Tag Archives: political 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


Vandana Shiva: Green Revolution brought ‘water famine’ to India

Since 1966 – and as a consequence of the introduction of the Green Revolution model of water-intensive, chemical farming – India has over-exploited her groundwater, creating a water famine, Vandana Shiva writes.

Intensification of drought, floods and cyclones is one of the predictable impacts of climate change and climate instability. The failure of monsoon in India, and the consequent drought, has impacted two-thirds of the country, especially the breadbasket of India’s fertile Gangetic plains. Bihar, for example, has had a 43 percent rainfall deficit, and the story is the same in many other parts of India.

In the final analysis, India’s food security rests on the monsoon. Monsoon failure and widespread drought imply a deepening of the already severe food crisis triggered by trade-liberalisation policies, which have made India the capital of hunger. Read more in Resurgence.

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.

Politics of carbon: Obama wants to trade more oil drilling for GOP support

President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday plans for a broad expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling in an effort to win Republican support for new laws to fight climate change. 

Obama, a Democrat, said his administration would consider new areas for drilling in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, while “studying and protecting sensitive areas in the Arctic.”  The president needs bipartisan support to pass a bill that would set limits on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Read more from Reuters.

Downstream Blog launched!

This is the inaugural post on the Downstream Blog. The blog is associated with Downstream Communications, a small communications and consulting company focused on nonprofit organizations and agencies working in the realm of international sustainable development. Have no fear, we won’t be hyping Downstream Communications on the blog.

We will examine developments in global sustainable development, climate change, hunger and poverty, agriculture, health, culture, micro-enterprise, political economy, peace, social justice, education, community, environment, gender, leadership and more.  But don’t expect all-bad-news-all-the-time. Yes, the planet and its people are beset with problems of all sorts. But we also live in a world full of wonder, courage, industry, ingenuity,  inspiration and humor. You’ll find all of that here too.

Ultimately, sustainable development is not only about bureacracies, systems, regimes or administration. It’s about the people. And we all live downstream.