The Impact of Globalization on Indigenous Peoples in Mexico and Bolivia

The following is a paper written for the author’s PLS 315 – International Political Economy class.

Globalization has presented itself in many different forms, affecting nearly all people of the planet. While much attention is paid to the extreme positive and negative impacts, the process has created both winners and losers. The same mixed result can be seen amongst the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Bolivia. These two significant indigenous populations have faced sizable challenges due to the integrating economic, political and cultural landscape. Nevertheless, the forces behind globalization have not only provided a means for resistance, but also a chance to confront the long-standing marginalized status of indigenous peoples. Despite these efforts, the effectiveness of political and social leaders as well as the policy of developed nations and multilateral institutions will determine the lasting impact of globalization.

View the PDF of the entire paper


Carol Browner Tapped as ‘Climate Czar’

Along with Obama’s appointment of Stephen Chu to Energy Secretary comes word that he has chosen a so-called ‘climate czar’. Browner will likely be instrumental in implementing Obama’s climate policy. Like Obama, she supports a cap-and-trade policy, an extremely promising way to reduce greenhouse gases. In fact, Browner called for the winner of the 2008 election to pursue capping with tradable permits months ago:

Browner’s resume includes a record-long tenure as Administrator of the EPA. As the New York Times reports, she began the fight to regulate greenhouse gases as part of the Clinton Administration only to have the Bush Administration undermine the authority of the EPA and the Supreme Court. The creation of a ‘climate czar’ post, and the appointment of someone with Carol Browner’s credentials and principals may be very good news for those concerned about the environment and climate change.

The “Smartest” Cabinet Choice Yet

According to NBC, President-elect Obama will choose Nobel laureate Steven Chu as his Energy Secretary.


In addition to being one of the brightest minds to ever occupy a cabinet position, Chu is also an incredible realist when it comes to biofuels. He has taken an environmental approach in his analysis of our energy situation, realizing the need to develop new energy sources that currently do not exist.

Chu urges scientists to find environmentally friendly form of fuel

The most progressive and refreshing viewpoint he takes is on corn-based ethanol, currently part of most politicians’ “alternative energy” plan.

“From the point of view of the environment,” explains Chu, “it would be better if we just burnt oil.”

It sounds a lot like he understands the concept of EROEI and the disastrous environmental impacts of current ethanol production. This pick is change that we at Smash the Mirror can definitely believe in.

The Myth of Being Too Poor for Sustainability

One myth regarding sustainability just never seems to go away: the notion that it is expensive. It came to the forefront again during this past US Presidential Campaign. Mr. Obama has expressed strong support for environment, something for which he should be commended. Instead, he was attacked for being impractical.

The American voters subsequently choose Obama in huge numbers, giving him a 365-173 electoral college victory and a mandate to follow through on his agenda. Now in seemingly every interview, the Obama team is being asked what they will sacrifice from their agenda in order to cope with the Economic Crisis, as if to say “we won’t really waste money worrying about the planet, right?”
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Palin Overstates Energy Reserves

At her first campaign appearance of her day on Wednesday the 29th, Governor Sarah Palin told the crowd that she helped break the stand-off between the state of Alaska and oil companies interested in developing a natural gas pipeline to the 48 contiguous US States. Taking a brief jab at recently convicted Republican Senator Ted Stevens, Palin claimed to have clashed with her party and to have played an instrumental role in the process.

According to the Governor, the pipeline would be crucial to ending our foreign oil dependency. This project, Mrs. Palin said, would allow all of America to benefit from Alaska’s vast natural gas reserves, which she estimated in her speech “several hundred trillion cubic feet”. The real picture is far more grim than that. Continue reading

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh becomes first “Fair Trade University”

The news from Chancellor Richard H. Wells that UWO would become the nation’s first fair trade university was the only announcement met with applause during Tuesday’s opening day ceremonies, Wells said.

Fair trade certified products – which are produced under sustainable, decent and fair labor conditions – will now be available at university dining establishments, catered functions and in department offices when possible.

Colleges and universities selling fair trade products is nothing new, but the difference in this case appears to be the source of the proclamation and the scale. The magnitude of this announcement cannot be ignored as the Chancellor of a large public university is declaring the campus-wide use of fair trade products. Nevertheless, there are several concerns with the “Fair trade University” label. One could easily view this as another example of an attempt to address an issue solely through consumption.

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Food Summit Addresses BioFuels

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Waxes Poetic in Support of Brazil’s Ethanol, Other Delegates Less Creative

CNN begins this article by accurately listing some of the most likely causes of the food crisis:

These include rising energy costs, more demand for meat and dairy products from some booming developing countries, trade restrictions and speculation, as well as the demand for biofuels.

The contention, they say has to do most with to which degree each factor contributes to the rise in food prices, particularly some countries and organizations feel that biofuels make up a rather large portion of the crisis. Yet countries like the Brazil, and to an extent the United States, try to downplay the effect of our current pattern of using food crops for biofuels. This divide is less than shocking as Brazil is arguably the leader in ethanol, and the United States are home to a great deal of corn ethanol subsidies. Continue reading