I deny the Paris Agreement, not climate change

The Paris Agreement is the current hot topic of all media. After President Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement, news sources covered all the negative opinions on his actions. A coalition was formed between Washington, California and New York that opposes Trump’s decision and the French President openly mocked his slogan saying “Make our planet great again.”

Before voicing my opinion on the President’s actions, it is necessary to ask these questions: what is the Paris Agreement? What does it do?

The Paris Agreement is a UNFCCC agreement that aims at curbing greenhouse gas emissions in order to reduce the effects of climate change. The agreement was signed 195 countries and ratified by 148 of those. The only countries that refused to sign were Syria and Nicaragua with the addition of the USA that is planning to withdraw the agreement.

In Article 2 of the English version of the agreement, the main goal laid out is to hold “the increase of global temperature to well above 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.” Article 9 of the same agreement then goes to emphasize the necessity of developed countries financially helping the developing ones in order to achieve the same results.

The agreement raises many issues and is quite problematic. It is economically damaging as countries have to spend billions of dollars in aid to developing nations, in addition to reducing economic growth due to the restricting policies of such an agreement. By raising taxes and halting production, you are asking for a national economic crisis.

The economic consequences sadly do not yield great results, even in the long run. Calculations done by PragerU in the video shown below on climate change showed that the policies adopted would cost trillions of dollars, but would only achieve minor results even if estimated for the whole century. These two points make the agreement both destructive and inefficient, regardless of where you stand on climate change.

A more pragmatic and effective solution would be forming multinational research groups dedicated to clean and renewable energy, funded by the UN members states. Not only would the results of such research give birth to technological and environmental innovation, but it would also cost significantly less than the Paris in terms of money and economic consequences. The discovery of an energy source that is cleaner, cheaper, and more convenient than fossil fuels would pursue businesses to make the switch, which would have a better impact on the environment for the long run.

Trump did the right thing by withdrawing. However, he did it for the wrongs reasons. He never claimed the agreement was inefficient in what it’s doing but rather called climate change a “hoax” by the Chinese government to reduce competition of US goods against Chinese produce.

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. –– @realDonaldTrump

This means that instead of going from an inefficient solution to an efficient one, we’re going from an inefficient solution to none at all. Thankfully, Trump will only be in the White House for the next three years as I doubt he will be reelected for a second term. Hopefully, by then, we would have carved a better solution.

4.1 miles

It’s only 4.1 miles from Lesbos to Turkey. A short distance. People run 4.1 miles as a warm up. But over 226 refugees have died so far in 2017 trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Living through the hardships of our daily lives, we tend to forgot the struggles of those continually trying to escape war zones. Many make it but others never live long enough to see the lighthouse. A sick and wicked game of Darwinian selection. This is an article written by Zoë Zahariadis, an American-Greek high school senior that started Students For Solidarity aiming to raise awareness of the Syrian refugee struggle. It perfectly captures the state of our world and the frustration that activists keep facing on a daily basis. Do give it a read along other articles posted on her blog.

4.1 miles on Students For Solidarity.

A Quick Change of Views

The readers of this blog (if they exist in the first place) deserve an update on my constantly changing ideas. If you have read my previous posts, you would have noticed that I am a Marxist. While I do not deny that I was a true believer in that school of thought, I have to admit that I was wrong. Perhaps wrong is not the correct word to describe what I think. Let me explain.

The more one person reads, the more he tends to lean in a certain direction on the political spectrum. Since most modern and intellectual authors and personalities being leftist, it is normal and natural for the reader to also lean to the left.

That was the case for me. It started with me becoming a moderate leftist and being slowly radicalized till I became a full on anarcho-communist at one point, however edgy that might sound. Things have changed and the tables have turned. I have become a Classical Liberal. No, the change did not happen overnight and no, I did not became rich or join the 1%. It took months and sleepless nights of reading and researching for this change of views to happen. Also, I’m still middle class, at least for the time being.

I still hate Donald Trump.

Don’t tread on me.

Mankoushé

Two nights before my birthday, I stand in front of my neighborhood bakery, waiting impatiently to order a mankoushé.

A lady, old in age, interrupts my way. She is telling the baker a story about how she almost got hit in the head. “Praise be to Allah for your safety!” replied the baker. Sick of the waiting, I pull out my pack of cigarettes and light one, hoping that the flame of the smoke will burn the time away.

Halfway through it, the lady turns around and examines me then says out loud: “Yes! Smoke now so that you may destroy your lungs at a young age?” I stare blankly at her face, turn around and leave the store in fear of my tongue failing me if I reply.

A few minutes later, I walk back to the bakery. The lady is gone but the baker with a smirk on his face asks: “Since when do you smoke?”

“It’s almost been a year.”

“You are a sneaky boy, aren’t you? I never expected you to be a smoker.”

“I’m not really a regular one,” I hold out my packet, “I’ve had this one for about three months.”

I see the expressions of shock appear on his face as he nods his head both in surprise and approval.

Einstein on Socialism

I honor Lenin as a man who completely sacrificed himself and devoted all his energy to the realization of social justice. I do not consider his methods practical, but one thing is certain: men of his type are the guardians and restorers of humanity.

Einstein and the Generations of Science. Lewis Samuel Feuerl. p.25

Albert Einstein is one of the famous scientists who have ever lived and has greatly contributed to physics world with his theory of relativity among other achievements. He also had a strong opinion on many other subjects such as religion, the belief in god, love and politics. Now, he is just a scientist and his opinion on matters other than science should not be valued more. However, they are worth being taken into consideration as the man is a famous historical character.

A USSR stamp in 1979 commemorating Albert Einstein.
A USSR stamp in 1979 commemorating Albert Einstein.

In May 1949, the first issue of Monthly Review was published and it included an essay by Einstein himself titled Why Socialism? This was almost four years after the end of World War II and debatably two years after the begging of the Cold War. During the time, the United States was starting to become more and more anti-communist as it tries to stop the influence of the Soviet Union over the world.

Einstein began by comparing both economics and astronomy. He said that both look at different phenomena in order to find the interconnection between all of those. The ultimate goal is to find an explanation of the cause and consequences of what happens in the natural world. However, he made a distinction as he asserted that the job is harder for economists. It is definitely harder to break down economic phenomena as there are many causes that are hard to isolate and analyze. Therefore, is it “advisable” for a person who is not an expert to give his opinion on economics? Einstein believed so.

Man is both a solitary and social being at the same time. This might sound very contradicting but it’s just how human being are. They seek affirmation and validation from their fellow members in society in order to attain self-assurance. Einstein believed that it’s this contradicting nature that makes man powerful and unique. It is, therefore, evident that man is dependent on this concept in society in his survival.

Man has become conscious to his connection to society. However, according to the physicist, this connection has been perceived as negative and as a threat to the man’s human rights and his “economic existence”. Humans, prisoners of their own egotism, are making each other weaker as they disconnect from their surroundings. This has promoted a form of “capitalist anarchy” which he regarded as the ultimate source of evil. It has made the means of production the private property of a few individuals, depriving the workers from the fruit of their labor. The production of the good is being accomplished for the profit rather than the actual use of the good. In addition to that, the technological progress is only helping the increase in unemployment rather than lifting the burden of production.

This form of “unlimited competition” is a huge waste of labor. It also cripples the individuals as they are always in fear of losing their jobs. They do not work because they want to produce a good, but rather to have enough money to purchase the result of their own work. This in turn inflicts damage on the whole educational system preparing overly competitive students, who regard academic success only to be necessary for a successful future career.

The solution? A socialist economy in which the means of production are owned by society. In addition to that, Einstein suggested that this society should be accompanied with an educational system glorifying social goals and the prosperity of all human beings, rather than his own success in life. The realization of this kind of society faces many problems. How can it be realized? How can we prevent bureaucracy empowerment? And how can we further prevent the enslavement of the individual? The problems must be addressed but at Einstein’s times, this topic was considered a taboo as socialists were being chased and oppressed.

Marxism and Women

I decided to look at the status of women in a socialist society. I was inspired by an article written by the late Max Edwards on the same subject. I think he did a great job comparing the Marxist and feminist ideologies and how they go hand by hand and although I do agree with him, I decided to give me own input on the topic.

Many women identified as communist such as Simon De Beauvoir and to some extent contributed to it as is the case with Rosa Luxemburg. Beauvoir published her feminist masterpiece The Second Sex which was one of the books started second-wave feminism. She also joined other feminist Marxists in founding the journal Questions féministes in France. Luxemburg was a member of many socialist parties and co-founded the newspaper Die Rote Fahne (“The Red Flag”), one of the most influential leftists newspapers at the time.

In 1919, Vladimir Lenin wrote a short essay titled Soviet Power and the Status of Women. It was the second anniversary of the Soviet Union and he decided to take a look at the achievements of the Union in many fields, including democracy and gender equality. He firsts starts by differentiating between a socialist democracy (benefiting the workers) and bourgeois democracy (benefiting the rich) by comparing their stances on the status of women.

Although bourgeois democracy promised equality and liberty. At the time, no such republic granted women full equality. Not even 125 years after the French revolution. Bourgeois democracy is an ideology full with false promises and hopes exploiting the workers and deluding them into believing that they are truly equal.

A socialist democracy challenges the lies and illusions of the bourgeois and according to Lenin, “declares war on the hypocrisy of the ‘democrats'”. There cannot be true equality and true democracy without gender equality in which half of the population is treated as fully human. Gender inequality is unfair privilege and unfair privilege contradicts the ideals of a truly socialist, democratic society.

We say to the workers and peasants: Tear the masks from the faces of these liars, open the eyes of these blind ones. Ask them:

“Equality between what sex and what other sex?

“Between what nation and what other nation?

“Between what class and what other class?

“Freedom from what yoke, or from the yoke of what class? Freedom for what class?”

Feminism and Marxism are both left-of-center doctrines and go hand by hand. In our struggle against class inequality and the unfair privilege of the rich, we must also rebel against gender inequality and the unfair privilege of men. Both workers and females are being oppressed by the same system as they are regarded as property by the higher class. A specter is haunting the world, a specter of feminism.

Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and revolutionary socialist of Polish-Jewish descent.
Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and revolutionary socialist of Polish-Jewish descent.

Trotsky on Trump

A few days ago I was browsing reddit and I stumble upon a post claiming that Leon Trotsky’s assessment of Adolf Hitler seems to fit Donald Trump. I was not really surprised as many people have already made the comparison but I decided to actually take a look at the essay and look at the similarities myself.

Hitler has been widely regarded as a demagogue, a hysterical person, and a comedian.

We have to admit that this opening statement perfectly fits Trump. Whether it’s his appearance on Saturday Night Live or his defense of his penis size, the guy is basically out there making America and the world laugh. For a more in-depth look on this political comedy, check out this article by the New York Times.

The leaders of German labor refused to take Hitler seriously

German politicians could not take Hitler’s plans seriously. According to Trotsky, “they dismissed his program as an impossible blend of reaction and utopia”. This seems to be the case for both the Democratic Party and to some extent, the Republican Party too. However, he is in fact destroying the GOP as it could in fact splinter if Donald Trump gets the nomination.

Taken as a whole, the Hitler program for the reconstruction of Europe is a reactionary-utopian medley of racial mysticism and national cannibalism.

This one is self-explanatory. Hitler’s plans were extremely racist and angled on eliminating anyone who is not of pure German race, the holocaust serves as a great example of his ideology. Trump, although not necessarily as aggressive, opposed almost anyone who is not white. Whether it’s his hate for Latinos and Muslims, or his history of blatant racism and bigotry, Trump wants a pure white America. Reminds me of a small group of Southern ghost cosplayers, usually known as the Ku Klux Klan.

This is only a small section of the whole essay but I must say, I am rather horrified at the similarities rather than impressed by Trotsky’s description. As Karl Marx said “History repeats; first as tragedy, then as farce.”

Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky was a Soviet politician and the founder of the Red Army.

I lost my virginity to the US

I lost my virginity to the United States. You read the title and you probably thought that there is something wrong with me. Why would I write about my sexual virginity? Why would I write about sex at all on my personal blog? Isn’t this the kind of stuff that you keep off the Internet only to be shared with your guy friends? These are very good points but I shall write what I want to write.

Six months ago, I was at the Beirut International Airport saying goodbye to my mother. She was crying and all I could do was hug and comfort her, hoping that it would stop the tears. At that moment, I was too excited to realize that I was leaving my family and that was about to change in the next few hours. After I got on the plane and found my seat, I was delighted to find out that my friend is sitting next to me and that I will not be bored throughout the trip. However, when we took off, I was slapped with a shocking realization: this is not a field trip. I just realized that I was not leaving my country for a week nor for a month. I was leaving home for 10 months. I gaze at the nothingness of the dark sky in Lebanon as I contemplated that idea.

That story was a simple example of how your feelings and motivations can change in a few seconds. What could six months do to you?

I am not the person I was when I first came here. I have been destroyed and rebuilt, I have been melted and forged again. People told me that I will “find myself” during this year and that I will learn to live on my own. These people either don’t know what this feels like or do but chose to lie to us. Even if they told us the truth, we would have made the same decision anyway. How did I change? If I met you during the past few months then you only know me as what I currently am. Let me expand on that.

I do not see the point in debating frequently anymore. If you knew me before I came here, you know I would do anything to prove my point right. I got into two to three arguments every day just because I believed I was right. Although I found it fun at the time, after I came here, I realized that it was useless. My comfort and lack of stress was far more important than proving my points right. And just like Bertrand Russell, I would not die for an idea because I might be wrong.

I have also became more emotionally and physically independent. I had to switch host families two times, I had to meet and get close to people who I will leave, and I had to learn to depend on myself. It’s when I faced the idea of leaving that I realized that I have nobody here. I hated it. How can I strengthen bonds with people I will leave, possibly for eternity? How can I create a new life for myself that I will desert only a few months after it stabilizes? Am I a masochist for doing this? What was I thinking?

I lost myself when I tried to find myself. I don’t know who I am anymore. I can tell you where I came from, what languages I speak and what I might want to be in the future. However, is that really who I am? Sartre said that we are just the sum of our actions. My actions are too contradictory for them to represent a human being. I truly lost my virginity, in fact I lost more than that, I lost my sanity.

15/2/16 – Very sciency day

So I received an email two weeks ago from Dr. Nicole Herbots, a professor at ASU whom I was working with, asking me if I could attend two lab sessions as a visitor. I hesitated at first because every time I remembered her research, long and boring papers would come to mind along with complex formulas that I did not have the understanding to grasp. The first lab session was on a Friday at around 1:00 PM and the second one was on a Monday around the same time on President’s day.

I decided to reject the invitation for the Friday lab session as I had school on the same day and to get there on time, I would have to leave at around 11 am. She replied saying that she understands my situation and asked me if I could attend the second lab session on President’s day as I would have the day off. I decided to ignore her email and wish she would not notice my silent disapproval. Two days later, she emails my physics teacher about that lab session asking her if I could attend. I had to agree on going as I had no valid reason to reject the invitation. I can endure four hours of boring lab work.

My host mother drops me off at ASU at around 12:40 pm. “I am 20 minutes early!” I thought. It took me 10 minutes of going through Google Maps and ASU’s online campus map to figure out the location of the building I’m supposed to be at. I eventually get there, and have 10 minutes left to waste. I decided to sit in the hall downstairs and wait the remaining time away. I looked around me and saw different college students on their phones or laptops while only one was eating what looked like green herbs out of a plastic box. Is this what college feels like? I guess I’ll have to wait to know.

It’s 1:00 PM and I decided to hop inside the elevator and go to the lab where I’m supposed to be. I quickly realized I have no idea what floor I’m supposed to be on. There were 3 other people with me in there and the guy asked each one of us for floor number we were heading to. When he got to me, I just nodded my head and he thought he already chose the floor I was heading to. Before he got off at the last elevator stop, I interrupt and show him the room I’m heading too. I had the website on my phone and it said GWC B34. GWC was the code name of the Gold Water Center, while B34 was the floor number followed by the room number. I did notice there’s an elevator floor numbered B and had to embarrass myself with that question. He told me it’s on floor B and I just head there.

I knock several times on the door and no one answers. There is someone in there, I saw their bald head! I texted Dr. Herbots but I received no reply so I assumed she was busy in a lab where she could not use her phone. Half an hour later, Alex pops out of nowhere with her skateboard. She said that Dr. Herbots sent her to look for me as they were running late and how she was not allowed to be in the other lab anyway as she was wearing shorts. Her key to the lab did not work so we just sit down and talk about random topics to kill time.

Dr. Herbots eventually show up with 3 other student researchers and someone’s mother. We headed into the lab, put our coats and hairnets on and started looking at the simulations. “Never start taking scientific measurements unless you have an idea of what you should get.” said Dr. Herbots. That’s why were looking at our simulations, so we could predict the outcome of our experiment.

I’m not sure of what I could disclose on the research but long story shorts, it was more exciting than I expected, I was actually in a lab for the first time, I got to work with a REAL particle accelerator, I was the guy taking notes (at least for the first part) and Dr. Herbots is a really interesting person. I also got really hungry and Yash’s mother gave me a clementine, shoutout to her!

My host mom comes back to pick me up and she asks me: “How was it?”

EXHAUSTING. FUN BUT EXHAUSTING.

On the ride back home, we discussed religion, her kids’ future, whether dinner is ready and teenage relationships. She is a really smart woman. Do I end up with the intelligent people just by chance or what?

At around 7 PM, I started skyping with a fellow Lebanese exchange student in North Carolina. I had a small crush on her because she looked like the perfect match for me: she was a Lebanese atheist, she loved science, she was really smart, she’s cute and she could actually debate ideas. I couldn’t really ask for more. Okay maybe it was not a small crush.

Anyway, I discovered she can be a bit sassier than expected. She implied I was a white girl because I have a Tumblr account, I straightened my hair at one point and can’t grow a full beard. I was offended because I actually liked her and I felt rejected although she could be just playfully teasing me. At the end of the call, I kinda just got angry at her and said “You have a short hair! Do you call yourself a women?” and she, with a smirk on her face, replies with “Really Moe? Bye.” Not a good way to end a call with your crush. Learn from my mistakes.

Okay, so then we texted for a bit and made a few jokes. She started making the same joke again and I said it’s starting to really annoy me. She apologized and I had to soften the mood and tell her I’m only annoyed because I myself make fun of white people. I suppose I have failed for the day as she said decided to go to bed.

It’s 12:45 am, it’s technically not February 15th anymore and I’m writing this journal for no one to read. Can life get any better?

On my philosophical positions

Please note I am in no way claiming to be a philosopher or to fully understand all the terms and ideas mentioned below. I will probably butcher a few terms here and there, and some statements and definitions will make you cringe. If you find any mistakes in what I have written then I beg you to correct me. 

Throughout my life, I have been a curious person. I have probably spent a lot of my time watching videos and reading articles on a variety of topics. However, it’s very recent that I actually started forming my own opinions, adopting philosophies and debating ideas. I have read a few books here on there on absurdism, religion and so on. I’ve probably spent months of my life reading articles and essays on science, philosophy, art and religion. I’ve probably wasted dozens of hours watching someone breaking down very complex topics. I am definitely not ready to take a clear position on what I believe and what way of thinking I’m currently following, but as that thing will always be changing, I decided to put it into a blog post so I can look back at it years later and laugh at myself.

I’ll start first with toying with the idea of nihilism. If you are an expert on philosophical topics, you’re scared that I’ll mess up somewhere and confuse nihilism with something else. Although that’s very likely, let me start by stating that Nietzsche was not a nihilist. That’s no big deal, but hopefully it’ll help you sleep at night.

Moving on, nihilism is philosophical position that rejects belief in different aspects of life. I personally consider it a complete rejection of existence. The typical nihilist will look at life and identify it as meaningless and purposeless. “Why bother?” he asks himself almost every time he’s faced with a challenge. “Why should I care?” is his answer to every moral question. Morals, according to nihilists, do not inherently exist. The current moral system is but a human invention in order to keep humans in line. If you are a friend of mine, you have probably seen me make a few nihilist jokes here and there, associating nihilism with suicide and the love of death. I would like to tell you, that is not the case.

A “true nihilist” will know that there is no purpose to suicide just like there is no purpose to life. You might actually go through some nihilistic moments yourself. At 12:00 am, when you’re laying in bed and starting at the ceiling fan, you could be facing the unnecessary and meaningless human ideas. You could regard life as simply a few scores you would spend before completely seizing to exist. Of course, if you’re a normal person, these ideas will disappear by the time you wake up next morning. If that does not happen, you might actually fall into a state of full nihilism. It gets more complicated and there are many different types of nihilism and definitely a lot of criticism towards. Google and books are you friends here, do your reading.

I’ll now starting expanding on the idea of existentialism. It is very important for you to distinct between existentialism and nihilism because, regardless of their similarities, they are very different with how you would see and deal with life and I’ll do my best to explain the differences. The mentioned position focuses on human free will in the midst of a meaningless world. While both philosophies acknowledge that life has no meaning inherently, the latter takes that idea a step forward. If you are familiar with the works of Nietzsche and Sartre, you’ll see how both of these individuals highlight the idea that humans are what they make of themselves. Although that sounds like something a white teenage girl would put as her Instagram caption, it is exactly what existentialism is all about.

Here, I would like to refer to Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism is a Humanism where he compares humans and hammers. He first starts by explaining that hammers were created for a purpose. Before the hammer was made, someone formed its image and purpose in their head. He then proceeded to forge that hammer around that purpose. This according to Sartre, is when essence precedes existence. Most humans like to believe that this is how God created humans. He had a purpose for humans and forged them around that idea. However, in atheistic existentialism, Sartre supposed that if God does not, and that’s very likely, there must be one conscious being whose existence precedes their essence. Man was the answer.

According to this philosophy, man existed, became self-aware and then started to give his life meaning. This is where Sartre derived his idea of free will. Since humans have no predetermined purpose, they are the ones who give meaning to their lives and through their own will, create their purpose. Christian existentialists such as Kierkegaard would argue that a leap of faith to believe in God is the solution. However, in a society where Nietzsche’s words on the death of God are spreading, this idea will not find a place.

 Finally, I’m going to address one final philosophical position. This does not necessarily fit in with the former two but since I am discussing my current ideas, I’m going to mention hedonism. Hedonism in a very short definition, is the belief that pleasure is the ultimate goal of life. In other words, happiness can only be achieved when pleasure is your purpose. You are probably imagining a guy who has sex multiple times per week and eats fancy food every day at the moment. That is not completely wrong but that is not necessarily what hedonism is about.

Here, we have to look at the types of pleasure. You have the low pleasures that include sexual relationships and food. I would like to go back to that one paper I read in my Theory of Knowledge class on this subject. It used the example of Howard in the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. If you have ever watched that show, you would realize that Howard is almost to do anything in exchange for sex. In one episode, he got sleeves tattoo and dressed up as a goth just to attract two hot goth chicks at the bar. Howard is definitely a hedonist but he focuses on the low pleasures of life. You also have the high pleasures, these are represented by what you would get out of reading philosophy, poetry and novels and by looking at art. The high pleasures would better be represented Epicureanism, an Athenian school of philosophy advocating for hedonism while preferring mental pleasure to physical pleasure.

To end this article, I would like to answer the question that many of my friends have asked. What philosophical schools do I adhere to? What are my philosophical positions? This long article has probably kept you waiting and I’m finally going to answer that question.

I regard myself as many things but I would find myself as a lovely combination of existentialism and hedonism. In the past few years, I have come to the realization that I have complete control over who I am. If I am  a coward, then that’s who I chose to be and who I made myself become. It’s not the result of the work of some supernatural force or deity nor is it the result of other people’s actions. As Sartre said “Nous sommes nos choix.” which is French for “We are our choices.”

I am also a hedonist since pleasure has been and probably will always be a great factor in the process of decision-making. You are probably asking yourself what kind of pleasure I’m talking about. Both types of pleasure are what I’m seeking with an emphasis on the high pleasures. Although low pleasures are biologically pleasure and attractive to our instincts, they are very limited to the moment. Once the heat wears off, they’re gone. The high pleasures are what stays. The knowledge I have collected from a book or the feelings that I have got from looking at a painting is what I’m going to keep in my head. The high pleasures are the ones you can recall and relive over and over again. I’m not going to act completely pure here and I’ll leave you with a quote by Blaise Pascal:

Man is neither angel nor beast; and the misfortune is that he who would act the angel acts the beast.

Au revoir, chers amis!