The war on drugs in Mexico has intensified. A recent article in the Economist reports that drug-related killings have increased by almost 1000 since last year. Moreover, innocent people in Mexico are becoming victims, as drug gang shootings are no longer just targeting police and rival gangs.
Mexico and the US are working to eradicate the problem by investing US$1.3 billion in anti-drug aid, though only US$331 million is to be invested in social intervention. Yet the lack of intervention through social welfare programmes may be the underlying cause of the rapid growth of drug gangs and related violence.
In belt-tightening times, it’s not surprising that consumption often drops. The UK is a case in point. Happily, consumers there are wasting less too.
The Waste and Recycling Action Programme (WRAP) reported that in the UK, households throw away half a tonne of food-related waste each year (or a third of all household food purchased). This costs the UK approximately £12 billion a year in disposal costs alone – over £1000 per household.
Did the drugs trade keep the global financial system afloat at the height of the economic crisis?
Mining activities, both large-and small-scale, are highly emotive and the focus of endless debate. Media and academic reports have helped entrench negative views on mining. Small-scale mining is often associated with ‘blood diamonds’, ‘conflict coltan’ and ‘dirty gold’ – hand mined and sold illegally to finance conflict and war. Exploitation, environmental damage and social harm are similarly seen as part and parcel of large-scale mining.
There is room, however, for a nuanced perspective on all this – and more, one that recognises the legitimacy of both forms of mining, and seeks to find solutions in which to bring together small-scale miners and globalised mining capital.
When Iceland’s unruly volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupted last week, the focus was largely on disrupted flights. But viewed from a different perspective, this is a small reminder that natural disasters can displace people and incur massive costs.
Supporting development means providing energy. At current prices, the cheapest option for many countries is coal, even though burning it contributes heavily to climate change and local pollution. And that has left multilateral development banks with a dilemma: support the cheapest option to fund development, or push more expensive, yet more sustainable renewable alternatives? This dilemma reared its head recently, when the World Bank approved a US$3.75 billion for the Medupi coal power plant in South Africa.