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Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal

Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal | Als Return to Education | Scoop.it
Workers at an ailing paper mill in Siberia are clinging to their jobs in the face of financial pressure and criticism from environmentalists.

 

The environment, industry and politics play key roles in this story of an old style Soviet mono-town on Lake Baikal.  Monotowns had planned economies that revolved around one industry and today many of these are struggling in the post-Soviet era.  While the particulars of the political situation are a bit dated, the overall issue is still quite relevant to understanding Russia today.   

 

Tags: Russia, industry, labor, environment, economic, water, pollution, environment modify, unit 6 industry.


Via Seth Dixon
Al Picozzi's insight:

We never heard about this during the Soviet Union as the news was controlled.  Also during the Soviet time I do not believe environmentalists would have gotton the chance to investigate the area.  With the fall of the USSR the world can now see some of the environmental effects that communism had on Russia.  These towns are built around the factory.  Much like the old steele towns in PA, like Allentown.  However Allentown chnaged with the times and is able to support, although it is difficult, the population that was focused on the steele industry.  Here is this remote area of Russia, there is nothing else in the area.  There is no service economy in the area, just the paper factory.  It has been kept open because of Putin who basically said to ignore all environmental laws and regulations and he made sure the environmental groups are not an issue anymore.  Not surprising from a former KGB Lt. Colonel and the Director of the FSB, the sucessor of the KGB.  To solve the issue in these monotowns I think there needs to be government intervention to transition the economies in theses areas.  To keep these factories running in the long run will just hurt all the people in the towns with no end in sight.  However, I do not think this will happen unless there is a change in the leadership of Russia, something I do not think will happen anytime soon.

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Brett Sinica's curator insight, October 20, 2013 2:43 PM

The story of this particular mono-town is very tough to "pick sides".  The factory undoubtedly pollutes the air and land like most other industrial areas, but being so close to Lake Baikal gives environmentalists a stronger reason to complain.  The lake is considered one of the purest and most unique in the world, yet the paper mill located on its banks raise controversy.  This is where the locals and workers are stuck between a rock and hard place.  Located in Siberia, such a vast and open region with little settlements compared to the western part of the country reminds the people living there that their resources are limited.  Closing down the factory would almost eliminate income and economy for the mono-town.  This is where the fine line is drawn; the workers surely aren't happy about the pollution and environmental hazards that go along with keeping the mill open, but at the same time the people could wither away if it wasn't up and running.

Ashley Raposo's curator insight, December 19, 2013 1:42 AM

THough the Soviet Union has been gone since the early 90s, it's hold on Russia is still creating problems. The creations of monotowns were already flawed. But to have this one monotown on Lake Baikal has gained the attention of enviromentalists. All odds are against that monotown. Without it's paper factory they have no jobs and no need for the town. It is a fight between enviromental geography and human geography in this area of the world. These people are stuck in a time where even the Soviet Union looked a little better than the constant wondering of your finacial stability in an up and coming capitalist nation.

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 12:05 PM

The Soviet Union scattered "monotowns" around their territory; these monotowns consist of a job-creating industrial institutions like factories which then allow the formation of towns around them.  They are located all around the former Soviet Union and are very isolated.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these towns continued to run due to the privatization of the industrial center.  Today, Russia's Lake Baikal, which is the deepest lake in the world and contains 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water, is home to one of these monotowns.  This particular town's economy is based on their paper mill which uses and deposits tons of chemicals.  Environmentalists are very concerned for the future of the lake while the citizens are only concerned with feeding their families and this is creating social unrest.  Due to the isolation and distance from Moscow, people cannot just pick up and leave.  Also, working with "cleaner" alternatives is way out of this town's budget.  Today, many citizens in these monotowns miss the support that the Soviet Union offered and people are literally stuck in a place where their only income is dirty.

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NYTimes Video: Apartheid Haunts South Africa's Schools

NYTimes Video: Apartheid Haunts South Africa's Schools | Als Return to Education | Scoop.it
Celia Dugger reports from the Kwamfundo School near Cape Town on South Africa's struggling public education system.

 

This poignant clip shows that South Africa may be in a post-apartheid era, but most certainly not a post-racial era as schools are as deeply divided as ever. 


Via Seth Dixon
Al Picozzi's insight:

Apartheid still has an influce in South Africa even after its end in 1994.  Much like after slavery was ended at the end of the US Civil War it was many decades, actually 89 years, in 1954 when it finally deceided in Brown vs. Board of Education that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." History shows that a major change in stauts will not give immediate results.  It is going to take decades to come out of the effects apartheid had on the people of South Africa.  This new generation that is being taught, many times unsuecssfully, will hopefully be the new teachers in a new South Africa.  When they teach another generation, that much more removed from apartheid, is when the real change is going to happen.

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Wilmine Merlain's curator insight, November 5, 1:22 PM

A lot of the issues that the South African education system is facing today resembles that of students living in America who attend underfunded insitutions. A large reason to this is the lack of funding from government officials. Rather than funding education system for those who attend inner city schools, they are spending a lot of the funding in areas that are well off. Another reason why the South African school system is failing for black students is the lack of teacher attendance. Staff have become discouraged at the way the education system treats its students. Students who aspire to learn a skill and return home to save the life of their family, communities, and even their nation. 

Melissa Marie Falco-Dargitz's curator insight, November 23, 12:27 PM

It is a fight for South African children to make it through school. The loss in their lives, the lack of dedicated teachers, and a broken public school system all bring these kids down. The hope and promise seen in the eyes of these kids, who want to achieve great things, is a beacon of better things to come for this nation, if they are willing to invest in the future.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 16, 8:06 AM

Race is definitely a determining factor in the quality and division of South Africa's public schools. Discrimination is definitely  a problem that is hard to get rid of because it is institutionalized even after public policy may change. This also has happened in the United States. Our school systems are also racially segregated even though the US has passed laws against it. After the Apartheid government took such drastic measures to strip the rights of its Black citizens, the institutions that were formed around those ideas still exist. 

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Worker safety in China

This is an incredible video because of the shocking footage of blatant disregard for worker safety.  This can lead to an interesting discussion concerning how China has been able to have its economy grow.  What other ways has China (or Chinese companies) been "cutting corners?"  How does that give them a competitive edge on the global industrial market?     


Via Seth Dixon
Al Picozzi's insight:

Wow.  With no saftey regulations to go by, nor any labor unions to file greviences for bad working conditions, and unsafe for that matter, its no wonder they can be on budget and of course this will give them a competitive edge.  If they can do it cheaper it will cost less than anyone else can do it for, and everyone knows governments will always go the cheapest route.  The labor cost is so much lower in China, think no safety regulaitons or government watchdog like OSHA, that it is cheaper to make it there and ship it across the globe.  They really have no regard for worker safety in any industry, this video just shows that even in construction, or destruction, there is no concern for the workers...interesting coming from a Communist country where the worker was supposed to be the most important person, over the capitalists.  Hmmm makes you think....

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James Hobson's curator insight, November 21, 9:11 PM

(East Asia topic 6)
This video signifies two distinct characteristics of labor in China. First and most obviously is the disregard of safety. One could argue in the past that risks such as these were accepted by workers since China was a largely less-developed country with fewer employment opportunities; however, being a recent video and China  currently making exponential economic and developmental ground, this is definitely one of those 'things which shouldn't be happening'. With all of the nation's so-called "improvements," why are none discernible  here?

  Secondly, traits such as subservient respect are valued more in nations such as China. It is possible that if these workers hadn't have taken the risk and not completed the job, they would've been fired and had a somewhat 'tainted' reputation for not following their orders to demolish the building.

  Though it seems that all industrializing nations have gone through issues of workers' safety and reasonable expectations, China should use it's late-coming as a plus by learning from others which have gone before it, and avoiding the personal, legal, and even some social issues which have been faced before.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 15, 1:52 PM

China's ability to sweep unjust working conditions under the rug has allowed it to grow economically at an impressive rate. Although I disagree with unsafe working conditions it is important to note the hypocrisy that developed countries display when advocating fro workers rights. In the US for example, our economic growth was contingent on slavery, child labor, and immigrant exploitation. Unfortunately if any developing country wants to compete with countries that are at the top of the global economic hegemony, they must cut the same corners those countries cut centuries ago. What needs to be done is find a way to show developing countries that growth is possible without abusing workers. 

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 17, 5:23 PM

This video borders on difficult to watch. While it is definitely amazing to watch it really flies in the face of standard American job safety operations. These workers are perched on top of this building with no harnesses balancing in the shovel of a back hoe while sawing loose great slabs of concrete. Luckily no one was injured in this video but frankly this video does a great job of showing how China has been able to grow so rapidly. A lack of interest in individual workers safety and a sole goal of progress, at the possible cost of its citizens.