Getting Fired Up!!

Hi everyone, here’s a quick update!

The last few weeks have been intense, and I’ve been quite busy. Having finally completed the proofreading for my second book, I’m now all set to move into the production phase, beginning with some illustrations.

9b93514a555ac9fd0f92383454e9fe0a--studying-noragami

All art begins with imitation, and as such I have spent the last week pouring over a compendium of images, and ideas I had contemplated for this stage. While progress has been slow (thanks to my perfectionist ideals), I look forward to getting the book out by this fall.

In the meantime,  I also recently finished the three-part series covering various facets on the phenomenon of climate change. The first entry was posted almost a month back on June 25, 2017. Little did I know then that in the days to follow I would successfully secure a research topic for my PhD addressing the very issue I was writing about on my blog. As of now, I have begun my “doctoral” adventures focusing on interdisciplinary research involving “semiconductor mediated artificial photosynthesis…”

tumblr_m94iyfAbyu1rdkqt2o4_r1_250.gif

In simple terms, my research will involve studying, and creating technologies to assist in the mitigation of steadily increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, a major global scientific challenge of the 21st century. Carbon capture is an important issue in the context of climate change as well as the looming global energy crisis; my research, will take inspiration from nature, namely the process of natural photosynthesis (the chemical reaction at the basis of life), and mimic the same behavior through electro-mechanical systems of higher efficiency, or “artificial photosynthesis.” If I were to exaggerate slightly, it would be the same as planting artificial trees that are consistently more efficient in helping recycle the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Having spent the last few days reading an assortment of research papers on this topic, and looking like this for the most part of it,

fb3236b91d47dfa5be843834b5afae92--grey-man-otaku-mode

I’m hoping to put my brain to good use, and to a certain measure, come up with something awesome during my degree, so that one day I could celebrate like this,

tumblr_static_10i3c49kf0xcsk8sswc48g84w.gif

Beyond all this research business, I still intend to keep up to date with my blog despite my busy schedule. In that vein, my next post will be a book review on Luc Ferry’s,

A-Brief-History-of-Thought-Ferry-Luc-97800620742491

I’ve also decided to move along from my extensive summaries on Carl Sagan’s “Dragons of Eden.” Instead, I will provide a rich synopsis of the remainder of the book, while skipping on the gory details. This way I can encourage you, my readers, to read the book itself while not giving away the majority of its contents.

So when all is said and done,  I’m fired up for what’s to come in the next few months.

Carlos+you+unforgiveable+piece+of+if+you+don+t+shut+_5ecc4d3f9f03c6bdd7888f6fa1fc460e

The Pensive Reverie will also continually evolve as I intend to implement a few minor, but significant changes in its content organization. Once again, I thank you all for your patience. The next post should be up very soon!

 

 

Climate Change – Part III – What can be done?

With the veritable amount of evidence that has been laid out before us, why is it that people aren’t concerned about global warming? Despite scientific consensus on the subject, some people think global warming isn’t happening at all. There are several reasons for this, and they cover various overlying and conflicting themes on global communication, and an incentive towards environmental action.

Beginning with the common lay-person, a popular speculation is formulated in the form of this question: If simple forecasts can’t get next week’s weather right, how is it that we can trust the predictions that have been made on the basis for decades or centuries from now?

The answer to this is quite simple, and once again highlights the necessity towards scientific communication, and public education. Weather and climate are not the same. Weather relates to individual, and day-to-day changes in the atmosphere; climate is the statistical average of such changes. Weather is short-term, and of a chaotic nature, thus making it inherently unpredictable beyond a few days. Meanwhile, climate is long-term average weather, controlled by the composition of the atmosphere, and is thus more predictable on the time-scales considered.  A simple analogy is provided at the Climate Communication website,

While it is impossible to predict the age at which any particular man will die, we can say with high confidence that the average age of death for men in industrialized countries is about 75. The individual is analogous to weather, whereas the statistical average is analogous to climate.

Stepping beyond the individual, we encroach upon a global dialogue between, and within political and scientific institutions. While most scientists recognize the phenomenon that is global warming, there still remain a few who believe that there is nothing to be worried about. The latter argue that the Earth is more resistant to climate change than proposed. Many of the consequential changes are, in their opinion, not disastrous, and that cutting down the emission of greenhouse gases may result in economic damage far more potent than any of the effects of global warming.

The uncertainty that exists within the scientific community has been carried over to the political realm. Skeptics use it to argue for postponing action, while contenders point out that there are various other facets of life that require action in the face of uncertainty, such as buying health insurance. The IPCC has also pointed out that confronting a large-scale task such as climate change will not occur in an economic dissolution. As quoted from the 2014 report by the IPCC’s Working Group III,

Climate policy intersects with other societal goals, creating the possibility of co-benefits or adverse side effects. These intersections, if well-managed, can strengthen the basis for undertaking climate action.

Ultimately, what can we do about it? It isn’t possible to simply “stop” climate change. Even if we turned off every fuel-burning machine on Earth, the planet would warm at least another 0.5 degrees Celsius as the climate adjusts to the greenhouse gases that already have been emitted. Nevertheless, progressing toward the future, we can still make efforts in decreasing activities that may help propagate and positively reinforce global warming.

On a local level, we can do this basically by not using as much of the stuff that creates greenhouse gases as well as using less energy. Electricity governs much of the modern world, and much of the electricity that operates many of the devices in our homes comes from a power plant, which most likely burns fossil fuels to generate that power. The simple action of turning off lights when they are not in use, and using a fan or an air-conditions only when necessary can help. Similar initiatives can be taken in the view of using public transportation, efficient recycling and waste management, reforestation etc. Beyond all of this, we need to develop non-fossil fuel energy sources. Hydro-electric power, solar power, hydrogen engines, and fuel cells could help in this initiative towards a global change in energy sources.

In conclusion, much of this is easier said than done but that doesn’t mean we should give up. Given the global nature of the climate problem, we all have a hand in contributing to the solution, and in confronting the necessary alternatives and options we must also be willing to face agreements and disagreements in faith of positive communication. The real power to enact significant change rests in the hands of those who devise national and global policies. International and scientific collaboration on technology sharing, effective communication and education of the public supplemented by an efficient transition toward alternative, and green-energy initiatives would help make a difference in the long run.

1478381675454-global warming
The environment’s role in our survival, and the importance of its preservation is common sense. There is nothing wrong in creating a better world. We have a moral responsibility in protecting and handing the planet over to the next generation. 

Climate Change – Part II – Consequential Symptoms

The Symptoms

So far, we have had a taste of the basic science behind climate change or global warming. Now, it’s time to look at the consequences. Let’s dive right in.

There is a lot that is happening now which may serve as prelude to what may happen in the future. Briefly, the major consequences of global warming would involve: extreme heat (a warmer Earth), extensive floods and droughts (but not everywhere), a big melt (say goodbye to glaciers), rising oceans and stormy weather (friendly neighborhood hurricanes and other storms), as well as ravaged ecosystems and agriculture (a price for life inclusive of all species on Earth).

Rising Temperatures 

Much of the effects of global warming comes down to discussing the effects of an average rise in the planet’s temperature. Remember, small changes in climate can equate to major effects around the world.  The “Ice Age” was caused by an average drop of just 5 degrees Celsius over a time period of thousands of years. So, what can we say about the opposite scenario? What will happen in the Earth’s average temperatures increases a few degrees in just a few hundred years?

Graph of global mean temperature from 1880 to 2009 (NASA).

Note the shorter time span. Why? Well, as humans, we have had quite the impact on the planet. Picking up around the era of industrialization, we have come far, and in our development, we have meted out a measurable influence in the biosphere. Global warming is a significant increase in the Earth’s climatic temperature over a short period of time due to human activity. We are living in the Anthropocene epoch (the term itself is yet to be deemed official).  The largest human influence has been the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, thanks to the heavy utilization of fossil fuels.

This is a big deal. To put things in perspective, natural changes in climate would follow rises, and falls in temperature amounting to 1 degree Celsius over thousands of years. The Earth’s climate can change due to volcanic activity, plant life, solar radiation, and atmospheric chemistry. Significant evidence from the IPCC now shows our role in accelerating these changes over shorter time periods.

Glaciers and Ice Shelves 

One of the most publicized effects of global warming is the melting of glaciers and ice shelves. This is quite a problem as ice plays a prominent role in reflecting solar radiation away from Earth. Thus, the loss of large surfaces areas of ice could accelerate global warming. The chain of effects, mentioned earlier, pretty much follow in response.

An immediate result of melting glaciers would be the rise in sea levels. As glaciers  melt, they are adding to the water already in the Earth’s oceans. While the rise in sea level may be modest, amounting to an inch or two, this can still cause various problems, namely the flooding of low-lying coastal areas. The scenario is particularly dire if the West Antarctic Ice sheet were to melt. This would push sea levels up to 10 meters, and many coastal areas would completely disappear.

Research predictions indicate rising sea levels up to 22 inches by the year 2100. As of now, the main big melt is occurring in the North Pole where the ice is not as nearly thick as at the South Pole. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the possibility of a summation of gradual increases in temperature to slowly, but surely, affect all corners of the planet.

A poster child for the consequences of climate change, the nation of Maldives is facing a rise in sea levels and the bleaching of its coral reefs. 

The Age of Storms

With a rise in the overall temperature of the ocean, tropical storms and hurricanes will increase in force. This is most evident in the North Atlantic where ocean temperatures have risen through long-term warming, and the cyclical nature of Atlantic currents. Think of it as a cyclic storm generator. In fact, the tropics as a whole are experiencing a general trend towards ocean warming that follows global warming.

Now, despite these projected trends, one cannot tie any single devastating hurricane or other weather event directly to global warming. This was a popular opinion when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005. While the devastation, and damage caused to the city were horrible, it is well understood that Katrina’s impact also takes into consideration the storm’s track, the weaknesses of levees, and many other factors. Nonetheless, the verdict is that for the storms to come in the future, there will be an overall strengthening of winds and rainfall.

A Changing of the Seasons 

While global warming will cause a certain lengthening of the seasons, its most devastating effects, the ones that are most difficult to predict, involve its impact on the world’s biosphere. Changing seasons may benefit certain parts of the world, while other temperate parts of the world would face long droughts, and a general decrease in precipitation.

This will be particularly influential to the ecosystems that currently thrive on the planet. Ecosystems are delicate, and even the slightest change can kill off several species. Furthermore, ecosystems are interconnected, and so what may begin as a simple symptom may develop into a chain reaction that will ravage the biosphere.

Mapping vulnerability and conservation adaptation strategies under climate change   James E. M. Watson, Sept 2013 Nature 

Life, in essence, will once again become a competition revolved around a species’ ability to adapt to the shifts in climate, though it is highly likely that many will become extinct. The most drastic example of change, in light of global warming, is actually displayed on the documentary Planet Earth where we are shown how the tundra in Northern Canada has turned mostly to forest.

Last, but not least, much of this will have a human cost. It is hard to quantify the exact amount but we can expect a greater number of medical occurrences involving heat-strokes, and other heat related trauma. Poor, and underdeveloped nations will suffer the worst effects as they do not have the financial resources to deal with the problems that follow. Prolonged droughts may lead to desertification of areas, and widespread starvation. Decreasing precipitation would limit crop growth, and coastal flooding would result in a spread of water-borne illnesses. All in all, the world’s economy will take a wallop, and so will the condition of life on Earth.

It Does Not Compute!

So, after all is said and done, why is it that some people still aren’t concerned about global warming? Despite a scientific consensus on the subject, many believe global warming to be a farce. In Part III, we shall bring this discussion series on climate change to a conclusion by addressing quite possibly the two most crucial elements of the crisis: communication, and the incentive towards action.

Climate Change – Part I – The Basics

Introduction

Climate change is a global issue that has wedded science to politics while simultaneously transcending the social responsibilities held by both institutions. A polarizing subject in many ways, climate change is considered as one of the most daunting challenges humanity currently faces; at its crux is an initiative towards global communication, and environmental responsibility.

To this day, there remains a schism between the public, and the scientific community when it comes to understanding climate change, and what it essentially means for our world. In a manner that follows the development of various other issues over the course of history, climate change highlights a certain measure of conflict in science, and ignorance.

Investing the time to learn the basics can prove the difference in being knowledgeable and informed or confused and manipulated. This is particularly crucial as climate change is a phenomenon that has wide implications to civilization, and overtly emphasizes the need for humanity to collaborate with each other in tackling the problem.

In this three-part series, we will address various facets of this issue ranging from the basics of the science behind the phenomenon as well as the consequential symptoms  or effects of climate change for the present, and the future. We will conclude by discussing the options that we must consider in our transition to achieve progress.

Let’s begin!

Dissecting Weather and Climate

Le’ts review the difference between weather, and climate. Simply, weather is local, and short-term while climate is long-term, and doesn’t relate to one single location. More precisely, the climate of an area defines the average weather conditions in the given region over a long period of time. The time period being considered generally involves changes taking place over tens of thousands of years. So, whenever we pass by a few winters that aren’t as cold as usual, it does not necessitate a change in climate. Such events are rather anomalies that don’t represent any long-term change.

Moving forward in our discussion, it is also imperative that we don’t underestimate the effects of small changes in climate. To put in perspective, the “Ice Age,” often talked about by scientists involved a world where the Earth’s average temperature was only 5 degrees Celsius cooler than modern day temperature averages. Small changes in climate can equate to major effects around the world. 

Climate Change or Global Warming

We often hear the phrases climate change, and global warming used interchangeably in describing climate transitions but there is a subtle difference. In the early 20th century, scientists used the term climate change when writing about events such as ice ages. But once scientists recognized the specific risks posed by human-produced greenhouse gases on the Earth’s climate, they needed a term to describe it.

Wallace Broecker’s paper in the journal Science, in 1975, entitled “Climate change: Are we on the brink of a pronounced global warming?” introduced the word global warming into the public lexicon.

Soon enough, the phrase global warming gained currency, and the term global change emerged as a way to describe all modes of large-scale impact on the planet, including issues such as the Antarctic ozone hole.

The planet as a whole is warming, but scientists prefer the term global change or global climate change. The reasoning behind this is that global warming can be interpreted as a uniform effect (warming everywhere on Earth), while a few regions may in fact cool slightly even if the planet were to warm up. In fact, it is a popular opinion that climate change sounds less frightening to the ear than global warming; the latter though catches more attention in the public eye. A few scientists, and activists also prefer to use global warming to imply human involvement in the process of describing climate transitions.

So, is the planet really warming up?

The short answer: YES! After laboriously working through a century’s worth of temperature records, various independent teams of scientists have converged on a rise of 0.8 degrees Celsius in the average surface air temperature of Earth when comparing the periods from 2003 – 2012 to 1850 – 1900. While this degree of warming may not sound like a big deal, it does make a big difference when it is in place everyday. Small changes can become amplified into bigger ones. Any warming can serve as a base from which heat waves can become worse. The effects are particularly pronounced in certain locations like the Arctic which has experienced an overall warming. Apart from the numbers, there’s a wealth of environmental evidence to bolster the case in favor of the Earth’s warming up. Without going too much into detail,

(1) Ice on land, and at sea has melted dramatically in many areas outside of interior Antarctica and Greenland.

(2) A lengthening of the growing season around much of the Northern Hemisphere.

(3) The migration of various forms of life, including mosquitoes, birds, and other creatures to higher altitudes, and latitudes due to the increasing warmth. Likewise, the migration of many forms of marine life moving poleward (the shift in ranges is 10 times the average for land-based species).

Other observations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlight the warming trend of the last 50 years being nearly the double of the last 100 years; a vast increase in ocean temperature to greater depths (the oceans absorb 80% of the heat of Earth’s climate system); increasing droughts; increased precipitation in eastern regions of the Americas, and northern regions of Europe, and Asia; drying trends in Africa, and the Mediterranean etc.

How Global Warming Works? 

Global warming is caused by an increase in the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is not bad on its own, and is in fact a natural circumstance of the Earth’s atmosphere. It is also the reason why the Earth is warm enough for life to survive.

The greenhouse effect, in essence, involves a play of energy balance on the Earth’s. When sunlight reaches our planet, 30% of its gets reflected or scattered back to space by clouds, dust, or the Earth’s surface. More than 20% of the sunlight is absorbed in the atmosphere, mainly by clouds, and water vapor. Lastly, almost 50% is absorbed by the Earth’s surface including land, forests, pavement, oceans etc.

Now, all this energy doesn’t stay permanently on the Earth. If it did, the Earth would literally be on fire. In fact, the Earth’s oceans, and land masses re-radiate the heat, some of which makes it into space. Most of it though is absorbed by clouds, and greenhouse gases which in turn radiate the heat back to the surface, and some out to space. Since the heat doesn’t make it out through the Earth’s atmosphere, the planet becomes warmer. It is basically an energy imbalance scenario where there is more energy coming through the atmosphere, than that leaving the Earth.

The two main components of air include nitrogen (78%), and oxygen (20%) gas, both of which aren’t efficient in absorbing radiation from the Earth due to their two-atom structure. On the other hand, other gases with three or more atoms can capture energy far out of their scant presence. These are the greenhouse gases, the ones that keep Earth inhabitable. That’s all well, and good, but the same gases also warm the Earth. The more greenhouse gases we add to the atmosphere, the more our planet warms. The major players involved include: Carbon dioxide, Nitrous oxide,  Methane, and to a lesser extent, Water vapor.

 Greenhouse Gases: What’s Happening? 

The greenhouse effect is driven by naturally occurring substances in the atmosphere. This is predicated by a necessity for balance referring to the radiation cycles of the Earth mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been pouring huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere thus tipping the balance toward an amplified warming of the planet.

Carbon dioxide makes up less than 0.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere, most of which is due to early volcanic activity in the planet. Today, we are pumping huge amounts of the gas into the atmosphere as the gas is produced when fossil fuels are burned, as well as when people, and animals breathe, and when plants decompose. Extra carbon dioxide results in more energy absorption, and an overall increase in the Earth’s atmosphere. In fact, the average surface temperature of the Earth has gone from 14.5 degrees Celsius in 1860 to 15.3 degrees Celsius in 1980.

Nitrous oxide is another important green house gas, and while we don’t release great amounts of this gas through human activity, nitrous oxide absorbs much more energy than carbon dioxide. For example, the use of nitrogen fertilizer on crops releases nitrous oxide in great quantities.

Methane is a combustible gas, and the main component of natural gas. It also occurs naturally through organic material decomposition. Other man-made processes that produce methane include: extraction from coal, digestive gases in large livestock, bacteria in rice paddies, and garbage decomposition etc. Like its fellow compatriot greenhouse gases, methane also absorbs infrared energy, and keeps up the heat on Earth.

Apart from their devastating effects, it takes a long time for the planet to naturally recycle these various gases. For example, a typical molecule of carbon dioxide can stay airborne for more than a century. Thus, greenhouse gases have both a potent, and a long-standing impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. A few other gases that make up for the rest of the greenhouse players include the Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), water vapor, ozone etc. Water vapor is particularly interesting, as it isn’t a very strong greenhouse gas, but makes up for this in sheer abundance. As global temperatures rise, oceans, and lakes release more water vapor, up to 7% more for every degree Celsius of warming, which adds to the warming cycle.

What’s next? 

In conclusion, the mechanisms involved in climate change, or global warming, are largely positive feedbacks that amplify the warming of the planet: the evaporation of water from the oceans doubles the impact of carbon dioxide increase, and melting sea ice reduces the amount of sunlight reflected to space etc. While not all feedbacks are certain, it is a grounded truth that the planet has to constantly readjust to the changes we make in our environment, in the case of global warming, the consistent addition of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. So far, I have laid the  basic groundwork for the symptoms we can expect to see, as a consequence of global warming, in our environment. Moving on in Part II, we will consider those changes in greater detail, and what they entail for the future of our planet.

Sorry for the wait…

Hi everyone,

Ideally, I would have had a blog post up by now. Unfortunately, I was taken unawares by a sudden bout of sickness that left me out of action for the last week.

20d6a01db545872efef3740bd07ebc36

While it has been a frustrating experience, being bedridden came with its fair share of perks, namely, a lot of reading, and brainstorming (I was physically out of it, but for some reason, my mental faculties were whizzing as usual).

Now that I have recovered to a good measure, I will have the first of a three-part series of posts discussing “Climate Change” online by next weekend. I intend to use this format such that I may be able to cover a wide spectrum of issues, concerning the topic, within the scientific, political, and socio-economic regimes. The goal is to provide for well-deserved communication, and education on a highly controversial subject that is inherently a simple, but significant, circumstance of our interaction with nature.

I will also post a book review on Luc Ferry’s, A Brief History of Thought, which I finished reading recently. Coupled with my efforts to finish my second book, I’m looking forward to a busy week of writing. I intend to move towards pre-production beginning with the necessary illustrations for the book. The goal is to have it published by the end of this summer (at the latest, fingers crossed).

Meanwhile, I shall continue to fight the good fight as I juggle my temporary term of unemployment with my academic endeavors, and my writing. It is quite difficult to keep a regular working schedule, especially when I’m spread thin over various fronts, but hey that is life! As excited as I am now to publish my second book, I can’t wait to get started on the subsequent writing projects I have in store. Similarly, there is a lot to look forward to in the near future, not to mention “evolving” another year  in two weeks’ time. This post was to just inform all of you that I’m still here. Once again, I apologize for the delay!

I will see you all again next weekend!

Transitions

Life is all about transitions. One moment, we find ourselves latched on to something, and the next instant there is something new around the corner that catches our attention. I have had to deal with my fair share of minute, but influential transitions owing to my absence over the last few weeks; ranging from decisions I have had to make on my academic career in pursuit of a PhD (which has incidentally become a wild-goose chase for funding opportunities), to my exodus in obtaining a driver’s license, and all the way to alighting upon the final stages of content editing my second book (Agent X)!

All of which brings me here today, back to my pensive reverie, during a stormy overcast in Edmonton that beckons me to take up the “keyboard” again, and get back to the blog posts I have been planning for a while. So without further ado, this is what we have to look forward to in the coming days!

Beginning with another recap of my “Adventures in Drawing” I will come full-circle as I complete my Drawing 101 course, and present a few more tricks I have learned over the past month.

Following this, we will shift gears, and in lieu with the current political “climate” (particularly with reference to the recent proceedings at the Paris Accords), I will provide a report on climate change, approaching the topic from a scientific, political, and socio-economic perspective.

I will also add another chapter to my review of Carl Sagan’s “Dragons of Eden,” as we explore the mechanisms of the human brain including the R-complex, the Limbic System, and the Neocortex.

Lastly, following up on a request from a reader, I will provide a learner’s review of Bitcoins, a crypto-currency, and modern digital payment system!

So, all in all, look forward to a good number of updates on the blog, and some healthy reading over the coming days everyone!

1dbde7d88d338e2872b77ea8a882c176

Making A Difference

I’m fortunate enough to have been given the opportunities that I have had in my life. Thanks to my father’s employment in a prominent non-governmental organization (NGO) called PLAN International (a child rights organization that works with communities in many countries to alleviate child poverty), I, along with my family, have traveled to several countries around the world. We were modern-day nomads, traveling wherever my father’s work beckoned. Whenever possible, I joined my father on his daily adventures, allowing myself the opportunity to understand and learn the multifaceted nature of humanitarian service and development. It also helped that my father often brought his work home, leading to long-winded conversations on his day-to-day exploits.

Growing up, I tried to emulate my father. But as my future beckoned, I learned to find my own unique path, and destiny in life. Still, to this day, I carry the lessons I have learned in the presence of my father, most notably his compassion to his fellow human beings as well as his perseverance and commitment to his work. My father found great satisfaction in the simple act of helping others, and even more, in the happiness of his family. His efforts were largely directed to these objective. Thus, he made a big difference in my life, and of countless others. So it is not at all surprising that I too feel a strong calling toward contributing to the society and making a difference in the world.

Our world is riddled with doubt and confusion. The toils of war, civil unrest, corruption, racial and ethnic differences, climate change (along with an assortment of environmental issues), to name a few, are the great uncertainties of our time. These issues afflict our daily lives, standing as we are, mute and in the shadow of a persistent struggle to communicate and unite, as a species, toward a better and brighter future. At the crux of it all, we have allowed our fear and anger to dictate our choices and actions, leading the greater part of the world to be divided.

Take racism for instance, it manifests in many aspects of our social lives. It pervades modern-day societies and political systems; the basis of its strength is a volatile expression of pride, prejudice or aversion to others via discriminatory practices. Humanity has a deep history with racism, and its various forms including segregation, supremacism, xenophobia, nativism, hierarchical ranking, and other related social phenomena. Reaching back to the ancient societies of the past: Greeks, Romans, Indians, Arabs, and even further, to their predecessors, I find that racism was a by-product of our own vanity. Natural circumstances subscribed to humanity our beliefs in an expression of individuality, dividing and classifying us, into specific races. Racism is an institution, not an ideology, founded in capitalism and slave trade.

To me, racism is nothing more than a word that describes the highly- convoluted story that is human cooperation and communication. Is there a solution to this? I admit that many of the issues that plague modern society have great histories behind them, making it difficult to distinguish a unique solution in any case. Nevertheless, I believe we owe it to ourselves to iterate the necessity for action, particularly in recognition of alternatives that may provide the foundation for future solutions.

At one point in my life, I told my father that I would love to build a university. Finding inspiration in the Akademia of Plato, I modeled my university to be an institution that pioneered free thought. People could come and go, study what they must, openly discussing their thoughts with their peers, without fear or discrimination; a platform for reason and rational conversation. I still harbor this dream, though it is a work in progress (there remains more room for thought in the realization of such an institution, especially with regards to its structures and inner workings, but what matters to me is the message of such a concept). In knowledge, and in education, I found what I believed to be a solution towards the fractured communication of the human species. By educating ourselves, and our children in proactive and collaborative thinking we may slowly shear away towards a solution. By addressing our differences, openly and without fear, we may find unity. Of course, at this point, it becomes a question of how are we to do that? I find my answer again in what I proposed earlier. All of us are unique in our own ways, but it is in the same pride with which we define our individuality that we can also define our humanity. The hierarchical structures of knowledge and government weren’t constructed as a means to enslave our species, but as a medium to liberate ourselves in collective thought and action.

This will be the challenge of our time. Communication without fear, government without bias, education without limitations…While it may require an acceptance of short-term losses for the sake of long-term benefits, we must learn to recognize the importance of our world. While anger and fear may have allowed us to survive and evolve over the millennia, those very emotions can also fuel our motivation towards building a better world, not just for those who are alive now, but more importantly for those who follow us, our children, our legacy. Therein lies what may be a small part of the bigger picture, to learn to see ourselves as a global family rather than as select individuals.

My father had a bigger picture that motivated his own actions. It was his family. He found his strength in the happiness of his family, an emotion that he channeled into his work and in the lives of others whom he met and helped. Simply put, he made a difference. Just as much as ignorance can be bliss and can forestall change, anger can be proactive and enforce our will to action. I too want to make a difference, and though I have a long way to go, by expressing my anger, not to separate myself from others, but as a tool to define and communicate my knowledge, to help shape the world, I could one day just like everyone else, if they are willing to, be the difference that will become a brighter future.