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GLOBAL POLITICS

BRICS

In honor of the 15th BRICS 2023 summit beginning today (Aug 22-24, 2023) I wanted to write a brief summary on this seminal group in history. As an avid follower of international politics, I am captivated by the intricacies of BRICS and the impact it has on global affairs. 

So, what is BRICS? BRICS is the acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa originally coined by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill. Their combined economic output (a quarter of the world’s GDP), large population (42% of the world), and considerable geographical spread give the group a unique voice on the international stage. Goldman Sachs claimed that the global economy will be dominated by the four BRIC economies by 2050.

What is the significance of this BRICS summit? The significance is that some of the key agenda items include the expansion of BRICS, reduction of the dollar value, and reportedly “several BRICS nations have already begun their trade in local currencies.” (Business Standard). Some essential facts for this meeting include that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend in person due to a warrant for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Ukraine, however will be represented by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; Invitations to attend the summit were also extended to 67 leaders across Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said; Twenty three countries have formally applied to become new BRICS members, including the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia. Currently Brazil is the main holdout for BRICS expansion and is “concerned the group will lose stature if other nations are let in” (Reuters). 



Introduction - BRICS: Sources of InformationLibrary of Congress Research Guides (.gov)https://guides.loc.gov › brics

What is Brics? Definition of Brics, Brics MeaningThe Economic Timeshttps://economictimes.indiatimes.com › ... › Economy

BRICS Investment Report | UNCTADunctadhttps://unctad.org › publication › brics-investment-report

15th BRICS Summit 2023: History, significance, top agendas ...Business Standardhttps://www.business-standard.com › India News

https://www.reuters.com/world/key-facts-about-brics-2023-summit-2023-08-07/

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2023/08/07/heres-why-brazil-is-a-major-holdout-against-brics-expansion/

https://www.reuters.com/world/brazil-now-main-holdout-against-brics-expansion-sources-say-2023-08-02/

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GENDER PAY GAP

Why?

"At the current rate the American Association of University Women predicts we’ll achieve pay equity, and close the uncontrolled pay gap by the year….. 2152." -The Muse


In the last few years the gap between men and women's earnings have declined, but in 2016 women received 76.5 of men's earnings. Women often make less because of a biased/discrimination.


 The median salary for men and women with the same qualifications is: Women make 98¢ for every dollar a man makes. Median salary for all men and women: Women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. BUT women with children make even less!


Latinas were paid 54 percent of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2018. That means it takes Latinas almost an entire extra year of full-time, year-round work in order to be paid "what the average white man took home by December 31."


Women’s pay VS. A Caucasian Man’s Earning


Women’s pay VS. A White Man’s Earning


Asian Women                                                                               90%

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Caucasian Women                                                                         79%

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Black Women                                                                               62%

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Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander Women                       61%

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American Indian or Alaskan Native Women                                 57%

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Hispanic Women                                                                           54%

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RED PANDA

Endangered

The Red Panda is an adorable, small racoon looking animal, except red in color, instead of black and white. The Red Panda’s population has dropped almost 50% over the last two decades, and there may be as few as 10,000 left in the wild! Habitat loss is the #1 threat to these poor animals. Red pandas are often killed when they get caught in traps meant for other animals. They are also poached for their distinctive fur in China and Myanmar. Red panda fur caps or hats have been found for sale in Bhutan. But Luckily an organization called the WWF or the World Wildlife Fund is working with yak herders and other community groups to weaken individual impact on the red panda’s weak and decreasing habitat. Any person found guilty of killing, buying or selling red pandas faces a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 10 years in jail.

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SHORT ESSAY ON WHY I TURNED PESCATARIAN

Abstract:

Climate change, air pollution, and unclean water are all huge issues in the world. Meat production contributes to this, but the question is: Is being a vegetarian good for the environment? This is an important question because it could save lives. In this paper, we will explore if being a vegetarian is good for the environment. My hypothesis is that, being a vegetarian will have a profound effect on the environment. To analyze this lets look at effects of animal harvesting on climate change and its trickle down impact on air, land & life  and water. 


Climate change:

Climate change is a big issue in our world right now, as we experience it and hear about it in the news. The question is what is the effect of being a vegetarian on global warming? As we know, any kind of processed meat releases toxic gases in the air while being processed. This is true of meats such as beef, lamb, etc. as shown in the chart below. The reason when any of these animals with multi chambered digestive system are harvested the release lots of methane gas during excretion. For example  the total methane produced by cows and sheep is about 37% more than that generated by human activity. To put this in perspective; every year one cow releases 100 kilograms of methane, which is equal to a car burning 235 gallons of gas. Compared to this, pork does less damage to the environment due to its monogastric or one-chambered stomach (Haspel, 2014). Due to its large amounts of manure the livestock industry produces around 65% of nitrous oxide. Hence, changes in diet can lower greenhouse gasses quicker than fossil fuels burning (fergusson, 2019). 


  1. Air:

Unhealthy air quality is a major issue in the world, as it causes over 5 million premature deaths every year ranging from heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes to respiratory problems.  (Craft, Roy, 2020) But what is the relation between air quality and meat production and consumption? Aside from greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, ruminants and monogastrics produce other gasses as well. These facilities consume about 37% of all pesticides and half of all antibiotics manufactured in the US resulting in air pollution.  Nearly two thirds of manmade ammonia, which is a gas with a pungent odor is made by livestock, this ammonia is a major source of acid rain. (Vidal, 2010) A vegetarian or vegan diet can cut these emissions by 70%. (Worland, 2016)


  1. Land & life:

The Earth’s wildlife is slowly decreasing, but what is non-vegetarianism contribution to that, if at all? If the consumption of meat continues to rise, the amount of meat must rise too hence, overgrazing. (Vidal, 2010) Overgrazing is a big issue.  Besides the damage it causes to grasslands, overgrazing can cause soil erosion, desertification, and deforestation. As a result, livestock production caused 70% of deforestation in the Amazon forest. (Vidal, 2010)  All of the manure and urine made by the animals is put into cesspools which can hold up to 40 million gallons of excretion. They often leak or break polluting underground water supplies and rivers. An example is a North Carolina Pig Factory lagoon. A spill killed 10,000,000 fish and closed 364,000 acres of wetlands. (Vidal, 2010) Furthermore, the cultivation of this land destroys animal habitats and forces millions of animals out of their homes, causing long-term harm to wildlife. 


  1. Water:

As said earlier, all manure is held in cesspools that often break, but how does this harm our ecosystems, oceans, streams, and rivers? Farm animals produce 130 times as much excretion as the human population of the entire US (fergusson, 2019) and because they don't have the same type of sewers humans do, it ends up polluting our water and destroying our topsoil (top layer of soil). After farm pollutants, which can include nitrogen, phosphorus and other pollutants (Fergusson, 2019), reach waterways they can cause a significant amount of harm to the sealife. This is when algal bloom is created; when there is too much nitrogen and phosphorus. Algal bloom uses oxygen as it decomposes, killing fish populations (Fergusson, 2019). An example of this is the Gulf of Mexico.  As algal blooms grow, they take up all the oxygen, killing life until there is barely any left and the area becomes a dead zone with a spread over 13,000 to 20,000 square kilometers (Vidal, 2010). As mentioned before, the more people eating farm animals, the more animals needed. It takes anywhere between 60 and 230 pounds of water to produce one pound of either potatoes, wheat, maize or rice (Vidal, 2010). This may seem like a lot, but compare that to a pound of beef, which requires about 20,000 pounds of water. Farming uses 70% of the water available to humans. (Vidal, 2010)  


In conclusion, being a vegetarian does have a large impact on the environment, even one person can make a difference for a cooler, cleaner, and healthier Earth. I know being a vegetarian isn't an option for some people but to people who it is an option, try your best to cut down on meat. Being a vegetarian can be a challenge, but with lots of grit, you will be able to contribute for a better Earth. As Einstein said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” 




References 

Craft, E. Roy, A. (2020) Health Impacts of Air Pollution. Environmental Defense Fund 

https://www.edf.org/health/health-impacts-air-pollution#:~:text=Around%20the%20worl

d%2C%20nine%20out,strokes%2C%20diabetes%20and%20respiratory%20diseases.

Fergusson, M. (2019) Top Ten Reasons Why It’s Green To Go Veggie Down To Earth 

https://www.downtoearth.org/go-veggie/environment/top-10-reasons#:~:text=First%2C%

20greenhouse%20gas%20reductions%20through,achieved%20with%20little%20negative%20impact.&text=Second%2C%20a%20shift%20in%20diet,technologies%20that%20emit%20carbon%20dioxide.

Haspel, T. (2014) Vegetarian or Omnivore: The Environmental Implications of Diet. Washington 

Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/vegetarian-or-omnivore-the-environmental-implications-of-diet/2014/03/10/648fdbe8-a495-11e3-a5fa-55f0c77bf39c_story.html#  

 Vidal, J. (2010) 10 Ways Vegetarianism Can Help Save The Planet. The Guardian 

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/18/vegetarianism-save-planet-environ

ment 

Worland, J. (2016) How a Vegetarian Diet Could Help Save the Planet. TIME 

https://time.com/4266874/vegetarian-diet-climate-change/

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VAQUITA

Critically endangered. 

The vaquita is on the critically endangered list but you’ve probably never heard of it. Why? Because vaquitas are the world’s rarest marine mammal. The vaquitas population is now down to about 10 individuals. The vaquitas are located around Mexico’s Gulf of California. The biggest reason for the vaquita’s decline is becoming tangled in fishing gear and drowning. As well as illegal fishing, they are in high demand for their “swim bladder” which is the thing that helps them float. Why do people want that? The answer is in China there is also a belief that the vaquitas can be great medicine but it's illegal to do so, and it still isn’t proven they are actually medicine. Illegal smuggling of vaquitas can result in people getting as much as $4,000.

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Ridhi Patil 

English 8


What flaws do the two societies share?


In the book Want by Cindy Pon, pollution has reached a level where it is no longer safe to breathe air, instead, individuals are forced to buy expensive suits which convert the air from toxic to clean. Essentially, Want is a commentary on our society through the lens of an unfamiliar landscape, focusing on how the rich continuously get off scot-free for their detrimental impact on the climate by placing the blame on individual consumers as well as how pernicious the economic gap can be. 


In our society the ways to “solve” climate change are displayed everywhere; “turn off the lights”, “ride your bike”, “recycle”, and although these efforts are somewhat useful, in the grand scheme of things it will never make a dent into the emissions put out by megacorps. Pushing the blame on individuals is just a convenient way these corporations can get out of carrying the blame. In the book 'Want' this is portrayed through the quote “I mean that the Children’s Foundation seems like an organization that does a lot to help,” I replied. “But maybe the best way to help is to prevent their parents from dying so young.” (Pon, 2017, p.146) this quote refers to a charity foundation called the Children’s Foundation which serves as a band-aid solution to the number of orphans on the streets, ironically the same people who own the Children’s Foundation live their lavish lives founded on the exploitation of suffering “meis” (who are the lower class) and are having parties “so extravagant most meis (lower class) wouldn’t be able to wrap their heads around it. It was obscene” (Pon, 2017, p.105). This quote shows how the “yous” are given a sense of value that comes with extreme economic prosperity. Just like the book Want, in our world, corporations and the wealthy should take the majority blame for the deterioration of our climate as the top 1% were responsible for 15% of emissions, nearly twice as much as the world's poorest 50%, who were responsible for just 7%, this is especially unfortunate because, to quote Halina Szejnwald Brown, “wealthy people set the tone on consumption to which everybody aspires. That's where the toxic effects are”, so say you have a cake, for the bigger slice you take, someone else gets a smaller slice. In “Want” the “meis” get the smallest slice, demonstrated in the quote “Leftover food and drinks were discarded everywhere around us, even as attendants came and swept the plates and glasses away. What could feed entire hungry mei families” (Pon, 2017, p. 110-111). 


Another quote shows that “his new, cheaper suits (to “protect” from bad air and fatal illnesses) have skyrocketed (in sales) with each passing day, but “Jin’s suits can’t guarantee the wearer from getting sick.`` This quote shows how under the guise of charity and generosity, the rich have trapped the poor into an endless cycle of the rich getting richer and the poor staying poor. In our world, feelings of being valued, or not, often come from our relationship with status. In order to see what kind of stresses reliably increase cortisol levels, Oover 208 studies where volunteers had their cortisol (central stress hormone) measured in different situations, to see what kind of stresses reliably increase cortisol levels, and the concluded that tasks that included social evaluation, or threats to social status have a particular effect on stress levels:. “This shows how our fear of being judged by others drives consumerism culture.”  (TED Talks).  In conclusion, climate change is something that cannot be “fixed” by placing the blame on individual consumers, instead needs to be addressed on a larger scale.  


In Want” the stark difference between the “meis” and “yous” creates a sense of intense polarization between the rich and poor. This is shown in the quote, “Rich, stupid you boy. Who’s going to pay for an ambulance? And his medical costs? Stop making a big show of it. We die on the streets all the time. You just don’t know.” (Pon, 2017, p. 168) This quote shows what the “meis” think of the “yous”; oblivious, aloof, and apathetic. Another example of this is when a tremendously privileged “you” begins talking about the “meis” stating: “It’s us versus them,” and “Their blood was considered too dirty. Tainted.” (Pon, 2017, p. 167) to the “yous” the “meis” are considered; disheveled, churlish, and ill-mannered, however, from the “meis” perspective “there was no need for “please” and “thank you” when you were starving, or getting mugged or beaten.” (Pon, 2017, p.167) this quote talks about how although the “yous” have the notion of the “meis” being uncouth, this seems to be a biased and unfair assessment of their situation. These quotes show how there is a sort of “bubble” formed around the “yous”, and as they have lived, sheltered lives. This type of economic inequality has changed the yous moral compass as Jason (main character) points out in the quote “your father would make a profit on the broken backs of meis…he released the strain to make more money at the cost of mei lives” (Pon, 2017, p. 192 & 256). In our life now, extreme income inequality is a problem because “it puts power in the hands of the rich, resulting in little-to-no social or economic mobility for large portions of the population.” (Investopedia). Income inequality comes as a problem as having only top earners in positions of power, which poses a threat to democracy and leads to social unrest. Extreme income polarization is immensely dangerous and to progress as a whole, we must broaden the horizons of those in need and give more opportunity to those without. 


However, there is not such a grim picture to be painted; “Not only the likes of Bill Gates, George Soros, Warren Buffet, Howard Schultz, and Mark Zuckerberg who have given 99% of their wealth as a charity, but 90% of all American businessmen give over 50% of their wealth to charity. The majority of businessmen in the USA are progressive—most of them are socially liberal and global in their outlook. Charity and social good are thus in the DNA of US businessmen” (Sunil Deshmukh, philanthropist). Recently we have seen many of the world's top wealth pledging their fortunes to the benefit of the planet and the progression of our society, such as Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard for the climate, Warren Buffett giving away 99% of his wealth to poverty prevention and health, Bill & Melinda Gates giving away over 5.8 billion dollars to health and poverty alleviation, and Mackenzie Scott giving over 8.61 billion dollars to prevention of racial, gender and economic inequality. These actions indicate that there are rays of hope from the richest few in the world. 

In conclusion, the realities of climate change, social inequality, and the impact of the rich on the poor are stark and unnerving, however, there are sufficient examples of hope remaining in humanity. 

Sources: 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeswealthteam/2022/01/19/americas-top-givers-2022-the-25-most-philanthropic-billionaires/?sh=75fb69fc3a6c


https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/14/climate/patagonia-climate-philanthropy-chouinard.html


https://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson_how_economic_inequality_harms_societies/transcript


https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2022-wealth-carbon-emissions-inequality-powers-world-climate/?leadSource=uverify%20wall


https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/22/business/energy-environment/corporations-climate-change.html


https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20211025-climate-how-to-make-the-rich-pay-for-their-carbon-emissions


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/dec/07/we-cant-address-the-climate-crisis-unless-we-also-take-on-global-inequality


https://www.worldvision.org.nz/getmedia/26362f6f-eb18-47a7-a1dd-a6c33c38bfd7/topic-sheet-poverty_and_the_environment/


https://corporatecitizen.in/v3-issue3/beyond-money-from-wall-street-to-the-world-of-giving.html


https://www.carbonbrief.org/top-1-of-emitters-caused-almost-a-quarter-of-global-emissions-since-1990/


https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/110215/brief-history-income-inequality-united-states.asp


https://sustainablesociety.com/social/income-polarization#.Y7eRei-B23U


https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/12/global-income-inequality-gap-report-rich-poor/


Citations for the quotes: 


“party so extravagant most meis wouldn’t be able to wrap their heads around it. It was obscene. What did it matter when everything was going to rot around the yous if they themselves thrived? Why should they care? I didn’t think they even noticed.”


Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 105). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


Leftover food and drinks were discarded everywhere around us, even as attendants came and swept the plates and glasses away. What could feed entire hungry mei families—


Pon, Cindy. Want (pp. 110-111). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


“I mean that the Children’s Foundation seems like an organization that does a lot to help,” I replied. “But maybe the best way to help is to prevent their parents from dying so young.”

In reference to going to a fancy charity gala

Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 146). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


“Rich, stupid you boy. Who’s going to pay for an ambulance? And his medical costs? Stop making a big show of it.”

In reference to a young sick man dying (24 years) 

We die on the streets all the time. You just don’t know.”


Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 168). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


There was no need for “please” and “thank you” when you were starving, or getting mugged or beaten.


Their blood was considered too dirty. Tainted.


Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 167). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 174). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


“It’s us versus them,” she said.

A you says about meis

Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 188). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


Jin released this flu strain—you might have caught it.”


Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 192). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


your father would make a profit on the broken backs of meis.


Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 197). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


that this flu had already spread among young and healthy meis, and they were dying too.


Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 252). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


Jin did this. He released the flu strain so he could make more money at the cost of mei lives.


Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 256). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


his new, cheaper suits have skyrocketed with each passing day—no matter how much the government and media have tried to spin it.” “And knowing what I know about viruses,” Arun added, “Jin’s suits can’t guarantee the wearer from getting sick.


Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 268). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 


“I’m impressed, however, if you actually did succeed in producing an antidote for a virus that I personally know didn’t exist outside a test tube until recently.” He paused, then smiled graciously, as if I should be grateful for the compliment.

Pon, Cindy. Want (p. 285). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Kindle Edition. 

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