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Vhon Ni Zhang

Hong Kong

Member since June 26, 2013

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    One of the major conflicts of the era that is not often highlighted for public debate is whether we want an economy that privatizes government services and public resources and continues to concentrate wealth; or whether we want to develop an economic democracy that invests in the public interest and creates shared prosperity.

    Journalist Ted Koppel summarized the privatization trend: “We are privatizing ourselves into one disaster after another…. We’ve privatized a lot of what our military is doing. We’ve privatized a lot of what our intelligence agencies are doing. We’ve privatized our very prison system in many parts of the country. We’re privatizing the health system within those prisons. And it’s not working well.”

    The alternative, also growing rapidly albeit more quietly without corporate media coverage, is economic democracy. This is based on new models that give people greater control over their economic lives, share wealth in an egalitarian way and allow people to have more influence over the direction of the economy.

    Privatization vs. Public Ownership

    Privatization versus public ownership of services and resources is one aspect of this debate, but there are also a host of other issues that beg discussion. We will delve into many of these in detail in the Economic Democracy Conference of the Democracy Convention in Madison, WI from August 7 to August 11. Presenters who are deeply involved in their subjects will speak about big picture topics such ...

  • Can Shale Gas Be Safe for Us and the Environment?

    Environment, Environmental Design


    Environmentalists, local communities, and civil actors maintain that hydrofracking in its current unregulated form is intolerable for our environment and public health. The process is familiar and infamous. After extractors drill a well, they pump millions of gallons of water, sand, and various chemicals into it to fracture the shale the gas is stored in and allow the gas to flow freely out of the well. The Sierra Club estimates that 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used in hydrofracking, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. While shale gas can serve as a stepping-stone towards renewables, its production could leave our aquifers decimated with chemicals that pose significant health risks. Benzene in particular is known to cause cancer, neurological harm, and adverse developmental effects in pregnant women.

    Such potential health risks, coupled with the environmental impact of the physical aspect of drilling, have compelled the widespread anti-fracking movement among environmentalists and local communities alike. Not all of the popular dissent calls for an absolute ban on hydrofracking, however. Civil society would not be so opposed to fracking if gas companies would disclose details of the extraction process and attempt to mitigate the harmful effects. Prominent environmental groups, such as the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), would simply prefer if gas companies put such effective safeguards in place. The NRD...

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    Environmental damage caused by economic activities like coal plant electrical generation and mining is costing the global economy as much as US$4.7 trillion a year. That is what is revealed in a report released on 15 April and commissioned by the Group of Eight economic powers and the United Nation's Environmental Programme.

    The G8 nations' next meeting is at the Lough Erne Summit, 17-18 June 2013, in Northern Ireland. The grim facts of environmental degradation are causing worldwide economic loss and that means greater poverty and health problems.

    The loss to the world economy through environmentally destructive economic activity is greater than the wealth generated. The short term benefits are mostly for the rich while the environmental damage hurts the poor.

    The study calculates the impact of air and water pollution, health costs, the damage caused by climate change due to global warming and the destruction costs of deforestation, the rise in ocean temperature and one hundred other impacts.

    Coal-fired power plants do the worst damage to the environment and the economy. The negative impact and damage is so grave that it negates any economic benefits that the electricity generated helps create. The damage in East Asia alone, including the Philippines, causes economic losses of $452.8 billion. The wealth generated is only $443.1 billion causing a net loss - that's bad business for the world economy.

    Those who claim that we need to suffer some environmental damage to gene...

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design