Is the glass half empty or half full? A realist would see it as half empty, whereas a liberal would view it as something we can work together on to fill up completely. Liberalism and realism have both similarities and differences but their contrast is much more significant. Both believe the world is a dangerous place, it is just a matter of how to protect yourself and get your state to the top. Both realists and liberals are aware of the ability of the states going to war and destroying each other. Both realise there is no world government which can prevent them from doing harm to one another. Both believe in the importance of hard power techniques; military power and that there is nothing to hinder them from using hard power to get what they want.

Realism focuses on the effective use of hard power such as: military power, economic sanctions and incentives. The only important actors in a realist point of view, are their states. However, this limits the progress and change in international relations and intergovernmental institutions. Although, this is seen as a drawback in a liberal point of view, they enforce that states can never be certain about the intentions of other states; trust nobody, which will always guarantee an aim for the success of their own state only. The main goal of a structural realist state is survival and if the state is a rational actor they are capable of coming up with sound strategies that maximize their prospects for survival. Realist states are states which acquire hard power capabilities, whom are locked in competition with each other state. In their view the states compete with each other in order to gain power at the expense of others losing power. Similar to China today, which is building islands in order to fortify their position in the South China Sea. China describes the man-made islands to be primarily for civilians purposes, however, most islands include runways, radars, outposts and weapon systems.

It is vital to make sure that their state does not lose any power. In structural realism, the world system is believed to require competition, resulting in the world being anarchic and dangerous for all. This results in a balance of defensive realism and offensive realism. John Mearsheimer, the founder of the theory of offensive realism, explains it to be an attempt to expand a state's power. Whereas with defensive realism, Kenneth Waltz develops the idea of a state defending themselves to maintain power by enhancing military power, etc. This supports the idea of a Hobbesian world where there is war of all against all. Within classical realism, a state is much like a human, it seeks power. In a structural realist society the states compete against each other as they believe that great powers are the main actors in world politics as well as the fact that all states possess some offensive military capability, in other words, each state has the power to inflict some harm on it’s neighbour. Much like in North Korea, who are aiming to target the US; one of the most powerful states in the world. The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, is displaying acts of offensive and defensive realism by enhancing their nuclear missile development programme. This was done by performing six nuclear tests, after the failure of one. This helps North Korea defend themselves by putting their state in high power using their resources, as well as expand their power by enhancing their weapons. These trials have lead up to a month of escalating tension over the country’s weapon development programme with new UN sanctions. This puts North Korea in high power as they are displaying how they have nothing holding them back from launching a missile of high quality on a country like the United States.

Liberalism is an enforcement of soft power, co-operation and rules. In liberalism consensus building is important as there must be an opinion that everyone agrees with. It focuses on the establishment of opportunities using co-operation and seeing states as most powerful when they work together. International organisations are liberal as they create ties in order to be effective and successful in more than one state. The largest liberal international organisation is the UN (United Nations), which consists of a large group of countries coming together. Another example of a liberal organisation is the EU (European Union). The EU countries have come together to form co-operative law making, trade agreements, etc. This has benefitted the EU states by helping the economies grow and furthermore improving the lives of EU citizens, for example making it easy for the citizens to migrate around EU states. It is believed that each state should use power by conforming to a world order which is governed by international law and respect of human rights. States are important to liberals but the key to their use of soft power focuses on international institutions, international law, treaties, human rights and global trade in order to spread their power across the world. The United States has been known to trade items such as beef, alcoholic beverages, aircraft and spacecraft parts with Australia. Japan is also known to export iron ore, coal and beef to Australia, creating and using cultural ties; a form of soft power, for the benefit of both countries.

Liberals believe in power being distributed amongst a wide range of groups and process, from IO’s (international organisations) to international trade. International organisations and multinational corporations fuel the production of most of the resources and items we have today. Without Apple, being an American company, having transported their iPhones, iMacs, iPads, etc. and declaring itself a multinational corporation, the sales of their products would have never met Europe. Liberalism supports the idea of 'everyone can win'. Liberals contradict realists as realism focuses on the benefit on their own state, rather than the benefit for all. Liberals believe that, through their strategies, all states can win when fully liberal, as liberalism focuses on the interest of all states working together. 

Within a liberal point of view, military power is the last resort. Violence is not considered to benefit everyone; if there is war, everyone loses somehow. International systems are believed to create opportunities which can be resolved in peace and with conflict, leaving it up to the liberal parties to work together. However, a world where everyone worked together in harmony, violence would be limited but it would also deprive our systems of democracy. Democracy is believed to potentially only survive using certain ounces of military power and security; transitions to democracy can be violent. Without democracy, neo-liberalism; the belief that states are central but cooperation is key, would not exist.

Both theories make valid points and are quite convincing. However, I’d like to believe of myself as a balance between the two. It is impossible to say whether I am full liberal or realist for I use different views considering the situation. It is important to have a balance of liberal and realist. Thus, there is an equal amount of collaboration and being self sufficient. In school, it is easiest to be collaborative and co-operate with my peers throughout my school projects. Communicating with everyone in my school (teachers, students, etc.) creates certain forms of cultural ties, just like the multinational corporations. On the other hand, I am one to also like to do things on my own as in some situations and compete against other students to make sure my work comes out best, just like North Korea. Although, I do not see the world in terms of pessimism and the inability to trust anyone else. Bringing in the ‘best of both worlds’ creates an opportunity for equity, which is what I feel is most important.


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Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking environmental documentary by Kip Andersen. He uncovers and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organisations are too afraid to talk about one of the most dangerous threats we face today; animal agriculture. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution. It is responsible for creating more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry. It is also a primary cause of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, and many other environmental 'ills'.

This is a real eye opener, documenting why animal agriculture is the primary contributor to greenhouse gases; the largest environmental problem we are facing today. It also states why animal agriculture contributes to the leading cause of rain forest destruction and habitat loss, creating massive amounts of untreated waste and using far more of our aquifers than if we were all to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. It's not a message most meat eaters would want to hear, as it's not easy to eat vegan in the culture we live in; a culture so oriented to meat consumption.

This movie explores how the answer to so many environmental problems is right in front of us. It costs nothing, can be implemented today and simply requires people to switch to a plant based diet, which could feed several times our current population with the same production as today.

One of the most shocking statements of the film, which had a big effect on me, was that even if we stopped all systems of transportation and turned off our utilities, we would still have irreversible damage from global warming, so long as we were to continue to raise so many animals for our diets.

I would sincerely recommend this film to anyone as it is educating and quite effective. Being a vegetarian myself, I feel quite obligated and inspired to cut out all animal products of my diet in order to help change what damage we are clearly doing to the world by supporting the livestock industry.

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Our forests are natural carbon dioxide vacuums and extractors of fresh oxygen. Today, forests cover 30% of our land but every year the number of trees equivalent to the size of Panama are lost due to our growing population and demand for more food, shelter and materials. The world's rainforests could completely vanish within 100 years if we are to carry on at this rate.

The largest driver of deforestation is agriculture. Farmers need to cut down forests in order to acquire more room for planting crops and hosting livestock. Often, small farmers will clear a few acres of forest by cutting down trees and burning them in a process. Logging operations play a big part in clearing out forests as well. Logging operations are the world's providers of wood and paper products. Loggers, those who contribute to logging operations, mostly act illegally and usually build roads to access greater areas of remote forests. Forests are also cut as a result of growing urban sprawl as land is developed for dwellings (Nationalgeographic.com, 2017.).

Deforestation is extremely harmful to the environment. The largest impact it opposes is a loss of habitat for millions of species. About 80% of the world's land animals and vegetation live in the forests that are being cut down, thus they cannot survive. Not only does it kill off many rare species but deforestation also drives climate change. Forest soils, which are moist, are deprived of sun protection without the trees there to cover. Leading to the soils drying out eventually (Nationalgeographic.com, 2017.). Trees also contribute to the perpetuation of the water cycle by returning water vapor to the Earth's atmosphere. On top of all of this, trees play a critical role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. With fewer forests there is a larger amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere. Without our trees and forests, most of our land will become dried out deserts (AZoCleanTech.com, 2017.).

The most feasible solution to deforestation would be to manage forest resources by exterminating cutting to make sure the forests remain intact. Where the cutting has been taking place, new trees could be planted in order to replaced the older trees felled. Right now, the number of trees planted are growing each year but it still remains to be only a tiny fraction of the Earth's forested land.

I feel as if we can all give a helping hand in order to eliminate deforestation. Using less paper and focusing on the environment would be the start of a long journey to saving our planet. I believe deforestation should be talked about more as it is not as focused on as many other environmental issues because if we do not act fast, we will not have the chance to act at all. 

References

AZoCleantech.com. (2017). Sweden: Environmental Issues, Policies and Clean Technology. [online] Available at: https://www.azocleantech.com/amp/article.aspx?ArticleID=557 [Accessed 24 Aug. 2017].

Nationalgeographic.com. (2017). Deforestation and Its Effect on the Planet. [online] Available at: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/ [Accessed 24 Aug. 2017].

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Too many people. Too little space.

One of the most serious issues we face right now is overpopulation. We are constantly building and renovating, making room for more families to live in the suburban areas of our big cities. However, a large population comes with a cost. Where will all the food come from if we are using farming land to build mansions, supermarkets and houses to live in? People have become used to having the option of moving to a larger piece of land when it becomes slightly crowded. What happens once we run out? If our population continues to grow rapidly we will require a number of resources we cannot provide.

Overpopulation is the root of various different problems such as species extinction, lower life expectancy in fast growing countries, excessive waste production, depletion of natural resources, habitat loss, etc (Everythingconnects.org, 2017.). It seems to be that we are running out of room and resources on our planet, and before we know it, we will be at maximum carrying capacity for the Earth.

Today's Earth holds approximately 7.5 billion people (Worldometers.info, 2017.). The current population will continue to use the Earth’s resources, decimating the land and wreaking havoc on the natural biodiversity of the Earth. We are draining the planet's freshwater supply, eradicating many species of plant and animal life and filling landfills with waste (PlanetSave, 2017.). We are also expanding rapidly, resulting in the challenge of maintaining enough crops to feed our current population.

There are various possible solutions, such as empowering women by giving them the right to sexual education, promoting and informing them of family planning and contraceptives. It is also possible to use government incentives to bring forwards ideas of responsible parenthood or even one-child legislation if necessary.

I feel as if overpopulation is a serious problem we are not paying enough attention to. Everyone should be aware of what danger and risks we are facing as we keep populating the planet. The world is estimated to reach a population of 9.7 billion by 2050, if we don't act now. I believe we, as the ones causing this problem, need to take a stand and take care of the planet we have been given.


REFERENCES:

Everythingconnects.org. (2017). Cite a Website - Cite This For Me. [online] Available at: http://www.everythingconnects.org/overpopulation-effects.html [Accessed 20 Aug. 2017].

News, P. (2017). 5 possible solutions to overpopulation. [online] Positive News. Available at: https://www.positive.news/2017/society/28035/5-possible-solutions-overpopulation/ [Accessed 20 Aug. 2017].

PlanetSave. (2017). Over-Population: The Most Serious Environmental Problem for Science. [online] Available at: http://planetsave.com/2012/05/27/over-population-the-most-serious-environmental-problem-for-science/ [Accessed 20 Aug. 2017].

Worldometers.info. (2017). World Population Clock: 7.5 Billion People (2017) - Worldometers. [online] Available at: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ [Accessed 20 Aug. 2017].

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"Water is essential to life. It need not be spelt out exactly how important it is. Yet water pollution is one of the most serious ecological threats we face today." (WWF GLOBAL, .N.D.)

Whether it is just letting your bottle roll away into the lake or disposing hundreds of tons of oil into the ocean each year, water pollution happens on the daily. It is when toxic substances are dumped into a body of water such as lakes, rivers, oceans and so on. Once the substances are either dissolved in the water, lying suspended in the water or depositing on the water bed, the water quality degenerates. This degrades aquatic ecosystems and eventually can result in the pollutants seeping through and reaching groundwater, potentially ending up in our households.

India is a prime example of a country that faces serious water pollution. The international body states that 80% of India's surface water may be polluted. This is due to the large volume of domestic sewage that merges into the water. Between 1991 and 2008 the flow of untreated sewerage has doubled from around 12,000 million litres per day to 24,000 million litres per day in Class I towns (towns with a population of over 100,000 people). This leads to an increase of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, jaundice, diarrhoea, etc (WWF Global, .n.d.).

Findings show that nearly 17 million urban households; over 20% of total 79 million urban households, lack decent sanitation. It has also been found that even the amount of water that is cleaned, isn't treated completely. This is due to the high cost of using the water treating facilities to sanitise the water completely (The Times of India, 2015.). As India is at stage 3 of the demographic transition model, meaning they are in stages of late expanding, they will not be able to afford facilities to treat enough water for a healthy population.

In order to help increase the amount of sanitary water in India, there could be projects set up to create filters such as 'Tata Swach'. The Tata Swach device combines the carbon of burnt rice husks with silver nano-particles to remove deadly microbes such as cholera, E coli, and the rotavirus. The unit costs less than CHF20 and monthly filter replacements are just CHF7 (National Geographic, 2012.). This would lead to the creation of an effective yet inexpensive water filter that could be handed out to each household in order to treat the water families collect daily. However, this may seem inexpensive to us, in the eyes of an Indian farmer who makes an average of CHF90 a year, this will impact them greatly (Anon, 2017.). Thus, a cheaper alternative would suit the lifestyle of the average farmer and his family.

In my opinion, this problem should be handled internationally as it is quite severe. I feel as if the charities taking care of the problem should continue to aim to incorporate more sponsors and volunteers in order to raise more awareness to the danger of the Indian population. With more sponsors and volunteers we could bring down the prices of the filters as well as help improve the sewage system in India. I believe, bringing this problem out worldwide should encourage the MED countries to send a helping hand. Water is essential to everyone's lives and living in a country like Switzerland, with access to clean water 24/7, makes us blind to see LED countries struggling to provide the bare necessities.



References

Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-average-income-of-Indian-farmer [Accessed 19 Aug. 2017].

Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: http://file:///Users/hannamariagustavsson/Downloads/Water%20%20At%20What%20Cost%20%20The%20State%20of%20the%20Worlds%20Water%202016%20(1).pdf [Accessed 19 Aug. 2017].

Dey, S. (2017). 80% of India’s surface water may be polluted, report by international body says - Times of India. [online] The Times of India. Available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/pollution/80-of-Indias-surface-water-may-be-polluted-report-by-international-body-says/articleshow/47848532.cms?from=mdr [Accessed 19 Aug. 2017].

Morrison, D. (2017). India: The Cost of Bad Water. [online] National Geographic Society (blogs). Available at: https://voices.nationalgeographic.org/2012/01/05/india-the-cost-of-bad-water/ [Accessed 19 Aug. 2017].

Wwf.panda.org. (2017). Water Pollution. [online] Available at: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/teacher_resources/webfieldtrips/water_pollution/ [Accessed 19 Aug. 2017].


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