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

Promises, Promises: One Year After Rana Plaza

One year after the collapse of Rana Plaza many workers in Bangladesh still depend on garment-making—despite the low wages and high safety risk that come with the job.

Toxic Development: The Cost of Pollution in India

Pollution in India is a hidden problem with catastrophic consequences affecting rural and urban areas. Chromium contamination, lead pollution and pesticide poisoning have left a toxic trail.

Powering Up Brazil

How can you provide power for a country of 200 million people? This series examines Brazil's energy needs as one of the biggest economic players.

Bangladesh: The Real Cost of Fast Fashion

The Rana Plaza tragedy exposed the hidden cost of Bangladesh’s $20 billion-a-year export garment industry. Jason Motlagh returns to investigate the systemic problems that led to the deadly collapse.

The Fight Over Chile's Marine Resources

Chile's coastal waters are among the richest in the world, but years of exploitation have exacted a toll on resources. As Congress debates a solution, fishing outfits scrap for their survival.

The Soul of Myanmar

Doug Bock Clark kayaked several hundred miles of the Irrawaddy River to find out how globalization has transformed Myanmar.

Paper Cuts: About the Project

Reporter John Schmid talks about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's "Paper Cuts" project, an in-depth examination of how China has taken away one of Wisconsin's signature industries.