Articles 2011


November 2011

November – a month to get started on your Christmas Shopping … or not? As confirmed the 7 billionth person has just been born, and it becomes more and more urgent to examine the links between population and consumerism / consumption. And November is the month to do it – after all consumerism really gets going for Christmas and the last Saturday in November is International Buy Nothing Day – a day to think about why, what and how we consume – and what impact that has.

As usual, here just a couple of articles and links to get you going …

Ps.: next months we hope to be looking at Charity Gifts (it is December after all), so if you have any good links to articles on why buying a goat is not the way to solve hunger let us know …

First of all some good news? Consumption of Goods is falling writes Duncan Clark in the Guarduan, October 31st.

However, a new report from Friends of the Earth is stating that Europe’s use (or rather overuse) of water is putting everyone else under pressure.

Cult of Consumerism at Root of Planet’s Environmental Degradation & Destruction writes Matthew McDermott on the aptly named Treehugger Website in January 2010…

… while in July 2010 the same author talks about Biodiversity, Consumerism and Population Growth.

Maybe it’s time for the world to agree some Millennium Consumption Goals?

As usual, the webside Global Issues provides in-dept information on all things consumerist, if a bit dated …

World consumption plunges planet into ‘ecological debt’, reports Heather Stewart in the Guardian in September 2009.

Earth Overshoot Day 2011 was …. September 27th

Adbusters started Buy Nothing Day and their website is packed with ideas for campaigns, activities and spoof ads. We actually have their Media Literacy Pack available for loan here in the GOWC … if anybody is interested.

Story of Stuff is a nice little video worth using with youthgroups and schools. They have done other short animated videos on Carbon Trading, Cosmetics and Bottled Water – and coming very very soon is the Story of Broke:

Occupy et al
October 2011
… not quite the end of the year but is this the year of public uprisings against … well what?

The year kicked off with the revolts in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. These events quickly became known as the Arab Spring. Have things changed though or is it still to early?

Revolutions devour their children – The Arab Counterrevolution
Hussein Agha and Robert Malley write in the New York Review of Books that the Military seems to be the clear winner in Egypt as for now.

Next up in the News was Greece and the whole Debt resistance that is still smouldering through Europe …

So Greeks don’t have a right to protest?
Anyone would think that only the Greek riot squads have a reason to be in Syntagma Square, writes Pandelis Boukalas for Kathimerini, part of the Guardian Comment Network in October 2011.

Spanish riot police clash in Madrid with anti-austerity protesters
Reporter detained at rally over cuts, job losses and corruption, August 2011

Riots on the Streets of London
Sparked by the murder of Mark Duggan, the riots spread to other UK cities during the summer. Here’s a bit of a funny take on the riots …

A number of public protest in the US are currently making headlines.

The call to occupy Wall Street resonates around the world
We need deeper changes to our financial system, or tent cities of people angry at corporate greed will keep appearing, an opinion piece by Micah White and Kalle Lasn, September 2011

Nobody Can Predict The Moment Of Revolution

And the link for Occupy –

And some really great statistics from the Business Insider!

There are thousands of protests all over the world but most do not get much coverage in the Western Media … here’re just a few …

Chilean protests
A series of popular student-led protests demanding a public education system and an end to for-profit education. Good overview at Wikipedia.

Indigenous Bolivians retake protest march against Brazil financed reservation road.
Hundreds of indigenous people protesting the construction of a road in Bolivia’s Amazon basin region are again marching toward the capital, La Paz, their leaders said.

Protest about forced land sales in China

And more general overviews …

How youth-led revolts shook elites around the world
From Athens to Cairo and Spain to Santiago, old certainties are being challenged after the Arab spring and financial crises, writes Jack Shenker in the Guardian, August 2011

The dead end of globalisation looms before our youth
Even in the west there is little chance of stable jobs or affordable education. Across the world the rage will grow,  Pankaj Mishra, August 25th, 2011.

Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street
Judith Butler, European Institute for Progressive Cultural Politics

Lastly to follow what’s happening in Ireland check out David Johnson’s blog, live from Dame Street in Dublin or link in with the Facebook site.

Latina America Events in Galway
September 2011
Autumn already! What better way though to lighten up the longer evening with all things Latino Americano, and September 27th sees the start of Galway Latin America Week – check out the line up here!

To get you in the mood, here are just some background articles focusing on some of the countries featured this year:

Ciudad Juarez is all our futures. This is the inevitable war of capitalism gone mad. – Ed Vulliamy thinks that Mexico’s drug cartels are actually pioneers of the global economy in their business logic and modus operandi. From the Guardian, Comment is free, 20th June 2011.

A Nicaraguan Farce. An update on Nicaragua by Clifton Ross writing forUpsidedownworld

Colombia Slips into the Abyss. – Labour Rights, Internal Displacement and Free Trade Agreements, an overview by Dan Kovalick, Senior Associate General Counsel of the United Steelworkers, writing for Counterpunch.

August 2011
Summer in Ireland is often the time when people decide to look for sunnier climates – and what better way than to combine pleasure with some worthwhile project that will make the world a better place? We are talking, of course, about volunteering overseas which a lot of people also see as an important step in furthering a career or – especially at present – to avoid unemployment. Comhlámh has drawn up various charters regarding volunteering and manages an extensive database of overseas opportunities, Volunteering Options. However, there are some fundamental questions to be asked when it comes to volunteering which stem from our skewed view of the world – here are some articles that may get you thinking!

Students given tips to stop gap year travel being ‘a new colonialism’ – new report from thinktank demos reviewed in the Observer

Voluntourism might also catch on here – in parts due to it being promoted as a way out of unemployment – but is this positive news for the Global South?

For those of you in Galway – we actually have a copy of a Comhlámh video entitles ‘We still want you but …’ which gives a good intro to the power dynamics and misconceptions around the issue of volunteering – feel free to drop in during opening hours and watch it!

Famine & Starvation
July 2011
Famine and starvation in the continent of Africa is a recurring news story that seems to follow a similar line of reporting irrespective of country, circumstances  or year – famine is caused by drought, exacerbated by corruption, war and disease and can only be solved through Western Aid. Pictures invariably focus on emaciated women and children, often nameless and naked. Below some articles that look at the issues from a slightly different angle – other stuff can be found in the resources section under Aid / Images & Messages.

Starvation pornography – How many skinny babies can you show me – good article on the media’s obsession with ‘starvation pornography’ by Katy Migiro, correspondent for AlertNet based in Nairobi, 2011

Images and the ‘Other’:  Motivations behind NGO Fundraising Imagery and their Impact on Public Perception. Thesis by Jessica Wishart, Dalhousie University, 2008

Images of Africa in the Western Media by James Michira, University of Nairobi, 2002

Fairtrade Fortnight
February 15th, 2011
February the 28th marks the beginning of Fair Trade Fortnight, two weeks of events, celebrations and awareness raising aimed at highlighting the difference that fairer trade can make in the lives of small-scale producers in the Global South (or ‘developing world’). Fairtrade partnerships ensure farmers get a just price for their produce, one that reflects the real cost of production, rather than the volatilities of the global markets. Fairtrade producers also enjoy… continue

Seedsaving in India
February 18th, 2011
Daylight is fading as the Hyderabad Express leaves Mumbai, a low mournful whistle marking its passage through dusty, overcrowded suburbs before silence descends and fields of green crops appear, stretching endlessly toward the horizon. After the noise, traffic and chaos of the megacity the effect on this observer is akin to a soothing massage and a hot bath.
My fellow passengers settle themselves, accommodating bags and removing shoes snatching a first glance at their companions for… continue