July 12, 2020

From The Global Garden of Embryonic Hope, Safeguarding Oceans

Sylvia Earle, the renowned marine biologist and oceanographer, once called oceans “the real world bank.” She cautioned that people were making many more withdrawals than deposits. On June 10, National Geographic and several more prominent science and conservation organizations convened EarthX Ocean to elaborate on that point. During the two-day virtual conference experts from around the world described the urgent and deteriorating conditions of the oceans and spotlighted a number of useful responses. I was asked …

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Americans Are Designing Asia’s Future

One of the many critical details of 21st century change, learned during a decade of global reporting, is that Asia is the dominant continent of the century. Another thing is that development patterns in Asia’s big cities, the glittering metropolises along the Pacific Rim, are different than they are in the West. And the third essential feature of 21st century change is the big role American architecture, engineering, and planning firms are playing in designing …

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This Is Tamil Nadu

CHENNAI, India – Unlike India’s other immense cities Chennai is a world apart. Tamil Nadu’s capital city does not have crowds of beggars trolling intersections like in Delhi. It is not nearly as traffic jammed as Mumbai. Its homes are well cared for, and many of its office buildings are new and Miami white, unlike the sagging and dilapidated built environment that describes Kolkata. The most distinguishing feature, though, for an American journalist who has …

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Gina Lopez: What Determined Activism Looks Like

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — On June 20, 2016 Rodrigo Duterte, the newly elected president of the Philippines, asked Gina Lopez to join him in Davao City for an extended conversation about the condition of his country’s land and water. It turned out to be an eventful encounter. The glib, rough talking, 71-year-old strongman former mayor of Davao City sought help from a 62-year-of woman known inside her wealthy family as the renegade daughter, and outside …

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Out Of Disruption Rule-Breaking Leaders

MANILA -In the era of disruption, diplomacy is an overt union of business and odd statesmanship. Here in Manila news that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte accepted Donald Trump’s invitation to visit the White House leads all the TV news and newspaper front pages. Trump in return accepted Duterte’s appeal to visit the Philippines for a meeting of SE Asia leaders in the fall. Both leaders could care less whether they are criticized for supporting Duterte’s …

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Amid Global Pivot, Ghost Dancing in American Coal Fields

SOMERSET, KY — There are reasons to feel empathy for the ghost dancers in America’s coal fields. Like the Plains tribes of the late 19th century, the men and women that supply the nation’s steadily eroding demand for coal raise closed fists of anguish, dance in circles, and call on false prophets for help. An industrial culture is dying. Unyielding, era-altering market and technology trends are running coal’s usefulness for supplying electricity to the ground. …

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Bazooka Radebe Wild Coast Murder Yields No Suspects

Nearly a month after gunmen assassinated Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Radebe, the leader of a community group that opposed a mine and new highway on South Africa’s Wild Coast, the investigation has expanded but no suspects have been identified, according to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, South Africa’s national police unit for investigating corruption and political and organized crime. “It’s a murder case and we suspect there’s an element of organized crime,” Hlangwani Mulaudzi, the spokesman …

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This Is South Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — There may be no other place on Earth where the land unfolds with such breathtaking beauty, where the green waves of KwaZulu-Natal valleys and the purple summits of Karoo desert ridges have such a powerful emotional lease. From the cold blue ocean waters of Cape Town to the limitless highveld expanses of Mpumalanga, South Africa’s geographic magnificence serves to both inspire this nation — and mock its racial divisions, government …

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Karoo Uranium, Fossil Energy Development Defies Water Scarcity and Reason

GRAAFF-REINET, South Africa –A contentious idea to use billions of gallons of scarce water to develop natural gas brought Stefan Cramer, a respected German-trained groundwater scientist, to settle in a 19th century cottage, with stucco walls and a mud and reed roof, near the center of South Africa’s desert Karoo. A well-regarded hydrogeologist with decades of experience in some of the world’s important oil and gas fields, Cramer was dispatched to the Karoo two years …

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Bazooka Radebe Murder and Funeral Fit South Africa’s Turmoil

On Saturday, April 2, 2016 hundreds of mourners set out to a Pondo tribal settlement on South Africa’s Wild Coast to honor Sikhosiphi Radebe, the chairman of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, who was assassinated on March 22. Radebe and several more Crisis Committee leaders spent the last decade organizing Wild Coast villages and settlers in opposing a big titanium sands beach mine along the Indian Ocean coast. The committee also opposes a new freeway that would …

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