Every Sinner has a Future…

Although I live in a country (Finland) where WWF’s Earth Hour every year falls onto a date when it is already so light outdoors that you do not need any artificial lights, I have in my heart and in my mind celebrated Earth Hour for as long as I can recall WWF having started its campaign for spreading awareness about important topics including environmental wellbeing and the protection of animal species, which all are under some kind of threat due to human activities on this common planet that we share.

 

Each year, Earth Hour has been more of an ideology to me:

 

I do not need a separate Earth Hour, because since many years I aim to live in a way that harms the planet as little as possible.

 

That includes cutting down on “luxury” basically to a minimum level.

 

I sold my first (and probably last) car 12 years ago.

 

I have not used an airplane for more than four years. Not for business, nor privately.

 

I have made it my priority to consume more wisely, including my eating habits and the clothes I wear.

 

I only buy what I need.

 

I use as little electricity as possible.

 

I walk or bike most of the time.

 

I clean up the nature around me every day, 365 days a year.

 

To me, real luxury in life is to have awareness, and be conscious of what is taking place around me.

 

I am not saying that I will never again drive a car or fly around the world. That is something I have done already, in my past.

 

There is a saying: “Every sinner has a future, and every saint has a past”.

 

None of us is perfect. We all have our flaws and weaknesses.

 

As human beings, we all destroy the environment. We all consume too much.

 

But what makes a difference are those small everyday choices.

 

Make smarter choices.

 

You don’t have to give up on all “luxuries” in your life, but you can try to make small efforts to improve your way of living and your impact on this planet that we share together, with now around 7.5 billion other human beings, and millions of animal species that suffer from the consequences of human greed.

 

WWF’s Earth Hour is really not about turning off the lights for one hour per year.

 

It is about turning on your inner light for 8750 hours per year, and for becoming increasingly conscious of what needs to be done for the well-being of our environment.

 

Anne-Maria Yritys 29.3.2019

 

A Story About Modern Slavery

With International Women´s Day on March 8th, human rights is a topic that is close to my heart and one of the main issues I have been researching for many years now. In one of my previous posts from November 24th 2017, What is Gender Equality in The 21st Century?, I discussed the current state of gender equality and referred to for instance the World Economic Forum´s Global Gender Gap Report 2017.
The 2018 version of WEF´s Global Gender Gap Report can be accessed here: WEF The Global Gender Gap Report 2018. Research on gender equality is a human rights question, and the need for this kind of research indicates how much work there still is to do worldwide before we can speak about gender equal societies. With females representing around 50 % of global population it is actually ridiculous that we even have to discuss the fact that females have the right to equal treatment and possibilities as males. Equally or even more concerning is that in addition to females facing many kinds of discrimination for instance in workforce around the world, our world deals with serious human rights violations such as modern slavery.
According to ILO (International Labour Organization), forced labour i.e. modern slavery includes any work that is performed involuntary and under the threat of any penalty if the individual refuses to participate in this kind of activity. With a few exceptions to forced labour, such as work in emergency situations, the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention No. 105 clearly prohibits the use of forced labour for instance as a means of labour discipline. Finland ratified this agreement on May 27th 1960. Almost 59 years ago.
Nevertheless, the current employment system in Finland, led by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland allows for corporations/organizations to employ unemployed citizens of the country with state allowances/subsidies, thus signifying that this kind of system makes modern slavery possible: in Finland, a modern welfare society where citizens currently have access to many public services that are financed mainly through a progressive taxation system, all unemployed people and job seekers have the right to receive state allowances while in-between jobs. What makes this problematic, however, is that unemployed people can basically be employed by companies/organizations with fixed-term contracts without paying any kind of salary.
Year after year politicians from certain political groups in Finland have been discussing how these company subsidies should be abolished and made illegal, yet no one actually does anything. Empty talk.
 
In the meanwhile, the Finnish state is allowing for companies and organizations to legally employ and recycle unemployed people with fixed-term contracts and without any kind of obligation to pay a salary or to even insure the unemployed worker, who during this fixed-term “employment” period continues to have the right to receive state allowances while working up to 30 hours per week for an organization that pays him/her no salary, and that usually “employ” another unemployed individual as soon as the maximum fixed-term period of the previous unemployed has come to an end.
 
This is all legally taking place in a western country that has been a member state of the European Union since 1995.
How does this kind of system support sustainable economic growth?
How does it support the birth of new employment and jobs?
How does it improve equality on the job market?
How does it improve the purchasing power of consumers? 
How does it improve the national economy of the country?
The system was first legalized and introduced after Finland’s great slump in the early 1990’s, when the state had to devalue its old currency and save a few banks from bankruptcy, which led to disastrous consequences for many Finnish citizens and entrepreneurs.
What this kind of system leads to in a welfare state is:
  • A growing gap between the rich and the poor.
  • Less new jobs, since unemployed people are forced to work for free and thus preventing companies and organizations from new (paid) job openings.
  • More inequality on the employment market: some people get paid for their work, while others do the same jobs for free (on a state allowance).
  • It leads to increasingly much poverty among population, since state allowances are at a level that are officially below the poverty rate in Finland and living with such conditions on a market like Finland is definitely worsening the purchasing power of consumers/citizens/unemployed people who must try to live under such economic conditions, regardless of amount of previous educational level or years of work experience.

A country´s labor force participation rate on the employment market is one of the key indicators for a country´s sovereign credit ratings that are officially being issued by credit rating agencies such as Moody´s, Standard & Poor´s, and Fitch Ratings. Hence, in national economy, general unemployment rates have a direct impact on the credit rating and state lending terms of a country. The better the official credit rating of a country, the better the terms and conditions for state loans.

For example S&P Global Ratings´ Sovereign Risk Indicators 2018 Estimates takes into consideration factors such as nominal and real GDP, investments rate on GDP and unemployment rate of a country in its country risk analysis. Furthermore, S&P country risk assessment includes four sub-factors: economic risk, political risk, financial system risk, payment culture and rule-of-law risk (S&P).

When a country like Finland wants to keep or improve its country credit rating, it is thus important for its government to enhance workforce participation on the labor market, whereby a low unemployment rate gives the country more credibility on international lending markets and helps it attract investors. It is, however, questionable when a country uses certain methods to “clean up” its unemployment records, such as removing unemployed people from the unemployment statistics if and when they participate in labor market activities such as basically forced labor with state allowances in corporations and organizations around the country. Is this not a distortion of facts and reality?

 

 

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Sustainability is a Matter of Wise(r) Choices

During this era of climate change awakening and a realization of what is going on in terms of climate change and environmental destruction around the world, it would be very non-kaizen not to individually contribute to increasingly much sustainable economic development. Kaizen is Japanese, and can be recognized as one of the basic ingredients for the success of Japanese products on the world market. Not only the term, kaizen is actually a life and business philosophy of continued improvement, personal development, and efficiency.

 

Implementing kaizen into one’s personal life, and business, is simple. Since radical change is often challenging for anyone, methodologies such as kaizen can be implemented as a part of both personal life values and core business values. Leading an increasingly much sustainable life both in business and privately does not mean that we have to give up on everything or drastically change our consumption habits. We can, however, contribute by reconsidering our consumption and through changing some habits. For many businesses worldwide, sustainability already is a competitive advantage and at the very core of the brand. 

 

Environmentally healthy choices are in fact often better for our health too, such as biking (exercising) more, using public transportation instead of sitting for hours in traffic jams (which is very stressful), eating less red meat, eating less cheese and so on. Many people today go vegan and protest all animal farming. It is up to each one of us to decide how far we are willing to go. Even small changes matter. Instead of eating beef every day, why not just once or twice per week and consider some other options, such as having one vegetarian day per week, or replacing beef with chicken or fish. Letting go of old habits can be extremely difficult, especially if the change is forced upon us or if we are unwilling to change.

 

The bigger the change, the more important it is to take baby steps and not to force yourself or other people to change. Guilt-tripping only makes things worse.

Nevertheless, considering the fact that the vast majority of world population cannot even afford buying meat, it may be helpful in understanding that to many people, meat is in general a luxury product that they cannot afford. And while overweight has become a larger problem worldwide than hunger and malnutrition, millions of people in this world actually go hungry every day and do not get all the essential nutrients such as proteins and different vitamins.

 

Except for Europe and North America, the whole world has been eating insects as a part of culture. Not until recent years have insects made their way to European tables, supermarkets, and restaurants too. Food is one of the biggest single anthropogenic factors worldwide contributing to an increase in CO2 and methane levels. 

 

Some people and sources claim that it is too late to plant trees and vegetation to stop human-caused climate change and to prevent CO2 levels in the atmosphere from increasing. 

 

I disagree.

 

Now, more than ever, do we need to plant more gardens, more trees and more vegetation to save this planet from toxicity. Trees and plants play a significant role in the environment, absorbing large amounts of CO2, helping the environment to stay cooler than it would without any greenery or trees, and helping the environment to prevent for instance erosion. 

 

In his book “*Puukirja: puut osaratkaisuna maailman nälän ja ilmastonmuutoksen ongelmiin” (1997, Ympäristö ja kehitys), Finnish author Risto Isomäki writes about the importance of various trees not only as a source of protection for our Earth, but also as a source of food and nutrition to population all over the world. [Note:*”The Book of Trees: trees as a part of the solution to world hunger and the problems caused by climate change” (1997, Coalition for Environment & Development). The original text is in Finnish, and I have not found an English translation of this book].  

 

In terms of climate change and sea levels rising, the numbers for sea levels rising are announced very moderately and optimistically by mainstream media, meteorological institutions and research institutions perhaps since it is a) unsure how much sea levels will actually rise, if global average temperatures rise by more than an optimistically calculated three degrees Celsius (six degrees Celsius in certain regions on this planet can be more realistic unless global warming is stopped); b) the media or any scientific institutions do not want to cause panic which is understandable although the purpose and goal of quality journalism is to produce reliable information and stick to realism rather than to paint overly optimistic pictures to an audience wearing rose-colored glasses.

 

Rising sea levels are a threat to hundreds of millions, or even billions of people worldwide. A vast majority of the human population live in densely inhabited coastal areas, and coastal cities around the world are already preparing for rising sea levels. One of the main problems is that no one knows for sure how much sea levels will rise, and how fast it will take place. Due to a number of scientific factors, sea levels may rise in different proportions in various locations around the world.

 

The consequences of human-caused climate change are real and felt all around the world, in all industries and by every human being and animal.  

 

For instance in Finland much of specific crop was lost due to excess rainfall in 2017. A year later, in 2018, up to 40% of all crops was lost due to drought. Similar problems are being reported from many geographical regions worldwide. I saw with my own eyes how the environment suffered from drought just within a few weeks of time. Dead plants, trees and vegetation in forests and everywhere in nature. This is something you cannot see if you never or rarely spend time in nature, but the difference was huge e.g. in comparison between 2017 and 2018. To understand the effects of human-caused climate change and destruction does not require much more than common sense, but it is of course helpful to be interested in what is happening to our environment. 

 

If climate change is already endangering food security and food availability, imagine what will await us within a few years from now, if this development continues. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) emphasizes in its updated strategy from 2017: We have a window of opportunity to act in terms of food security, but we must take action now.

 

Sustainable economic development is in fact no longer simply a choice, but a necessity, around the world. The sooner this is realized and concrete actions are being taken by ALL citizens, all governments, and all businesses worldwide, the better will we be able to cope with what this world will turn into in the upcoming decades. Although some people think it is too late to do anything, there is always hope and we can always do our best in terms of contributing to sustainable economic development on this only home planet that we have.

 

Anne-Maria Yritys 11.2.2019

 

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What is Sustainable Economic Development to You?

Reading this analytical, reflecting article “The demise of the nation state“, written by Rana Dasgupta and published in The Guardian on April 5th 2018, can be helpful in understanding the broader context of various earthly concerns, including anthropogenic climate change and its undeniable fact of being a global problem with a lack of respect for any inter/national borders.

Hence, every action taken by any nation around the world regardless of its geographical size or amount of population plays a crucial role in creating a healthier and more sustainable future. Countries that invest heavily in sustainable development, including renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources, are now pioneers and role models for less environmentally conscious and unsustainable states.

What makes your home country a pioneer of sustainable economic development? Please comment and share this post to increase awareness of the importance of sustainable economic development worldwide. Anne-Maria Yritys

What is Sustainable Economic Development?

Reading this analytical, reflecting article “The demise of the nation state“, written by Rana Dasgupta and published in The Guardian on April 5th 2018, can be helpful in understanding the broader context of various earthly concerns, including anthropogenic climate change and its undeniable fact of being a global problem with a lack of respect for any inter/national borders.

Hence, every action taken by any nation around the world regardless of its geographical size or amount of population plays a crucial role in creating a healthier and more sustainable future. Countries that invest heavily in sustainable development, including renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources, are now pioneers and role models for less environmentally conscious and unsustainable states.

What makes your home country a pioneer of sustainable economic development? Please comment and share this post to increase awareness of the importance of sustainable economic development worldwide. Anne-Maria Yritys

Sustainable economic development

We shall need a substantially new way of thinking if humanity is to survive.

~ Albert Einstein

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Water and air are not garbage cans

Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans. ~ Jacques Cousteau

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Our legacy to future generations

This land, this air, this water, this Planet is our legacy to future generations.

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Nuclear Energy

The Sun is the only safe nuclear reactor, situated as it is some 93 million miles away.

~ Stephanie Mills

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Global (energy) evolution

The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil. ~ Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani

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