Category Archives: Economy

Mystery: No one knows what’s causing the big bee die-off

Every third bite of food we consume depends on pollination by bees. But the bees are disappearing and no-one seems to know why.

News of a mass die-off of bees first broke in 2006. By the spring of 2007 it was clear that the newly dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder was widespread. A quarter of all U.S. beekeepers had suffered losses and more than 30 percent of all bee colonies in the country were wiped out. Huge die-offs also came in Australia, Canada, Brazil, China, Europe and other regions. In Britain, losses averaged more than 30 per cent over 2007-08.

Is Globalization to blame?

Read more in The New Internationalist


Renaissance in African art spurs booming market

The Johannesburg Art Fair recently showcased the works of 400 African contemporary artists, attracting more than 10,000 visitors. Organizer Ross Douglas there had been an explosion of interest in African art in recent years.

“Africa has always had a strong tribal art and a strong craft component, and that will always stay,” he said.

“But that doesn’t mean there can’t be a contemporary market existing alongside that, and if you look in South Africa at the contemporary market in the last four or five years, it’s absolutely exploded.  If you look at the number of young black artists doing well, making a living, it’s extraordinary. Five years ago it just didn’t exist,” Douglas said.

Read more from CNN.

Bangkok under emergency rule

Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand‘s prime minister, declared a state of emergency in Bangkok today, handing the army broad powers to restore order after anti-government protesters broke into a parliament building.

As a Black Hawk helicopter with five soldiers armed with M-16 rifles flew ministers to safety, other politicians scaled the compound’s walls to escape the most chaotic protest occurring in several weeks of demonstrations.

The protesters want Abhisit to dissolve the government and call elections within 15 days. Read more in the Guardian.

Brazil’s politicians blamed for floods that killed 105

RIO DE JANEIRO — As the torrential rains began to recede over Rio de Janeiro today, following the state’s worst floods since 1966, one question was stamped onto every newspaper front-page in Brazil: Why?

Why was Rio de Janeiro – Brazil’s second largest city and one with a history of tropical rainstorms and flooding – not better prepared for the catastrophe that struck on late Monday and Tuesday this week, when an estimated 11 inches of rain crashed down onto the iconic city and and its neighboring towns in just 24 hours?

With rescue attempts continuing in several of Rio’s hillside slums, the city’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, tried to duck questions about why the floods, which have officially claimed at least 105 lives and which brought much of the city to a standstill on Monday night and Tuesday, caused such havoc.

But urban planning specialists and environmentalists have been quick to react – blaming Rio’s politicians for decades of poor spending, confused housing policy, and even outright corruption.

“This was an tragedy foretold,” says Sergio Ricardo, a leading Rio environmentalist. “To this day, the city does not have any kind of alert or prevention system – something that is common in other cities that are as vulnerable as Rio.” Read more from the Christian Science Monitor.

Krugman: Environmental Econ 101

If you listen to climate scientists — and despite the relentless campaign to discredit their work, you should — it is long past time to do something about emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, economist Paul Krugman writes. If we continue with business as usual, they say, we are facing a rise in global temperatures that will be little short of apocalyptic. And to avoid that apocalypse, we have to wean our economy from the use of fossil fuels, coal above all.

But is it possible to make drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions without destroying our economy?

In what follows, Nobel Prize-winner Krugman will offer a brief survey of the economics of climate change or, more precisely, the economics of lessening climate change. I’ll try to lay out the areas of broad agreement as well as those that remain in major dispute. Read more in The New York Times.

Did American conservationists go too far in Africa?

Then, as they say, things went horribly wrong.
” ‘ ‘The Owenses earned a reputation in the valley for their intolerance of local people. “Their whole attitude was ‘Nice continent. Pity about the Africans,’ ” said another European who knew them.
P. J. Fouche, a professional hunter who manages a hunting concession in a game-management area near where the Owens couple lived, said that Mark Owens developed a proprietary feeling about the park’s wildlife. “He didn’t want them”—the Africans—“to be anywhere near his animals. That’s how he saw the animals, as his.’ ” Read more in The New Yorker.

Thailand forgives a billion in farmer debt

Thailand will cancel $1.3 billion worth of farmers’ debt, a move that could help placate a constituency increasingly hostile to the administration of Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Thousands of demonstrators, many of them from Thailand’s rural heartland, are camped in central Bangkok and say they will remain there until Mr Abhisit resigns as prime minister. 

The debt forgiveness program echoes a smiliar one run by Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister who is a hero to many rural Thais. While in office, he declared a moratorium on rural debt, cementing the loyalty of a formidable political constituency that remains to this day.

Mr Thaksin was removed in a military coup in 2006 and is in self-imposed exile to avoid a two-year sentence for breaching conflict of interest laws, but his supporters have done consistently well at the ballot box. Read more in the Financial Times.