Tag Archives: poverty

Coral Reef Extinction Could Cripple Nations’ Economies

Coral reefs are dying, and scientists and governments around the world are contemplating what will happen if they disappear altogether. The idea positively scares them. Coral reefs are part of the foundation of the ocean food chain. Nearly half the fish the world eats make their homes around them. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide – by some estimates, 1 billion across Asia alone – depend on them for their food and their livelihoods. If the reefs vanished, experts say, hunger, poverty and political instability could ensue. Continue reading

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Why We Gave Away Our Home

One day when Hannah was 14, she became upset about the disparities between the world’s haves and the have-nots. She challenged us to be “a family that makes a difference in the world, even if it’s a small difference.” Joan asked her, “What are you willing to sacrifice? Your house? Your room?” Hannah said yes to both. After talking it over as a family, we decided to sell our house and move to one that was half its size and price –and donate the difference to charity.
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Beauty Kills—A Self-Rebuttal: Or, Why Joel Kotkin isn’t Always Wrong

In my recent post, Universal Beauty and the Responsibility of Cities, I argued that beauty is an essential element of urbanism. Forget all of that for a moment; here’s the other side of the coin: beauty kills. It can turn cities into lifeless museums animated only by tourists, inhibiting creativity and innovation while exacerbating segregation and homogenization. Look at any interior design magazine spread; room upon room of artful still-life orchestration. These are rooms that pose, not rooms that are lived in. Look at fashion models, their faces inscrutable and eyes vacant. True, this is not the sort of beauty I was advocating, but an emphasis on beauty can quickly lead one astray if untempered. Beauty is essential, yes, but it can be as intoxicating as drugs, and potentially as destructive.
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Sigur Ros, Mass Extinction, and the Future of Recess

The end of a year is always a pensive time. We look back, we look forward. We make promises to ourselves and to others. We renew our optimism, justifiably or not, and we convince ourselves that this will be the year. The cyclical renewal of our faith in possibility is, in fact, the very thing that creates possibility. But sometimes we turn the page without comprehending the one we’ve just written. The past hundred eighty years or so has seen the pace of our composition quicken, the time allotted for reflection diminish. Speeding may move us rapidly from point A to point B, but it reduces our ability to turn, to brake. Our vision tunnels and the landscape blurs. The odds of a collision multiply. Continue reading

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from Polis: Informality and Inclusion

Recent developments in Kibera and Dharavi, two of the most high-profile slums in the world, underscore the importance of including informal workers in planning decisions. In Kibera, a UN-backed slum clearance is underway amidst protest from residents whose livelihoods are at risk (and landlords who control informal real estate). The redevelopment plan for Dharavi has been stalled due to upcoming elections, as politicians appear reluctant to alienate the millions of voters involved in the economy it would displace. Slum redevelopment often exacerbates poverty when informal workers are not involved in decision-making processes. Continue reading

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