The Dark Shadow Shrine

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Two useful nuggets of info....

Came across these two nuggets of useful info in the course of my lessons recently:

1) 'the wealthiest 20% of the world's population consumes 76.6% (just round off to 75% or 'more than 70%' or 'about 80%' for easy remembering) of the world's goods' -- source: Broader Perspectives

Note the point here that the rich nations' consumerist culture is responsible for environmental degradation.

Qn: Is it possible to save the environment without first addressing poverty?



2) Pharmaceutical companies tend to focus their research in lucrative areas like heart disease and cancer which tend to affect people from rich nations. The consequence is that important but non-profit yielding research tends to side-lined.
'In the 1990s, out of the billions spent on health research, only $100 million per year was devoted to malaria research. Less than 5% of all drugs produced in the world are aimed at combating tropic diseases.' (Note: the tropics is where most third world nations are located) -- source: Broader Perspectives

Qn:
1)     To what extent is it acceptable for private companies to be involved in financing scientific research? (2011)

2)     Should research into expensive medical treatments be allowed when only a few can afford them? (2007)

What price sporting prestige?

A recent article inspired by the current World Cup on the merits of hosting sporting events....Note the Singapore Context at the end.....

Qns:

1)     Does sport merit the vast sums of money that are spent on it? (2010)

2)     Hosting major sporting events creates more problems than benefits. Do you agree? (2005)

3)     Is sport too closely linked to money these days? (2001)



Battling Dengue using Science

An interesting example on ethics concerning research, and how solutions through science are never perfect, but usually associated with problems.

Click HERE for a similar example on GM fish.

Qn:
Science never provides solutions - it only poses more questions. Is this a fair comment? (2000)



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Colourful quote on the environment

My eye caught this interesting excerpt from a full-page article in today's Straits Times. I thought it was excellent for BANG-ing for environment-related questions, as it contains a colourful imagery. It is often argued that Mother Nature can wait, as the polar ice caps won't melt overnight, so we should be attending to other more pressing issues like poverty and terrorism first. Environmental issues are thus often relegated to the backseat. But this quote shows us that while environmental changes like global warming occur gradually, there is a tipping point, the crossing of which will result in a sudden change that we may not be prepared for. So the graph is not one of gradual decline throughout; up to a particular point, there will be a sharp plunge. This serves as a warning bell for us not to always delay actions towards tackling environmental issues. We had better take actions while we can before we cross the point of no return and regret......

Sistine Chapel threatened by overwhelming tourists

Note that it is not just noise pollution and littering that tourists are guilty of, but also the threat to precious artworks, as seen in the excellent example on the Sistine Chapel below.

Qn:
'Tourism brings about more problems than benefits.' To what extent do you agree?



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Food Ethics: Shark's Fin ban by MBS

An important local example of how non-green options can be denied to unenlightened consumers by businesses. If we can't persuade consumers to make the 'right' decision, then the alternative is for us to deny them the 'wrong' option. This is where enlightened businesses can choose o forgo profits for ethics -- if it's good for their image in the long run. Can be seen as a kind of social responsibility by businesses to educate the unenlightened consumer.

Note also:
- Singapore being a major hub for the global trade in shark's fins, second only to Hong Kong
-the cruelty that sharks are subject to in the process of finning
-it is not just the cruelty to sharks, but ultimately the harm to ourselves if we continue to consume shark's fin in great quantity. The extinction of sharks will upset the marine ecosystem, leading to eventual food security problems for us.
-the end of article highlights insincere efforts by businesses which pay lip service to going green yet find ways round the corner in order to secure their profits, similar to 'greenwashing'.


Qns:
1. To what extent can people/consumers play a role in saving the environment?
2. How far do you agree that ethics are more important than profits in business today?
3. Profits should be the sole aim when it comes to doing business. Comment.



Thais don cloak of anonymity

A useful article on how people can resort to the cloak of anonymity provided by the internet to make themselves heard despite the clamping down by the govt.

-note the use of proxy server to prevent being traced back via your IP address
-compare with the use of the internet during the Arab Spring
-note the invasion of privacy and freedom of speech in exchange for political and social stability (consider this: what if those online are terrorists and the junta govt is the good guy here?)
-note also the interesting imagery at the end of the article
-given my earlier post on NO to censorship, no matter how divisive the views are (see HERE), what do you make of the junta govt's clampdown on the internet here? Note that both are valid views which you would want to commit to memory.

Qns:
1. How far, in your society, should unpopular views be open to discussion? (Cambridge 2013)
2. 'With the rise of the new media, censorship is needed now more than ever.' Do you agree?



Babette's Feast

If you've done the 2010 'A' level compre, it's about "Babette's Feast", based on a novel. There's actually a movie based on it which I managed to find on youtube. You can catch it HERE.









Tuesday, June 10, 2014

NO to Censorship

A powerful argument on why censorship should be abolished, even for sensitive issues that may cause potential instability for society. See related links on the same argument here: Link1 and Link2

Qns:
1. How far, in your society, should unpopular views be open to discussion? (Cambridge 2013)
2. 'With the rise of the new media, censorship is needed now more than ever.' Do you agree?


Brazil's hosting woes

Note:
- statistics for staging the World Cup 2014 and Olympics 2016 (Brazil is the host for both events)
- possible points to be gleaned from article:
1) negative international image cultivated, contrary to aim
2) instead of galvanizing and unifying entire nation, it leads to protests
3) money could be better allocated to more pressing needs instead of lavish sporting facilities that are likely to fall into disuse after the Games
4) corruption

Qns:
1. To what extent should the government listen to its people?
2. Hosting major sporting events creates more problems than benefits. Do you agree? (2005)
3. Does sport merit the vast sums of money that are spent on it? (2010)


Food Ethics and their limitations

Note:
- ethics can refer to two broad areas: people and the environment. People can be subdivided into exploitation of consumers and workers. Likewise, the environment can be subdivided into flora and fauna. the welfare of chicken falls into the latter category.
- the focus on ethics is limited by the price tag: eggs from 'cage-free' chicken and organic crops are not cheap
-where the suffering of chicken is concerned (the 'battery hen' syndrome), note that it is not just the confined cages that restrict movements, but also the removal of their beaks to prevent them from pecking at other chicken, as well as the injection of hormones to accelerate their growth that can result in brittle bones for the chicken
- the arguments against organic food : not as environmental-friendly and healthy as it claims to be (can use this as a rebuttal for Qn 1 below)


Qns:
1. To what extent can people/consumers play a role in saving the environment?
2. How far do you agree that ethics are more important than profits in business today?
3. Is effective farming possible without science? (2005)