Places you’ve never heard of but must see before it’s too late.

 

Welcome to today’s world: unprecedented globalisation, exponential wealth-creation and capitalism, the rise of developing economies among previously undeveloped continents, free and unlimited access to the world and all that happens via the internet and social media.

Sounds great, right?

Here’s the thing – the world is becoming smaller and we’ve known about it for centuries. Ever since we began regularly trading goods internationally in the 1500s, we have had more and more access to other countries’ produce more easily. Today, your local food store probably houses imported goods from more countries than you could name. And it’s nice – we like the freedom to choose what we want.

Source: professionalcommunities.wordpress

But this freedom gained in access to other nation’s produce is limited to what we can smell, taste and use. Freedom of the internet and social media, however, is a more poisonous freedom. It spoils the way we see the world – dictated by those who publish online content, far too often created to appeal to the masses and not necessarily accurate.

If I were to turn on my phone now I would have instant access to what’s happening in the world. Our generation is obsessed with it too – we love to know what’s going on – gossip, news and friend’s updates among other things literally take up hours of our precious time. And why not? We are only human and therefore naturally inquisitive and curious right?

But some of us brought up in this generation are frustrated – not all of us yearn to be “connected” online.

By all means this is no revolutionary issue – credible films and novels such as The Beach, Fight Club and Into The Wild portray this anger well. But we are on a trajectory today whereby more and more of us have access to the internet. We have become so engrossed in this world accessible only through our fingertips and eyes that we have forgotten what it’s like to use our real senses and form our own opinions on the world. Sometimes our world’s mysteries and natural wonders around us like new culture, new places and new people are best kept secret until we experience them first-hand in real life, not through a small screen. The excitement is gone – everything we do and feel and experience is through a screen and some code.

Source: shaneoleary.me

The real experiences that make life worth living are the things we do, the adventures we have and the legacy we leave behind. As we work our lives away from university and up the ranks of business, we gain more responsibility and suddenly find there is less time for the adventures. Yet our generation today now has more disposable income and the opportunity even our parents didn’t have. With accessible transportation to far-off and unimaginable places just a few clicks away – let’s re-ignite the excitement back into our lives before it’s too late.

This article is your map to new places you have to see and experience first-hand. Below are some carefully selected locations you’ve probably never heard of that you need to visit before the flocks of tourists inevitably arrive looking for that perfect social media picture or before you need to be home by 6pm to look after the kids. Let’s see the world’s wonders before they are spoiled by the internet and our future.

Here are the top places to travel to you have never heard of and some inspiration to go on that adventure before it’s too late.

 

Hallerbos Forest, Belgium:

Source: boredpanda.com

This enchanting forest is over 1300 acres with a bluebell carpet that only covers the floor for a few weeks each Spring. It has been kept in perfect condition since the Germans removed many of the trees for production during WW1. Although one of the more popular suggestions in this guide, it’s mystical nature is something that cannot be avoided. It’s only really accessible by car from Brussels and known to be one of Belgium’s best kept secrets.

 

Maly Semiachik, Russia:

Source: ourplnt.com

Looking for something a little fiery? This stratovolcano is one of Russia’s natural wonders – located in Eastern Kamchatka. A hot, acidic crater lake fills the active Troitsky Crater – it’s 700m deep and was formed around 400 years ago after a large volcanic explosion. The sulphur causes the lake to be that beautiful colour and its heated at around 30-40 degrees c. Shame you can’t go for a quick dip but it would make the perfect photo.

 

The Canola Flower Fields, China:

Source: wherecoolthingshappen.com

This quiet area of Yunnan County transforms into this exquisite sea of yellow every year. This natural spectacle occurs in early Spring where the golden-yellow rapeseed flowers bloom to as far as the eye can see. This phenomenal happening could not be missed off the list. This place is popular with photographs and can be accessed quite easily by bus from Luoping. Note the 100-year old Lingyi temple for spectacular views.

 

The Stone Forest, Madagascar:

Source: dailymail.co.uk

Yep. I couldn’t quite believe this place existed on Earth either. What. A. View. Also known as the Grand Tsingy, this stone forest is isolated, inhospitable and home to 300ft razor-sharp rocks caused by tropical rain erosion. This place is home to 11 species of lemur and is popular among experienced explorers.

 

Lençois Marangenses, Brazil:

Source: cvc.com

This national park is located in North-Eastern Brazil. There’s nowhere else on Earth where you can see such a collection of large white sweeping dunes that houses collections of fresh water in the valleys between the dunes. The resulting lagoons are caused by the rains known to this region – not far from the Amazon Basin. The park has no direct access roads and is difficult to reach. You are looking at a bus route of 160 miles from Sao Luis.

 

The Elephant Rock, Iceland:

Source. io.wp.com

It’s hard to imagine this is a natural rock formation. Situated off the coast of Iceland on Heimaey Island– home to just 4,500 inhabitants — the enormous rock was caused by the highly active “Mountain of Fire” volcano– Eldfell. The cooling of the sea meets the erupting lava causing unusual rock formations like nothing else.

 

Lake Baikal, Russia:

Source: lifefoc.com

Perhaps one of the more recognised on this list. Lake Baikal, known in Mongolian as the “Nature Lake” is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world – containing 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface fresh water. At over a mile deep too – this super-clear, 25 million year-old lake deserves a trip visit out of sheer respect alone.

 

Lord Howe Island, Australia:

Source: dx-world.net

This crescent-shaped island stretches just 7 miles from top to bottom. It’s a 2 hour flight north-east of Sydney housing just 18 small hotels on the island. This place is pretty exclusive – but it’s worth the trip as the white-sand and blue lagoons mix so well with the emerald green mountains at either end. You won’t find anything quite like this elsewhere in the world.

 

Lake Abraham, Canada:

Source: designrulz.com

Unlike the other natural phenomenons noted, lake Abraham was artificially made in 1972 at the foothill of the Canadian Rockies. However, the naturally frozen bubbles that rise under the ice are caused by the methane gas realised which freezes as it gets to the cold lake surface. Is there anything else that needs to be said?

 

Crystal Mill, Colorado, USA:

Source: wp.com

This 1892 wooden powerhouse mill is accessible from Marble Colorado only via 4×4. The Mill is home to a water turbine that drives an air compressor used to power tools and machinery. The Mill has not been used since 1917, but a visit here is like stepping back into untouched history. And with an autumn back-drop that like below, this certainly makes our list. Wow.

 

Raa Atoll, Maldives:

Source: independent.co.uk

Vaadhoo is one of the inhabited islands of Raa Atoll with a population of just 500. However, this island is famous for the “Sea of Stars”. A marine bioluminescence is generated by phytoplankton which creates a marvellous spectacle. This place is like Heaven on Earth housing the most Romanic natural lighting in the world. It’s like a scene from Avatar.

 

Skaftafell, Iceland:

Source: Icelandphototours

Iceland really does have its fair share of must-see natural wonders. The jaw-dropping glacial wonders within the Crystal Cave are a must-see. It has emerged as a result of a glacier meeting the Icelandic coastline and makes one of the most beautiful natural wonders you could ever see. A must.

 

As always, I hope you enjoyed this little insight into some of the amazing places you have probably never heard about. Use this as inspiration to start your own adventure before it’s too late.

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The mountain towering over Trump. Why America is far from great.

In light of recent news, it’s becoming almost too clear that the world is going through a bit of a rough patch. And by this I mean absolute turmoil and sheer uncertainty. In June the UK made the decision to leave the EU. The biggest market opt-out ever seen has sent the world into a darkness fuelled by uncertain consequence. And it doesn’t stop there – this month a man with unprecedented levels of inexperience and political incorrectness, yet a worrying knack for causing controversy in all the wrong ways was elected as leader of the US. To put it plainly, we have no idea what Donald Trump has in store for us as the soon-to-be most influential and powerful figure across the globe.

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Trump is in trouble. Source: national review

Trump has a mountain to climb before him. His country is in an advanced stage of moral and cultural rot as argued by many researchers. With a hefty $19 trillion worth of debt building up behind a curtain of ruthless spending – the US is on a one-way ticket to financial oblivion. But this “great” nation’s problems don’t end with finance but instead are seen across almost every conceivable statistic. From: an obesity crisis that reaches 43% of the population and a 40% rise in illegal immigration (since 2014), to the issues of preventing IS terrorists from flourishing and a massively shrinking middle-class – Trump’s mountain could dwarf Mordor.

Oh, and this mountain comes served with its very own complex road-blocks among its path to the top that could take decades to unravel. The severity of America’s problems requires more thought then just tax payer’s money being aimlessly wasted. The US faces a potent epidemic whereby the sedentary lifestyle is becoming increasingly apart of American society and culture. It was during the Cold War that the US served as a guarantor of stability to all. Its national interests were defined by other nations who were genuinely interested in peace, free-market economics and accessible trade-routes. Let’s not forget the US, backed by unrivalled military power, once had the capabilities to keep many regional conflicts under control – i.e. Pakistan and India, North and South Korea, Israel and the former Yugoslavia. Instead of dominating world affairs it acted as arbiter of last resort.

Today power is spread between other countries and America’s position in global affairs has someone slipped backwards. Trump must reverse the lost credibility of previous military interventions, such as that of Iraq and end the “leadership from behind” culture believed to weaken the US by economists worldwide. It’s widely acknowledged that the US Is seen to be inward-looking with isolationist leanings that have gained traction in the political mainstream.

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America’s on-going pivoted relationship with Russia. Source: AWD news

Citigroup’s “Global Political Risk” analysis nicely summaries – noting how “the threshold of what constitutes US national interest has narrowed markedly in comparison to previous decades”.

And “with no-one to replace the US as a world-leading power within the international system, the “Great Power Sclerosis” is beginning to take play”.

Suddenly, we are finding rogue players begin to compromise the international system with no-one to defuse regional and local conflict. To many, it’s only a matter of time before a major war is sparked again. We don’t need to look further than Moscow to realise that. And alongside this, it’s the more extreme “outsider” politicians and public figures that are beginning to emerge. Diplomacy is ineffective against a rising sentiment of injustice and inequality among increasingly diverse social groupings. Thus, today we have increased anti-establishment sentiment, protests, violent demonstrations and more frequent terrorist attacks.

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Marine Le Pen is just one of many anti-establishment politicians gaining waves of support in recent times. Source: the druan

The once comfortable sectors of society are feeling increasingly vulnerable – exacerbated by the growing reality that: political significance today is less about elections but rather how it influences the context for key elections. With France and Germany facing key elections next year, as do the scheduled political transitions in China and Russia, Trump must look to cleaning up the image his country portrays across the world. In particular, he must focus his attention to mending broken relations with Russia.

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It looks like it’s time for a real hero, America. Source: sobadsogood

The iconic splendour of the Gatsbian 20s, 30s and 40s once envied by the world has faded into distant memory, with the American “dream” washed down with it. President Xi Jinping of China has already began establishing military power and emphasising national strength with “Guanjun Guojia Genti”. Simply put, China is looking to replace the US as the world leading power. America needs a hero, and by this I don’t mean another Marvel character weakened by great actors in not-so-great films, but a real hero who can lift America out of the ashes. Whoever that hero is, we need you soon.

 

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Film Review: Before the Flood

Today was the day I had been waiting for. It was over 12 months ago that I first got news that Leonardo DeCaprio had teamed up with the National Geographic in the making of a documentary-film on Climate Change. And ever since that day I was pessimistic that this film would ever really be able to capture my attention on such a hot-topic.

Yet to my surprise, Leo’s voyage across the world captivated me from the outset. The film follows his two-year journey in “examining” at first-hand the effects of climate change and looking at ways of preventing the exponential problem from growing further. During his journey, key influential figures including Elon Musk, President Obama and Pope Francis all contribute in adding to film’s simple message.

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Leonardo DeCaprio via The Independent

Coupled with the above interesting and credible figures, the film only progressed in the beauty of its filming and outsets. It’s difficult to argue against the heat-felt commitment of DeCaprio as recorded heavily in the footage. Stemming from a passion for nature since a very early age – especially in extinct species – DeCaprio sells a fine act of creating an image of a truly “concerned citizen of the world”. And it’s ever since his encounter with Al-Gore in 2000 that his passion for climate change really became obvious to followers of the Oscar-winning actor.

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One of the stunning shots taken in Greenland via ew.com.

The film interestingly compares India to the US, highlighted by the growing economies’ denial of energy-consumption that the US has held for the last century at least.

“Stemming from a passion for nature since a very early age – especially in extinct species – DeCaprio sells a fine act of creating an image of a truly “concerned citizen of the world”.”

It shares a message that highlights specific change we can make such as changing our diet away from beef in order to reduce the methane pollution that cattle produce through when “burping” as a result of food consumption. And my admiration for Leo grew when he addressed the significant carbon footprint he himself has left on the planet (as he enters a Porsche and drives off into the glaring US sun).

Despite the above however, it felt as if Leo has just exploited the funding for the filming in an expensive two-year global holiday. With footage of him lazily staring out across the tranquil Indian Ocean in one scene, it’s almost as if the film forgets the real purpose behind its existence and transitions back to a focus on DeCaprio as this celebrity who has been gifted the opportunity to really promote the problem of Climate Change. The film daringly tackled this issue that DeCaprio might not be the right man for the job, considering his lack of scientific understanding, with a Fox news clip lambasting his involvement in the U.N. right at the outset.

But as the film quickly brushes this issues aside in the early minutes, I myself cannot forget this point. Especially when DeCaprio struggles to string to gather more than a handful of syllables in response to more of the technical points made in the film by his interviewees. He clearly has no real understanding of Climate Change. But arguably this makes him more approachable and relatable to the “masses” of which this film is clearly targeted at.

DeCaprio in Indonesia via collider.com

Overall, DeCaprio merely acts as the “Hollywood Star” stand-in for those with limited knowledge on climate change. The only real meaningful impact he has on the film is his speech at the Paris Agreement, shown at the end. However, I must concede that I am not entirely confident in how much of it DeCaprio actually wrote himself.

And on that note, I think we can conclude that the film is excellently filmed and acts as a good watch for the masses, especially if you have previously had limited knowledge on climate change. But the film merely scratches the surface of the real issue and hosts a limited amount of hard-factual information that we as viewers can take away with us. It is difficult to look past to amateurish role DeCaprio plays in the film, especially when he “talks with” a somewhat pointless Pope Francis, but we must praise him for his efforts in acting as a messenger of such an important topic. I only hope it leads to an audience like myself who take it upon themselves to research the issue further and look at the film as motivation to make a real impact.

Overall film rating: 72%

Please use this link to see the film and form your own opinion: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/before-the-flood/

 

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Why Religion is no longer suitable for today’s world – an extremely short insight:

Why Religion is no longer suitable for today’s world – an extremely short insight:

Introduction:

Now more than ever, religion is being heavily scrutinised worldwide as a force that causes more bad then good. From the Crusades to the Roman Catholic and Protestant sectarianism in Northern Ireland – religion is guilty of stimulating mass violence and death since its conception. With the recent rise of the Islamic State and spreading of fear across the world –  this article questions why such primeval religions are still so significant today.

Sociologist Phil Zuckerman is the first of a handful of experts who will being shared within this article. His research strongly supports evidence that “not a single advanced democracy that enjoys benign, progressive socio-economic conditions retains a high level of popular religiosity”. His research further suggests that the least religious nations in the world tend to be the most peaceful and prosperous. In particular, New Zealand is a prime example of a country free of strict religion yet with flourishing public policies. And its evidence conducted by Professor Michael Huemer, Proffesor at the University of Colorado that couples well with Zuckerman in extending the argument further. Huemer lays out compelling arguments which his research suggests the following relationship: the greater the prosperity and feeling of security of the individual, the less they feel the need to be attached or even associated with following a religion. Thus, an overwhelming array of evidence documents religion as: slowing intellectual progress, promoting the acceptance of the implausible and creating false general conceptions about reality – all of which are harmful to progression in society.

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A classic New Zealand landscape. Source: cabi.ac.nz

Religion as we know it today is born from our development as human beings throughout history. We had very little understanding of the way our world works if we go back two-thousand years and even a significantly smaller catchment of knowledge within our parent’s generation. Periods in history, such as the Iron Age, were deeply religious times whereby: rampant superstition, ignorance, inequality, racism, misogyny and violence were heavily encouraged by competing religions and conflicts over exact ideological interpretations.

Slavery had God’s sanction, women and children were literally possessions of men and warlords practised cruel warfare – in the name of Gods. We can examine snippets of pagan myth which were applied to Christian gospels just in the same way Roman and Greek mythologies share various analogues – such as the Gods Zeus and Jupiter. Religion was not simply born from myth but instead myth acted as the best way of explaining the functioning of nature.

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Botecelli’s The birth of Venus depicts the influence Greek mythology has. Source uffizi.org

But is religion still necessary? In order to question religion’s exhausted existence today we must look beyond how it was conceived. This is where Science comes into play – it has proven many answers to questions wrong that were previously un-answerable. We no longer need parables and metaphors that helped guide us in our early development. They have outlived their usefulness to us as (reasonably) enlightened, thinking beings that we are today.

The works of the late Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins draw attention to how we no longer need to be associated to a deity or some religious authority to agree on the basic core values of which we have a responsibility to uphold. Simple teachings of respect, love for others and learning right from wrong do not require one to follow the aforementioned stories found in the Bible or Qur’an. Dawkins and Hitchens are renowned for defending this point well against critics. We do not necessitate the existence of a Creator who enforces these values upon us; nor does the atheist assertion of a lack of a “creator” imply that we do not have a duty to lead moral lives. Dawkins goes on in depth in his book “The God Delusion” to write: “Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong”. Or as Albert Einstein wrote: “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”. And more people are sharing similar views leading to an increase in atheism globally.

Famous anti-theistical author and evolutionary biologist: Richard Dawkins. Source: gettyimages.com

It’s suggested by Nigel Barber that the world could be majority atheist by 2041 – his thesis cites that as a nation’s GDP (gross domestic product) increases, its citizens feel less need for the kind of emotional security offered by religion. It is clear that Atheists not only have trouble reconciling the Word of God in all its widely varying interpretations but also struggle in accepting Biblical passages that have no bearing on any modern system of beliefs and morals. To many followers of religion it is not about development but adhering to a set of ridged beliefs and following the rules laid down by religious authorities. It’s founded on defending your own belief against anyone who questions you and asserting your truth other people’s. The result over history is clear –  would there have ever been violence in an atheist/ agonistic Northern Ireland? Would there be settlements in Muslim areas of Palestine if the ultra-Orthodox Jews did not believe that the land was given to them 3 millennia ago by Jahveh? Would the Palestinian Muslims be so volatile about the “tomb of Ibrahim” if he were a Jewish ancestor and not a Muslim prophet like the Qur’an insists?

It’s at this point that we realise religion is a force for control and ironically insists that we promote dogma. However, we must appreciate that it’s natural for us humans to want to understand life’s questions. And at the dawn of time in our existence in this world it’s of no surprise that “Gods” as we know today were created to answer our feelings of fear, hatred, love and to provide reason behind remarkable natural events such as thunderstorms, tsunamis and even concepts such as darkness.

The fear of the unknown is the reason religion began and grew to what it has become today. However, let’s take a step forward and accept that Science is beginning to unravel many of our world’s mysteries that once caused religion to flourish as previously mentioned. We must come together in light of factual, scientific evidence and a growing, modern, diverse and open world that is inappropriate to host religions designed so prematurely.

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Religion was the answer to nature’s natural disasters. Source: izismile.com

The CTS:

Taking the above into account – I must note that the article has been strictly written and created by myself, my own views and those mentioned above who have influenced me. I do not aim to discolour religion or even deter people away from it, but merely provide an insight into a growing global view that deserves discussion.

 

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Norway’s love affair with Oil & Gas – a bitter end?

It’s been a strong relationship of 50 years in which Norway began its romance with the natural resource. Since discovery in the 1960s, exports of oil and gas have become an increasingly critical part of Norwegian life.

It’s a well-known fact that oil is a natural resource, and like all “sunset industries” it must come to an end. And at almost 2.5 million barrels of oil being extracted per day with just over 6.5 billion proven barrels of reserves left – Norway is running out of oil … fast.

In fact, according to Business Insider, that leaves just 7-8 years before Norway runs dry. And it’s of no surprise considering that North Sea Oil production has peaked – sparking disagreements over deeper exploration for oil in the Barents Sea as well as in the Arctic. Decisions to go further in finding more oil reserves are causing headaches for environmental and political organisations worldwide who continue to outline the hugely damaging effects of oil and gas production/ consumption.

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A typical large-scale Norwegian rig. Source: cyberdefencemagazine.com
So with the Norwegian oil industry in crisis, it begs us to question how heavily do Norwegians rely on the natural resource in keeping their economy and government afloat?

The treasure beneath Norway:

It’s no myth that behind the endless salmon farms, fjords and breath-taking landscapes, Norway is well-endowed when it comes to natural resources. The statistics speak for themselves – Norway is the 8th largest crude oil exporter in the world, 9th largest exporter of refined oil and also the 3rd largest natural gas exporter. Alongside this they host huge reserves of exploitable coal underneath its famous “continental shelf” so often debated about by environmentalists.

May 1963 was the turning point in post-war Norwegian history. In this month the government asserted sovereign rights over natural resources in its sector of the North Sea. Just three years later exploration began and by August 1969, the Ocean Viking drilled its first hole into a treasure chest of wealth. This was immediately a major factor in Norway’s historic decision to never enter the EU (then EEC) and build what has become one of the most sophisticated and welfare systems in the world.

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The Historic Ocean Viking oil rig in 1969. Source: offshore energy.com
It’s of no question that the very heartbeat of petroleum has been a major contributor in the development of the Norwegian welfare state. Using the research conducted on Norway vs Scandinavia before and after oil production in the 60s, a gap in GDP, total value creation, investments, exports and revenues grew between what were once all equal nations as a direct result of oil discovery.

But the major factor in pushing Norway above its neighbours economically was the establishment of the world-renowned Welfare State Fund in 1990 or the near $1trillion saved as a sort-of “rainy day” pot of cash if things get bad. It’s the world’s largest wealth reserve, amounting to $180,000 per person and is supposedly Norway’s answer to life once the marriage with oil has broken off and to prevent de-industrialisation. Thus, it’s of no surprise that 1/5 of Norway’s economy relies on this abundance of natural resources – but this according to many researchers translates more towards 35% of their economy when taking into account secondary industries that rely on the oil industry.

Life without oil:

The fact of the matter is that oil discovery has allowed Norway to differentiate in socio-politics among rivals in Europe and especially against its closest Scandinavian neighbours who operate among free markets while Norway continue to embrace its state capitalism, led by its national oil champion Statoil. The Norwegian state owns large takes in the country’s biggest companies, from its largest bank DnBNor, to the largest fertiliser-maker, Yara and Norsk Hydro – the largest aluminium producer. The resultant effect is that the state owns 37% of the Oslo stockmarket. A recent article from the Economist highlights how oil is Norway’s penchant for state capitalism, quoting Torger Reve of the Norwegian Business school:

“we invented the Chinese way of doing things before the Chinese”.

With a population density of just 13 people per square kilometre, Norwegians have always depended on the state to help manage the abundance of natural resources – minerals, fjords, forests and waterfalls to those isolated communities that no-one has ever heard about. And it’s the oil boom that led to a consequent boom in public spending that Norwegians seem to be so proud of. Since the 1970s, those employed in education has doubled and heath/ social services employment has quadrupled. The public sector now accounts for 52% of Norway’s GDP, with blue-collar workers earning three times that of their British peers.

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Norway’s scenic landscapes. Source: wloudinary.com
It’s not all good news:

Among the world’s highest standards of living, wage rates and GDPs, oil wealth has not come without its own problems. The dominance of the industry has led to the monopolisation of technical talent – 50,000 engineers have been sent to offshore locations. And alongside this, property prices are rising by 7% a year, the Big Mac Index has become one of the highest in the world at $7.69 for a Big Mac (almost double the USA) and so the sky-high prices have led many experts to question Norway’s socio-economic trajectory.

To many researches, “Dutch disease” (an over-reliance on one industry) has become a common conclusion to Norway’s situation – which became apparent when oil prices began to fall in 2013.

This proved that, beyond the glitz, the Norwegian economy has become incredibly unbalanced …

… and according to Prime Minister Erna Solberg in an interview with the BBC: “… our strong currency left some of our traditional industries behind” which only echoes the idea that the prosperity of recent may only be temporary.

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Traditional native Norwegian industries include salmon fishing. Source: leroyseafoodgroupasa.com
The sovereign wealth fund or “oil fund” mentioned above is supposed to be Norway’s answer to slowly parting ways from its reliance on natural resources. However, according to Reuters this isn’t the case with an “exposed economy unprepared for life after oil which threatens the long-term viability” of the fund. Experts instead argue that the government must limit wage increases to productivity and oil cost growth, cut taxes like its neighbours and spend less of the oil money. Some are even talking of depreciating the Krone. The knock-on effects of Norway’s current trajectory is that many of its workers are leaving and instead migrating to new jobs in Mexico, China and the USA, leaving only high-tech and automated jobs at home. Many of Norway’s wealthier inhabitants are moving to London to escape high taxes and a somewhat claustrophobic society.

Many speak of a complacency and dependence so great that as oil profits dwindle, the welfare demands will become increasingly burdensome and unfeasible. That added to the inevitable increase in unemployment will erode the nation’s wealth. Norway must re-direct investments away from Statoil – perhaps looking towards exploiting the high level of education and talented people and increase investment in home-grown technology development.

The CTS:

This session has outlined a trio of solutions Norway must take to get back-on-track towards a balanced economy.

  • They must begin by ensuring it’s better placed to respond to the challenges of a dying industry that makes up 35% of GDP. The government should start off by reducing the 250,000 vulnerable oil-based jobs in the economy and aim to diversify it more towards renewable energy, eco-friendly processing, robotics, nanotechnology, fisheries, tourism and IT technologies which serve as natural priority areas for such an educated and developed nation.
  • Norway must use the wealth made from the oil to stop state guarantees, tax cuts and special arrangements that incentivise increased oil exploration and instead redirect these towards other industrial sectors.
  • Encourage elected politicians to step-up and take the reign of the Norwegian economy away from Statoil whose interests lie in profits not general welfare and put them back into a free-state government structure similar to that of Sweden.

It’s time to end the bureaucratisation born of Norway’s enthusiastic embrace of state capitalism and enter a new age of reforms that rely less on depleting natural resources.

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Our perception of health: the battle against dieting and “bigorexia”

A quick introduction:

Staying healthy has become one of the most talked about topics for generations. It persistently comes up in conversation across people of all ages and it affects us all. Undoubtedly our health is crucial, it impacts our daily activity, our ability to live for longer and help us achieve that feel-good-factor. Yet, despite its importance we as a society fear the word and the stigmatisation behind it. To some of us, maintaining this perceived sweat-enduring lifestyle of gym and tasteless food is foreign and pointless. But to the majority of us, this lifestyle is something we are well aware of, however, we lack the knowledge and/or motivation to get us to that dream-goal.

It just so happens I know a thing or two about being healthy. Bred on sports from a young age, regularly researching new ways of staying healthy and relentlessly aiming to reach my desired “look” means this article houses some insider knowledge that could be useful in helping you understand “health” and how to maintain it. I will help you realise that becoming “that person” on social media is not always the “healthiest” option.

But first things first – let me emphasise a point so often ignored. Healthy has different meanings to us all. So, for the purpose of this article, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.

The disarranged meaning behind health today:

We have become obsessed with our personal image today, and I mean obsessed.

Everywhere you look, gyms are crowded, image-related suicide rates are peaking and protein companies are drowning among unprecedented profits.

It has become a true 21st century trend and it looks as if it will continue far into the considerable future. It’s around us in every conceivable place imaginable with the power and connectivity of social media’s presence exacerbating its effect, in ways both good and bad.

Source: pinkvilla.com

Today we fight over what the ideal person is. We voice opinions openly on our perfect dress size or ideal waistline while simultaneously judging those that don’t meet our ideal. Muscles are no longer optional, but a necessity, for the modern man. He will often fear not being “big” enough which runs in parallel to the normalised concept of “constant dieting” encouraged by their female counterparts.

It’s become less about fitness and more about aesthetics – which is not necessarily healthier. Statistics over the last ten years speak for themselves, with the fitness and beauty industries aggressively targeting the male market, relentlessly pushing a male beauty paradigm that is sculpted and god-like. As a result, obsession with muscle building is now commonplace amongst men under 40. The Daily Mail recently reported that up to 45% of men are susceptible to the so-called ‘bigorexia’ at some stage in their lives.

Source: bbc.com
Source: bbc.com

The CTS:

While writing this article in this coffee-table session – the solution to good health, on the face of it at least, seems so simple. Life is about balance and moderation. All evidence supported by countless scholars, epidemiologists and health-experts favours those who sleep at least 7-8 hours a night, eat the right food and regularly exercise are the ones who are really “healthy”. In other words, those you can maintain some sort of balance on how they function in their lives have the power to maintain a “healthy lifestyle”.

And this concept isn’t anything new – the WHO (World Health Organisation) were the first to identify this phenomenon in 1947 when they defined health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”. It was then in the 50’s and 60’s, that Dr Halbert Dunn was the first to coin the term “wellness”, labelling it as “an integrated method of functioning which is oriented toward maximising the potential of which the individual is capable of functioning within the environment.” Thus, the over-riding point is that great physical health doesn’t necessarily lead to a healthy mind and spirit or as we term – a high level of “wellness”. In fact, good health is more orientated towards the reaching of one’s personal goals and being satisfied with yourself.

Source: nydailynews.com
Source: nydailynews.com

And for those who feel they may be “unhealthy” as they are carrying a bit of extra weight around – irrespective of a few pounds of fat, being metabolically fit is what really matters. A study conducted between 1979 and 2003 on 43,365 participants drew attention to this fact well. Researchers categorised obese participants as metabolically health if, aside from their weight, they didn’t suffer from insulin resistance, diabetes, low levels of good cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood pressure. In other words – it’s the fat on the inside that can really damage us, not the outside. Those who appear trim on the surface can actually carry too much visceral fat and not enough muscle internally and thus be in an unhealthy position then the slightly larger person.

A brief summary:

This session has taught us that looks aren’t everything and that health and what we perceive as perfection are not necessarily related.

Becoming really healthy requires us to put in a small effort in moderating consumption of bad things and upping the exercise we do.

Fat is the enemy to health – the main risk factors including: high cholesterol, obesity, hypertension and diabetes – are all related to difficulties in metabolising it. Thus, exercise still remains one of our most potent weapons. It’s exercise that influences our body and organs in all the right ways.

 

Hope you enjoyed the session – find my shortlist on the best quick reads to maintain a healthy and balance lifestyle below. Use these in your favour – they are simple to understand and remember that looks aren’t everything – just maintain a balanced diet and regular exercise!

 

Avoiding bad health

Dieting advice

What to eat


 

Welcome to the Coffeetablesessions

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Love from the team.

 

CTS