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

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.

Venezuela: The Airport from Hell

With the socio-politic and economic crisis in Venezuela, there has been a decline in  public services. This traveler's airport experience is one example of the current situation.

Haiti: Sitting on a Gold Mine

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.

Peru's Gold Rush: Wealth and Woes

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.

Colombian Communities Are Losing Out in Gold Rush

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.

China's Fragile Forests

Natural forests cover about 10 percent of China’s surface area, but large swathes of China’s forests have been destroyed as a result of logging, mining, wood and plant collection.