The Plastic Ocean

By Emilia Todinca

We are surrounded by more plastic than we imagine. From getting a coffee to driving a car, in some part, plastic is part of the process.

The irony at the plastic’s creation only now can be understood. People thought that no longer being limited to natural elements they would reduce the strain upon harvesting. But we know now that plastics ended up harming the environment. Of course, they did provide for a growth in economic and social liberties. (Chemical Hertiage Foundation -)


Because of World War II, plastics began to replace many items, and in the second part of the 20th century, people began buying it more and more. From the 1960’s, plastics were found in the ocean. Since then, people have grown more aware of the danger this substance poses upon the environment, given its extremely long life.


Today, the ocean contains an estimated 51 trillion microplastics. (The 5 Gyres Institute -) What are microplastics you might ask. Well, they are small pieces of just a few millimetres, which mostly, thanks to UV radiation, are what becomes of the plastic that arrives in the oceans. (Kershaw 2015) And we must realize that the toxic substances of the plastic are dispersed as they degrade. (The 5 Gyres Institute -)

If you think that the plastic in the oceans could not come from you, you should know that 95% of it comes from land. The rivers take the plastic all the way into the open waters, where they further on aggregate in 5 systems driven by wind, called gyres. (The 5 Gyres Institute -)

For the plastics to degrade to just a few millimetres, it takes many years. In the meantime, the plastic can be eaten by or hurt fishes, turtles, sea lions or other marine life. An important consequence of this is that the toxins from the plastic can be transmitted to humans if ingested. (Schilling 2014)

You can recycle and therefore do the best you can, but the companies might not keep their end of the bargain, as it is not worth their while to do so. In 2014, only 10% of plastic was recycled. (Schilling 2014)


We cannot eliminate all the plastic, and we should still use it in domains like technology or medicine. But we should not allow it to become this overwhelming heap which endangers our health. (Chemical Hertiage Foundation -)

We cannot leave this problem to the future. By 2050, the weight of marine plastic will outweigh the fishes in the ocean. (The 5 Gyres Institute -) We have to start now. Make small changes. Talk to people. Say no to using a straw. Use reusable grocery bags. It adds up. Hopefully we will able to leave a more sustainable planet to the next generation.







The upsides and downsides of globalization

by Vlad Cocostîrc

As Chomsky states it, globalization means international integration. Of course, this is the neutral approach on its definition. There is much debate on this topic, whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. In order to form an opinion, one must know the benefits and the losses that globalization offers.

Positive sides of globalization

–  Free trade
–  Cheap imports and global competition keep the prices stable, so inflation is less likely to affect economic growth
–  New innovative ideas come from abroad
–  Foreign employers offer higher wages
–  Nations and economies specialize on certain products, therefore they offer higher quality goods at better prices
–  High diversity of products
–  Free movement of labor
–  Fast information exchange
–  A better understanding of other cultures
–  Increasing tolerance among the people
–  Collective actions of countries against issues such as global warming and pollution and so on
–  Countries which have human rights issues are supported by developing countries
–  Undeveloped countries tend to adopt democratic and capitalistic philosophies
–  Tourism

Negative sides of globalization

–  Some employers pay low salaries given the fact that workers are available in abundance
–  The political and economic power is in the hand of developed countries
–  Large corporations often exploit tax havens in order to avoid paying taxes in the countries in which they generate profit
–  Less developed countries are sometimes manipulated by developed countries
–  The strong connection between countries increases the risk of economic crisis perpetuating from one country to other ones
–  The Paradox of Free Trade
–  Cultural uniqueness is lost
–  The media decides which information circulate regarding other countries and shapes the opinion of the people
–  Undeveloped countries adopt western ways, as they feel inferior regarding their culture
–  Contagious diseases are spread easier between countries
–  Interdependency of countries


Works cited

Mongolian nomads and globalization

By Larisa Rusu

With the advent of capitalism and the free flow of people and goods there has been an intensifying globalization which has made possible certain changes, prominently in the fields of world trade, international policy agreements, and politics. In this turmoil fueled by low-cost air transportation, the on-growing tourism industry, multinational companies and the Western supremacy, something called the “clash of civilizations” has been given birth to.

Harvard professor Samuel Huntington predicts that “The fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics”.
In this gap between cultural identity and globalization, national identity, the preservation of one’s own states’ values and war-leading national pride collide with the principles of no boundaries and worldwide acceptance of the same life principles.

In search for a speaking example of the clash between tradition and the growing globalization I found the Mongolian nomads. They are one of the last remaining nomadic cultures nowadays. Tradition of thousands of years of wandering the Mongolian steppe is now at risk as a consequence of the changing economic and environmental landscape. Sitting on a vast gold, coal and copper resources, Mongolia has seen an increasing westernization after the fall of the communist regime in ’92. Many of the traditional pastoral herders and cattlemen have chosen to give up the nomadic lifestyle and move to Ulaanbaatar’s impoverished yurt slums.

The following short documentary by the Journeyman Pictures shows how ancient nomadic practices are swapped with the more Western style of life.

Herders often chose to sell their belongings and live off underpaid coal mining jobs. The risk is the abandonment of millennia-old traditions. As Dagvadorj, one of Mongolia’s richest businessmen and sustainer of their culture sai about children born and/or raised in towns: “They seem less and less to know about the 5 ‘muzzles’ (horses, cows, goats, sheep, camels). The Westernization and increasing stagnation of our recent times are a real concern in our nomadic culture”

Young nomad herds by motorcycle

eagle hunter

Eagle hunter- Asher Svidensky

Naadam Mongolian Festival


Samuel P. Huntington- The Clash of Civilizations

Pretty Hurts

I was recently watching “Casablanca” with my mother and at one point, she paused the movie, looked at me all serious and said: “You know, you kind of look like Ingrid Bergman. That is if you make your nose thinner, elevate your cheekbones and get a chin tuck. I know you will do it one day. I actually think you should”. Now, I am used to this kind of discourse, for in my household perfection is not something you just aspire to, perfect is something you ought to be. Lucky for me, I have enough of a back bone to tell my mother, as politely as I can, to mind her own business and continue to engage into her own objectification, but keep me out of it. However, what happens to those young women and men who are not in a position to do that? What happens to those who perceive themselves only through the eyes of the others, or what they think that perception is; and completely forget about introspection? They become victims. They become anorexic, bulimic, depressed, addicted to diet pills, alcoholics, socially alienated, angry, promiscuous, you take your pick. And the funny thing is that the so-called support system, is not all that supportive; for it approaches the process of recovery completely wrong. I can say that from personal experience; and while that gives me a great amount of bias, it also gives me a great amout of insight into how the mind of a damaged person.

I am a former anorexic, a recovering bulimic and there is an entire array of diseases that have been bothering me at a point or another, diseases that I can’t even spell correctly without a dictionary. The big question is, how does a smart person like myself, and I am not being unreasonable when I state that, gets lured in into something that should be perceived as an extreme, intuitively speaking? My take on that is that we are brought up in a society that suffers from cognitive dissonance. We are bombarded by messages that encourge us to be individuals, yet the slightest hint of deviation towards genuine individuality is immediately branded in derogatory terms. This is why young men and women, the latter category especially, are encouraged to look a certain way, to act a certain way all while believeing that their aesthetics and action are a unique set that is no replicated anywhere.

Some say that this is the result of technological development and the accessibility of opportunities, coupled with a complete lack for the need to fight for survival. I say this is the consequence of decaying morals. This obsessions with appearence, be is physical or social, is a symptom of excess and boredom. Empires like Rome, India and the Byzantine have crumbled because of that; choking on food, wine and body fluids. Like all other physical processes, life tends to be cyclical and history seems to be repeating itself. We may have evolved as a society, but individually we are crumbling; and in this respect Gestalt was right, but what a pity that he was! The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, however is the parts are faulty then there is no whole and the entire structure will eventually self-implode. I say that awareness of this state of affairs is the first step toward the cure and hopefully, one day such barbaric notions as plastic surgery, diets and tailoring ideas for the sake of conformity will no longer be part of our vocabulary; and we will be able to create a whole out of all the beautifully unique and individual parts.