Above all, we must set the example: by fostering energy transitions, investing in sustainable cities, and promoting global awareness. The key to a sustainable future lies in our hands.
Climate change is no longer a scientific hypothesis, a problem for a distant future. It has recently proven to be a generation-defining challenge, a clear and present threat to our collective survival.
Last summer, record temperatures caused wildfires to burn vast natural reserves on the Western Coast of the United States. The amount of carbon dioxide thrown in the atmosphere was superior to the UK’s entire power sector’s annual emissions.
Around the same time, a severe drought made the Pantanal wetlands in Brazil an easy target for a deadly combination of human-made and natural wildfires. The loss of biodiversity in one of the world’s top wildlife sanctuaries was genuinely heartbreaking. The images of desperate jaguars cornered by the burning vegetation were a metaphor of our condition in the face of anthropogenic climate change.
Super-storms in the South Atlantic, giant hurricanes in the Gulf, melting ice-caps in the Arctic: the evidence of the damage we are causing to our planet is overwhelming. And yet, many individuals, corporations, and governments either deny the problem or refuse to act with the necessary vigor.
We cannot stand idle. We must move now: by electing committed leaders, fighting obscurantism, and supporting international environmental cooperation under the Paris Agreement. Above all, we must set the example: by fostering energy transitions, investing in sustainable cities, and promoting global awareness. The key to a sustainable future lies in our hands.
Information and updates on COVID-19, commonly known as the Coronavirus, have appeared unflaggingly on every news source since the very first headlines of the rapid spread within China hit the stands. With frightening new data showing the spread of the disease, people around the globe have begun to panic. However, there are effective ways in which to slow the spread of the disease and to stay healthy and free from COVID-19.
Coronavirus is spread from contact with a diseased person. Coughing or sneezing from someone affected by COVID-19 can cause droplets containing the disease to fall on the “mouths or noses” of others nearby and can “possibly be inhaled into the lungs” (“Transmission”). The virus can also be contracted by coming into contact with objects which have been infected. The disease is spread “easily and sustainably,” and thus precautions must be taken to prevent getting it (“Transmission”).
Although vaccines to protect against the contraction of COVID-19 are not yet available, there are lots of other ways in which one can prevent themselves from getting the disease. One should “avoid close contact” with infected people and refrain from touching one’s “eyes, nose, and mouth” (“Prevention, Treatment”). One should also wash their hands “for at least twenty seconds” (fun tip: sing “Happy Birthday” twice) after using the restroom, prior to eating, and “after sneezing, coughing,” or using a tissue to blow one’s nose (“Prevention, Treatment”). Staying home when one is feeling sick and regularly disinfecting often-touched objects are also great ways to prevent the disease’s spread (“Prevention, Treatment”).
Coronavirus symptoms are similar to those of a cold or a case of the flu (“Symptoms”). Reported COVID-19 cases claim “mild to severe respiratory illness” in infected people (“Symptoms”). Symptoms that signal that one might have the Coronavirus are: “fever,” “cough,” and “shortness of breath” (“Symptoms”). Other symptoms might include vomiting, diarrhea, chills, itchy and red eyes, feelings of fatigue, discomfort, weakness or muscle aches, and nasal congestion. People only show these symptoms within two to fourteen days of contracting it (“Symptoms”). COVID-19 is a fast-spreading illness, so it is important to catch it early and seek medical attention.
One should contact a medical professional right away if one shows any of the above symptoms and has traveled to any of the following countries in the last two weeks: China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Japan (“Information for Travelers”).
There is not much of a treatment for the Coronavirus. Those who test positive for it are placed in an area where they cannot spread the disease to others. In acute cases of COVID-19, “support” to “vital organ functions” are provided in order to help the body overcome the disease (“Prevention, Treatment”). It is imperative that infected people or people who suspect they have been infected seek immediate medical attention in order to beat COVID-19.
Reported Cases and Death Rate
Although the disease is highly contagious and its spread quite scary and quite real, the current (reported) death rate for COVID-19 is low.
Most vulnerable to suffering a more severe case of COVID-19 are elderly people and those with “pre-existing medical conditions” like “asthma, diabetes,” and “heart disease” (“COVID-19 Myth Busters”). Most COVID-19 related deaths come from these demographics, but, even so, as of the publishing of this article, data from WHO shows a death rate of little over two percent (“Situation Reports”). Deaths resulting from COVID-19 are actually dropping in China, where the disease originated (Aizenman).
COVID-19 has not been shown to be a disease where a majority of the infected are perishing because of it.
Actions at EAB
EAB has asked families to keep their children at home if they are sick or show any symptoms of COVID-19. Those families which have recently traveled to China (including Hong Kong), Japan, South Korea, Iran, and Italy are asked to contact the school to discuss whether or not the student should stay at home for the recommended fourteen-day waiting period. EAB’s leadership team has also asked that students and faculty sneeze and cough into their elbows, blow their nose in a tissue, promptly throw out used tissues in a waste bin, and remain at home if they are feeling sick. EAB has increased the number of tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizers around the school and in classrooms.
Oceans are the largest bodies of water present on our planet and cover more than 70 percent of it. Over the last decades, human activity has had an immense impact on marine life and has caused ocean pollution to increase even more each day. The main cause of this pollution is the introduction of toxic and harmful materials into the ocean such as plastic, oil spills, heavy metals, chemicals and most importantly, agricultural, industrial and radioactive waste. Another factor that has a great influence on ocean pollution is the garbage we throw away, which in the majority of cases is transported into the ocean through improper dumping in rivers and streams. Plastic bags can also be carried by the wind and not recycled by recycling facilities since only 1% of them are recycled correctly, leading certain countries to dump their trash illegally into the ocean as well. Mining for materials such as copper and gold is also a major source of contamination and can interfere with the life cycles of major marine organisms like starfish. Sewage is also a clear factor of why the oceans are being polluted more and more. Polluting substances (minerals) inside sewage can enter the oceans directly, causing more impact on marine life than you think.
THE GREATEST THREAT TO OUR PLANET IS THE BELIEF THAT SOMEONE ELSE WILL SAVE IT. ~ ROBERT SWAN
What You Can Do to Help Reduce Ocean Pollution
Support Non Profit Ocean Conservation Organizations
Many organizations out there raise money for ocean conservation such as the 4ocean company and Oceana. For every bracelet you buy (which is made out of 100% recycled materials), 4ocean takes out 1 pound of trash from the ocean. Oceana is also a non profit organization that’s more focused on influencing specific policy decisions to preserve and restore the world’s oceans.
If you don’t want to spend money on helping out a specific organization and want something more local, you could always participate in clubs right here at EAB that focus on impacting the world positively regarding environmental issues. EAB Goes Green is a great example of this, since their main objective is to reduce, reuse and recycle materials here on campus (you can access https://www.eabdf.br/student-life/eab-goes-green/ for more information).
Use Fewer Plastic Products
It’s proven that the effects of plastic on marine life are immeasurable and several marine species are on the verge of extinction due to our own plastic consumption. To reduce your own plastic consumption, try not to consume single-use plastic (like plastic straws, cups, plates, etc), instead choose products made from recycled materials and that can be reused.
Any of the water you use in your home is later sent to a sewage treatment plant, where the pollutants are removed before going into local bodies of water. However, the problems start to come in when we use too much of the water available to us since our supply is limited.
It’s a fact that littering is one of the main causes of ocean pollution and can greatly affect marine life. Animals like turtles, seals, birds and dolphins often mistake plastic waste for food, which ends up killing them, so don’t litter!
The Amazon Rainforest is Burning at Record Rates – The Political Issue Around It Only Worsens It.
A political cartoon published in the BusinessDay magazine caricatures Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro with a lawnmower in his hands cutting up the Amazon forest. In a symbolic way, that cartoon represents the current environmental situation and the political issues around it that is wounding the world’s most important rainforest. It is widely known that the Amazon rainforest – whose territory is 60% in Brazil with the other 40% located among 9 South American countries such as Peru and Bolivia – has essential importance to humankind. Besides providing one-fifth of oxygen available in the atmosphere, it is a huge climate controller. According to studies reported in The Ecologist, Amazon’s flying rivers – air current that takes vapor from the forest to the entire south of the continent – prevents Brazil from turning into a barren desert.
The importance of the forest is nothing new. Recently, however, there was a large scandal regarding the Amazon forest fires – these happen naturally, on a smaller scale, every year, due to the drought season and other natural conditions. Yet, it has been proven that a significant cause of the fires was humans. This year, the forest is burning at never before seen rates. A comparison made by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) states that from the same point last year, this year’s fires are 85% worse. Reasons for the astonishing increase have been investigated but, according to the same institution, there is solid evidence of these having a criminal origin. Brazil’s newspaper G1 reported an inquiry made by Brazilian police that found out that farmers from Pará state organized a Fire Day, as they called it, to set fire to the forest to “show work” for Bolsonaro. For those who are not familiarized, the president’s policy supports the exploitation of the forest in order to ensure the agricultural triumph.
But that is not all. The institution previously mentioned, INPE, has also recently published the data regarding the 2019 fires, which have invalidated the on-going fake-news that said the fires situation was not that critical. In response to the publishing, Bolsonaro exonerated the president of the institution saying that the data must be biased and it was not reliable. As being a national organization, INPE is legally required to publish all its information and researches. Another chapter of this circus was the conflict between Bolsonaro and France’s President Emmanuel Macron. It all started with a demonstrated notable concern from Macron with the Amazon fires. He urged the G-7 members to gather in a discussion on how to address the problem and turned out to a donation of 20 million dollars offered by the countries. Bolsonaro rejected it. His arguments were that France and the international community had imperialist interests on the Amazon forest and moreover, he said the donation would only be accepted if Macron apologizes from insults made.
In contrast, many European countries have had a contradictory concern regarding Amazon preservation. Norwegian investors such as the store brand ASA and the pension fund KLP managed $170 to ensure that global companies were not involved in the fires. The irony is that one year before, another Norwegian company, Hydro, was held responsible for dumping toxic waste in the Amazonian rivers and refused to pay the compensation. Why weren’t the investors concerned back then? It is certainly very controversial for them to express such a genuine concern with global companies when their own country’s company is being blamed for part of the damage as well.
On the other hand, Brazil’s president continues to support farmers and tried to take out their blame from the Amazon fires. Bolsonaro declared to the Brazilian press when he was asked about the cause of the fires: “Everyone is a suspect, but the main ones are the NGOs”. Again, the political inclination has been over the environmental concern itself. Amazon is burning and the Brazilian government is prioritizing the political issues around it rather than focusing on battling the fires. The political aspect is a huge determinant of all national matters but it must not surpass in importance, the topic itself.
Bolsonaro is not directly burning the world’s biggest rainforest as the cartoon presented. Still, the trend of positions such as his, inside the Brazilian government, is directly encouraging the setting of fires. Neither Bolsonaro nor the controversial international companies are in fact helping the forest. The political interest of all sides is not really promoting solutions as it should. The Amazon is burning and, unfortunately, the political issue is making it even worse.
Political cartoon mentioned / By Brendan Reynalds
*DISCLAIMER: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article above belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the Bullseye newspaper nor the EAB institution*
On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, a team of more than 200 researchers and scientists in a decade-long mission finally shared their results in the The Astrophysical Journal Letters of capturing a photograph of a black hole 55 million light years away in the galaxy Messier 87. In doing so, the team enticed everyone to the never-seen-before, much-speculated, mystical sight of the black hole recently named “Powehi” – a fitting Hawaiian expression meaning “embellished dark source of unending creation”. Hundreds of international astronomers made the (previously-thought) impossible, possible by connecting 8 uber-powerful radio telescopes, called Event Horizon Telescope, to get a glimpse of the bright orange-red “ring of fire” or the intensely hot gas swirling around a perfectly-circular abyss. According to the National Science Foundation, the telescopes needed to be able to capture the same level of detail as being able to see the date on a quarter from Los Angeles, California, to Washington, D.C. Additionally, the telescopes compiled roughly 5,000 trillion bytes of data over a 2-week period, the data then being processed through supercomputers to retrieve this groundbreaking image of first-ever black hole to be seen by man.
(Left : A stunning zoomed-out image of the black hole taken in NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory)
(An even more zoomed-out picture of the black hole also taken in NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory)
These photographs of black hole, Powehi, have marked tremendous scientific achievements and are extraordinary in all aspects. For example, it’s currently presumed to be one of the heaviest of black holes to exist with a mass estimated to be 6.5 billion times the Sun’s mass, accompanied by an unbelievably enormous size of 40 billion km across, 3 million times the size of the Earth, and larger than the size of our entire Solar System. Or even how the light from the orange-red halo is brighter than the billions of other stars in the galaxy; combined. This incredible mission which exposed a part of our universe we had never seen before, was groundbreaking in a countless number of ways, and, fortunately, according to the amazing scientists who accomplished this great feat, it’s just the beginning.
Trujillo, Trevor T. “Scientists Reveal First Image Ever Made of a Black Hole – Oil City News Casper, Wyoming Community News Stream.” Oil City News, Oil City News, 10 Apr. 2019, oilcity.news/associated-press/2019/04/10/scientists-reveal-first-image-ever-made-of-a-black-hole/.
Over the past couple years, there have been dozens of trendy challenges for the internet. The Ice Bucket challenge was the first challenge that raised awareness of an important issue (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
It’s 2019 now, and there is a new challenge that is helping restore the beauty of littered places. #TrashtagChallenge is a simple concept of people capturing before and after pictures of places that they’ve helped clean up.
It exploded Reddit and Facebook roughly 2 weeks ago after user Byron Román posted on Facebook a picture of him in what looks to be a forest with lots of plastic/polythene bags and an after photo of him with the whole place cleaned up and striking a pretty cool pose. That place alone had 9 bags of plastic!
Román’s motivation was apparently ‘teenage boredom’ and he encourages anyone feeling bored to look for a place to help out. (If you’re a teenager, that might be your room first). Trashtag is trending worldwide as people from India to Honduras gather rakes and bags to benefit the planet.
There are loads more photos like this online and it wouldn’t hurt (unless you cut yourself on a piece of glass) to put more out there. Picking up trash isn’t anything hard and it feels good to give back to the community. #Trashtag is another example of social media being used for good. Imagine it as the Chubby Bunny challenge but every Bunny is a plastic bottle going into your bag. Lake Parana (away from the Country Clubs because they’re clean) could actually use some cleaning.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple weeks, chances are you’ve heard about the dam collapse at the Corrego do Feijao Mining Complex in Brumadinho, a region in Minas Gerais. On the morning of last Friday, January 25, a massive landslide was triggered by the collapse, burying hundreds of houses, vehicles, and people in its path. The Week magazine says “The tragedy may be one of the deadliest in Brazil’s history”, and indeed it might be- or at least the worst environmental disaster Brazil has ever seen. As of February 5, the death count is 134, with another 199 people reported missing (Western Advocate). The event left 250,000 people without water, while also killing thousands of fish. Vale, the company which owned the dam, is Brazil’s largest mining company. Two hours after the disaster, its stock fell 10 percent on the New York Stock Exchange (9News).
“The death count is 134, with another 199 people reported missing.”
On the third day after the collapse, January 28, officials said it was unlikely to find any more survivors, even though there have been rare “cases of people buried under a landslide who lived for over 30 days” (Folha de São Paulo). However after that statement was made, they proceeded to find thirty more survivors, which gives us hope that there are more to be found. Even so, there are hundreds if not thousands of people left homeless. Even the “lucky” ones are without clean, running water or electricity. The muddy water, contaminated with heavy metals from the mines, is heading toward the Rio São Francisco, a river which provides drinking water for thousands of people in five states (ABC News). Now, the fear is that the problem will soon go from a local tragedy to a national disaster if not dealt with accordingly.
If this isn’t a call to action, I don’t know what is. As a school which aims to ‘positively impact the world through excellence in academics, activities, arts, leadership, and service’, we should be some of the most concerned citizens. This is important for everyone, but especially for us as we are living in Brazil, and we have the opportunity to help these people. There are many efforts being put into place in order to help the families affected by the collapse. One of the frontrunners is Brazil’s Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB). They have launched a campaign whose goal is to “raise funds to strengthen the organization of the people impacted by the tragedy, by sending brigades to support displaced families and the families of the victims, to ensure they have their rights respected” (Brasil de Fato).
Okay, so you’re probably thinking “that’s all great, but even if I wanted to help, what could I do as a meager high school student?” Well, good news! Stores at Park Shopping and Pontão do Lago Sul, and even restaurants like Paprika Burgers are taking donations of personal hygiene goods, non-perishable food items, and mineral water. If you want to make a difference, #StartWith1Thing! Click the link below to find out more about how you can help.
“Workers are dying in preventable factory fires because the world’s leading retailers – from Walmart to Gap to H&M – make their clothes in countries where labor laws are not enforced and demand that their contract factories slash production costs to the bone. Factories meet the apparel companies’ relentless demands for lower prices by ignoring workers’ rights and safety. In Bangladesh, the world’s second-largest apparel producer, this has led to a series of horrific fires.”
Apparel companies claim they are regularly inspecting their factories and ensuring that they are safe, yet every deadly fire in recent years has happened at a factory that had been subject to numerous such inspections. It is impossible to imagine a more dismal record of failure.” ~Scott Nova and Liana Foxvog
Every year thousands of factory workers in countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan die while working for the sake of “High Fashion”. Unsafe conditions, like locked exits and barred windows, made the death tolls much higher.
Unfortunately, these human rights violations are all too common for a variety of reasons, among them, poor government oversight. Lax certification processes grant permits to multistory facilities with poor electrical wiring, no external fire escapes or fire extinguishers, and there is ineffective auditing to identify and remediate fire threats.
Meanwhile, trade unions, collective bargaining and worker advocacy are not encouraged, but rather suppressed.
But because the apparel industry has become exceedingly price sensitive, the protection of human rights, including workplace safety in low wage countries like Bangladesh, remains a secondary priority. Until the day that workplace risks are factored into apparel price analyses, devastating factory fires will remain a threat.
While Americans are fond of low prices for clothing, some are possible only because workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan (among other countries) toil in sweatshops for meager wages, in dangerous conditions.
On April 24, 2013, Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza garment factory building collapsed, leaving over than 1,100 workers dead and around 2,500 injured.
Among the survivors was Rehana Begum, a seamstress who worked at the Ether Tex garment factory on the third floor. Even though her left arm was broken, she knew she was among the lucky ones.
“I felt I was buried alive,” Begum said through her tears. “I never thought I’d see sunlight again.”
How many more need to die for things to change for the better?