New Internationalist

Cover for September 2008 - Issue 415

September 2008's Issue

Sixty years ago plastic was an exotic development of modern chemistry. Today it is the most widespread human-made substance in the world. More than 250 billion pounds of raw plastic pellets are produced from petroleum feedstock every year. It is everywhere, in places you never imagined: computers and cell phones; packaging; food and drink containers; home furnishings and building materials; cars, trucks, airplanes and boats; children’s toys and beauty products.

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Featured in issue 415

Soundbites - Atiq Rahman

While Hurricane Gustav swirled through the front pages of our media, the hundreds of deaths caused by extreme winds in the last month around the Caribbean and in Asia rated barely a mention.

  • 12 Sep 2008
  • 0

This toxic life

They’re in our homes and our workplace, in the air we breathe and in the food we eat. Wayne Ellwood argues that toxic chemicals are changing the nature of nature.

Things to do before I retire

Things to do before I retire… humble thoughts from the diary of GW Bush, as revealed by Stefan Simanowitz

'Clean coal' con

Desperate industry’s ludicrous claims exposed

Currents Coal Special

A special on coal – including the ‘clean coal’ con, windpower in China, success in Bangladesh and activism everywhere.

  • 1 Sep 2008
  • 0

Earthworks 2008 cartoon competition

Earthworks 2008: highlighting cartoonists from the global South taking part in the Biennial Ken Sprague competition.

  • 1 Sep 2008
  • 0

Plastic is forever

The facts about plastic

  • 1 Sep 2008
  • 1

Time and Winds (Bes Vakit)

A beautiful contemplative immersion in the children’s sense of the immensity of time and events. Written and directed by Reha Erdem

Cambodia: Year Zero on trial

What can be wrong with putting five notorious Khmer Rouge leaders on trial? Plenty, argues lawyer Brooks Duncan, as he examines the nature of the long-awaited, and foreign-funded, trials currently underway.

Message in a bottle

It’s a fashion statement and an environmental nightmare. Zoe Cormier examines one of the most successful marketing ploys ever – bottled water.

Dancing, dying, crawling, crying

Stories of continuity and change in the Polynesian community of Tikopia by Julian Treadaway

Abandon the toxic treadmill!

Things you can do to avoid toxic plastics. PLUS the Action / Campaign directory.

  • 1 Sep 2008
  • 2

In Defense of Lost Causes

Superstar philosopher Slavoj Zizek writes in defence of lost causes

The Polymer Revolution

A history of plastic.

  • 1 Sep 2008
  • 1

Plastic plants

As oil supplies dwindle, the plastic industry is pinning its hopes on biomass. Not a great idea, reasons Jim Thomas.

Children of the Revolution

This is a book that highlights how people caught in between places are denied identity, perspective and intimacy.

El Baño del Papa (The Pope’s Toilet)

A film about the Pope’s toilet. Directed by Enrique Fernandez and Cesar Charlone


The Garifuna Women’s Project from Central America


Chinese Mongolian ‘Björk’ steps into Tibet controversy

What love’s got to do with it

Maria Golia on conflicting loves in Cairo

Youssou N'Dour

Senegal’s beacon of good music and positive energy Youssou N’Dour talks to Ed Stocker

Big Bad World 415 - Peak Oil

Polyp’s peak oil fun ride

Life on Mars

True tales of a mixed-up world

  • 1 Sep 2008
  • 0

Stevie Smith (1902-71)

British poet

Sea of garbage

The good ship Alguita sails an ocean choked with plastic. Blog by Anna Cummins.

The language of prejudice...

by Mitchell & Richardson

Power surge

Activists scrub the grubby face of globalization clean

Black holes and demonstrations

Positive outcome, but at a cost of seven campaigners lives, killed by police during a demonstration against the GCM coalmine in Bangladesh.

  • 1 Sep 2008
  • 0

Breaking China’s coal addiction

Renewables revolution is there for the taking


Since independence in 1966, Botswana’s annual growth rates have been the highest in the world – bar none. It is estimated that were it not for the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, growth rates would be one or two per cent higher today.

'Territory, autonomy, dignity... and no coal'

Jorge’s community is part of the 500,000-strong Wayúu indigenous group, and it is not only their home in the northern foothills of the Sierra de Perijá which is under threat.

  • 1 Sep 2008
  • 0
Cover of the May Issue: West Papua of New Internationalist

On Newsstands

May Issue: West Papua

Freedom in sight?

West Papua stands on a knife-edge between freedom and disaster. In this issue, we hear the voices of people living under Indonesian occupation and fighting to be free. We learn about the unifying power of Melanesian music, expose the extractive companies that are profiting from Papuan repression, and hear Indigenous leaders lay out their visions of the new country they want to build.


Online now

Populism rises again

In the post-truth world of 2016, the day of the demagogue arrived. President Duterte played Dirty Harry in the Philippines. A pussy-grabbing, fact-denying, tax-shirking billionaire got elected US president. Smirking Brexiteers lied through their teeth and had their way. Authoritarian populists have stoked anger and division, and exposed faultlines in democracy. In this edition we ask, what is the appeal of the appalling? And is a progressive populism the answer?

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– Emma Thompson –

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