Another List of Unfortunately Disappointing "Opinions"
By Jack O' Dwyer
I figured it would be “fun” to do a follow-up on an article I’ve written this past year. A little too late for Thanksgiving dinner discussions, but here’s hoping this is helpful for those awkward office holiday parties.
Climate Change is real and it is harming our planet at a rapid pace.
Can we please stop saying that just because it’s cold outside, suddenly the world is no longer suffering one of the biggest pending, potentially most fatal, ecological disasters of all time? A little snow on the ground in November does not mean the world has magically sorted all the damage we’ve caused over the past decades.
We’ve been experiencing record breaking heat, humidity levels, and even increases in the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere that have scientists freaking out. And yes, it is 99 percent of scientists who are panicking about this and agree with the implications that this damage is manmade.
There has been a 1.62 degree (F) increase in the planet’s average global temperature—which doesn’t seem like much, but can often mean the difference between a savannah and a bone-dry desert. It can severely affect our crops, cause an increase in natural disasters, and is causing an increase in ocean temperatures which means death for underwater flora and fauna. It also means fatalities for us with increasing sea levels eventually headed to swallow certain main cities along the coasts.
Right now, we’re basically one naturally occurring mass casualty event waiting to happen.
The United States prison system is broken.
Everything you think you know about our prison system is an absolute lie. Not only do we have an unbelievable rate of recidivism—re-entrance into prison after release—there is also heavy evidence of racially biased punishment. Obviously, this isn’t surprising given the systemic racism that plagues most of our modern society.
Our prison population is higher than the population of entire states and a quarter of the global prison population can be found in the US, alone. There are currently just over 2 million citizens in prisons right now—about half of which are serving sentences for non-violent drug offenses. Again, unsurprisingly, a disproportionate amount of these individuals are people of color. Black people are ten times more likely to arrested than whites, and while they only constitute 13 percent of the US population, they make up 40 percent of that in prisons.
It’s rare that prisoners will find themselves with rehabilitative options or programs that help them return to larger society. With so much time lost, no skills, and no aid being offered, most offenders are forced to return to the things that got them arrested in the first place just to get by. In fact, the average time of re-offending is just under two years and only 23% of prisoners manage to get out and stay out. Why does our system continue to penalize individuals who have served their time?
Also, we keep using an outdated, cruel form of torture as punishment that can often result in negative mental side effects like extreme paranoia, delirium, and often anxiety and overwhelming depression upon release. As if our practices weren’t archaic enough.
The United States doesn’t care about your mother—or any mother, for that matter.
For a country that cares so much about fetuses in the womb, we must be egregiously ignorant to the most important part of the process: the woman outside the womb.
The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed nation in the world. By some estimates, this gap in the maternal mortality ratio (MMR)—not to be confused with maternal mortality rate—can be 3-5 times larger when compared to other similar countries. For example, according to the United Health Foundation, the MMR of the United States is around 20 deaths per 100,000 live births. In countries like Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Australia, that number usually falls between 4 and 6. That’s a pretty terrifying gap, if you ask me.
New mothers don’t get much time to be “new mothers”, either. There are currently 178 countries who guarantee paid maternity leave. Guess who isn’t on that list?
In the United States, it’s up to the individual states to decide the fate of new mothers. A few—12 percent—get around 12 weeks of unpaid leave, while in other countries some mothers are eligible for up to a full year to take care of and bond with their new babies. A portion of these countries also provide paternity leave for fathers, too. It’s almost as if it takes two people to make a baby! What a concept!
Of course, there’s also the little known fact that 1 in 10 women suffer from postpartum depression. That’s potentially more than 30 million women.
These articles are supposed to be quick overviews, but, honestly, I could go on for pages about how awful mothers are treated in US society. I probably will—stay tuned.
Don’t think the conversation stops here! All of these “opinions” can be researched in length and there’s much more disturbing, infuriating information out there related to them. I truly encourage you to look—and then completely own your co-workers during the ugly sweater contest.
“Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?” NASA, NASA, 4 Dec. 2018, climate.nasa.gov/evidence/.
Coons, Chris, and Thom Tillis. “America's Criminal Justice System Is Broken.” CNN, Cable News Network, 9 Jan. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/01/09/opinions/america-needs-criminal-justice-reform-coons-tillis/index.html.
Curley, Caitlin. “The Prison System Merry-Go-Round.” [GenFKD], [FKD], 1 Sept. 2016, www.genfkd.org/americas-high-recidivism-rates-are-insane.
Editors, The. “Solitary Confinement Is Cruel and Ineffective.” Scientific American, 1 Aug. 2013, www.scientificamerican.com/article/solitary-confinement-cruel-ineffective-unusual/.
Ingraham, Christopher. “The World's Richest Countries Guarantee Mothers More than a Year of Paid Maternity Leave. The U.S. Guarantees Them Nothing.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 5 Feb. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/05/the-worlds-richest-countries-guarantee-mothers-more-than-a-year-of-paid-maternity-leave-the-u-s-guarantees-them-nothing/?utm_term=.ec817e290511.
Kann, Drew. “The US Still Incarcerates More People than Any Other Country.” CNN, Cable News Network, 10 July 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/06/28/us/mass-incarceration-five-key-facts/index.html.
Kassebaum, Nicholas J, et al. “Global, Regional, and National Levels of Maternal Mortality, 1990–2015: a Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015.” The Lancet, vol. 388, no. 10053, 2016, pp. 1775–1812., doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(16)31470-2.
McElwee, Sean. “America's Awful, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Prison System.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 31 Aug. 2013, www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-mcelwee/incarceration-america_b_3528901.html.
Merelli, Annalisa. “What's Killing America's New Mothers?” Quartz, Quartz, 14 Feb. 2018, qz.com/1108193/whats-killing-americas-new-mothers/.
“Scientists Agree: Global Warming Is Happening and Humans Are the Primary Cause.” Union of Concerned Scientists, 9 Jan. 2018, www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/science/scientists-agree-global-warming-happening-humans-primary-cause#.XAiRSGhKiUl.
Silberg, Bob. “Why a Half-Degree Temperature Rise Is a Big Deal – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.” NASA, NASA, 1 July 2016, climate.nasa.gov/news/2458/why-a-half-degree-temperature-rise-is-a-big-deal/.
Spievack, Natalie. “U.S. Prison System's Disproportionate Emphasis on Punishment Is Unethical.” The Badger Herald, 7 Nov. 2017, badgerherald.com/opinion/2017/11/07/u-s-prison-systems-disproportionate-emphasis-on-punishment-is-unethical/.
Valletta, Evan. “10 Staggering Statistics about the US Prison System.” SBS News, SBS News, 5 Dec. 2017, www.sbs.com.au/guide/article/2017/12/06/10-staggering-statistics-about-us-prison-system.