This article was commissioned by the Japanese energy magazine “Global Edge,” and reprinted also at Worldchanging.com.
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In May of 2008, while visiting Jakarta, I came across a newspaper story about a protest there. Hundreds of people had gathered in front of the gates of a charitable NGO whose mission was to feed poor people. The NGO was simply unable to provide enough rice, tofu and other staples to meet the need. The newspaper explained that the protest had been triggered by the global spike in food prices, which made some staple items unaffordable or — thanks to export freezes — unavailable. But poor, hungry people are not able to differentiate between the “invisible hands” of global markets, and the visible hands that are directly feeding them. The people had come to regard this NGO as something like an “official agency” for food distribution, so they took their unhappiness directly to its door. Continue reading