As I went to check my mail on Yahoo.com, I was shocked and intrigued when I saw the headlining news story, “NASA awards grant for 3-D food printer; could it end world hunger?”. World hunger has obviously always been a problem; one that most people see as inevitable and too great of an issue to ever be solved. We are seeing an excess of demand; too many people to feed and not enough resources or efficient enough economy to prevent hunger. We have hit a point where more resources are greatly needed, yet they are slowly dwindling. But a project headed by Systems & Materials Research Corp and funded by NASA, may just be the solution to this problem.
According to Anjan Contractor(the mechanical engineer behind the idea of the 3-D printer) and other economists, our “current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people efficiently” and “so we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food”. This 3-D printer would turn foods into powder form that could last for 30 years, and use carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins to make edible foods that people could survive off of. The first prototype they will attempt to make is a 3-D pizza printer. This pizza printer would start by printing a layer of dough that would be baked as it was printing by a heated plate at the bottom of the printer. Then a tomato base would be made from stored powder mixed with water and oil. Finally, a protein layer would be added. These 3-D printers would also be able to provide personalized nutrition, where “ if you can program your needs into a 3-D printer, it can print exactly the nutrients that person requires”. This machine works just like any other 3-D printer, but instead of sending a design, you send a recipe with precise ingredients and measurements. Other food sources that could also be used along with the printer are duckweed, grass, lupine seeds, algae, insects, and beet leaves.
I agree with the prediction that food will continue to become more expensive, because the demand is greater than the supply. People will have an even harder time feeding themselves and their families in the future if nothing is done to make more economically reasonable food options. NASA has given the Systems & Materials Research Corp a six-month grant that comes to $125,000. They are mainly interested in it so that they could use it to feed their astronauts who go on long space voyages. NASA was convinced of the success of this project after watching it synthesize squares of chocolate. I believe that more agencies should invest in this project because there is great incentive involved: to end world hunger. This project has the potential to be one of the most beneficial and life-changing inventions of all time, which should give people the incentive to ensure its success. Not only could they end world hunger, they would dramatically curb food waste. These printers might not produce the most natural and tasty foods, but in terms of keeping people from starving for inexpensive prices, they can do the trick. If these printers succeed, in 30 years every new home could be outfitted with a 3-D food printer instead of a microwave. These printers give us hope for the future.
Out of everything we learned in government this year, I was most interested in the Pathways of Action. It had always seemed to be that if you wanted change, it wasn’t going to happen. I used to view the government almost as a separate, secret society that was huge and powerful, and impossible to ever get in touch with. Being a high school student, I especially felt insignificant and like I did not mean anything, and what I wanted did not matter. Little did I know that there are actually several ways of approaching change and that making a difference and being heard are not impossible.
The Pathways of Action include the elections pathway, lobbying pathway, court pathway, grassroots mobilization pathway, and cultural change pathway. Through these pathways, change can be more easily achieved. I live in Irving, Texas where they have cracked down on undocumented immigration. Illegal immigration has increased and Irving passed a law that allows police to conduct an immigration check on
everyone they arrest. Thousands of Irving residents have been referred to the federal authorities, but many of these immigrants are facing deportation just because of minor offenses. This has divided the Irving community between Latinos and retail businesses, against strict immigration enforcement, with the mayor in the middle. I personally believe we should not be so harsh on these immigrants, but instead try to help them become citizens and turn Irving into a safe and welcoming city for them to live. After considering the ten steps in choosing a pathway of action, I have realized several things. The first is that I need to become more informed on the issue of undocumented immigration in Irving and its history. Next, I have thought through who will support me. Immigrants of Irving, businesses that employ or sell to them, and other minorities of low income will most likely support me the most. For my resources, I would have a good amount of like-minded activists, passion, and most likely the ability to get sympathetic media attention. To paint a picture of the harmless and hard working lives of many of these immigrants would be the most beneficial to our cause. The opposition is also important to take into consideration. I would be up against the police force and people with a lot more money and resources. The opposition would definitely be the biggest challenge that would require me to find older people with more power to join my cause. I could go about changing this unnecessary and strict law several ways such as the lobbying pathway or the cultural change pathway, but after considering the ten steps, to be most successful I would pursue the grassroots mobilization pathway. Through this pathway, I can attract the attention of local officials by encouraging others in my community to join me in taking strategic actions. I could organize protests or public demonstrations, and seek to educate the public on what is happening, and what should be changed. The more people I could get to support me, the more we could pressure the local officials of Irving. If I decide that I truly want to take it upon myself to make this change, then this is how I would go about it. I now see that achieving the change I want to see is not as impossible as I once thought.
It is our duty as citizens to stay active and informed. It is important that we stay involved, and when we see something that we disagree with, to seek change and become proactive. The pathways of action are ways of becoming active, and fulfilling our responsibility as citizens of the United States. We are lucky enough to live in a country where we have a voice, and can stand up for what we believe in and make a difference.
Ever since 1910 when the Boy Scouts of America was founded, they have had a policy against allowing gay boys to join. They have fought to keep this policy by referring to their first amendment right, that “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble” (Amendment 1). The BSA official policy reads, “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA”. They have also stated that their reason for not allowing gays into their private organization is that homosexuality is not conducive to its moral framework. Although they are a private organization, they receive non-economic support from the public and are recognized by congress as a federally charted organization. For Boy Scout events such as the annual Scout Jamboree, the Secretary of Defense is allowed to provide transportation, military equipment, and accommodations. The US Navy also allows service members who have earned the honor of Eagle Scout to enlist in a higher pay grade. These benefits and many others are denied to gays.
The BSA has received a lot of pressure from the public to change their policy. This is what probably led them to reconsider their ban on gay members and leaders into the organization. They planned to let each group decide for themselves whether or not they would accept gays. A week after news outlets reported these discussions, the Boy Scouts announced that they would postpone their final decision until they held their national meeting in May. As the United States has become more accepting of gay rights, the Boy Scouts have received more and more criticism for their controversial policy. Grass roots pressure from local scout chapters have been the most effective and influential on the BSA reconsideration of the policy.
Personally, I believe that the BSA no gay policy is outdated and institutionalizes homophobia. A large number of the American population is gay, and there is absolutely no problem with that. They have the right to express themselves and should be able to participate in and enjoy everything that a straight citizen can. This policy to me is no different from discrimination against race or religion. The BSA is not fostering a mutual respect for all, but instead a homophobic and unfair discrimination. Pat Robertson of the 700 Club demonstrates the opposing argument to this by saying that if gay boys were allowed into the organization it would result in “predators as Boy Scouts, pedophiles who will come in as Scoutmasters”. This is an unfair statement; you cannot assume that just because they are gay, they will molest other boys and act inappropriately.
An example of the BSA discrimination is the story of James Dale, who joined Cub Scouts when he was eight years old. James continued with Boy Scouts where he earned 33 merit badges and the Eagle Scout Award at age 17. He was elected into the Order of the Arrow, receiving the Vigil Honor and serving as chairman of his Lodge’s Vigil Honor Selection Committee. He was also asked by the council to speak as a youth representative at fund raising events. While attending Rutgers University and being co-president of the school’s lesbian and gay alliance, he served as an assistant scout master to troop 73. When a scout executive found out about this, he revoked his registration with the BSA and terminated his position. Even though James had done nothing wrong and had lived out the Boy Scout ideals his whole life, he was abruptly and unfairly stripped of all that he had earned. We have an evolving society that is becoming more understanding and accepting of Gays, and it is time that the BSA change along with it and become the accepting and nourishing community that they should be.