Battling Poverty

On the day that Bob Geldof announced there would be a new batch of Live Aid concerts, partly to celebrate what had gone before, partly to help pressure the G8 into action, I was having a conversation by email with a friend about fighting world poverty. (That sounds awfully heavy, does everyone discuss topics like that or is just me?) I had a combination of things roaming about inside my head to do with the Swedes changing their views on nuclear power after realising they may not be able to cope without it and will have to revert to ‘dirty’ energy sources like fossil fuels (incidentally, I take issue with people calling nuclear power a ‘clean’ energy source, am I the only one who realises that spent nuclear fuel needs to be extremely carefully handled and stored and is dangerous for 100,000 years?), the fighting in Sudan, an article on the BBC about volunteering, world poverty and then Live 8 (as the new initiative will be called).
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Legalisation of Drugs

BBC 1 and 2 are available via cable in the Netherlands, so I was able to watch the If… drugs were legalised program on BBC 2 last Wednesday. There seemed, to me at least, a strong bias towards legalising drugs and I generally got the feeling it came down on the pro-drugs side (documentaries rarely represent both sides equally). They had clips of experts and activists on both sides, along with a narrative set in 2015 where all drugs bar cocaine and heroin are completely legal and heroin is given out freely on the NHS.
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A Tsunami of Aid

I doubt anyone has not heard, or is not aware, of the tsunami that hit Asia over Christmas. Many of the sites I frequent came out in support of the victims in a big way and immediately began either: appealing for money, donating money or providing ways to donate money. There were plenty of sites trying to shame their governments into giving more too. There almost seemed to be some form of competition going on, with many people almost demanding some countries (the US especially) give more. I didn’t understand this, well, I did understand it, but I didn’t think it was right. What each country gives is up to them, they don’t have to give anything, there’s no statute that says we must give. I find it a little galling that it is immediately expected we will all give aid, rather than it being an addition. Yes, we can afford to give vast sums, but can we? Last time I looked, we hadn’t ruled out poverty, suffering, even illiteracy in the UK. There are still plenty of people living on the streets in nearly every city. How many headlines were there in 2004 about people not being given life saving treatment because the NHS had run out of money or couldn’t afford it? The NHS is constantly complaining that they don’t have enough funds and that people are needlessly suffering because of it. How do you tell someone, a fellow countryman, that his or her life is less valuable than another in India, or Sri Lanka, or Indonesia? Continue reading

Petrolheads

There has been plenty of coverage of the status of the world’s oil reserves of late. This has brought concern from various sources (mainly the press) and grandstanding from the pro- and anti-oil lobbies. There are reports abound, many say we will soon run out of oil, prices will skyrocket and this building block of western power will crumble, possibly taking our societies, certainly our way of life, with it. Others say that current estimates will change over time; 50 years ago the oil industry claimed it would run out of oil in 50 years, that figure has not changed. This has been due to new discoveries and improvements in extraction techniques, something that will continue say many. So you have those worried about stocks, those who aren’t concerned, and then those who believe we should dump oil anyway, mainly for environmental reasons.

Oil has influenced the lives of everyone in the developed world. Our technologies, our transport, and many of the products we consume are powered or derived from oil. Quite simply, our economies, technologies and societies could not have been built without it, nor could they be maintained. We have gone to war, created alliances, performed immoral and illegal activities all to ensure it’s continual supply. It has, and continues to have, massive impact on our political systems too. Just look at how much the US administration fears fuel price rises and the demonstrations regarding high prices that undermined Tony Blairs reign. Continue reading