Richmond Vale

Food and Water

At Richmond Vale Academy we aim to produce as much of our own food as possible. This way we can always be sure that our fruits and vegetables are fresh, free of pollutants and grown with love! [embed]
[/embed] We have an organic garden where we hold lessons for interested farmers and youngsters. Everyone at the academy are farmers and do their turns in the food production, whether it’s improving the water collection system, moving the chicken tractors, collecting eggs, turning the compost, harvesting fruits, producing delicious jam or making a salad for lunch. We are self-sufficient with most fruits and meat, and we produce 50% of our own vegetables and herbs. Most of the vegetables that we don’t currently grow are bought locally, from neighboring farmers. So far, more than 1,000 people have visited our model garden, received lessons and inspiration for a more sustainable, low-carbon and high-biodiversity way of farming. The Climate Compliance Conference participants help other organic gardens in St. Vincent like the Chatoyer Garden in the Vermont Valley, the IRM Urban Garden in Villa Flat, The Rose Hall Organic Garden, The Fitz Hughes Preschool garden and the Belle Isle Correctional Facility garden. We also harvest rainwater for most of our needs, and recycle the gray water for plants. It is very important to us to stay healthy and keep our planet clean, that’s...
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Richmond Vale

Public Awareness

Since the start of the Climate Compliance Conference, a big focus has been placed on environmental education. This type of education opens a whole new door of thinking and facilitates questions such as, what is Global Warming and Climate Change, how can we the people get involved, and what are the solutions to dealing with important contemporary issues. Hundreds of lessons have been taught across the islands in preschools, primary schools, secondary schools, colleges, technical schools, correctional facilities, Rotary & Lions Clubs, churches, business groups, youth groups, community groups, and to farmers. Several Radio and TV stations have aired programs about the reasons for climate change and newspapers and magazines have published a number of articles. Twice a year we publish our own newspaper with tips on sustainable living, voices from Vincentians on climate-related issues and interviews with professionals about the impact of climate change on our small island nation. Articles and programs on Climate Compliance in St. Vincent have been published and broadcast in several countries in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe. Thousands of visitors have been to the Academy over the years, taking tours of our organic garden and observing our self-sustainable lifestyles. We have given numerous tours to single people and organized groups, during big events like the annual Earth Day and whenever we have visitors: schools, activists and tourists. We are...
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Richmond Vale

Farming in St. Vincent: Tearing Up the Environment - By Ammon

I went on an investigation with my team to learn about the farming in St. Vincent. We visited many people and gathered heaps of interesting information about agriculture, history, permaculture and people. When it comes to St. Vincent, I would argue that agriculture is the single most important industry in the country. However, it doesn't get much attention from investors, due to a number of different factors. ST. VINCENT'S GEOGRAPHY: AN OBSTACLE TO COLONIZATION AND INDUSTRIAL FARMING [caption id="attachment_5701" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: ARRL.org St. Vincent is a volcanic island, meaning that it has steep slopes and a multitude of ridges. These characteristics have truly shape the history of the island and its agriculture. Let's see how. The mountainous nature of the island made it extremely difficult to colonize during the surge of European imperialism. The same was not true for other islands, such as Barbados, whose flat geography became an obstacle when locals tried to resist colonization. Today, the steep ridges of St. Vincent make industrial farming impossible, because machines need flat land to work efficiently. FARMING IN ST. VINCENT: RECENT CHANGES Along with these factors, the St. Vincent farming industry has undergone some major changes in the last 30 years. These changes changed the landscape for present and future generations of farmers. The "Land Reform Program" of the 1980s and the 1990s changed the...
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Richmond Vale

Research and Studies

The global temperature is rising and the climate is changing, this we know is incontrovertible. There are, however, many things which we still don’t know and we admit to it freely. That’s why here, at Richmond Vale Academy, everybody strives to learn something new all the time, furthering our understanding of sciences, biology and sociology. We treat learning as a lifelong process and regularly hold morning assemblies where teachers and students alike share their knowledge with the rest of the academy. Whenever possible, we invite specialists in their fields or make study trips to investigate different ways of dealing with environmental, agricultural, and social issues. We learn from our Vincentian neighbours and friends, as well as from foreign journals and books. A few times per year we hold an Open Day at the academy, during which the teachers, students and guests exchange their knowledge and experiences with each other. Theoretical Studies at the Academy During the six months program of the Climate Compliance Conference we study and research, teachers give courses, and guest speakers are invited. You can expect to study from books and research, papers by scientists and laymen, the signs from observations of weather patterns, ecosystems, ocean temperatures and the atmosphere. Once you’ve left Richmond Vale Academy you will have learned about the causes of climate change, the effects it has – mostly on...
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Richmond Vale

Stopping Pollution

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Native American Proverb Although it’s not easily seen, we have a huge global problem with trash. Humans produce incredible amounts of trash, and only a fraction of it is recycled. It is not uncommon for the wealthy countries to export their waste to be stored in the poorer ones, so the nations who consume the least actually have the highest trash pollution! We have even started to pollute the Earth’s orbit. As much as 50% of plastic-made products are only used once, and according to our current knowledge, plastic takes at least 500 years to decompose. Recycling is costly and doesn’t apply to every product. It seems that the best way to limit pollution is to limit our consumption and re-use. In Richmond Vale Academy we re-use most of our trash. We have several bins in different places around the campus to collect kitchen waste (two kinds: for the pigs to eat and for feeding our compost / biogas plant), paper and cardboard to be used in the garden, glass jars and bottles to store our delicious home-made preserves, and plastics which we use in different arts & crafts projects with the kids. Unwanted clothes go into a pile from which everybody can choose something “new” for themselves. This way we...
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Richmond Vale

Planting Trees

If every university on Earth was destroyed we would lose nothing. If we lose the forests, we will have lost everything Bill Mollison In St. Vincent We Plant Trees! Tree planting actions and awareness campaigns are an important part of RVA’s curriculum. We partner with many different stakeholders in order to plant the most beneficial trees in several different projects. We plant shade trees with schools, fruit trees in communities, give away moringa seedlings for personal backyards, plant mangroves on beaches. Why? Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen that we breathe. One tree produces enough oxygen for four people to breathe. Their powerful roots stabilize the banks, preventing landslides and soil erosion; mangroves protect the wetlands, an important part of our ecosystem. Trees form a barrier against winds and regulate the temperature and humidity levels. They provide shade for people and crops, so important in tropical climate. As part of a bigger ecosystem, trees provide food and shelter for many different animals. Fast-growing trees ensure a good building material, while others give us tasty and healthy snacks! Planting 10 000 trees in disaster areas On the 24 th of December 2013 a terrible natural disaster occurred in St. Vincent when torrential rains caused massive floodings and landslides, leaving thousands of people without shelter. After helping with the initial repairs and clean ups, the activists from Richmond...
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Richmond Vale

Ammon's Experience at RVA

I have lived at Richmond Vale Academy, on the Island of Saint Vincent, for about three and a half months. Myself and two other people started the Fighting Poverty program at the beginning of April 2016. The program lasts 18 months and is full of outstanding experiences. These range from a week-long Agricultural Investigation, to planting trees, to teaching people how to work the garden and kitchen for common action. You can read plenty about these experiences on our blog . However, what I really want to tell you about is the first period of the Fighting with the Poor program. MY EXPERIENCE IN THE FIGHTING POVERTY PROGRAM The first six months of this program are the study period. In the Fighting Poverty program, we devote a decent amount of time to our studies. If you take them seriously, the study and research you do will give you a perspective that can't be bought or sold. During the first three months, we focus on the Contemporary World. In this unit, we study how society became what it is now and why it favors some while neglecting others. The Contemporary Studies earn us credits at One World University. Their main purpose, though, is to prepare us for our Service Period . They give us the knowledge and tools to contextualize the difficulties people face in developed and...
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Richmond Vale

NEWS: Greenland's Melting Rate Has Tripled

What happens if the world warms up by 2°C? That seems to be the trillion dollar question everyone is asking. However, much smaller increments in temperature have already caused mayhem, as shown by Greenland this year. [caption id="attachment_5647" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Greenland's melt in 2012 - Photo Credit: Flickr Greenland's melt rates have increased over the years, but recent research shows that they might be faster than anticipated. The region lost 1 trillion tonnes of ice between 2011 and 2014, and scientists say it lost 9 trillion tonnes in the last century, most of which come from just five glaciers. Greenland could cause a rise in sea level of over six meters, were it to melt entirely. It is thought that this will happen over the next 140 years at this rate, with irreversible melting happening at temperatures 1.22°C above pre-industrial era. Read the full article, as published on The Independent , below: GREEN LAND LOSES A TRILLION TONNES OF ICE IN FOUR YEARS AS MELTING RATES TRIPLE Las century, Greenland's ice sheet lost about 90 billion tonnes a year, but this has now increased to 269 billion tonnes a year It’s no news that Greenland is in serious trouble — but now, new research has helped quantify just how bad its problems are. A satellite study , published last week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters...
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Richmond Vale

Second Industrial Revolution: The Technological Revolution

The Second Industrial Revolution was another great leap forward in technology and society. New innovations in steel production, petroleum and electricity led to the introduction of public automobiles and airplanes. You wanna know how everything began? Let's see The Second Industrial Revolution, which began in the middle of 19th century (1850-1970). It was a period of growth for pre-existing industries and expansion of new ones; such as the steel, oil and electricity fields. The development of new technologies led to the introduction of two things that would change the world: public transport and planes. [caption id="attachment_5604" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Industryweek.com The Second Industrial Revolution enabled globalization and created a rough draft of our world today. Interesting, right? Let's take a look at what people invented during this period and how it affected mankind. A REVOLUTION FULL OF INVENTIONS During the Second Industrial Revolution, the existing manufacturing and production methods were improve. For instance, steel replaced iron in the building business. It was strong and it was cheap. So, it made possible to build rail lines at competitive cost and spread transportation. Steel also facilitated the construction of ships, skyscrapers and larger bridges. [caption id="attachment_5605" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Steel displaced iron because it was stronger and cheaper - Photo Credit: Amazonaws Although the Second Industrial Revolution happened just a few years after the first Industrial Revolution, it was...
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Richmond Vale

Learning the Language of Horses

Johnny's Journey I want to thank you for the opportunity of learning the language of horses. My experience with horses was an amazing one. It was full of knowledge, patience, control and observation. It was thrilling from the start, because it is about connecting —in a deep and very spiritual way— with another form of life. Learning the language of horses was very similar to learning any other language, like Portuguese or English. I completely forgot that I was learning how to comunicate with another species and just started to understand the horse's language. [gallery type="slideshow" size="full" ids="5585,5586,5587,5588,5589,5590,5591,5592,5593" orderby="rand"] Horses, and any other form of life, communicate with their body. Understanding their language is trying to make sense out of their expressions. How they move their ears or what they are looking at; how they move. Every detail says something. It is very much like people! Words only make up 10% of our communication. Our bodies speak for us 70% of the time and the remaining 20% goes with how we say things, rather than what we say. I now understand the depth of the horses' language and why I felt so comfortable with them. Connecting with the horse in his language is very pure. You need not to pay attention to words or how they are being said, but just how the body moves. Horses...
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Richmond Vale

What are the 12 Permaculture Principles after all?

[caption id="attachment_5578" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Geograph.uk Permaculture is men's way of acknowledging the wiseness of Mother Nature. It consists in simulating the natural processes of ecosystems in controlled environments to make the latter self-sustaining. Over the years permaculture has revolutionized how people see, use and interact with nature. It is truly a culture; and features certain ethical aspects which are key to its survival. This ethical base consists of three pillars: earth care, people care and fair share, which form the foundation for permaculture design. A set of 12 permaculture principles has been modeled after these ethics, to help people regulate self-interest and ensure long-term cultural and biological survival. Read on for these 12 permaculture principles that will give you a better understanding of this life philosophy. THE 12 PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLES [caption id="attachment_5427" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Based on the three ethical principles of permaculture, a list of 12 permaculture principles were developed to guide new and old practitioners OBSERVE AND INTERACT The first of the permaculture principles promotes a deeper understanding of earth care. [caption id="attachment_5577" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Wikipedia Permaculture depends on the understanding you have of your garden and the local conditions. Timberpress.com recommends devoting an entire year to observing your garden and the influence nature has on it. At the end of this year, you will understand the changing microclimates of your...
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Richmond Vale

The Dummies' Guide to Industrial Revolution

We live in the era of change. Every year, we discover and invent new, marvelous things in every possible field. We have developed new fabrics, new agriculture techniques, means of travel, medical procedures and so on and so forth. It seems like we can improve everything, and if not, we create something anew! What a brilliant time to be alive. But it wasn't always like this. In fact, how we live now is a consequence of the Industrial Revolution. Let's see how. [caption id="attachment_5558" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: KidsKonnect LIFE IN THE PRE-INDUSTRIAL ERA Source: Pre-industrial Society Throughout pre-industrial history, people did everything by hand. They helped themselves by using some basic mechanisms and tools, but the bulk of their effort relied on their shoulders. This remained unchanged for centuries. In fact, the lives of English peasants in 1750 was hardly different from the lives of their ancestors! Rural families mixed work with social life, as they lived in small plots of land. They grew crops for home consumption and tended to farm animals with the same purpose. Before the Industrial Revolution, commoners led an agrarian lifestyle. They thought God made humans sick to purify their souls. Pre-industrial folks had no healthcare, no education and no hygiene. They were also dying. A lot. [caption id="attachment_5556" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Wikipedia Poverty, war, plague and poor hygiene...
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Richmond Vale

NEWS: What Africa's Drought Responses Are Teaching Us

Some parts of the world have been able to undergo climate change with relatively little damage. Others, such as the semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia, are already feelings its full-blown effects. [caption id="attachment_5504" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Namibia and Botswana are two of the many countries in the arid regions of Asia and Africa that are facing the full-blown effects of climate change. They chose to act on them - Photo Credit: Wikipedia Countries like Namibia and Botswana are pioneers in battling the effects of climate change . These countries are facing now what could become the new normal for the world in a few years time. So what do we do? We listen, we analyze and we learn. The unique socio-political and environmental circumstances of Namibia and Botswana have only been worsened by climate change. This calls for effective, long-lasting solutions. Both countries are involved in the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) project. THe ASSAR initiative focuses on minimizing vulnerability and developing adaptation responses mainly through vulnerability and risk assessment workshops. In these workshops, people from all walks of life identify the issues and hazards of most concern and generate adequate responses. Read the entire article from The Wire below: WHAT AFRICA'S DROUGHT RESPONSES TEACH US ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE HOTSPOTS The world may still argue about whether or not climate change is for real....
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Richmond Vale

List of Developing Countries in 2016

Developing countries is an umbrella term —with no universal definition— for low and middle-income countries with lower industrialization and human development rates than other —developed— countries. [caption id="attachment_5495" align="aligncenter" width="500"] The term developing countries is problematic because it disregards the heterogeneous nature of the global community. Due to widespread acceptace of the term, especially by official statistics, this article lists low-income and lower-middle income economies (World Bank) as developing countries - Photo Credit: Flickr DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: DEFINITION AND PROBLEMATIC NATURE Developing countries are typically defined through their Gross National Income (GNI) per capita per year. A definition by the World Bank (2013) lists them as countries with a GNI of $11,905 or less. However, the use of this term is highly problematic and is being challenged today. In fact, some organizations — the World Bank included — have discarded it from their data vocabulary. The main reason is that using this term and parameter to group countries together ignores the heterogeneous nature of the global community. Further motives include the implication of inferiority of “developing countries” in comparison to “developed ones” and the use of a Western definition for development some countries do not identify with.  Moreover, the term “developing countries” suggests mobility, which is not an accurate depiction of some economies, namely those of the African countries devastated by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. [caption id="attachment_5496" align="aligncenter"...
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Richmond Vale

NEWS: Tanzania's Maasai Facing Impacts of Climate Change

[caption id="attachment_5487" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: Wikipedia As temperatures continue to rise all over the world and flooding becomes commonplace in certain areas, the human race is already facing the impacts of climate change . The Maasai people of Tanzania, a nomadic cattle herder tribe who has lived in the country since the XV century, is being pushed to the brink of survival. While weather in Tanzania's Serengeti region has always been harsh; historically, the Maasai have been able to thrive by relocating to places with more suitable conditions. However, in recent times, land restrictions consequence of increasing demands for agriculture products and tourism have restricted the Maasai's land range. Nowadays, the live a semi-sedentary life and are struggling to find food for their cattle and themselves. Read below for the full article by Emma Hutchinson on Climate Central : TANZANIA'S MAASAI FACING IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE The air across the plain sizzles in the 95-degree heat, blurring the image of the huts in the distance. There’s a 23-year-old Maasai warrior named Lekoko beside me and a group of 35 American tourists behind me. Despite having only spent three months learning English, Lekoko gives us a seamless tour of his boma, a circle of five clay huts surrounding a livestock pen. He explains that the Maasai have lived in present-day Tanzania since the 15th century, and...
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Richmond Vale

NEWS: Study Quantifies Climate-Change-Related Deaths

For many, the present and future implications of climate change go unnoticed. Many climate change deniers and other members of the global community still cannot grasp the consequences this issue can entail for them, mainly because they are largely presented using indirect impact measures. Rising average temperatures over land and ocean may make people think of turning up their air conditioners. But do they make them think of an impending global crisis? Probably not. [caption id="attachment_5482" align="aligncenter" width="500"] A new study links hundreds of deaths from the 2003 European heatwave to man-made climate change - Photo Credit: Wikipedia That was until now. A study published in Environmental Research Letters quantified the number of deaths caused by climate change during the 2003 European heatwave. Directly linking losses to climate change is expected to be a more effective measure in showing people the devastating effects of this problem. Aside from statistics on the proliferation of tropical diseases , the occurrence of more extreme weather events, etc; showing people that climate change can carry fatal consequences perhaps will be an eye-opener for many. Read the full article from National Geographic below: STUDY QUANTIFIES CLIMATE-CHANGE-RELATED DEATHS A study in Environmental Research Letters suggests a fifth of premature deaths during a 2003 heatwave in Europe are linked to human-caused climate change . “We are now able to put a number on...
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Richmond Vale

Effects of Urbanization On Poverty

[caption id="attachment_5475" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Among the effects of urbanization on poverty is the birth of slums, product of weak management policies, insufficient and unaffordable housing - Photo Credit: Wikipedia According to the United Nations, over half of the population of developing countries will live in cities by 2020. This is perceived by many as a huge step forward, for developing countries and humanity in general. But is it? With urbanization slowly but steadily winning over rural settlements, theories about possible economic development have surfaced. In the backdrop, urban slums like those seen in El Cairo, Caracas, México City and Mumbai cloud the promising landscape. As seen above, the possible effects of urbanization on poverty pose two strikingly different outcomes. With the United Nations and the global community vowing to halve the amount of people living in poverty by 2030 , there is an inevitable question to ask: Is urbanization the key to poverty alleviation or does it merely displace rural poverty for one of its own ? WHAT IS URBANIZATION?   As defined by the Joint Urban Studies Center (2006), “in terms of a geographical place, urbanization means increased spatial scale and/or density of settlement and/or business and other activities in the area during a specific period of time”. Urbanization can occur because of natural population growth or due to migration of the population, namely from...
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Richmond Vale

9 Signs that Global Warming is no longer a debate

Global warming is real No, that was not a wacky idea from a self-proclaimed alarmist. It is a fact with which the vast majority of the scientific community agrees. Still, so many people around the world are nitpicking at best —and flat-out disbelieving at worst —the scientific evidence on the matter. There are a number of reasons why a person could choose to believe that global warming is not happening at all. Two of the main ones are misinformation and disinformation. Which end up being the same, really. So, if you are a frequent reader, or a new one (Welcome!), looking to be convinced, here are 9 signs that global warming is real . 1. ECOSYSTEMS ARE GOING CRAZY Sources: Ecological Impact of Climate Change (NOAA), Climate Impact on Ecosystems (EPA) If you are cheering for longer summers, you may want to think twice. Changes in climate, soil and other factors caused by global warming are disrupting ecosystems. Animals —and in general, all forms of life— are very closely related to the space they inhabit, hence why even small changes in it can wreak havoc in any bionetwork. In this post we cited the up-hill migration of Andean tree species to find cooler areas that support their existence. One of the main effects of global warming on ecosystems is the disruption of their habitat ranges —the...
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Richmond Vale

Permaculture: A Miracle System for the Survival of the World

Permaculture is a practical method of developing ecologically harmonious, efficient and productive systems that can be used by anyone, anywhere . It incorporates knowlege, tools and resources to create a regenerative, self-substaining society in both the physical and social sense. WHAT IS PERMACULTURE? It is understood as the design and life philosophy of working with nature and not against her. Permaculture creates human systems inspired in natural ecosystems , from which it draws inspiration for design and patterns to follow in the construction of environmentally sound, self-reliant spaces with the goal of meeting human needs. Permaculture tries to simulate natural conditions with farming purposes. It consists on taking the natural processes found in ecosystems and emulating them in a controlled environment; in order to make the latter self-sustaining. Well applied, it could provide food for people around the world with a low maintenance cost and very little impact on the environment. In short, permaculture is a positive, effective solution to the current world crisis, in which climate change , hunger and poverty are running rampant. [caption id="attachment_5421" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Claire Gregory's permaculture garden: a suburban permaculture garden with different layers of vegetation - Photo Credit: Wikipedia Permaculture was originally conceived as "permanent agriculture" and focused on methods to ensure sustainable food production. Imagine having a piece of land and developing a way for it to produce healthy fruits...
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Richmond Vale

Wealth and Income Inequality: This Will Make You Question Everything

At one point or another, we all have wondered why some people have more money than they could ever spend, while others do not have enough to secure even the most frugal of meals. Why some countries are lit with fireworks that their citizens look at from gravity-defying skyscrapers while others are crippled with ongoing epidemics. Why, if in theory we all have access to the same opportunities, there is such disparity among and within countries? What is being done to remedy it? The issue of wealth and income inequality is perhaps one of the most heavy-hitting ones in current society, and it is also among the most obvious. [caption id="attachment_5393" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: YouTube As the developed world lines up for the purchase of the new smartphone, somewhere in a developing country a woman is burning firewood to light up her home, which lacks electricity. From access to basic services to opportunities for life improvement, justice and possession of power, in the world, historically, wealth and income have been decisive factors on whether a person will be able to fulfill their potential or not. It is imperative, then, to understand the workings of wealth and income inequality in order to close the widening gap between the earnings and net worth of the top 1% and the rest of the world, disregarding ethnic background, sex,...
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