Noting this week’s article in The Economist, members of the “Women of the Environment” group I belong to, concluded that the concept of ecocide – ie the mass destruction of ecosystems – had just become mainstream. Jojo Mehta and Julia Jackson, two tireless champions, wrote: “to stop climate disaster, make ecocide an international crime. It’s the only way”. They gathered a group of top lawyers to draft an amendment to the international crime law while lobbying the EU and the International Criminal Court. Legalizing — like putting a pricetag on — an issue is one way to give it teeth. And legalizing environmental degradation is a growing trend. Just think of the recent international precedent set by the UK ruling that air pollution was the cause of death of 9-year-old Ella Addo-Kissi-Debrah.
Noah Smith’s “All futurism is Afrofuturism” is not about futurism. It basically only says that given population trends, Africa will be an important part of in any possible futures. We knew that. But the paper usefully summarizes the debate around Africa’s industrialization path and the role of manufacturing therein. It reminded me of the 2018 World Economic Outlook showing the shrinking contribution of manufacturing to job creation at the global level and debunking the long held view that development means moving from agriculture to manufacturing to services.
My graph this week is from “Freedom in the world 2021” assessing people’s rights and freedom in 195 countries using 25 indicators related to political rights and civil liberties. It has documented the decline in freedom for the past 15 years with a highest low in 2020, in particular as India moves from “free” to “partly free”. It also argues that COVID-19 has amplified the democratic decline. The map below shows the change in the freedom score for each country from 2019-2020.
My quote this week is from Elon Musk: “Tesla and Ford are the only American carmakers not to have gone bankrupt out of 1000’s of car startups. Prototypes are easy, production is hard, and being cash flow positive is excruciating.”