It has to start with each and every one of us!

During the summer, everyone saw/heard about the ice/water bucket challenge. The purpose of this challenge was to raise awareness for different health issues (depending on the country). Although it is good that we are raising awareness for these issues, doing it with water really bothered me.

As I said before in my previous posts, water is a scarce resource that should be saved, not wasted.

I came across with the picture on top (Arab News), and, as usual, it got me thinking. As shown in the image, several people have to walk a lot only to get water. According to Charity Water, in Africa they spend around 40 billion hours walking, just to get water. Usually is either women or children that go get the water, which can be contaminated or unhealthy to drink. For women, these long walks are not safe, they can be sexually harassed and they lose time when they could be working. For children, this means loosing time that could be used to go to school or to study. Not to mention all the diseases that come from unclean water and the dangers of the trip itself.

Now, let’s take a moment to imagine your life with no water or limited access to it. Imagine that you want to go to the toilet, and you don’t have water to flush. Imagine that you want to take a bath and there is no water to do it. Imagine that you are really thirsty, and you have to walk 3 km to get the water that you and your family will drink (which can be contaminated). It is very hard to imagine, isn’t it? Now imagine what the 780 million people that lack access to drinkable water and the 2.5 billion people that don’t have adequate sanitation have to trough every day. Unfortunately for them, it is also hard to imagine how it is to have access to clean, drinkable water and good sanitation. This is a major problem that gets limited attention.

So what I am going to propose here is instead of using water to raise awareness for different causes, let’s raise awareness for water. It has to start with each and every one of us.

Please let your thoughts below!

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The day that everything changed

4af416d7e9966New-World13 years ago something changed in the world.

I remember arriving home (in Portugal) to have lunch and seeing the images of the attacks in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, and I didn’t quite understand what was going on at the time (I was 11 years old). I remember having this feeling of sadness, the shivers down my spine. I understood that a lot of people died and a lot more were suffering.

As some of you know, both my Bachelor’s and my Master’s degree were in International Relations. It was almost impossible to be a student of IR and not talking about this particular event. I remember discussing how it affected the world, what changed. We analysed it, talked about it.

Unfortunately, I think it was the first time that the USA felt that it could be hit in its own territory. The feeling of being safe ended, and the war on terror started. Since then it has spread to other countries as well, however this expression hasn’t been used in a while and has been substituted for others more “friendly”. All of a sudden, terrorism was being used for almost everything, and I feel that it still is like this, at least a bit. Many wars were fought and many lives lost because of this. Are we any safer now?

This is a controversial topic, I know. And it will be for many years to come. My opinion is that many mistakes were made in past few years. But I don’t disregard the effectiveness of several decisions… What I often think is how many terrorists has this war on terror created? And how many has it destroyed? It is hard to know.

And I must say that it is one of those subjects that I honestly don’t know what to think about… What do you think? Do you feel safer now?

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Your ecological footprint – what?!

green-footprint-shutterstock11I could start with the typical “save the earth, it is the only we have”, which is completely true, but I will start to tell you that we, as humans need to stop acting like the planet is infinite and it is never going to run out of resources, if not for the earth we share, for ourselves. It will. It is already… And still, it passes us by like it is nothing. Why? Because we don’t see it truly in front of us. If we see war, we see dead people, we see injured people, we know it is happening, we know we need to do something. We don’t see the impact of our actions in our planet, at least clearly. But it is happening.

Yesterday, according to the Global Footprint Network, was the Earth Overshoot Day. For those of you who are not familiar with this, the Earth Overshoot Day is the date our Ecological Footprint exceeds our planet’s “annual budget”. That means that we already spent what Earth can regenerate during this year. In practical terms, we need a planet and a half to produce the resources that we are spending in one year. If you want to know your ecological footprint, click here. In the link you will also find tips on how to reduce your ecological footprint.

In 1961 we used 3 quarters of the Earth’s capacity. Now, we didn’t even got to the end of the year, and we already need a new planet. As you can imagine, in the long term, this will lead to several problems: climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, lack of food, lack of water and lack of other resources essential and non-essential to human life. It will also bring, in my opinion, conflict over these resources, if the situation continues to escalate like this.

So, how can we make Earth sustainable again? Well, first of all, we need to stop acting like it is something for others to deal with. Reducing the ecological footprint is a responsibility of everyone. We also have to realise that it is not easy and that it won’t happen fast. But, if we try, we can make a better planet.

What do you do to reduce your ecological footprint? Tell me below!

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Filed under Environmental, Uncategorized

First World War centenary and the state of the world

This morning I had a conversation about the state of the world. It is something that has been on my mind for quite some time, as the number of conflicts keeps increasing. If you look around in the news you will see articles about the Syrian War, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about problems in Iraq, about the war in Ukraine

The world is a complete, total mess. And how? How did we arrive here?

Last week (28 July 2014) marked the 100 years of the beginning (28 July 1914) of the 1st World War. You can click the link if you want a simple explanation about it. There are several ceremonies around the world regarding WW I, remembering all the sacrifices made, all the lives lost. You can check more here. It is not rare finding a monument to the WW I and II causalities. There is this need for to world not to forget the horror of such a war. So why does it keep forgetting?

In this conversation that I had, I said that I “feel” that something is coming. Now, I don’t like to be a misfortune prophet, as it is really not my style, but I do think that in the next 5, 10, etc years there will be some kind of turning point in these conflict areas. Could be good or could be bad…But there has to be one.

With the experience of the two previous world wars, I try to think that the international community is now too smart to let a 3rd World War start, but I am wrong? Tell me what you think!

 

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Filed under America, Asia, Europe, Middle-East, Others

The way life isn’t supposed to be in Israel and Palestine

Israel-Palestine-HandshakeIt took me about 30 minutes to decide how to start this post. I was not having a creative blocking or anything alike, because I knew what I wanted to write. It was just because this subject makes my heart hurt.

From all the international issues, the Israeli-Arab conflict was always the one that got my attention since I was around 15/16 years old. I am used to write about it in different perspectives (for example my master’s degree thesis was called the Israeli-Arab conflict and water issues: from scarcity to conflict) and I try to keep myself updated about the conflict as much as I can.

As most of you know a series of attacks from Israel to Palestine (and vice-versa) are being carried on. It all started with the kidnapping of 3 Israeli Teenagers (and when I say start, I mean that this event was the big red button that you are not supposed to push, as the hurting of people was on-going before that) by who knows who. Then a Palestinian teenager was killed in retaliation by again, mystery murderers. From there, it escalated very quickly (doesn’t it always?).

According to The Guardian, Israel has launched 1300 air strikes at Palestine, while the Palestinians fired 800 rockets at Israel. 166 Palestinians were killed and Israel didn’t report any fatalities. I suggest you look around and gather information from both sides to have an impartial idea.

As for me, I still think that there is a solution: a 2 state solution, where neighbours respect borders. But will it be possible? The hatred between Palestine and Israel is so much that I think that this will never end (I hope, I really do, that I am wrong). They grow up being taught that the other party is the enemy. I have friends in both sides… although they think they can live in peace, the distrust is there. How can we change this? There are some many violations of human rights (by both parts!) that I start thinking if this will ever end. In the end, they are all people, fighting for something that in 2014 shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

My main concern at this moment is how much more this will escalate. Will it end up in war again? Are we looking at a 3rd intifada or is this just business as usual? Since 2008 that there have been two situations like this one. They were mediated and they didn’t develop into something else, so hopefully this situation will be the same.

Never mind the politics or who is right or wrong. People are being killed. Where is diplomacy when we need it? What can UN do? What can we do?

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Filed under Middle-East

Do you wish it wasn’t a girl?

multicultural_kiddos1Being a girl in the world. This is a controversial topic, so I just want to let you know that I am not here to attack any country’s politics, culture or others.
I’ve always been a strong advocate on women rights. No, I don’t hate men or anything like that, that is absurd. I just want the same rights for both sexes (and yes for good and for bad as well!). We are different psychologically and physically, but we all deserve to be treated equal. However, there are still situations happening to women that need to be addressed and stopped, and they aren’t, unfortunately.

I watched a documentary called “It’s a girl“. For those of you who don’t know it, this a documentary about what it means to be a girl in men-oriented cultures like India and China (in some parts of these countries). So what is it like? According to the documentary, you are treated like property. If a boy is born to a family that is a motive for celebration; if a girl is born to a family, it is considered bad luck. Some of the girls are killed even before birth, some after birth (by their own mothers…) and even if they survive this, they are not well fed or treated. If they reach teenager years/adulthood, they are promised to other families (arranged marriage or not), and the girl’s family will have to pay a dowry to the husband’s family. Many families can’t pay this dowry, so sometimes the brides are killed in “revenge”. So, in summary: a daughter means spending money and losing a family member to other family; a son means gaining money and gaining a new member in the family (daughter in law).

Besides this treatment, there is also the threat of rape (by one or more men), which really gets to my nerves. Being a Portuguese girl living in Belgium, I never felt really threatened by this possibility. Sure, sometimes I get those very annoying comments and some whistling, which scares me sometimes, but I was never in real danger (at least I think so…). I do feel vulnerable, though. These girls are in real danger, because they are “property”. And don’t even get me started on girl mutilation or child marriage, with little girls being married to men old enough to be their fathers….

I am angry with this. Is being a women less than being a man?

Even in countries where men and women are considered equal, there are wage gaps, employers tend to consider men first than women (you know, the whole pregnancy and motherhood thing…). Also, if you are a women in a management job or similar, sometimes you get less respect than a men (and I’ve felt it first hand). Please be aware that with this I am not saying that men don’t get discriminated or raped or threatened in any way. They do, unfortunately.

My point here is, why does this keep happening in a world that is so “advanced”? Shouldn’t we all be treated equals? Wouldn’t that make a happier/stronger society? Please leave your thoughts.

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Global warming – Tell me about it

Global_Warming_by_audunellernoWhat is global warming? What is it doing to our planet? Are we really responsible for global warming?

I’ve had this conversation many times with friends, colleagues, family and yet, answers don’t cease to surprise me. According to wikipedia, Global warming is the unequivocal and continuing rise in the average temperature of Earth’s climate system. This causes several types of consequences such as temperature changes, extreme weather, melting of ice, decrease of water resources and even climate refugees (which I will talk about in another post someday…). The majority of people agrees with this definition.

So, what are the causes? Are we to be blamed? Well, it is here that opinions get divided.

Some of the people I’ve spoken to say that this is not due to human action. They say that the earth has had many phases in its cycle, such as ice age and others, and this is just another phase. Even if we weren’t here, there would have been an increase in temperatures on earth.

Others say that it is completely because of humans. We should stop using gases and materials that led to this problem.

Finally, there is a in-between opinion. Humans are not the sole responsible for global warming, but they caused, indeed, most of it. This opinion seems to be the one accepted by the majority of scientists (with some sceptics), although sometimes it seems that the majority of people doesn’t believe in this . The greenhouse gases, burning of fossils and other activities led to global warming.

Opinions aside, what can we do? Well, indeed we should reduce the use of certain types of gases, use alternative fuels, reduce the use of cars (ex: use more buses, trains, bicycles) or use electric/hybrid ones, recycle, make your house energy-efficient, etc.

I honestly think are we should be blamed for the majority of it. For years we’ve using these dangerous gases and harvesting earth’s resources without caring for the consequences.

And you? What is your opinion about global warming? What can we do to minimize its effects?

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Filed under Environmental