Notebook

Archive for the 'social comment' Category

The Middle East - where to begin?

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

The current conflict in the Middle East highlights that, even for the most optimistic, enduring peace in the region is long way away. What is the answer. The claims of Bush, Blair er al that the battle will be won have become increasingly hollow as they are incapable of preventing the ongoing violence in Lebanon and Israel. Is there an solution, a way forward ?

The most useful comment I have read was quoted by Alan Ramsey in his column in the Sydney Morning Herald (29 July 2006). He cites an article by Rami Khouri, editor at large of the Beruit Daily Star.

“The Lebanon and Palestine situation today reveal a key political nd psychological dynamic that defines several hundred million Arabs. It is that peace in the Middle East requires three things: 1) Arabs and Israel must be treated equally 2) domestically and internationally, the rule of law must define the actions of governments and all members of society; and 3) the core conflict between Palestine and Israel must be resolved in a fair, legal and sustainable manner.”

These ground rules seem utterly reasonable and certainly not ‘radical’ or - but how long before they are acknowledged as the basis for a way forward and lasting solution for peace.

The Age of waste

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

What will be the epitaph for the late 20th early 21st century. A possible candidate is surely the Age of Waste. Never before has waste and excessive consumption been so rampant. Twenty years, domestic garage was collected weekly in a modest size bin. Today, it is two wheelie bins - one for waste and the other for recycling. While recycling is commendable, the volume points to the amount of material that is used for packaging or as containers.

In a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald Weekend Magazine (10 June 2006), Fenella Souter presented some alarming statistics on waste in Australia. In 2004 Australians spent $5.3 billion on food we did not eat!! That includes fresh food, uneaten takeaways, leftovers, frozen food. This amount equates to about $260 per person in Australia per year. But food is only one part of the equation of waste - clothes, electronic equipment, mobile phones, cars - the list goes on and on. Partly the problem is the cheapness of goods and so it becomes so much easier to buy something new rather that repair or re-condition.

At the moment little thought is given to the long term consequences. But all of the world’s population cannot go on consuming and waste at the current rate. It surely is time to be more prudent about how much we consume and waste less.