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Wesley Gow

Wesley Gow has 4 articles published.

GMOs: Greatness Made Obtainable

in Political Issues/Science & Technology by

The era of modern technology has brought a promising addition to the food production and nutrition industry: GMOs.  GMOs, genetically modified organisms, are plants or animals in which we as humans have altered the sequence of its DNA to produce desired results.  For instance, some plants are modified to be resistant to pesticides, able to grow in certain environments, or even taste differently. As this trend has increased in the world, however, there has been growing opposition to its implementation.  85% of US corn is genetically modified along with 95% of sugar beets and many different crops used in everyday foods. “Non-GMO” has become another fad in the health community on a list that includes “organic” and “gluten-free,” but are GMOs proven to be bad for our health?

On nonGMOproject.org (anti-GMO), it states that any scientific consensus on GMOs is “an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated by the media.” Even those who wish to see the disappearance of GMOs cannot truthfully claim any scientific backing to their negative effects. Though there have been no conclusive tests that prove negative effects from GMOs (and some that prove the opposite), in one survey 57% of the public states they would not buy genetically modified food (though a vast majority of those likely have).  The natural fear of “science hocus pocus” in our foods prevents people of the world from accurately realizing the positive truth behind modern biotechnology. Not only are there no proven scientific negatives to modern genetic modification, but humans have been doing similar processes through artificial selection for centuries. Neil Degrasse Tyson on GMOs:

“What most people don’t know but they should is that practically every food they buy in the store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food. There are no wild seedless watermelons. There’s no wild cows, there’s no long stem roses growing in the wild – even though we don’t eat roses. You list all the fruit and all the vegetables and ask yourself is there a wild counterpart to this? If there is it’s not as large it’s not as sweet it’s not as juicy and it has way more seeds in it.

We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, the vegetables, and animals that we have eaten ever since we cultivated. It’s called artificial selection. That’s how we genetically modify. Now we can do it in a lab and all of a sudden you’re gonna complain? If you’re the complainer type go back and eat the apples that grow in the wild.”

Pre-modification banana  

The negative stigma surrounding GMOs must be stopped; not just because it is incorrect, but because the potential benefits of improved genetic modification are astounding.  The first benefit is the significantly increased efficiency of GMO farms. Between 1996 and 2012, crop biotechnology (including genetic modification) was responsible for an additional 122 million tonnes of soybeans and 231 million tonnes of corn. GM crops are allowing farmers to grow more without using additional land. Without this technology in 2012, the same level of global production would have required addition plantings of a total of 15.1 million hectares of land, equivalent to 9% of the arable land in the US or 24% of the arable land in Brazil. Population is rapidly increasing, and we will soon direly need maximum efficiency out of our arable land that only GMOs can provide.  This increased efficiency is also extremely beneficial to the environment. A UK report stated:

Crop biotechnology has reduced pesticide spraying (1996-2012) by 503 million kg (-8.8%). This is equal to the total amount of pesticide active ingredient applied to arable crops in the EU 27 for nearly two crop years. As a result, this has decreased the environmental impact associated with herbicide and insecticide use on the area planted to biotech crops by 18.7%.

As our environment is in dire need of assistance that our country is currently not offering (see: https://www.specsjs.com/2018/01/17/environmental-issues-are-heating-up/), improved GMOs are essential for the future of our planet.  Furthermore, through a process called biofortification, crops can actually be made more nutritious and containing certain vitamins necessary for survival in impoverished areas.  One of the worst cases of malnutrition comes from a lack of vitamin A. 250,000-500,000 children a year go blind from vitamin A deficiency, and half of them die within 12 months of losing their sight.  We have developed a genetically modified strain of rice called “golden rice” that could counteract this tragic trend in areas where rice is a stable food. Partially due to GMO opposition, this rice has not been totally distributed.  Though it was ready for distribution in 2002, Scientific American calculates that delays caused by an anti-GMO sentiment have cost 1,440,000 years of potential life (most of the deaths have been small, malnourished children).  

GMOs are the totally beneficial, necessary wave of the future. Though I think it is fine for us to label them as we would any other nutritional information, we need to take steps as a society to ensure the correct information is understood by the public rather than fear-mongering at vege co-ops saying that scientists are messing up our broccoli’s DNA.  I believe that embracing advancements in technology is essential to the well-being of the people of the world, and GMOs are no different.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/builtlean/diet-and-nutrition_b_4323937.html
https://www.nongmoproject.org/gmo-facts/science/
https://fitnessreloaded.com/eat-gmos/
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/golden-rice-opponents-should-be-held-accountable-for-health-problems-linked-to-vitamain-a-deficiency/

 

World War Three or Diplomacy?

in Foreign Policy/Political Issues by

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”     Albert Einstein

Since 2006, North Korea has had nuclear weaponry. One of their more recent tests displayed a bomb seven times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, which triggered an earthquake with a magnitude of  6.1…in Japan. In 2017, an intercontinental missile test revealed that they had the capability to hit the United States if they desired.  Immediately, worries of a nuclear World War III spread across the nation and the globe as tensions between the two countries continued to rise.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently stated that the North Korea threat “is growing.”  So how serious is this threat? Are we staring in the face of World War III?  

Recent writers say that perhaps North Korea’s nuclear efforts don’t have the feared motives behind them, but rather they have created a nuclear stockpile simply to use as leverage for diplomacy.  The best case scenario would be that, after seeing the United States’ treatment of Cuba, Kim Jong Un is simply creating enough force to deter a similar invasion.  To protect his similar dictatorship from a Bay of Pigs-esque invasion, Kim Jong Un created and threatened the use of nuclear weapons. Another slightly comforting thought is that the weapons will just be used to strong-arm South Korea into annexation.  “Other than as a smoking crater, Kim Jong Un simply doesn’t have the resources to take over South Korea,” remarked one writer, “the nukes are just for leverage.” Top CIA officials have stated that Kim Jong Un is not the “madman” that the United States often portrays, but rather a “rational actor” motivated by “clear, long-term goals.”  “Waking up one morning and deciding to nuke LA is not something he’s likely to do,” said Yong Suk Lee, deputy assistant director of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center, “he knows he would be utterly eliminated…he wants to rule for a long time and die peacefully in his bed.”  It seems as if worries of an unprompted nuclear strike on the United States are unlikely to come true; of course, all of this relies on the rationality of our leaders…

Donald Trump’s reaction to the “North Korea crisis” and nuclear warfare in general is perhaps the greatest threat facing our world today.  The simple act of getting in petty twitter wars with another nuclear power world leader is arguably the most irresponsible act of his entire administration (which is a pretty high bar).  Those CIA officials that suggest Kim Jong Un is a rational leader are “continuously undermined” by the president’s words and actions.  The Moon administration in South Korea see Kim Jong Un’s actions as “largely defensive and rational,” but the reasonable voices of the world are drowned out by Trump’s petulant outcries. The most concerning of his antics is the increase of nuclear weapons.  In July 2017, Trump said he wanted to return the United States active nuclear stockpile to 1960 levels.  

The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes,” Trump tweeted. Coming to your senses is decreasing the amount of nuclear weapons in the world, not increasing it. Every presidential Administration since Lyndon Johnson in the 60s has decreased the nuclear stockpile.  Trump is single handedly starting a second Cold War. What kept the Cold War from sparking into a full on nuclear war was the principle of MAD (mutually assured destruction).  We would never start a nuclear war with Russia because we knew they could annihilate our civilization, and vice versa. What is concerning about the North Korea crisis (though seemingly counterintuitive) is that we could survive their attacks, making it possible for the Trump administration to decide to go head to head.  On a morning news show Trump seemed to invite this line of logic: “Let it be an arms race.  We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” Yes, congratulations, your button is bigger and you would win, but with millions and millions of lives lost. Some have even suggested executing a preemptive “bloody nose strike” on North Korea, assuming that eventual war is inevitable.  Pence stated recently that “the era of strategic patience is over.” Though the experts say that peace is still entirely possible and most Americans believe that “North Korea is bluffing,” our leaders seem to be unnecessarily escalating an incredibly dangerous situation.

Nuclear war should simply not be an option and should be avoided at all costs. The power of modern nuclear bombs is incomprehensibly devastating.  Even in 1961, the Tsar bomb detonated with a forces of 3,800 Hiroshima explosions.  The thousands of 21st century nuclear bombs could no doubt wipe civilizations off of the face of the Earth.  Trading nuclear blows with North Korea just to quiet them would be sacrificing millions of lives over a matter of pride.  If the situation is handled by our leaders properly, there should be little worry. Unfortunately that’s a big if.

Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Property of Errant Publishing Co.
https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/906428/North-Korea-news-Donald-Trump-Kim-Jong-un-World-War-3-US
http://www.businessinsider.com/north-korea-hydrogen-bomb-test-evidence-2017-9
http://www.businessinsider.com/reason-north-korea-needs-nukes-deterrence-vs-expansion-2018-1
http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/05/politics/cia-kim-jong-un-intelligence-profile/index.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2017/09/peace-north-korea-170905092328093.html
http://www.businessinsider.com/nuclear-posture-review-trump-huffpost-draft-report-2018-1
https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/903266/North-Korea-news-Kim-Jong-un-Donald-Trump-Moon-Jae-in-South-Korea-World-War-3-latest?utm_source=traffic.outbrain&utm_medium=traffic.outbrain&utm_term=traffic.outbrain&utm_content=traffic.outbrain&utm_campaign=traffic.outbrain

 

Environmental Issues are Heating Up

in Political Issues/Science & Technology by

In June of 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States was pulling out of the Paris Agreement.  The Paris Agreement was an acknowledgment of climate change with a promise of a global effort to reduce and limit its effects.  After Syria signed the Paris agreement in November 2017, the United States became the only country to hold out from the agreement despite being the second-largest polluter in the world.  Since a recent poll suggests that 70% of Americans support staying in the agreement, why has the Trump administration pulled out?  

The first most obvious issue is a total ignorance concerning the true nature of global warming.  In December Trump tweeted: “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.”  Similar to Senator James Inhofe’s “snowball on the senate floor,” the use of individual cold events as evidence against global warming is completely irrelevant and ignorant.  In fact, in the 2000s there were twice as many record high temperatures as record lows, but again, that is not the point of global warming.  In the last century, the Earth’s average temperature has risen .7 degrees Celsius.  Though this may seem insignificant (or part of the natural fluctuation of the Earth some say), this rate is ten times faster than any other natural heating of the Earth in history.  Trump’s cold New Year’s Eve might actually support global warming.  Environmentalists suggest that warming in the poles has actually expanded the polar vortex, which would make places like the northeast experience colder weather while the world’s climate is heating up.  To put it into terms Trump might understand: weather is the cash in your pocket, climate is net worth.  One day of cold hard cash doesn’t mean you can keep burning up your net worth.  

The other argument against the Paris Agreement is the loss of jobs. Trump spoke to a group of coal miners, telling them he would put them “back to work.” If we’re hurting the environment at least we’re helping the American people of today, right?  The entire coal industry employs, by the most recent estimate, 50,300 people.  While that may sound like a lot, it is a little over half of the employment of Arby’s.  Trump hopes to cling on to the coal industry rather than push for new clean energy.  He believes that a shift to renewable energy will hurt the American economy, but many suggest otherwise.  Elon Musk (probably a good guy to listen to), who left the presidential advisory council after Trump pulled out of Paris, suggested that refusing to invest in renewable energy will leave us straggling behind other countries in the energy sector.  Regardless of global warming, renewable energy is the future, and clinging to coal will leave America behind―not to mention the thousands of jobs that will be created by the shift.  

Trump’s decision was made from an isolationist, America-first doctrine: “Pittsburgh, not Paris.”  Unfortunately, Pittsburgh is also on the globe.  The Paris agreement isn’t for Paris, it’s for our Earth.  We are the laughing stock of the world because of our ignorance and irresponsibility.  The Earth is a finite resource, and without an exit plan, we need to make sure that we’re taking good care of it.  We cannot leave it to future generations because by their time the damage will be done. Hopefully, with the public’s support, we can elect a president in 2020 who will re-enter us into the agreement and help save the world. 

 Product of Errant Publishing Co.
Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/international/negotiations/paris_en
goo.gl/gkh27Z
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-paris-agreement-us-climate-change-donald-trump-world-country-accord-a8041996.html
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/05/most-americans-support-staying-in-the-paris-agreement/528663/
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/28/climate/trump-tweet-global-warming.html
https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page3.php
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/31/8-surprisingly-small-industries-that-employ-more-people-than-coal/?utm_term=.c04b47f77dba
http://www.indiacelebrating.com/wp-content/uploads/Global-warming.jpg

Band-Aids Don’t Fix Bullet Holes, but Legislation Might

in Gun Control/Political Issues by

In 2016, America suffered more than 38,000 gun-related deaths.  Facing similar issues (although not nearly as severe), other countries have introduced strict gun control policies in an attempt to limit these catastrophic events, but our second-amendment-clad government remains obstinately unchanged, despite 89% of voters’ being in support of some form of stricter gun control.  Our current policies are not only lenient, but grotesquely ill-enforced.  Investigators with the Government Accountability Office had a 100% success rate buying guns with simple fake IDs, meaning even the most dangerous citizens who are on the current denial list could easily obtain deadly weapons.  Furthermore, the argument that increased civilian gun ownership protects from gun violence is counterintuitive and completely contradictory to the evidence. Within two years of Australia’s 1996 gun control policies, gun violence deaths decreased 40% (1996-1998), and another 50% since then (1998-2012).

Gun Violence in Australia vs America

Japan, which has strict gun policies, only had 6 gun-related deaths in 2013, compared to 33,599 in America.*  This has also lessened need for lethal police force: only 6 total shots were fired by the entire Japanese police force in 2015, while America suffered 1093 police force killings the following year. The facts are simple: the USA, who leads the world in gun ownership with 101 guns for every 100 citizens (the next closest is Serbia at a much lower 58.1), also leads the world in gun related deaths every year.  We as a nation have suffered more casualties from local gun violence since 1996 than all warfare in our history.  This should not be a highly charged, partisan issue — it’s a matter of human decency.  This is a clear-cut, pressing opportunity to save the lives of tens of thousands of Americans with a simple governmental act.  To pass it up would be detestably irresponsible.

Americans Killed by Guns and Americans Killed by Warfare
*To purchase a shotgun or air rifle (handguns are outright prohibited), a citizen has to complete a written test and shooting range test with at least 95% accuracy.  This process has to be repeated every three years to renew their gun license.  Your background is also thoroughly vetted for mental health instability, extremist group relations, or a history of violence. 

 

Product of Errant Publishing Co.
Graphic Design (Gun Control Flag) by Jackson Edwards
http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp
http://news.gallup.com/poll/1645/guns.aspx
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-38365729
https://psmag.com/social-justice/how-many-people-are-killed-by-police-in-the-united-states
http://time.com/5011599/gun-deaths-rate-america-cdc-data/
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/05/us-gun-violence-charts-data
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