where I can get this information, please let me know. I am planning on making the above chart much larger so that people can see the information and decide for themselves.

Feel free to bookmark this page and come back to it later (or reference it). I am going to update it as much as I can, and this will be the permanent home for it.

Things to notice:

  • World War 2 appears to have had a direct influence on the global temperature. This is very likely due to the amount of fuel that was consumed, the number of fires that burned throughout that period, and the massive increase in production from the world’s most industrialized nations.
  • Population growth seems to correlate, but does not seem to be the chief reason the temperature rises. This makes sense because it is the actions of humans that seems to be affecting the temperature, not just our mere presence.
  • Every major war seems to have some sort of effect on the global temperature, except for the Vietnam/American war, which seems to have held off the rising temperature until it was finally over. Notice that as soon as the war was over, the temperature starts to rise significantly and steadily.
  • During the gas crunch of the 1970’s, the US and other nations started recognizing the need to improve gas mileage, and yet the average crept up only slightly. If the number of vehicles does not reflect the improved gas mileage, then it stands to reason that this would increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the air.
Global Temperatures from 1880 to 2007
July 18 2005

G-8 is Enough

The G-8 was created out of the eight richest countries in the world in order to fight poverty in Africa. Poverty affects more people throughout the world than all of the citizens represented by their leaders in the G-8 conference. But poverty happens even in these countries, including the United States. It is not a third world problem, it is a global one. Given this chapter’s theme of social class, inequality, and poverty, it seemed like the G-8 conference was the most obvious choice.

This chapter outlined the way sociologists approach social classes, how those classes create inequality, and how that can lead to such things as poverty. The conference was attended by eight of the most powerful men in the world, politically speaking, so it was hoped that they would be able to make a powerful statement against unnecessary suffering. They were unpersuaded by terrorist attacks in London, even though they occurred in Tony Blair’s political home and in the middle of the conference.

All species strive to elevate themselves out of poverty, even if they do not realize that is what they are trying to do. But humans exist in a unique situation: we are the only species that is capable of recognizing, analyzing, and eliminating something as complex as poverty but seemingly unwilling to actually do it. This is not to say that the $50 billion in aid and cancellation of 18 nation’s debts shows a lack of concern; there are many people who are willing and capable of helping. As individuals we are more distracted by our own concerns, and not as moved by the plight of people on the other side of the world, so to speak. Poverty affects our collective conscience, and ignoring the problem does not make it go away.

At least one-third of all humans live in poverty (Curran & Renzetti, 130). Though there is no way of knowing with a great deal of accuracy, the fact is that approximately 30,000 Africans die every day of preventable circumstances (3). The members of the G-8 committed to doubling the current aid to Africa from $25 billion to $50 billion and agreed to cancel the debts of 18 nations in order to ease their economic burdens (1). The United States, the richest of the eight countries, currently gives 0.16 percent of its national income, the least of any country in the G-8 (4).

Poverty in Africa (and other nations, including the United States) kills thousands of people every day. Though death is natural part of life and people die every day, this type of suffering is preventable and within our means to do so. Our nation is the richest one on the planet, and yet we spend less than any other G-8 nation. Japan had to provide our share at the last minute to meet the $50 goal set by Blair (2). It is clear that poverty cannot be eradicated over a short period of time, but it is hoped that the relief they will provide can stimulate a change in the continent of Africa. After that, the idea is that the seed of prosperity will spread to parts of the continent, making their lives relatively free of suffering.

The United States has committed to a fraction of the desired percentage that Tony Blair wanted; however, we are certainly involved, both politically and financially. Other than that, I have been having trouble finding statements from Bush on the topic. Because of the tragic bombings in London, he and the other leaders focused on condemning the “barbaric acts” (4). One can only hope that the official response to poverty is that it must be eradicated as quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly as possible.

The organizers of the G-8 conference and the concurrent “Live 8” concert series lauded the successes of both events, but it did not completely satisfy everyone. In fact, there were several organization that still had serious criticisms even after learning about the $50 billion compromise. One particularly stinging criticism came from the World Development Movement, which called the conference “a disaster for the world’s poor” (4). This may seem overly critical at first, but the UN Millennium goal demanded that $50 billion per year would be necessary to alleviate most of the suffering in Africa. The G-8 summit did commit to $50 billion, but that was all. It would be $10 billion per year for the next five years, a fifth of what was expected (2). Though no one was criticizing the aid that was agreed to, many organizations still contend that considerably more needs to be done.

Poverty affects so many people in this world that, as a powerful and supposedly compassionate nation, we should feel compelled to help end such correctable things as poverty and famine. In an increasingly global environment, which our nation is inexorably headed towards, it is vital that we ensure that all of our neighbors are at least allowed to exist with an acceptable level of nutrition, shelter, and reproduction. The nature of poverty is such that it creates a dark stain on everything we do, no matter how noble. Terrorism is the use of force by one group to induce fear in the other, and a lack of prevention enables an environment for it to flourish. Likewise, a lack of prevention can enable an environment for poverty to flourish. With terrorism, dozens, hundred, perhaps thousands may die in a series of catastrophic incidents; but with poverty, tens of thousands are dying on a daily basis and millions more are suffering constantly.

For the most part, the media seems unbiased on this, mostly because it seems heartless to take up opposition to the idea. After all, how does it look for a citizen of the richest nation in the world to be vocally reluctant to spend money to help poverty-stricken people? However, I noticed a bit of media spin I discovered and felt obliged to put it under the category of media objectivity. In one article I found an interesting fact, and used it in this paper under question 3. Then, while I was looking at another article on the same subject but from a different source, I realized that I had already read a certain paragraph. I went back and compared the two articles, and was amazed at the subtle but obvious differences. The first source composed the two-sentence paragraph this way:

U.S. President George W. Bush had refused to be bound
by the 0.7 percent target. The United States is giving 0.16
percent of national income, the smallest percentage of any
of the G-8 countries. (4)

The second source composed their paragraph the same way:

Blair failed, however, to get all summit countries to commit
to boosting foreign aid to an amount equal to 0.7 percent of
national income by 2015. U.S. giving is currently 0.16
percent of national income, the smallest percentage of any
G-8 country. (5)

The second quote was published a day later than the first. Though it could be a coincidence that the syntax of those paragraphs are identical, they seem far too similar.

Notice, too, that the two sources have a different emphasis on where the blame falls. The first source talks about President Bush’s refusal to increase U.S. spending to match the other countries. Conversely, the second source points to Prime Minister Blair’s failure to convince the other countries to boost aid, ignoring the fact that the United States is the primary country that Blair “failed” to convince. This is unrelated to the issue of poverty, but it is an interesting side effect of political influence in the media.

It would be nothing but positive if this G-8 conference was the beginning of a major paradigm shift towards ending poverty around the world, and if this is the case, then a very pressing social problem could dissolve into near obscurity. Admittedly, this is unlikely to happen, at least in the next few years. Change on the scale we are hoping for could take years or, more realistically, generations. If this initial effort can stimulate the economies of the nations in need, it could eliminate a major portion of poverty-stricken regions in an important part of the world. If the world can witness success in Africa, confidence might then spread to the rest of world, enabling the poorest of the world to live at a level that no one could consider unacceptable.

List of Works Consulted
1. BBC News: Live 8 helped aid deal says Blair. –
2. The Epoch Times: After the G8: What Now for Eradicating Poverty? –
3. Human Events: Live 8 Ignored Pervasive African Corruption. –
4. CNN: Reaction polarized as G8 concludes. –
5. FOX News: G-8 Leaders Unveil $50B Africa Aid Package. –

July 13 2005

Red Oil Scare

China has made an unsolicited offer to acquire one of the largest United States-based oil company, which would essentially double its oil and gas output (2). The organization that is making the offer, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company, is a state-run organization of the Chinese government. Because of the cultural differences between the capitalist democracy of the United States and the communist state of China, it has created an uproar with a curiously xenophobic ring to it. After just a hint of a Communist threat to national security, Congress overwhelmingly passed a vote that called for an official review of the acquisition.

The reason this is relevant is because this is more than an economic issue. The social implications of the deal itself, coupled with the apparent problems associated with it, show that much is still to be learned about each other on both sides. Right now this kind of news is primarily found in the business sections; however, the sociopolitical dynamics of the situation make it an ideal topic for this chapter. It is laden with examples of how economics, politics, and power can create social problems.

While the motivations of the Chinese could hardly be clearer (that this deal would certainly benefit them economically), there is a certain section of our population is not so easily convinced. It is perfectly acceptable to be concerned with issues that could affect us economically, but the tone of critics is one that rings of baseless fear. It seems, most importantly, that these criticisms are based on social issues that are unrelated to the economic issue at hand. The issue is whether or not it would be beneficial to allow China to purchase Unocal, not whether China is going to use this as an opportunity to take over the country.

This purchase would be useful to the Chinese because they rely on coal and oil for 90 percent of their fuel. They have also agreed to a United States government-run review of the acquisition, and vowed to continue the flow to the U.S. (2). Whichever company wins the bid, Unocal or Chevron, stands to earn anywhere from $16 billion to $18.5 billion, depending on the winning bid (4). The second place bidder, Chevron, also has to face “numerous regulatory and political hurdles” should they even be chosen (1). Because the government of China is funding the CNOOC, they are able to outmatch all other bidders, which Chevron representatives point out is an unfair advantage (3).

The purchase of Unocal by the CNOOC is seen by some to be an aggressive move into the American economy (5). With an increasing concern about the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, the “loss” of a major oil company to the Chinese could create serious social problems. By far the most outspoken people who talk about the acquisition seem to be those in opposition of it, and most of them are politicians. For example, Joe Barton, a Representative from Texas, sees the Chinese takeover as a financial threat (2).

So far, the Bush administration has said very little about the matter except that they will not initiate a review until the deal is finalized (5). The social problem here is that China is a communist nation that deals heavily with the United States, primarily on a financial level. They have held Normal Trade Relations (formerly known as Most Favored-Nation) status for a quarter of a decade, which entitles them to looser restrictions on the exchange of goods.
The only reason certain nations, specifically China, are allowed to remain under this status is if they are given a presidential waiver on a yearly basis. China’s human rights violations in recent history have cause many people to protest against presidents granting the waiver, and every year since 1989 Congress has introduced legislation aimed at convincing the president to not sign it (6).

The perceived threat of Chinese takeover is evident in the language and actions of many people, specifically political leaders. Warranted or not, these are products of social dysfunctions, and should be addressed as such. Considering that these two cultures probably realize that they are dealing with people with different value systems, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that there would be some kind of discord. But this is really just a symptom of larger social issues, and not an problem as much in and of itself. The real issue is how this acquisition, which is very likely to take place, will affect life for people on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Politicians use their resources inappropriately when they play on the insecurities of people who may or may not be affected by a particular issue. In this particular case, they are only heightening suspicion towards foreigners and using our concerns about oil reserves against us. In the end, the outcome of this entire matter could be swayed by social factors more than by financial ones. Economies are a product of societies, and they are subject to the societies in which they exist. Therefore, they are occasionally subject to the fickle whims of society, not the steady rhythm of economics.

The media was very balanced on this primarily economic issue, and consequently very dry. Few of the articles were controversial or biased on the matter, nor did they really have the opportunity to do so given the nature of the subject. It could be that the facts are so straightforward that an opinion could hardly excite one’s passions the same way something like war or abortion does.

Which brings me to an observation I made on the FOX News web site. The author of the article states that one of the major concerns is that China could use their profits from Unocal to “accelerate development of their land- and sea-based military assets.” Then the next paragraph is a quote from an expert on China that states that, “China is not a military ally. It’s not a friendly country.” Alan Tonelson, whom the quote is attributed to, actually favors the deal by China; he only suggests we should stop to think though the long-term effects. His quote seems to have been placed to prove the author’s idea that the Chinese are somehow a threat. This seemed like a bit of sensationalism, with an air of subjectivity that is not supposed to be present in news.

It could be end on a perfectly positive note for both countries, allowing China to expand where it needs to expand while taking nothing from the United States’ economy. Or it could end up the complete opposite end of the spectrum, and we could find ourselves, as Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy put it, “on a collision course with Communist China (2).” The only true way to know how it will play out is to wait, observe, and study what happens. In the meantime, we simply have to pay close attention to the situation and see that it is resolved appropriately. The entire controversy (if it can be called that at this point) can be cleared up by realizing that the deal is probably history, and very little can stop it from happening now. Our nation should be looking for alternative fuel sources anyway, not pining after the ones we wish we had.

List of Works Consulted:
1. Reuters. China’s CNOOC eyes higher Unocal bid – FT. –
2. Bloomberg. CNOOC’s Unocal Bid Is Threat to U.S., Witness to Tell Congress. –
3. Forbes. CNOOC may raise offer for Unocal – report. –
4. CNN. Unocal seen wanting more from Chevron. –
5. FOX News. Criticism Widespread for China Unocal Deal. –
6. International Trade Data System. Most Favored-Nation (MFN). –

November 4 2002

Before the Sun rose and set in the sky of Earth,
A giant blue-green rock spun lazily around its star.
Then a being, mostly calling itself Man,
Gave names to these gods of the ground and sky.

Our solitary sun floats with its family of planets.
A grain of sand in a beach too massive to exist on Earth.
It may feel like the north and south poles are a world away,
But they are the same place on a cosmic scale.

At night, stars fill the skies with glittering glowing furnaces,
Patterns form and we are helpless to resist seeing pictures.
Our minds are encouraged by our nature to draw pictures
Of dogs and dippers, warriors and women.
We place what is important here on Earth up with the gods,
A reference point for cousin Rorschach, perhaps.
The thumbprint of our sky reveals our place in the Cosmos,
As it would if we visited a place completely alien to us.

Eons after our distant descendants have lived and died,
Our skies will appear wholly different from the one we know today.
The concreteness of the constellations is merely an illusion,
As our short life-spans makes it impossible to watch this movie.

Even at the speed of God, light still takes its time
Traversing distances that He understands better than We.
When these ancient rays make their final destination,
We see them as they were before history existed.

The fountain of youth can be found at high speeds,
When time slows, though you’d be too busy to notice.
A long journey like that would necessarily be one-way,
For those who are left behind will have aged and died before you return.

Cousin Albert would say, if he could, that is,
That there is nothing special about your perspective except you.
Viewing the universe depends on your observation,
But every place is as good as every other place.

Sometimes relativity is Greek to me, and sometimes it’s written in Grecian.
But it is a great fantasy, exploring worlds that never were.

October 8 2002

I imagine the Cosmos, infinite and remote.
I reflect on our sun, the perfect planetary host.
I consider our world, the pale blue home of the Earthlings,
I think of this forest, and of this path I tread.

Intentionally lost among Appalachian giants,
I wander a chaotic, forkful path.
Willfully losing myself in the grandeur,
I grow hyper-aware of these ancient plants.

Standing in the middle of an empty space,
I am surrounded by five spruce guardians, their branches interlinked.
I wonder what their purpose could be,
And hear the reply from my ancestor’s voices.

These trees provided the ancients with a place to perch
Tens–hundreds–thousands–of generations before me.
A place to develop their growing brains,
And to expand their busy minds.

Perhaps these trees were arranged this way,
A sign of the next step in the Ancient’s evolution.
Once they understood the Father of Light,
And the Seasons, they began to see the pattern.

A new ability was given to them, and therefore to us,
As the passing of the years no longer went unnoticed.
With the knowledge of Mother earths regularities,
They could plan a time for planting and harvest.

The source of the river is an incandescent ball.
Energy flows constantly, carefully harvested here by leaves.
Generations of creatures, divert the flow,
Creating living tributaries with every bite.