Best Drupal HostingBest Joomla HostingBest Wordpress Hosting
WORLD POLICY ON AIR

World Policy Journal is proud to share our weekly podcast, World Policy On Air, featuring former Newsweek On Air host David Alpern with timely insights from global affairs analyst Michael Moran of Transformative.io, risk and geostrategy consultants. Click here to subscribe on iTunes!

THE LATEST

AddToAny
Share/Save

Jodi Liss: An End to the Resource Curse?

These days, throughout northern Wayne County, PA, farmers are talking less about livestock and dairy prices and more about Norwegian oil policy, Devonian geology, market capitalization, and seismic thumper trucks. Wayne County sits atop part of the enormous Marcellus Shale gas field, and each farmer is looking at a small fortune in future leasing royalties and bonuses. They are also in the process of solving a problem that has stumped the World Bank, the United Nations, and governments around the world. The problem is the so-called resource curse. Usually, when countries discover oil, gas, or minerals, most nationalistic governments in the developing world seek to keep all the wealth that comes from such extraction by claiming exclusive rights to everything below the topsoil. Instead of economic development, what they get is corruption, environmental destruction, violent conflict, a worsening economy, and hoards of angry local people. The resource curse’s current poster child is Nigeria, where corrupt government officials—on all levels—stole hundreds of millions of dollars, thousands died from ethnic conflict and environmental devastation in the oil-producing zones, and the majority of people throughout the country live on less than $1 a day. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Map of the Marcellus Shale"][/caption] In Wayne County (as elsewhere in the United States), it’s the locals who will decide the terms of how the gas is extracted from the ground. Here, the farmers who have farmed the land for generations formed a collective bargaining group, hired lawyers and environmental consultants, and are negotiating with several gas companies on the financial details and the local environmental risks. Drilling for oil or gas has a long, ugly record of contaminating land and water—a potential catastrophe since this area is an aquifer for New York City and Philadelphia. So, many newly arrived former city dwellers in Wayne County are, at best, doubtful and are demanding that regulatory commissions provide even broader environmental protections. They point to people in central Pennsylvania and in the West who signed bad leases and found themselves with environmental nightmares like noise pollution, ruined land, contaminated water supplies, and leaky holding pools full of toxic chemicals.

Michael Deibert: Australia’s Parched Landscape

When Australia was ravaged by wildfires that killed over 200 people earlier this month, the acts of arson that police suspect were behind at least some of the blazes were made even worse by the decade-long dry spell the country has been enduring. Though this heavily eroded and sparsely populated continent has experienced two other major droughts over the last century, both the intensity and duration of the current lack of rainfall has scientists worried that the country’s environment may be permanently shifting to a drier regime. The Murray-Darling Basin—a river system in the southeast that drains one-seventh of Australia's land mass—has been particularly hard hit, with official figures showing that, from 2006 until 2007, the amount of water flow into the basin was just 1,000 gigaliters. Normal inflows into the basin previously measured about 10,000 gigaliters a year.  From 2007 until 2008 it improved marginally to a still-meager 3,000 gigaliters. The region had record low inflows of water between 2006 and 2008, with the inflows for 2006-2007 less than 60 percent of the previous minimum—a figure based on 117 years of records. Helping to irrigate such states such as Victoria, the site of the worst wildfires, as well as New South Wales and Queensland, the basin was once wet enough to irrigate crops that produced 1.2 million metric tons of rice. Last year, the rice harvest fell to 18,000 metric tons. Across southern Australia, scientists have also witnessed an intensification of the subtropical ridge phenomenon, a swath of high pressure characterized by a reduction in the amount of rainfall in autumn and late winter. The expansion of the ridge has been closely linked to global warming.

Mira Kamdar: India: Richer, Poorer, Hotter, Armed

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

FALL FUNDRAISER

 

Around WPI

Jihad in Sub-Saharan Africa 

This paper, “Jihad in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenging the Narratives of the War on Terror,” examines the history of Islamic movements in Africa's Sahel region to contextualize current conflicts.

World Economic Roundtable with Vicente Fox 

In this World Economic Roundtable, former Mexican President Vicente Fox discusses his current quest to make his country a hub for technology. 

Intern at World Policy


Want to join our team? Looking for an experience at one of the most highly sought-after internships for ambitious students? Application details here.

 

Al Gore presides over Arctic Roundtable 

As the United States prepares to assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015, this inaugural convening of the Arctic Deeply Roundtables launches a vital conversation for our times. 

SPONSORED

When the Senate Worked for Us:
New book offers untold stories of how activist staffers countered corporate lobbies in the U.S.


Are the U.S. and China on a collision course?
Get the facts from Amitai Etzioni in “Avoiding War with China.”


MA in International Policy and Development
Middlebury Institute (Monterey, CA): Put theory into practice through client-based coursework. Apply by Nov. 30.

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

To learn about the latest in media, programming, and fellowship, subscribe to the World Policy Weekly Newsletter and read through our archives.

World Policy on Facebook

FOLLOW US