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.
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.
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.
Over the past month, I developed an interest for the challenges that are surrounding the big subject of water. Inspired by the documentary movie Tapped that not only shows some very astonishing facts about tap water, but also gives you an inside into the industry that stands behind plastic bottled water and their practises in the US.
Tapped is a movie that really made me think, especially when they show you that some of the plastic containers used to store water can leak chemicals into the water that we are drinking. Most of the research until 2009, the year the movie was shot, only focused on plastics containing the chemical bisphenol-a (BPA). These were found to leak substances into the drinking water and the water industry would not even take these plastic containers off the market.
However, PET bottles that are most commonly used for bottled water seemed to be safe and no health concern. This might have changed as a recent study at the University Frankfurt in Germany shows:
They discovered estrogen active substances in most plastic bottled waters, but not in glass bottled waters. These substances might have a negative impact on sperm quality and quantity, interruption of fat metabolism, increased appearance of diabetes 1 and 2 as well as increased risk of cancer. However, more research will be needed to establish which compounds in the plastic are leaking. Unfortunately, the manufacturers are not contributing at the moment and the compounds of the plastic bottles are still an industry secret.
This all adds up to the already bad press about plastic bottles and their carbon footprint. Here are some sites you might want to check out about it:
Overall, this was quiet an eye opener for me and I will certainly try to avoid plastic bottled water, change to glass bottled water if on the road or just use reusable bottles and fill up from the tap. Please check out friendsofglass for more info why glass is a great alternative to plastic. Additionally, you can find some interesting examples of reusable bottles here:
I am sure you can find an alternative that suits your needs. Watch this space for info on tap water….coming soon!