This past week, I read about chocolate, environmental safety, indigenous tribes, sex workers’ unions, and children activists. To say the least, it was an interesting week.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below. All images were found through WordPress’s free image library or taken by me. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.
Title: Cocoa crisis hits top grower’s exporters as banks curb loans
Source: Prince George Citizen
Cocoa shippers in the Ivory Coast are struggling to find the funds to buy and store their cocoa beans after the fall of Saf-Cacao, formerly one of the biggest cocoa exporters in the world.
The company was forced to liquidate in July, but still owes about $261 billion in unpaid debts. The company was unable to fulfill some of its contracts after it defaulting on 15,000 metric tons of cocoa in September 2017.
Saf-Cacao’s debts have resulted in local traders not having access to cash and banks unsure about financing future endeavors in the cocoa industry. According to Laureen Kouassi-Olsson, the head for Western and Central Africa at one of the major lenders in the region, says there is nothing to be done about the unpaid debts unless the Ivory Coast government is able to find someone to buy the debts that are left. If they can’t, the banks will have to write off some of the debts.
Why Should We Care?
My initial concern when I saw this article pop up was the cocoa crisis. There are enough problems in the world, I don’t want a world without chocolate.
As I read through this article and learned about the rise and fall of a chocolate industry powerhouse, I realized that chocolate might not be gone, but it’s definitely going to be in shorter supply in the near future. Banks are scared to help out the companies that export cocoa beans in the first place. That means the cocoa beans that do currently exist are stuck on the other side of the world.
I’m not great with economics, but I have a solid understanding of supply and demand. If the world’s demand for chocolate is even half as high as I think it is, I have a suspense that the cost of chocolate is going to skyrocket. And that is one of the saddest realizations I’ve come to in a long time. Hold your chocolate bars close, people.
de Bassompierre, Leanne and Baudelaire Mieu. “Cocoa crisis hits top grower’s exporters as banks curb loans,” Prince George Citizen, 23 Nov 2018, https://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/washington-post/business/cocoa-crisis-hits-top-grower-s-exporters-as-banks-curb-loans-1.23507609
Title: Ada bill aims to localize fuel tank enforcement
Source: Pacific News Center
Guam Senator, Tom Ada, wants to strengthen the inspection and regulation used when checking environmental safety of above-ground fuel tanks in Guam.
Underground fuel tanks are already under stricter monitoring than above ground tanks by Guam’s EPA Board. They even have fee schedules in place that allow the department to fund inspection programs. Ada hopes to give the inspectors the same power with the above-ground tanks.
The distance between Guam and the United States has made it difficult to ensure federal laws are enforced correctly. Currently, if anything were to go wrong with the fuel tanks in Guam, the Guam EPA would have to report the occurrence to the US EPA in San Francisco and wait until an inspector was sent to the island. If Guam were to adopt Ada’s proposed rules and regulations, the Guam EPA would be able to work as enforcers.
The costs of localizing the enforcement would be taken on mostly by the US EPA. Any permit fees and penalties would pay for the rest.
Why Should We Care?
I don’t care how big or small Guam’s impact is on the world, environmental regulations are extremely important and should be enforced. Currently, it sounds like regulations of fuel tanks in Guam are falling to the wayside because of the middleman strategies being used by the EPA.
It doesn’t surprise me that inspection and enforcement are falling to the wayside in Guam when they are expected to report to an office that is 9,000 plus miles away. Giving the Guam branch of the EPA more individualized power is a great idea and could have an influence on the United States’s impact on the environment.
I know it probably won’t make a huge change, but I think we should take any wins we can get, especially in this tumultuous time for our environment.
Marchesseault, Jeffery. “Ada bill aims to localize fuel tank enforcement,” Pacific News Center, 28 Nov 2018, https://pacificnewscenter.com/ada-bill-aims-to-localize-fuel-tank-enforcement/
Title: The man who spent decades befriending isolated Sentinelese tribe
Regional head for India’s Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Mr. Pandit, reflects on his time visiting the Sentinelese tribe during his many decades as an anthropologist. His interpretation of the tribe comes roughly a week after the tribe reportedly killed 27-year-old American, John Allen Chau.
Pandit mentions that during his interactions with the tribe, they never reached the point of harming him or his colleagues. Any time the tribe seemed perturbed by their presence the exposition would leave.
Pandit’s first visit with the Sentinelese tribe took place during a gift-giving exposition in 1967. At that time, the tribe wouldn’t even leave the island’s forest. Pandit did not make actual contact with the tribe until 1991, and even then the exchange between tribe and anthropologists took place in ocean waters–not on land.
Pandit has had his own moments of tension with the Sentinelese tribe and is saddened by Chau’s death, but believes Chau’s choice to be persistent instead of cautious when interacting with the tribe resulted in his death.
To quote Pandit directly, “We are the aggressors here. We are the ones trying to enter their territory.”
Why Should We Care?
Does anyone remember the Savages song from Pocahontas? Well, while I’ve been reading the Americanized accounts of John Allen Chau’s death, this section of the song keeps popping into my head,
“They’re savages! Savages!/ Barely even human!/ Savages! Savages!/ Drive them from our shore/ They’re not like you and me/ Which means they must be evil/ We must sound the drums of war”
The article I’ve cited above is an article I hoped would come to the surface of the biased depictions I found while reading about the 27-year-old’s death.
Please do not take this as me being heartless. I have sympathy for Chau and his family and it saddens me that someone so young and obviously passionate died in such a tragic way. However, what he did was wrong and stupid.
He had no empathy or respect for the people of the Sentinelese tribe. If he did, he would understand why his presence was not needed or welcome on their island. Just because a society has different ideologies than that of a first world nation does not mean they need to be ‘fixed’.
The fact that the Sentinelese people attacked a stranger who continuously intruded on their home does not make them savages. That makes them humans reacting to a threat. Wouldn’t you have done the same thing if you were them?
I hope Chau’s family is able to retrieve his body for the sake of closure, but I also hope that his blind lack of judgement teaches people a lesson.
Natarajan, Swaminathan. “The man who spent decades befriending isolated Sentinelese tribe,” BBC, 27 Nov 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-46350130
Title: Prostitution takes center stage as Spanish feminists rally to eliminate violence against women
Source: Public Radio International: GlobalPost
During the 2018 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women rallies in Spain, activists protested against prostitution as well as taking their standard stances against feminicide and domestic violence.
Prostitution is neither regulated or criminalized in Spain. The sex market is valued at $26.5 billion a year, yet workers cannot claim basic worker rights and risk being fined heavily if they work outside of the country’s legal “gentlemen’s clubs”.
The country’s first sex workers’ union was established in August of this year, which has created a divide between feminists in Spain. Some fear that the establishment of the union will lead to more sex trafficking in Spain and wish to abolish prostitution all together. However, they have stated that the industry should not be completely abolished until the women in the trade are presented with viable work alternatives.
Members of the sex workers’ union say there’s a divide between their personal version of feminism and the feminism practiced by the abolitionists. They feel that the abolitionists don’t see them as female since they work as prostitutes.
Why Should We Care?
This article was absolutely fascinating to me. Seeing this complex division in Spain really got me thinking about my own views on prostitution. And I think I’m on the side of the sex workers.
In the article, a few of the women that want to abolish prostitution state that sex trafficking and prostitution are interchangeable. They say that the creation of the sex workers’ union is only going to add to sex trafficking in Spain. I disagree wholeheartedly with this statement. Prostitutes CHOOSE to work in the sex industry. Sex trafficking victims are FORCED to work in the sex industry. There is a difference.
The union feels like an evolutionary step for prostitution in Spain, not a step backwards. Unions are created to give workers more power and to help create rules and regulations that will make their work safer.
I also think abolishing prostitution in Spain is a horrible idea. Historically speaking, when has banning something like sex, alcohol, or drugs ever worked? Look at the prohibition period in the United States if you need something to reference.
Legalizing taboos has always had a more positive effect. Abolishing prostitution would put it back into a no-man’s land where there are no rules, making it even more dangerous than it already is. Keeping prostitution legal would give the government the power to create permits, instill regulations, and even fine clubs for not giving their workers the basic rights they deserve.
This might be an optomistic thought, but maybe by regulating prostitution, Spain could put more focus onto the sex trafficking occurring in the country instead of worrying about what the prostitutes are doing.
Beatley, Meaghan. “Prostitution takes center stage as Spanish feminists rally to eliminate violence against women,” Public Radio International: GlobalPost, 26 Nov 2018, https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-11-26/prostitution-takes-center-stage-spanish-feminists-rally-eliminate-violence
Title: Climate Change Protest Draws Thousands of Australian Students
Source: The New York Times
On Friday, November 30th, an estimated 8,000 Australian students skipped school to protest climate change in Melbourne.
The student protest was organized in hopes to stop the construction of a new coal mine in Australia, to block any new coal or gas projects, and to require 100 percent renewable energy use by 2030.
The main organizers of the march were between the ages of 11 and 15. Out of the 8,000 students in Melbourne, there were students ranging from the ages of 5 to 18. An estimated 1,700 more students protested in other parts of the country including 200 that showed up to the capital demanding answers from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Morrison did not speak to the students at the capital, stating that he did not condone their protest. He felt the students should be focused on “more learning” and “less activism.” Members from the Green and Labor parties did listen to the climate demands presented by the students.
Why Should We Care?
I’m inspired by the current generation of kids in this world. They aren’t afraid to stand up and fight for their beliefs. Look at the protests that happened in Florida after the school shooting in March of this year. Look at these very kids in Melbourne. Their drive is something most adults don’t have. They’re trying to be the change they want to see in the world, and I commend them for it.
Seeing these protests also infuriates me. These kids are protesting because they are afraid. They are scared and feel like they have been let down by the adults in their lives who are supposed to be establishing laws and electing officials that will protect them. And when these kids try to take on the weight of the world by marching and protesting, powerful adults like senators and prime ministers try to muffle them with statements like, “They’re just kids. They should be in school.” They treat them as if they don’t understand anything because of their age.
These students ARE just kids, but they’re not stupid. They’re scared. We’re the adults. We’re the ones that are supposed to take care of these kids and make them feel safe. And we’re doing a horrible job of it.
Until we step it up and start making the drastic changes this world needs, I don’t think any of us have a right to treat these kids like the ignorant ones.
Albeck-Ripka, Livia. “Climate Change Protest Draws Thousands of Australian Students,” The New York Times, 30 Nov 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/30/world/australia/student-strike-climate-change.html