Issue

Global Goods, Local Costs

Behind almost every product we buy and the GDP numbers we worry over, there is a story whose trail crosses the globe. Every physical product starts as raw material somewhere, from the gold in our jewelry to the shrimp at our favorite restaurant and the minerals within our mobile phones and laptops.

The rapid industrialization of countries like India, China and Brazil and a voracious consumer culture in Europe, the United States and Japan mean ever greater demand for these raw materials—and ever greater pressures on the individuals, communities and environments that bear the cost of providing them.

These local costs too often remain hidden. They are obscured by companies and governments that put a premium on production and exports. They are little understood by consumers, whose concept of "price" and "value" does not include damage done to people and places far away.

Global Goods, Local Costs is an effort to make those connections plain, to show the true costs of producing the commodities that have become essential to our lifestyles but that we mostly take for granted. These reports touch on goods and challenges across the globe that share a common theme: the implications of a vision of endless prosperity set against the reality of a finite planet.

Global Goods, Local Costs

December 15, 2010

Colombia: Mining Fever in Paradise

Anna-Katarina Gravgaard, Lorenzo Morales

The government in Colombia has to choose between guarding its unique ecosystems or boosting its economy with mining. The decision could exhaust or recast Colombia’s long, agonizing armed conflict.

March 14, 2010

Gold, Guns and Garimpeiros

Narayan Mahon, Damon Tabor

As jittery investors have sought safe-haven investments in gold during the recession, the metal's price has soared on world markets.

April 05, 2008

Ecuador: Jungle Tensions

Kelly Hearn

Chevron is accused of having dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic waste in Ecuador’s Amazonian rainforest, and local residents are determined to hold them accountable.

October 27, 2007

American Imports, Chinese Deaths

Loretta Tofani

Reporter Loretta Tofani gets inside America's factory, China, where the lack of health and safety precautions has Chinese workers dying.

In interviews with dozens of dying workers and through review of their medical records, she documents how Chinese workers routinely lose limbs from old machinery or develop fatal diseases...

May 07, 2007

Peru's Petroleum Play: Amazon Oil and Politics

Kelly Hearn

Oil and gas finds are turning the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains and the adjacent Amazonian lowlands of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia into a hydrocarbon hotspot.

Suriname: When the Water Came

Frans Weewee and his family attempt to rebuild Brownsweg, Suriname, after the devastating effects of the Afobaka Dam.

Civil War in Kachin State

Many different factors lead to civil war in Kachin State, Myanmar, but Doug Bock Clark finds popular opinion blames the Myitsone dam.

Where the Rohingya Refugees Call Home

The UN runs several refugee camps for Rohingya fleeing Myanmar in Bangladesh, including Kutapolong. However, most refugees live in informal squatter camps. This is a look at life in both camps.

South Africa: A Minefield of Hope....and Violence

The abandonment of South African gold mines—coupled with a high commodity price—has created a network of criminal syndicates operating in abandoned mines around Johannesburg.

Visions of China

Pulitzer Center grantee Larry C. Price traveled to China for a tour of four universities throughout the country, speaking to students about his reporting.