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Annual Editions: Global Issues, 11/12
1. Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World: Executive Summary, U.S. National Intelligence Council, November 2008
This widely quoted report examines important change factors transforming the international political system from the structure established following WWII. The executive summary of the report is presented here.
2. Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?, Lester R. Brown, Scientific American, May 2009
Brown argues that global political stability is threatened by food crises in poor countries that could lead to an increased number of failed states. A major effort to address climate change, stabilize population, and replenish agricultural resources is necessary to avert this threat to civilization.
3. Navigating the Energy Transition, Michael T. Klare, Current History, January 2009
The transition from the current fossil fuel energy system to one based largely on renewables will be technically difficult and filled with political dangers. The reasons for these difficulties are described.
4. Asia’s Rise: Rise and Fall, Paul Kennedy, The World Today, August 2010
The shift of international power towards Asia is analyzed in the context of the broader historical question of why nations gain and lose power. Kennedy argues that economic growth is the primary factor which provides the means to extend and defend power.
5. Feminists and Fundamentalists, Kavita Ramdas, Current History, March 2006
The women’s movement had great success during the twentieth century. Today, it faces a backlash. The new challenges facing women are discussed along with strategies to meet them.
6. Get Smart, Jamais Cascio, The Atlantic, July/August 2009
Given the list of doomsday scenarios of global warming, pandemics, food shortages, and the end of abundant fossil fuel, what are humans to do? The same thing as has been done before: evolve to meet the challenge. But this time we do not have to wait for natural evolution but can do it ourselves by harnessing technology and pharmacology to boost our intelligence.
7. The New Population Bomb: The Four Megatrends That Will Change the World, Jack A. Goldstone, Foreign Affairs, January/February 2010
Over the next forty years, the relative demographic weight of the world’s developed countries will significantly drop as their workforce ages and numerically declines. Most of the world’s population growth will be concentrated in the poorest countries. At the same time most of the world’s population will become urbanized. These four trends have significant political and economic consequences.
8. Population and Sustainability, Robert Engelman, Scientific American, Summer 2009
Reversing the increase in human population is the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment. Contrary to widespread opinion, it does not require population control.
9. Why Migration Matters, Khalid Koser, Current History, April 2009
The increasing importance of migration derives from its growing scale and its widening global reach.
10. Pandemic Pandemonium, Josh N. Ruxin, National Journal, July/August 2008
A broad discussion of various diseases and the potential for pandemics is presented here. The article describes the efforts and challenges facing national and international health organizations as they confront the age-old threat to civilization.
11. The Next Breadbasket?: How Africa Could Save the World—and Itself, Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne, The Atlantic, September 2009
Addressing Africa’s history of corruption, poor infrastructure, and lack of market access may be the world’s best bet for keeping food plentiful and cheap. The accompanying map summarizes global grain production and potential including the vital role Africa can play in a future of a more food-secure world.
12. Climate Change, Bill McKibben, Foreign Policy, January/February 2009
McKibben responds to the arguments that the underlying dynamics of climate change remain unclear and public policy options as a result are uncertain. He asserts that the science is settled, and the only real issue is whether we will stop playing political games and commit to the limited options remaining if we are to avert a climate catastrophe.
13. The Other Climate Changers, Jessica Seddon Wallack and Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Foreign Affairs, September/October 2009
The most frequently discussed proposals to slow global warming focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Little attention is given to reducing "black carbon" even though doing so would be easier and cheaper and have an immediate effect.
14. The Big Melt, Brook Larmer, National Geographic, April 2010
Much of Asia relies on melting glaciers for agricultural and household water. Larmer reports that glaciers are shrinking at an accelerating rate, which places the entire region at risk. As rivers dwindle, conflict could spread. India, China, and Pakistan all face pressure to increase food production to meet the needs of growing populations. Preventing conflicts over water from spreading across borders is a growing challenge.
15. Troubled Waters, The Economist, January 3, 2009
A broad overview of the health of the world’s oceans is provided, including the impacts of human activities.
16. Acacia Avenue: How to Save Indonesia’s Dwindling Rainforests, The Economist, September 12–18, 2009
The global impacts of cutting Indonesia’s rainforest are described along with international efforts to slow the process.
17. Asian Carp, Other Invasive Species Make a Splash, David Harrison, stateline.org, July 30, 2010
Invasive species are a major environmental problem. This case study explores the threat to the Great Lakes that the feared Asian carp poses as it migrates to within six miles of Lake Michigan. The problems of developing public policy to deal with the threat are also described.
Part A. Globalization Debate
18. Globalization and Its Contents, Peter Marber, World Policy Journal, Winter 2004/2005
The term globalization has different meanings for different people, often depending on their political perspective. The debate about the positive and negative impacts of this situation is reviewed from a broad historical perspective. The author concludes that the evidence strongly suggests that human prosperity is improving as boundaries between people are lowered.
19. It’s a Flat World, After All, Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, April 3, 2005
Thomas Friedman is a well-known commentator who has contributed significantly to the debate about globalization. This article summarizes his latest book, The World Is Flat. He discusses a number of technological trends that are not only involving new participants in the global economy but also fundamentally changing the way people do business.
20. Why the World Isn’t Flat, Pankaj Ghemawat, Foreign Policy, March/April 2007
The concept of globalization has defined much of the debate about international economic activity for the past twenty years. The author critically examines the basic assumptions of those that argue that this trend is dominant, and concludes that "the champions of globalization are describing a world that doesn’t exist."
21. Can Extreme Poverty Be Eliminated?, Jeffery D. Sachs, Scientific American, September 2005
One of the United Nations Millennium Project’s goals was reducing by half the level of poverty by 2015. The director of the project describes how business as usual has to be replaced with programs that address the underlying causes of poverty by improving health, education, water, sanitation, food production, and roads.
22. The Ideology of Development, William Easterly, Foreign Policy, July/August 2007
The author critically evaluates both the economic and political assumptions of development theorists such as Jeffrey Sachs and Thomas Friedman. Easterly argues that the top-down approach managed by international bureaucrats has done little to alleviate poverty while at the same time minimizing local solutions to economic challenges. This article is an excellent companion piece to other articles in this section, for it presents a distinctly different perspective.
Part B. General Case Studies
23. The Quiet Coup, Simon Johnson, The Atlantic, May 2009
According to the former chief The Economist of the International Monetary Fund, the 2008 financial crash laid bare unpleasant truths about the United States. The financial industry has effectively captured the U.S. government, a situation typically found in emerging markets. Johnson argues that full recovery will fail unless this financial oligarchy is broken so that essential reform can take place.
24. The Case against the West: America and Europe in the Asian Century, Kishore Mahbubani, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2008
The changing international, economic roles of both Asian and Western countries is described along with an evaluation of how the West is resisting the rise of the Asian countries. There is specific focus on the issues of nuclear nonproliferation, the Middle East, and trade.
25. Bolivia and Its Lithium, Rebecca Hollender and Jim Shultz, A Democracy Center Special Report, May 2010
Lithium is the battery material underlying the increased use of cell-phones, laptops, and electric automobiles. The raw material is found in large quantities in Bolivia, which has earned the title of the "Saudi Arabia of lithium". This report focuses on the development paradox: countries with abundant natural resources often have less economic development than those with fewer resources. What are the challenges facing Bolivia as it attempts to avoid the development paradox?
26. Not Your Father’s Latin America, Duncan Currie, The National Review, August 10, 2009
Latin America’s problems continue, but progress to address structural problems in the region’s large economies is significant.
27. More Aid Is Not the Answer, Jonathan Glennie, Current History, May 2010
The author argues that more international aid to Africa will not make a big difference in the lives of the poor. In fact, aid often increases poverty and diminishes government accountability.
Part C. Global Energy Case Studies
28. It’s Still the One, Daniel Yergin, Foreign Policy, September/October 2009
The Pulitzer Prize–winning author and chairman of the Cambridge Energy Research Associates describes the contemporary political economy of oil and the major trends likely to shape its supply and cost in the foreseeable future.
29. Seven Myths about Alternative Energy, Michael Grunwald, Foreign Policy, September/October 2009
As the search for alternatives to oil intensifies, energy sources such as biofuels, solar, and nuclear seem to be the answer, but the author argues they are not. Changes in consumer behavior in the developed world ultimately will be necessary.
30. The End of Easy Oil, Monica Heger, Discover, September 2010
Canada’s tar sands are one of the major sources for U.S. oil. Heger discusses whether the energy produced is worth the economic and environmental costs involved in its extract ion. In the wake of the Gulf oil spill, the reliance on extreme extraction and its environmental impacts is a major issue in the global energy supply and demand equation.
31. On Clean Energy, China Skirts Rules, Keith Bradsher, The New York Times, September 8, 2010
Bradsher reports that China’s clean energy sector is poised to dominate the global market. Its success lies in government policies that help this emerging export industry in ways other governments do not.
32. The Revenge of Geography, Robert D. Kaplan, Foreign Policy, May/June 2009
The author revisits an old idea: People and ideas influence events, but geography largely determines them. To understand twenty-first century conflicts, Kaplan argues it is time to dust off the Victorian thinkers who knew the physical world best.
33. A Himalayan Rivalry, The Economist, August 21, 2010
China and India are home to forty percent of the world’s population. Both countries are experiencing rapid economic growth. Their two-way trade is growing, but a history of border disputes combined with the rivalry of both being aspiring global powers reveals underlying tensions. This article examines these sources of tension and bilateral efforts to manage these issues.
34. Living with a Nuclear Iran, Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic, September 2010
The prospect of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons is a central issue in the long-term stability of the Middle East. A course of action laid out in the 1950s by Henry Kissinger proposes that the U.S. check revolutionary powers with a credible willingness to engage them in limited war. Kaplan reviews this containment policy as developed in the context of the Cold War and its implications for the world’s major military powers as they deal with Iran.
35. The Border of Madness, Philip Caputo, The Atlantic, December 2009
According to Philip Caputo, border towns in Mexico have turned into halls of mirrors where no one knows who is on which side. Human rights abuses, as a result, continue to grow. The stakes are high for the US as the prospect of a failed state on its southern border grows.
36. The Jihad against the Jihadis: How Moderate Muslim Leaders Waged War on Extremists—and Won, Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, February 22, 2010
Zakaria reports that in most Muslim countries, mainstream rulers are stabilizing their regimes and isolating extremists. Modern, somewhat secular forces are in control. Opinion polls, elections, and in-depth studies confirm this trend.
37. War in the Fifth Domain, The Economist, July 3, 2010
In addition to land, sea, air and space, warfare has entered the fifth domain: cyberspace. Growing connectivity over the insecure internet multiplies the avenues of e-attacks by criminals, terrorists and hostile governments. The scope of the problem and efforts to combat it are described.
38. Banning the Bomb: A New Approach, Ward Wilson, Dissent, Winter 2007
The military utility of nuclear weapons is challenged along with the doctrine that has supported their development. The author argues that nuclear weapons have no real military value and proposes that they be banned, thereby eliminating the danger of them falling into the hands of terrorists and unstable leaders.
39. Climate Change after Copenhagen: Beyond Doom and Gloom, Bernice Lee, The World Today, August 2010
The failure of the Copenhagen climate conference to reach a meaningful international agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gases does not mean there are no prospects for collective action addressing climate change. The author points out that investment in both clean energy and improved energy efficiency continue to rise in both developed and emerging economies.
40. Geneva Conventions, Steven R. Ratner, Foreign Policy, March/April 2008
The author discusses the international law governing the treatment of soldiers and civilians during war with a focus on 21st century issues, including the War on Terror.
41. Is Bigger Better?, David Armstrong, Forbes, June 2, 2008
Using market incentives, the world’s largest antipoverty group helped pull Bangladesh out of the ashes. Now it wants to take on Africa.
42. A World Enslaved, E. Benjamin Skinner, Foreign Policy, March/April 2008
The article reports on the growing problem of slavery in the sex trade, domestic work, and agricultural labor. The efforts of the U.S. State Department to control the slave trade are described as are the human rights groups working to end it.
43. Chile Starts Early, Jimmy Langman, Newsweek, August 10 & 17, 2009
Shakira, the Colombian pop singer, is a founder of a group known as ALAS. This coalition has brought together businesspeople, artists and celebrities to help end poverty in Latin America by ensuring that all kids under 6 have access to health care, education, and proper nutrition.
44. Humanity’s Common Values: Seeking a Positive Future, Wendell Bell, The Futurist, September/October 2004
The author argues that, "there is an emerging global ethic, a set of shared values." These have evolved and now shape and constrain behavior. Specific principles along with behavior that supports the development of legal and ethical norms necessary for a positive global future are described here.
45. Life, Religion and Everything, Laura Sevier, The Ecologist, September 1, 2007
The author examines the renewed focus of all, major religious groups to view the land as alive and sacred with value beyond economic terms.
46. The End of Men, Hanna Rosin, Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2010
Rosin argues that patriarchy has always been civilization’s basic organizing principle with only a few exceptions. For the first time in human history, this is now rapidly changing, for the modern economy is becoming the place where women have a distinct advantage over men.
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