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Save Our Society

Save Our Society: Environmental Refugees—You May Be Next

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Stripped away from the country they call home due to war, religious discrimination, or political persecution, refugees in the past have been the primary victims of an inevitable bane of mankind: conflicting interests. During World War II, for example, millions of German Jews had to seek refuge in nations such as the US because of the pervasive notions of Aryan supremacy. Even today, thousands of Syrians are being displaced because of divisions between secular and Islamist combatants. However, there is a new type of refugee that defies this characterization: environmental refugees.

Since the 21st century, global sea levels have been rising at an accelerated rate due to the warming of the Earth and the melting of the polar glaciers, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In fact, the NOAA reports that the world has seen a 1.2-inch rise in sea levels per decade since 1992, twice as much as that of 1900. The consequent increase in rates of flooding, shoreline erosion, and storms has posed a noticeable threat to islands and cities located near shores, according to the UN Atlas of the Oceans.

Bangladesh, for instance, expects hotter temperatures as well as an increased intensity of cyclones and floods in the next few decades, which will have direct impacts on the nation’s food production, infrastructure, and livelihoods, according to the World Bank Group. The source further reveals that 20 to 30 years from now, shifting rain patterns could leave some areas submerged and others without enough water for power generation, irrigation, or drinking. Anticipating these consequences, hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis have already fled the nation in search of safer and more stable futures.

Unfortunately, this new concept of environmental refugees is not only scarcely known to the public, but its legitimacy is also denied by the global community, as categorizing the people displaced by climate change as refugees would require a revision of official definitions and parameters set forth by the United Nations. Thus, recognizing the legal status of environmental refugees is the first crucial step in helping the victims, as it can encourage other countries to welcome these refugees more willingly.

Just as important as recognizing the legal status of these fleeting individuals is assisting them in adjusting and sustaining themselves in their new environments. Kiribati, an island in the central Pacific Ocean predicted to sink within 60 years, has led by example in preparing its citizens for the future. According to the Washington Post, its “Migration with Dignity” program trains Kiribati’s residents as highly-skilled workers who would be better welcomed in other countries. Furthermore, the government purchased land in Fiji in 2014 in preparation for a mass migration into the area. While these actions do not address the root of the problem in rising sea levels, they are certainly measures that can reduce the burden of citizens at risk.

Perhaps the most important step in the long term is to stop thinking of this as merely an environmental problem. While the issue is intricately connected to environmental problems, the displacement of peoples is now clearly a human issue. We have caused the sea levels to rise. People are suffering from the ramifications of our actions.

History has proven that the human race is reactive and rarely proactive. Until an issue actually affects our daily lives, we tend to glean over the problem in hopes that it will never impact us. The wishing days are over with rising sea levels, with millions of people around the world already being displaced due to environmental disasters. Your city may be next: when will you start taking action?

What money cannot buy

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By Eric Song and Daniel Shin

As the world wakes up, ready for another day of work, the “Rich Kids of Instagram” (using an account publicly managed by adolescents around the world) post pictures from yet another night of opulent partying and drinking—yes, they are just kids but their parents can bail them out of just about anything.

While half of the developing world barely manages to scrape together two dimes for lunch, the “Rich Kids of Instagram” enjoy a casual private buffet in a restaurant overlooking the beaches. On the tables, there are signs titled “save water, drink champagne.”

These kids seem to have it all: money, power, and publicity. But beneath the countless Chanel bags and Ferraris is a festering void that reeks of loneliness and desperation—symptoms of the materialism that runs rampant in contemporary society. These young men and women have buried themselves, sometimes literally, in their craze for material goods, and several consequences of this obsession are slowly but surely presenting themselves.

Johannes Malkmes, author of “American Consumer Culture and Its Society,” defines materialism as a “preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations.” Whether it be for bags, shoes, or any other goods, having materialistic desires will increase the time one spends fawning over tangible goods—meaning one will have less opportunities to interact with real people and with things of real value. In fact, a six-year study published by the Journal of Consumer Research followed 2,500 people and found a cyclic relationship between materialism and isolation. Because frenzied consumers indulge themselves in material goods, they leave little to no time for actual social interactions. This self-paved loneliness in turn creates an unfulfilled desire for attachment, which is why they, once again, turn to material possessions.

Materialism does not only encourage social isolation; it also makes happiness unattainable. Most materialists are controlled by an external locus; they can only attain happiness when they have more than others. If I own a Ferrari and you own two, I will be perpetually unhappy until I top your count— which in turn will make you unhappy. There is no cap on this race for more, and we must question whether it is right to continue to let happiness become a zero-sum game.

Unlike other global issues, materialism at its core is an intangible concept—and hence, combating it requires a shift in societal values. When one’s internal world is deprived, it is only natural to look to the external for happiness—and that’s where the cars and watches come in.  Materialism fills a void of insecurity—and it’s up to society to either prevent such a void from occurring in the first place or ensure that it is filled with healthier alternatives. Devoting time for work, building relationships, or playing sports are just a few of the many alternative ways one could attain happiness without whipping out the credit card.

SOS: The Magnitude of Food Waste

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When we throw away a half-eaten sandwich, we rarely pause to ponder the implications behind those actions. After all, how could half a sandwich hurt anyone? Such naive carelessness, however, is precisely what numbs us from realizing that our planet is slowly deteriorating into an enormous bucket of waste.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, roughly one-third of the food in the world ends up discarded. In other words, we are producing far too much food, even for our gluttonous selves to consume. To make matters worse, when we casually discard leftovers, we are also “throwing away” the time, money, and effort dedicated to producing the food. In a world where starvation and malnutrition still remain rampant in many underdeveloped nations, such wastefulness is socially, environmentally, and economically infuriating and raises an important question: What can we do to solve the issue?

While overcoming the food waste crisis will undoubtedly require tremendous amounts of time, money, and attention, a clear set of solutions does exist. One solution is called ReFED, a blueprint written by a collaboration of over thirty governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations outlining ways to reduce food waste. The plan is divided into three categories: prevention, recovery, and recycling.

The preventative solutions seem the most ideal: they seek to stop problems before they arise. Companies can adjust packaging and invest more time into the safe shipment of ingredients to avoid the possibility of spoiling. Such measures can, according to a report released alongside the ReFED program, save roughly $8 billion and prevent 2.6 million tons of edibles from being wasted.

While preventative solutions seek to stop issues from arising in the first place, recovery and recycling methods focus on putting existing unwanted food to maximum use. After all, why not make the best out of the mess we have created? For instance, tax incentives can be used to compel individuals to donate edible items, whether they are ingredients or fruits. Furthermore, the report calls for increased investments in recycling infrastructures, along with more efficient composting systems to help reduce the quantity of food destined for landfills.

While the ReFED system may not be the only way to approach this problem, it seems to at least bring us a step closer to drastically reducing the tremendous amount of food waste we have spewed into the dumpsters with impunity. Let us save our environment and economy by taking direct action against the food waste crisis toda

SOS: Public Speaking Classes

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If Martin Luther King had just thought about freedom, segregation may still continued be a reality. If Gandhi had held his tongue and just thought about a free India, perhaps the British would still be in control. Our thoughts only hold value once they are spoken aloud. And yet, for some odd reason, the society we live in does not seem to place much emphasis on such a fundamental skill, especially in the school curricula, where the practice of the craft is particularly essential. What accounts for this lack of prioritization?

This clear deficit can be attributed to the numerous claims that speaking classes are cruel to introverts, and that they force such students to partake in activities that could be humiliating or degrading. But that line of argument is no different from saying that we should stop vaccinating our kids because the shot is painful. We need to look at the bigger picture and question what is truly at stake. Although some of us fear the impending pain of an annual vaccination, we opt into these necessary evils because we understand how valuable they are, not only to ourselves, but also to the greater societal good. Likewise, public speaking classes nurture the confidence and competence of an individual, both of which are highly applicable in the communicative world we live in.

The world listens to those who are sure of themselves—or at least those who sound sure of themselves. Unfortunately, many students suffer from an inability to articulate themselves, whether during presentations or on a regular day-to-day basis. According to Breaking Down Barriers, an organization devoted to the promotion and training of public speaking, three out of every four students suffer from ‘speech anxiety,’ a general distaste for speaking in public or in front of unknown acquaintances. Fortunately, the solution to this problem is simple: that introverted individuals attempt speaking. As ironic as that may sound, this benefit can be achieved through mandated public speaking classes. Studies by Heidi Rose and Andrew Rancer, professors of communication at Emerson University, confirmed that enrolled students’ levels of public speaking anxiety decreased significantly over the course of the semester. In essence, the more one speaks, the more confident one can become.

Speaking classes also boost students’ future prospects and open up new opportunities. According to a study by a renowned sociologist named Andrew Zekeri, oral communication ranked first among the skills that college graduates found necessary in the realm of real-life business. If one wanted to be a scientist, he or she would have to know how to present findings to a scientific community. If one wanted to be a lawyer, one would need to present legal briefs. Every vocation in modern society requires varying degrees of public speaking and interaction—something society is obligated to prepare its future for.

If our thoughts are our ammunition, our voices are our guns. We are living in a world in which thinking is the only attribute that is prioritized. We are living in a world with infinite ammunition, but no guns. A gun without ammunition is powerless; but ammunition without a gun is no different. Ultimately, both pieces must co-exist to form an efficient tool that can transform society.

SOS: Why South Korea should seek reunification with the North

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Since 1965, military service has been compulsory in South Korea.
To secure our borders. To train our men to fight. To protect ourselves from our own people.

“Our own people?” you may question. Calling North Koreans our own people may appear strange, confusing, or even outrageous to many. However, as hard as it may be to believe, the division between North and South Korea did not exist just six decades ago. We shared the same borders, the same nationality, and the same sense of pride in being a Korean. And as a united people—or minjok, as Koreans call it—we have overcome countless obstacles throughout our 1,300 year history.

Unfortunately, this minjok mentality is quite rare in South Korea today. A recent survey conducted by Yonsei University revealed that 60 percent of South Korean citizens are against reunification. And even more disappointing was that many of the reasons behind the opposition were either flawed, overgeneralized, or unsubstantiated.

For instance, the most popular reason to oppose reunification was that it would put a financial strain on South Korea, as the nation would have to make huge financial sacrifices to equalize the level of industrialization between the North and the South. On the surface, this argument seems to make sense; Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance predicts that South Korea will have to spend around 4,600 trillion won in the post-reunification efforts. However, statistics show that the financial benefits of reunification actually outweigh the costs. The Ministry of Strategy and Finance predicts that the economic gains will amount to approximately 10 quadrillion 4400 trillion won, which would leave the nation with a net profit of approximately 9.98 quadrillion won, equivalent 8.3 trillion dollars.

There are several key factors that allow South Korea to see such huge financial rewards from reunification. First, North Korea has a tremendous amount of untapped natural resources, approximately 23.9 times more than South Korea, according to People for Successful Korean Reunification. Marrying South Korea’s advanced technologies with North Korea’s overflowing supply of natural resources would undoubtedly lead to huge benefits for Korea as a whole.

Reunification would also expand the domestic market tremendously. If reunified, the total population of Korea will be 80 million and its land mass will be 220,000 km2, most similar to current day Great Britain, which leads the world in the degree of economic activity. With this enlarged domestic pool, Korean businesses no longer have to constantly look abroad to expand, but can rather fully explore the endless possibilities of the reunified nation.

Secondly, opponents of reunification claim that South Korea is currently doing fine in various aspects of the economy, foreign affairs, and environment, so a huge sociopolitical change would be highly undesirable. That line of argument does make sense, if only it were true.

In reality, South Korea is not doing so well. Among the many problems the nation faces today, South Korea is in deep trouble demographically. These days, fewer and fewer South Korean women are willing to bear children, so the population of South Korea is declining at a faster rate than that of any other country in the world. In fact, according to Wall Street Journal, if our population continues to decline at this rate, our population of 50 million will be halved by the end of the century, and our entire nation will be extinct by 2750. Reunifying with North Korea will not only give us a population boost, but also help reverse the downward trend in population, as the aforementioned economic benefits will alleviate the financial concerns that often discourage families from having children.

The degree of practicality, the question of how exactly we would negotiate with the unpredictable and stubborn North Korean dictator, may discourage many from considering the prospect of reunification. But before we worry about factors that are out of our control, let’s take a moment to recognize that there is a larger, more fundamental obstacle that is within our control: that an astonishing 60 percent of South Koreans are opposed to reunification, many of whom have been swayed by false information and misconceptions.

So, future leaders of South Korea. No, let me rephrase that: future leaders of united Korea. The time is now. Voice your opinions in support of reunification, and together let’s make sure that Korea has not left her best days behind.

SOS: Why gender equality is a win-win situation

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You are walking down the street and come across two men throwing punches at each other. As a spectator, you would probably feel a mix of fear, danger, and for some more than others, excitement and anticipation. Now imagine a woman and man in the same scenario, hitting each other in a heated fistfight. What crosses your mind this time? Most of you would feel a sense of indignation—as if the latter scenario is somehow more immoral and unjust than the first. In other words, the focus of your attention seems to have suddenly shifted from violence to a debate about whether a man should be allowed to lay his hands on a woman.

What accounts for this shift of focus? One of the major factors that come into play is the high degree of sensitivity surrounding gender inequality, caused by a clash in ideologies between feminists who demand more rights and individuals who feel that men have been subjected to reverse discrimination.

The reason behind this misunderstanding is that people often perceive gender equality as a zero-sum game, one in which men have to give up rights for women to gain rights. This idea that women are somehow “taking away the men’s rights” is an unhealthy perception that will undoubtedly prevent our society from ever achieving true gender equality. It is thus imperative that people realize gender equality is desirable—not only because it is moral, but also because it will provide even men with larger short and long term benefits.

To start off, gender equality provides men with increasing flexibility and freedom. If women are provided with equal opportunities as men in the workplace and less expected by society to solely be in charge of taking care of children, women can also begin to take initiative in handling family investments, thereby alleviating men from handling the pressures of financial burden all by themselves.

Opening up job opportunities to women will also lead to a higher quality of life for men, as more men will be able to enjoy hobbies that they truly enjoy instead of the ones that society tells them to like. Indeed, gender stereotypes imposed on men—that they need to work out during their leisure time, that they need to stay out of the kitchen, that they need to handle financial affairs—often rob them of openly enjoying tasks traditionally done by women.

Bafana Khumalo, co-founder of Sonke Gender Justice, found in his study that men are often reluctant to admit they like cooking. Some of them feel so ashamed that they even draw the kitchen curtains when making meals. Such example stands as a testament to the often forgotten truth that men are also victims of stereotypes, and that gender equality will allow them to step away from such stigmas and freely enjoy their lives the way they want to.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, gender equality allows men to lead a more harmonious family. According to studies conducted by Michael Kimmel, an American sociologist specializing in gender studies, when men share housework and childcare with women, their children do better in school, with lower rates of absenteeism and higher rates of achievement. They are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, require a child psychiatrist, or be put on medication. In addition, when men share housework and childcare, their wives are happier and healthier. Statistics show that they are less likely to see a therapist or be diagnosed with depression. In other words, wives whose responsibilities extend beyond cooking food and taking care of the child report higher levels of marital satisfaction. The day men and women start looking at domestic tasks as equals is the day society is one step closer to creating harmonious familial relationships.

The issue of gender rights has long been a seesaw tilting in the direction of men. It is like this, has been like this, and will continue to be like this—that is, unless society begins to comprehend the collective benefits that gender equality will bring forth to both genders.

Wall-E: A prophecy come true

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By Daniel Shin and Eric Song

In 2007, Andrew Stanton envisioned a world full of big babies “because there was no reason for them to grow up any more.” Based on this imagination, he directed and released “Wall-E,” a harsh, yet thought-provoking film depicting obese and hapless humans confined to hover chairs, victims of their own indolent lifestyles. It is now 2015, and while hover chairs have yet to be invented, rampant obesity has become a reality.

With rapid commercialization and industrialization associated with contemporary society, the classic “sit down, nutritious and healthy meal” has become a norm of the past. Often stuck in rush hour traffic or running late to work, the modern working class simply cannot afford the time to reward themselves a proper meal. Rather, many are forced to indulge themselves with fast food meals, laden with saturated fats and an overwhelming amount of cholesterol and salt. But really, who has the time these days to look through the ingredients and count the calories of a McDonalds Happy Meal, let alone make their own lunches? In a society where practicality is prioritized over health adverse effects can be found not only on our waistlines, but also on our overall health, performance, and mood. According to American Diabetes Association, victims of obesity—now a startling third of the US population, are at a greater risk of depression and related complications. Over the past 35 years, obesity has doubled in adults and tripled in children. This problem is one of increasing ubiquity, and must be combated.

This is not to say that there haven’t been attempts to curb the increasing rates of obesity. On the contrary, governmental and non-governmental organizations alike have previously attempted to pass fat taxes or incorporate more physical education in school curriculums. However, such solutions are proven themselves ineffective, primarily because they oversimplify the problem of obesity, taking a “one size fits all approach”. While taxes on sodas may decrease soda consumption, one could simply walk a few aisles down the supermarket to purchase a box of Iced Tea to alternatively satisfy their sugar cravings. Governmental intervention policies like these are not targeting the problem, but are simply avoiding it.

Obesity is not caused in a day; obesity is caused in a lifetime. It is in fact, often a cumulative result of multiple factors including depression, social anxiety, and most prominently, the shifting cultural mindset that being overweight is acceptable. A direct byproduct of the increasingly popular Fat Activism movement, this mindset is well intentioned, but misguided, as it serves as a leeway for many corpulent individuals to avoid changing their unhealthy ways. While its activists claim an individual has the rightful choice to be obese, when this “choice” interferes with the lives of others, as is this case for children raised by overweight parents, something must be done. A recent study from Stanford posited obese parents as the leading cause behind rising rates of corpulence among children, many of who have no choice but to indulge in unhealthy snacks from a young age. Why actively promote a lifestyle not only destructive to yourself, but also to the loved ones around you?

It is important to note, however, that the fat activism movement is a direct byproduct of those who take a different, but an equally extreme approach to this pressing contemporary issue. Such are those who support “fat shaming”, or the deliberate humiliation of the obese as the method to cure these people of their unhealthy ways. This is not only ineffective but also counterproductive. Depression and self-consciousness often set individuals vulnerable to obesity in the first place. Fat shaming only plays on to the vicious cycle that victims of obesity find themselves entangled in. Rather, society needs a more moderate and considerate solution, one that encourages, not disparages, obese individuals to embrace healthier lifestyles.

The middle ground between these two polar extremities is education. We must change the social stigma of where obesity stands and how it is dealt with. Overweight individuals should not be humiliated, but educated in a reassuring and comforting way that not only warns/informs them of their unhealthy lifestyles but also assures them that there is still a possibility for them to lose weight. Doing so will likely prevent drastic consequences like depression and binge eating from occurring. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, education and counseling sessions are all sound and proven methods helpful for obese victims to overcome the psychological roots most responsible for their unhealthful eating practices.

Although the problem of obesity is well known, the extreme solutions of fat shaming and fat activism simply fail to remedy this issue at hand. Evidently, the middle ground of education is the way to go.

Comfort Women: Forgive but not forget

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By DANIEL SHIN and ERIC SONG

There is nothing physically imposing about Eva Kohr. Her frail body and sorrowful, tear-laden eyes give the impression that even the smallest breeze can blow her over. Even so, not even the strongest storm of winds could do such a thing: she has already survived the deepest depravities of human immorality. Kohr is a survivor of Auschwitz. From medical experiments to executions, the horrors Kohr endured at the death camp are hard for many to grasp. What is even harder to comprehend is her decision on the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz to forgive all Nazis. But this history has a clear parallel to the struggle of the Korean comfort women exploited by the Japanese nearly 60 years ago, and the ongoing issue is perpetuating rocky relations between Korea and Japan.

The parallels to the Nazi genocide exist, but in the Orient, no such exoneration and forgiveness took place. Although time has elapsed since the horrendous experiences of Korean comfort women, the tension between the accusers and defenders has not shown any signs of decline. One look at Yong Soo Lee is all it takes; remnants of Lee’s pain and grief linger on, harbored in the dark shadows that now plague her eyes. Unlike Kohr, Lee refuses to forgive the perpetrators of her suffering, demanding that current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “act like a man and face the truth of the crimes that were done.”

While the issue of comfort women may seem obviously divided into a villain-victim perception, both Japan and Korea play roles in the perpetuation of this conflict. Korea is unable to forgive while Japan seems too willing to forget.

It is difficult to approve the Japanese handling of the situation as politically correct in bridging the gap between the two nations. In 1984, Emperor Hirohito stated the following remark to Korea, “It is indeed regrettable that there was an unfortunate past between us for a period in this century and I believe it should not be repeated again.” A report conducted by the Dong-A Ilbo stated that 97 percent of the 3,000 Koreans sampled felt that the apologies Japan had issued regarding “the annexation and colonization of the Korean Peninsula” were inadequate.

Yet with the historical contention still remaining, Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, where the ashes of 1,068 Japanese war criminals are held, further seems like a slap in the face to the 52 surviving comfort women. Their responses to his visit, ranging from organized boycotts to open protests, only serve as testaments to contemporary Korea’s obvious displeasure regarding Japan’s recent contentious actions.

A recent sentiment most Koreans is that apologies like these lack sufficient remorse and simply fail to accept responsibility for the depravities that had occurred. In terms of current events, the fact that Abe has yet to deliver a direct and specific apology addressing comfort women only further exacerbates the problem, as there have been accusations that Japan is simply trying stall the debate until all the remaining living comfort women are no longer able to stir up controversy. Japan’s refusal to explicitly express an apology is standing in the way of global negotiations.

However, one must not lose sight of the fact that Korea is just as equally liable for such existing tensions. Korea has already received monetary compensation from Japan in the Treaty of Normalization of 1965. Intended to cover all aspects of Japanese colonial damage including those done to comfort women, the $500 million compensation in the treaty was used by the Chung Hee Park administration to fund conglomerates and rebuild the economy of the impoverished nation instead of going to ameliorating Japanese colonial harm. Because the signing of this treaty made Korea eligible to make any more monetary compensation requests, in a poll collected by the Asahi Shimbum Agency, 71 percent of Japanese  feel that it is “not necessary to review compensations for victims of colonial rule,” as these have already been paid off in such treaties.

Yet another point of criticism claims that the Korean government is intentionally harboring anti-Japanese campaigns to sway the public opinion from internal issues. As much as Japan has shirked its responsibility to express an explicit apology, Korean politicians area also at fault for redirecting the sorrow of the comfort women as a means to gain political support. In other words, tactless actions on both sides of the heated controversy are fueling the political tensions that have marked Korea-Japan relations since the end of World War II.

Because both Japan and Korea are responsible for the perpetuation of the problem, it is logical that both countries partake in the necessary steps to remedy the tensions. The Japanese government must issue an apology explicitly addressing Korean comfort women, while Korea needs to handle the issue of the comfort women not as a way to garner political support, but to remind posterity of such atrocities. This mutual concession of both parties of the conflict would not only serve as a key bridge in Korea-Japan relations, but also give the remaining 52 comfort women the respect and dignity that they were stripped of 60 years ago. Let the plight of the Korean comfort women not be forgotten; more importantly, let it not be the cause for further international division.

Clearing the murky waters of developing nations

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By ERIC SONG and DANIEL SHIN

Maliki wakes up at 3 a.m. to the sensation of cobwebs entangled in his throat. He coughs and attempts to clear them, but is only met with the same searing pain he has grown so accustomed to in his dry, monotonous life. Upon realizing that his family’s liquid elixir had all vaporized in the Ugandan heat, Maliki grabs the family lifeline—the cool metal handle of his rusty water bucket—and sprints down a path he has taken every morning for the past seven years of his life: the path towards water. His routinely trek has become more of a necessity than a choice; without water, his family would not be able to wash, cook, and most importantly, survive.

On this particular day, however, the penetrating rays of heat get the better of him. Maliki collapses and is sucked into the abyss of victims killed not by dehydration, but by society’s ineffectiveness in dealing with a crisis so prominent in today’s world: the inaccessibility to clean water in developing countries.

Although countless NGOs and other environmentally driven organizations have invested billions of dollars into the construction of wells and proper irrigation systems in rundown third world countries, there is an apparent lack of progress. Most notably, in 2007 the World Bank invested $1.42 billion in a water project in Tanzania. The initial layout of this project was to grant 65 percent of rural Tanzanians and 90 percent of urbanites access to clean water by 2010 and continue this pattern until each Tanzanian citizen can enjoy the availability of safe water. However, the percentage of citizens with access to water has ironically decreased from 54 to 53 percent since the start of the project, as reported by World Bank in 2014. In other words, 3.8 million more Tanzanians lack access to clean water today than before the project began, painting a rather bleak picture for the future of water safety in countries like Tanzania.

If so much time and money is invested into improving the water-related infrastructures in developing countries, why is there a lack of proportionally significant changes? Why have project after project failed to leave a mark in the battle against the water crisis?

The first key factor lies within the concept of sustainable development. According to UNICEF, 75 percent of all wells drilled in Africa cease to function after five years. Thus, even if an average of $2000 are spent on each well, all investments become useless if such infrastructures are not properly maintained. In order to maximize the efficacy of their humanitarian efforts, NGOs should shift their focus to properly educating villagers on not only how to build wells, but also how to most effectively maintain them through periodic check-ups and routinely repairs. Also, in order to allow quick access to replaceable parts of a well, NGOs ought to pressure third world countries and governments to establish factories that produce components of wells that can be easily replaced.

Another significant factor is the adaptability of the solution. Although building wells is considered the generic solution to the water crisis, it is rather delusional to hope that such a simplistic solution will eradicate the breadth of the crisis. Instead, a study of each respective region should be conducted to take into account the differing geographical and cultural elements. One of the NGOs that have taken essential approach is Charity Water. The organization has implemented a wide variety of equipment, ranging from various rainwater catchments and piped systems to numerous water purification methods, in order to serve the individual needs of communities. Other organizations should not be afraid to follow suit with this course of action.

With these steps, time, money, and most importantly, lives will be saved. With the accessibility and practicality that the two solutions above provide, innocent children will no longer need to dwell upon the question of water. Then, Maliki can wake up at 3 a.m., not with tingling cobwebs down his throat, but with the reassurance that his magic elixir will never run dry again.

SOS: Bright side of global warming

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Global warming itself is harmful; there’s no doubt about that. But the effect of global warming on human behavior has a positive impact on our environment.

Ever since 1993, when scientists from NASA predicted that all of the ice in the Arctic would melt by 2020, massive efforts have been made to alleviate global warming. The US government now spends $4 billion on global warming research every year. Thousands of organizations around the world, including Greenpeace and Global Roundtable on Climate Change, are trying to contribute to ameliorating the existing environmental problems. Teachers worldwide are educating their students on how to recycle and to conserve energy, so that students can also participate in alleviating global warming.

To destroy this notion would be foolish. In fact, if global warming were to stop, it would not be a bad idea to keep it a secret from the public. Then, we would be able to further our efforts to preserve our environment with the same urgency that we have right now. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, some people have recently posed a threat to this fantasy by arguing that global warming has stopped. This would be good news, if only it were true. Those who deny global warming hold two reasons for believing so, both of which are extremely flawed.

The first reason is that the Earth has recently been cooling down. According to Daily Mail, this is true; the global temperature has decreased by two degrees over the past decade. However, despite what some people think, this is not a result of our efforts. Rather, according to the Economic Times, such decrease comes from warm air being temporarily trapped in the ocean. The warm air will eventually rise up again and cause the global temperature to rise significantly.

The other reason held by those who deny global warming is that according to the Daily Mail, the coverage of the Arctic ice cap has increased by 29 percent over the past year. However, this evidence is merely a trickery of statistics. The only reason for which this significant increase was possible was that the previous year’s ice cap record was one of the lowest ever. “It’s more like getting a D- after getting an F on a test,” said Phil Plait in his article, “No, the World Isn’t Cooling.”

But there is a bigger problem. This misled belief of “global cooling” also affects our progress in the battle against global warming. As we are rendered blind by the illusion that global warming has stopped, we are encouraged to breathe a sigh of relief and believe that we can stop caring about our environment so dearly. The consequences of this complacency will be dire, as global warming is obviously not over yet.

There will always be people who oppose and deny the inconvenient truth, just like those who deny that the Holocaust happened. But unlike the Holocaust, global warming is an ongoing issue, which makes it even more crucial for people to be informed about the truth. By informing people, we must aim to stop the spread of the false notion of global cooling. It doesn’t take a scientist to predict that our world is doomed if we remain ignorant of the truth.

SOS: Aging in South Korean Society

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Save Our Society Edition 2 by sisttonl

Save Our Society: Introductory Letter

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 2015.

Nearly two and a half decades ago, an American science fiction film called Back to the Future II was released in theaters. The main characters use a time machine to travel back and forth in time: between 1985, the past and 2015, the future. Thus, through this movie, audiences of the late twentieth century were presented with a clear yet speculative idea of what the future would look like.

Amusingly enough, we have finally arrived at 2015, the year of the future. And with the exception of flying cars, we have achieved most of the technological advancements predicted in the film: Internet video chat systems such as Skype, ubiquitous cameras, flat screen televisions, head-mounted displays and motion video games such as Microsoft Kinect.

Indeed, it is not an overstatement to say that we have made unbelievable progress in the fields of science and technology over the past two decades.

But if I told you that the world is actually coming to an end, would you believe me?

Don’t start panicking just yet, and hear me out.
When it comes to saving our society from its numerous ills, individuals can be categorized into one of the following groups.

The first group of people consists of those who lack the knowledge of existing issues and the awareness to realize that they are aggravating them through either inaction or harmful behavior. Take the problem of electronic waste, for example. Did you know that the world throws away around 50 million tons of electronic waste every year? According to OVO Energy, this is equivalent to four million double decker buses stretching to the moon and back more than three times. For the edification of this group of people, the first section of this column, What is the issue?, will provide interesting facts, as well as a brief overview of the issue at hand.

The second group of people consists of those who are well-aware of the issue, but still consciously choose not to engage in improving the situation. There are various explanations for which a person may be inactive and uninspired, the biggest of which being his lack of acknowledgement of the urgency and harms involved in a certain issue. In order to remedy this lack of passion, the second section of this column, Why should you care?, will help you realize why you must act now, instead of waiting for a fairy to magically appear and save your society.

The third group of people consists of those who are both aware of the situation and motivated to act but are not sure what to do. Many students belong to this category, as they believe that teenagers are not powerful enough to create an impact. The last section of the column, What can you do?, will be dedicated to this specific group so that they can apply their knowledge and passion to the real world through creative, practical solutions.

The final group of people are the ones who possess all the key attributes—a complete awareness of the issue, an impenetrable sense of conviction and passion and a clear understanding of creative solutions. Ultimately, these people are our heroes, the “saviors of our society”; and it is my goal as the writer of this column, Save Our Society (SOS), to inspire more students to belong into this final group.

So let me reiterate: the world is coming to an end.

As the future generation, we have an obligation to actively seek ways to create change for the better. So what are you waiting for? Save our society. Save your society.

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