Climate protesters demonstrate outside the local government legislature’s offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).
The standard, “flirting with apocalypse” narrative that dominates U.S. media coverage and political debates regarding climate change goes something like this: China, which is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, and India, which is lightly industrialized and still quite substantially poor, currently represent the biggest threats to saving the environment. The supposedly more altruistic West, by contrast, is prepared to make huge investments to forestall disaster. People who cling to this all-too-easy framing correctly say that if the world’s two most-populous countries do not radically constrain their carbon output, nothing the United States or Europe can do, including rapidly attaining net-zero [...]
Detail from the Catalan Atlas, a medieval map produced in the 1370s, depicting Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire (Bibliotheque Nationale de France, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons).
No regular reader of my columns at World Politics Review can be surprised by now that I believe the future of Africa is one of the most important as well as one of the most neglected questions facing humankind. Africa is so routinely marginalized from the concerns of global affairs that even among otherwise well-informed people, most are unaware that it is the continent where almost all the action is taking place in terms of worldwide demographic growth. So it bears repeating here what I have written before: Africa’s population, which at the outset of my own career was about [...]
A bedstead market in Addis Ababa, the capital of what was then Abyssinia, Jan. 1, 1930 (AP photo).
Almost everything about the conventional narrative of the history of Europe’s Age of Exploration and Empire is wrong, particularly where it concerns the role of Africa and Africans. Africa was a central focus of the early period of European exploration in the late 15th century and continued to be central to the plantation economies established in the European colonies of the Americas. And without the labor of enslaved Africans, none of those economies would have been as profitable, or as transformational, as they were. Howard French joined WPR’s Judah Grunstein this week on Trend Lines to discuss his fifth and [...]
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