Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
It all started with some genital plush toys. A group of parents in Basel, Switzerland, were outraged that teachers were using soft toy penises, vulvas and uteri for sex education. They organized and managed to push these birds ’n’ bees Beanie Babies from schools.
Now, the same group, with support of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, is taking it a step further and trying to eradicate sex education for children under age 9. This is all under the guise of “protection against sexualisation in kindergarten and primary school.” These activists managed to get over 100,000 signatures — more than enough to force a referendum on the issue. This guarantees that their anti-sex ed measure will be brought before voters nationwide.
Of course, this has led to a wee(-wee) bit of hysteria. Take this article on the topic in the Local, which is paired with art featuring a vibrator, a couple of kiddie toys and a chalkboard reading “KONDOM, VAGINA, PENIS” in a child’s handwriting. Right, because introducing children to the reality of genitals in the age-appropriate context of plush toys is akin to handing out sex toys in kindergarten. First it’s a vulva puppet, next it’s a Real Doll!
In the immediate aftermath of the initial Swiss plushie upset, Education Minister Christoph Eymann attempted to push back, “We will stick to our goal: to get across to children that sexuality is something natural. Without forcing anything upon them or taking anything away from their parents.” But the campaigners weren’t going to stop until sex ed was banned.
The Swiss are not alone in their sex-ed toy controversy. Three years ago, I wrote about my chagrin at finding a Huffington Post article about “anatomically correct dolls used to teach sex ed to kindergartners in China” that warned: “POTENTIALLY UNSETTLING PHOTOS BELOW.” The unsettling images? They showed dolls with genitals. The horror!
The irony is that the reactions of these supposed adults are the best argument for starting sex ed early. Just imagine if the Swiss People’s Party had grown up playing with genital plushies.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.