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

June 14, 2012

Panama: The New Conquistadors

Mellissa Fung, Lynn Burgess

A battle is being waged in the rainforests of Panama – between those who want to keep their way of life, and those who want economic growth. At stake: billions worth of precious metals.

May 30, 2012

Haiti: Sitting on a Gold Mine

Jacob Kushner, Jane Regan, Ben Depp

Haiti’s north is rich with mineral deposits that could infuse millions into the nation’s ailing economy—but only if the government can regulate foreign mining giants and share the wealth.

May 07, 2012

Ivory Coast: Cocoa, Justice, and the Road to Reconciliation

Austin Merrill, Peter DiCampo

In Ivory Coast—the world’s top cocoa producer—cocoa farmers bore the brunt of a civil war that killed thousands and displaced more than a million. A year after a power transfer, has anything changed?

July 25, 2011

Peru's Gold Rush: Wealth and Woes

Stephen Sapienza

A third of a million Peruvians make their living from gold mining, but illegal tactics and deforestation methods are damaging the environment and inflicting health risks on the local population.

July 14, 2011

Colombian Communities Are Losing Out in Gold Rush

Nadja Drost

Colombia's small-scale traditional miners are fighting for their piece of the recent gold mining boom as large multinational companies have picked up most of the country's exploration rights.

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