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Category archives for Economics

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…

Hey Developers, Wanna Make an App to Help the Ocean?

We have a lot of data about the ocean, but much of it is in obscure databases – unintegrated, unanalyzed, and largely inaccessible for the public. There is so much we could do with all that information if it was easy to visualize and interpret. At our fingertips, we could have alerts about the presence…

Insisting on Truth – Bhopal and Beyond

“I cut all the pictures out of my textbook…they were so…” My friend Anu doesn’t finish her thought. She doesn’t have to. I know the words that she can use, but they will never fully articulate the horrific, gruesome, tragic images depicting the event of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Disaster, considered by many to be the…

Reframing Ocean Conservation in this Post-Election Era

Given the election, it seems wise to relinquish expectations of US federal leadership on ocean or climate policy. Our anti-science (among other deeply concerning antis) president-elect and his appointees have sent clear signals about their disregard for our environment and the ethos of sustainability. Yet, a healthy ocean is critical to food security, a stable…