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

April 25, 2016

Brick by Brick: Reforming South Asia’s Brick Kilns

Michael Holtz, Ann Hermes, Fred de Sam Lazaro, Richard Coolidge

Brick making across India and Nepal has long relied on bonded and child labor. What will it take to clean up an industry so rife with abuse?

November 13, 2015

Lifting the Veil on Polluters in China

Fred de Sam Lazaro, Shi Lihong, Gary Marcuse

In Beijing a tiny NGO is taking on global corporations and harnessing people power in a campaign to clean up polluting factories in China.

October 07, 2015

Costa Rica: Bribri Culture Under Threat

Rebecca Gibian, Diana Crandall

In the mountains of Costa Rica, the indigenous Bribri struggle to maintain their culture as an influx of technology transforms their community.

July 15, 2015

Foreign Multinationals in Angola: Claims and Practices

Daniel Black

As Angola progresses further away from its devastating civil war, foreign companies are overly eager to construct the infrastructure the country needs to join the modern-era. Is this a good thing?

July 10, 2015

Fatal Extraction: Australian Mining in Africa

Will Fitzgibbon, Eleanor Bell Fox

Belying Australia's positive international reputation, mining companies from Down Under are accused of killing, maiming and polluting communities across Africa.

April 13, 2015

Poland: Coal’s Deadly Toll

Beth Gardiner

Poland gets 90 percent of its power and much of its heat by burning coal, one of the dirtiest of fuels. The consequences for Poles' health are severe, and one polluted city is now pushing back

The Lost Genocide

The Rohingya have been stripped of citizenship, prevented from having children, and systematically murdered. But the United Nations may never be able to prosecute the Rohingya genocide.

The Unwanted | AJ+ Docs

Follow a Rohingya Muslim family that fled rampaging Myanmar security forces and Buddhist vigilantes as they adapt to refugee life in Bangladesh.

Who Makes Your Clothes?

This week: the dark history behind modern day cotton production, Saudi Arabia's religious exports, and the violent pursuit of sand.