Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military–industrial complex would have to remain, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy

George F Kennan in his preface to Norman Cousin’s ‘The Pathology Of Power’

Well guess what happened?

"The Aid/Trade Debate: Africa and globalisation"

Public Debate at LSE (London School of Economics) on the 31st of October.

The aid versus trade debate has formed a key part of the academic discussion around African development and economic growth. Professor Devarajan will give his perspective on Africa and globalisation.

Shanta Devarajan is the chief economist of the World Bank’s Africa Region.

Eric-Vincent Guichard is the chairman and chief executive officer of GRAVITAS Capital Advisors, Inc.

If anyone in London wants to go, let me know because I’d much rather go with someone than alone.

“My family moved here from China when I was 7. I don’t tell many people that. I’ve lived here for 20 years and am a citizen. I’ve been through the school system, I work in the government, my accent and mannerisms are local… and I’ve never considered myself anything but Singaporean.

But I’m always afraid that someone will say I’m not Singaporean enough. I wonder: ‘What is enough?’ Is it enough to go to school here? Do you have to be born here? Do your parents have to be born here? It has made me afraid to embrace my Chinese heritage. But as I get older, I’m starting to feel I need to explore that aspect of my identity and learn to accept it as part of myself.”



also mundialisation or mundialization – a common term for processes of international integration arising from increasing human activity and interchange of worldviews, products, ideas, and other aspects of culture. In particular, advances in transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, including the rise of the Internet, represent major driving factors in globalisation and precipitate further interdependence of economic and cultural activities. See also industrialisation.

There are hard choices to be made. Conservationists often suggest that protecting each last individual native species is somehow essential to maintaining the “ecological services” that nature provides for us—services such as carbon storage and maintaining the chemistry of the oceans; protecting watersheds and maintaining river flows; pollinating plants and dispersing seeds; maintaining soils and preventing runaway erosion. But that argument is a romantic illusion. Those services are best done by the species on hand that do it best. In much of the world that increasingly means nature’s pesky, pushy invaders.

Conservationists have “grossly overstated the fragility of nature, arguing that once an ecosystem is altered, it is gone forever,” Kareiva says. The trouble is that the data simply do not support the idea. Conservation scientists spend too little time investigating how ecosystems change when invaders come in or humans disrupt their operation. A narrow pursuit of evidence of “harm,” driven by invasion biologists, has blinkered researchers. And so has their pervasive belief that stability is the norm and change somehow abnormal. Neither is true. Nature is rarely in a steady state. It is the dynamics that matter, and for too long researchers have denied this.

By its own measures, conservation is failing, Kareiva says. Many protected areas, in which conservationists have invested so much, are about as true to nature as Disneyland. From the Serengeti to Yellowstone, and from the Amazon jungle to Siberia’s Pleistocene Park, these are managed ecosystems. Conservation cannot promise a return to pristine, pre-human landscapes. It needs to “jettison idealised notions of nature, parks and wilderness— ideas that have never been supported by good conservation science—and forge a more optimistic, human-friendly vision.


The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature’s Salvation by Fred Pearce

Since I started this site, I’ve had a lot of flak come my way for seed-swapping, even though I am careful of exchanging established invasive species, and follow disease quarantines.

I’ve never really wanted to say it out loud, but this article provides an opportunity: I’ve always thought the logic behind invasive species was conservative, and anti-evolutionary. Our very existence is predicated on a number of mass-extinction events, and since global contact and movement is inevitable, there will be some shifts and heaves in the species make up of this world.

As a lover of nature, and as someone who spends 40+ hours a week working in it, I feel a pull to create systems that defy that artificial nature/culture divide, and recognise that humans are animals, and we too require habitat. We just have to do a better job of sharing that habitat. I happily work with both ‘native species,’ (a.k.a. “things that arrived in this ecosystem before we started keeping tabs”) and non-native species (a.k.a. “most food crops”).


“In almost everything we now hear about economic disadvantage, there is the same belief, embodied in such government schemes as the Work Programme, that 40-plus years of deindustrialisation matters not, and to be one of the economy’s losers isn’t about being a victim of forces beyond your control, but character failings.”

John Harris, The Guardian, 7th January 2013

Photographs from Blisner, Ill © Daniel Shea.