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.

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Why reserve estimates are an irrelevant statistic – Outer Continental Shelf

The United States Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) has been in the news lately as George Bush and John McCain have both called for the exploration of this area in order to boost petroleum and natural gas production. Proponents of the exploration often cite reserve estimates of roughly 18 billion barrels as a reason to proceed. Sounds like a big number, right?

Not so fast. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, when production in the OCS gets fully online in 2030, it will give a boost of about 200,000 barrels/day. This is the equivalent of 1% of today’s U.S. daily consumption, 7% of projected offshore crude oil production in 2030 and 3% of total domestic production. According to the report linked above, the impact on global oil prices would ultimately be insignificant. Natural gas prices would be affected by roughly $.13 per thousand cubic feet as an increase of 18% in offshore production and 3% increase in total domestic production would be achieved in 2030.

The point demonstrated here is that whenever reserve estimates are referenced, it is always better to question at what rate the oil can be produced. We can see with this data that the OCS, along with many other proposed “solutions”, are not a panacea and would realistically have little impact. Without factoring environmental concerns, it can be safe to conclude that it would be better to promote alternative sources of energy and methods for lowering our energy intensity.

Green Chemistry – Saving Us From Petroleum Plastics

Ask a typical American where he thinks rising oil prices will have the most impact on his life, and he’ll probably answer “at the gas pump” (that is, if he owns a car). He may be right – as of 2006, gasoline accounts for roughly 45% pump of total American oil consumption[1]. But far from the minds of many consumers is the prevalence of goods that are manufactured from petroleum derivatives: polyethylene terephthalate (“polyester”) in plastic bottles and synthetic textiles, polystyrene (“styrofoam”) used in packaging, low- and high-density polyethylene used in a variety of products. As the price of petroleum continues to climb, the prices of products containing petroleum-derived plastics will rise accordingly.

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Making up the Difference: Pt. 1 Plastic Bags

News flash, while we may not be at peak oil, it appears that we have indeed hit peak oil exports. As oil producing nations experience growth fueled by increasing oil revenues, their consumption is increasing. Coupled with production decline in many countries, we are due to see a very steep decline in exports in coming years, a decline steeper than the depletion rate of production (see Export Land Model).

While market forces will assuredly push the price of oil higher, destroying demand as the economy of industrialized nations weaken and as other governments are forced to quit subsidizing fuel, we cannot predict which sectors of the economy will be sacrificed in order to make up for the shortfall in supply and bring the market to equilibrium. Because of this, we should work to make discretionary cuts in consumption to avoid a shortfall in vital areas. In this series, “Making Up the Difference”, we will explore what measures can be taken to ease the impacts of the 1 million barrel/day decrease in exports experienced in the past year which will almost certainly grow.

In part one, we will look at plastic shopping bags, an item of convenience and environmental degradation which has already undergone regulation in several other countries and cities in the United States.
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