Final Post – Climate Change

I mistakenly thought that my last post was my concluding one, so this post will be one looking forward towards one of the greatest challenges we will face as a global community: climate change.

Climate change is an issue that threatens human health, the stability of nations, the stability of ecosystems and much more (McMichael 2013). The majority of the scientific community and many major players on a global scale have acknowledged these risks (McMichael 2013, USAID 2016, Davenport 2016, The Local 2015).

USAID has gotten involved and already has instituted programs to help prepare for the problems that have yet to come (USAID 2016). Like other sources, USAID encourages climate mitigation (USAID 2016, McMichael 2013). USAID has also advocated for the preservation of biodiversity, reforestation and securing land tenure rights to help preserve peoples’ livelihoods (USAID 2016).

But is this enough? Some remain skeptical (The Local 2015). In December of 2015, nations from all over the world met in Paris to negotiate some kind of climate agreement to reduce the future potential increase in temperature (The Local 2015, Davenport 2016). Although the climate talks in Paris were widely celebrated, there was still a lot left to be resolved (The Local 2015, Davenport 2016). The U.S. wanted to agreement to be completely voluntary so that the agreement didn’t have to be passed through Congress (The Local 2015). China was concerned about raising the quality of life for its developing nation while still meeting its carbon emissions reductions goals (The Local 2015). The negotiator present form India emphasized that whatever changes were proposed, they should be affordable so that all countries can meet their emissions reductions goals (The Local 2015).

It’s clear that creating an agreement was incredibly challenging (The Local 2015). Many feared a repeated of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Talks that did not have any clear, established and agreed upon path forward (The Local 2015). The way all of these conflicts were solved was by offering countries the opportunity to update their emissions goals every five years (The Local 2015). Many countries fear that reducing or discouraging the use of fossil fuels will harm their economies (The Local 2015, Davenport 2016).

Many assume that reducing carbon emissions will reduce economic growth (Davenport 2016, The Local 2015). This assumption is logical since the U.S. began utilizing fossil fuels at the same time that it started to become a global player (Davenport 2016). However, in the last several years, more than twenty countries have shown that their rate of carbon pollution and rate of economic growth no longer directly correlate (Davenport 2016).

In the United States between 2000 and 2014, carbon dioxide emissions decreased 16% (Davenport 2016). Economic growth increased 9% (Davenport 2016).

Only 21 countries have achieved the same as the U.S. and almost 175 countries haven’t (Davenport 2016). GDP and carbon emissions still positively correlate on a global scale (Davenport 2016).

So what do we do about that? The Paris Climate talks are hoping for no more than a 2C increase in temperature (The Local 2015). Despite this, USAID and other organizations are encouraging preparation and mitigation (USAID 2016, McMichael 2013).

USAID has helped nearly a million people worldwide better manage natural resources in a more sustainable way (USAID 2016). They have also encouraged multiple countries in Africa to strengthen the way they protect land tenure so people have have security in their ability to access natural resources (USAID 2016). More specifically climate change related, USAID has a group of 20 countries working on a project to increase economic growth without increasing emissions (USAID 2016).

It’s clear that no one has come up with the answer to global climate change (McMichael 2013, USAID 2016, Davenport 2016, The Local 2015). However, many organizations are working to do something (McMichael 2013, USAID 2016, Davenport 2016, The Local 2015). Climate change will be a very challenging problem that poses a threat to not just our environment, but the very food on our plates and the stability of our nations (McMichael 2013, USAID 2016, Davenport 2016, The Local 2015). Climate change is one of the future issues we will have to face in International Development and we will have to do so collaboratively, as a compassionate global community (McMichael 2013, USAID 2016, Davenport 2016, The Local 2015).


Work Cited

McMichael, Anthony J. “Globalization, climate change, and human health.” New England Journal of Medicine 368.14 (2013): 1335-1343.

USAID. “Environment and Global Climate Change.” USAID. U.S. Agency for International Development, 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <>. 

Davenport, Coral. “Can Economies Rise as Emissions Fall? The Evidence Says Yes.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Apr. 2016. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <>.

The Local. “After Paris Climate Accord – Now What?” The Local. The Local, 13 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <>

A Concluding Post – Looking at TB in Vietnam

Many people are quick to be critical of international development (McMichael 2012). Some believe that the Development Program was an mean spirited initiative to increase corporate profits of transnational corporations at the expense of lives in developing nations (McMichael 2012). It is true that many in developing nations have suffered, but perhaps it isn’t for the reasons many people think it is (McMichael 2012).

The purpose of my blog posts has been to help guide people away from knee-jerk reactions against development and to think more deeply about the issues that we’re facing. My first post was an introductory one. My second was a post contrasting and discussing two economic systems. My third was somewhat of a cast study on a GMO crop. The conclusions of all of these posts was to walk through the facts and examples instead of developing opinions without first considering other factors related to problems and other perspectives.

This post will focus on the more humanitarian side of development: treating disease. I’d hope that many people aren’t be against the U.S. helping to fight disease in developing nations… But you never know…

Four hundred children die every day from tuberculosis in Vietnam (Viet Nam News 2016). Someone in Vietnam dies of tuberculosis every twenty minutes (USAID 2012). There are 130,000 new cases every year and 17,000 deaths from the disease (View Nam News 2016). To compare, 555 people died of tuberculosis in the US in 2013 (CDC 2015). Some estimate that there are as many as 180,000 new cases of tuberculosis annually in Vietnam (USAID 2012).

So what exactly is TB? Tuberculosis, or TB, is a bacterial infection (McNiel 2016). This bacteria spreads from person to person through the air (from coughing, sneezing) and finds its way to the lungs, where it takes up residence and begins tearing apart lung tissue (McNiel 2016). TB spreads even more quickly in crowded areas like jails or densely populated housing (McNiel 2016).

TB is a completely treatable disease (McNiel 2016, USAID 2012, Viet Nam News 2016, Johansson 2000, CDC 2015). The most effective treatment is a structured course of alternating four antibiotics over a six month period (McNiel 2016).

Twenty-five years ago in Vietnam, this problem was even worse with 600 people diagnosed with TB out of very 100,000 (McNiel 2016). This number is now down to 200 diagnosed cases per 100,000 people (McNiel 2016). TB kills more people annually than HIV/AIDS (McNiel 2016). TB also kills more women every year than complications from childbirth (Johansson 2000).

Vietnam has the twelfth highest rate of TB in the world (USAID 2012). Eight percent of TB patients are also infected with HIV (USAID 2012).

There are a multitude of reasons for why TB is such a problem in Vietnam, but social pressures against seeking care are a big factor (Johansson 2000).

Men often wait until the disease is no longer able to be hidden or until they can’t complete daily tasks before they seek treatment (Johansson 2000). This is because many men are considered the “pillar of the family” (Johansson 2000, pg. 42). They feel pressured to continue to provide and stay strong for their families (Johansson 2000).

Women often delay seeking help for different social reasons (Johansson 2000). They believe that if people know they have the disease, their husbands may divorce them or they may bring shame to family members (Johansson 2000). Women also keep diagnosis of TB a secret because they worry about harming the marriage prospects of their children (Johansson 2000).

There are also problems relating to rural populations (Johansson 2000, McNiel 2016). Many report negative experiences with rural TB clinics (Johansson 2000). Officials also recognize that a heroin addiction problem in rural populations of poppy farmers makes it harder for TB infected people to access care (McNiel 2016).

Alternatively, urban areas have many TB clinics because of a national health program (McNiel 2016, Johansson 2000). Under the national health program, TB treatment drugs are free (Johansson 2000). However, visits to a doctor and hospitalization are not covered and are an out of pocket expense (Johansson 2000). A study found that positive staff attitudes in the healthcare setting are very important to encourage people to seek treatment (Johansson 2000). The same study suggests gender sensitive strategies and campaigns to encourage people to seek healthcare (Johansson 2000).

So what is the U.S. doing to help? Are U.S. corporations taking advantage of the healthcare situation to grow their own profits?


More than one out of every three dollars spent to reduce rates of TB in Vietnam comes from the U.S. Government (also known as American tax dollars); not money from private American corporations (McNiel 2016).

USAID began a program in 2012 to help this problem (USAID 2012). Before this program, clinics could test for TB and drug resistant TB, but getting results back could take several months (USAID 2012). To address this, USAID provided seventeen testing systems and twelve thousand testing cartridges to thirteen provinces in Vietnam (USAID 2012). Testing could now be done in a matter of hours instead of months (USAID 2012). This program was highly successful and also involved training almost six hundred Vietnamese technicians to administer a higher quality of care for patients (USAID 2012).

The Country of Vietnam also instituted its own program called “Breath for Life” in areas with high rates of TB and HIV (Viet Nam News 2016). This program involved training Vietnamese healthcare workers to better identify the disease and how to more effectively refer patients to the care they needed (Viet Nam News 2016). The American company Johnson & Johnson also got involved to help with this program (Viet Nam News 2016). This program was a very effective and strong example of the public and private sector working together to improve the health of the population (Viet Nam News 2016).

So what are we left to think? This blog assignment has been a small piece of a much bigger picture, but I hope that it has left my audience with the thought that sometimes its best to take a step back, consider multiple perspectives and think beyond the quick judgement that development is always bad for developing nations (McMichael 2012).

Vietnam now has the tools to cure 75% of patients with drug resistant TB and 90% of patients diagnosed with non-drug resistant TB which is much higher than the 50% global average (McNiel 2016).

Work Cited

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “TB Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 Sept. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <>

Johansson, E., et al. “Gender and tuberculosis control: perspectives on health seeking behaviour among men and women in Vietnam.” Health policy52.1 (2000): 33-51.

McMichael, Phil. 2012. Development and Social Change: A global perspective. 5th edition. Los Angeles: Sage Publications

Mcneil, Donald G. “Vietnam’s Battle With Tuberculosis.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 Mar. 2016. Web. 06 Apr. 2016. <>.

USAID. “Vietnam Completes Roll-out of U.S.-Supported Rapid Detection TB Equipment.” Vietnam Completes Roll-out of U.S.-Supported Rapid Detection TB Equipment. USAID, 1 Nov. 2012. Web. 6 Apr. 2016. <>.

Viet Nam News. “Project to Help Prevent TB Infections Among Children.” Viet Nam News. Viet Nam News, 25 Feb. 2016. Web. 6 Apr. 2016. <>.

GMOs as an International Development Tool

*Trigger warning: This article briefly mentions suicide as relevant to this topic*

Bt Cotton. What does that make you think of?

In the event you’re not familiar with it, Bt Cotton is a type of genetically modified crop (Bharathan 2000, Sengupta 2016, Manjunath 2011, Bhagwat 2016). Bt Cotton is your typical cotton plant with one exception; it can produce its own pesticide (Bharathan 2000, Federation of American Scientists 2011). The pesticide that Bt crop varieties produce is a type of organic, bacteria based pesticide that was sprayed on crops for decades before the crop was genetically modified to produce its own pesticide (Federation of American Scientists 2011).

GMO crops have always welcomed controversy (Bharathan 2000, Sengupta 2006, Manjunath 2011, Bhagwat 2016, Parrett 2015, Federation of American Scientists 2011). But GMO crops aren’t all evil; having Bt Cotton produce its own pesticide greatly reduces the amount of pesticide that washes into water ways (Federation of American Scientists 2011, Manjunath 2011). There are two distinct GMO camps: those who see potential in GMOs and those who see fear in the very word (Parrett 2015, Bharathan 2000, Sengupta 2006, Manjunath 2011, Bhagwat 2016, Federation of American Scientists 2011).

Many blame Bt crops for a recent spike in suicide in rural areas of india (Sengupta 2006). However, the issues that lead to the deaths of these farmers stretch far beyond GMO crops (Sengupta 2006). India is a rapidly industrializing country and its agricultural industry has been shifting as a result (Sengupta 2006). Additionally, in the three seasons before the suicide spike, there were two droughts and a large flood which interrupted three seasons of crops (Sengupta 2006). Perhaps that was the true reason for this spike in suicides (Sengupta 2006).

Some even say that Bt crops save farmers money because they don’t have to separately purchase pesticide to spray on their crops (Federation of American Scientists 2011, Manjunath 2011). A report conducted by AgBioWorld concluded that using Bt cotton actually increases farmer profits (Manjunath 2011). Additionally, according to The Times of India as recently as March of 2016, prices for GM seed have been continually dropping year after year which has made farming financially easier for farmers in India (Bhagwat 2016).

After consumer outrage over safety concerns, AgBioWorld (a group of researchers from Tuskegee University in Alabama) set out to research potential safety consequences related to a plant that produces its own pesticide (Manjunath 2011). This report concluded that there is no scientific basis to claims of threats to consumer health and wellbeing from Bt cotton (Manjunath 2011). The author also concluded that Bt cotton has more benefits to offer than most are willing to acknowledge; like less pesticide run-off and increasing farmer profits (Manjunath 2011, Federation of American Scientists 2011). This fact alines with recent news that Bt cotton seed prices have been dropping season after season in India, making life easier for farmers (Bhagwat 2016).

So why are people so critical of GM crops? Bt cotton is cheaper and easier for farmers to use than typical seed (Manjunath 2011, Bhagwat 2016). Bt cotton has passed every safety test and shows no threat to consumer health or safety (Manjunath 2011). Bt pesticide does not bioaccumulate in the environment (Manjunath 2011). Bt is an organic, bacteria based pesticide to begin with (Federation of American Scientists 2016). GM crops also offer some environmental salvation since they help us use fewer resources and grow more crops on less land (Foundation of American Scientists 2011, Manjunath 2016).


Link to image

So again, why are people still upset?

GMO crops are a little scary and they are the stuff of bad science fiction movies. In reality, one report even goes as far calling risks associated with Bt crops “imaginary” (Manjunath 2011). If anything, some GMO activism has harmed some economies and families (Parrett 2015). Activists in Mexico have banned the growth of GM corn in their country (Parrett 2015). Now corn must be imported into the country at a higher cost to communities (Parrett 2015).

Our planet is at risk of more and more climate events that will disrupt agriculture as we know it (Parrett 2015). These climate events subsequently will effect food availability, especially in the global South (Parrett 2015). To make that problem even more daunting, population continues to grow (Parrett 2015). GMO crops offer a way to resolve this problem because we can grow more food with less (Parrett 2015).

Many are quick to be critical because GM crops are so easy for the media and others to demonize (Parrett 2015). With a growing population and an ever more turbulent environment that could result in more severe food security and hunger issues, we may not have a choice but to embrace GM crops (Parrett 2015).

Work Cited

Bhagwat, Ramu. “Big Relief for Farmers as Bt Cotton Seed Prices Cut.”IndiaTimes. The Times of India City, 12 Mar. 2016. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. <>.

Sengupta, Somini. “On India’s Farms, a Plague of Suicide.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Sept. 2006. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. <>.

Manjunath, T. M. “Safety of Bt-Cotton: Facts Allay Fear.” AgBioWorld. AgBioWorld, 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2016. <>.

Bharathan, Geeta. “Bt-cotton in India: Anatomy of a controversy.” CURRENT SCIENCE-BANGALORE- 79.8 (2000): 1067-1075.

Federation of American Scientists. “Bt-Corn: The Biggest GE Crop.” Bt-Corn. Federation of American Scientists, 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <>.

Parrett, Tom. “GMO Scientist Could Save The World From Hunger, If We Let Them.” Newsweek. Newsweek, 21 May 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <>.

Capitalism or Socialism: Could We Do It Better?

Socialism. It’s one of some Clarkies’ favorite words.

Socialism is praised as the answer to all our social and environmental problems by many. If we just transitioned from a capitalist to a socialist all social and economic problems – poof, they’d all disappear! Or so they say…

Let’s start with some simple definitions. Socialism is a system that believes that the government is the most effective body in a society. Therefore, the government (vs private assets) should manage the country’s resources (Diffen 2016). Socialism also most often contains the belief that the government is responsible for addressing and remediating all kinds of inequality including economic inequality (Diffen 2016). Capitalism is a system that believes that things are most effectively done by the free market (Diffen 2016).

Now, let’s talk about organics. Organics are heralded as a savior to our environment and our health. Clarkies love organics.

Now, let’s talk about Walmart. Walmart is highly criticized as degrading to the environment and our health. Clarkies hate Walmart.

Walmart now sells organic milk. How could such an evil body sell organic products?

The market responds to what consumers demand (Diffen 2016). That’s the beauty of capitalism.

Debate about which economic systems are best for people and the environment is a common discussion when it comes to sustainable development (Giddings et al. 2001).

The economy’s role in our daily lives can’t be ignored (Giddings et al. 2001). Many, including Giddings et al., paint GDP growth as antithetical to human or societal growth (2001). However, what Giddings et al. fails to recognize is that GDP growth increases the quality of life for individuals in a society (2001). Human needs are met by the products and services (like healthcare, education, food, shelter) provided by a capitalist economy (Giddings et al. 2001). The U.S. may not do this fairly or equitably for every single individual – but as recent social justice movements have worked for, we’re moving in the right direction, slowly but surely.

Now, let’s talk more about socialism. Socialism, because it advocates for government control of resources, it is thought of often as the most environmentally friendly economic choice (FEE 1992, Diffen 2016). Some claim it prevents the private sector from harming the environment (FEE 1992). Let’s talk about some socialist economies and how they’ve chosen to manage their natural resources (FEE 1992).


Some relevant facts and figures about socialist countries sourced from Foundation for Economic Education (1992):

  • 40% of the population of East Germany suffers some health problems as the result of air pollution
  • 70 villages of East German people were forced to relocate between 1960 and 1980 so that the government could mine coal on their property
  • In the Czech Republic, concentrations of sulfur dioxide in the air are eight times higher than U.S. levels
  • Soil in some areas of the Chez Republic is toxic up to a foot deep in the Earth
  • The life expectancy for a polish man decreased significantly between 1972 and 1992
  • 1 of every 3 people in Poland live in areas of environmental disaster, according to the Polish Academy of Sciences

What were some of your thoughts as you read those facts?

The entity commonly blamed for environmental degradation in the U.S. is big corporations (FEE 1992, Warren 2006, Diffen 2016). However, as we’ve explored, big corporations (thanks to the mechanisms of the free market) know when to respond and change in response to consumer wants and needs (Warner 2006, Diffen 2016). Perhaps those responsible for environmental degradation in the United States aren’t corporations, but rather something else (FEE 1992).

Part of our current problem is that although the U.S. has private property laws, the agencies we’ve assigned enforcement power have limited resources (FEE 1992). The EPA has great difficult enforcing environmental laws (FEE 1992). The EPA needs more grit, more bite, more power to protect those in the U.S. than it has currently (FEE 1992). If the EPA has that enforcement power, our built and natural environment would greatly improve (FEE 1992).

Under a socialist system, no individual owns or is responsible for any certain resource (FEE 1992, Diffen 2016). This means there is very little accountability to any individual when things go wrong (FEE 1992). This opens the door to rampant environmental abuse, since no one is left holding responsibility for damage and no individual is the direct recipient of damage (FEE 1992).

China, although a growing world power, is a socialist economy (FEE 1992). China is also responsible for 58% of of global carbon emissions (China Daily 2016). China has also openly admitted that they will continue to increase their carbon emissions for another fifteen years (China Daily 2016).  Despite government control of resources, China’s has prioritized economic and population growth over environmental preservation (China Daily 2016).

As I’ve explored in this blog post, issues relating to the environment and economy and society are incredibly complex and they aren’t likely to be resolved any time soon (Giddings et al. 2001). But despite popular claims, socialism isn’t likely to be our environmental saving grace as history has shown more harm to the environment than success (FEE 1992).

We don’t need to praise Walmart as a whole (especially since they treat employees pretty poorly), but we as a global environmental community don’t have the time or convenience to discredit any organization willing to do something to preserve our environment. Perhaps treating our environment better is a step in a more ethical direction for the corporation. Capitalism has responded to consumers wanting more environmentally sustainable products in one of the globe’s biggest retailers (Warner 2006). The way forward is not in reinventing the system, but working within and improving the one we have.





Work Cited

China Daily. “Business / Green China China Yet to Reach Carbon Emissions Peak, Working to Ease Growth.” China Daily Business. China Daily, 7 Mar. 2016. Web. 25 Mar. 2016. <>.

Diffen. “Capitalism vs. Socialism.” Difference and Comparison. Diffen, 2016. Web. 25 Mar. 2016. <>.

Foundation for Economic Education. “Why Socialism Causes Pollution.” FEE. Foundation for Economic Education, 01 Mar. 1992. Web. 25 Mar. 2016. <>.

Giddings, Bob, Bill Hopwood, and Geoff O’brien. “Environment, economy and society: fitting them together into sustainable development.” Sustainable development 10.4 (2002): 187-196.

Warner, Melanie. “A Milk War Over More Than Price.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 Sept. 2006. Web. 25 Mar. 2016. <>.

WorkPlaceFairness. “The Good, The Bad and Walmart.” The Good, the Bad, and –. WorkPlaceFairness, 2016. Web. 25 Mar. 2016. <>.

Alternatives and Criticism – An Introduction Post

Alternatives and Criticism.

These two words are ones that Clarkies around me are very familiar with. Clarkies firmly believe in different kinds of alternatives in different contexts and are very good at criticizing the things they don’t agree with.

However, I notice that Clarkies are quick to criticize without offering concrete alternatives that have been thoroughly researched.

This is what I want to address. Much of what I’ve heard in our course thus far is a lot of anger at the ‘evils of capitalism’ and so on and so forth with quick assumptions about why alternatives will be better without thorough examinations and exploration of alternatives.

This is where my blog posts will focus: Was the development project purposefully meant to benefit the developed at the expense of the less developed? Is a more socialist system a more effective system that will treat people and the environment more ethically?

Although these questions are big questions (and I only have four blog posts to answer them), I will do my very best to answer them, even if it’s on a small scale.

I will begin by using a source like Arrighi & Saul (2006). This source using a case study like design to demonstrate how socialism could possibly be used in developing areas of Africa (Arrighi & Saul 2006). I hope to compare and contrast how different economic systems have been used in different development projects across the world. This will be a small scale way to answer my big questions.

I also plan to use reports, surveys or briefs from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to help me gain knowledge about international economics. A good starting place for me would be IMF’s survey The Global Economy in 2016. This resource will help me examine how different economies with different economic systems are handling the current worldwide economy (IMF 2016).

I will also utilize Western newsfeeds like articles from the New York Times and other publications. For example, Eduardo Porter’s article “Imagining a World Without Growth” which will give me an interesting economic perspective as well as alternative suggestions. Porter talks about how the world may need to change economically in response to consumption related issues like climate change (2015). Porter’s ideas (2015) and other Western newsfeeds will give me an idea of how the developed world wants to see the future unfold economically.

Since this course is ‘Tales from the Far Side’, incorporating a non-Western news source will be important to do as well. I traveled to Ecuador last year, so my first thought was to use a newspaper from that country. I found the Ecuador Times. Specifically relating my to my focus, I found an article about how the Ecuadorian government has been subsidizing and hoping to increase the consumptions of dairy products  (Ecuador Times 2015). The article discusses how health concerns and the pressure for economic growth collide in the context of dairy products on the market in Ecuador (Ecuador Times 2016).

I hope to help answer my two focus questions listed above using resources like I’ve walked through in this post. If anyone has any thoughts about the direction of my posts or about other potential resources, feel free to comment below – your thoughts are appreciated!


Work Cited

Arrighi, Giovanni, and John S. Saul. “Socialism and economic development in tropical Africa.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 6.02 (1968): 141-169. (PDF Through JSTOR can be found here.)

Ecuador Times. “Obstacles Are Being Eliminated for the Diary Products in Ecuador.” N.p., 12 Mar. 2016. Web. 12 Mar. 2016. <>.

International Monetary Fund. “IMF Survey : The Global Economy in 2016.” IMF Survey : The Global Economy in 2016. IMF, 04 Jan. 2016. Web. 12 Mar. 2016.<>.
Porter, Eduardo. “Imagining a World Without Growth.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 01 Dec. 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2016. <>.