Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Tumultuous 20's

Recently, I've found myself having the same conversation over and over again with my 20-something friends. I've come to call it "The Tumultuous 20's Convo.," and it basically consists of asking ourselves the rhetorical question, "What are we doing with our lives?" For all of those that feel me, throw your hands up! But really though, any insight to this? Who of you are feeling this same internal clock telling you that you better get things figured out fast before the adulthood highway makes you street-meat. And on the same token, you are living a "grown-up" life but don't really feel grown-up. Aye, so many contradictory struggles! All I know is that these ideas are accentuated when I hear about how 14-year-olds have their own labels and bodyguards.

What's happening with our generation? Have the 20's always felt like this? The early 20's seemed so carefree, why are the mid-20's so different? My good friend Nayeli referred me to this article by the New York Times. It's intriguing. Take a look and tell me what you think. Are we all slackers? Or do we just care so much about too much that it's hard to go in just one direction?

What Is It About 20-Somethings?


Published: August 18, 2010

Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up?

This question pops up everywhere, underlying concerns about “failure to launch” and “boomerang kids.” Two new sitcoms feature grown children moving back in with their parents — “$#*! My Dad Says,” starring William Shatner as a divorced curmudgeon whose 20-something son can’t make it on his own as a blogger, and “Big Lake,” in which a financial whiz kid loses his Wall Street job and moves back home to rural Pennsylvania. A cover of The New Yorker last spring picked up on the zeitgeist: a young man hangs up his new Ph.D. in his boyhood bedroom, the cardboard box at his feet signaling his plans to move back home now that he’s officially overqualified for a job. In the doorway stand his parents, their expressions a mix of resignation, worry, annoyance and perplexity: how exactly did this happen?

It’s happening all over, in all sorts of families, not just young people moving back home but also young people taking longer to reach adulthood overall. It’s a development that predates the current economic doldrums, and no one knows yet what the impact will be — on the prospects of the young men and women; on the parents on whom so many of them depend; on society, built on the expectation of an orderly progression in which kids finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and eventually retire to live on pensions supported by the next crop of kids who finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and on and on. The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain un¬tethered to romantic partners or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships or temporary (and often grueling) Teach for America jobs, forestalling the beginning of adult life.

The 20s are a black box, and there is a lot of churning in there. One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch. Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married. And marriage occurs later than ever. The median age at first marriage in the early 1970s, when the baby boomers were young, was 21 for women and 23 for men; by 2009 it had climbed to 26 for women and 28 for men, five years in a little more than a generation.

We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.” Sociologists traditionally define the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones. Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so. A Canadian study reported that a typical 30-year-old in 2001 had completed the same number of milestones as a 25-year-old in the early ’70s.

The whole idea of milestones, of course, is something of an anachronism; it implies a lockstep march toward adulthood that is rare these days. Kids don’t shuffle along in unison on the road to maturity. They slouch toward adulthood at an uneven, highly individual pace. Some never achieve all five milestones, including those who are single or childless by choice, or unable to marry even if they wanted to because they’re gay. Others reach the milestones completely out of order, advancing professionally before committing to a monogamous relationship, having children young and marrying later, leaving school to go to work and returning to school long after becoming financially secure.

Even if some traditional milestones are never reached, one thing is clear: Getting to what we would generally call adulthood is happening later than ever. But why? That’s the subject of lively debate among policy makers and academics. To some, what we’re seeing is a transient epiphenomenon, the byproduct of cultural and economic forces. To others, the longer road to adulthood signifies something deep, durable and maybe better-suited to our neurological hard-wiring. What we’re seeing, they insist, is the dawning of a new life stage — a stage that all of us need to adjust to.

JEFFREY JENSEN ARNETT, a psychology professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., is leading the movement to view the 20s as a distinct life stage, which he calls “emerging adulthood.” He says what is happening now is analogous to what happened a century ago, when social and economic changes helped create adolescence — a stage we take for granted but one that had to be recognized by psychologists, accepted by society and accommodated by institutions that served the young. Similar changes at the turn of the 21st century have laid the groundwork for another new stage, Arnett says, between the age of 18 and the late 20s. Among the cultural changes he points to that have led to “emerging adulthood” are the need for more education to survive in an information-based economy; fewer entry-level jobs even after all that schooling; young people feeling less rush to marry because of the general acceptance of premarital sex, cohabitation and birth control; and young women feeling less rush to have babies given their wide range of career options and their access to assisted reproductive technology if they delay pregnancy beyond their most fertile years.

Just as adolescence has its particular psychological profile, Arnett says, so does emerging adulthood: identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between and a rather poetic characteristic he calls “a sense of possibilities.” A few of these, especially identity exploration, are part of adolescence too, but they take on new depth and urgency in the 20s. The stakes are higher when people are approaching the age when options tend to close off and lifelong commitments must be made. Arnett calls it “the age 30 deadline.”

The issue of whether emerging adulthood is a new stage is being debated most forcefully among scholars, in particular psychologists and sociologists. But its resolution has broader implications. Just look at what happened for teenagers. It took some effort, a century ago, for psychologists to make the case that adolescence was a new developmental stage. Once that happened, social institutions were forced to adapt: education, health care, social services and the law all changed to address the particular needs of 12- to 18-year-olds. An understanding of the developmental profile of adolescence led, for instance, to the creation of junior high schools in the early 1900s, separating seventh and eighth graders from the younger children in what used to be called primary school. And it led to the recognition that teenagers between 14 and 18, even though they were legally minors, were mature enough to make their own choice of legal guardian in the event of their parents’ deaths. If emerging adulthood is an analogous stage, analogous changes are in the wings.

But what would it look like to extend some of the special status of adolescents to young people in their 20s? Our uncertainty about this question is reflected in our scattershot approach to markers of adulthood. People can vote at 18, but in some states they don’t age out of foster care until 21. They can join the military at 18, but they can’t drink until 21. They can drive at 16, but they can’t rent a car until 25 without some hefty surcharges. If they are full-time students, the Internal Revenue Service considers them dependents until 24; those without health insurance will soon be able to stay on their parents’ plans even if they’re not in school until age 26, or up to 30 in some states. Parents have no access to their child’s college records if the child is over 18, but parents’ income is taken into account when the child applies for financial aid up to age 24. We seem unable to agree when someone is old enough to take on adult responsibilities. But we’re pretty sure it’s not simply a matter of age.

If society decides to protect these young people or treat them differently from fully grown adults, how can we do this without becoming all the things that grown children resist — controlling, moralizing, paternalistic? Young people spend their lives lumped into age-related clusters — that’s the basis of K-12 schooling — but as they move through their 20s, they diverge. Some 25-year-olds are married homeowners with good jobs and a couple of kids; others are still living with their parents and working at transient jobs, or not working at all. Does that mean we extend some of the protections and special status of adolescence to all people in their 20s? To some of them? Which ones? Decisions like this matter, because failing to protect and support vulnerable young people can lead them down the wrong path at a critical moment, the one that can determine all subsequent paths. But overprotecting and oversupporting them can sometimes make matters worse, turning the “changing timetable of adulthood” into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The more profound question behind the scholarly intrigue is the one that really captivates parents: whether the prolongation of this unsettled time of life is a good thing or a bad thing. With life spans stretching into the ninth decade, is it better for young people to experiment in their 20s before making choices they’ll have to live with for more than half a century? Or is adulthood now so malleable, with marriage and employment options constantly being reassessed, that young people would be better off just getting started on something, or else they’ll never catch up, consigned to remain always a few steps behind the early bloomers? Is emerging adulthood a rich and varied period for self-discovery, as Arnett says it is? Or is it just another term for self-indulgence?

Want to read more? Continue from page 3 on the following link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html?pagewanted=3&sq=sunday, august 22, 2010&st=cse&scp=1

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What's happening in Pakistan?

For those of you unaware, I've composed some information on the devastating floods that are affecting Pakistan as we speak. The information compiled below is from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Acumen Fund, a "non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty," http://www.acumenfund.org/. The founder, Jacqueline Novogratz, wrote The Blue Sweater. It is a thought-provoking message on changing the concepts of philanthropy.

OCHA Report: http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?Reportid=90097

PESHAWAR, 8 August 2010 (IRIN) - For the past 10 days, torrential monsoon rainfall has killed more than 1,600 people inflicted widesperad damage across the country, with the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) suffering the greatest losses, federal authorities and aid agencies say.
Estimates vary over the number of people affected by the floods. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on 8 August four million had been affected, while some media reports suggest up to 14 million.
“It’s just impossible to live there. Government officials are helping only their own supporters. Our house has been virtually destroyed and the camps are dismal,” Umair Khan, from Umerzai, the worst-hit union council (administrative unit) in Charsadda, told IRIN.

Sanitary conditions in the Nowshera and Charsadda districts of KP have been described by aid workers as “alarming”.

“We know it’s not clean, but there is no other water available. Even taps are not working,” teenager Hashim Khan told IRIN.
The lack of clean drinking water has long been a problem in parts of the country. A 2007 World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report, Pakistan’s Waters at Risk, says 250,000 children die every year from drinking contaminated water.
Wells, streams and springs have been contaminated, as has ground water. People are forced to drink from stagnant pools, contaminated by human waste and dead animals.

Aid workers are warning of illness and deaths from water-borne diseases, which are expected to increase rapidly.
“There could be a second wave of deaths due to water-borne diseases if we don’t act fast enough to provide safe drinking water,” Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan, told IRIN. He said over one million people were in need of clean water and 430,000 water purification tablets had been distributed so far.

I received this email from Acumen Fund talking about legitimate organizations performing sustainable development work in the region.
"Acumen Fund is deeply committed to Pakistan, where we have worked since 2002, but we are not directly involved in relief work. While many organizations are doing extraordinary work in Pakistan right now, here are four organizations that we recommend you consider supporting in their Pakistan flood relief efforts:

* Rural Support Program Network
The Rural Support Program Network (RSPN) is a national organization and the largest non-government network of rural development programs in Pakistan. RSPN's partners have worked extensively in disaster relief efforts in Pakistan, including the 2005 Earthquake. RSPN is collecting donations for flood affected families. Donations will be provided to affected families through the on-ground network of RSPN's partners, including SRSO that is headed by Dr. Sono Khangharani, a long time Acumen friend.

* Kashf Foundation
Kashf Foundation is one of the largest microfinance organization in Pakistan and an Acumen investee. Kashf will be distributing relief packages to 10,000 households in the most affected areas. Given Kashf Foundation's focus on provide sustainable livelihoods, the next phase of rehabilitation will involve support through access to financial services so that affected households can rebuild their income streams. To make a donation, contact CEO Roshaneh Zafar via her assistant at fatima.raja@kashf.org

* International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee is responding to the devastating floods in Pakistan. With a robust network of local staff and partners already on the ground, and 30 years of experience working in Pakistan, the IRC is well-positioned to provide shelter, clean water, sanitation, and essential supplies to those who have fled the rising waters.

* The Citizens Foundation (TCF)
TCF is a non-profit organization set up in 1995 by a group of citizens concerned with the dismal state of education in Pakistan. Although its focus is on education, TCF was actively involved in relief efforts after the earthquake and is once again mobilizing resources to contribute towards the flood relief efforts. To give to TCF in the US, follow this link. http://support.acumenfund.org/site/R?i=dAPZ0aZr8CJzrOi1g4pzbw..
As part of my coursework for the Summer Institute on Global Affairs at NYU, we visited the International Rescue Committee and heard first hand the diligent work being done mostly by trained professionals from the respective host-countries. This is an absolutely necessary for the reconstruction following this crisis.
On a more personal note, a dear friend of mine has worked extensively with The Citizens Foundation, a Pakistani organization whose focus is improving education in Pakistan. She has provided them detailed information on why it is important, and how to make secular, primary education accessible to rural Pakistanis. This is also immensely important in this catastrophe, as some of the most vulnerable victims to disaster are children.
Long Term
Ask yourself, "Why are these floods happening?" A statement provided in the OCHA reported, "melting glaciers have contributed more water to the lake," and coupled with more intense weather patterns, obviously produces a deadly mixture. Yet even with these salients, the effects of global climate change are still being disputed. Perhaps it is because we have yet to witness such a cataclysmic disaster in our own back-yards. If this is the case, then what was Hurricane Katrina? We must begin realizing that the environment around us is changing, and therefore we must change! I've heard it argued that these are natural phenomena and therefore we are hopeless to their effects. Have we not learned from centuries of adaptation? Seen species go extinct because of their inability to do so? Humans are not immune from the natural world, and if we take this attitude of "business as usual," we will suffer. It's happening now, and who is suffering?
Do something about it. Act now. Be environmentally conscious. And let us try to be proactive about protecting those hit hardest by increasingly frequent natural disasters.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Proposal for Solving Global Climate Change

This is paper I wrote for my course on Global Climate Change for Professor Bill Hewitt during the NYU Summer Intensive Certificate on Global Affairs. The question he posed to us was how to create a comprehensive solution to the changes happening to our climate. The assigned reading was Al Gore's "Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis," which I highly recommend to anyone with any interest in this topic!

Human Potential for Protecting the Earth (H.O.P.E.):
A Proposal for Solving Global Climate Change

Tackling a topic like global climate change is no easy task. As a matter of fact, it seems to just about the most difficult task this generation will ever face. Some may argue that conflicts in the Middle East, worldwide poverty or disparity of resources are the most difficult tasks we face globally. Rest assured each of these is undeniably linked with the way we treat our planet and its reaction to our abuse. In the following paper I plan to address the substantial issue of global climate change, revealing some of the problems for handling it and proposing a systematic road-map to solving it. I will introduce the problems in a three-fold manner, beginning with a lack of support by the general public, following with a fragmentation of efforts for progressive change and ending with weak policy and economic incentive. After addressing such upsetting problems, it is necessary to offer some optimistic and realistic solutions. These solutions will be proposed in a deductive manner, wherein each should follow logically behind its predecessor. The solutions will utilize avenues such as media resources, education, economic incentives and market instruments.

To begin we must first understand what global climate change actually is and what it entails. Global climate change is not synonymous with global warming, although they are closely connected. Global climate change is a sort of reaction to global warming; however, it is a reaction that then feeds positively back into the system which increases global warming. For example, global warming is causing the melting of the glaciers, a phenomenon of global climate change. Greater surface temperature is increasing the average temperature of the troposphere, inducing ice melt. However, when glaciers melt they flow into the ocean. This reduces the earth’s albedo, because ice is a reflective for solar rays but water is an absorbent. This increased absorbency of solar heat further increases warming of the ocean and subsequently, global warming. This relationship is known as a positive feed-back loop and may be seen through many other examples between global warming and global climate change.

So now we must ask ourselves, what causes global warming if it seems to be the catalyst for such important global transformations? The answer is increased greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and “F-gases.” Because carbon dioxide is the most prevalent of these emissions, and because of the limitations of this paper, I am choosing to focus solely on carbon dioxide throughout the remainder. Carbon dioxide also seems to be the most controversial topic, in that, the general public continues to be confused as to where this increase in carbon dioxide is coming from. Most people know that driving gas-guzzling cars and leaving your air conditioning running while you’re away is bad for the environment, but the extent of awareness seems to stop there. Regardless of the plethora of information available from peer-reviewed scientists on the anthropogenic causes of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, there still appears to be a debate as to if humans carry the weight of this burden. Why is this? The simple answer is money. Smart, informed people with money and with interest in keeping that money have waged campaigns in sustaining the voting public in a net of confusion about carbon emissions. As Al Gore states in his book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, “Powerful industries affected by the proposed climate crisis solutions have used all the political tools at their disposal in opposition” (352). This, along with a broad complacency and contentment for “life as usual,” is the reason that there has been an overall lack in support on behalf of society for facing the climate change issue.

The why of a movement against concern over global climate change has been addressed, and we’ve seen how its effects create confusion about the causes of climate change, the next step is to ask how. How were these denialists able to disseminate such a convincing argument for mistrusting science? The answer is a confederacy. The aligned interests shared by the leaders of conglomerates working in fossil-fuel dependent systems, extracting, producing or transporting it, have united forces. With the clear goal of preserving capital, they have been able to make swift and strategic moves countering global climate change awareness. This is precisely what the progressive side is lacking. Because the environmentalists are working through mediums which are inherently protracted, peer-reviewed papers and creating consensus amongst scientific opinion, they are consistently out-maneuvered by the coalition of oil connoisseurs. Both fortunately and unfortunately, the mechanisms that are in place slowing the scientific process down are necessary to extract the most accurate information possible. Therefore, this system cannot be dramatically altered. However, the fragmentation that continues to exist amid interest groups trying to remedy this inequality is also at fault. If one is to “Google” global climate change solutions, besides noting that the first link is strategically by Chevron, he or she will see a long dissociated list of organizations. And although diversity is important in just about any other arena, it hasn’t worked well so far for progressives in global climate change. The fragmented environmental causes that operate in divorced realms of influence are no competition for the “well-oiled” machine that is industry interest.

A result of this fragmentation is an overall inability for environmental groups to sufficiently engage the public and successfully lobby policy makers for effective change. Legislation, if it even makes it through the jaws of Congress, is often watered down and ineffectual. In some cases, environmental legislation does more harm than good because there is the “feeling” that enough is being done, regardless of whether that is actually the case. Because policy makers are not one hundred percent behind it, environmental protection laws frequently offer little incentive for compliance and lack the regulation needed to induce significant change. It is for each of these key reasons, undoubtedly there are also others, that global climate change is not a priority in the United States of America. And rather than dwell on the depressing fact that our world is heating up, rising an estimated 1.8-4.0 degrees Celsius in the coming century according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change, this generation must be charged with the responsibility of how we are going to change that statistic. For that purpose, I will now outline a systematic plan for combating global climate change in the coming decades.

A systematic plan must inherently have several components built into it. Aside from having a complete understanding of the issue, which is described above, it must take approaches that are clear-cut and progressively follow one another. My systematic road-map proceeds as follows: renovation in education and a revolution in media spurs a shift in public sentiment, which modifies personal responsibility and spurs policy change, ultimately resulting in economic incentives. Economic incentives will then loop back around and fuel more revolutionary media. My road-map aims to address all of these criteria and follow a logical, albeit unconventional, train of thought.

The first logical step to addressing global climate change is to use the medium that is generally the most accepting of it: the classroom. Although global climate change has been refuted by certain academics, the checks-and-balances system that the scientific evidence must go through lends itself to being widely recognized in the academic community. Therefore, let us begin there. Educating children and youth about the effects of global climate change, and what they can do to help prevent it, may percolate through the household and reach other family members. Hopefully, educating this demographic will also prevent them from making the same mistakes that have been committed before their generation. But beyond the obvious educational steps we can take in grammar schools, let us think of what approaches can be made more immediately to retroactively educate people that are old enough to vote and substantially direct their households. Strategically, the United States is in a unique position regarding education because of the recent economic recession it has faced. More young adults and mid-career professionals are deciding to return to universities across the country to continue their education. This is an excellent window for the progressive front of global climate change to disseminate accurate information and excite individuals about the opportunities that exist in promoting this cause. As mid-level professionals and college graduates realize the shift that is occurring towards energy to be more “green,” they will begin to seek careers that allow them to apply environmentalist philosophies. Here we see direct economic incentives for individuals moving into an emerging market, renewable energies and carbon monitoring. I will touch on these further along in the paper.

Response towards global climate change must simultaneously be transformed in the media. This is a tricky scenario because although the media may direct the public’s attention in specific directions, it is also manipulated by what people want to hear. This creates a closed cycle of influence where both mediums cause and affect each other simultaneously. The question then is how to pierce this positive feedback loop and inject through the media revolutionary ideas concerning global climate change. What it takes is the aptitude of a handful of individuals with some manifestation of power. This power can derive from stardom, affluence, intelligence or any number of other factors. In fact, processes like this one have already begun with individuals such as Al Gore and his publication “An Inconvenient Truth.” Or take an ordinary and concerned citizen like Jody Williams, who after utilizing resources like email received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on banning landmines. This example demonstrates that media does not only include the more commonly considered traditional forms, such as newspapers and broadcasts, but is now much more encompassing. Media manifests itself through international websites and blogs, through podcasts and independent radio. All of these channels must be utilized should the progressive movement against global climate change have any influence on public opinion. These are precisely the catalysts that must be used to tempt media coverage in order to draw attention to global climate change, there just needs to be more of them.

Another way of using the media to address the “life as usual” mentality practiced by the majority of North Americans is fundamentally different than the first. Historically, fear-mongering has been a tactic used by politicians to entice their population’s support for activities from compliance to invasion. The truth of the matter is that it is a highly successful tool in achieving an ends, albeit not always ethical. However, desperate times call for desperate measures and perhaps ethicists will overlook the methodology in light of the greater good. Frankly, the world does have reason to be scared and they should be aware of that fact. The proposal in this section is to replicate the denialysts stance in creating fear about a lack of oil, but instead making it a fear over the drastic climate changes that are exponentially more eminent. This methodology uses media in order to uproot our next topic, public sentiment. If people are scared enough, they will start making the necessary changes to slow global warming, now.

A shift in public sentiment is an underlying requirement for all subsequent steps to follow. It is essentially the most necessary of all the steps. Media is only important because it can elicit this shift. As was noted above, it is only as influential as the public allows it to be. Public sentiment can be seen as the tube connecting two bulbs of an hourglass. At the top there is media and education, which fed through public sentiment, produces personal responsibility and policy change. So what does public sentiment entail? Is it just about being aware that global warming is occurring or does it include something more? Peace Corps volunteers are stewards to preventing global warming. They focus on issues that directly contribute to global climate change, such as preventing “slash and burn” farming techniques and using green manures instead of chemical fertilizers. But volunteers are trained not to just teach how to plant green manures, they are trained to teach why they are important. Because if a farmer in southern Paraguay does not understand why she is planting green manures, she will probably not continue to do it long after the volunteer is gone. Comprehending the “why” is crucial in producing a shift in mind-set that induces habitual action. And habitual action is absolutely necessary in solving the global climate crisis.

North Americans consume too much. They waste too much and they do it cheaply. This must change. According to the interactive graphic provided by the Financial Times, the United States has only recently taken backseat to China in the main producer of carbon emissions, with an astounding 5.862 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2009. Personal responsibility is an important contributor to reducing greenhouse gases and slowing global warming. The average American added 23.5 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2007. There are an estimated 310,232,863 of us. That makes for a whole lot of carbon. We have the “largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $46,400” and continue to be seen throughout the world as a dominant power. The change must begin with us. If Americans helped reduce the 13.1% that transportation currently contributes to greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing electric cars, markets would adjust to the increase in demand by decreasing the price. This will contribute to an even further reduction in the transport footprint. The same will happen with renewable energy sources, such as household solar photovoltaic panels. There have been significant movements in North America for eating products grown locally and reducing the emissions that are produced by transporting goods nationally and internationally. An even larger contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is the production and processing of meat. Not only does the methane gas produced in the ruminant stomachs of cattle and sheep contribute to total emissions, but the decomposition cattle waste also emits significant amounts into the atmosphere. In addition to this, the area needed to raise cattle depletes natural carbon dioxide sinks and puts pressure on land use so that farmers and other industries further contribute to deforestation. In 2009, 26.9 billion pounds of beef was consumed in the United States. Changing eating habits and consuming less or no beef at all will decrease supplier’s quota and greatly reduce greenhouse gas contributions. A shift in public sentiment will change society’s reaction to these digressions and informally enforce a public “code of conduct” regarding individual’s personal responsibility towards the environment. It is precisely what has happened with littering, and now there are laws against it.

This moves into the next topic of public sentiment eventually changing policy. In international law there exists law that is known as “customary law.” This is law that has not necessarily been codified but nonetheless exists because it is universally accepted and abided by. Although customary principles may apply to certain changes necessary for modifying global climate change, such as not leaving your lights on when you’re not home, it will certainly not address them all. Which is why policy change is required for enforcing gross crimes against environment, both nationally and abroad. One can rest assured that sufficient public sentiment towards reducing global warming does not yet exist in the United States. This is exemplified through the delay of legislation such as the American Climate and Energy Security Act, more commonly known as Waxman and Markey bill, in the United States Senate. However, regionally public attention is growing and in places such as California, pressures from interests groups and environmental lobbyists have produced change in public policy. A good example of this would be the California Assembly Bill 32 (AB32) which establishes the “first-in-the-world comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases.” Serious progressive coalitions aligned, pooling resources from The Sierra Club to the Environmental Defense Fund, in order to rally support for this bill. This is an excellent example of the results of a unification of efforts that is aforementioned in this paper. The bottom line is that without their constituents behind them, legislatures will rarely have the fortitude to stand up and vote for environmental legislation, even if they know it is the right thing to do. This further reinforces the importance of public opinion on policy activity.

So in what ways can policy activity produce economic incentives to create a “Green Revolution?” The easiest concept to begin with is “Cap-and-Trade.” Cap-and-Trade is “an approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions that sets a maximum level (a cap) for a region or nation that requires participating emitters to obtain permits to pollute. Companies or governmental jurisdictions with extra pollution permits can sell or trade them to parties whose permits are insufficient to cover their full emissions.” Cap-and-Trade is the most efficient way to get money into the hands of entrepreneurs that have shown expertise in the development of green technologies. These entrepreneurs will then use that capital in continuing to create innovative developments for even greener solutions. Cap-and-Trade policy, such as that advocated in the Waxman and Markey legislation, is supremely more economical than creating a tax solution for emissions because it avoids funds being tied up in bureaucratic channels and delivers them straight to the source of innovation. As a matter of fact, whereas some Californians were concerned that environmental policy was going to have negative effect on the local economy there, researchers are saying just the opposite. “The Air Resources Board's Nichols says that research shows California is ready to weather this transition. ‘This is the direction that our economy is moving in anyway, in the direction of more cleantech and more clean energy related jobs,’ she says.” Cap-and-Trade is in direct response to other “inherently inefficient and cumbersome ways to control pollution,” which failed “to deliver many of the environmental benefits promised.” These are most likely understood as weakly enforced taxes on toxin over-producers, which are seen by some as a hindrance to the divinity of deregulated market forces. This paper advocates a balance between the two, supporting market driven concepts such as Cap-and-Trade, but with strong regulatory capabilities made possible through legislation.

In conclusion, the “Green Revolution” has not yet taken place because of idleness in public support, fragmentation of progressive efforts and insufficient policy and economic incentive. Moving into the next decade, environmentalists and activists alike must focus on increasing education and radicalizing media concerning global climate change. They must do this in order to awake public sentiment and thereby entice personal responsibility and policy change. Finally, this policy change must be directed at laws which produce serious economic incentives such as “Cap and Trade.” Through the successful use of each of these avenues, we may rest assured that there is hope for the future of our global community.

Works Cited
Bernard, Steven, and Rob Minto and Valentina Romei. “Interactive graphic: carbon emissions past and projected.” 2009.
California Environmental Protection Agency. Air Resources Board. http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/factsheets/ab32factsheet.pdf. 25 July 2010.

Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html. 27 July 2010.

Google World Resources Institute. “Public Data Explorer.” 13 June 2010. 25 July 2010.

Gore, Al. Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. Emmaus: Rodale, Inc., 2009.

Grabosky, Peter, and Neil Gunningham. “Smart regulation: designing environmental policy.” New York: Oxford University Press Inc., 2004.

"The Nobel Peace Prize 1997." Nobelprize.org. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1997. 1 Aug. 2010.

Peterson, Molly. “Air regulators' latest AB32 study predicts little overall impact on state's economy.” KPCC. 25 March 2010.

United States Department of Agriculture. “Economic Research Service.” U.S. Beef and Cattle Industry: Background Statistics and Information. http://www.ers.usda.gov/News/BSECoverage.htm. 10 July 2010.

The World Watch Institute. State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World. Washington, D.C., 2009.

Some thoughts on Re-sil-ience

My mom recently referred me to this article written by Diane L. Coutu for the Harvard Business Review. It talks about resiliency, a trait I think is overtly important at all times, but particularly in this day and age. I've recently turned 25, along with some of my other friends, and it amazes me how worried we all are about life. And we are only in our mid-20's! Coutu identifies 3 characteristics in her article that seem to be consistent in resilient people: they accept reality, they believe life is meaningful and they are able to improvise. Maybe my fellow 1/4-life-crisis-friends and I can develop these characteristics and sleep a little sounder a night knowing that no matter what tomorrow brings, we're prepared to face it!

It's about 9 pages long so I've selected certain parts of it that I found particularly intriguing and have attached them below. Enjoy!

"Why do some people suffer real hardships and not falter? We've all seen (it) happen: One person cannot seem to get the confidence back after a layoff; another, persistently depressed, takes a few years off from life after her divorce. The question we would all like answered is, Why? What exactly is that quality of resilience that carries people through life?

It's a question that has fascinated me ever since I first learned of the Holocaust survivors in elementary school. In college, and later in my studies as an affiliate scholar at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, I returned to the subject. For the past several months, however, I have looked on it with a new urgency, for it seems to me that the terrorism, war, and recession of recent months have made understanding resilience more important than ever. I have considered both the nature of individual resilience and what makes some organizations as a whole more resilient than others. Why do some people and some companies buckle under pressure? And what makes others bend and ultimately bounce back.

Most of the resilience theories I encountered in my research make good common sense. But I also observed that almost all the theories overlap in three ways. Resilient people, they posit, possess three characteristics: a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values, that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise. You can bounce back from hardship with just one or two of these qualities, but you will only be truly resilient with all three. These three characteristics hold true for resilient organizations as well. Let's take a look at each of them in turn.

Facing Down Reality

A common belief about resilience is that it stems from an optimistic nature. That's true but only as long as such optimism doesn't distort your sense of reality. In extremely adverse situations, rose-colored thinking can actually spell disaster.

Perhaps you're asking yourself, "Do I truly understand--and accept-- the reality of my situation? Does my organization?" Those are good questions, particularly because research suggests most people slip into denial as a coping mechanism. Facing reality, really facing it, is grueling work. Indeed, it can be unpleasant and often emotionally wrenching. Consider the following story of organizational resilience, and see what it means to confront reality.

Prior to September 11, 2001, Morgan Stanley, the famous investment bank, was the largest tenant in the World Trade Center. The company had some 2,700 employees working in the south tower on 22 floors between the 43rd and the 74th. On that horrible day, the first plane hit the north tower at 8:46 AM, and Morgan Stanley started evacuating just one minute later, at 8:47 AM. When the second plane crashed into the south tower 15 minutes after that, Morgan Stanley's offices were largely empty. All told, the company lost only seven employees despite receiving an almost direct hit.

Of course, the organization was just plain lucky to be in the second tower. Cantor Fitzgerald, whose offices were hit in the first attack, couldn't have done anything to save its employees. Still, it was Morgan Stanley's hard-nosed realism that enabled the company to benefit from its luck. Soon after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, senior management recognized that working in such a symbolic center of U.S. commercial power made the company vulnerable to attention from terrorists and possible attack.

With this grim realization, Morgan Stanley launched a program of preparedness at the micro level. Few companies take their fire drills seriously. Not so Morgan Stanley, whose VP of security for the Individual Investor Group, Rick Rescorla, brought a military discipline to the job. Rescorla, himself a highly resilient, decorated Vietnam vet, made sure that people were fully drilled about what to do in a catastrophe. When disaster struck on September 11th, Rescorla was on a bullhorn telling Morgan Stanley employees to stay calm and follow their well-practiced drill, even though some building supervisors were telling occupants that all was well. Sadly, Rescorla himself, whose life story has been widely covered in recent months, was one of the seven who didn't make it out.

Maybe it was genius; it was undoubtedly resilience at work. The fact is, when we truly stare down reality, we prepare ourselves to act in ways that allow us to endure and survive extraordinary hardship. We train ourselves how to survive before the fact.

The Search for Meaning

The ability to see reality is closely linked to the second building block of resilience, the propensity to make meaning of terrible times. We all know people who, under duress, throw up their hands and cry, "How can this be happening to me?" Such people see themselves as victims, and living through hardship carries no lessons for them. But resilient people devise constructs about their suffering to create some sort of meaning for themselves and others.

I have a friend I'll call Jackie Oiseaux who suffered repeated psychoses over a ten-year period due to an undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Today, she holds down a big job in one of the top publishing companies in the country, has a family, and is a prominent member of her church community. When people ask her how she bounced back from her crises, she runs her hands through her hair. "People sometimes say, 'Why me?' But I've always said, 'Why not me?' True, I lost many things during my illness," she says, "but I found many more incredible friends who saw me through the bleakest times and who will give meaning to my life forever."

This dynamic of meaning making is, most researchers agree, the way resilient people build bridges from present-day hardships to a fuller, better constructed future. Those bridges make the present manageable, for lack of a better word, removing the sense that the present is overwhelming. This concept was beautifully articulated by Victor E. Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and an Auschwitz survivor. In the midst of staggering suffering, Frankl invented "meaning therapy," a humanistic therapy technique that helps individuals make the kinds of decisions that will create significance in their lives.

In his book Man's Search for Meaning, Frankl described the pivotal moment in the camp when he developed meaning therapy. He was on his way to work one day, worrying whether he should trade his last cigarette for a bowl of soup. He wondered how he was going to work with a new foreman whom he knew to be particularly sadistic. Suddenly, he was disgusted by just how trivial and meaningless his life had become. He realized that to survive, he had to find some purpose. Frankl did so by imagining himself giving a lecture after the war on the psychology of the concentration camp, to help outsiders understand what he had been through. Although he wasn't even sure he would survive, Frankl created some concrete goals for himself. In doing so, he succeeded in rising above the sufferings of the moment. As he put it in his book: "We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed."

Since finding meaning in one's environment is such an important aspect of resilience, it should come as no surprise that the most successful organizations and people possess strong value systems. Strong values infuse an environment with meaning because they offer ways to interpret and shape events. While it's popular these days to ridicule values, it's surely no coincidence that the most resilient organization in the world has been the Catholic Church, which has survived wars, corruption, and schism for more than 2,000 years, thanks largely to its immutable set of values. Businesses that survive also have their creeds, which give them purposes beyond just making money. Strikingly, many companies describe their value systems in religious terms. Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, for instance, calls its value system, set out in a document given to every new employee at orientation, the Credo. Parcel company UPS talks constantly about its Noble Purpose.

Value systems at resilient companies change very little over the years and are used as scaffolding in times of trouble. UPS Chairman and CEO Mike Eskew believes that the Noble Purpose helped the company to rally after the agonizing strike in 1997. Says Eskew: "It was a hugely difficult time, like a family feud. Everyone had close friends on both sides of the fence, and it was tough for us to pick sides. But what saved us was our Noble Purpose. Whatever side people were on, they all shared a common set of values. Those values are core to us and never change; they frame most of our important decisions. Our strategy and our mission may change, but our values never do."

The religious connotations of words like "credo," "values," and "noble purpose," however, should not be confused with the actual content of the values. Companies can hold ethically questionable values and still be very resilient. Consider Phillip Morris, which has demonstrated impressive resilience in the face of increasing unpopularity. As Jim Collins points out, Phillip Morris has very strong values, although we might not agree with them-for instance, the value of "adult choice." But there's no doubt that Phillip Morris executives believe strongly in its values, and the strength of their beliefs sets the company apart from most of the other tobacco companies. In this context, it is worth noting that resilience is neither ethically good nor bad. It is merely the skill and the capacity to be robust under conditions of enormous stress and change. As Viktot Frankl wrote: "On the average, only those prisoners could keep alive who, after years of trekking from camp to camp, had lost all scruples in their fight for existence; they were prepared to use every means, honest and otherwise, even brutal..., in order to save themselves. We who have come back...we know: The best of us did not return."

Ritualized Ingenuity

The third building block of resilience is the ability to make do with whatever is at hand. Psychologists follow the lead of French anthropologist Claude LeviStrauss in calling this skill bricolage.[ 1] Intriguingly, the roots of that word are closely tied to the concept of resilience, which literally means "bouncing back?' Says Levi-Strauss: "In its old sense, the verb bricoler...was always used with reference to some extraneous movement: a ball rebounding, a dog straying, or a horse swerving from its direct course to avoid an obstacle."

Bricolage in the modern sense can be defined as a kind of inventiveness, an ability to improvise a solution to a problem without proper or obvious tools or materials. Bricoleurs are always tinkering- building radios from household effects or fixing their own cars. They make the most of what they have, putting objects to unfamiliar uses. In the concentration camps, for example, resilient inmates knew to pocket pieces of string or wire whenever they found them. The string or wire might later become useful- to fix a pair of shoes, perhaps, which in freezing conditions might make the difference between life and death.

Resilient organizations are stuffed with bricoleurs, though not all of them, of course, are Richard Feynmans. Indeed, companies that survive regard improvisation as a core skill. Consider UPS, which empowers its drivers to do whatever it takes to deliver packages on time. Says CEO Eskew: "We tell our employees to get the job done. If that means they need to improvise, they improvise. Otherwise we just couldn't do what we do every day. Just think what can go wrong: a busted traffic light, a flat tire, a bridge washed out. If a snowstorm hits Louisville tonight, a group of people will sit together and discuss how to handle the problem. Nobody tells them to do that. They come together because it's our tradition to do so."

That tradition meant that the company was delivering parcels in southeast Florida just one day after Hurricane Andrew devastated the region in 1992, causing billions of dollars in damage. Many people were living in their cars because their homes had been destroyed, yet UPS drivers and managers sorted packages at a diversion site and made deliveries even to those who were stranded in their cars. It was largely UPS's improvisational skills that enabled it to keep functioning after the catastrophic hit. And the fact that the company continued on gave others a sense of purpose or meaning amid the chaos.

In my experience, resilient people don't often describe themselves that way. They shrug off their survival stories and very often assign them to luck. Obviously, luck does have a lot to do with surviving. It was luck that Morgan Stanley was situated in the south tower and could put its preparedness training to work. But being lucky is not the same as being resilient. Resilience is a reflex, a way of facing and understanding the world, that is deeply etched into a person's mind and soul. Resilient people and companies face reality with staunchness, make meaning of hardship instead of crying out in despair, and improvise solutions from thin air. Others do not. This is the nature of resilience, and we will never completely understand it."
By Diane L. Coutu

Diane L. Coutu is a senior editor at HBR specializing in psychology and business.

Harvard Business Review. Vol. 80, Issue 5: 2002.


I’m Erin Hogeboom. And this is my ode to life!

I've chosen to start this blog not because I think that my life is anything spectacular, in fact, I think that all life is spectacular! I just happen to know about mine the best and this is the most effective way I can think of to share it with people! This blog will be intellectual and narrative, serious and funny, open-ended and eclectic. Basically, it will be me… in a blog!

My objective is to offer insight on the experiences I am having and create a dialogue about issues I think are important. I will use it to share funny stories and communicate with friends and family worldwide. Above all, I want us all to be able to share our lives and celebrate in the fact that we are living them!

So, welcome to it! I encourage you to share your thoughts and feelings about my entries to make it a more dynamic experience for everyone! Let the blogging begin!