Thaiduong

Monday, June 26, 2006

My Interview about Americans and Health

Under was my interview over the phone with a pediatrician who is currently working at Sterling Rock Falls Clinic in Sterling, IL.

There are many factors that contribute to the rise of obesity in the US. Obesity is an outbreak in the US. Studying the causes of obesity is very important. Actually, causes of obesity are very simple. The problem is that people do not realize that they are overweight. It is difficult to prevent when they become obese.

Obesity is high in the US. We can see the obese anywhere, in the grocery store, restaurants, malls, etc. Most of them are heavy-looking, overweight, but they do not realize that they are chunky.

The US is trying to reduce obesity rate. For example, children are monitored when they are young. Pediatricians establish a record of growth chart for a large number of children, such as growth, height. They can identify the growth pattern. If children are overweight, pediatrician will consult or advise their parents’ tips to help their children such as watching out calorie in daily meals, physical exercise.

Soda must be out of school and be replaced by juice or water because it is not needed and unhealthy.

The obese are not being discriminated. Perhaps the problems are that they have a difference appearance than normal people and this makes them feel different. Just like cases of race and skin color or ethnicity. In the case of the obese, it is the heavy looking appearance.

Obesity also involves with family lifestyle because when children are obese, their father and mother are also overweight.

In addition, fast food industry is growing, fast food is easy to get and cheap to buy. However, fast food is not good for health because of high calorie. Big beverage and food processed companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi, McDonald’s advertise their products on TV, aimed to the young people.

Also, life of less physical exercise, driving in short distance, watching more TV, playing video games, and eating a lot leads to the increase of obesity.

Obesity causes a lot of health problems such as heart problems, stroke, diabetes, and hypertension. Obesity can restrict people from doing such a certain thing. The obese are the one who visit health care clinics more. Even in the worse cases, they can not work. This leads to economic burden to the society. Other people have to pay higher insurance because of the high rate of obesity. Since the obese do not take adequate care for themselves.

Least but not last, Old thinking is also a factor to the increase of obesity. American thinks that bigger is better, so this also contributes to the rise of obesity.

In my view, there are a lot of factors that cause obesity and it is really interesting that most of the obese do not realize that they are overweight. I also did not know that Americans think that bigger is better, but they fail to realize that this is not always true, especially at current because obesity does cause a lot of problems and costs a lot of money for treatment.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Solar Energy as an Effective Alternative Has Not Been Proven

Great concerns that appear in most of the headlines of newspapers nowadays are pollution, ozone depletion, and global warming. Environmentalists are trying to point out main causes of pollution and global warming which come from nonrenewable energy resources such as oil, coal, natural gas, etc. More attention is being drawn to alternative energy resources so that our world will become less dependent upon exhaustible energy sources, and reduce pollution. One of the alternatives is solar energy. It is energy produced from the sun. Solar energy can be converted directly or indirectly into other forms of energy: heat and electricity by solar cells.
A solar energy system works like this. Solar cells are made of silicon. When light strikes the cell, it is absorbed into the cell as energy. Electrons within the silicon material are then pushed loose in order to allow the electrons to flow freely. The electrons flow in one common direction creating an electric current. This electric current is then absorbed into a battery (energy storage) that stores the electrical energy for use. The charged battery then supplies the system with energy (How Solar Cells Work, n.d., para. 5).

Source: Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation. (Figure 3. Major photovoltaic system components). Retrieved June16, 2006, from: http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/pvt/pvbasics/.
The potential of solar energy can be applied to many fields such as home heating systems, generating electricity, powering cars, calculators, etc. Solar energy can potentially supply and replace conventional fuels currently used in our society, such as fossil fuels. Solar energy is believed to be environmentally-friendly. It is free, renewable and causes no waste or pollution. Many environmentalists advocate for solar energy as an effective alternative energy resource, but they fail to realize the disadvantages of solar energy directly and indirectly.
The hidden problem is that pollution does not come from solar energy when we use it. Pollution comes from the manufacturing of components used in converting solar energy into usable energy.
The solar energy industry uses many hazardous substances that are harmful to workers’ health and environment. In order to produce solar cells, devices to convert solar energy into electricity, the manufacturing companies use a lot of explosive gases, solvents, and toxic materials such as cadmium, arsenic, etc. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory report (2001), these toxic chemicals can be dangerous to skin and lung tissue even though workers are equipped with protection. In addition to workers’ health problems, waste disposal is still a challenge (National Renewable Energy Laboratory report, 2001). We know cadmium and arsenic are toxic heavy metals that can not be broken down by natural processes and can be cancerous. If wastes from manufacturing are not properly disposed of, they will contaminate soil and water resources such as lakes, rivers and drinking water. The computer chip industry in Silicon Valley, and the manufacturing of semiconductors, is extremely hazardous (Smith, 2000). These issues have already occurred in the computer industry which also uses silicon in its production. The chip industry is now facing these health problems along with waste disposal issues. Accordingly, Silicon Valley has become more contaminated (Smith, 2000). Some related studies have already documented miscarriages and birth defects (Smith, 2000). As a result, our environment has to suffer from more pollution.
Besides using hazardous chemicals, the solar energy industry relies on other energy and raw materials to build solar cells. The process is not as simple as many believe. People think that solar energy is easy to exploit and put into use. Solar energy is very diffuse and low quality. There are a lot of materials involved in manufacturing solar cells; one of the main materials is polysilicon. This puts polysilicon in high demand. According to Wasserman (2006), there is a shortage of polysilicon being produced for the solar energy market. In addition, during production of solar cells, a lot of fossil fuel-based energy is burned to generate energy to assemble solar finished products. Although silicon, a chemical element that is plentiful in nature, it is not a complete chemical material. Silicon has to be processed from high purity silica (SiO2) in order to be used in the solar cell industry (Komatsu Silicon Process, n.d.). For example, casting, wafering and melting require a lot of energy to process silicon. Below is a diagram illustrated how silicon is processed from raw materials to produce semiconductors for solar cell industry. These activities generate a lot of negative emissions.

Polycrystal manufacturing processes.
Source: Komatsu Silicon Process. Retrieved 18 June, 2006, from: http://www.komsil.co.jp/en/progress/prog1.htm.

Step-by-step progress to the completion of semiconductor devices
Source: Komatsu Silicon Process. Retrieved 18 June, 2006 from: http://www.komsil.co.jp/en/progress/prog.htm.
Unlike other conventional energy resources, solar energy is more expensive when compared to other conventional energy resources. For example in the State of California, homeowners have to pay an average amount of $21,000 to install a solar energy system on the roofs of their homes (Wasserman, 2006). In a study by Hammond (2006), the total cost ($/kwh) of solar energy compared to energy from oil is $22.84 vs. 50 cents. With that price, solar energy can not compete with other traditional energy resources. This high price discourages not only normal consumers, but also solar advocates. A chart is included below detailing the costs of solar energy relative to other sources.
Cost of Electricity with and without External Costs
Electricity source Generating costs External costs
(US cents per kilowatt-hour) Total costs
(US cents per kilowatt-hour)
Coal/lignite 4.3 - 4.8 2.3-16.9 6.6-21.7
Natural gas (new) 3.4-5.0 1.1-4.5 4.5-9.5
Nuclear 10-14 0.2-0.8 10.2-14.8
Biomass 7-9 0.2-3.4 7.2-12.4
Hydropower 2.4-77 0-1.1 2.4-8.8
Photovoltaics 24-48 0.7 24.7-48.7
Wind 3-5 0.1-0.3 3.1-5.3

Source: Mainstreaming Renewable Energy in the 21st Century. (Sawin, 2004, p. 13)
Supporters of solar energy prefer solar energy as an environmentally-friendly energy supply to our planet, and it can become an alternative energy resource for our society. This view is not completely true if many of its aspects are overlooked. Manufacturing devices to generate power from solar energy are very dirty and require a lot of energy. It is also harmful to human beings and the environment. Even with advanced technologies, it is still difficult to manage waste from solar cell manufacturers. At present, there are no effective solutions to prevent another Chernobyl. Instead of criticizing what causes pollution and global warming, we should work on how to use and manage renewable and nonrenewable energy resources effectively. For instance, the demand for fossil fuel energy must decrease; with or without the government.
It is obvious that solar energy does have drawbacks involved with the use of toxic chemicals harmful to human beings and the environment, the use of raw materials, and uneconomical costs in generating power. In order to avoid future mistakes with renewable energy resources, more efforts should be taken into account for renewable alternative energy resources, such as solar energy.


References
Hammond, P. (2006, February 16). Simmons oil monthly- solar energy overview. [Simmons & Company International Limited]. Retrieved June 13, 2006, from: http://www.simmonsco-intl.com/files/Solar%20Energy%20Rpt.pdf.
HSW Media Network A Convex Company. How solar cells work.[Online]. Retrieved June 18, 2006, from: http://science.howstuffworks.com/solar-cell1.htm.
Komatsu Silicon Process. Process.[Online]. Retrieved June 18, 2006, from: http://www.komsil.co.jp/en/progress/prog.htm.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (2001, May 1). The safety of photovoltaics. (NREL Report No. FS-520-24617). Retrieved June 14, 2006 from: http://www.nrel.gov/ncpv/pdfs/24617.pdf.
Sawin, J.L. (2004). Mainstream Renewable Energy in the 21st Century. Massachusetts: Worldwatch Institute.
Smith, T. (2000). Wanted: Silicon Valley. Retrieved June 18, 2006, from: http://www.newdream.org/newsletter/pdf/toxicavengers.pdf.
Wasserman, J. (2006, May 3). Solar power dims amid shortage of key material. Sacramento Bee. [Online]. Retrieved June 4, 2006, from: http://www.shns.com/shns/g_index2.cfm?action=detail&pk=SOLAR-RISINGCOST-05-03-06.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Violent crime on the rise in big US cities" is the headlight of the news that I found on Sky Valley Journal. In this article, FBI statistics states that violent crimes are increasing in large cities in the US. These increases reflect to the disruption of effective anti-crime programs. Also more people tend to solve their dispute in aggressive ways. Besides that, evacuees of Katrina Hurricane last year boost to the crime rate.

In my opinion, it is a serious signal for us to fight with the increase of crime rate. More violent crimes also mean to threaten the stability of the society. Unsteadiness of society may provoke more severe problems such as clashes, hate crimes, or even race discrimination. The concerned people should find out the root causes of crime and deploy the most effective approaches to heal the problems. Solutions should also connect with the restrictions of the access to weapons. For example, some school kids bring guns to class and start to shoot classmates. This also indicates that we should pay more attention to children to prevent crimes effectively.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Summary - Response

Solar energy affects the shortage and high price of polysilicon which is used in the manufacturing of solar cells and in the semiconductor industry. With the volatile price of polysilicon, there is uncertainty in the market for the manufacturing of solar cells. It also negatively affects new homeowners who are planning to install solar cells at home. Although solar energy is considered a renewable power resource, its usefulness is still questionable.


First, solar cell manufacturing affects the shortage in polysilicon material. Traditionally, the micro-electronics industry has been the biggest customer of polysilicon. Now the chip industry has to compete with the solar cell industry for polysilicon. While we are looking for an effective alternative energy source, the supply of this material grows more scarce. Tremendous demand is not always good, and may lead to higher prices in other products that use polysilicon, such as computers, mobile phones, i-pods, calculators, televisions, dvds, etc. As a result, consumers have to pay higher prices. We should take into account whether the gain of using solar energy will outweigh the excessive exploitation of other resources (i.e. polysilicon).

Next, with the high price of raw materials, the cost of solar energy will discourage its consumers and solar supporters. According to Wasserman (2006) “Many builders fear the extra costs of a solar system will price their product beyond the means of many buyers”, or “I sit on the other side of the table when I’m buying it, and it worries me”. In order to attract more customers solar energy must illustrate its economical cost and depend less on rare materials like polysilicon. This presents a challenge to solar energy going mainstream.

The effectiveness of solar energy as a main alternative energy solution remains doubtful.

Wasserman, J. (2006, May 3). Solar power dims amid shortage of key material. Sacramento Bee. [Online]. Retrieved June 4, 2006, from: http://www.shns.com/shns/g_index2.cfm?action=detail&pk=SOLAR-RISINGCOST-05-03-06

Summary - Response

In the article titled “Cal State-Fullerton Adopts Clean Energy Policy” on the Daily Titan via U-Wire, by Joey T. English, the author states that California State University in Fullerton participates in a clean energy program managed by the state of California. The purpose of this program is to reduce toxic air and encourage the development, preservation and usage of clean and renewable energy sources. The university also aims to use renewable power effectively to save money to be environmentally-friendly.

In spite of being very friendly to the environment, solar energy still remains uncompetitive to the energy market. Solar power does not economically compete with other energy resources because of its high price in the energy market. To make a plan become reality, solar energy must satisfy at least two conditions, a low cost to produce and an affordable market price. In this case, as the author mentioned in the article, it is still very expensive to produce solar energy. As a result the consumers have to pay higher energy bills if they choose to use solar power. While our demand for energy is substantially increasing everyday, and we are trying to find an effective way to reduce our energy cost. It is not affordable for average householders to use solar energy as a main power supply while in the market they can still find cheaper resources of power supply such as, natural gas, coal fire, or oil.

The previous statements pertain to the consumer aspect of energy demand. The investors will make a careful decisions when investing their money in solar energy projects. When the investors put their money in production, they always expect a quick return. In this case, it seems quite impossible for the investors to obtain a quick return because renewable energy has a very slow investment return which usually takes 15 to 20 years. Hence solar energy can be good for our environment; but it may not be a benefit to many investors unless the government is involved to make solar energy affordable.

Although solar energy is being considered a friendly power resource to the environment, it still has to compete strongly with other power sources to have a steady place in the energy market.

English, J.T. (2006, May 3). Cal State-Fullerton Adopts clean energy policy. Daily Titan. Retrieved from Lexis-Nexis database, May 30, 2006.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Dying to Be Beautiful? The Health Risks of Cosmetic Procedures

An interesting story called "Dying to Be Beautiful? The Health Risks of Cosmetic Procedures that I have found on Foxnews.com which is about hidden risks to men and women who want to enhance their appearances in beauty salons. These dangers relate to technical skills and professional standards of practitioners. Besides that, sanitary conditions and misuse of products add more problems. These threats not only expose you to dangerous infections like HIV virus, but also lead you to death in serious cases. Medical experts advise us to take more precautions to stay healthy and beautiful before pursuing beautiful enhancement.

Who dares to die before they may become a beauty? In my opinion, beauty is only the appearance. Spiritual and intellectual attractions are more important. Why do we spend money to bring problems to ourselves? I do not think that beauty is only decorating materials to buy and stick them on our body in the hope that these materials make us prettier. This may have a temporary effect, but can beauty last long? Also, artificial beauty is like a fortune game, whether a person can become a beautiful one or not, totally depends on beauticians’ technical ability. What happens if she or he is in the wrong hands of an unskilled or unlicensed practitioner? This can turn into a mishap. Again, beauty belongs to spirituality. Anyone who wants to give her/his fate in someone else, think again before doing.

Thaiduong

Friday, June 02, 2006

I'm the daddy is a title of an article introduced on BBC News online. It is a story about, Ian Mucklejohn, a single businessman from UK with the fear of losing his right to take care of his children when a relationship broke up, he decided to have children without a female partner. With help of scientists, he has his own babies and becomes father and mother of his children.

After reading the story, I have a hateful feeling toward Ian. He is just too selfish. He only thinks of himself. Is his love for his children genuine, or is it just something he does to satisfy his ego? He is too cowardly to have his own relationship and start his own family in the normal way (a family with father, mother and children). What he did is like the nature of his business. You have money and you can buy what you want. In this case, he bought his children although he may think that he created a new page in history to become father of three children without a spouse. If he does care for children like that, he should have thought about how his children’s lives would be without love and care from a mother. Probably, Ian himself has a mother who loved and cared for him, but he fails to apply this to his children. If he really cares and loves children, he should start a family in a normal way.

Thaiduong

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Hi everybody,

I am Duong, perhaps I am the last one who says something on weblog in EAP2 class, term 063.

You all have a nice day and do well in your class

Thaiduong