World News Digest – Issue 7

With the fast pace of today’s news cycle it can be hard to know what to pay attention to, and information overload is often the inevitable result. Listed under the categories of Economy, Energy, Environment, Geopolitics and Culture, our selected news highlights bypass celebrity gossip and partisan politics, cutting through the crap to shine the spotlight on the world affairs that affect us most strongly.

The SHIFT team has trawled through hundreds of news sources and stories, turning up our bullshit filter to maximum volume, to bring you December’s and January’s global affairs highlights… 

Economy

Get Ready for another Global Crash

It looks like it’s time to brace ourselves for a return to global recession, with 2014-2015 playing out the script of ’07-’08 with an eerie sense of deja-vu. The myriad reasons for a potential market crash in 2015 are setting the stage for a crisis that could be much worse than the global financial crisis.

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Debt-Based Growth Uneconomic

While GDP continues its long-term growth trend, a look inside the figures reveals far more than initially meets the eye: a persistent lack of growth in the ‘real economy’, skyrocketing debt levels that many believe will never be able to be paid off, and rising intergenerational inequality.

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TTIP: Public Opposition Leads to Stalling of Trade Agreement 

The proposed Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) has suffered a major setback after its most controversial element has been taken off the negotiating table. Plans to protect foreign investors from decisions by national governments that could interfere with profitability have been scrapped after an unprecedented level of objection in an EU-wide consultation exercise. It is now unlikely that the deal will be finalized this year.    

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Unforseen Setback Demonstrates the Fragility of Economic Systems

The Ebola crisis in West Africa has damaged far more than public health, according to a number of development NGOs in the region. The impact of the crisis has been economic devastation of a region whose development has been slow and fragile due to a history of war and political instability, and due to the diversion of aid money to fight the deadly disease epidemic. 

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Energy

Oil Price Shocks set to Wreak Havoc on Global Economy

Dramatic falls in global oil prices are beginning to impact production viability, and companies are buckling under the strain. It is widely predicted that the shock will lead to a long-term sector-wide recession, and will reverberate around the global economy.

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A Renewable Energy Revolution?

Google has thrown in the towel on its support for renewable energy, citing financial unviability as its main reason. Google’s green credentials notwithstanding, its admission that renewables cannot compete financially with fossil energy is damning for free-market solutioneering, indicating that strict legislation is the only way to ensure renewable energy uptake.

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Environment

Existential Danger Zone Reached

New studies indicate that we have transgressed four of the nine planetary boundaries that set the parameters for the existence of human life on Earth. The current rate of environmental degradation is now deemed an existential emergency, with human life among those at risk. 

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Biodiversity Loss Critical

Animal extinctions are predicted to soar over the coming decades due to climate change as well as numerous other factors. 41% of amphibians are expected to be lost. Legislative safeguards are urgently needed in order to pull biodiversity back from the brink.

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Health of Oceans under Increased Threat

The world’s oceans are under increased pressure from a range of threats, including CO2 emissions-induced acidification, accumulated plastic waste, and the simple reality of widespread public ignorance as to the importance of healthy oceans. 

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Climate Chaos Continues

Climate change, it seems, is one thing we can be sure will remain consistent for the foreseeable future – consistent in its diabolical instability, that is. The failure of climate talks in Lima is deja-vu all over again, while seafloor methane melt meanders on. Geo-engineering, touted by tech-savvy solutioneers, is predicted to precipitate worse consequences than doing nothing, while eating less meat is a relatively simple measure that gains little traction.     

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Population Matters

Sir David Attenborough has added his voice to the population pragmatists calling for women’s economic emancipation, and political control over their own bodies – in order to help stabilize population at a sustainable level.

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Geopolitics

The Charlie Hebdo Massacre, in Context

Following the appalling waste of life at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office on Wednesday 7th January, the world has been gripped by analysis of everything from freedom of speech, to the question of whether Islam is an inherently violent ideology, to the history of French colonialism in North Africa. Making sense of what happened is not easy, but is aided by good journalism that lends nuance to a context-based analysis of this horrifying example of geopolitical blowback.

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Israel-Palestine Conflict: Update

According to a recent US Army report, extensive US ‘involvement’ “may prove essential in managing possible future conflict” in case of “an eruption of natural resource conflict in the East Mediterranean,” due to huge gas discoveries in recent years. Affected countries include Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon. Additionally, Palestinian efforts to hold Israel to account for human rights violations have also borne economic consequences for the impoverished state; Israel has halted transfers of the tax revenue it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, apparently in retaliation for their move to join the international criminal court in the Hague, according to Israeli media.

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Culture

The World According to Women

2014 was the year women’s issues came to the fore, according to apparent trends in mainstream media. The floodgates are finally open, and women’s voices are being amplified like never before, with a consequent backlash from some hardliners within the Men’s Rights movement.

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Disclaimer: SHIFT magazine does not take responsibility for the content of any of the articles linked to in our World News Digest. Selection for the Digest does not imply endorsement of any of the positions expressed in any given article.

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