From The Vault: Complicating Earth, Taking Names

7 stops to give you a small portrait of the world we live in.

We hope you enjoyed Libby Lowe’s gorgeous glimpse of Vietnam this week! However much smaller the internet makes the world feel, it’s still just as vast and diverse as it ever was. Here’s a 7-stop trip round the globe, courtesy of our archives – a portrait of a world where easy answers just won’t cut it.

While a degree of mistrust is certainly appropriate, for the most part media reports about China’s greening efforts are reporting the truth. In 2009, China’s state council ambitiously stated that it plans on reducing its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 (from 2005 levels). Its newly released 12th, five-year plan  (China’s centrally-designed map toward continued progress in 2011 to 2015), clearly indicates a continuing commitment to reducing its environmental issues, including big investments in green energy aimed at kicking its carbon habit and expanding what’s now in place. For example, China has not only overtaken the U.S. in carbon emissions, but according to the Guardian, it has also left the U.S. in the dust with its wind-power generating capacity.

7 Things You Should Know About China’s Pollution Problem

DMZ 2km is South Korea’s newest brand of bottled water, selling water from a spring that runs under the Demilitarized Zone, the 4 kilometer-wide buffer zone South and North Korea. What benefits does DMZ 2km water have over the competition? Apparently it’s all about branding, or as some might call it, greenwashing.

“We decided on water from the DMZ because it’s different and the environment there is untouched, so many people think it’s clean,” says Lee Sang-hyo, a spokesman for the company, quoted in the Guardian.

Bottled Water Mania: South Korea Sells H2O From Demilitarized Zone

Currently, Haiti is a nation of low-tech human and animal powered farming. It could be the perfect laboratory, much like Cuba was, for developing an ecological agricultural system capable of feeding the people of Haiti. Think about it: unlike our own firmly entrenched system, Haiti is not currently dependent on fossil fuels for fertilizers, pesticides, or power. Since fossil fuels aren’t going to be around forever, I hope some of the progressive people at the USDA and USAID prevail and help Haiti to develop agriculture appropriate to its needs, not the needs of Cargill and ADM.

Haiti’s Future: Food Insecurity And Agricultural Capacity In The Aftermath

…let’s imagine that the U.S. decides to follow the example of Amsterdam, which has just announced that by 2040, no petrol-powered cars will be allowed in the city. It’s electric or nothing. That gives the Netherlands 30 years to get its electric vehicle servicing infrastructure up to scratch, which probably isn’t as long as it sounds – and it leaves the door open for other municipal and national governments to peer through, wondering if that way lies popularity or condemnation.

If internally-combusting automobiles went the way of incandescent lightbulbs and plastic bags, how would America react?

Fueling Nobody: Amsterdam Sets A Brave Example

According to Ecotextile News, Lothar Kruse, a director of the independent testing laboratory Impetus in Bremerhaven, Germany examined the cotton fabrics that came from Indian farms and claimed roughly “30% of the tested samples” contained genetically modified(GM) cotton.

The head of the Indian agricultural authority Apeda, Sanjay Dave, told the newspaper they were dealing with fraud on “a gigantic scale.”

The Ripple Effect Of India’s Organic Cotton Scandal

Although local love for the national cuisine may be failing, an appreciation for good food in France has never diminished, and the commitment to keeping the tie between eating and feeling good is alive and strong. Take Le Fooding for example. Deemed “A taste of the times,” it’s a restaurant guide/food festival/food news site, and one that’s committed more to putting the “feeling” back into food.

“We are about having food with fun, and with a smile,” Le Fooding’s founder Alexandre Cammas told the Los Angeles Times. And herein lies the French paradox: food is directly tied to emotional well being. French people don’t eat because they have to, they eat because it’s a valued part of their day and their culture.

Foodie Underground: Why the French Aren’t Fat

In the environmental movement, there have been many leaders. Names like Bill McKibben, Al Gore, Carl Pope, Rachel Carson, and Annie Leonard come to mind. But few are as personally impacted by the negative effects of climate change as Mohamed Nasheed, elected president of the Maldives in 2008. As one of the most low-lying countries in the world, a rise of merely three feet of sea level would submerge the 1200 islands of the nation that lie to the southeast of India and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. That makes for a political agenda fueled by a sense of urgency.

The impending disaster led much of Nasheed’s policy, both nationally and internationally, and is the subject of the documentary film, The Island President, which has its U.S. release this week. The film takes a very close look at the politics of climate change, following Nasheed during his first year in office and through the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009.

The Island President: Mohamed Nasheed’s Personal Fight With Climate Change

Images: Lance WebelGuardianLucas the ExperienceSammmmLe Xav, Chiara Goia and DonkeyHotey.

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.