By: Eric Lam, Grade 11
We continue to live our lives without regard to what will happen in the future for the human kind because of the way we treat our planet. Our species takes so many things for granted that we have ended up polluting the Earth we live on. Albert Einstein once said: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals… no more men!” As it turns out, we might just be driving ourselves into extinction nowadays because the bee population has been dramatically decreasing for many years now.
Bees play an incredibly essential role in our lives, just like water, air, and food. Why? Because over 90% of the world’s crops depend on pollination to survive. If bees were to disappear, all crops that need pollination would soon die off. This would mean that all of the food products that are made from the raw material provided by these crops would vanish as well, along with the meat produce that would disappear due to the lack of food. Bees are a major factor in the process of creating our food. Some of us tend to think that there are other alternative means of pollination, but bees are actually the biggest pollinators on the planet. If bees were to disappear, around 20,000 plant species would go extinct at an alarming rate. That would in turn affect the Earth’s food chain at large, meaning that we would inevitably be the victims of our own wrongdoings.
The cause of the decline in bee population is the human activities that rapid change the world. The best term that describes it is globalization. Globalization is to globalize materials around the world and form a system where a few nations get everything, and stuff gets transported from all over the world to those few wealthy countries. The practices that make globalization possible are unethical and disrupt the balance of nature by accelerating the rate of human polluting. Globalization affects bees with the use of pesticides that are sprayed onto crops and flowers that would not only be pollinated, but would later be sold on the market to us consumers. Our food system is built as a monoculture food system, which is incredibly unsustainable because only one kind of food is grown. The bees that pollinate these crops will end up having cocktails of chemicals, which severely damage the brains of bees. These poor creatures will then develop disorders and cannot continue their daily routine of pollination. Scientists say that these disorders will affect their waggle dance, which tells other bees where food sources are. Unfortunately, the waggle dance is a key means of food finding for the bees. If the bees lose their essential ability to waggle dance, then they will starve and go extinct. Poisonous chemicals are not the only thing that is affecting bees. Genetically modified crops are a great factor as well. Bees are genetically similar to pests, so they end up dying from pollinating genetically modified crops because they are designed to kill pests when they try to eat the GMO crops.
Bees now have unknown diseases because of the cause of pesticides that create mutated pests. Bee keepers and scientists are trying to fix the problem, yet have failed to find the main cause of these bee diseases. They have tried many methods to attempt keeping these bees alive and their population high, but the spread of these diseases are making everything extra difficult for them.
There are always solutions to problems, but it requires everyone – not just a small portion of us – to take action. We all need to help save the environment, because every bit counts.
By: Eric Lam, Grade 11
In our current society, our status quo is to constantly consume and constantly buy new things. Plastic is the most commonly disposed item from the common household. In reality, only organic/biodegradable material can decompose in a short period of time. Plastic, being manmade, cannot. In fact, it can take a whole century for plastic to even start decomposition! Almost every item in a household contains plastic nowadays. Very recently, Blest, a Japanese company, invented a new machine that converts plastic into oil in hopes of creating a better innovative sustainable future and help restore the environment.
This new plastic to oil machine is not very hard to use. You can think of this machine as a washing machine, but instead of putting your clothes in you just insert your plastic and press a few buttons. Most people put their plastic waste into a garbage can, but because of this machine’s potential of creating more sustainable opportunities, people might find themselves with more chances to recycle.
The process of turning plastic into oil is incredibly simple; you even learn this in science class! The machine emulsifies the plastic with high temperatures which melt the plastic into oil, CO2, H2O, methane, butane, ethane, propane, etc. Excess dangerous compounds like methane, butane, ethane and propane, are filtered into a separate component which decomposes these compounds into H2O and CO2. Oil, H2O and CO2 will then be pumped into a tank with tap water so the oil can then be cooled. The oil will float to the surface because oil is lighter than water. There is a pump that pumps the oil out of the tank for easy access. However, the downside is that the oil is actually made up of lots of different types of oil. The oil contains diesel, kerosene and gasoline. These could later be refined and separated by another machine, which is another product sold by this company. The oil produced can be used to run things such as automobiles. However, only three types of plastics could only be put into this machine; polyethylene (PETE), polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PP). If you look at the bottom of your plastic container, these plastics would be numbers 1, 5 and 6. This means things such as water bottles and caps, chip bags, Styrofoam, and yogurt containers can be recycled by this machine. The company is still researching how to use the same process for other types of plastics such as the material used to make car tires. Who knows what is in store as this type of technology improves?
Like everything else, however, this machine has its downsides. This product costs around $10,000 and cannot be easily purchased. The cost of this machine is equivalent to the price of solar panels. Additionally, you can’t buy this machine on its own; you have to buy another machine that separates the unrefined oil. It could cost as much as a new car; the average person could not afford a machine. It is guaranteed that this machine will eventually pay off in the long run in terms of income since you are creating oil and you can eventually sell it. Blest has an industrial-level machine which can create oil 24/7. The current household machine cannot be used as frequently because the high temperatures will eventually destroy the machine. In order to use the machine again you would have to let it cool down between uses.
However, the main problem is not the temperature; it’s the long term impact due to the consumption of oil. An excuse will rise from oil companies saying that “oil is sustainable now”. Blest’s goal is not to make oil sustainable but to get rid of waste and use the oil for better means. We cannot forget that oil is not really sustainable. Oil disappears because it is consumed by transportation or machinery. The whole goal of a sustainable society is not to use oil, but to use other methods of energy that can be renewed. Oil creates CO2, which contributes to climate change.
There is a solution to everything, and there is hope that we can save our race from extinction. Despite the many controversies surrounding this machine, there are some things that it can do to bring about a better future. We currently have a problem with our oceans; gigantic islands of plastic are floating and circulating in the Pacific. We also have a problem with our landfills that are incredibly filled with plastic, because our society is built to consume and throw away things. Last but not least, cities in third-world countries are filled with plastic waste because they have not been taught to recycle, and due to extreme poverty, do not have the resources to do so.
Now you may be wondering, “How could this machine have a positive impact?” A phrase that perfectly fits this machine’s description is “stepping stone”. It is a stepping stone we can use in order to create a sustainable society. There has to be a foundation or outline for a new society before we can move forward into creating it. How else would a sustainable society come about? It has to come from somewhere. The machine offers the solution in solving the plastic problem we have around the world. In fact, Blest has donated these machines to third world communities and is educating them about recycling instead of throwing away plastic onto the streets. The next goal for this company is to get rid of plastic that circulates within the ocean. The majority of plastics end up in the ocean or in landfills and this machine is the solution to that problem.
Blest has opened doors for our society and we need to take advantage of this; it will help us move forward and change the way we live. We are ruining our lives constantly because our mentality thinks that things will go away once we put them into the trash can. Landfills do not disappear or degrade properly because of plastic. We need to solve this problem and use better means of waste management than the way we are currently using. This machine alone is just one piece to the puzzle and we should not count on this machine alone. We have to do so much more than advance our technology. There are other solutions that do not even require technology. We need to be aware of these, and realize what are we doing to our only earth that we live on.
By: Eric Lam, Grade 11
The Browne Review was published to Parliament on November 9th, 2010. The Browne Review is an Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance chaired by Baron John Browne of Madingley, a member of the House of Lords, the ex-chairman of BP and the ex-non-executive director of Goldman Sachs. The Browne Review suggested a policy that would lift the current cap on university tuition fees, supposedly causing university tuition fees to go up by 40% by 2012, with an 80% cut to the education budget. The British Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, supported the policy of increasing university tuition fees, though ironically one of his party promises was to disallow tuition fee increases.
British institutions annually charge £3290 ($5,161.27 Canadian), as a bare minimum. The reason for the rise of tuition fees is to increase the standard of education. On December 8th, 2010, the British parliament held a vote whether to increase tuition fees for universities all over the Britain. The final results came in and Nick Clegg’s party won the vote for increasing tuition fees by 40% by 2012. They would go up to an average of £9000 ($14,118.90 Canadian). The idea of raising tuition fees caused many students to protest against the government’s actions.
A massive student protest was organized on November 11th, 2010. Students from all parts of the United Kingdom banded together to protest against the government’s decision on raising university tuition fees, and the protests are still going on in London. Students from all over the United Kingdom are now aware of the policy passes in England. The other United Kingdom countries still have to either agree or disagree to the policy. Scotland and Ireland are still debating on whether to pass it. Many students within London are concerned about having to repay an exceedingly high debt in the future. University fees in the early- and mid-20th century did not cost students such a fortune. Canadians pay an average of five thousand dollars a year; imagine having to pay fourteen thousand dollars annually. You can do the math yourself regarding how many years of education you are planning to take. Decisions about student education cuts were being made in Parliament and the budget for education was cut by 80%. These cuts are considered to be the biggest cuts in London’s history. Now the students have to pay for their education almost entirely themselves. Education is supposed to be government-supported. The question is: where will the money from the budget go if the students were to pay extra? Students say that their money will end up in bankers and politicians pockets eventually. Which side would you likely believe more, the politicians or the students?
Fifty thousand students stepped forward together, starting a movement to create change within their country. When you grow older, you begin to realize that the money you put into your university education was a large amount. Budget cuts were being made all over London during the time the tuition fee policy was brought up. Public service budgets were cut drastically, benefitting the politicians and banks. What happens if public services such as public health care or public education get underfunded? The truth is that they would have to charge more or become privately owned by a company. If public education tuition fees were to increase by 40%, privatized universities might start to show up around London. You might have to pay an even greater amount of money of what people use to pay for their education. Nick Clegg might end up privatizing universities or public services in London in the future. When you are an adult, would you imagine yourself having to pay for your child’s university education? How would it feel having to pay more money then what you originally had paid for your own university education? We should support the students in London for protesting against the government who is trying to steal money from the general population.
By: Eric Lam, Grade 11
It has been half a year since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on April 19th, 2010. The oil spill lasted for 3 months as the oil gushed out of the oil well at an alarming rate. They had reported that 162,000 barrels were spilled. The devastating effects of the oil spill impacted the local environment and, like all other major and minor oil spills, it must be remembered always. This sort of environmental catastrophe and the large scale of casualties it brings may leave behind all kinds of long-term problems that we are forced to spend countless days and dollars to fix. Thus, pressing onward for better solutions in dealing with such problems. The BP methods are inhumane and unreasonable; their choices only added more problems on the list. The corporation’s irresponsible decision avoided taking things into their own hands.
By: Eric Lam, Grade 10
Writers Note: This article is meant to explain the current issue about children and teenagers being sexually harassed by Church priests. It is not meant to offend anyone.
There have been numerous reports and cases where victims claim to have been sexually harassed by religious figures. Recently, Newsweek.com released an article that highlighted the fact the New York Times failed to mention in their news report that two Minnesota girls, victims of rape, were victimized by a Roman Catholic Priest. There is a bigger picture to this story, and it is that this same problem has been happening over many decades and generations. Newsweek.com presents evidence of young boys and girls as victims of rape by members of the Roman Catholic Holy Order, Diocesan Catholic Order and Catholic priests who teach children or care for the sick.
by Eric Lam
What is Proposition 8? Proposition 8 is a proposition that applies in California that restricts the right for homosexuals to legally marry in California. It was put forth in response to Proposition 22, which proposed that marriage was officially defined as strictly being between a male and female. When Proposition 22 was turned down, Proposition 8 was put forth in appeal of the judge’s decision.
“In California, Proposition 8 has taken away rights for homosexuals to marry. In California you have to be legally married to even adopt a child,” said Matt Dillahunty from The Atheist Experience.
by Nicole Yu
Kylie Rondpre, Grade 9: Oh. I will give more to the needy; I will help raise awareness [for] poverty, not only other countries, but also our own; I will reduce waste; I will gain super powers and save the helpless; I will show my appreciation for others, [and] I will accept what comes to me.
Nicole: That’s great!
Kylie: I will also read to old people, hahaha.
Allison Ferreira, Grade 8: In 2009, I will… hm… I will try to volunteer in the community more!
by Eric Lam
Many Canadians did not vote in the 40th General Election that took place on October 14th. Below 60% of the population did not vote – an all time high. Here are the results as follows:
The election that took place on October 14th was won by the Conservatives, gaining them a third consecutive minority government and 143 seats in Parliament. 37.63% of the vote was for the Conservatives. Following the Conservatives are the Liberals with 77 seats and winning 26.24% of Canadian votes. After the Liberal’s are the Bloc Quebecois coming in with 49 seats and 9.97% of the votes. Lastly, the NDP won 37 seats and an overall voter percentage of 18.20%.
Vancouver Kingsway Party Win – Don Davies won the election with 35.2% of the votes.
Vancouver Richmond Party Win – Alice Wong won 50% of the votes.
Vancouver East Party Win – Libby Davies won 54% of the votes.
Vancouver South – Ujjal Dosanjh won 39% of the votes and nearly lost to Wai Young by 1%.
North Vancouver – Andrew Saxton won 42% of the votes.