Science, People & Politics: eCOVER | This issue

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Science, People & Politics, issue 4 (Oct.-Dec.), VIII (2012).

Buyer beware: biodiversity, food, pensions, hedge funds and trade.
By Helen Gavaghan

The Land Grabbers, The new fight over who owns the Earth.
by Fred Pearce
Hardback. Beacon Press. Boston. Paperback to be published March 2013.

Some chapters are strong and urgent, with a cogent message built on the voices of people, on descriptions of their lives and loss and distress. Many of the stories have awareness of the immediate preceding political developments or conflicts, as they have impacted their corner of Earth.

Does Fred Pearce have a new story of human behaviour to tell, or one shifted only in millennia and location? To the individuals caught in the tides of history the answer to that question does not matter greatly, unless, perhaps, they have political ambitions. For most of us the question is how much progress have we, the human race, made by now 2012, in creating international, national and local political and legal institutions and alliances which can mitigate suffering, and enhance each individual's experience of being alive - all without causing a war, or forcing others to live the life we think they must. It's hard to see a viable framework for that ambition other than democracy and law, independent of belief system. So this book's omission, for the most part, of awareness that there is a subject called religion, is a good thing.

Finally, I urge readers to cross check chapters with the notes and sources before quoting any aspect of this book. It is in the notes that Pearce tells the reader when he was in a particular country, ie the year. For me relegation of that information to endnotes is a weakness - even though this is a geography text -, and I think his publishers and editors ought to have suggested footnotes as clarification for when, as author, Pearce was in each country. That information is not always clear in the text.

Fred Pearce became an environment journalist in 1975, and he tells stories through eyes attuned to soil, flora, fauna, land use and humans. He studied geography for two years at the University of Cambridge (UK), where he also undertook some student journalism. Pearce left Cambridge before taking his degree, and became a journalist for Municipal Engineer, reporting next on local government, before joining New Scientist, where he and I were both on staff for some years as section editors. He left to become a freelance environment journalist and author. Fred Pearce moves crisply to first order analysis, having done the arithmetic. He is a news journalist, editor, author, and one of the deputy editors of Science, People & Politics. Since February this year he is an acknowledged geographer.

Helen Gavaghan edits Science, People & Politics and gavaghancommunications. com. She has an honours degree in biophysics from the University of Leeds (1976-1980), decades of experience working on staff, retainer, or as a freelance journalist, science writer and editor for leading English and French language international science and biomedical magazines, and she was a post graduate research student, writing a transfer report from M. Phil to Ph. D, at the University of Manchester between 2002 and 2004, examining the international geophysical year of 1957-1958. She wrote the first history of EUMETSAT and a history of application satellites (Springer Verlag-Copernicus. New York, 1997).

This article was was accepted for publication by Martin Redfern, a deputy editor of science, People & Politics, on 10th November, 2012, and it is a review of the pre-publication hardback pdf, minus index. Prepublication, 13th November, 2012. Final publication 15th November, 2012.


Land, Dispossession, Agribusiness, Commodities, Biodiversity, Trade, Land, Title, Dispossession, Agribusiness, Commodities, Biodiversity, Trade, Land, Dispossession, Agribusiness, Agribusiness, Commodities, Biodiversity, Trade, Land, Dispossession, Commodities, Biodiversity,Agribusiness, Commodities, Biodiversity, Trade, Land, Dispossession, Agribusiness, Commodities, Biodiversity, Trade, Land, Dispossession, Trade.

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