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Quote of the day

Governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deducted from it.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Not My Government, Occupy Oakland (14 of 20) by glennshootspeople ) on
Not My Government, Occupy Oakland (14 of 20) by glennshootspeople

We need better food labelling…

This morning, we (my girlfriend and I) were going shopping at the big Tesco Extra supermarket at Canada Water. This was actually the first time that it was really quiet and not many people were around. Shopping between 9am and 10am seems to be the way to go if you like space, take your time and actually do not have to wait at the tills. I will definitely do that more often.

As we were in a great shopping mood and had the space in front of these never ending product shelves, we decided to take a look at what we buy comes from and if we can find products that are produced locally or at least are not imported from some country ont he other side of the world. This is a really great thing to do as you will discover where the product actually comes from and you will be surprised! We are not just trying to reduce our environmental impact with this little change in buying behaviour, but I think it will also help the UK economy and your shopping basket a little bit healthier as you are more likely to buy seasonal products and reduce the carbon footprint enormously. Additionally, I really do believe that the consumer – meaning all of us – has the power to change things for the better.

speed shopping by {foto obscura}  (foto-obscura)) on
speed shopping by {foto obscura}

But back to food labelling and the difficult task with some products to find out where they were produced. For example, we were looking for some lentils  and you can imagine that there was an amazing diversity of colours, shapes and labels to buy from. However, all of them did not mention on the packaging the country of origin. We could find out that there were packaged in the UK, but that was all. And this not the only product where you will have difficulties finding the actual source. It looks a bit better in the meat and fruit & vegetable section as most fresh produce will have a label that at least shows the country of origin.

Another thing that makes it difficult for buyers is that most products coming from different markets and are packaged in various countries. Therefore, you will have all sorts of labels claiming different things. If you just think of the organic food labelling. There are a few bodies that can certify in the UK, some more in Europe and everybody has their own label. This is very confusing and you never know what think of if you don’t know the label. This has lead us to do a bit more research on some of the labels, but this again time consuming and if you have a busy lifestyle it is hard to do. However, I do argue if we would all inform ourselves a bit more about food labelling and start changing our buying habits, I am convinced that we can change it for the better.

Please share your thoughts.

PS: If you like to read more about where your food, cloth and other things in your life come from, read: Confessions of an eco sinner by Fred Pearce. A really good read! For more information on the environmental impact of food production, watch: HOME on youtube for free. Pictures you will not forget.

A confusing day on the internet – what happened?

Most of you might have noticed that certain websites are blacked out or do not offer all the services today. The reason being: They are striking against a new law that shall be passed in the US Congress in the near future to fight online piracy. Sounds good, but actually opens the door for the US government to censorship of domains and websites on the internet. Please watch the following video that explains it all in very simple terms.

I think, this is definitely something that shall not pass the US Congress and become a law as it gives the government and the media industry in the US the power to dictate what can be shared on the internet and I see it as a form of censorship. Don’t get me wrong I am against online piracy and something needs to be done about it. On the other hand, it is not like that Hollywood movies or some famous bands or singers are loosing so much money that they cannot live anymore. As far as I do remember they are already laws in place for companies to restrict access or even bring down file sharing sites.

I know many people might also think that a law in the US will not directly affect them, but the internet is global and information are shared globally as well. And I can assure you that as soon as this bill will become legislation in the US, some countries in the EU will certainly jump on the waggon and will pass an equally restricting law in Europe. Do we really want a government or powerful corporations to censor material on the web to such a big extend. Is this better than what the Chinese or Iranian governments are doing? I don’t think so.

Therefore, please join the cause and sign the petition for foreign people or if you are living in the US send an email to your representative to stop this bill. Check these websites today:

Please also let me have your thoughts.

The world in 2011 – a flashback

As 2011 is coming slowly to an end, I would like to dedicate this article to some of the happenings of the past year and share some of my view points with you. As every year before a lot of things have happened and depending on where you are and what you are interested in, you decide if it was good or bad. In my personal case it was a fantastic year. However, there are and were things in 2011 that had a major impact in the world and changed it forever. I had a look at some timelines from the BBC and some other sources and picked some events that I personally found to be important to mention in this post.

To start with a positive note, on 1st January 2011 Estonia became the 17th country to join the Euro currency. This is probably the only positive note that was heard about the Euro as a currency and an economic trading system. Throughout the year 2011, we got bombarded with negative news from the media about the challenges some of the Euro countries go through in regards to high debt. This lead to the bailout of Greece and loan of 78 million Euros with further money still to come. Many high European politicians were naming this fiscal crisis as the single biggest challenge for Europe since the Second World War. The really funny thing was, especially in the first half of the year, that the media tried to convince us that we bailout the people from Greece and help them. However, I think that it was all about the French and German banks that got in trouble in Greece and not primarily about the good for the people in Greece. As the challenges remain, we will probably hear a lot more about this in 2012 and maybe have entered a really interesting time in Europe.

March 25 - Greece Independence Day

Image by Aster-oid via Flickr

Another major happening in 2011, was the Arab spring that started in January with Tunisia’s government being overthrown by civil unrest in the country. This uprising spread throughout the Northern African countries and some in the Middle East and changed the governments of Lybia and Egypt who will have a difficult time ahead. But some people were not as lucky as the other nations. Look at Syria where people are going on the streets for month now and get killed by the police in army in hundreds and we are all watching. And do you know why the NATO or the big Western countries do not intervene like they did in Lybia, because there is no oil to secure. This uprising does not have an impact on them as the crisis in Lybia and there is no crazy dictator that needs to be killed because he is mad and cannot be controlled by other governments like in the past. Bahrain, is another great example where people wanted to have more rights and got beaten down by international pro-government troops. Again, no intervention from the UN or NATO as it was in the interest of some of the big oil countries like Saudi-Arabia. Hopefully, the world will change at some point and human lives become more important than economic power.

This leads me into the next subject of how I call it – A Good Year for America. Afterall, America managed to get rid of three most wanted people in the world in one way or the other. On the 1st May 2011, Barack Obama announced that elite troops in Pakistan killed Osama Bin-Laden. Alright, after 10 years of war they managed to get him, but what are American soldiers doing in Pakistan? Don’t get me wrong, the world is a better place without him. But it the world seems like a free for all and Western troops can go wherever they want, sadly!

Then, Muammar Gaddafi was killed in October during the Lybian civil war and I am happy for the people in Lybia who can finally start a new chapter in their countries history. Good luck and hopefully they can sort out their challenges ahead without any major casualties.

And last but not least, Kim Jun-Il died of a heart attack in December and maybe there is a slight chance for the people of Northern Korea for a better life and some small steps towards a possible reunification of Korea?!

Unfortunately, like every year thousands of people die in natural disasters around the world. The one disaster that will always be in my mind was the earthquake in Japan that triggered that horrible tsunami killing thousand of people on 11th March. This disaster shows how vulnerable we are on this planet when it comes to the power of the earth. But, the most shocking events came weeks after the quake when the Japanese government was unable to handle the problems at some of their nuclear power stations in a human way. I still cannot believe that such a modern country treats it’s own people like that. The meltdowns at Fukushima were always played down and international help not accepted. Many people will die in future years to come because they were exposed to radiation for to long or have eaten food that was not taken off the market. The workers that still work at the Fukushima power plant do not get enough information about the radiation and have contract that do not allow them to talk to the media about their horrific conditions they have to work in. Something that would have not crossed my mind of being possible in Japan. However, I thank those that prevented the complete meltdown in all four affected nuclear plants by risking their personal health to save others. And I am also very happy that Germany took a further step towards ending using nuclear power for generating energy as it is not save as we can see in Japan.

English: Space Shuttle Atlantis and its seven-...

However, there have been many positive things that happened as well. Events that showed how great people can be. And, I do not mean the Royal Wedding, but the end of an era for human kind. On 21st July, the last Space Shuttle Atlantis returned to earth concluding NASA’s space shuttle programme. It was an era of great achievements that lead us to build the ISS and brought us the Hubble telescope. This era has now finished and I do hope that we will be able to afford to go to space in a similar way again and maybe even start having space tourism during my life time.

On this positive note, I would like to end and wish you all a great and succesful 2012. Please also let me know what you highlights of 2011 are and if you have a thought on the events I mentioned above.

7 billion people – cheers or fears?

According to the United Nations, 7 billion people are inhabiting the planet earth since 31st October 2011. With this enormous number and the challenges humankind is facing now and in future years to come, it is definitely something to think about – our lives, lifestyles and the impact it has on other people and the planet.

First of all, I was very surprised by the media from around the world that were mostly talking about the possible negative aspects a population of 7 billion people will have on the economy, the planet and the overall wealth of nations. Many reports and articles were talking about the difficulties to produce enough food to feed the earth population. By the way, out of all people on this planet about 1 billion are hungry every day. On the other hand, the most advanced countries on the planet produce enough food to make sure that everybody on this planet could have enough to eat and would not need to starve. The challenge is not that we cannot feed all these people, it is that we do not want feed all of them. It is a problem of distribution and not of production. Something really to think about!

Secondly, it is great to hear from officials of the UN that they are celebrating a seven-billion person society as a success that people live longer are more healthy. However, we still have many diseases that are cured in many western countries, but they are still spreading around the world, mainly in poorer countries. Again a distribution problem and nothing that cannot be resolved, but are we willing to resolve this….

Population growth rate world 2005-2010 UN

Thirdly, some people argue that we are running out of space for all the people to live and many cities around the world having problems with many more people arriving in the urban centres of the world to find a better life. This challenge might even increase when the sea water levels will rise around the globe as most urban centres are on the coasts or on river deltas. Again something that can be resolved by given people the opportunity to survive away from the cities. This might be a major undertaking, but it is possible if only a few more people want it and take actions.

And finally, I think it is a great opportunity for humankind to make things much better. Overall, the earth’s population is becoming younger, and therefore we have more creative minds on this planet to resolve all our challenges we face today and will in future. The only thing we need to do is to make sure that we give people an opportunity to grow, create an income and live in peace with each other. I think that we as humans have faced many challenges while being on this planet and always managed to find a way to resolve them, therefore I trust in our ability to make it happen again and again. Additionally, I do believe if more people would act up on their beliefs of freedom, peace and equality we could make the changes that are necessary to make it possible that every  person can have a life worth looking forward to.

Let me know your thoughts!

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