Dan Barber: How I fell in Love with Fish

This was a fascinating video for me. This video highlighted a lot of topics that I have often wondered about in terms of sustainability. When Barber talked about the first fish farm and how they bragged about being totally sustainable. However after Barber dug into the facts a little more, it turns out that they fed their fish chicken. There is nothing natural or sustainable about raising a chicken and then feeding it to fish. Not only is this a non-sustainable source of food but it is in fact using additional food in the process. The second farm in Spain that produces the fish that he fell in love with however, was according to Barber, is completely sustainable. If its like Barber said, not only is the fish farm sustainable, but it in fact cleans the pollutants out of the water, but feeds the native bird population and has restored their numbers from a dangerously low numbers back to a healthy population. In order to create a sustainable environment we need to find more ways to produce food and other goods in sustainable methods such as the fish farm in spain.

Richard Wilkinson’s How Economic Inequality Harms Societies

I agree with a lot of Wilkinson’s points, largely because he has data to back them up. However the thing that he neglects to mention is the cultural differences in the countries that the data is pulled from. The USA has always had huge economic inequality. Capitalism is what this country was built from and what it has grown from. Capitalism is the main factor in economic inequality in the US. If people weren’t driven by money than there would be little to drive them, of course there is always self satisfaction and pride, but these things will only get you so far. This gap is increased even more as the inequality grows. If a man named Sam turns a little shoe store that he started himself into 3 little shoe stores then he slowly climbs on the economic ladder away from John who is also a shoe store owner but is only able to manage one store. Now Sam and John each have a son. The son in each family inherits the store from their father. John’s son saw how John ran the store and made a comfortable living from it. Now John Jr. who  learned everything he knows about running a shoe store  from his father, continues to run his store the same way, and he too lives a comfortable life. Sam Jr. however, learned everything he knows about running shoe stores from his father, and continues to run his three stores that he inherited from him the same way. Now unlike John Jr., Sam Jr. is not content with just a comfortable lifestyle, he wants more than that. So Sam Jr. takes his three stores and turns them into six. This continues generation after generation until Sam’s original shoe store has turned into a multibillion dollar business while John’s shoe store is still just a small but successful shoe store. This creates an ever widening gap in the economic equality of the US. This highlights why the US has a widened gap in its economic inequality.

Don’t Panic: The Truth About Population

Rosling’s video on population covered a lot of the issues that I have wondered about whenever I hear something about world population. Mainly I was wondering about the population growth caused by family sized. My thoughts were based a little closer to home and on a smaller scale. I was thinking about the baby boom here in the US and was wondering how long the population would continue to grow at such a rapid pace with family sizes shrinking. It was not uncommon for families to have six or seven kids, now that is almost unheard of. I found the video interesting because there are a lot of the same ideas only on a world scale with legitimate facts instead of just my uncertain opinion. It just left me wondering if the population will soon start to decrease and return to a more manageable level.

The Traps Facing the Bottom Billion

The facing the bottom billion is an interesting view on the world economy. The first trap, conflict, is something that we as Americans easily overlook. Why? Because, when we are at war we are almost completely un-impacted by it. During World War II, the entire nation was tied together for the war effort. Food was rationed along with many other goods, and most able bodied men were overseas fighting. Now however, we are almost unaware that out troops are overseas. Sure we see some of what’s happening on the nightly news, or we hear about it in the newspaper, but it is never a major concern. This is not the case however, for the countries that make up the majority of the bottom billion. Their wars are going on in there backyard. They are effected in everything they do. Imagine having to worry about being in the middle of a war just trying to get to work, or get your kids to school, if you’re lucky enough to have a place to work or a school system for your kids.

Natural resources is another “trap” that we as Americans overlook. This is because we are surrounded by an abundance of natural resources that we take for granted. Farming is an example that comes readily to mind. Just taking the jobs into consideration that farming creates shows what a major effect one natural resource can have on the economy. First, there is the farmer, and with the size of modern day farms, most farmers will have full time help. Next the crops have to be taken to market, and for this we need truck drivers. The truck drivers take the raw product somewhere to either be packaged or be made into something to be used by the public. In order for this to take place there needs to be somebody at these locations to do this. Then the product needs to be loaded back onto trucks and taken to stores to be sold, and the process continues until the food is on our tables. All of these steps have a significant effect on our economy. This is just one example of the many natural resources America has to offer. Now think of all of the paying jobs that these resources create, now take all of them out of the picture and imagine the hit our economy would take.

I won’t spend a lot of time talking about landlocked countries partly because I don’t think that’s the best way to word it, and also because there is simply not a lot to be said about it. It has more to do with relations of bordering countries. Obviously this would not be a factor if all countries had access to exporting outlets on the water, but this is not the case.  Relations with bordering countries are extremely import for ease of export. Like Paul Collier mentioned there are ways around dealing with bordering countries such as flying exports out of the country. But this is simply just not as convenient, whether it be cost or quantity it creates more obstacles that cost money and reduce profit, crippling the economy.

Governance is the final trap which is an obvious one in my opinion, and most of it is covered by Collier in his description. Basically without government there is no structure, and there is no foundation on which to build a functioning economy.