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Category archives for Economics

Holding the Cosmos in Our Hands

“The seed comes from the tree, the tree comes from the seed. It’s like the chicken and the egg. If people want to understand it, they will break the seed apart — they will actually kill it — to see the cells, the chromosomes and the genetics. There is another way to look at this. I plant a seed and a miracle happens — something new is born out of this carbohydrate and protein, a new life is born. This is a miracle, you see? The miracle of life.”

Resource Extraction and American Indians: The Invisible History of America

The recent American Indian protests at Standing Rock in North Dakota, protesting environmentally irresponsible and culturally damaging resource extraction, encouraged me to reach out to my American Indian friends.  The blood of the Cherokee Nation flows in the veins of my own family members.  I wanted to draw out their stories and to report on…

A Win for Both Nature and Fishermen in Mauritius

Last year, the Mauritian government, in partnership with local NGOs and Smartfish, led the first national octopus fishing closure for two months of the year. It went … swimmingly.

A Fisherman’s Son Who Cannot Swim

Mayur, a young Koli fisherman’s son, never learned to swim because the beaches of Mumbai are too polluted. Few Koli youth want to follow their parent’s footsteps to be fishermen in Mumbai. The consumer demand for fish though is ever on the rise. Mayur teaches me to dig for clams and offers his perspective on Koli culture among shifting tides.

Oysters Built the East Coast. Now Entrepreneurs are Rebuilding the Oysters.

The East Coast was literally built on oysters. At the peak of their production as a food source, these shellfish were so plentiful from the Gulf Coast to New England that discarded shells were crushed and used to pave roads. Oysters kept bays and waterways clean—Chesapeake Bay residents didn’t need to treat or filter their…

China bans ivory, prices plummet. Will this really help save the elephants?

The price of ivory in China has dropped by 2/3 since 2014. Can that help save living elephants?

Trump’s New Executive Order Will Worsen Hunger in Africa

Subsistence farmers stand to be among the biggest losers from the president’s dismantling of Barack Obama’s climate change legacy. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump took his most concrete step thus far to unravel his predecessor’s legacy on climate change, with a wide-ranging executive order that dismantles several Obama-era policies to restrict greenhouse gas pollution. The…

Karoo Stories: Narratives from Gariep and Van der Kloof dams

Farmworkers and farmers share their experiences of working and living near Gariep and Van der Kloof dams on the Orange River.

A Shipping Container Shopping Mall Booms on the Modern Silk Road

The Dordoi bazaar near Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, looms out of the muddy Central Asian steppe like a shabby moon base. Like a weird modular fortress. Like a sly architectural pun. If a chicken farm were to be tucked inside a giant egg, or if a funeral parlor were to operate from within a casket,…

Storytelling in a Slum’s Silicon Valley

“We have a different kind of Silicon Valley here,” Nawneet Ranjan explains. Founder of the Dharavi Diary: Slum and Rural Innovation Project, Ranjan tells how his students use storytelling, technology, and the power of their diversity to raise awareness and develop solutions for issues facing the Dharavi slum community in Mumbai, India.

Can Tourism Save the Countryside?

Beloved rural landscapes face challenges from outmigration, changing economies, development sprawl, environmental damage, and more. Tourism can help if done well, as we discovered right down our own gravel road.

How to Use the Ocean Without Using it Up

This TED talk was developed while I was in residence at TED headquarters in New York City. The transcript is below. _______________ When I was five, my parents took me from Brooklyn, NY to Key West, Florida. They taught me to swim, and showed me my first a coral reef. I feel completely in love…

Forests Are Worthless Until Cut Down

Dasho Neten remembers a time when “people simply acted on their values informally,” while now the general sense of citizenship wanes. As a farmer and prominent activist in Bhutan, Dasho Neten challenges us not to depend on the government to build our societies. “We need to wake up! There is an inconvenient truth lingering, and we need to ask: are we really moving towards self-reliance? Sometimes we need reminders, no matter how uncomfortable they may be.”

Securing a Bold, Blue, and Prosperous Future for Our Ocean

The ocean is powerful, but not invincible. It is rich, but not inexhaustible.

For Central Asian “Gypsies,” Wealth Hangs By a Hair

We plod across the historic Fergana Valley. We walk among dormant winter villages en route for the border of Kyrgyzstan. It is cold. The sky is the grey hue of a battleship. At a lonesome crossroad, next to a fallow cotton field, we meet two representatives of the world’s beauty industry. They too are on…