Adventures of Frangipan

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Getting Involved

So after all my initial worries about being lonely and not making the most of this year, I think I'm doing OK.

There are about 30 of us on the course, and I'm getting to know quite a few of them. We socialise on Friday nights after class and have arranged our first other social. I'm going kayaking and getting to know a few people there. I'm a course rep, which hasn't involved anything yet, but I have a conference next week. I'm president of the photography society and trying to sort stuff out that we can do. I'm going to the gym fairly regularly. I'm signed up to badminton, film society, sky diving, volunteering and rock society, but haven't done anything yet.

And today I was appointed Affiliates Coordinator for the RAG committee.

I wonder if I'm taking on too much?!

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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Robin Hood Tax

You may have heard of this in the aftermath of the banking crisis, but people seemed to forget about it quite quickly. Now, with Ed Miliband as the new Labour leader, it is gaining some renewed support in the UK, and is being supported globally (under its alternative name, the Tobin Tax).

Basically it is a small tax on banks for transactions. Tobin never set any concrete ideas in place about how much it should be, but he suggested a tax less than 0.5%, or even as little as 0.005%. The idea is that the money raised from this tax would go into a worldwide fund for development and poverty alleviation, and now, climate change adaptation/mitigation.

As well as raising money directly through the tax, it would have a knock-on effect of slowing the movement of money around and stabilising economies. This would likely shrink the banking sector (the degree would depend on the size of the tax), but since banking is one of the most profitable businesses in the world, it's not such a big deal.

Governments seem disinterested in making the banks pay for their errors. Apparently we should all be sympathetic because some closed and some had to make people redundant. But they got themselves into that situation in the first place, and dragged us down with them. And those that survived are still doing quite nicely: hefty bonuses and all. Meanwhile a huge amount of public money went into rescuing them, and now we have to put up with increased taxes and reduced public spending. So we're getting less for more right? Surely that's the wrong way around: aren't we a capitalist economy (world, even), interested in efficiency and therefore getting more for less?

Ed Miliband is being hailed as the new opportunity to get the Robin Hood Tax back on the agenda. Find out more about the tax and show your support here (including which world leaders and celebrities are on board), and see the Robin Hood Tax videos here.

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Monday, 11 October 2010

Ever heard of environmental estrogens?

So, Disaster Management & Sustainable Development is not a course to do if you want to feel good about the state of the world. I already knew that, but I am still learning lots. For example, one of my tutors is fairly sure that men will be infertile within 50 years, due to environmental estrogens. These are manufactured estrogens and have been shown to have effects on hormones and fertility and have even have effects on the sexualisation of fish: changing them from male to female.

Where are environmental estrogens found?

They have been produced by industrial, agricultural, and chemical companies and introduced into the environment for most of the 20th and 21st century. They can be found in food such as commercially raised beef, chicken and pork, and they have been used to increase milk production in dairy cows. Two food additives have also been suspected of altering hormones: propyl gallate and 4-hexyl resorcinol.

Pesticides used on fruit and vegetables and in the garden contain them, as well as household products like cleaners, air fresheners, paints, solvents, glues, varnishes, carpets, fibreboard, and other processed woods. Personal care, cosmetic products, nail polish and remover also contain them.

Lastly, they can be found in plastic containers for food and drink, including styrofoam and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, which were found to be leaching estrogens into the water inside.

Some conditions associated with environmental estrogen:
  • Faster aging
  • Autoimmune disorders such as lupus erythematosis. thyroiditis, and possibly Sjoegren’s disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Breast tenderness
  • Cervical dysplasia
  • Early onset of menstruation
  • Endometrial (uterine) cancer
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Fibromyalgia (thought by some to be related to estrogen dominance)
  • Infertility
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Low sperm count
  • Man Boobs (Gynecomastia)
  • PMS
  • Premenopausal bone loss
  • Thyroid dysfunction mimicking hypothyroidism
  • Water retention
How do you reduce your exposure to environmental estrogen?
  • Avoid buying food and drink in plastic containers, wrapping food in cling film, heating food up in plastic
  • Use glass or ceramic containers to store food
  • Replace your chemical based household cleaning products with natural products; avoid solvents; use natural pest control
  • Buy hormone free or organic meat; avoid the fat on meat or poultry where the chemicals accumulate
  • Buy organic fruit and vegetables where possible
  • Eat a diet high in whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables and low in processed food
  • Avoid food and drink with artificial additives
  • Use natural, chemical free cosmetics
  • Avoid birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. Use bio-identical hormones based on saliva, urine or blood tests done by a functional medicine doctor.
  • Do not use spermacide
So there we are. Lots of fun facts about the state of the world we live in.

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