We want to take this opportunity to wish all the national teams and individuals all the best in the 2012 games. While we would obviously like Team GB to be on the highest podium in every event, we celebrate the best and welcome them to London – the greatest capital city in the world.
Our positive and inclusive bid to host the Olympics was deservedly won. Around 40% of those who live in London were born outside this country. It is one of, if not, the most international cities in the world.
Tonight, the 2012 Olympic Games will open in a £27m spectacular. We will then witness two weeks of the most exceptional sportsmen and women from around the world competing in East London to show us all what the human body at its peak is truly capable of. For many long years, these incredible and committed people have given their lives to the Olympics – to be the very best that they can be.
While the games are fundamentally about competition where there are winners and losers, it is a profoundly meritocratic, diverse and optimistic competition. There will be cynics, naysayers and critics aplenty; after all, complaining is a sport Britons win gold in, but we fervently hope that this international event is the great success it deserves to be.
As a government & politics undergraduate at the University of Essex, I studied Professor David Sanders’ exceptional book, Losing an Empire, Finding a Role. In it, he describes the United Kingdom’s struggle with its identity after 1945, covering the period when it last hosted the Olympic Games in 1948.
While the Olympic symbol has five interlocking circles representing Europe (blue), Asia (yellow), Africa (black), Oceania (green) and America (red), the UK has been trying to juggle the three interlocking circles of our strategic interests. How do you balance a great power’s interests in a far-flung and fracturing Empire in decline, a Europe emerging from war and scrabbling towards political and economic union and a superpower United States?
The United Kingdom has rightly prided itself on upholding the highest ethical standards in this three-ball juggling act. Our long-standing commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law, have been a gold standard at times.
Over the centuries, we have exported democracy and a genuinely liberating system of common law, fought slavery, ignited the industrial revolution, defeated vainglorious dictators from Napoleon to Hussein, championed free markets and open borders, created a model health service and helped lead the world in the information revolution. We remain today, the home of some of the world’s greatest inventors and innovators, a powerhouse of ingenuity and creativity.
But, some would rightly say that the UK prosecutes dubious wars, illegally renditions and tortures and our foreign, pornographer, tax avoider owned national press is profoundly out of control – hacking phones and bribing police. Our politicians are on the make, we fix international financial standards such as Libor, mis-sell financial products and assist in money laundering. We operate oligopolies locally in media, retail and pharmaceuticals and assist tax evasion on an industrial scale. We’re also selling weapons to brutal regimes, harbouring odious dictators, denying vital drugs to the sickest nations and manipulating commodity prices so the poorest nations suffer. And now, we are also splurging billions hosting a militarised and privatised sports day, when we can’t even look after those who return from fighting our wars or the most vulnerable in our own society.
The reality is that both positions are true in whole or in part, and we so often fall far below the highest standards we expect of others.
Just as the modern Olympian becomes exceptional at a sport through endless hours of training, so our nation’s commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law only becomes exceptional through the constant vigilance of us all. We cannot delegate this duty as we delegate our nation’s sporting pride to a select band of athletes.
We must loudly complain when we, or our organisation, abuses hard won freedoms. We should vote against those who fail us or persecute those who cannot defend themselves, whether that vote is at the ballot box or as shareholders and consumers. We should demand that those who break the law are held to account whether they are mindless petty thugs or ruthless city thugs. We should also question ourselves on how we limit others’ freedoms by our own actions, by what we buy and invest in, how we fall into autocratic ways at home and at work, and how we break the spirit, if not the letter, of the law by what we do day-in, day-out.
As London 2012 begins, we think this is a time to be optimistic. Two hundred and four nations and 10,500 athletes are coming together on our shores for two short weeks to be the best they can be. There will be gold medals for both the richest and poorest nations, for people of every different race and creed. The Olympics motto is “Faster, higher, stronger”, and the creed, as described by Baron Pierre De Courbetin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, is:
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
If these thoughts are humanity at its best, then we should aspire to emulate those ideals in all human endeavours. Just as the United Kingdom has struggled aligning the three interlocking circles of strategic interest (Empire, Europe and US), so we must all work to align the three interlocking circles of global strategic interest: the planet, its people and global prosperity. To be the best that we can be.
How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018
Nowadays, more and more people are talking about being more eco-responsible. There is a constant growth of information regarding the importance of being aware of ecological issues and the methods of using eco-friendly necessities on daily basis.
Have you been considering becoming more eco-responsible after the New Year? If so, here are some useful tips that could help you make the difference in the following year:
1. Energy – produce it, save it
If you’re building a house or planning to expand your living space, think before deciding on the final square footage. Maybe you don’t really need that much space. Unnecessary square footage will force you to spend more building materials, but it will also result in having to use extra heating, air-conditioning, and electricity in it.
It’s even better if you seek professional help to reduce energy consumption. An energy audit can provide you some great piece of advice on how to save on your energy bills.
While buying appliances such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher, make sure they have “Energy Star” label on, as it means they are energy-efficient.
Regarding the production of energy, you can power your home with renewable energy. The most common way is to install rooftop solar panels. They can be used for producing electricity, as well as heat for the house. If powering the whole home is a big step for you, try with solar oven then – they trap the sunlight in order to heat food! Solar air conditioning is another interesting thing to try out – instead of providing you with heat, it cools your house!
2. Don’t be just another tourist
Think about the environment, as well your own enjoyment – try not to travel too far, as most forms of transport contribute to the climate change. Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport that you can, as well as environmentally friendly accommodation. If you can go to a destination that is being recommended as an eco-travel destination – even better! Interesting countries such as Zambia, Vietnam or Nicaragua are among these destinations that are famous for its sustainability efforts.
3. Let your beauty be also eco-friendly
We all want to look beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes (or very often) it comes with a price. Cruelty-free cosmetics are making its way on the world market but be careful with the labels – just because it says a product hasn’t been tested on animals, it doesn’t mean that some of the product’s ingredients haven’t been tested on some poor animal.
To be sure which companies definitely stay away from the cruel testing on animals, check PETA Bunny list of cosmetic companies just to make sure which ones are truly and completely cruelty-free.
It’s also important if a brand uses toxic ingredients. Brands such as Tata Harper Skincare or Dr Bronner’s use only organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, as well as being cruelty-free. Of course, this list is longer, so you’ll have to do some online research.
4. Know thy recycling
People often make mistakes while wanting to do something good for the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags, take-out containers, paper coffee cups and shredded paper cannot be recycled in your curb for many reasons, so don’t throw them into recycling bins. The same applies to pizza boxes, household glass, ceramics, and pottery – whether they are contaminated by grease or difficult to recycle, they just can’t go through the usual recycling process.
People usually forget to do is to rinse plastic and metal containers – they always have some residue, so be thorough. Also, bottle caps are allowed, too, so don’t separate them from the bottles. However, yard waste isn’t recyclable, so any yard waste or junk you are unsure of – just contact rubbish removal services instead of piling it up in public containers or in your own yard.
5. Fashion can be both eco-friendly and cool
Believe it or not, there are actually places where you can buy clothes that are eco-friendly, sustainable, as well as ethical. And they look cool, too! Companies like Everlane are very transparent about where their clothes are manufactured and how the price is set. PACT is another great company that uses non-GMO, organic cotton and non-toxic dyes for their clothing, while simultaneously using renewable energy factories. Soko is a company that uses natural and recycled materials in making their clothes and jewelry.
All in all
The truth is – being eco-responsible can be done in many ways. There are tons of small things we could change when it comes to our habits that would make a positive influence on the environment. The point is to start doing research on things that can be done by every person and it can start with the only thing that person has the control of – their own household.
Top 5 Changes You can Make in Your Life to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
In a world, where war rages and global warming threatens our very existence, the inhabitants of earth need to be extra vigilant in their efforts to go green. This includes reducing your carbon footprint on the earth and leading a more sustainable life.
Many homeowners feel perplexed by all of the options available to reduce their carbon footprint. They may even feel (falsely) that making their household more green will fail to make that much of a difference in the fight to save our planet.
Even a single home going green has a massive impact on the environment. We can win this battle on home at a time. If you’re interested in accepting the challenge of making your household a green home, read on below for a few of the top changes you can make in your life to reduce your carbon footprint. We all stand to benefit from making the earth safer for future generations – and your wallet won’t complain when you start to see the savings in annual energy costs.
Switch From Dirty Energy to Clean Solar
The ION Solar reviews tell it all–solar is the best way to go. Whether your goal is to slash your energy bills, or to reduce your carbon footprint, the sun is a fantastic source of renewable energy.
It’s important to get past the hype from solar installers. Instead, listen to the plethora of impartial customer reviews that mention everything from a $20 energy bill, to the incredible feeling of knowing that you are doing your part by going green and minimizing harmful emissions in to our atmosphere.
The average investment is $15,000 to $30,000 for installation and purchase of solar panels. Optional battery power packs can help provide consistent power during both night and day. And many government agencies provide federal, state or local grants to help offset upfront investments in clean energy.
Depending on which installed you choose, your household may qualify for low-interest or zero interest loans to cover the up-front cost of your installation. And the loan payments are usually less than your current monthly power bill.
It really is a win-win, as home buyers are looking for homes that feature this technology – meaning solar power installation improves the resale value of your property.
And there are a number of additional home modifications that can help improve the energy efficiency of your home. A programmable thermostat can better manage energy consumption from home cooling and heating systems while you’re away from home. And weather stripping your doors can help keep cool air in during the summer, and warm air in during the winter.
Of course, energy conservation starts at home. And this includes setting a powerful example for your kids. Teach your children how to close windows, strategically keep doors open or closed based on airflow, and encourage them to leave the thermostat alone – opting for adding or removing layers of clothing instead.
Unplug Appliances and Shut Off Electronics
Unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use, such as the toaster and the coffee maker, has more of an impact than you might think. Set your TVs and stereos on sleep timers, instead of letting them run around the clock. The cumulative impact of wasteful electronic device usage is horrible for our environment – putting unnecessary strain on our electrical grid.
One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by recycling. You are already throwing this stuff away anyway, right? It doesn’t take much more effort to just put recyclables in a separate container to be recycled, now does it?
Oh, and did I mention that you can earn money for recycling? Yes! Many cities and towns have recycling centers that will purchase your clean plastic and glass bottles for reuse.
Minimize Your Water Usage
Water is one of the easiest things to forget about when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. Preserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Shorten your shower by a few minutes and turn down the heat on that water heater. You’ll be surprised at how much lower your water bill and your energy bill will be.
Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love?
These are just a few of the top ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint and start living a greener lifestyle. And we aren’t factoring in all of the advantages that we’ll reap from public investments in a smarter energy grid.
From decreasing your water usage, to switching to solar for your home’s energy needs, you will feel good at the end of the day knowing you are doing your part to save the future of this planet for generations to come!
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