First, I want to discuss which speaker I choose as the most informative, inspiring and/or challenging this semester. I think one of the most informative speakers for me was Karen Piper and her talk “How Do We Imagine Water”. I chose her talk because it was really interesting and she brought up a lot of points that I had not really considered since water is so abundant and basic to my life, and I realized also very much taken for granted. Some of the points I found most interesting included how the amount of water in the world is completely constant and that the problem is getting to the clean water, and how 70% of Earth is covered in water, but only 2% freshwater and only 1% drinkable water. I did not realize quite how little drinkable water was available and thought the number was at least slightly higher. More stats she used that got my attention and made me realize how serious the issue is included that 1 billion people are without water, diseased and polluted water is the #1 killer, and over 250,000 farmers are killing themselves due to salted farmland they can no longer farm on due to over-irrigation.
She also brought up how water is often used as a weapon, which was a topic I had not heard much about, either, but one that affects many people globally. She mentioned how ISIS used the shutting down and destroying of the Ramadi Dam as a weapon, causing 850,000 people to flee because they had no access to water. She also mentioned how Turkey is building mega-dams between themselves and Iraq/Syria, and by cutting off the water supply are causing social instability. She mentioned the global north’s unsustainable consumption patterns, leading to global climate issues that are bringing about more climate refugees, garbage floats in the ocean, and loss of biodiversity and freshwater supplies. She made me really want to look more into how we can correct this problem.
Next, I will be reflecting on my time blogging about Cuba over the course of the semester. I began my blog series stating that I would be discussing Cuba, a country I knew almost nothing about. I now feel as though I know considerably more about Cuba, but that there is still much more to learn. During my research of Cuba over the last few months, I was often very shocked and appalled by what I was discovering. Cuba is a very interesting country to study, as it is an extremely different world Cubans are living in than our world here in the US.
I was amazed at how Cuba still seems to be stuck in the past in so many ways, such as its absence from the global internet and the cars people there drive, and yet it is also very far ahead in other ways, such as healthcare and education. It was shocking to me that such an oppressive government can still exist in the 21st century, and also shocking was how much suffering the US has imposed on Cuba over the past several decades, all while wondering how the Cuban government is OK with violating Cubans’ human rights, which I find very hypocritical since I feel the US is contributing to those violations.
The array of issues Cuba experiences due to their oppressive government, climate change, economic impasses and even ways of life are extremely varied and abundant. As I found throughout my readings about Cuba their issues seem to stem from one root cause – the US embargo. The US has been in talks with Cuba to begin normalizing relations, so if that leads to a lifting of the embargo the next few years could change a lot for Cuba, mostly in good ways, in my opinion. I think the main problems needing to be fixed are the economy and the Castro dictatorship/Cuban government, both of which would be impacted by lifting the embargo, because I believe if the people of Cuba were able to access the outside world more freely, a majority of the issues would dissipate. Interacting globally due to lifting the embargo would probably mean a drastic economic upturn, so less Cubans would have to prostitute themselves to earn enough money to live, there would be less ability for censorship by the government of the people, press, and media, and that would allow for minimizing many of the human rights violations that are so blatant currently, including the oppression of the freedom of speech and the ability to speak out against the government. It appears to be mutually beneficial, so I am hoping to see the lifting of the embargo in the near future.