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.
Every month, we put up a selection of articles from the magazine. To enjoy the complete magazine, subscribe and receive three free issues and a world map. Or buy a digital subscription which gives you unlimited access to all magazines since 2007 and for a year after purchase on your computer or mobile device, in their original full-colour design.
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.
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… humble thoughts from the diary of GW Bush, as revealed by Stefan Simanowitz
A special on coal – including the ‘clean coal’ con, windpower in China, success in Bangladesh and activism everywhere.
Earthworks 2008: highlighting cartoonists from the global South taking part in the Biennial Ken Sprague competition.
A beautiful contemplative immersion in the children’s sense of the immensity of time and events. Written and directed by Reha Erdem
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.
It’s a fashion statement and an environmental nightmare. Zoe Cormier examines one of the most successful marketing ploys ever – bottled water.
Stories of continuity and change in the Polynesian community of Tikopia by Julian Treadaway
Things you can do to avoid toxic plastics. PLUS the Action / Campaign directory.
Superstar philosopher Slavoj Zizek writes in defence of lost causes
As oil supplies dwindle, the plastic industry is pinning its hopes on biomass. Not a great idea, reasons Jim Thomas.
This is a book that highlights how people caught in between places are denied identity, perspective and intimacy.
A film about the Pope’s toilet. Directed by Enrique Fernandez and Cesar Charlone
Senegal’s beacon of good music and positive energy Youssou N’Dour talks to Ed Stocker
The good ship Alguita sails an ocean choked with plastic. Blog by Anna Cummins.
Positive outcome, but at a cost of seven campaigners lives, killed by police during a demonstration against the GCM coalmine in Bangladesh.
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.
World Fiction Special
This issue of New Internationalist not only analyses these developments but also showcases four exquisite short stories as examples: ‘Fat’ by Krys Lee from South Korea; ‘In The Garden’ by FT Kola from South Africa; ‘Ghosts’ by the Cuban-American Ana Menéndez; and ‘The Lake Retba Murder’ by Efemia Chela from Zambia and Ghana.
A relic of a bygone era – or a billion-strong social movement fighting for workers’ rights everywhere?
The reality of trade unionism today falls somewhere in between. In the Western world, union-busting laws, globalization and internal conflicts have left many trade unions reeling. In some countries of the Global South, trade unionists face discrimination, danger and even death. Meanwhile, workers’ rights are being sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed gone mad: zero-contract hours, sub-contracting, privatization, outsourcing and special economic zones are all part of a ‘race to the bottom’ being run by transnationals concerned only about their profits.
Yet all is not lost. From Colombia to China, Bangladesh to Barcelona, workers are still fighting for their rights – and, sometimes, winning. This issue, New Internationalist looks at the state of the unions, how they need to adapt to the new reality for workers in the 21st century, and why they are more important than ever.
In a nutshell: the countries most recently featured in the New Internationalist magazine.
Sharp insights from an array of guest writers.
Personal stories from our own correspondents.
Interviews with inspirational people.
Reviews of the latest books, films and music.
Seeing the world through a Southern lens.
A regular column from some of the best writers of the South.
Taking aim at the rich and powerful.
If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.
– Emma Thompson –
Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.