Friday, December 9, 2022

OP-ED

Why are the rich competing to go to Space?

The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Arjun Mehrotra

The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, announced that he would be going to space earlier this year. After stepping down as CEO of Amazon he announced that he, along with his brother, would fly to space on July 20. 

This is Blue Origin’s first time sending humans to space so the fact that Jeff Bezos is coming on the first trip is a little surprising. He said in an Instagram post that “To see the Earth from space, it changes you”. 

The total flight time will last about 10 minutes, and it will cost millions of dollars for a seat, a price which is likely to decrease in the future. His announcement has been met with mixed reactions, with 150,000 people signing a petition for him to “stay in space”.

Meanwhile, Richard Branson founder of Virgin Group has recently announced that on Jun 11 he too will be going to space, almost 10 days before Bezos. It seems that these two billionaires are competing to go to space. Elon Musk also has an interest in going to space and while SpaceX has sent people to space, he has yet to go himself.

It seems that these billionaires are extremely focused on going to space, maybe too focused in my opinion. Going to space will definitely provide more publicity but are we really ready to be sending humans to space? While companies like SpaceX have been sending people to space for many years, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have not yet undergone the thorough testing that SpaceX has. 

While safety issues are still a worry concerning space travel. These billionaires are quite literally reaching for the stars.

Electric Cars and Their Part in Climate Change.

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The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Anoushka Kumar.

Electric cars are something most car companies have invested in, and most seem to agree with them. investment bank UBS even forecasting that by 2025, 20% of all new cars sold globally will be electric. That will leap to 40% by 2030, and by 2040 virtually every new car sold globally will be electric. 

One of the biggest reasons electric cars have done so well is due to the marketing of them being environment friendly. Most brochures or advertisements center around this, but is that actually true? 

Electric cars produce fewer emissions than their fellow gas-powered cars, but at the end of the manufacturing process, electric cars are the ones generating more carbon emissions, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Electric cars store energy in large lithium batteries that have high environmental costs, meaning they aren’t actually as environmentally friendly as they sound. In 2017 IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute reported that an EV with a big 100k Wh battery which was manufactured on a grid that was between 50-70% fossil fuel has emitted between 15 and 20 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide before it has ever been used. 

Even if they were, it still might not be our solution. Electric cars will not stop our high carbon emission rates; they will add to them. On average, they produce more than eight metric tons of carbon dioxide while being manufactured and produced. Itemizing cars, whatever kind they may be, as our main transportation method is highly illogical. 

While electric cars may be better for the environment by a small margin, combating climate change requires more significant and efficient changes.  While we may not have many feasible solutions so far, we know that electric cars are not the answer. 

Sources: https://theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/EV-life-cycle-GHG_ICCT-Briefing_09022018_vF.pdf

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51977625

Does technology play a role in making people feel more isolated?

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The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Ira Gandhi

In the past decade technology and social media have become a large part of our lives and helps us express ourselves in many different ways. We have formed millions of connections and bonds through social media and platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter that allow people of different backgrounds and places to interact with thousands of people they never would have met otherwise. That being said most people compare these connections to real friendships and interactions offline and treat them the same which is not good. In fact a study at the University of Scotland linked time on social media to higher levels of anxiety and lower self esteem. 

Firstly, you can’t have real friendships online because the image which you want  to portray of yourself is possibly different from who you really are. In addition all our YouTube channels, blogs, Instagram feeds etc. are basically just trying to convince others and ourselves that we are living the perfect life that is worth following. At the start technology may seem like a modern version of friendship but when you dig deeper you find out that technology and social media can also be a place where you end up isolating yourself from the real world. 

Secondly, these platforms may play a role in a fear of missing out because you can see what everyone else is doing at every moment, you can see how much fun everyone else had at the party that you weren’t invited to. And seeing the other party goers interacting with each other on Instagram and Snapchat just makes you feel worse. Social media interactions are very subjective to individual perspective and  therefore can be misinterpreted

Lastly, everyone is different. While some people might prefer face-to-face interaction, others, especially introverts, may prefer to beat loneliness by interacting online. We are all unique individuals, and can choose different ways to tackle these issues. In the end we as individuals  need to really understand the kind of interactions we have online.

The 8th Deadly Sin: Fast Fashion.

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The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Tara Hebbar

The latest trends, newest styles and the brands. Our world seems to want it all – all the time. There seems to be no end to people’s constant desire for what’s new and in style. Going to the store and sweeping the racks has become a pastime for so many. Those who don’t indulge in this, for whatever reason, are looked down upon, and considered not part of the “it” group that our society has crafted. For those who are unaware, the term fast fashion refers to, “cheaply produced and priced garments that copy the latest catwalk styles and get pumped quickly through stores in order to maximise on current trends.” There is never an end to a new dress or a suit that entices people across ages and continental barriers. The term need has been loosely replaced by want. Repeating clothes has become the 8th deadly sin. Clothes are irresponsibly bought and thrown away in the same fashion. Everyone wants more, throwing aside all ideals of logic, care and responsibility. No, I don’t expect the world to roam the streets like the king in ‘the emperor’s new clothes’ – stark naked, or wear clothes just at the chest and crotch like our neathertal friends, however, the current situation has gone way too far. Shopping is no longer an activity that is looked at like buying groceries, a matter of fulfilling one’s basic needs, however, now it is all about who has the most trendy and the most expensive clothes. The amount of money people spend on clothes is astonishing, with shopping now becoming a way to express one’s monetary status. 

This activity is not only making us more greedy and polluted people as a race, it’s detrimental effect on the environment is appalling. It is the second most polluting industry in the world, and is like a monster. Thriving on greed, it continues to grow larger and more scary each and every day that we continue to knowingly feed it to destroy what feeds us – talk about biting the hand that feeds you! The idea of minimalism is not acknowledged by any of us, forget the ability to demonstrate it. Fashion production is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, and is the source of all the dried up and polluted water bodies. It’s harmful and toxic reach extends beyond just the making of clothes. The washing of clothes itself leads to the release of 500,00 tons of micro fibres into the ocean annually, equivalent to 50 billions bottles made of plastic. Each and every step of article production taunts the environment in some way or the other. It affects each and other parts of our world. The wastage and immense usage of water and energy is a big part of this. One shirt requires 700 gallons of water to be manufactured. The next time you hear of a drought, know the new shirt you just bought could have saved so many thirsty animals and human beings. Jeans are even worse! Needing 2000 gallons of water each one. If this isn’t enough, here are some more terrifying facts about this industry. 85% of these holy grains of clothes and textiles go to waste each year. People have no connection or control, as one new piece of colorful comes in, another goes, irrespective of its condition. Clothing production has doubled approximately since 2010. In just 10 years, the population is increasing, but so are some people’s shopping habits. People also bought 60% more clothes in 2014 than 2000, while keeping them for only half as long. While this might seem foreign, most of us have contributed to it.

These are just some of the many negative effects of fast fashion. Spewing facts and statistics will only go so far, however, it’s in our hands to turn these facts around into a miracle that the future generations can marvel at. Let’s use and reuse clothes, lend them to our juniors and not feel the need to hit the shops as soon as the “trend” changes. Know that in the end, the trends lie in the hands of our fellow human beings, and each time, the environment bears the brunt. We don’t always need to buy new clothes all the time. The mantra you need to follow is “need not want.” Only buy clothes when you need it, you’ll realise the simple needs of your life. You don’t need the newest H&M release, you want it. And here’s the reality of life, “you don’t get everything you want” or rather, “don’t get everything you want.” Although our world considers being untrendy the 8th deadly sin, it’s truly fast fashion that occupies this villainous throne. 

The Big Fat Indian Wedding: A Celebration of Waste

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The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Diya Barmecha

  The Big Fat Indian wedding has gone past a declaration of love, celebration and interconnecting two families but has slowly become a spectacle of who can put on the greatest show. It has moved on from the various rituals that have to be done and changed to how can we make a mundane thing seem extraordinary. Speaking on a personal level, weddings are a time for me to bond with my family over dance, music, food and eventually after days of fun, the reason we attended these series of functions. The fun that people can have knows no limit, as people are celebrating the union of their friends/family. However, what comes with the spectacle of fun, amusement and enjoyment is a long list of wastage and unsustainability. 

    The Indian weddings started off as only the series of rituals and the wedding at the end. However, as the money started flowing into our country the destinations became more exquisite and the number of people only grew exponentially. In the past, we would have weddings in the same city as we live, now there are weddings in different cities, with hashtags, social media uploads and even fun activities. 

   However, on the whole, once we look at the things we aren’t supposed to, the Big Fat Indian wedding is really a celebration of all the waste accumulated at the end of it. The decoration we once appreciated, is gone to waste by the end of the celebrations. The flowers used to make the environment fresh are put to waste that very day since the next day, it loses the fresh fragrance it leaves. The food that was organised for the hundreds of the guests attending is wasted because not  everybody say if they are coming or not and neither does everyone eat everything. In weddings, with a much needed buffet system there is also a waste system in place. At the end of each meal there is enough food waste to feed at least 200 more people and that is just for a small scale wedding. With up to 2.5 crore weddings yearly, the celebrations and waste is unfathomable. According to an NGO called Feeding India, around 40% of the food in a small-scale celebration is waste and as the guests increase the number can also increase up to 60%/. 

     It is one thing to enjoy yourself and another to enjoy at the expense of destruction, because that’s what weddings have now become. A celebration of all the food waste, decoration waste and flower waste. There is no limit to the amount of fun one can have during the wedding but there is a limit to the amount of waste one wastes.

With a simple RSVP system, the amount of food wastage can be reduced as the amount of food made will be based on the people who are coming and not those who were invited. One can also do something as simple as asking what the guests would prefer to eat in these few days, maybe vote on the basis of what they might like. For example, if collectively the group doesn’t like pasta then pasta will not be made in the first place and hence won’t be wasted. Much like what happens in most airlines where you can choose what food you would like to eat for a few meals while you are on the aircraft. This is just that on a bigger scale and less strict. With knowing what the collective group wants to eat, the food can be made accordingly as can the estimation of food needed be more accurate.  

    There is even more wastage in the cutlery and floral sectors. With floral decorations only being one time use and then being dumped into the trash. However, their life does not have to end when their scent and beauty does. Many organizations  take old flowers and turn them into colors used in Holi to make rangoli.  The cutlery can be made using wood so that it is reused and no water is wasted while washing so much cutlery and it is still easy. It is not about controlling your splurge in weddings because everyone wants to show and flaunt their money and if not that they want the facilities to have the best few days. However, it is controlling and knowing what to do with the waste. I do not want there to be limits on the celebration but I want there to be protocols in place to limit the waste in the first place. 

Waiting On Reform

Source -https://khn.org/news/how-lifesaving-organs-for-transplant-go-missing-in-transit/

by Tara Hebbar and Aahana Khemani

The organ transplantation procedure is indeed a much-needed procedure. However, the system behind needs to be improved. On average, 17 people die every day while awaiting an organ. Is this the advanced medical facility and system that we have? 

As of February, 2021, over 107,000 are on the organ transplant waiting list in the United States of America. Every 9 minutes, an individual joins the waiting list, and out of the 90% that support it, only 60% actually sign up to be donors, post-death, or otherwise. It takes more than a minute to fully register the magnitude of these aforementioned statistics. The lack of donors is a certain place to point fingers at, however, how much of this blame can be pinned on the system itself? Its efficiency and honesty can and has in the past been questioned by several. An estimate of around, 50% of all organ transplanted organs are rejected. Yes, we understand that organs much fit into a certain category and criteria in order to be inserted into someone, however, if it doesn’t match one, is there a chance it will match another? We believe that although the people involved in this, may be trying their best to help all the critical patients, that there might be a little bit of neglect. To think that so many lives can be saved, by some minor changes, only makes one realise the impact and importance of reform in this system in order to save so many families the distress that they have to face. With many patients in dire need of organs, and unable to acquire them legally, several desperate families are forced to look elsewhere. This elsewhere is none other than the devastatingly large and popular – organ black market.

The organ black market has proven to be improper. It is not only unethical, but has proven to be disrespectful. A man sold his wife’s kidney to a businessman, without her knowing! One of her kidney’s was found missing and the other infected. On top of it, he didn’t even tell her after the organ was removed from her body. After finding out, he was arrested. The organ black market has demonstrated how a supposedly helpful procedure has turned into the complete opposite. There are no doubt flaws in the organ transplant system, however, this is to the next level. Furthermore, this is only one side to it. There is another distinctive perspective that not everybody is able to see and empathize with, clearly. People with desperate needs for an organ along with the large shortage of organs, are forced to do unethical things. Medical stress is a factor at times that plays a role in influencing people to purchase from the black market. 

Saviour Siblings is a new concept that seems to be gaining public popularity. It is when parents give birth to a child, only to utilise one or more of their organs for their sibling. This not only causes a mental drain on them but can also cause disabilities and physical strain and health problems in their adulthood. There are several problems with this, unethical and scientifically when organs are taken (taking stem cells and bone marrow don’t have health effects and are positive since the sibling knows it saved its sibling without facing any challenges themselves). Ethically, children are children, and one child shouldn’t be denied their life only to save the other. This child will not only face issues if they require the organ, but many even die following the procedure as it is an essential organ that is taken away from them. How can this be thought of as any different from murder? In the case that this child does survive, and remains healthy enough to live a normal and long life, the mental strain is also one to consider. They will grow up, and live their life knowing that their only “purpose” of being born was to be “used” in some sense. This is directly caused by the lack of organs in the legal market. This, however, it’s a hopeless cause. It is one in dire requirement of reform, which is very possible. It requires a large number of people to decide to donate, especially after death. Although there are religious concerns, all religions support kindness and are built on the basis of helping others. After death, one does not require their organs, and therefore, isn’t it better to die a hero, and save someone else’ life? One person, upon their death, can save 8 lives, should all their organs be in the condition to be transplanted. With this simple change, so much can be done and can possibly put an end, or even begin the decline of savior siblings and the illegal black market, which puts so many in strife, and provides monetary gain to the wrong people.

In conclusion, we believe that the organ transplant system is trying to be good, however, it is hard to ignore its flows. The shortage and the wrongs, need to be addressed by medical authorities as well as the government. Whether this means changing the laws on organ transplantation to benefit citizens, or having an elaborate system to provide organs to as many people as possible. The organ transplant system should be modified, to benefit more people than it already is. 

The Importance Of Shopping From Small Businesses

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Source - https://www.sbmarketingtools.com/how-shopping-small-helps-you-and-your-community/

by Pritha Nag

With the rise of social media, there has been a large increase in Instagram small businesses, especially in India. Small businesses are home-grown businesses that sell handmade, unique and products. There’s a whole community of Indian home-grown small businesses, that all support each other. The majority of small businesses operate through Instagram and sell an assortment of things ranging from jewellery, upcycled clothes, stickers and so much more. Supporting your local small businesses can make a huge impact, that you might not even be aware of, but how exactly? 

In the first wave of quarantine and lockdown, it seemed as if all of us were trying our hand at many different things, in an attempt to pass the time. During around July-August, this is when many India-based small businesses started to launch. Instagram has seen a definite increase in the number of small businesses present, and this is mainly due to the lockdown, and it’s safe to say if the lockdown never happened then some of these businesses would have. Many of these small businesses have accumulated an engaged and active community that constantly interacts in stories and posts, and helps to boost sales. Each small business has something unique to offer, as everything is handmade with lots of love! 

But why should I shop from them, when I can just easily shop from other fast fashion brands? Fast fashion is the concept of cheap and trendy clothing, that has been replicated off the runway, trends and products in designer/high-end stores. The point is to meet the consumer’s demand for wanting the trendiest piece of clothing for a cheap price, and as fast as possible. Fast fashion is mass-produced, which means that the product is made in large batches, in a constant flow. 

There are many reasons as to why you should shop from small businesses rather than fast fashion brands. With fast fashion brands, you can buy the latest trendy clothing and accessories for extremely affordable, but there’s a catch. Children make your clothes. Young children ranging from 5-11, that do not have a voice, cannot speak out on the horrendous conditions they are kept in, cannot shout out about their ridiculous wages. Young children who should be going to school, instead, labouring in poor factory conditions, for hours and earning little to nothing, just to make us clothes we’ll end up throwing when it goes out of style. 

Not only this, but fast fashion harms our planet and environment. With the fast cycle of trends always coming and going, so is the need to throw out your old clothes and get the new trendy ones. But where do our clothes go? They go into landfills, and the amount of clothes in one truck is burned or dumped every second. 85% of textiles go to waste each year, and clothing production has doubled since 2000. With the constant and rapidly increasing cycle of clothes going in and out of fashion, the need to stay up with the trends is present now more than ever. 

Although shopping from fast fashion brands isn’t the best for our environment and children, sometimes it can be seen as the only option. Some of us aren’t always in a position to shop sustainably, ethically or small, so what do I do? Fast fashion is the only option that I see. That’s an extremely valid point, but there are sustainable and ethical alternatives where you can buy clothes, jewellery and accessories sustainably and from small businesses! 

Several small businesses sell upcycled clothes, customisable clothing and many small businesses have their own brand, just like H&M, except smaller, more sustainable and handmade! Small businesses also sell one of a kind quirky and trendy jewellery, stickers, candles, prints and just about anything! With buying from these small businesses chances are that you’ll also be sporting a one of a kind unique piece because small businesses don’t mass produce. Being able to have full creative freedom and custom a piece of clothing/jewellery/bag/accessory however you’d like, is something you’d only get from small businesses! 

With wanting to dive deeper into the importance of shopping sustainably and small, I decided to get the perspective of a small business maker themselves! I interviewed the founder of the small business “Almost Ambivalent”, who sells unique handmade jewellery, based here in India.  When asked “What is one thing you want to tell people about shopping small?” She answered by saying “Even if you buy just 1 product from a small business, it makes their day! You are happy and so is the real person behind the store.” Adding onto what she said, purchasing just one item from a small business is just that one more step to helping them achieve their dreams! 

Most of the time small businesses are run by one or a group of people. It’s not a huge corporation, who are exploiting young children into making the trendiest pieces for ridiculously cheap prices. It’s one or a group of people, sourcing all their materials, putting effort into making the product, putting love and care in the packaging and then sending it off. “You get amazing customer service, and they try to give the best product quality and service”, is what the owner of Almost Ambivalent said when asked, “What are the pros to shopping small?” We can see a clear divide between big corporations such as H&M and Zara. Small businesses keep the goal of wanting to give you “the best product quality” in contrast to big corporations who (most of the time) are just trying to make their own pocket heavier. 

When shopping small

“You are supporting an individual or a small group of people, you could be contributing to someone’s dream or livelihood. Indirectly contributing to the community in contrast to some corporate’s pocket”, said the owner of Almost Ambivalent.

It’s understandable to not always be able to shop ethically and sustainably, but shopping small is a great way to do both for a great price and for helping someone’s dreams. When shopping for yourself, for friends, family, festivals try shopping small! Even if it’s a small item, it goes a long way. Next time you are purchasing from fast fashion or a large corporation, remember there’s another, better, environment-friendly and ethically better way to get the trendiest new pieces! 

“Vegetarianism”

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Source - https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegetarian-diet-plan

by Tara Hebbar and Diya Barmecha

We are proud vegetarians. To us, it is beyond imagination how people are non-vegetarian after knowing the devastating impacts it has. However, we understand that it is a challenge to wean off the food that makes people’s taste buds rejoice. We write this article with the best intentions, just to help others understand the impact that they are having so that they can then make an educated decision on whether they would want to switch or remain. We encourage those who are non-vegetarian to make the switch for all the below mentioned reasons. Trust us, vegetarian food is as good and by the simple task of not eating meat, you are making an immensely positive difference to the planet. It is important to understand that the meal is coming at the cost of something and it’s for YOU to decide whether you want to pay that price. 

Why are you killing plants? This is a question that we as vegetarians are always asked. It’s like the bullet for the non-vegetarians, every time an argument about the matter strikes. It is assumed that this is an intellectual question, however, there are several reasons why this argument is completely invalid. The reasons are plenty, some of them being that animal and plant life are starkly different and have different purposes. Animals have the right to mortality, and therefore are equipped with defense mechanisms and mobility to keep them alive. Plants on the other hand, do not have these powers, but instead are allowed to bloom, bear fruit and grow. Therefore, even when we take a leaf or fruit, it’s called plucking, not beheading, since a new fruit will take the place of the old. These differences in nature, just show their purpose. Some animals are food for others, who aren’t able to digest plants and require meat, but humans are not part of this category, we survive perfectly well on simple plants and their gifts. Additionally, by eating and consuming plants, you’re supporting life and biodiversity. The way the food chain works is that plants are eaten by animals which are food to other animals, them being the seed to all living things. Humans are not meant to be on top of that food chain, we have throned ourselves and forced every other creature into submission. One of the biggest misconceptions is that by eating meat, non-vegetarians are keeping the balance. The meat consumed by most is a product of “industrial meat”, which is produced in factories, where animals are being specifically bred to be slaughtered. So, there goes “creating” balance. Moreover, the matter of pain and the nervous system. While it is well known that animals, including humans are aware of pain and have a central nervous system, plant’s do not. When killing animals, pain is caused to them, whereas, when eating plants, there is not pain felt by them. Lastly, the meaning of “killing” must be identified, killing means putting an absolute end to something. When eating animals, they are being killed, since it’s the end of their life. However, when it comes to plants, we end up consuming small parts of each plant, either the leaf or the fruit and rarely the root. Therefore, the root continues to support new life and will bear new fruit, therefore, this is not classified as killing. Lastly, non-vegetarians if they stop eating meat, they have other means of survival in terms of food. What will vegetarians turn to, without plants? These are the reasons that the argument of comparing plants and animals is just a desperate attempt for non-vegetarians to make their eating habits more comparable to that of vegetarians. 

Then we come to the basic arguments of why eating non-vegetarian needs to be changed. Before their death, to be put on someone else’s plate, these animals are treated with cruelty that is hard for anyone to imagine. Crammed into cages with thousands of other animals, they are often not given food, and proper hygiene since these cages are not cleaned at all. Rarely will a meat-eater look down at the piece of beef on their plate and think, how did this animal come here? What did it have to go through? And this is where the problem stems from. There is a lack of empathy, most non-vegetarians forget that they are eating another living creature that has now been killed just for them to enjoy.  Another indirect benefit is dampening world hunger to some extent. The kilos of crops that go towards fattening animals so that humans can eat them, this food can save so many malnourished human beings who die of starvation each day. If everyone was vegetarian, we would need 75% less land for farming than we do today, and feed everybody. Being vegetarian has effects that go beyond one’s imagination. In terms of personal benefit, unlike public understanding, being vegetarian and vegan is great for the cardiovascular system and health, with red meat especially, being a risk for cholesterol related diseases. One of the biggest misconceptions is that by eating meat, non-vegetarians are keeping the balance. The meat consumed by most is a product of “industrial meat”, which is produced in factories, where animals are being specifically bred to be slaughtered. So, there goes “creating” balance. 

Believe it or not, non-vegetarianism also causes deforestation, in which large masses of forests are razed just to accommodate these animals which are being bred to be killed, and to grow crops to feed these large amounts of animals, it is the biggest cause of forest fires. In order to produce industrial meats and for crops and space, people are deliberately starting forest fires and killing so many animals in the process. So, when you’re eating a piece of meat, you are not only responsible for the death of that soul, but so many others. It is destroying wildlife. With the gatherment of so many animals which are kept in filthy conditions to be killed, the risk of infections and diseases such as Corona virus also increases by large numbers. Additionally, it uses up immense amounts of water, almost 50% of the water used in the U.S. goes towards this. With there already being preditcation for water shortage, is it worth it, just for the “good” taste of meat? It releases carbon dioxide emissions and utilises a ton of fossil fuels. Making one hamburger, uses the same amount of fossil fuels as driving a car 20 miles. Pig factories generate the same amount of raw waste as a 12,000 person city. Is a non-vegetarian’s luxury more important than the environment? The answer is simply no. So, everytime there is meat on your plate, not only are you destroying forest, killing more than 1 animal, promoting torture but also causing the destruction of our environemnt. 

The demand for fish increases everyday. With this increases the inhumane ways in which fish are killed and served to us in fancy restaurants. Overfishing is a problem that impacts not only the sea but the balance of the entire ecosystem. When too many fish are taken out of their habitats, there is an imbalance in the food cycle which leads to a loss of many vulnerable species. To get the desired fish killed there are many species who also are on the receiving end of the fish poles. This is called bycatch. The UN estimated that between 20-25% of all sea creatures that are caught in the massive nets are the victims of bycatch. Many fish companies have the tag of dolphin-safe which means that no dolphins were harmed when these fishes were killed. However, according to the World Wildlife Fund upto 300,000 small whales, and dolphins get entangled and are killed during by-catch. As we can see the process we receive these fish to eat is not safe and neither is eating these fish. The most common industrial toxin in the sea is mercury which is deposited through many runoffs and emissions. These lead to toxicity in the oceans and affect marine life. Another impact of the toxins in the sea is plastic poisoning which fish ingest as food. With bioaccumulation, substances such as mercury are absorbed into the larger organism much faster than the smaller ones. In the case of fish, humans are the larger organisms. Mercury poisoning can lead to harmful effects on a human body’s nervous, digestive and immune systems. After all these negatives, we haven’t even tackled the biggest impact of fishing on our world. After watching the documentary, “Seaspiracy” on Netflix we found out that the majority of all the garbage in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch were fishing gear such as nets and poles. As we can see, fishing and eating fish has been harmful to the humans eating them, to the sea, to animals such as dolphins who aren’t eating, and even the environment. Is the taste of fish really worth all the negatives that come along with it? There are plant based seafood products on the market that look and taste like seafood. Why can’t we eat these instead?

This article is written by two vegetarians but we do understand how hard it may be for people to leave some of their favourite foods. However, after seeing the implications and impacts that the killing and the consumption have on us as well as our Earth, everyone should try to limit if not stop their consumption of these products. The advantages of being vegetarian go beyond just not killing animals but it extends to limiting the impact we leave on our ecosystem. Animals are bred to be killed and eaten. No amount of taste and deliciousness is worth another life. Fishes and even other animals living in the sea are killed in bycatch for only consumption. Just imagine if you were in an animal’s place, who was being eaten to satisfy the tastes of a “superior power” in the food chain. This just proves that humans have an impact on each and every problem of this world. There might not be one day where everyone stops eating meat and fish. However, with a few small realizations and changes, there can be change. There are alternatives and there are substitutes only if one is looking for it. So, look out for it, and make a difference.  

It Wasn’t Me – Justifying Our Own Actions.

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Source - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Didn%27t_Do_It_(film)

by Tara Hebbar and Diya Barmecha 

“I had to, it wasn’t my fault,” This is a line that many of us have said or often thought of. We are so quick to blame and put down others for making a small mistake but when we do the same, our minds always find a way to justify it. What is the reason for this? To what extent can our mind justify our actions while condemning another for doing the same?

Whether it is breaking the traffic signal or forging an age on a ticket, there are several such actions which are against the law or unethical, but commonly done. When we hear of someone else’s wrong doings we are quick to condemn them for it, and jump to conclusions about their motives. However, when we do the same thing, we always tend to find a reason to make it seem less drastic, or extremely required. For example, when it comes to the example of breaking the traffic signal, when we see others do it, we nod our heads disapprovingly or make a remark about their ignorance to the law, however, when we are in a race with time or forget to stop for the signal, it’s suddenly justified. We always associate our own wrongdoings with rhyme and reason, but refuse to reciprocate this when others have done the same. Humanity as a race, has trouble with providing the benefit of the doubt, and are always looking to pin the blame on someone or something, anything apart from themselves. 

The act of “gossiping” is a derivative of the same, we are quick to circulate the actions of others, especially with those who fuel us, or share the same opinions. It is a known fact that humans have been gossiping since the beginning of our existence on the planet. We tend to not only discuss others wrongdoings, but additionally attribute plausible reasons for it as well. We bring the past into the present and see these as a means to predict the future, and therefore form judgements on certain people or things. Although it is natural, there is also a line that needs to be drawn. Just because a large population of people bend and tweak the laws to suit them, that does not make it right. In the example given above,the law simply states that the traffic signal cannot be broken, it does not consider the morality or the several possible reasons one might find to break it. 

The reason that we self-justify is explained well by psychology with an idea called cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of mental discomfort that occurs when there are two contradicting beliefs. Due to this discomfort most people tend to want consistency and thus change their perception to minimize the discomfort. This theory was proposed by Leon Festinger, an American social psychologist. He believes that we have a need from within to ensure that we are consistent. From our beliefs to behaviours, he believes we need consistency. One of the main reasons for cognitive dissonance is being required to forcefully comply. This could be one of the reasons why we find the need to justify our own actions. When we are put in a situation where we are not comfortable or feeling dissonance we find consistency and go back to our feeling of “normal”. When we justify ourselves we decrease the dissonance that was caused by what we did. We can try to justify it by creating blind spots and have no opportunity for forgiveness. By justifying ourselves, we maintain a positive image of ourselves and increase our self-esteem. Although psychology has found a reason why we justify our own actions, there is no moral reason to do so. 

In conclusion, there are several reasons that we can attribute to our wrong doings and actions in order to justify it, to ourselves and others. Psychology and science backs this up, however, there is also a line that needs to be drawn and made crystal clear. If we allow ourselves to  justify our actions, in every scenario, then we can never better ourselves and learn from the past, instead of living in it.

Intention or Imitation?

Sources - https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/drishyam-review-entertaining-with-a-good-script-enhanced-performance/articleshow/48291176.cms

by Diya Barmecha

There have been many articles and opinions about where the influence of movies can take viewers. A movie director’s main aim is to entertain and depict our current society. In doing so, some movies show things that people can get negatively influenced by. There are various Bollywood movies where drinking cigarettes and consuming alcohol, by characters, is shown off the top of my head such as Sanju among others . The warning declaring it to be injurious to health is always present at the bottom of the screen. 

However, the effectiveness of this disclaimer can be questioned. 

This is just one of many problems that arises —  there are many ideas that people, especially the youth of our society, can get influenced by. It doesn’t matter how many “no smoking” ads there are or what the package of the cigarettes says. In the movie it shows a person, with cigarette in hand and enjoying, clearly not bothered by the health complications that can be caused due to the cigarette.

 To see how much actions or things we see can impact us and our actions, an experiment was conducted by psychologist Albert Bandura.

“The Bobo Doll Experiment”. 

Bandurra  wanted to see if social behaviours such as aggression could be acquired from observation. He tested 36 boys and 36 girls between the ages of 3 and 6. Bandura along with Ross and Ross tested with a five point scale how aggressive the children were in the nursery. In the first stage 24 children were shown a video of an adult aggressively playing with a bobo doll. These children were then sent to a room and asked to play with a bobo doll. The next 24 children were shown a video where an adult played with the bobo doll without displaying any signs of aggression. Whereas the remaining 24 children weren’t shown any video and asked to play with the doll.

At the end of the experiment the findings of the psychologists were that the children who observed the aggressive video displayed  increased signs of aggression. Additionally, the children who were not shown any video showed no signs of aggression and played as they would with any toy. This proved that what we see influences the way we think and do things. We imitate what we see in our surroundings. 

An Ajay Devgn film, Drishyam was quite popular among the audience because of the unique script and the tendency to keep the audience on its toes till the very end. This film showed how a father disposes of a body and covers the tracks of the accidental muder committed by his daughter and wife. 

Suraj Harmalkar, a 34-year-old man killed his girlfriend, Amita Mohite and hid the body the same way it was done in the film. While confessing to the police in Boisar he also mentioned that the inspiration was taken from Drishyam the movie. Although the makers of this movie did not intend for this to be the case, there have been many such cases where people have been inspired by movies and imitated negative actions. . A similar case in Kerala’s Malappuram district occurred. A gang of four robbers went and made a hole on the floor and looted the bank of 80 kgs of gold and more than 50,00,000 rupees. They confessed being inspired by the movie, Dhoom.

Although these action-thriller movies entertain many people, do film-makers have to be mindful of their impact on real life?

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