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

China's Bloody Frontier in Zambia

China's investment in Zambia holds promise: billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. But after violent conflict between Zambian miners and their Chinese supervisors, does it also pose a threat?

The Cost of Gold: Child Labor in Burkina Faso

In just a quarter century, one of the world's poorest countries has transformed itself into Africa's fourth-largest producer of gold. But at what cost to the children who labor in the mines?

Congo: Consequences of a Conflict with No End

With suffering in Congo unabated, a series of multimedia projects examines a ‘conflict-free’ tin mine and investigates the mass rape of civilians during the November 2012 rebellion.

Shale Gas: From Poland to Pennsylvania

Shale gas is an energy phenomenon not just in a broad swath of the United States but in places like eastern Europe, too. In both regions there is a tangled mix of hopes, hype, and concern.

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.

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