By Emily Lusung
Most are aware that Earth’s environment is declining and suffers threatening conditions. Climate change contributes immensely to the world’s deathly situation. As the world’s environment undergoes deforestation, temperature change in oceans, air and water pollution, and, mass extinctions have occurred of biodiversity. However, the leading cause of these tragedies is human activity. The considerations to alternate and compromise human activity can be minor. Some might think in order to contribute to an improving environment would have to be done through strenuous changes. However, small changes in everyday life will cause change; like the straw law which essentially prohibits waiters from giving customers a straw. The simple change here would be to no request single use plastic straws which have polluted oceans and have caused extinctions in marine wildlife.
The ten warmest years have occurred since 2005. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) claimed that ninety-seven percent of active climate scientists agree that human activity has contributed to Earth’s climate warming. A certain explanation would be the greenhouse effect which is caused by excessive amounts of gases in the air which then gases trap heat from the sun to cause a gradual rise of temperature in Earth’s atmosphere. Human activity that involves greenhouse gases are the burning of fossil fuels which releases carbon dioxide, deforestation which when trees decompose they release carbon dioxide into the air, and generations of cars that are released into the air during everyday use which causes air pollution. The actions of people that occur within their everyday lives have consequences including the lost of lives due to climate change disasters. The devastation that humans experience with the environment are a matter of fact caused by their own species.
Harmful human activity with the addition of natural disasters like storms speed up the process of the environment’s decline. Some natural disasters are even cause by humans like droughts. Catastrophic events caused by humans can be ended by them. Irrational ways like panicking and causing chaos or controversy of the existence of climate change are only counterproductive. To accept the fact that the leading contribution of the world’s plunge of environment is human activity is the first step to begin the process of ending excessive use of harmful chemicals or everyday use of products that slowly kill the environment.
Earth reaches its possible sixth mass extinction as numbers of species rapidly decrease. Mass extinctions that have occured many years ago were due to asteroid collisions. The cause today are among human activity. Fulfilling that statement proves that humans have the improbable power to cause catastrophic events that severely threaten the world's environment. Many distress the ‘end of the world’ finding ways to improve the environment when the most rational way to approach the situation is to completely understand what the borderline root of the cause is, which is human activity.
By Megan Irwin
On February 14, 2018, students arrived at Stoneman Douglas High School with the only fear in their minds being passing their pre-calculus exam or if their crush will ask them out, not the screams of terror from fellow classmates, not the blood, not the ear deafening shots from an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. It has been over a year since the traumatic Parkland shooting that took seventeen students victim; and as of early May 2019, Florida legislation has declared to let “teacher volunteers” carry a gun under their guardian program. Teachers would have to go through police-like training with a sheriff’s office and undergo a psychiatric evaluation along with a background check in order to qualify for carrying a weapon on campus; the arming of any teachers or staff of a school regardless of the calamity that may have occurred is no logical response to the tragedy brought on by gun violence. Arming teachers in one state would lead to others following suit and soon, the United States would become a country of ill-handled weapons, the very thing this Floridian law aimed to prevent.
Guns act as an impediment in relationships with students. Teachers are guides, mentors, discussion leaders and lecturers; so giving teachers guns would act as a direct barrier in the connection to students. It says “stand back” instead of “stand up,” creating such a division in the learning place all due to the possibility of teachers turning the guns against those they promised to protect.
Guns simply have no place in the classroom. Teachers are in constant close proximity to students; with hundreds of students in a single classroom daily, the chance for an accidental discharge is guaranteed. Second, teachers are not trained to make instantaneous life-or-death decisions in a school environment with thousands of innocent children as possible collateral damage to the ill mannered use of a firearm. Even trained police officers have trouble reacting to school shootings and properly executing the use of deadly force with thousands of students at risk.
No amount of “good teachers” or those who want to take stand against a school shooter can account for the reckless delegation of Florida legislation. Who in passing this bill endangered more students than a school shooter would. A good teacher with a gun can still make a careless mistake, resulting in the death of a student who forgot to say ‘I love you’ to their parent that morning, who wanted to pass that final and graduate, to move on in life to better things; all cut down by a single bullet fired by their teacher.
By Gisel Flores
In present society, there still remains a large misunderstanding of psychedelic substances and the effects of them on the human body, especially the brain. Psychedelics are a type of drug that alter the state of one’s mind, causing them to hallucinate. Due to the common misunderstandings of these drugs, they can often lead people to stray further from the truth, due to the fear of misinformation spread about these substances. Only with proper unbiased information, one can find that psychedelics have been found to have medicinal benefits that allow people to heal from trauma, help cope with mental illnesses and could even cure one’s substance abuse.
Psilocybin mushrooms, most commonly referred to as the street name “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms,” have been used for hundreds, even thousands, of years, all throughout the world. From evidence of cave paintings in Spain that showed these psychedelic mushrooms from six-thousand years ago to ancient statues of these same mushrooms found and used by the Aztecs, Mayans, and other cultures, these mushrooms were often used during religious ceremonies to “communicate” with the spirits that these ancient civilizations believed in. Psilocybin mushrooms are known to be one of the oldest recreational drug that has been seen and even referenced through history. Research today shows that the psilocybin could help patients that suffer from cancer related psychological stress and anxiety according to the American Psychological Association (APA). A study done by the APA in 2016 has found that eighty patients who took a single dose of psilocybin mushrooms drastically reduced their depression and anxiety levels, with their levels even being reduced for up to six months, which is much longer than some conventional medicine. Some participants of this study were given talk therapy combined with the psilocybin, and these results showed that “participants made spiritual or religious interpretations of their experience and the psilocybin treatment helped facilitate a reconnection to life [and] greater mindfulness and presence…” according to Gabby Agin-Liebes, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Palo Alto University. This type of therapy would allow one to take a new approach to mental health medicine than previously before.
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), more commonly referred as “acid,” is another well known psychedelic drug around the world. The most common misconception about LSD is that it “fries the brain.” However, a 2008 study at John Hopkins University found that there is no connected link between mental illness and the drug itself, with patients reporting more benefits than negatives about LSD. A 2012 study that had been published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that a single dose of the psychedelic had significant and long lasting beneficial effect with those suffering from alcoholism. This trial of five-hundreds patients showed that fifty-nine percent of those patients reduced levels of alcohol misuse after taking the drug. Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), used LSD to help go through his recovery, even claiming that it was a large factor in his recovery. LSD is still classified as a “Schedule-1 Drug” by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), alongside with opiates, heroin, and methamphetamine. LSD is under this classification because of the potential for it to become addicting, but from studies found that LSD is not physically or psychologically addicting. This classification makes it difficult to perform studies on the drug but the studies that are being conducted do show promising results.
As more people begin to have an open mind about psychedelic drugs and the medical uses they offer, more studies can be conducted to further the improvement of mental health medicine for those who suffer.
By Gabriella Gatchalian
Democracy is defined as a system that ensures that citizens within a society are able to participate in their government, and take control of it through the majority rule. Several governments around the world have claimed to be democratic, however, after looking at certain situations within their country, it is noticeable that their definition of democracy has been altered. To be a democracy is to prioritize the votes of the majority, but the difficulty in purely establishing this belief is that the majority doesn't always know what best for a country. There is a business saying that every employee knows by heart, “The customer is always right.” This is a flawed philosophy, as the government has issues happening behind closed doors that citizens are often unaware of. To decide what happens in the country based on the external events is reasonable to a certain extent, however, there are times in which the majority is unaware of the situations lingering beyond the perception of the people. These are the times in which the definition of democracy has to be altered.
Believing that modern day governments demonstrate a genuine democracy is just an illusion, for the amount of power that a citizen has over the government has been limited due to either the betterment of the people or the corruption of the government. It is important to remember that no matter how elite government officials may seem, they are still ordinary citizens distinguished in their role due to unexpected turns in a country’s economy. No matter how many constitutional rights protect the idea of democracy, citizens must always remember that the government complied of a board of individuals that have the ability to think the way citizens think; meaning if the people are able to create their own opinions on how a government should be ran, then the people within the government will be able to think the same way. It is difficult to maintain the same values that a country stood for in its beginning stages, therefore the alterations that are made in regards to how a government should work, and how much power the citizens have over such government, is bound to change as time progresses.
The illusion of a democracy is important in maintaining a stable society. If the people are able to think that they have power over the government, it will give them the feeling that they can change the government however they want to. If citizens are unaware of the alterations and the deprivations they have in regards to the decisions that are made in their country, they are less likely to rebel and force a change in their government.
By Emily Lusung
The birth tourism industry is on the rise. Birth tourism is when women from foreign countries purposely travel to the United States to have their babies born into legal citizenship. Babies born of birth tourism, also known as anchor babies, are granted the privileges of being an American citizen by their mother. As of 2017, there were at least 4.5 million anchor babies in the United States under the age of eighteen, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Most of the time, the noncitizen mothers allow themselves to have the advantage of securing citizenship and seeking residency through birth tourism. These mothers are wealthy, meaning their children are guaranteed to thrive off of their benefits. The benefits include mainly containing legal citizenship and having the advantage of being born in America which is being able to obtain an easy access to education in their future.
Birth tourism provides better futures for anchor babies, even though their privileges are being regarded as abuse of the Fourteenth amendment. Three people were arrested in late January on charges of running birth tourism companies in Southern California. Birth tourism itself is not illegal, but the suspects were arrested for, "Conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, international money laundering and identity theft," according to the United States Department of Justice statement. Evidently, the Fourteenth amendment, which states “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside,” has been unfortunately abused within this situation. In 2015, a raid of dozens of “maternity hotels” occured, where mothers-to-be were paid between $15,000 to $50,000 to give birth in the United States, according to a statement given at the time by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Fortunately, the mothers involved were only treated as material witnesses and were not arrested. Through the practice of birth tourism, individuals are taking the advantage in distorting the true purpose of it. The one objective of birth tourism has no longer been prioritized. As seen through the arrests, people are creating their own businesses to achieve wealth and perform visa frauds.
As for the anchor babies who have no control over these decisions have been given criticism in the past. Several protests have taken place in favor of being against birth tourism. These children had no say or choice in being born in America. With respects to the Fourteenth amendment, they are Americans since they were born in America. The true purpose of birth tourism are mothers’ genuine concern for giving their unborn child a decent and significant future. Apart from containing legal citizenship, these mothers are also drawn to the U.S. flawed yet superior healthcare, more jobs with a decent pay, and easy access to an education. The completely legal practice of birth tourism is solely harmless, unfortunately, the illegal activities run behind it have created a bad name for it. Visa frauds have occurred especially within the maternity hotels.
By Gisel Flores
As humans, some tend to favor one animal more than other animals. Some may like dogs more than cats, or cats more than dogs. Having a favorite animal does no harm, but when it comes to saving one animal over another from slaughter or abuse, the majority of people tend to look the other way. This is common when dogs are being sold for meat in China and people are quick to jump into action to save those dogs or show more emotion towards that situation. However, when cows, pigs, chickens, or any other animal not considered a house pet is put in that situation, people tend to not give a second thought.
The life of an animal becomes more important for an individual if it has any significance to one’s life, such as a pet cat or dog would. With that being said, the life of any other animal should not be valued less than the life of any everyday pet. All animals are capable of showing the same emotions as humans, some more stronger than others. The fact that a majority of people can turn a blind eye to a pig or cow being murdered in a slaughterhouse, but at the same time become completely emotional and involved when a dog or cat is put through the same situation is simply hypocritical. All animals should be treated with the same love and compassion as any house pet. No species should be looked at as being superior to another species of animal.
The average lifespan of a cow ranges from eighteen to twenty-two years and, just like people, cows feel pain and are conscious beings with emotion. In a slaughterhouse, a cow’s lifespan typically does not pass thirty-six months. Just as puppies play when they are young, calves also have that same playful spirit as well; Even when they are older, some are still capable of having those same playful tendencies. Despite many assumptions, chickens are very intelligent. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), chickens are capable of counting, manipulation, and showing some level of self-awareness. If humans start spending more time with an animal other than a regular cat or dog, one will start to see the compassion that all animal show to humans.
Once people stop looking at animals differently, the reality of how alike humans are to animals is realized. Just as humans, animals feel pain regardless of their species. Animals are capable of feeling emotions, just as humans do, as they feel the same range of sadness and happiness that people can relate to as well. All animals should be looked at as equal with the same love and compassion.
By Madison Brown
In the aftermath of the United States developing some of the most powerful border legislation in the late 19th century, immigration surges came from all sides of the country and carried people of all kinds. Most notably, however, migrants from Mexico seeking to live out the American Dream, while contributing to their communities, became America’s biggest point of exploitation.
On the cusp of World War One, there was an overwhelming need for labor in the United States, as many men were being sent out to fight while the women were given the responsibility of holding down the homes. This created a cause for these individuals to provide service in tedious and otherwise unwanted work in largely agricultural places. However, around the 1930’s, after the war efforts had begun to die down and society began to return to its natural state, deportations began to be issued for those that were once granted the ability to come over and work. Nevertheless, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, an economic demand for workers opened up once again, and more labor agreements were made with Mexico under the Bracero Program in 1941. The program, according to the University of California Los Angeles Labor Center, had been designed to import millions of Mexican workers, which were mostly men, on agricultural work contracts for short periods of time. While this program was effective in providing the U.S. with labor that it needed, it simultaneously was separating families in Mexico. The United States was undoubtedly quick to end these programs after economic standings had become more coherent, and movements were stopped by any means possible. The most effective tool in further suppressing those that had just provided their work came in the form of derogatory language, and then deporting the millions individuals who had come to help, through “Operation Wetback” in 1954. What was supposed to come as a form of legislation turned into a witch hunt that left millions terrorized and only 225,000 deported according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
Efforts to reduce and revert the oppression towards immigrants has been successful in some aspects, as well with progressive ideas being introduced by members of the newly elected congress such as “permanent protection to Dreamers, young immigrants brought to the country as children, and TPS holders.” According to the vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress. Along with outspoken individuals, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the 116th Congress of the United States, the slow wheels of national reform have already began to turn as she plans to succeed in the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), while allotting freedom to Mexican individuals seeking asylum and better opportunity on the basis of them being native to the lands. On a more cohesive level, the use of popular culture in aiding the end of decades of impartiality towards mexican immigrants has recently come from Alfonso Cuarón’s film entitled, “Roma,” which highlights the truths of Mexican life in the 1970’s under the heat of low paying work and odds stacked against those seeking better futures. Only shortly after its release, the film has received over twenty awards, while providing recognition to those within the film, such as the main character of the film played by Yalitza Aparicio, a mexican actress, as she has now been featured in Vogue and Vanity Fair. While “Roma” is only one film and has not yet even reached the peak of its lasting importance on the film and real world, the voice and representation that it has given Mexican workers is impressive to say the least.
On the other hand, overpopulation became a true problem for the United States, as the economic state of the nation was not well equipped enough to support the amount of people within it. Actions to defeat this problem came through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which was designed to limit the amount of those staying within the United States, while also giving opportunities for families to stay together once brought over. With this type of legislation in place, the fault of the overpopulation could not truthfully fall onto the immigrants, and politicians today are left with little to no real basis for the claim of having no fault. Due to overwhelming amount of pride in the using of a nation of people to reap benefits, the need for reparations of any kinds towards Mexico and those of Mexican descent has been erased and instead leaves resentment from the American people on issues that they are not formally educated on. And frankly, for being the “superior nation of the world,” as well as the most successful in terms of economic function, continual juxtaposition of the ideas of those that came before us depicts a very different image. The overwhelming truth that most neglect to acknowledge is that the United States needed Mexico well before Mexico ever needed the U.S., and the narrative of the United States being the saving grace is far from the truth, as they are what aided in the creation of most of the economic and political instability that Mexico faces today.
Rather than placing blame on an entire race of individuals for seeking shelter in a place they were once welcomed, it it the responsibility of the United States to live up to their demands and provide adequate aid in the way that Mexico had done before. The horrifying truths behind the workers that are still here with more than thirty percent making less than five dollars a day, as well as the rampant sexual and verbal abuse of immigrants at the hands of deportation officers, are all problems that require a fair hand of justice to end.
By Megan Irwin
Nuclear weapons have been on the forefront of proving international dominance for the past half-century, beginning after the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as both cities fell victim to the atomic bomb. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain the only two nuclear weapons to be used in global warfare, however, the creation and expansion of nuclear weapons have spread to a multitude of countries, all in order to compete in the ongoing nuclear arms race for superiority. Following the thought of a full-scale nuclear war, comes the onslaught of possible consequences that would ensue.
The extreme amount of nuclear weapons held by large political powers, such as Russia, North Korea, and the United States, allows them to continue to use the hazardous buildup and exploitation of nuclear weapons as a political threat. This threat to inflict environmental devastation on other countries has lead to an increase in intensity among world powers. The United States and North Korea especially have had immense nuclear tension in the past decade that has yet to be resolved, leaving citizens scared of a looming nuclear war. Recently, at the Hanoi Summit, a conference between the U.S and North Korea regarding the denuclearization of North Korea, both world leaders refused to come to a peaceful resolution to denuclearize North Korea. The tension between these world powers promotes further advancements of nuclear technology as retribution.
Even a small nuclear war would cause near-irreparable levels of environmental devastation. The hypothetical scenario of a nuclear war would drop ozone layers, kill natural vegetations and animals, plus the numbers of human casualties would be insurmountable – not mentioning the nuclear waste that would take decades to clean and recover from. A singular nuclear bomb containing twenty kilograms of uranium would create 2000 metric tons of uranium mining waste and four metric tons of depleted uranium among other deadly toxins. Multiply the waste of a singular nuclear bomb by the 70,000 nuclear warheads manufactured on an international scale, the environmental impacts would be catastrophic, if there was an environment left to save after a nuclear war.
Billions of lives are left in the hands of several world powers too stubborn to realize that the production and threat of nuclear war itself is problematic. The childlike nature of world leaders may find a shiny red button too irresistible that they kill billions of innocent civilians who never thought that their death would be in the headlines of the first nuclear war.
By Gisel Flores
Christianity among other religions has been a gateway to spiritual salvation in the lives of many people since the beginning of time. By promising an endless amount of love and support from its followers and Jesus himself, Christianity hopes to extend their beliefs to as many people as possible. One of these conversion methods is by scaring children in horrific ways with their seasonal attractions, Hell houses. Hell Houses are Christian versions of haunted houses, combining theater and scare tactics that often reenact real-life scenarios, pushing certain viewpoints in order to literally scare people into converting to Christianity.
Hell houses act out graphic scenes of murders, suicides, rape, abortions, homosexuality, gun violence, and more. One of the most well-known Hell house being the Trinity Church Hell House, which recreated the 1999 Columbine Shooting only six months after the massacre happened. This church’s Hell house portrayed the two shooters as “agents of Satan” as they had never devoted their souls to God with the goal of slaughtering Christians. The victims of the shooters were sent to heaven because of their Christian faith and the two shooters were dragged down to Hell. Reverend Tim Ferguson, pastor of Trinity Church, claimed that the message of this scene was that “if you don’t accept Christ, there are consequences to that in a real place called Hell.” However, with some simple research into the two Columbine shooters, you’d find that in no way is there any evidence that has it ever been mentioned that it was a hate crime towards Christian believers.
These Hell houses also show the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community as being “lustful sinners,” and oftentimes show them horrifically dying of AIDS. In one instance, a Hell house in Chicago named “The Room: A Journey to Hell,” got shut down for planning to recreate the Pulse nightclub shooting that happened back in 2016. As something that was so traumatic for those who were present in the Pulse shooting, or any shooting, young children going through a recreated version of those events. On numerous occasions, people have broken down in tears from walking through these Hell houses, especially with common traumas like drunk driving accidents, suicide, and depression. The method that these Hell houses teach about sin by relating it to the real world leads to such a narrow-minded view on social issues. Participants that go through Hell houses are shown horrific scenes that claim are directly caused by Satan taking hold of that person because without the help of Christ, everyone is doomed to a tragic ending.
Scaring people into converting to a religion is unnecessary, especially when recreating graphic and shocking scenes that display false information about events that have previously happened. Hell houses allow all ages to participate, but mostly encouraging parents to bring their young children. These young children that are brought through these Hell houses are brainwashed at such a young age into believing that the devil and demons exist by using horrific scare tactics with the intentions of possessing those who do not attend church and allow Jesus into their hearts, and then dragging them to an eternity in hell once they die.
By Gabriella Gatchalian
Entertainment is used to give some sense of pleasure towards its viewers, the amount of details that is put in entertainment is meant to make sure that the viewers will continue to give their attention throughout. Movies for example, are most prominently used to entertain by any means necessary, meaning movies can project fictional stories or reenactments of true scenarios with the use of various props and materials that will sustain viewers’ attention.. However, the effects of the influence movies have on the minds and actions of viewers are often not talked about in media. The most susceptible victims of the media are teenagers, according to research done by Harvard Medical School which states, “[through the usage of f-MRI scanning] young brains have both fast-growing synapses and sections that remain unconnected. This leaves teenagers easily influenced by their environment and more prone to impulsive behavior.” This research shows how the environment that teenagers surround themselves with can greatly influence their minds and actions.
The susceptibility of teenagers to media influence makes movies prominent in impacting their minds. The ability of movies to influence the minds and actions of teenagers has been an issue that was brought to life when movies started to include the usage of drugs. The injustice that occurs with the utilization of drugs in movies is the romanticizing effect it has on the viewers. Movies rarely show the actual psychological effects of drugs. Most movies focus on the satisfaction of the drugs and not the downfall of a person after the effects of the heinous substances wear off. The aspect about movies that everyone has to understand is that they are designed to entertain. Therefore, to find a movie with an accurate portrayal of actual events is rare, as even tragedies are shown with great exaggeration to encourage people to continue watching. Movies are forms of entertainment that often show an unrealistic view of real life events. Drugs are a real-life issue, and the real-life effect of addictive substances are constantly removed from the final product of a movie.
Movies, especially ones with great aesthetic, can lead to the romanticization of horrid events; the usage of hardcore drugs is an important example, for it desensitizes teenagers to such serious issue. Movies that demonstrate a temporary satisfaction from a drug that actually permanently damages brain connections give a wrong projection of the truth to teenagers. This is an ongoing and complex problem, however, the normalization of the consumption of drugs as movies do is a problem that can be easily changed. Even though the main purpose of movies is to entertain, the fact that people are easily influenced by anything the screen projects should lead to a change in the way serious issues are portrayed.
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