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The Voices of China's Workers

TED Talks In the ongoing debate about globalization, what's been missing is the voices of workers -- the millions of people who migrate to factories in China and other emerging countries to make goods sold all over the world.


Our collective understanding of modern industrialization and globalization needs to go beyond the binary of "oppressors" and "victims."  This lecture explores the voices and lives of Chinese workers that we so often simply see as simply victims of a system, but are full of ambition and agency. 

 

Tags: industry, globalization, labor, China, TED. 


Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Allen's insight:

This is an interesting video.  Leslie Chang was able to gain such perspective from the girls who work in China's factories.  Learning about how the girls are optimistic about their future.  They don't want the Coach Bag or IPhone they are making- it would take months for them to afford it...  They want an education and social mobility.  It was uplifiting to hear that factory workers want education and more out of life, however as mentioned- they are "invisible"  We (Westerners) avoid the idea that people in China working for next to nothing in response to our lifestyle and demands. This also makes you think about when you see a product that is considered an 'American Classic'  it does not mean made in America.        Elizabeth Allen  

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Ryli Smith's comment, May 5, 2013 2:55 PM
In these Chinese factories, they don't view these jobs as harsh or poor treatment because this is better than how they would be doing back in their villages. They want these jobs so bad because they will give them a better life. Also, you have to remember that not all of these Chinese factory workers want to have an iPhone or a Coach purse or Nike shoes, because those things don't have any worth in their culture.
Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 17, 2014 5:26 PM

The plight of Chinese workers today is incredibly great. This TED talks explains the situations many in China find themselves in the terrible conditions they must work in. While us in the west see this as unthinkable China's model for success and expansion comes at the cost of their workforce who are subjugated to poor working conditions as very low pay. The real hope for this to change is for the nation as a whole to become wealthy enough that these workers will be able to demand fair wages and work environments. 

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 17, 2014 11:08 PM

These workers do see their jobs as opportunities. This video is a great eye opener for people who tend to fall into the trap of looking at globalization as a system of haves and have nots. 

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Worker safety in China

This is an incredible video because of the shocking footage of blatant disregard for worker safety.  This can lead to an interesting discussion concerning how China has been able to have its economy grow.  What other ways has China (or Chinese companies) been "cutting corners?"  How does that give them a competitive edge on the global industrial market?     

 

My heart was in my throat watching this video. Is that the procedure for demolishing the entire building? Ironically this was to clear way because the Olympics were being held in Bejing. There is some irony here, representatives from other travelling down that main road would be appalled to see these working conditions. And for little pay on top of risking their lives.   According to the National.ae.com, close to 80,000 people died in 2010 due to unsafe working conditions.

Elizabeth Allen


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Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 15, 2014 1:52 PM

China's ability to sweep unjust working conditions under the rug has allowed it to grow economically at an impressive rate. Although I disagree with unsafe working conditions it is important to note the hypocrisy that developed countries display when advocating fro workers rights. In the US for example, our economic growth was contingent on slavery, child labor, and immigrant exploitation. Unfortunately if any developing country wants to compete with countries that are at the top of the global economic hegemony, they must cut the same corners those countries cut centuries ago. What needs to be done is find a way to show developing countries that growth is possible without abusing workers. 

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 17, 2014 5:23 PM

This video borders on difficult to watch. While it is definitely amazing to watch it really flies in the face of standard American job safety operations. These workers are perched on top of this building with no harnesses balancing in the shovel of a back hoe while sawing loose great slabs of concrete. Luckily no one was injured in this video but frankly this video does a great job of showing how China has been able to grow so rapidly. A lack of interest in individual workers safety and a sole goal of progress, at the possible cost of its citizens.

Jason Schneider's curator insight, April 2, 9:45 PM

China has one of the strongest economies in the world. However, I think sometimes, China takes that for granted. They think that just because they have a strong economy, they don't have to worry about safe working environments and they have nothing to lose if something happens to someone. As much as I'm sure China gives good paychecks to manufactured workers because of its wealth, there are some jobs, such as this one, that they think they don't have to pay enough. However at the same time, it's not China's fault. Sometimes, it's the workers faults for not using common sense while working, I'm a firm believer in "work smarter, not harder."

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Brazil's economy overtakes UK's

Brazil's economy overtakes UK's | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it
Brazil has overtaken the UK as the world's sixth largest economy, the Centre for Economics and Business Research says.

 

The "BRIC" countries are surging forward and are seen as major players in the global economy (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Brazil just recently past the U.K. as the 6th largest economy.  China passed Japan not more than a year ago.    Furthermore, Russia and India are poised to pass the traditional European economic powers (U.K., Germany, France and Italy) by 2020.  In this restructuring of the global economy, what will the impacts be on various regions of the world? 

 

The statistics prove that Brazil is higher ranking economically that the UK. Brazil is succeeding economically. It must have to with their natural resources and financial gains of exporting goods.  Brazil is economically expanding.  Elizabeth Allen


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Elizabeth Allen's comment, November 16, 2012 5:28 PM
The statistics prove that Brazil is higher ranking economically that the UK. Brazil is succeeding economically. It must have to with their natural resources and financial gains of exporting goods.
Cam E's curator insight, February 11, 2014 11:46 AM

BRIC has always interested me as an alternative to the traditional centers of economic power. The four BRIC countries are all powerful up and comers and their positioning all around the world and lack of cultural commonality make them a very intriguing force.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, October 20, 2014 11:55 AM

The rise of the BRIC countries shows that the global economy is changing due to globalization. Now that transportation is cheaper, communication is more fluid, and economies can intermingle easier than before, countries can be more competitive with previous economic powers. I find it interesting that it is likely that in the next century we will see the US slipping further down this list.

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India's Census: Lots Of Cellphones, Too Few Toilets

The results of India's once-in-a-decade census reveal a country of 1.2 billion people where millions have access to the latest technology, but millions more lack sanitation and drinking water.

 

More Indians are entering the middle class as personal wealth is transforming South Asia's economy in the private sector.  Yet the government's ability to provide public services to match that growth still lags behind.  Why would it be that it is easier to get a cell phone than a toilet in India?  What will that mean for development?

 

What a difference between luxury and necessity. Yes, everyone feels that cellphones are a necessity. However, in a region that lacks working sanitation and plumbing, cellphones are a luxury. Clearly India is in desperate need of "the basics". With its never-ending growing population, the statisitcs of people lacking proper plumbing will surely rise. It is sad to think of a country where over 60% are without what we take for granted.   Elizabeth Allen


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Melissa Marie Falco-Dargitz's curator insight, November 23, 2014 10:10 AM

Government in India may be ill equipped to handle the need for sewage, sanitation and clean water. These items are harder to come by than cell phones and televisions. Over 1/2 of the country lacks basic sanitation, but yet, have cell phones. This dystopia is leading to even people climbing out of poverty from having some of the basics needed for a healthy life.

Wilmine Merlain's curator insight, November 29, 2014 3:41 PM

Its interesting in a country as large as India, its number one problem is waste management. Its telling of the priorities of the country's leader and it also speaks on the country's reception of first world waste. While more than half of Indians have access to a cell phone device, television and other electronic products, its also embarrassing on the country's behalf that less than half of the country's population have access to toilets.

I believe the case for this is Indian government not have the proper equipment to be able to establish properly install proper sanitation in the land. In order for the government to put in place they would need to establish a proper pipelines throughout the land to ensure that once toilets are set in place, waste is properly disposed of.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 17, 2014 12:59 AM

This sound clip highlights an interesting issue today in India, as the population has exploded the logistics to support these people is nonexistent while access to modern technology is present. Its an odd concept that one can readily find cheap accessible technology such as cell phones or TVs yet something as basic as a toilet or running water is out of reach for many. This is the problem when a population expands faster than it is possible to increase its logistical capacity.

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Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal

Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it
Workers at an ailing paper mill in Siberia are clinging to their jobs in the face of financial pressure and criticism from environmentalists.

 

The environment, industry and politics play key roles in this story of an old style Soviet mono-town on Lake Baikal.  Monotowns had planned economies that revolved around one industry and today many of these are struggling in the post-Soviet era.  While the particulars of the political situation are a bit dated, the overall issue is still quite relevant to understanding Russia today.   

 

This video provides a clear picture of lasting effects of post-Soviet times. The Siberian mill was at one time a central industry town. Now that the industry has slowed down, it is becoming criticized for its environmental flaws. Environmentalists want to close the factory down, however there is a society of workers who are soley dependent on their jobs here. Through the transition from communsim to capitalism many factors need to be considered. The factory is causing a great deal of harm to the environment and the health of the people, however to just hut it down would disrupt the stability of the people who work there.  Elizabeth Allen

 

Tags: Russia, industry, labor, environment, economic, water, pollution, environment modify, unit 6 industry.


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Brett Sinica's curator insight, October 20, 2013 2:43 PM

The story of this particular mono-town is very tough to "pick sides".  The factory undoubtedly pollutes the air and land like most other industrial areas, but being so close to Lake Baikal gives environmentalists a stronger reason to complain.  The lake is considered one of the purest and most unique in the world, yet the paper mill located on its banks raise controversy.  This is where the locals and workers are stuck between a rock and hard place.  Located in Siberia, such a vast and open region with little settlements compared to the western part of the country reminds the people living there that their resources are limited.  Closing down the factory would almost eliminate income and economy for the mono-town.  This is where the fine line is drawn; the workers surely aren't happy about the pollution and environmental hazards that go along with keeping the mill open, but at the same time the people could wither away if it wasn't up and running.

Ashley Raposo's curator insight, December 19, 2013 1:42 AM

THough the Soviet Union has been gone since the early 90s, it's hold on Russia is still creating problems. The creations of monotowns were already flawed. But to have this one monotown on Lake Baikal has gained the attention of enviromentalists. All odds are against that monotown. Without it's paper factory they have no jobs and no need for the town. It is a fight between enviromental geography and human geography in this area of the world. These people are stuck in a time where even the Soviet Union looked a little better than the constant wondering of your finacial stability in an up and coming capitalist nation.

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 2014 12:05 PM

The Soviet Union scattered "monotowns" around their territory; these monotowns consist of a job-creating industrial institutions like factories which then allow the formation of towns around them.  They are located all around the former Soviet Union and are very isolated.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these towns continued to run due to the privatization of the industrial center.  Today, Russia's Lake Baikal, which is the deepest lake in the world and contains 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water, is home to one of these monotowns.  This particular town's economy is based on their paper mill which uses and deposits tons of chemicals.  Environmentalists are very concerned for the future of the lake while the citizens are only concerned with feeding their families and this is creating social unrest.  Due to the isolation and distance from Moscow, people cannot just pick up and leave.  Also, working with "cleaner" alternatives is way out of this town's budget.  Today, many citizens in these monotowns miss the support that the Soviet Union offered and people are literally stuck in a place where their only income is dirty.

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Why more Mexicans are staying home

Tiny Tamaula is the new face of rural Mexico: Villagers are home again as the illegal immigration boom drops to net zero. Full story on CSMonitor.com: http:/...

 

Contrary to popular opinion, illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States is not really a problem in 2012.  As conditions on both sides of the border have changed, this gives a glimpse into the life choices of Mexican villagers.  For more on this issue see the complete article at: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2012/0408/Home-again-in-Mexico-Illegal-immigration-hits-net-zero ;

I have to say that I was surprised with what we learned in class and what I saw in the video. I did not think there was a considerable decline in Mexican migration to the US. As learned, due to much lower birth rates in Mexico, higher alert patrol along the borders and the agave product boom, there is actually a decrease in Mexicans crossing into the US. As heard in the video Mexicans do not still feel that the America is a great opportunity, therefore they do not want to leave their families, spend the money to get to the US only to find that due to the US recession, jobs are very scarce.  Elizabeth Allen


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Cam E's curator insight, February 4, 2014 11:55 AM

I enjoy stories like this, because it demonstrates people willing to fight for their home. Many interesting ideas lie behind stories such as this one, but what I find especially intriguing is the dynamics of money in relation to these small rural villages. Money and "income" drives our current economic positions, but there are some places which were left behind and have none of the jobs we in the first world would traditionally think of. They had to either subside off their own products through farming, or trade their livelyhood for a small amount of money. Put simply, money is necessary for a so called "modern" existence, but not necessary for survival. These villagers are working for their own future in their home country now though, while it may not be necessarily profitable in the short term, it will pay off for their children in the long term.

James Hobson's curator insight, September 23, 2014 11:29 AM

(Mexico topic 1)
"Things are not good in the United States. There is not a lot of work and Mexicans like to keep busy." I was surprised by this this comment which sums up one of the main reasons why many Mexican immigrants are returning to Mexico. This implies that as the American economy has worsened, Mexico's must be improving (at least by comparison). This completely supports the concept of Mexico evolving into a "semi-core" country.
   Additionally, I hope this quote will help to shed some truth onto the negative lazy stereotype many Americans associate with immigrating Mexicans.

Shanelle Zaino's curator insight, October 16, 2014 9:44 PM

Harsher border control and less opportunity have created a dramatic decrease in the amount of people coming to the United States.I think a large misconception among many Americans is that people from other countries come here to take advantage of our governmental support, in many cases this is just not true.People from other countries often come to the US to have a better life in the way of more opportunities . With the current state of our economic health it has become less and less beneficial to do that.

 

It seems quite often when a politician is running for a particular seat the subject of immigration reform comes up. The statistics that more people are leaving the US for Mexico rather than the other way around seems to not be inserted in the conversation.

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Turbulence on the Mekong River

Turbulence on the Mekong River | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it
The Mekong River was once a wild and primitive backwater. Today, growing demands for electricity and rapid economic growth are changing the character of what is the world's 12th-longest river.

 

Economic progress for some often entails job loss and environmental degradation for others.  The once isolated and remote Mekong is experiences some impacts of globalization with residents having mixed feelings about the prospects. 

 

The technological resources from the Mekong River are needed to keep up with population demands suchs as electricity.  However in building dams, the wildlife and naturalness on the river is being stolen.  Farmers and fishermen fear that fish will be destroyed and blocked by the dams.  They are already noticing effects from upstream- the work China has done on the river is effecting Laos' societies.  Elizabeth Allen


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Emma Lafleur's curator insight, April 30, 2013 8:03 PM

It seems to be a theme that across the bored, people are building things that directly and negatively impact the environment and the local people. There are always two sides to the problem. On one hand, the dam can help with the development of Laos because it will bring in money, but it will also destroy the fish population and therefore many fishermen will lose their jobs and people will lose a food source. It is a difficult problem because Laos needs money because there is a lot of poverty in this rural country and the fishermen do not add a whole lot to the economy, but the people need a way to survive and make money for their families as well. It's a problem that I think will be around for generation to come.

Al Picozzi's curator insight, November 26, 2013 11:35 AM

Seems the price of modernizing will be the local economy that as existed here for centuries.  It is not a small industy either, it is according to the report a billion dollar fishing industry.  However with a growing population and a demand for electricity the river is the perfect source for this power.  This globalization, like all globalization, will help some and will hurt some.  What you have to ask yourself is will it help more than it hurts?  Will it help in the long run, over time?  For everyone involoved in globalization these answeres are never the same everywhere.

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, December 15, 2014 9:21 PM

The Mekong river is a river that many fisherman in Laos depend on for food and income. Plans to build dams that will cause the fish to seek an alternate route to migrate upstream. Critics of the dams say that the dams will cause the fish to abandon the Mekong river and go through their neighboring rivers, leaving the residents without a source of income. Many in favor of the dams say the reverse, that building the dams will boost economy and cause the area to flourish.

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Tajik Remittances From Russia up 30%

Tajik Remittances From Russia up 30% | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it
Tajik migrants working in Russia sent to $2.96 billion in remittances to their families in Tajikistan in 2011, over 30 percent more than the previous year, National Bank Deputy Chairman Malokhat Kholikzoda said on Thursday.

 

The higher the national dependence on remittances, the worse off the country is essentially at being economically independent and viable. 

 

Yes the remittance work will hurt Tajikstan's chances of economic success. But, the workers have to provide for their families. The workers need to self-preserve, with that in mind, it is natural for them  not be concerned about their home country's economics. With more than half of the population below poverty level, I doubt this labor pattern will change soon.

Elizabeth Allen


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Derek Ethier's comment, October 18, 2012 1:23 AM
Tajikstan's plight symbolizes the problems most former Soviet Republics face in a post Soviet world. Almost all of these nations have an enormous reliance upon Russia in their day to day activities. As this article states, over $2.96 billion have been sent to Tajikstan from Tajiks working in Russia. Tajikstan's economy is going to tank if it's citizens continue to be so reliant on Russia.
Elizabeth Allen's comment, December 6, 2012 11:03 PM
Yes the remittance work will hurt Tajikstan's chances of economic success. But, the workers have to provide for their families. The workers need to self-preserve, with that in mind, it is natural for them not be concerned about their home country's economics.
Shanelle Zaino's curator insight, October 22, 2014 2:01 PM

I can see where the Tajik migrants would feel compelled to go to Russia and work. After they are done working they would send money home to their families in Tajikistan. This dependence on another country does not benefit their own economy. When their economy does not benefit nothing will improve for the relatives they have living in Tajikistan. This is a vicious cycle.

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Globalization, Corporations and Franchises

Globalization, Corporations and Franchises | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it

McDonald's and Starbucks can be seen as emblematic of the forces of globalization and the 'victors' of process as forcefully displayed in this graphic.  The local distinctive menu (not to mention the chef with a flair) typically loses out to the replicable, standardized and the familiar.  How come?  When is this not the case?  How does this change economics or culture? As a counter-point to globalization benefiting the chains, see how 'Yelp!' is reducing chains market share at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/how-yelp-is-killing-chain-restaurants/2011/10/03/gIQAokJvHL_blog.html

 

 

Many compnaies have to adapt to different cultures. Globalization is part of going outside the norm. Or what is considered the norm in one country is far different than the norm of another.  For business' to strive they have to satisfy the needs of the consumers.  Elizabeth Allen


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Michael Mazo's curator insight, December 13, 2014 1:06 PM

In regards to area I live in, I always knew Mcdonalds was a staple for fast food and presumed it had been the same way across the globe. But Starbucks isn't as prevalent in my region as it is across the entire nation and even the globe. Without knowing the size of starbucks I really underestimated its potential. What makes sense to me is the fact that these companies are so large on an global economic scale, and the reason for this is because they took a risk and expanded overseas. In results their business boomed and hundreds of billions of dollars were made in the process. America stands as a staple for the perception of modern society and when foreigners see our businesses they instantly want in. So they big name franchises brought america to them and in result created economic success.

M1 ECOM - EJCAM 2015's curator insight, February 11, 3:50 PM

Le graphique ci dessus  représente l'importante des entreprises agro-alimentaires américaines dans le phénomène de Mondialisation : concernant les ventes,  McDonald's arrive en première position suivi de Burger King et KFC. Mc Donald's est l'emblème de l'implantation américaine dans les pays du monde entier. 

Isabella El-Hage's curator insight, March 18, 5:03 PM

This article links to Unit Three through "Globalization". This image shows how McDonald's and Starbucks has connected different parts of the world. Even these two power stores are seen everywhere, and some may argue it can result in place-lessness, this image shows how it can interconnect different countries. Starbucks depends on 19 different countries to make a single cup, and gets products from some of the richest and some of the poorest countries. McDonald's is seen around the world, and adapts to the different countries it has stores in. McDonald's employs more than 1.5 million people, and makes $41 billion in revenue. These two global stores are examples of globalization. 

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Piracy Backlash

Piracy Backlash | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it
Abshir Boyah, a pirate who says he has hijacked more than 25 ships off the coast of Somalia, says he will give up this career if certain terms are met.

 

What economic, cultural and political circumstances in the 21st century would allow for piracy to exist?  What are the impacts of piracy on Somalia?  

 

The concept of piracy is a scary one. Their illegal ways cause corruption throughout their society. However, it seems as if they do not have much choice. Yes, it is morally wrong, but look at the money they are making. The prirates are willing to cease illegal activity if their demands are met. Their demands are not out of the ordinary-- they want their oceans protected from toxic waste, job creations, and a fair government. Somalia has a long road ahead of them to acheive any sort of unity.  Elizabeth Allen


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Kaitlin Young's curator insight, November 22, 2014 4:25 PM

Somalia's pirates are notorious worldwide, and while the pirates may be committing horrible crimes, it is important to understand why these people have turned to illegal means to survive. The economic state of Somalia is rather grim. Considered a textbook "failed state", men for the most part have to choose between working as a fishermen or turning to piracy. Since fishermen barely scrape a living from the waters, Somalian men turn to piracy. With no other economic opportunities, it is often seen as the only choice. Many Somali pirates openly admit that if they had other options, they would absolutely change occupations. 

John Nieuwendyk's curator insight, December 17, 2014 5:17 PM

The media oftentimes demonizes specific groups of people. So I was presently surpassed that the NYT’s investigated the human aspect of desperation. Many of these Somalians are hopeless and the economic burden on their shoulders drives them to act unethical. When you first priority is survival, courteousness and moral laws often don’t apply. Nevertheless, it was cool to hear about these human stories.

Joshua Mason's curator insight, March 31, 7:37 PM

Just like the pirates of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, these folks bring all the vices of the originals except perhaps without much of the romanticism that comes with the elders. Though perhaps in two hundred years someone will make a movie titled Pirates of the Somalia featuring Johnny Depp's great-great-great grandson. 

 

It's understandable why these people want to get out of the business. Despite the sex and wealth they've gotten, it's not exactly stable employment. Nor is it as safe as sitting at a desk or being a plumber. But when your society simply doesn't support these industries, then the people are left to resort to more drastic measures.

 

It's also interesting to see the quazi-government stepping in to try and combat it. Traditional Muslim values are the reason for them wanting and end to it. It's understandable to not want children to look up to pirates and the life of crime they lead. But in order for the practice to stop, the pirates want international environmental protections, aid, and government support. Should the international community give into piracy or should it be removed by force?

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Brazilian Ethanol

Brazilian Ethanol | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it

"Distilling ethanol from tropical sugarcane takes less land and uses less fossil fuel than starting with corn grown in temperate climes. That makes Brazilian ethanol, unlike the pampered and grotesquely wasteful American version, competitive with hydrocarbons and genuinely good for the environment." 

 

Although ethanol is working well for Brazil, there is a growing literature supporting the idea that wide-scale ethanol production is not sustainable or environmentally beneficial.  This is a great example to demonstrate that economic and environmental policies are locally dependent on geographic factors and are not universally transferable.  For a simple explanation of the differences in the economic and environmental differences in the production of sugar and corn-based ethanol, see: http://cei.org/studies-issue-analysis/brazilian-sugarcane-ethanol-experience  

 

Interesting information. Like anything the pros and cons need to be weighed by the experts. Everyone would love a low price alternative for fuel, but the environmental risks may be too high. Elizabeth Allen


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Amanda Morgan's curator insight, September 29, 2014 4:52 PM

Even though other countries have yet to catch on, the ethanol trend is a clever way to get ahead.  Their new strategy is a model for economic and environmental stability. Eventually, resources such as oil will run out as they are finite and in the long term, Brazil will have the upper hand. When the day comes that oil is extremely scarce, Brazil ill be hundreds of years ahead of the game.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 8, 2014 11:25 AM

Brazil is taking advantage of its natural resources to make themselves competitive in the global market. Today geography can change the shape of the economics around the globe. The prospect of economic growth and energy competitiveness has made them short sighted.  Brazil has to beware of becoming a mono-commodity country that relies on a business that is not sustainable.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 14, 2014 7:35 PM

While only Brazil is taking part in this and it hasn't completely replaced gasoline it is without a doubt a step in the right direction that hopefully other nations can learn from. While the hypotheses over how much oil fluctuates it is undeniable it isn't a permanent solution, the future of fuel must lie in renewal resources. Unfortunately oil companies hold so much sway in politics its unknown how much change is actually possible today. Regardless of this hopefully one day the world as a whole will realize this and seek to emulate Brazil's in innovation.