Tag Archives: media

Busyness and the Radio

Hi lovely readers, I hope everything’s going well with you.

I just wanted to explain why my blog’s gone a bit quiet at the moment. As usual there is a good reason, I’m not just being lazy on the writing front. Actually I’ve been incredibly busy. Half way through my degree, my workload is picking up quite a lot (I have to start writing my dissertation soon!!), and I also have a waitressing job that’s taking up most of my evenings. But I’m also doing two other much more exciting things. Continue reading

Phonebloks – Sustainable Design

Phonebloks is conceptual company that want to make mobile phones more sustainable, customizable and user-friendly.

Currently, phones tend to break within a couple of years or at least seem obsolete due to planned obsolescence and the fast-paced development of all things digital. This means that we throw away a shocking tonnage of mobiles and other devices like cameras and mp3 players. Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world, and most of it ends up in landfill – which is crazy because it contains diminishing finite metals. All e-waste produced in the UK is by law required to be recycled within the national borders, but I’ve watched a documentary exposing the fact that many companies try to skip this costly responsibility by illegally exporting the waste to developing countries. They tend not to have high-tech waste separation facilities so it is ‘recycled’ by people (and kids) sorting through it by hand, with bare feet, using small fires to separate the materials and contracting horrible illnesses from the toxins in the heavy metals and plastics.

So, electronic waste is a problem, and mobile phones are a big part of that.

What Phonebloks envisions is a ”phone worth keeping”. They rightly point out that when a phone breaks or becomes slow or doesn’t have a swanky new feature that we’re after, it’s generally just one small component of the phone that has the issue. But because they’re not designed to be repaired or upgraded, (planned obsolescence), we chuck the whole handset away. Their solution is a modular phone, where each component (battery, speaker, WIFI, camera, SIM card etc) is encapsulated in a handy ‘blok’ which can be removed and replaced with a new one. The ‘bloks’ would be developed by partner companies and sold similarly to apps.

Here’s their promotional video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDAw7vW7H0c

They’ve got a great idea, but they can’t start production until they’ve got investors and partners, and those moneybags won’t get involved unless there’s proof that such a phone would be popular. If you think it sounds great, then you should check out their website, like them on facebook and most importantly, join their ‘thunderclap‘. That means you agree to send a message via facebook, twitter or another online platform – automatically – at the same time on the same date as all the other people that have signed up. So far 302,917,930 people have added their voice.

Speak up now if you want this super cool, affordable, sustainable and customizable phone.
Eco design is the future of technology!

Occupy and Cool Police

Sorry my last post was a bit depressing and emotional. On a brighter note, look at this video by Sustainable Man about police officers supporting Occupy.

I have mixed feelings towards police, in general. Some do a brave and necessary job of protecting the public against criminals. Some are power-hungry thugs. The ones in this video, I have a lot of respect for.

This is what we need!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wg_5r4oNKZY

(Sorry the embed video option isn’t working for some reason, just use the link for now).

I wish this was my image, but it isn't.

On Journalism, Blogging and Aspirations

I wish this was my image, but it isn't.

I wish this was my image, but it isn’t.

Okay, now I’m going to sentence you to my musings, thoughts and half-baked plans.

As you may know already, I’m studying a degree in Environment and Media Studies. I’ve just finished my first year, and I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. This September I’ll need to organise my placement year, a 12 month optional paid work placement taken before the final year of my course. Lately I’ve been getting very tempted to pursue journalism.

I adore writing. Although it’s a highly competitive field to get into, I feel desperate to try.

Ideally I’d like to work for a green publication (no surprises there) but I realise there’s only a small number of those kind of jobs up for grabs, and they’re often voluntary or poorly paid. Nonetheless it’s something I really want to get into, so I’ve been taking some steps towards that goal.

I’ve applied for an editorial position with my university’s student newspaper, The Verse.
And I’ve sent off a short piece – about a new ethical supermarket coming soon to my city – to a local magazine called The Brighton Source.

I’m really excited about this, and I’m really hoping they’ll publish it. I’m already quite proud of myself because it’s the first time I’ve had the guts to approach a publication and just say ”hey, will you publish this?”.

Published articles are like gold dust for the aspiring writer, so I just hope I can get my foot in the door with these guys. I’ve had a couple of things printed before, when I was doing a voluntary internship with Inspired Times magazine last year, but this is the first time I’ve tried to go freelance..

This blog has actually been one of the main drivers in pushing my interest towards journalism. I absolutely love having this platform to express my ideas and communicate with people. It’s by far the best hobby I’ve ever had, so much so that I wish I could make a living out of blogging. It is possible to do that, if you have tonnes of readers (waaaay more than I do) and you sell advertising space. But the thing is, having adverts would, 90% of the time, run counter to Earth Baby’s ethics. I’m quite critical of consumerism, so it’d be pretty hypocritical to have ads on here.

My vague (and decidedly optimistic) idea is to pursue a career in green media, and keep Earth Baby as a personal voice. I love the way the Internet allows us to self-publish in this way. One of humanity’s better inventions, to be sure!

Also, Earth Baby got to 100 followers today! Thank you to all you lovely people!

Sorry if this was all a bit self-indulgent, I’ll get back to writing insightful posts about what’s going on in the world – I promise!

Not my image!

Population: The Elephant In The Room

Not my image!

Not my image!

“The elephant in the room” is a funny phrase because if there was an elephant in your room, you’d definitely talk about it. Pretty loudly, I’m willing to guess. If there were two elephants, there’s absolutely no chance the issue would be ignored.

And yet many people continue to ignore population growth and consumption growth.

Population growth hits the multiply button on every single environmental problem we face. The Earth simply cannot sustain 7 billion people at a Western level of consumption. We’ve all heard the statistic that if everyone lived like the average American we’d need five to six planets. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’ve only got one to work with!!

I’ve written lots on Earth Baby already about consumption, but even I’ve shied away from the population issue a bit.
Not really intentionally, but it’s more a case of thinking (rightly) that I don’t have a right to lecture about how many babies people should have. Of course I don’t. I’m a British 19 year old young woman who isn’t planning to have children for several years. I may care for the world as a whole perhaps more than many of my peers, and I try hard to educate myself about other cultures as well as environmental, political, economic and social issues…

But the fact remains that I’ve never been outside Europe. So how can I really know what’s going on in the rest of the world?
What do I know about women in India and Ethiopia struggling with poverty and motherhood?

Well, just slightly more than nothing thanks to this brilliant documentary called Mother: Caring for 7 Billion.
It’s free to stream, please take an hour of your life and watch it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdEspxlq3bo&feature=youtu.be]

It raises lots of issues but it provides answers as well. according to this film, population growth is best dealt with by educating women, raising their status in societies, reducing poverty… All things that are good in their own rights as well. Safe and effective family planning coupled with a shift in attitudes.

I didn’t catch her name, but I found one young woman in the film particularly inspiring.
She lives in a village in Ethiopia with her large family, who are very poor. Her mother married her father at the age of twelve and had many children. This young woman started listening to a radio drama about family planning produced by the Population Media Centre and it had a profound effect on her. She encouraged her mother to use the pill as they couldn’t afford to eat more than one meal a day, let alone support any more children, but her father was dubious. She refused her arranged marriage, even though the man was rich. Her younger sister died of AIDS five months after having a baby daughter. After this tragedy, she became like  a second mother for her niece.  She works full time in a family planning centre and supports her family, while going to school on the weekends. When she comes home from work she helps with household chores and childcare, before doing her schoolwork late at night. All her brothers and sisters look up to her and her father has completely changed his attitude. He regrets arranging marriages for his other daughters and is very proud of her. She even gives advice to the other children in the village, who admire her strength and purpose.

What an extraordinarily strong and inspiring woman, to go through so much hardship and still create positive change. All my own “problems” are suddenly put into perspective!

I really can’t recommend this film enough, it’s realistic as well as incredibly touching.

Greedy Lying Bastards Trailer

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW0NMjD-wtA]
This is the trailer for the provocatively named Greedy Lying Bastards - a documentary film about climate change and skeptics.  I haven’t been able to watch the full movie yet but basically it sets out to explain how climate skepticism has been engineered by energy companies. I’ve heard rumors before that huge companies that rely on  fossil fuel use (like Exxon Mobil for example) have funded false ”scientific” studies in order to portray climate change as a ”hoax”. And then you get people who think they’re being all ”independent” because they’re not jumping on the ”climate bandwagon”. Euuugh it makes me sick.

When I hear people being all like ”it’s not happening” I just want to shake them. I mean, it’s great to question everything. But to think you know better than hundreds of respected scientists (the IPCC) when you’re not even one scientist, is frankly arrogant. Not to mention most skeptics don’t even have dodgy evidence, let alone decent evidence. And to the small portion of lunatics that think climate change is a conspiracy by the government, let me just say this. The governments of most Western countries are trying quite hard to ignore climate change, because it’s very costly and annoying for them. They aren’t getting anything out of it! Skeptics are highly deluded and in a serious case of denial.

Anyway I’m looking forward to having more light shed on this, and I’m happy this documentary is going to be shown in mainstream cinemas.

Sorry for the impromptu rant, I hope you have a lovely day. ~

The Issue Attention Cycle

While reading Libby Lester’s Media and Environment as research for an essay, I came across a section where she writes about another author’s work which I found very interesting. Published back in 1972, Anthony Down’s book is called Up and Down With Ecology – The Issue Attention Cycle. He theorized that any ecological issue goes through a 4 stage cycle in terms of media publicity and consequential public attention. Here’s a summary:

  1. Pre-problem stage: The problem does exist but only specialists and some interested groups know about it. 
  2. Alarm and enthusiasm: After a series of dramatic events and media coverage, the public is alarmed by the issue and solving it is what everyone’s talking about.
  3. Realizing the cost: The public realize the various costs of solving the problem, and realize they may actually be beneficiaries of the continuing problem. Public concern diminishes as new issues rise up the agenda.
  4. Post-problem stage: The issue is no longer prominent but some institutions, policies and programs that were instigated in stage 2 will persist.

Downs’ adds that an issue will be closer to being solved if it goes through the cycle than not, even if most people forget about it rather quickly. An example of stage 3 is given in the form of cars… Cars cause smog, carbon emissions and infuriating traffic jams, and yet their rejection doesn’t get too much support because most of us rather like being able to nip into town in our own vehicle. If you think about it, a lot of us are beneficiaries of many of the world’s problems. For another example, if fair-trade standards were enforced everywhere, we’d have to pay a hell of a lot more for our mango juice and this season’s must-have fashions.

Lester goes on to say that ”this model can only take us so far”  because anything this linear is going to be an over simplification of the reality. This is a fair point, as of course issues aren’t neatly solved or ignored without consequence, they resurface and evolve into other problems, and undergo dips and surges of public awareness… It’s complex, because the world is complex. But I do think Downs’ offers a thoughtful way of explaining what happens with public issue attention. Perhaps we could add in a new stage between 3 and 4 –

3.5. Pointing out alternatives stage: At this point NGOs and other groups point out alternative ways of meeting the need currently filled by what’s also causing the problem. If the alternatives are workable, public attention remains set on tackling problem.

For the example with the cars, the alternatives would be a revitalized public transport system with a much more frequent schedule and much cheaper fares, subsidized by the money freed up from decreased highway maintenance and accidents.

I think this is really the crux of it- people seem to be worried that if we fix our environmental problems, they’ll be missing out. Their lives will be less convenient, less comfortable, more frugal and even backward. Let’s not be judgmental here, let’s be honest- no one wants that kind of life. Even if it’s the Right Thing To Do. Luckily, it’s actually an urban myth that life will be that way if we fix our issues. What we need to do is make it clear that there are other ways to tend to our needs. And not even just basic survival needs, but contemporary ones too. It’s not only possible to survive without pillaging the planet and exploiting other people, it’s possible to have a Youtube account and nice shoes as well. With our media, our art and our music, we need to paint a picture of what life could be like if we globally sorted ourselves out a bit. And we need to make it so enticing, that the swathes of people who don’t really care, who are are satisfied, ignorant, or are just having a hard time keeping afloat as it is, will be compelled to jump in and make it true.

Let’s break the cycle and make ”Making a Fantastic Super Awesome Future” at the top of everyone’s agendas.

On Higher Education

I’ve come now to the end of a certain chapter of my life, and the beginning of another. I’ve been anticipating university for over two years now and last week I finally went through my induction to the University of Brighton. Today is the start of the teaching term, and my first lecture is in approximately thirty eight minutes. For that reason I’ll keep this short and sweet but I just wanted to quickly have a little enthuse about what I’ll be learning. As I’ve said several times, my BA is in Environment & Media Studies. It’s very exciting because it’s a new and unique course – an interdisciplinary approach that will hopefully equip me for a career in some form of green media. I’m a bit nervous about having to use my mind in an academic manner again after a year of ‘doing whatever I want’ in terms of  intellectual pursuits. I’m worried about meeting the demands of higher education, which I have been told over and over are so much more big and scary and professional than anything you encounter up until that point. But challenges are good for you! And it is exciting to be sure. I’ll get to learn about my fields of interest in a much more in-depth way – I’ll begin to actually know what I’m talking about basically. Prepare for my crazy ideas to be backed up with scientific evidence!

Anyway, here are the modules I’m doing this semester:

  1. Gloabl environmental issues and management
  2. Contempory human geographies
  3. Media, culture and change
  4. Understanding Television

The first three are core modules and the last one was an option I picked out of four. I also wanted to do photographic practise, but you can only do one. I’m joining a photography society though, so hopefully I can learn a bit about it on my own. Something I’m really looking forward to is the community engagement module in the second year – where you are assessed on the quality of a volunteering project within the city for sustainable development. I love that they get the students to get involved in such a hands-on way!

See you soon x

Green Dreams and Rio+20

The International Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20 and the 2012 Earth Summit, is taking place in Brazil this week. There’s already been preparatory meetings and the actual conference is from the 20th to the 22nd of June. I’ve been wondering how it’s all going but even though I’ve been scouring both the official UN website and the unofficial Earth Summit website, I’m struggling to get a clear idea of how they’re progressing. Hopefully once it’s actually started there’ll be proper accessible news updates I can read.

However while I was looking around I found that as part of the preparations for the Conference, this partner website called My Green Dream has been set up. It’s encouraging people around the world to share their ‘green dream’ in a short video and together get a more lucid understanding of what future we collectively want. It’s an admirable project and I love the fact that people are getting this idea of taking stock and asking ‘so where do we want to go from here?’… Next we just need to resources and motivation to actually get there…

Take a look at the website, it’s inspiring and has a beautiful background picture. If you’ve got a minute, you could even get involved and post your own Dream.

Image from green-dream.co.uk

Story of Stuff

Have you heard of the Story of Stuff? It’s a friendly animated-documentary about the unfriendly issue of consumerism and unsustainable production. Narrated by Annie Leonard and produced in 2007, it’s a fantastically accessible way to learn a lot as the information is presented in a light hearted way with cute animations. It’s free to watch and share, so have a look!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GorqroigqM]

This little gem caused such a stir that it’s now grown into a whole organisation, called the Story of Stuff Project. They’ve since made loads more productions in the same style, such as the Story of Cap & Trade, the Story of Cosmetics, the Story of Electronics (all on their website) and now they’re working on the Story of Change. If you like what they’re up to then why not donate? They don’t charge anyone for the use of their films as they want the message to be flung as far and wide as possible… But that doesn’t mean they don’t cost money to make.

I think this is great because the films, like I said, are really quite easy-watching so the audience is much wider than for something dry, factual and depressing. This is really important because it’s power in number’s and everything… Any way to reach out to the masses is gold dust.

Also, after looking at their website for the first time in a while I’ve been watching the Story of Broke. It’s about how the American government collects everyone’s taxes but then says their too broke to build the better future the people want – the one with more jobs, better health care, clean air and water, and quality education. But of course the USA isn’t broke at all, it’s the richest country on Earth. The only problem is they spend most of the people’s taxes on the military, bailing out irresponsible banks and giving away huge subsidies to polluting and unethical corporations. The short film assures us there is enough money to create the future we want and we have to demand our money is spent on this goal. Here it is:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G49q6uPcwY8]

Enjoy!