Our bright digital lives: some critical thoughts

By Basile Boulay

We find ourselves at a strange crossroads. Never have we been more aware of the devastating impact of consumer goods on the environment and never have we been so dependent upon them. Technological innovations are embedded in the daily lives of even the most critical among us, and both usage of and demand for devices grows exponentially, leaving us to contemplate the ravages of climate change on our brightly lit screens. Understanding our relationship with modern technologies as well as conceptualising a coherent framework for a collective liveable future requires us to engage with difficult questions while avoiding counterproductive moralising pitfalls. In this blogpost, I suggest that a critical political economy outlook coupled with an effort to reconceptualise the ‘good life’ could be a useful starting point.

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What do the global supply chain disruptions tell us about the world economy?

By Intan Suwandi

Lockdowns and shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to what is being referred to as the “first global supply chain crisis.” The supply chain disruption has made havoc since the beginning of the pandemic, with more than 90 percent of the 1000 Fortune multinational corporations having a tier-one or tier-two supplier affected by the virus in February 2020.  By mid-April 2020, 81 percent of global manufacturing firms were experiencing supply shortages. Also in the same year, hundreds of US companies reported that their suppliers only operated at an average of 50 percent capacity, which resulted in longer final product lead times and a negative impact between 5.6 to 15 percent on their revenues. Although recent reports indicate that the situation has become less severe, many analysts still think that the “supply chain nightmare” is far from over, and it is predicted that supply chain disruptions will continue until late 2022.

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The ecological consequences of ‘economic development’: the expansion of gold mining in the Volta Grande do Xingu

By Amélie Foko’o Magoua, Anna Chevalier, Cassandra Ajufoh and Tomaso Ferrando

On June 5th, a group of inhabitants of the agrarian reform settlement Ressaca in the Brazilian state of Para organized a collective action to take back public land previously turned over to Belo Sun Ltd, a Canadian mining company. The action, conducted with the support of indigenous communities and actors from across the Amazon region, aimed at vindicating the right of people to the integrity of their territories and opposing the way in which regulators, politicians and private companies were sacrificing them in the name of gold extraction and global trade in natural resources. Moreover, the action was a clear signal against the limits of national legal processes and a consequence of a frustrating visit to public and private actors in the European Union.

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Displaced as data in times of climate crisis: the shrieking silence of disaster-displacement in India

By Mausumi Moran Chetia

Assam in the Northeast of India is tormented with disasters such as floods, riverbank erosion, and related displacement. Baan-Khohonia, as colloquially called, or floods-erosion are mutually related – floods can increase the rate of erosion of a river’s banks, and erosion in turn can lead to increased flooding.

As this is written, Assam is reeling under massive disasters, facing floods for the second time this year, erosion and landslides, aggravated by human interventions. At its peak, close to 5 million people were affected, while attracting the United Nation’s support. Official data state the death of 135 people; and report 176201 people who were living in relief camps until 28th June, excluding people living in unofficial, self-made relief camps.

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Five rules for climate adaptation in fragile and conflict-affected situations

By Elise Remling

Societies—particularly the poorest—are not ready to deal with the worsening impacts of climate change, and the deficit is growing, according to the latest report from the IPCC. We urgently need to step up investment in climate adaptation interventions, which aim to adjust social systems and structures to reduce their vulnerability to climate change.

However, in doing so we also need to recognize that interventions that make one community or area more resilient can make others even more vulnerable and insecure, and in some cases increase the risks of conflict. Researchers still often neglect such ‘maladaptive’ outcomes; practitioners even more so. How can organizations working on adaptation in fragile and conflict-affected situations make sure their interventions not only do no harm, but even contribute to peace?

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