If I had a Magic Wand

I found this website via Pinterest that talked about giving people a Magic Wand. People just decide the things they want done and the wand makes it happen. **If I was still in the education system I think this would be a cool writing prompt at the beginning and end of a geography or government class.

So I started thinking about what I would do with my magic wand. I don’t believe in just giving hand-outs to people who haven’t worked or earned it but I also know there are many people who truly need help. I also believe that many of the speeches given by world leaders and pageant girls is “solutions to the symptoms, not the problems” type of thinking, and I don’t necessarily agree with that. So here’s what I would do with my Magic Wand:

*I would want everyone to have a job that they loved and were good at – whether that be a doctor, a teacher, a cab driver, or whatever. If everyone has a job then they have income and could provide at least basic needs for them and their families.

*Since I believe the population is already over populated I would want my magic wand to “create” zero population growth. Not that families couldn’t have children, but that the many, many, many kids that are abandoned and in foster care could finally get adopted and feel love and the warmth of a family.

*I would also want everyone to be at least a vegetarian if not a vegan. The world now chops down more rainforest for grazing than agriculture. Meaning we are cutting down forests to make cows fat for our own consumption. That’s just one negative consequence of consuming meat – do a quick Google search for impacts of consuming meat and you’ll see dozens of consequences: animal abuse, excess water usage, starving children around the globe, increased chemicals and hormones in your body, large amounts of animal waste, runoff and land degradation to name a few others. Here’s NPR’s story on eating meat, you can skip the first 1 minute and 40 seconds and stop about 6 minutes and 38 seconds, which talks about other NPR stories.

*I would also re-do local, national, and international infrastructure to be more sustainable with more mass commuting types of transportation. I firmly believe if we had bullet trains running all over the nation that would cut on a lot of carbon emissions from the millions of vehicles on the road and that people would prefer to take a bullet train that lasts three to five hours to get from LA to New York instead of driving or flying, which are both tedious and expensive. If there were more light-rails, and subways, and Personal Rapid Transit, I think people would appreciate the convenience and the time savings from not sitting in two hours of traffic everyday.

*I would want companies to think about cradle-to-grave manufacturing and produce goods and products that could always be recycled and reused. This would also lead to less “stuff” being taken out of the ground, chopped down, or used once and thrown away.

*I would do away with all the bureaucratic BS that surrounds the school system (at least in the United States). I would want teachers to teach life skills while also teaching content but in a way that’s FUN and meaningful. I’m taking graduate classes and I can’t even stand when the professor lectures for 3 hours, why do we expect that of high school students?! There were so many ideas I wanted to do as a teacher but they didn’t follow the standards 100% or didn’t set the students up to be successful on the state standardized testing.

*Which leads me to my next action: do away with standardized testing, at least the way it currently stands in the United States – it’s demeaning and doesn’t show what students can actually do or what students actually think; it only separates the students who know how to take a test vs. the students who don’t know how to take a test. I saw this kid speak in Loveland this summer and was so impressed by him! His talk is called, “Would Einstein get into Harvard?” And it talks about how the ACT and SAT are ruining high school students, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m so against standardized testing that I took it until I graduated middle school and haven’t taken a state or national standardized test yet! I went to schools that didn’t require ACT or SAT for admittance or at least didn’t require it of me after I had a degree, and I went to a graduate school that doesn’t require a GRE to get in either.

*I would also ask the Magic Wand to implement a flat tax everywhere! People complain about lack of fairness when it comes to the government and taxes, but what’s more fair than everyone paying the same amount?! How is it anymore fair to over-tax Bill Gates than an immigrant who moves to the United States, becomes an entrepreneur and creates wealth for them and their family?! It’s not! If everyone pays the same across the board – that’s fair!

*I would want everyone to take a class or seminar or something that taught people how to properly communicate with one another, like how to fight fair, and how to disagree with someone’s point of view without degrading the person, and basic conversation skills. I meet so many people at my restaurant that have no idea how to talk to another human being.

*I would also want the death penalty for those who did heinous crimes, specifically anything to do with children or animals. The fact that if we did away with the prison system we could send every student in America (including illegal immigrants)  to school from kindergarten all the way through 4 years of college is disgusting! (This statistic comes from Waiting for Superman). That money could be better spent on education children and creating a better and bright world, not keeping scumbags alive.

As you can see, I didn’t ask for world peace or for everyone to get along because that’s not practical to me because there will always be conflicts and problems. I know in looking at my list, there is a few items that are pretty controversial and I feel like that’s acceptable. Not everyone would want the same things I want if they too had a Magic Wand. I could probably keep adding and adding to my list, but I feel like this is a good start at solving majority of the world’s current problems! What would you do with your Magic Wand?


Growth does not equal Prosperity

I feel compelled to share the most interesting, shocking, and life-changing information that I learn while in graduate school because I feel that education is a very powerful tool. The most life-changing-stop-and-think-another-way thing I have learned this last week in school is that growth does not equal prosperity. Take a moment to think about that….. In my mind, and I would say in most people’s minds, growth and prosperity are synonyms or at the very least one does equal the other. The following video says otherwise: Growth vs. Prosperity. I strongly recommend spending less than 4 minutes to watch this video because Chris Martenson does a much better job explaining this process than I probably will, but here’s what I took away from this video:

Martenson explains people get in trouble and problems when they think that growth and prosperity go hand-in-hand. Martenson says that IN FACT, surplus leads to growth and surplus leads to prosperity, but you can’t have both. He gives an excellent example about a family with a set financial situation and then one year they earn a little more; the family can choose to reproduce (growth) or go on a family vacation (prosperity), but the family can’t do both because they don’t have that much extra/surplus money. After watching the video, I sat in class, just absolutely stunned. I think Martenson is right, people get in trouble when they think they can have growth and prosperity with the same surplus or the fact that they have to have both and think they don’t have the option to choose between which road they take. Can a business not have prosperity without employing additional people? Well the truth is they can and probably should. Why not boost prosperity for a substantial amount of time before thinking about growth? Wouldn’t families and businesses alike benefit from prosperous growth, whether that be additional trainings, travel, learning a new skill or just overall life better-ment without additional stress?! I think more people, families, and businesses should pursue prosperity without growth. I think this could lead to happier and healthier lives for every aspect of a person’s life.

Martenson has his whole website dedicated to economic growth by not being stupid. I went on to watch the remaining videos in his series, called The Crash Course. The remainder of his videos talk about overpopulation and the value of a dollar. All his videos are straightforward and pretty simple to understand so I’m definitely a new fan of Chris Martenson. But remember Growth does not equal Prosperity! Let that sink in for a few days before making your own conclusion about this statement because it took me a few days to see the genious-ness of Martenson’s statement.

The Games I Play

So I’ve been an avid Blackberry lover for 5 years, but I finally was persuaded to get an iPhone. I was determined to hate it, but it just so happens that I love this piece of technology, minus the texting. I still hate texting because I can’t feel the buttons, but that’s irrelevant at this point. Since having my iPhone, i’ve downloaded apps like it’s going out of style, but while downloading everything under the sun I came across 3 apps that I think are pretty interesting. The games are called Rescue Reef, Rescue Safari, and Fluff Rescue. The names are pretty self explanatory but it’s what the premise of the games are that I find so interesting.

In the Fluff Rescue game, their are too many dogs and cats and you need to rehabilitate them so they can get adopted. You don’t breed the dogs or cats because there’s already way too many of them for you to even rescue and take care of. This is true of real life, you shouldn’t breed cats and dogs because they are already way overpopulated. Example, over 2.5 million cats and dogs are euthanized a year because there’s already too many, yet breeders continue to pump more cats and dogs into the world, only to be abused, neglected, and eventually euthanized. It’s a very sad cycle that happens daily. But again, the beauty of the game is to rescue stray cats and dogs so they can be loved and taken care of and eventually adopted to live out the rest of their life with their forever family. There is no promotion of breeding these dogs and cats, at all!

The Rescue Reef and Rescue Safari games are very similar, except the scenery changes. In these two games you rescue, rehabilitate and then breed the different species to bring the species back from almost extinction. Again, this is true of what’s happening on our decreasingly beautiful planet. We are expanding and sprawling into rainforests and highlands, and technology and transportation are allowing us to expand into deserts and tundras. There are many consequences of expansion: we encroach on animal habitats, away animal food sources, pollute waters, and these animals eventually die off or are shot because they are “in our way”. This has happened to species in rainforests, deserts, the mountains, and so on. So the game premise is right in line with what is happening on the planet. People are finally starting to realize this impact and trying to rehabilitate species back from extinction. It’s funny because the basics of these games are what I did at Nat Geo a year and a half ago in the education department.

These games are called kid strategy games by iTunes and I like that they are educating people, not even just kids about the the overpopulation of domestic household pets and the the almost extinction of those species around the globe, including those underwater. I love these games!

Time flies…

It is amazing how one day you’re in DC and the next day it is a year and half later and I’ve been accepted to the University of Denver and starting my Master’s Degree. I feel like the day to day passes in the blink of an eye, and without a second look back so does the entire year.

I think I finally, truly understand the concept of creating goals and laying out a game plan to help accomplish those goals, because without doing so, it is so easy to get behind and thus never accomplish your goals in a timely manner. As an adolescent, goals were those annoying things you had to write out in seminar class, now it’s something I do on a daily basis, to make sure I get papers done in time.

So here’s to another school, another program, another year and hopefully a successful goal-planning adventure called my master’s program and my eventual career.

The “C” Word

NO! Not that word, get your mind out of the gutter… I’m talking about the word Conservation. Geography Awareness Week has been great but the icing on the cake has been the WWF Fuller Symposium I attended the last two days. I’ve learned so much and the only way I can express that is to tell you that over two days I heard 26 speakers and took 17 pages of notes! I had a great time, learned a lot, and now I’m feeling very inspired to, yet again, save the world. I won’t bore you with all of the notes I took because I know people are not as fascinated by sustainability and the environment as I am (I think I border obsessiveness) but I do think the repeated messages are important to the future of us as a race, the biodiversity on this planet, and the planet itself.

A topic that came up, by almost every speaker I might add, was the need for more science and more data. According to Wolfram Alpha, the field of conservation science is growing about 6%/year. Having more data will allow scientists to see if certain forests are recovering as expected, how many different animals there are in a certain park by sampling feces, checking out the toxicology of a river, whether hydropower and damming are creating enough energy to be worth it, when the best estimate is that the last polar bear will go extinct and why, and so on. There will be a huge need to fill in this gap of information with accurate and precise data. This information will be important to policy and decision-making and with this information comes the need for collaboration.

Repeatedly, people brought up collaboration. Countries need to collaborate with one another to create change; one example of this is the Jordan-Israel Peace Park. These two countries teamed up to create a Peace Park to help migratory birds across this area, which is such a great idea because two countries now have a stake in seeing that the park is successful. Another area of collaboration that was discussed was that scientists need to be in communication with policy makers and the policy makers need to be in communication with people and communities. There needs to be cooperation from every level and every area to make a positive impact on the planet. Conservation needs to be a part of the planning process not a detail we go back and try to fix afterwards – this is clearly a route that isn’t working for us.

The last topic I want to point out was that all the science and data does no good if we can’t get people to change. But you can’t force people to change, you can’t force data and facts at people, you can’t convince people to change unless you make it personal for them. People connect with stories and journeys and learning how they make an impact or can make less of an impact on a personal level. One speaker, Randy Olson, in particular mentioned that we need to be less scientific with conservation and be more artistic with it – poems, videos, sitcoms, etc… This is in sharp contrast to the second point I mentioned above, but what Randy Olson meant was that we need to be able to communicate the science of conservation.We need to make conservation available to the masses and make it less boring. There are no exciting movies on conservation and the one real focused movie out there, The Inconvenient Truth, isn’t even that great. It was profound at the time it was produced, but it only made an impact at the moment it was produced because it was “sciency” which was great for right after the five hurricanes hit the United States – but it wasn’t personal. As a future teacher, this would be a great opportunity to get students involved personally by writing a poem or creating a story or making a short video to post to YouTube. The possibilities are endlessly beautiful to make it more personal for people and make conservation more exciting.

So those were the top three repeated topics. There were many other intriguing speakers and wonderfully thought-provoking topics presented and I wish I could share all of them but I would recommend checking out the WWF’s website to see a full list of speakers. AND I would of course love to discuss everything I learned!

My parting thought: conservation has to be an everyone thing, not a some people thing.