Are White Roofs the New Green Roofs?

Is a can of white paint the answer to the “Heat Island Effect”? Apparently rooftops have become the new “untapped” resource towards curbing certain aspects of climate change.

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According to a report published by the Associated Press, painting rooftops white can reduce temperatures both inside and out. When the temperature on a white roof is measured, it can be 45 degrees cooler than conventional dark coloured roofs. A roof covered with solar reflective white paint can reflect up to 90% of sunlight, as opposed to 20% reflected by traditional black roofs. Thus, lowering indoor temperatures and reducing the need for air conditioning and the consumption of natural resources. Other research reports have also stated that white roofs can save 10 tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of emissions produced from one car for about 2 years.

These findings have led to the creation of  “cool roof” programs in cities across North America and beyond, especially in regions where the Heat Island Effect is in full force. For example, various neighbourhoods in New York city have implemented this program due to its effectiveness, low tech demand, and low cost.

Are white roof tops really the answer to all climate change problems?

Before canvasing your neighbourhood’s rooftops with white, put down that paint brush and take a minute to do some more research. New studies have shown that white roofs increase the average space heating use more than they decreased average air condition use in Northern climates. This leads to a spike in natural resource consumption. White roofs are also more prone to developing condensation build up, lowering wind resistance, insulation values, and to formation of mold. In areas that experience more than average rainfall, this might be a bad choice as well. A cooler surface will allow for stagnant water to accumulate on these white rooftops. When not drained properly, water can cause membrane soiling and algae growth.

Overall, white roofs are a great environmental initiative that certainly has its place, more likely in southern climates. However, in places like Canada where the climate tends to be colder and milder, painting our rooftops white might just not be that cool.

Are white rooftops the answer to climate change? Would you ever paint your rooftop white? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Are Syrian Children Bearing the Brunt of the Conflict?

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When learning about the Syrian conflict it is important to realize that there is a lot more to the Syrian crisis than arms and ammunition, opposition and supporters, or Assad and the Free Syrian Army. The severity of this conflict expands beyond these few descriptive words and beyond the regularly televised political reports. The current events taking place in Syria have stolen and crippled the lives of many civilians living within the country and in neighbouring refugee camps. With almost 100 000 casualties and millions of internally and externally displaced refugees, what started off as a peaceful revolution in Syria has turned into one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts and saddest tales.

Placing the political issues aside, reports regarding the humanitarian plight of Syrians have emphasized the lack of basic survival needs that Syrians are experiencing. Requests and appeals for food, shelter, clothes and water have been made for refugee camps and the barely reachable 10% of Syrians inside the country. However, humanitarian appeals should extend beyond these aspects.

It is not a matter of Food vs. Education vs. Trauma Healing.

Despite the fact that food, clothing, shelter and water are, without argument, absolute necessities, education and psychotherapy are crucial components to the healing process of Syrians caught in the midst of this crisis. It is also important to understand that children are bearing the brunt of the Syrian conflict. They have been put out of school, forced to flee their homes, lost loved ones and friends, witnessed horrific war scenes, and are now living with great levels trauma.

Therefore, it is not a matter of food vs. education vs. trauma healing, it is a matter of food AND education AND trauma healing. Clearly, funds are tight and various organizations are constantly sending out appeals for donations and funding. Thus, it is understandable that aspects such as education and trauma healing have taken a backseat in this issue. However, it is essential, for the success of the healing process, to establish some sort of educational and trauma healing programs to assist Syrians.

Why education?

In the current state of events, education is crucial to help Syrian children understand what is happening to their country. Cutting off education takes away any sense of normalcy that these children have attempted to maintain. It deprives them from the sources of comfort that education systems can provide. Schools can greatly assist in helping children comprehend the horrific events they are witnessing and reliving on a daily basis. A lack of education at an early age can also hinder children’s job prospects in the future. Unfortunately,many  schools that have, in the past, provided children with a way to fill their days and continue to be contributing members of society now stand abandoned, in ruins, or have become new homes for displaced internal refugees.

Why trauma healing?

NGOs, such as Save the Children, have expressed their concern regarding the horrific events these children have experienced. Many have lost their families, witnessed massacres, were tortured, or forced to abandon their home and friends. Children have been reported to be suffering from various traumas such as inability to speak and sleep, flashbacks of horrific events, phobias from the dark, nervous ticks etc. These traumatizing experiences have the ability to forever scar an entire generation. Such implications can deeply hinder the children’s ability to grow up to be healthy and functioning members of society.

 

It is important to keep in mind that these children are their country’s hope to a peaceful future. Once the conflict subdues and the country is in need of being rebuilt it’s these children that Syria will depend upon. Unfortunately, a neglected generation that lacks any level of education and mental support can produce a dysfunctional and permanently scarred adult workforce that will have to deal with the pressures of rebuilding a country from its ruins. Paying closer attention and speaking out about the importance of psychotherapy and education for Syrians still living in the country or in refugee camps can stop an entire generation of Syrian children from being lost to war. In an ideal world, aid should not only provide basic needs and necessities, it should also provide children with an opportunity to recover their childhood. Unfortunately, despite the presence of a few initiatives that address these problems, the lack of funding aimed at aiding the Syrian crisis is still presenting the biggest hurdle in the way of tackling these issues.

Let me know what you think, share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Syrian Children at Al Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

But What About Caste Based Discrimination?

Racial discrimination, religious discrimination, social discrimination, we have heard about them all. To many the news of caste based discrimination may come as a surprise.

So what does caste based discrimination mean anyways?

Caste is derived from the word Casta, which symbolizes a sense of purity of breed used by Portuguese observers to describe the division of the Hindu society in Western and Southwestern India into socially ranked occupational categories.

Now lets take a look at how Caste is defined in the dictionary:

caste  (kst)

n.

1. Any of the hereditary, endogamous social classes or subclasses of traditional Hindu society, stratified according to Hindu ritual purity, especially the Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra castes.
2. A social class separated from others by distinctions of hereditary rank, profession,or wealth.
3.

a. A social system or the principle of grading society based on castes.
b. The social position or status conferred by a system based on castes: lose caste by doing work beneath one’s station.
They are the “Untouchables”:

To separate themselves, those practicing caste based discrimination exclude lower castes and ban them from interacting with anyone of higher caste. Such thoughts and beliefs have evolved over the year to create a stigma around lower caste people, labeling them as “untouchable”. This concept of untouchability is a well-known discriminatory practice that is followed by various groups throughout the world. It centers on the claim that people of lower caste are untouchable and should not be associated with. Those of higher caste avoid coming into physical contact with them while banning them from walking in their shadows, forcing them to take off their shoes when walking through their villages and similar practices as they fear they will “pollute” them. Caste based discrimination can also take a very violent turn, for example, in India there are at least 13 murders happening weekly due to caste based violence in the country.

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This concept of discrimination rarely receives any media coverage or social research, and was only recognized as a violation of human rights by the United Nations in the 1990s. Unfortunately, caste based discrimination does not only stop at exclusion of certain groups within the community. It has created a deep rooted affect upon the societies and countries where it was and still is heavily practiced.  Such aspects of caste based discriminatory actions have, over the years, continued to severely lower the quality of life that these individuals experience. Negligence to deal with this prominent issue of discrimination has affected these countries’ ability to further develop economically, socially and politically.

Caste based discrimination has rarely been addressed in the international sphere, thus the majority of people are unaware of what it encompasses and the serious implications it might have upon a society. Various societies where caste discrimination still exists deny its presence or claim that the problem has been tackled. Some countries such as India and Nepal have addressed the problem by creating various governmental programs to raise awareness about the issue of caste based discrimination. Various local NGOs created and run by the “untouchable” population in these countries have also been providing victims of caste based discrimination with resources and assistance.

What are your thoughts on Caste based discrimination? Do you think if this form of discrimination was more publicized then more initiatives would be in place to solve the issue?