Climate Action

Today we visited NMK’s «smart city lab” to do research concerning the UN’s sustainable development goals. Our task was specifically to pick a goal we thought was as or more important than climate action and discuss it in a podcast.

In my opinion, poverty is one of the first problems we should focus on fixing. If no one lived in poverty it would solve many of the other problems. People would get educated, and that alone would make it so that more people have the competence to contribute to solving the other world problems we have.

While working on this project I learned a lot about the sustainable development goals. Most of them will not be reached by 2030 as planned, but that does not mean that we should give up. We are making progress in most of the goals, and we should be working harder to reach them. The climate problem is urgent and important and will have consequences for everyone on earth if we don’t do some drastic changes as soon as possible.

I learned a lot today from researching this topic, especially concerning climate change and what is being done and what is not being done. I also learned about circular economy, and how we should aim towards zero waste, and maybe even produce more from the waste we make than the actual waste.  

A lot of problems would be solved if we eliminated poverty, and the top 10% of rich people stopped being so greedy and wasteful.

The Refugee Crisis

We have been working with the theme ‘Refugees’ for the last couple of weeks, and honestly i am a bit shocked. Even though i knew how prevalent the refugee crisis has been throughout the 21st Century, it was shocking to hear about how it is still going on. A few years ago the refugee crisis was talked about a lot in the media, but recently we have not really heard a lot about it even though the situation has stayed pretty much the same since when it was a “hot topic”. How can we solve this problem? What is being done? What should be done that is not being done?

What can the UN do to improve this situation?

What can the rest of us do

(Finishing this later)

Hong Kong

A fight for Democracy

In order to understand the current situation in Hong Kong, it is important to understand how the protests started. Hong Kong is significantly different from other Chinese cities. It was a British colony for more than 150 years. In 1984 Britan returned Hong Kong to china under the principle of “one country, two systems”, which meant they would become part of China, but with their own legal system and rights. However, the tides started shifting.

Even though Hong Kong is a lot freer than mainland China, critics say they are on a decline. Activists have accused China of fear mongering, resulting in writers and artists being under increased pressure to self-censor.

Most people in Hong Kong do not see themselves as Chinese despite being ethnically Chinese and living in a part of China. This especially goes for the younger citizens. This has to do with the legal, social and cultural differences. While “Hong Kongers” have a certain degree of autonomy, they have little liberty in the polls, meaning protests are one of the few ways they can make their opinions heard.

In June, peaceful rallies started in opposition to contentious legislation. These evolved into more violent protests in response to brutal police tactics. The protesters have shown few signs of backing down, but that also goes for China. In the months since the demonstrations began, the unpopular bill, which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, has been withdrawn. However, the protesters’ demands have expanded to include increased democracy and an investigation of the police.

The Hong Kongers use websites like LIHKG to organize pro-democracy protests.

A record-breaking 2.7 million people cast their vote in district council elections. Those were widely seen as a referendum on anti-government protests that have rocked the semi-autonomous Chinese territory for months. The 18 district councils, which will see pro-democracy groups take control of 17, are the only bodies in Hong Kong elected by popular vote. The resounding success for the pro-democracy faction adds fuel to the fire for those calling on Hong Kong politician Carrie Lam to step down. Lam has repeatedly insisted that a silent majority of residents supported her government. After the elections she has promised that the government will “seriously reflect”

It is hard to say how this situation will end. We can only hope that China does not take to more violent measures to silence the protesters. Currently, neither party is ready to back down. All we can do is stay updated and informed and hope they come to an agreement before the situation escalates beyond what it already has become.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

I must start off by saying that I still have two chapters left of this novel and I have a feeling there is a big twist coming.

I would say this novel is quite realistic. Even though the stories that Hamid tell through Changez are made up, he bases them around the real world and real events. This really does ground the story and makes it sound believable.

Throughout the book we learn a lot about Changez and his past experiences as he tells his stories eagerly. He tells us about his past as a student at Princeton, a prestige collage in USA. ”Princeton did everything for me.” Later he gets hired at Underwood Samson and Company.

He described a trip to Greece where he met Erica. Changez fell in love with her during that trip. He learns that Erica used to have a boyfriend, Chris, but he died of cancer. She loved listening to him talking about where he came from.

Changez was a great business man and talked a lot about his work. He also describes New York as a wonderfully diverse place where he experienced this sense of belonging.

Then the 9/11 attacks happen. Planes crash into the twin towers. Changez smiles.

Safety or Privacy

Can mass surveillance be justified? The main argument used to justify it when discussing this topic is that safety is more important than privacy. The main counter argument would then be that Americans have the constitutional “right to be left alone”, however the fourth amendment specifies people are to be secure “against unreasonable searches and seizures”, and you could then argue if government founded mass surveillance can be deemed unreasonable. It is hard to say what is morally right here. Do people value their privacy more than their safety? Should they? Can they not have both?

“Big brother sees you.” This phrase refers to the government’s surveillance of the people with listening devices and cameras, in a society, where Big Brother is the head of a totalitarian regime. Everyone in this society is under surveillance by the authorities, that constantly reminds people that “Big Brother is watching you,” showing a dictator’s mindset of Big Brother. Generally, the idea conveys a line of propaganda, meaning citizens have to follow what a dictatorial government wants them to do, and if they do not, Big Brother will know.

George Orwell wrote this phrase in his dystopian political satire novel “1984.” Big Brother is a representative of a dictatorial government, and its supremacy in the society. It has total control and manages citizen’s lives by watching with spy cameras and advanced technology. Orwell has in later time stated, “1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual.” By saying this it is clear that he thinks mass surveillance has gone too far.A lot of the “advanced technology” used in Orwell’s novel is now very much real and accessible.

Edward Snowden, the man who copied and leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 when he was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee and subcontractor, just recently released a memoir. He states that “the decision to come forward with evidence of government wrongdoing was easier for me to make than the decision, here, to give an account of my life.” Snowden risked everything to get this information out to the public, but he strongly believed it was the only right thing to do. He meant that people had the right to know.

Let us say that most people value safety over privacy and do not mind the feeling of being constantly watched, does the mass surveillance actually keep Americans safer? This mass surveillance allegedly rose to prominence after the terrorist attacks that occurred 9/11. The NSA started looking for answers. How did this happen? How can we prevent it from happening again?

It’s the seemingly random nature of terrorist attacks that make them so powerful. This is what terrorism has in common with mass surveillance. Simply knowing that someone could be listening is enough. We know, thanks to whistleblowers, that government surveillance in the US and UK operates on a vast scale. And that is enough to modify their behavior out of sheer paranoia.

In conclusion It is hard to tell if the government surveillance is effective when it comes to preventing terrorist attacks, but its easy to see that it makes people uncomfortable and paranoid to know that they could be watched at any time. Maybe that paranoia alone has stopped some people from committing terrible crimes, but is that enough to justify spying on civilians? The answer to that question will vary depending on who you ask. Cover your web camera, Big Brother sees you. 


Media Bias and Investigative Journalism

What is the importance of a free, independent and investigative press? When the American government keeps chanting «fake news» any time they read critic targeted towards them, how do we know who to trust? Do we trust journalists to bring us the truth? If we assume the journalists are telling the truth, are we accusing the government of misinforming us? This is a huge gray area with no black and white answers.

In a well-functioning democratic society, we need to have the means to legally express our thoughts and opinions and share our research, however it is also equally important that we are capable of thinking for ourselves and not just blindly believe all the information people share with us. It is important to reflect on what we have heard and research our sources to the best of our ability before forming our own opinion on the matter in question.

To sum up, if everyone were told what to believe and what opinions they should have by the government, could we even consider that a democracy? If our choices are heavily influenced by the people that want to be chosen, did we even have a choice to begin with?

Positive and Negative Aspects of Social Media

Social media refers to websites and applications that are designed to let people share content in real-time. This revolutionary technology has changed the way people interract with each other forever.

Social networking sites give people the opportunity to keep in touch with old friends who live far away, and also to make new ones all around the globe all in the comfort of our own homes. You can actively look for and find groups of people with the same interests and hobbies as you and share your experiences, artworks, music, photographs, poems, advice or whatever it may be.

You can show everyone you care about anything you want whenever you want. Almost all the information available in the world is accessable right at your fingertips

But if you turn this shiny coin around you will quickly notice that social media has some negative effects as well. The constant waves of people who share pictures of themselves looking better than you ever will, millions of amazing artists, people getting married and having kids, all while you just sit there and watch it happen.

It can be extremely overwhelming and it never stops. Everyone share the parts of their lives they want others to see, and this puts the standards for what is considered normal so much higher than it used to be.

All in all there are many positive as well as negative aspects of social media. It is all about how you use it and how much you let it affect you in your day to day life