Violencia con Armas de Fuego: El Viejo Mundo v. El Nuevo Mundo.

“Ejecución y difamación es una táctica del Nuevo Orden Mundial para censurar a la gente.”

“El Nuevo Orden Mundial pretende destruir las tradiciones y monumentos que llevan cientos o miles de años de existencia. Es un club internacional de hombres poderosos que tienen más en común entre ellos que sus propios compatriotas como militares, políticos y socios económicos.  Exterminan y difaman a toda la gente en su camino y esperan que se les olviden.”

Sólo a veces es la muerte evitable. A veces a propósito, mayormente sin saber, nosotros construimos sociedades peligrosas con fallos en la estructura social que a consecuencia, trabaja para aislar a la gente para privar de derechos civiles y empujarles a la periferia. La clase baja tiene limitaciones económicas, educativas y representativas (para votar) porque la clase media apoya las leyes y la política de la clase gobernante que pretenden mantener el sometimiento de los pobres.

La gente que vive en la periferia luchan entre ellos porque compiten para pocos recursos. El “centro” del capital no es para ellos porque está siendo guardado por la policia, pagado por los ricos. Aquí es donde el poder legislativo, político y económico controla los elementos del estado – el estado semi-fallido.

La violencia con armas de fuego en toda América (salvo Canadá), desde los Estados Unidos hasta el punto de Argentina y Chile es muy diferente que la violencia con armas en África, Europa, Asia y Oceanía. Los motivos de la violencia con armas difiere de como está distribuida y su prevalencia. La similitud de violencia con armas entre el viejo mundo y el nuevo mundo se trata del control del territorio, espacio, tierra, región, zona, estado, país, califato, comunidad, manzana, ciudad, pueblo, isla, ruta de comercio y sobre todo, recursos naturales (el dinero). Aunque puedes decir que el robo cuenta por mucho del uso ilegal de armas de fuego, los países de América tienen las problemas graves del narcotráfico y la guerra contra las drogas que contribuye a la mayor parte del día a día violencia con armas.

El tráfico de las drogas a través de América va de sur a norte y acaba en las manos de los norteamericanos y europeos para consumir. Los estadounidenses consumen más drogas ilegales que cualquier otro país del mundo. Brasil, Colombia, Venezuela, México y todos los países de sus alrededores están plagados de violencia de bandas de narcotraficantes que amasan sus imperios y reciben protección personal a través del dinero generado del trafico de drogas, la extorsión y los sobornos pagados a agentes policiales. El comercio ilegal de las armas es por lo tanto parte a las drogan porque uno es necesario para proteger al otro. Algunos países de Centroamérica y el Caribe sufren de mucha violencia del narcotráfico a causa de su geografía. Los cárteles pasan por ¨caminos¨ estrechos y como un embudo, la violencia se concentra en países como Honduras. Con una cifra de homicidio a 82 por cada 100,000 residentes, Honduras es el país con más homicidios con armas de fuego en el mundo. Nicaragua, Guatemala y El Salvador también están estirados por el narcotráfico y violencia que han causado una crisis humanitaria que es la inmigración irregular de niños desde Centroamérica hacia los Estados Unidos.

La violencia actual que ocurre en países centroamericanos ha llegado a niveles bélicos principalmente por la política americana durante las administraciones de Ronald Reagan y George H.W. Bush que apoyaron a los ¨Contras¨ (comandos anti-izquierdista) para cumplir las campañas anticomunistas a través de golpes de estado y operaciones secretas contra ideologías izquierdistas como marxismo-leninismo, comunismo, o cualquier banda afiliada con las ideas y creencias de Che Guevara y Fidel Castro. Reagan autorizó la asistencia de la CIA para fundar y entrenar a los ¨Contras¨ para luchar contra los Sandinistas en Nicaragua.  Y quién puede olvidar la invasión estadounidense de Panamá en 1989 para deshacerse de Manuel Noriega, un antiguo empleado de la CIA y narcotraficante dictador militar. El gobierno estadounidense ayudaba establecer los cárteles de drogas con los mismos Contras, prácticamente en paro, que luchaba contra los izquierdistas (soldados a narcotraficantes).  El escándalo Irán-Contra era real, no una conspiración elaborado por periodistas. El acontecimiento del escándalo destaca lo poco que sabemos sobre la profundidad de las operaciones en América Latina.

La guerra contra las drogas continúa clandestinamente cuando el gobierno estadounidense ayuda crear parte del caos. Un ejemplo es la ¨Operación Rápido y Furioso¨ . El nombre tomado de una película de acción, describe el escándalo de la venta de armas de los Estados Unidos a cárteles mexicanos. Entre 2006 y 2011, la agencia de Alcohol, Tabaco, Armas de fuego y Explosivos (ATF) vendían armas a los que creían que formaban parte de bandas narcotraficantes para ¨rastrearlos.¨ Al final, las armas de fuego de la ATF se encontraban en escenas de crímenes brutales en México y el gobierno mexicano perplejo porque no tenía información previa de la operación.

Cuanto más hacen esfuerzo para parar el tráfico de drogas, la gente tiene que pagar más dinero y los cárteles ganan más dinero, se compran más armas, se ponen más violentos y controlan más territorio. Los cárteles siempre están buscando nuevas rutas para transportar las drogas y las armas. La violencia ¨se atasca¨ en países pequeños como Honduras, El Salvador y Jamaica, países que tiene lo más homicidios (por 100,000 habitantes) con armas del mundo. Jamaica ha llegado a ser muy peligroso últimamente porque envíos de cocaína y otro contrabando ha desviado para viajar a través del Caribe vía Jamaica. Si las drogas fuesen legalizadas o parcialmente legalizadas los cárteles tendrían menos dinero para fundar su conflicto armado. También los norteamericanos y europeos pueden dejar de tomar drogas completamente lo cual nunca pasará.

Hay menos violencia con armas en Europa y Asia que América. Las leyes de Europa preserva el derecho a las armas para los que tienen permiso de caza o si son agentes policiales. En España por ejemplo, si quieres comprar una escopeta primero hay que conseguir un permiso de caza. Las pistolas están muy restringidas para el público general.  En los Estados Unidos, comprar un arma no requiere nada más que el dinero porque la Constitución de los Estados Unidos dice que poseer armas y formar una milicia son partes de su independencia y seguridad nacional. Entonces, poseer un arma en Estados Unidos es una cosa de cultura. Resulta que para cada 100 estadounidenses hay 88 armas. Es el pueblo con mayor cantidad de armas del mundo. Puede ser porque ciudades como Chicago, Il ,USA, cuenta más de 500 homicidios por año, la mayoría a bases de violencia con pistolas. Altas cifras de homicidios con armas son comunes en ciudades con 100,000 habitantes o más. No debe ser así.

Algunos países en Europa tienen muchos propietarios de armas pero no padecen de la violencia con armas como América. Las capitales Europeas como Madrid, España, que tiene una población parecida a Chicago (incluyendo las cercanías) tiene aproximadamente 30 homicidios al año, y sólo una parte de la cifra incluye homicidios con armas de fuego. Oceanía (Australia, Nueva Zelanda, Polinesia) tienen cifras de homicidios con armas parecidas a Europa.

Sólo Suiza y Finlandia acerca a los Estados Unidos en cantidad de propietarios de armas de fuego con una cifra de 47 por 100 suecos o finlandeses respectivo a sus países. Violencia con armas no es muy común entre agente de policía en Europa tampoco:

“Según Der Spiegel de Alemania, la policía alemana dispararon solo 85 balas en todo de 2011. Un recuerdo de que no todos los países del mundo son tan locos por pistolas como los Estados Unidos…La mayoría de los disparos no se apuntaron a nadie: 49 disparos de aviso, 36 disparos a perpetradores, 15 personas heridas y 6 personas muertas.” thewire.com

 En los Estados Unidos es común oír una historia de un policía que disparó 90 veces a una persona.

Las temas de raza, etnia y protección policial son partes de una sociedad que es más peligroso para las minorías, especialmente los afroamericanos que los europeo-americanos. En 2002, la policía americana mataron a 313 hombres afroamericanos. Las ejecuciones de hombres negros fue calculado como ¨cada 28 horas un hombre negro es matado por la policía.¨ La violencia con armas sale de personas que han perdido totalmente su humanidad. Es la mecanización de matar.

En Asia, casi no tiene violencia con armas en China y Japón. Japón tiene casi 1/2 de la población de los Estados Unidos (128,000,000 est. 2010) metidos en un país el tamaño del estado de California, pero sólo hay aproximadamente 2 homicidios con armas de fuego al año. Comprar una pistola en Japón es un proceso agotador, hay limitaciones del modelo, análisis psicológicos, hay que tomar un curso y hay rutinas de inspecciones. En China, posesión de armas de fuego está prohibida para los ciudadanos. La falta de acceso a las armas y bajos niveles de violencia con armas están relacionados, pero en países menos industriales es más complicado.

Una de las cosas que separa la violencia de armas en los Estados Unidos a Europa o Asia es cultura. Los estadounidenses sienten que necesitan tener un arma porque fue fundamental en formar las fronteras de América del Norte al estilo ¨Wild Wild West.¨ Al contraste,  Europa y Asia tiene estado-países antiguos formados con matrimonios, diplomacia, rutas de comercio, batallas con espadas, cañones, y mamutes cruzando los Alpes  suizos. Ir a campos de tiros o disparar a cosas en el jardín es una forma de diversión para los estadounidenses (al resto del mundo no tanto). A veces, son demasiado listos para disparar a cosas o personas que no amenace a nadie.

El continente de África y la región del Oriente Próximo tienen violencia con armas de fuego pero los conflictos del ¨viejo mundo¨ son problemas propagados por el Nuevo Orden Mundial. Reinos antiguos en África y el Oriente Próximo se formaban hace muchos siglos, interrumpidos por las invasiones de Europeos que re-dibujó estas zonas durante los siglos XVIII, XIX y XX. Países modernos como India, Pakistán, Nigeria, Argelia, Sudan, Egipto, e Israel son zonas donde los británicos y franceses bordeaban y cruzaban países ignorando vínculos culturales,  lingüísticos y étnicos cuando formaban países nuevos.

Zonas de conflicto armado como Siria, Libia, Sudan, Malí, Israel, Yemen, Pakistán y otros, requiere armamentos de países occidentales (EE.UU, Europa Occidental y Rusia). Debido a la inundación de armas, la violencia continúa para borrar las linea que los Europeos han dejado hace un siglo. Es una puerta giratoria, pero los países occidentales tiene lo más para ganar mientras los países de conflicto sigan comprando y lanzando las armas.

Aunque parece que quitar las armas de la gente para reducir homicidios es una solución simple, no es así de fácil. Si la gente quiere matar a otro, lo harán. En Sudáfrica, donde la cifra de homicidios es más alta que los Estados Unidos, homicidios con armas de fuego sólo cuenta por 45% de ellos, pero 67% en los Estados Unidos. Hay problemas profundas que provocan la tensión entre ciudadanos en cada país.  La disponibilidad de las armas sólo exacerba las problemas, luchan una falta de recursos. Lo que es verdad es que aunque países en América están en un estado de ¨paz¨ las cifras de homicidios competen con zonas de conflictos armados. Hay que llamar la atención al público para acabar con el despliegue rápido de policías militares al estilo futurista, distópica y Orwelliano. No más tanques, granadas, y metralletas en las calles de América apuntados a los ciudadanos. El estado policial, pre Segunda Guerra Mundial del siglo XX era malo, el estado policial del siglo XXI será peor.

Por: Opton A. Martin

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Possible Solutions to Increase Efficiency of Voter Participation and Representation

¨When the State uses high technology, it´s usually working against the population in that personal information is forcefully collected, distorted, and made to intimidate us into thinking that we´re all criminals, without due process. When the general public uses high technology, it´s usually for entertainment, which blinds us into thinking everything is just great.¨

The power of numbers and statistics allows people to gather enough information in order to act on solving or causing an expanding or contracting situation involving a population. As digital and fiber optic technology reach speed of light velocity, people can be quick to react to stimuli in their surrounding areas. One example of a rapid development contrived by social media is the Arab Spring of 2010-present. Some people give credit to social media like twitter for helping connect people before, during and after protests, so that people could offer all types of services, aid, and exchange of ideas. This is one way social media wasn´t used only for entertainment.

As much as some people would like to ¨live off of the grid,¨ which is to say, ¨auto-sufficiency, out of the government´s eyes,¨ people all over the world still have to use state services to obtain simple things like a driver´s license, a passport, pay for taxes, go to a university, graduate high school, and enlist in the military. Registering to vote is probably the last thing on this list of things Americans would want to do involving the State, but would more voter participation procure a society that were more representative, and better?

Voter participation is at an all time low in most countries in the world, the United States in particular is dropping fast possibly due to Congress having record low approval ratings.  What I hope to offer are possible ideas that could advance voter registration and representation to ameliorate, or lessen, systematic racism, sexism, gentrification, xenophobia and all other forms of minority discrimination.

Voter participation is lower in U.S. compared to economic allies.

voting-by-country1

Above: data from 2011 from http://www.idea.int/vt/https://lifeinthecsu.wordpress.com/tag/civic-education/

Here is a list of things that could be changed in the United States to get people into the habit of participating if they want to.

1) Change the voting day to Sunday: The United States is possibly the only country in the world that votes on Tuesday. Most other countries, about 42 of them, that have higher voter participation than the U.S., vote on Sundays. It is the day of the week when more people are available. Although one would imagine that American politicians are against Sunday voting because it is ¨God´s Day,¨ recognize that there is no official religion in the United States, it is not a theocracy, and voting on Tuesday does not seem that efficient. Data has been collected suggesting that 17% of Americans use the excuse of  ¨conflict with schedule¨  for not voting. This could be due to the fact that ¨Election Day¨ is not a holiday – the majority of people still have to work – and work comes before voting for someone who is eventually going to disappoint you anyway.

2) High School graduation rates are up to about 75%,offer registration: I remember being able to register to vote before I graduated from High School. Students who were seventeen-years-old, were able to register to vote at school, if their 18th birthday fell before Election Day in November. Those who were interested registered because student clubs made it their priority to try to register teens. School should be able to offer this service to all students who want to.

3) 85% of Americans have a driver´s license, offer voter registration: Government agencies like the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) U.S. Mail (for passports) and the local city hall are government services that collect all of your personal data: residence, age, height, weight, prior convictions, marital status etc, they should offer to register people to vote. They don´t have to collect data about your political party, but it could easily be a point for voter registration.

4) Give Felons the right to vote back: What are the politicians afraid of? That all the felons in the United States will unanimously vote to legalize crime? Either change the Constitution or honor it. Under the 14th, 15th, & 19th Amendments to the Constitution, the state must not deny a citizen´s right to vote because of their color, race, sex(gender), or previous condition of servitude. Grant them the right to vote! People ignorant enough to regurgitate political talking points about what the Founding Fathers said, did, or wrote in the Constitution, fail to implement and support basic human rights. One would think that going to prison is punishment enough for a crime when in actuality, you become a target for entrapment, abuse, constant surveillance and disenfranchisement. There are about 6 million American felons who cannot vote, even after serving their time in prison.

5) Stop gerrymandering and implementing voter identification laws:  There isn´t much a person can do once an elected official decides during his or her term in office that prohibiting voter turnout by trickery or requiring special identification is best for their citizens. Racism plays a huge part in the repartitioning of local and state districts that are predominately black, latino, asian, white, native american etc, in order to consolidate their constituents. Knowing that the majority of Blacks vote Democrat and happen to live in isolated, concentrated parts of metropolitan areas, Republicans are ¨gerrymandering¨ or redrawing the map in order to exclude African-Americans from voting in a particular area. Voter ID laws are also directed towards people of lower income who might not be able to afford a car, or the price for a voter ID card.

Becoming Naturalized Citizen in the United States has some generally requirements including passing a an exam. Citizens born in the United States generally have no idea what the process of becoming a citizen is, also, an embarrassingly low number of them could not actually pass a citizenship exam or have much knowledge of civics. One of the questions on the Citizenship exam is: ¨What is the greatest or most important right granted to U.S. citizens?¨ The answer: the right to vote. If voting is the most important right, why has it been taken away from so many people? Why is it so hard to get those rights back? It just goes to show that ¨rights¨ can be less important than privileges if they can be taken away for more time than you spend in prison. There are currently 6 million Americans who have had their right to vote rebuked.

(list of disenfranchised citizens:http://felonvoting.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000287)

Becoming an actual candidate in an election is a whole other story. U.S. voters cling firmly to red and blue – Republican and Democrat. The Reds and the Blues team up when a possible third party or fringe group intends to wedge their way into their voting block. The current Tea Party, Libertarian Party and Independents are unfortunately satellite parties of Red and Blue in that they use the mainstream parties as their surrogates in order to carry their ideas to the people. Although Red and Blue might be ¨too big to fail,¨ it also helps to force these candidates to discuss tough issues by introducing a third, fourth, fifth, sixth party – might as well form a parliament – to the political scene to represent the 317,000,000 American citizens.

By: Opton A. Martin

The Positive Correlation between Women in Parliament and Standard of Living in High Income Nations.

¨The religious heterosexual male majority has homogeneously denied women´s inclusion¨

For high income nations there is a correlation between the percentage of women in parliament (congress) and the standard of living in a society. According to the World Bank, a high income nation can be described as a country whose working citizens earn above $12,746 per capita (2013). Countries with high incomes have intricate and diverse economies that allocate taxes in order to provide services for the population that support it. The doctrine of ¨No Taxation Without Representation¨ was part of the English-speaking world´s Enlightenment period, but it still rings true today in that women, who represent 50% or more of the human population, are not properly represented in various governments worldwide.

¨Rich¨ countries are able to provide more social services from taxes than ¨poor¨ countries. High income nations have a focus on the family, health, education, equality, and security; while acts of aggression like war, the death penalty, and lengthy incarceration are not priority. In all these cases, the United States and Japan seems to be the outliers, but in two distinct ways.

Data provided for this opinion and social commentary come from a website that monitors women in government. Because of failure of transparency and disclosure of information, commentaries are made based only on the number of women in the lower house of parliament. For Americans, the graph represents the percentage of women in the House of Representatives, not the Senate.

 

women in parliaments

 

Not included on this graph is the country of Rwanda, whose parliament is composed of 63.8% women. It is currently the only country in the world where women form the majority of the lower or single house. Rwanda, although it had a devastating civil war and genocide in the 1990s is beginning to recuperate and reconcile with those who had committed atrocities. Now it is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

Andorra, a principality located between Spain and France, has a General Council that is 50% women.  The country has the third highest life expectancy in the world at 82 years. Andorra, like many European nations, enjoy a free healthcare system and free higher education.

Nordic countries like Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Denmark have a range between 39% – 45% women in their lower houses of parliament. These countries are known for their high standards of living, low crime, human rights, and gender equality. Free education and healthcare are values that have become a thing of culture, not politics.

The Romance-speaking countries like Spain, France, Italy and Portugal vary with respect to women and their representation in government. Spain has the highest number of women in their lower house (Congress of Deputies) at 39.7%; France has the lowest at 26.2%. These countries are still bastions for Catholicism, whose doctrines are opposed to women´s reproductive rights like abortion, birth control instruments like the IUD, and contraception medication, yet politics and religion do not get in the way of women´s health.

All four of these countries also have a higher life expectancy than the United States maybe because their healthcare system is subsidized by the everyone, including the government, much like the Nordic countries, to ensure  that a larger portion of the population have free and easy access to a doctor. There is recognition among political leaders and citizens in these countries that contraception medication is not only for preventing pregnancy, but for preventative health against tumors, to regulate hormones, and some types of cancers. The Spanish government, currently ruled by the conservative People´s Party, decided to restrict women´s access to abortion and birth control. No one is really sure how the law works, or when it goes into effect, but it is understood that state-run hospitals (under social security) no longer provide abortions, it must be provided by a privately-run hospital with private healthcare*.

Anglophone countries like New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom and Canada also have free healthcare and free higher education. They also have higher life expectancies than the United States as well.  Generally, Western Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have higher life expectancies based on their social systems that have more women in government. These high income nations can afford to balance their mixed economies in order to provide for a well-educated public where political debate on whether or not citizens should be offered free health services is a ¨no brainer.¨

¨On a substantive level, studies systematically show that female politicians are more likely to concentrate on issues that matter more to women such as daycare, gender equality, reproductive rights, flex time, elderly care, children’s welfare.1 It seems pretty intuitive that there are some issues that are more important to women and affect them more. It also seems like common sense that women would be more likely to focus on these issues than men.¨ Christine Cheng

Maternity leave, which also includes paternity leave in progressive countries, is another concept foreign to the general American citizen. Although Americans would claim that they live in the richest and best country in the world, it provides about as much subsidized, ¨free¨ healthcare and maternity leave as the Democratic Republic of the Congo – zero.

 

Maternity-leave-chart-final

 

The United States government does not have provisions for maternity leave. After giving birth, you basically have to get back to work in 3 days or quit your job.

The United States has a lot in common with countries that have poor records in human rights or countries that have very restrictive women´s reproductive rights. At 27.7% and 25.3%, Afghanistan and Iraq both currently have more women in their lower house than the United States. Only 18.2% of the House of Representatives is represented by women in the United States.  Saudi Arabia has 19.9% in their lower house and women aren´t even allowed to drive! Qatar, a major U.S. ally in the Middle East currently has 0.0% women in their government. Apparently, they currently have no restrictions on women running for positions in an Advisory Council. Qatar is technically the richest country in the world per capita, and like Saudi Arabia, is ruled by a family monarchy.

Ireland, although lauded for its high standard of living and general health of the public, has maintained a strict anti-abortion policy. There was a fire storm in Ireland in 2012 when a woman of Indian heritage, who had severe pain and was miscarrying, was repeatedly denied an abortion. She was denied because ¨Ireland is a Catholic country and the fetus still had a heartbeat.¨ She eventually died of sepsis (septicemia). Another case involves a woman in Ireland – apparently suicidal – who was also repeatedly denied an abortion. They ¨legally¨forced her to submit to a C-section at only 25 weeks of pregnancy after her attempts at a hunger strike.

Pro Life Campaign spokeswoman, Dr Ruth Cullen, said the news “underlines the horror and deep-seated flaws of the government’s legislation”.

“To induce a pregnancy at such an early stage inevitably puts the baby at risk of serious harm, such as brain damage, blindness or even death,” she said.

The lower house in Ireland is composed of only  15.7% women. This could be a direct correlation of how women´s health is buried beneath the apparent Catholic theocracy in Ireland.

India, the world´s largest democracy has a huge problem with women´s rights, rape, sexual assault and other indigenous beliefs that force underage women into marriages with significantly older men. In a country with more than 1 billion people, women are only 11% of the lower and upper house of parliament. The lack of representation in India has serious consequences in that male sex offenders are often not punished for violating women.  In the heart of Africa, there is the problem of female genital mutilation, which is performed in countries, where women represent less than 11% of the parliament (Kenya, Nigeria, Cote d´Ivoire, Mali, Sudan, Congo etc). They are forced against their will to submit to a barbaric practice for the benefit of men who want women to remain virgins.

The main outlier in this correlation between standard of living and women in parliament is Japan, where women represent only 8.1% of their 480 seats of the house. Japan, which has one of the lowest birthrates in the world and second highest life expectancy, is struggling with internal issues that would need to be further studied by sociologist and anthropologists specializing in Japan. Recent sexist comments by Japanese parliament members like ¨ Breed, don´t lead¨  have cause a wave of protests. Low birth rates were attributed to both men and women: women, who under threat of losing their jobs after taking maternity leave, prefer to keep working in order to maintain their careers; and men, who have similar goals, have replaced physical contact with ¨digital contact.¨

In Iran, the Ayatollah called for a ¨population boost¨ effectively banning ¨permanent¨ birth control for men and women in various forms. Doctors can be imprisoned for performing vasectomies, abortions or other operations like installing an IUD. This is an example of a theocratic government controlling reproductive rights for men and women in a country where their lower house in parliament is only 3% women. Controlling the population by prohibiting birth control can be seen as an act of aggression in that more soldiers are wanted for an anticipated war.

The United States still hovers around 20% women in the House of Representatives and 20% in the Senate. In 2016, American citizens might have the opportunity to elect the first female U.S. president. Hillary Clinton is closer than any other women in history due to her popularity among Americans of all walks of life. But electing just the first female president is not enough to close the gender gap in congress. Hopefully in the midterm elections there will be a cultural shift to honor the demands of the nation´s women and promote the diversity that makes the United States unique. LBGT peoples and minorities should also be represented in all facets of life and protected by the law (the religious heterosexual male majority has homogeneously denied their inclusion). Americans have to decide whether civil rights for all people will be distributed by force or by principle. As Abraham Lincoln famously said:

¨A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.¨

 

By: Opton A. Martin

 

* http://www.para-abortar.es/aborto/ley-actual-del-aborto-2014-enero/

Food, Fresh Water and Electricity Without Fossil Fuels.

“We are only limited by our lack of investment and interest.”

What is needed to feed a population of 100,000 – 250,000 people? How much does it cost to produce electricity, clean water and food? Can this all be done in a sustainable fashion without fossil fuels? 21st Century technology is doubling its efforts to supply a rapidly growing human population.

Current techniques for fresh water extraction and food production has exacerbated aquifers, rivers and lakes to the point of no return. For agricultural purposes, humans are extracting more water from wells and aquifers than is being replenished naturally by the water cycle. The unfortunate consequence of over-exploitation is that humans only start thinking of alternative methods of fresh water, food and energy production when natural sources have been depleted.

In order to understand how technology is helping with sustainability, we must look to places where fresh water is scarce, but the sun and wind are plentiful. Places like Israel, Spain, Libya, Saudi Arabia, California, Australia and China have shortages and droughts of fresh water for human consumption and the agriculture industry.

I will briefly describe some of the costs affiliated with creating a system that is relatively eco-neutral in that less atmospheric contamination is produced and water is conserved and recycled more so than current methods.

The CIA world fact book is a database that includes specific information about each country ranging from natural resources, electricity consumption, military capacity, geography, to imports and exports. It is a reliable source to compare data between countries. It currently states that 75.3% of all electricity in the United States of America is produced by fossil fuels, 9.7% from nuclear, 7.6% from hydroelectric, and only 5.3% from renewable sources. The renewable sources of electricity production include wind power, solar power and geothermic power. It is no secret that Americans consume more energy, more food, more water, and contaminate more than any other people on Earth (though the United Arab Emirates is catching up). It is said that if the whole world lived like Americans, we would need 4 Earths!

“I think we have all come to the realization that America consumes way more of the world’s “stuff” than the people we account for.  Americans make up for roughly 5% of the world’s population, but we consume much more than that.  We use 20% of the world’s energy, eat 15% of the world’s meat and create 40% of the garbage on Earth” – Jason Jeffrey Semon

Not all geographical locations are the same, nor have the availability of natural resources, but countries like Nicaragua, Germany, Spain, Iceland, Denmark and Portugal all produce between 20% – 40% of their electricity using renewable resources. Germany, which receives significantly less sun per year than the USA, produces more solar energy and exports more solar panels to countries weening themselves from fossil fuel-based energy sources.

An ideal and sustainable society is very complicated, but we can ameliorate atmospheric contamination and over-exploitation of fresh water by including new techniques to the energy and agricultural industries. For coastal cities in arid or semi-arid territories, a desalinization plant is a great way to preserve underground aquifers. Over-exploiting wells can cause environmental disasters that include sinkholes and salt water intrusions.

In the southeast part of Spain, in a city called Carboneras, is where the largest desalinization plant in Europe is located. The province of Almería, where Carboneras is located, is one of the driest places in Europe. It is also home to the largest concentration of greenhouses in the world. The province is home to a ¨sea of plastic¨, greenhouses that cover over 80,000 acres of land and exports food to a number of European countries. The province is also home to more than 640,000 people, all of which need electricity, food and fresh water in the desert.

The desalinization plant at Carboneras, Almería cost about 121 million euros to construct ($158,768,335 Sept. 2, 2014). It provides water for 7,000 hectares of greenhouses (17,297 acres) and a maximum of 200,000 residents. The desalination plant uses a lot of energy. The figures range from 1kwh/m3 – 2kwh/m3 (per cubic meter) of water. The electricity for converting brackish water into fresh water is currently generated by a coal-fired plant. The plant converts sea water into fresh water using a reverse osmosis method, which uses a membrane to physically “strain” the salt water. Price estimates vary from 0.50 euros – 1.0 euros per m3 for consumption. Coal and petroleum-fired plants are clear sources of atmospheric contamination, and are subject to fluctuating international price markets of import and export of fossil fuel.

A cheaper and cleaner way of generating electricity for a desalination plant would be wind, solar, or even wave power (using ocean waves to do work).  Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas has 634 wind turbines that produce enough energy for 250,000 homes. This wind farm was once the largest in the world and cost about $1 billion to install. It produces about 781.5 MW (megawatts) of electricity.

Andasol Guadix

Above: Andasol solar power plant in Guadix, southern Spain.

A revolutionary solar power station located near Guadix, Spain, called Andasol Solar Power Station is a parabolic trough solar power station. This solar farm uses a parabolic mirror to focus solar energy onto a tube, which in turn, heats water flowing through it. The heat or steam can then be used to power machinery or move a turbine. It also contains a system that is able to generate energy during the night using salt water. Andasol Solar Power Station cost 900 million euros ($1.1 billion) and can produce 165 million kilo-watt hours of electricity each year. To put it in perspective, about 450,000 people currently benefit from the energy produced by this station. It will reduce carbon emissions by 150,000 tonnes per year when compared to coal-fired energy plants. This is a significant victory for clean and renewable energy industries for future endeavors.

In agriculture, intensive greenhouse horticulture is becoming more popular, more sustainable and more profitable than conventional agricultural methods. Popularity comes from the agriculturist’s ability to have more control over aspects of cultivation ranging from wind, humidity, nutrient absorption, water use, temperature and pests. They have been able to reduce or eliminate chemical pesticides for pest control by using simple sticky paper, insects, arachnids and other arthropods that eat fungi or other insects. New substrate and hydroponic systems allow for agriculturists to recycle water and use less fertilizer. In a hydroponic system, the water is continuously recycled in a closed system and the water solution does not seep into the soil. This prevents fertilizers from entering the local water table, which can provoke unwanted environmental reactions like algae blooms. A water recycling system also reduces water use in that it is not “lost” through the soil.

 

Campo de Dalias_1-busco-en-el-poniente-el-ejido-1271116254

Above: Campo de Dalías, El Ejido, Almería, southern Spain. Part of 100,000 hectares (247, 105 acres) of greenhouses overlooking the north Mediterranean coast.

Intensive agriculture projects like those in Campo de Dalías and Campo de Níjar in the southeast corner of Spain is said to also reduce global warming because of its design. The greenhouses are painted white, a technique used in southern Spain, especially with housing, to reflect the solar intensity away from buildings. The glimmer of the greenhouses in the Almería province helps to reduce the overall temperature of the plants it harbors as well as the surrounding territories. Compare the white, energy-reflecting greenhouses to the vast and expansive black-top parking lots in the United States that absorb so much energy. If they would only equip all American parking lots with sun-shade solar panels – not only will it keep your car cool from the hot summer heat, it will produce enough energy for the building you are about to walk into.

As new technologies and cost-effective materials are tested, the increase in food consumption and human population does not necessarily have to degrade our environment. In traditional farming, soil is the primary medium from which crops grow. In monoculture farming, each year more fertilizer must be applied and depending on the water source, salt deposits begin to accumulate, which causes a reduction in crop yield. To avoid the environmental and production risks to crop yield, intensive agriculturalist have turned to substrate materials. Substrate is a growth medium, either organic or synthetic that replaces soil. Hydroponic growth substrate varies from place to place and is still being developed to produce the cheapest, but most effective growth medium. Some greenhouses in Spain and other parts of the world use grow bags, rockwool, perlite, vermiculite,  sand, and coconut fiber. Coconut fiber is great because it is organic and is usually a bi-product, or waste product of the coconut industry. What was once “garbage” is now a viable medium for the agricultural industry.

These techniques must be embraced if we are to ensure our food, water and energy needs in the present and in the future.

“The world is less than 40 years away from a food shortage that will have serious implications for people and governments”

 “For the first time in human history, food production will be limited on a global scale by the availability of land, water and energy,”  Dr. Fred Davies

So in the end, how much money will it cost to produce enough food, electricity, and fresh water for 250,000 people in a semi-sustainable way? I would estimate about $3 billion. At about $1 billion for each industry, $1 billion for solar/wind power, $1 billion for desalinization plants, and $1 billion to produce tens of thousands of acres of greenhouses that can sustain perhaps an even larger population than current methods. Implicating this three-pronged system can do wonders for impoverished areas of the world that struggle to survive from international donors.  It has been studied may times that international aid to places like Africa have actually made things worse.  Places like Algeria, Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, Congo and Ethiopia are well endowed with natural resources like petroleum, natural gas, minerals and metals, but the profits from these industries cannot support their current populations. They must harvest alternative energy in order to change the political, social and economic landscape of the continent. They must, in addition to meeting electricity needs, convert to clean energy for agriculture, so that, the African continent can industrialize, engage in infra-continental agricultural trade, and maintain its status as the least contaminated continent in the world.

International paternalism restricts the local economy from developing in that it gets flooded with international products, which are sold at a cheaper price than local products. $3 billion is a lot to develop wind parks, solar parks, desalinization plants and thousands of acres of greenhouses, but it is far cheaper and more effective than the $50 billion in international assistance the continent receives each year.  The more international aid that goes to the African continent, the more impoverished and more destitute the people become. The wind, sun, and ocean are three resources that are renewable and ecological sources of energy that will eventually triumph over fossil fuels, therefore, it is best to begin now before the wells dry up. We are only limited by our lack of investment and interest.

Only through environmentalism and social ecology can 21st century humans be able to meets our energy and sustenance needs, which in effect, reduce our impact on the climate and environment.

 

By: Opton A. Martin