Fall 2018: Engineering Earth

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ENGINEERING EARTH This issue’s cover topic was originally proposed by Drew Pendergrass.


Rising Tides, Resilience, and Relocation May Wang



The Court of Climate Change Will Belfiore

11 The Costs of Going Green Robert Capodilupo

Little but Fierce: Pioneering the Climate Crusade Charlotte Dyvik Henke


24 Keeping Rural America Alive Nina Elkadi


15 Harvard in Chains Will Boggs

37 Primetime Paranoia Tadhg Larabee

18 Forgotten Voices Daniel Brickhill and Gabrielle Landry

40 Uncontacted Joseph Winters

UNITED STATES 21 Education CC Regan Brady 24 Keeping Rural America Alive Nina Elkaldi 26 Can an Independent Movement Happen? Alexis Mealey

28 Wall or Mosaic? Kendrick Foster

13 Should India Follow China’s Lead on the Environment? Raj Karan S. Gambhir

43 One Man Show Cat Zhang

INTERVIEWS 45 Juan Martín Guevara Sofía Corzo

ENDPAPER 48 Echoes in the Judith Valley Peter Wright

WORLD 28 Wall or Mosaic? Kendrick Foster 31 Jordan’s Water Crisis Wyatt Hurt 34 Jakarta Sinking Esha Chaudhuri

37 Primetime Paranoia Tadhg Larabee Email: president@harvardpolitics.com. ISSN 0090-1032. Harvard Political Review. All rights reserved. Image Credits: Flickr: 1- B.S. Wise; 8- UNclimatechange; 10- Ian McKellar; 45- Hugo Bonini. Netflix: 39Production Still. Noun Project: Cover- joeartcon; 3- Thomas Hirter; 11- Buena Buena, Dumitriu Robert; 22, 23- Pelin Kahraman. Pexels: 37- Tookapic. Photographer: 15- Harvard Law School; 48- Peter Wright. Pixabay: 1, 6- jackmac34. Unsplash: 1- Daniele Buso; 1- Parsing Eye; 28- Red Morley Hewitt; 28- Socialpictures CH; 40- Theodore Moore; 43- Shane Rounce. Wikimedia Commons: 3- U.S. Coast Guard; 4- U.S. National Archives; 13- Kentaro IEMOTO; 24- NASA; 31- David Bjorgen; 32- Pixsmedia; 34- VOA Indonesian Service; 42- Lubasi. Design by: Eliot Harrison, Erica Newman-Corre, Yuri-Grace Ohashi, and Matthew Rossi.




Engineering Earth

A Nonpartisan Undergraduate Journal of Politics, Est. 1969—Vol. XLV, No. 3


STAFF Manuel Abecasis, Victor Agbafe, Lauren Anderson, Clara Bates, Ari Berman, Josh Berry, Victoria Berzin, Kevin Bi, Devon Black, Cate Brock, Beverly Brown, Rob Capodilupo, Esha Chaudhuri, Justin Curtis, Natalie Dabkowski, Nick Danby, Amy Danoff, Hadley DeBello, Sophie Dicara, Eve Driver, Peyton Dunham, Campbell Erickson, Lauren Fadiman, Ifedayo Famojuro, Will Finigan, Isa Flores-Jones, Samantha FrenkelPopell, Daniel Friedman, Melissa Gayton, Jay Gopalan, David Gutierrez, Yashaar Hafizka, Matthew Hatfield, Katherine Ho, Jennifer Horowitz, Byron Hurlbut, Wyatt Hurt, Noah Knopf, Alexander Koenig, Yash Kumbhat, Johannes Lang, Jose Larios, Chloe Lemmel-Hay, Elton Lossner, Hossam Mabed, Sanika Mahajan, Emily Malpass, Jake McIntyre, Carter Nakamoto, Nikole Naloy, Lainey Newman, Allison Piper, Mfundo Radebe, Noah Redlich, Sebastian Reyes, Matthew Rossi, Vanessa Ruales, Pawel Rybacki, Connor Schoen, Ethan Schultz, Tamara Shamir, Lu Shao, Matthew Shaw, Julia Shea, Audrey Sheehy, Tom Slack, Hank Sparks, Chris Sun, Anirudh Suresh, Mikael Tessema, Meena Venkataramanan, Amy Wang, May Wang, Jamie Weisenberg, Peter Wright, Andrew Zucker SENIOR WRITERS: Akash Wasil, Chad Borgman, Derek Paulhus, Henry Brooks, Perry Abdulkadir

ADVISORY BOARD Jonathan Alter Richard L. Berke Carl Cannon E.J. Dionne, Jr.

Ron Fournier Walter Isaacson Whitney Patton Maralee Schwartz


Much has been written on the debate surrounding climate change, and on the science behind it. As the public dialogue around climate has become intertwined with political rhetoric and party politics, abstract discussions debating the existence of climate change have overshadowed more nuanced reporting on the specific communities most vulnerable to rising temperatures and sea levels, and how individuals and governments are working to respond. Today, it is no longer enough to accept that climate change exists, and that humans have caused it. In order to fully assess the danger of climate change, we must identify the communities it threatens most. The International Energy Agency estimated in 2015 that just 10 countries were responsible for nearly 70 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. While a small number of wealthy nations are responsible for a vast majority of emissions, the effects of these ozone-depleting chemicals are being felt the world over, often by those who are the least politically and financially equipped to respond. The threat of climate change varies in severity along generational, regional, and economic lines — disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable among us. In this issue of the HPR, we explore issues surrounding climate change, with a particular focus on the communities where it is poised to have the greatest impact. In “The Court of Climate Change,” William Belfiore discusses a creative lawsuit that was filed on behalf of the population set to experience the worst of climate change in the years

ahead — young people. In “Rising Tides, Resilience and Relocation,” May Wang explores how some of America’s indigenous populations, after a history of neglect and mistreatment at the hands of America’s government, are now forced to suffer at the hands of its changing climate. Raj Karan S. Gambhir, in “Should India Follow China’s Lead on the Environment?” explains why China’s pollution-reduction successes would be difficult to emulate in India. Charlotte Dyvik Henke explores how smaller nations can have an outsized impact in responding to global warming in “Little but Fierce: Pioneering the Climate Crusade.” And in “The Costs of Going Green,” Robert Capodilupo argues that many laws and regulations meant to curb climate change, while well-intentioned, seem to result in greater harm to consumers than they are worth. While many believe the science of climate change to be a settled issue, how the world should respond is certainly not — despite years of headlines, work, and even some progress. If the following articles make anything clear, it is that the realities of responding to climate change are as harsh as climate change itself. As always, we thank you for reading this fall’s edition of the Harvard Political Review, and we hope you enjoy.

Samuel Kessler President




he history of the United States’ treatment of its indigenous peoples is more notorious than it is honorable, littered with controversial policies including tribal relocation and forced assimilation. From the earliest days of American colonies to the 20th century, the United States and Native American nations negotiated some 500 treaties, nearly all of which were broken by the United States. After stripping most tribes of their ancestral land, congressionally sanctioned policies created Indian boarding schools in the 20th century with the explicit objective of erasing Indian culture in younger generations. Today, American policy and indigenous interests continue to struggle for peaceable and respectful coexistence in a so-called government-to-government relationship. In 1972, indigenous peoples protested in the Trail of Broken Treaties, a march on Washington which culminated in an occupation of Bureau of Indian Affairs offices at the Department of the Interior. More recently, the Standing Rock Sioux vehemently protested the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline for infringing on tribal sacred land, guaranteed by an 1868 treaty, amid larger environmental concerns. The DAPL controversy was a direct standoff between indigenous land rights and American big oil, but many other indigenous communities — especially coastal ones — currently face land issues against a less tangible and more formidable nemesis, one that requires unprecedented support from the American government: the rapidly changing global climate. THE RISING TIDE For those who live along America’s numerous coasts, the prospect of their communities confronting rising sea levels in

the future comes as little surprise nowadays. As the HPR has reported, low-lying places like Louisiana face a dangerous combination of severe weather, rising seas, sinking land, and messy politics that threaten to swallow towns whole. Scientists project that the sea level in New York City will rise between 18 to 50 inches by 2100 in addition to the foot it has already risen since 1900. But for some communities in the Arctic, the threat of rising waters is not a concern of the distant future; it belongs to the present day. In January 2017, the 450-person Alaskan Native village named Newtok made an unprecedented petition to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to declare a state of disaster for their village, in an effort to secure federal funding for their relocation. In recent years, the permafrost undergirding Newtok has melted away, and some 70 feet of its coastline has eroded into the ocean. Joel Clement, former director of the Department of Interior’s Policy Office and now senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Arctic Initiative, told the HPR that Newtok is far from alone in facing an uncertain future. Newtok is one of four Arctic communities along the Alaskan coast, in addition to Shishmaref, Shaktoolik, and Kivalina, that the Obama administration identified as particularly “vulnerable [and] imperiled,” a fraction of another thirty-some that face literal rising tides from climate change in the near future. Other indigenous coastal communities, like the Quinault Indian Nation in Washington state, are relocating not only to escape the effects of climate change, but also due to the existing geographical difficulties of the reservation assigned to them generations ago. Once, the glaciers of nearby Olympic National Park had furnished cool freshwater that supported abundant



blueback salmon, which the Quinault had fished for both sustenance and employment. But today, the glaciers have melted; consequently, the Quinault “can’t fish for [the blueback salmon] this year because the numbers have just been decimated,” Kelsey Moldenke, senior planner for the Quinault relocation process, told the HPR. Furthermore, the Quinault reservation lies along the Cascadian subduction zone, a major geological fault line that is due for significant and potentially devastating seismic activity. “Everybody likes to talk to us about climate change and the effects of [it],” but the “real clear and present danger that could knock out the entire lower village is the Cascadia subduction zone tsunami and earthquakes,” said Moldenke. The Washington Department of Natural Resources has predicted such a disaster could put the village under 50 feet of water — devastating for a village whose tallest buildings, according to Moldenke, are 25 feet high. “Even if someone is a skeptic of climate change … this move is still necessary,” Moldenke said.

WHERE’S THE MONEY? Relocation for these relatively small villages is far from simple — Newtok’s relocation process has been decades in the making — moreover, they are far from inexpensive, and the promise of funding can be fickle. Moldenke estimates that the first neighborhood they plan to build in the so-called “upper village,” a mile and a half inland from the current village, will cost between $11 and $15 million. Much of that will be community infrastructure: a “generations” building that will serve as part daycare, part senior center; a biomass facility to serve as an electricity plant for the new village; and an administrative building. This past March, Newtok received a comparable sum, $15 million, from the federal government, but still merely a fraction of the total expected $130 million price tag of relocation. Part of the difficulty in securing funding for relocation efforts arises from the lack of governmental infrastructure to handle what Clement calls slow-moving disasters. FEMA, under the Stafford Act, responds to and funds recovery from acute catastrophes, like the immediate aftermath of hurricanes and earthquakes, but slow-moving disasters like rising sea levels and coastal erosion do not necessarily fall under its purview. Moreover, it is not immediately clear to whom communities should turn to support their relocation; Clement’s previous role at the Interior was partly to help communities find and apply to federal grants for which they might be eligible. “There’s no one agency [to which] we could point to take on the responsibility of


getting it done,” said Clement. Even when the communities and projects might be eligible to receive funding, money can be earmarked for only the early stages of relocation, a problem that the Quinault have encountered as they move into the construction and execution stages. “A lot of [nonprofit] foundations, we’ve learned, don’t really fund brick and mortar building; they fund capacity building, which is great for making plans,” but less helpful for the “really expensive stuff like actually building the buildings,” said Moldenke. Capacity building, which happens in the initial stages of planning relocations, is related to Clement’s work on resilience and focuses on strengthening a community’s capacity to adapt to changing conditions sustainably. The very nature of being a small community can hinder the process of acquiring funds as well. For the Quinault and other towns along the Cascadia subduction zone, a lot of funding is intended to get the most “bang for the buck,” as Moldenke put it, and subsequently focuses on densely-populated metropolitan areas like San Francisco. Many resilience grants are intended for towns of at least 50,000 — for perspective, Tahola, the relocating village in Quinault, has a population of 825. “Just looking [along] the Cascadia subduction zone … there are no cities over 50,000 people,” said Moldenke. “Hundreds of miles of coastline are ineligible [for these grants].”

A NEW FRONTIER The difficulties of securing adequate support for relocation projects are put into perspective by the tremendous importance and implications of these projects. There is a moral dimension to supporting indigenous efforts to relocate, rooted in America’s historical treatment of indigenous peoples and the aftermath of this treatment. “[The United States has] a very dark history of relocating Arctic folks against their will,” a policy that had devastating effects on their culture, said Clement. One is reminded of the notorious Trail of Tears of the early 19th century, when an estimated 100,000 American Indians were forcibly removed to the Oklahoma Territory; an estimated 15,000 died along the way. Due to the fraught past of indigenous relocation, today’s efforts — which Moldenke and Clement heavily emphasize are community-driven — are particularly compelled to preserve remaining traditions in the move. In Tahola, this manifests itself literally: among the endangered establishments threatened in the lower village is the Quinault museum. If lost to the waters, said Moldenke, “that whole cultural history is gone.” To Jim Gamble, senior Arctic program officer at Pacific Envi-


ronment and former director of the Aleut International Association, the effects of climate change that Arctic natives particularly face is a tragedy in which the natives are entirely blameless. “The fact is, many of these communities are not located where they are located because the tribes or indigenous peoples chose them, they were chosen by a government,” Gamble told the HPR. Nor are they responsible for the shipping-induced air pollution or global warming-induced coastal erosion that afflicts their communities and is impelling their relocation. Relocation is of heightened significance for many of these communities because their culture often relies on their land; take for example the Quinault’s reliance on blueback salmon. The Quinault were at the forefront of the Fish Wars during the 1960s and ’70s, which resulted in the landmark Supreme Court Boldt decision guaranteeing Indian fishing rights. Consequently, unlike people who live off-reservation but within the threatened zones, simply picking up and moving away is not a solution for Quinault members: “The reservations are their home; this is their homeland,” said Moldenke. If they moved away, “they wouldn’t be living on the land.” These relocation efforts signal what is to come if climate change continues at its current pace. Indigenous peoples, in living closely with the land, are crucial for opening the discussion on the growing need for relocations in the first place. “The tribal nations pay attention more than a lot of the cities along the coast as to what might happen,” said Moldenke. “It’s the native tribes that are having to take the lead.” Clement agrees that the way in which these efforts are undertaken is of vital importance: “This will foreshadow how we will handle [climate change] as it arises everywhere in the country and on the coast,” particularly as it begins to impact more metropolitan, populous areas.

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE The United States’ ever-changing, even contradictory, stances on climate change and policy are of unsurprisingly little help, especially as they intersect with indigenous rights to representation and sovereignty. In early 2017, shortly after President Trump took office, Clement and 50 of his Department of Interior colleagues were reassigned overnight from their climate policy work. Clement was reassigned to distribute loyalty checks to oil and mining companies: “They were clearly trying to get me to quit,” and “if I were to keep my voice, I knew I’d have to go.” He perceives the danger of this tactic to be far greater than his employment prospects. “That was the end of our response to this slow-moving di-

saster plan,” which places Alaskan natives like those in Newtok at risk. Before resigning, Clement filed a whistleblower complaint, which is still being investigated. He is doubtful that these processes will be eased or amended without a concerted effort from the administration and Congress, particularly because the current administration has “shown an ongoing disdain for tribal sovereignty and tribal rights, and, of course, for climate change.” Gamble has also noted a decline in indigenous inclusion under the current administration coupled with total reversals on climate policy. There was “quite a bit of forward thinking on climate change” under the previous administration, but today at international assemblies like the Arctic Council, U.S. representatives avoid language mentioning renewable energy, the Paris agreement, or even the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Gamble is concerned that mass reassignments in critical departments like Clement’s will mean that, even if a new administration were more disposed towards environmental policy, there will be no one left to implement it. Despite shifts in outward federal climate policy, Gamble, a self-described optimist, also noted that most of the agencies overseeing these projects on the ground have managed to retain their “approach to [compassionate] consultation and appreciation of culture.” The Department of the Interior, Clement’s previous department, is a notable exception. Moldenke is inclined to agree: He said that he had not noticed that the Quinault relocation had been particularly affected by the new domestic climate policy. In fact, the Quinault recently secured government funding for the solar energy component of the new village. What is most critical in these efforts, according to Moldenke, Clement, and Gamble alike, is the deliberate engagement of indigenous peoples’ expertise. “These are the folks that are generally left out, because money talks,” said Clement. However, “the tribes and Alaskan Natives [are] absolutely the responsibility of the federal government.” According to Gamble, it is incumbent on the government to take the time to identify “how to work with, and within, the communities.”





n June 24, 2015, a Dutch district court in the Hague handed down a decision binding the Netherlands to reduce its total climate warming greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by the year 2020. The case marked the first time any country had ever been compelled to meet a minimum emissions reduction threshold on purely constitutional grounds. Citing the Dutch Constitution’s language, “It shall be the concern of the authorities to keep the country habitable,” the court rejected the government’s previous pledge of 17 percent emissions reduction, finding this inadequate to meet published United Nations targets. For a low-lying European country whose very existence is threatened by rising sea levels, such a legal decision may seem understandable, or even expected. Whether a similar strategy could be successfully adopted for the United States legal arena, however, appeared at the time to be an uphill battle. Now three years later, a trailblazing American case is close to getting its day in court.

KIDS VS. THE WORLD On September 10, 2015, a group of ‘youth plaintiffs’ between the ages of 10 and 21 filed suit in United States District Court for Oregon over what they alleged to be an active and affirmative failure by the federal government to regulate anthropogenic, or human-caused, climate change. The youth, represented by the nonprofit group Our Children’s Trust, have to date mounted the most significant of a growing class of legal actions known as atmospheric trust litigation. Named after the then-19-year-old lead defendant, Juliana v. United States has thus far survived a litany of government attempts to dismiss the case on substantive and procedural grounds. Despite nearly three years of delay by both the Obama and Trump departments of Justice, the landmark case is now set to go to trial in October of this year. The HPR reached out to the Department of Justice, which declined to comment for this article. While the plaintiffs make several novel constitutional arguments, the central thrust of the effort rests on a well-established, but relatively seldom used legal rationale known as public trust doctrine. Adopted from British common law, public trust doctrine states that in some circumstances, the government is compelled to maintain certain natural resources — typically waterways or wildlife — within public control for the benefit of the people. The question brought by the Juliana case is whether the air around us should be included as well.


As Oregon Law School Professor Mary Wood explained to the HPR, “Our country is built on the concept that citizens give power to government, not the other way around. So, the concept of public trust basically says that the state may not simply abdicate control of our country’s resources.” Wood, who is credited with developing the concept of modern atmospheric trust litigation, argues that public trust is not simply a matter of established case law, but a foundational aspect of democratic government. “Public trust is an attribute of sovereignty exactly analogous to the police power of government,” Wood said, referring to the fundamental right of the government to protect and police affairs inside its borders. Within this public trust framework, the government is viewed as a trustee of the nation’s resources with fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the public. Further, it is the duty of the state to hold certain resources in public ownership indefinitely for the explicit benefit of living and future citizens. Professor Richard Frank, director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center at UC Davis School of Law, feels the plaintiffs in Juliana have a strong case, noting to the HPR that “air is the natural resource that, by its physical properties, is least capable of private ownership and exploitation.” Frank added, however, that in practice “air’s amorphous character makes it difficult for governmental and nonprofit trustees to protect.” It is in part through use of this argument that federal defense attorneys have twice attempted to get Juliana thrown out. While it would be one thing for the government to recognize air as newly included in the public trust, it would be quite another for the court to find a remedial burden whereby the government could be mandated to legislate a comprehensive national greenhouse gas policy, or pay out potentially enormous damages.

THE CONSTITUTION ON CLIMATE Compounding a legal reasoning rooted in public trust doctrine, the Juliana case raises three additional constitutional claims. First, Our Children’s Trust believes that its defendants’ rights to “life, liberty, and property” have been significantly curtailed by climate change. Second, because the government has played an active role in causing climate change through policy which preferences fossil fuels, it has therefore affirmatively abridged a constitutional right without due process. Finally, the plaintiffs say these same harmful government actions have precipitated an additional violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. This is because the youth will be dispropor-


tionately affected by the future consequences of climate change. Ultimately, it is Juliana’s innovative use of the 14th Amendment that many legal onlookers see as most promising. Introduced primarily to ensure citizenship for former slaves following the American Civil War, the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause has since become one of the more well known legal principles in the United States. The Juliana case looks to leverage this central concept — that all citizens are entitled to equal and just treatment under the law — to make the case that younger Americans are being unfairly saddled with the impacts of climate change. According to Frank, this unconventional rationale aligns perfectly with the concepts of intergenerational equity and long-term sustainability also central to the public trust doctrine. To sell the court on such an idea, however, Our Children’s Trust will need the court to recognize ‘youth’ as a class of people whose rights are collectively under attack. Professor David Takacs of the University of California Hastings College of Law told the HPR that while courts are often averse to making such sweeping pronouncements, creation of new protected classes does occasionally occur. “We are familiar with concepts like race, gender, and sexual orientation,” he said, “but to have youth as a protected class would have a lot of legal implications.” Whether the court finds any of these arguments reasonable is, at least for the next few months, an open question. But critics of climate litigation say there is an even more fundamental question to ask: Is taking the government to court the most productive avenue through which to pursue climate change policy?

WHEN THE COURT FALLS SHORT Over the past several years, Our Children’s Trust, along with a variety of other environmental groups, has mounted a volley of legal challenges and administrative petitions in all 50 states and at the federal level to force policy on climate change. While most efforts have used reasoning similar to that of Juliana, the wave of atmospheric trust litigation has so far met with mixed results. A successful challenge in the case Sanders-Reed v. Martinez ultimately resulted in a 2015 ruling that found the atmosphere to be included in the meaning of public trust under New Mexico state law. While the ruling was based on specific language within the New Mexico Constitution, it nevertheless became the first such recognition in all of U.S. case law of a de facto atmospheric trust. At around the same time, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found in Alec v. McCarthy that no right to public trust existed at the federal level. James Huffman, a professor at Lewis and Clark Law School who has been critical of atmospheric trust litigation, holds that suing across many venues is an intentional strategy to find the most favorable judges. “It’s not that their claims are unclever or unthoughtful, it’s just that the law doesn’t support them,” he told the HPR. Unlike Woods, Huffman asserted that public trust is not a concept protected explicitly by the Constitution. As such, he believes the success of Juliana is largely dependent on whether the plaintiffs can find a judge who is willing to depart from the established application of public trust. Regardless of opinion, professors Frank, Takacs, and Huffman were quick to acknowledge the apparent incompatibility of addressing global climate change through the constrained, precedent-driven structure of the judicial system. That climate

change transcends human timescales and national boundaries only adds to the practical frustration of a legal system already ill-suited to convert long-term harm into monetary compensation or political will. Because the legal process is hemmed in by prior decisions which make it hard to act preemptively, Frank admitted that even a decision in favor of the plaintiffs could be somewhat ad hoc and incomplete. As such, any legal regime aiming to remedy climate change could ultimately prove tedious or unworkable. These drawbacks are not lost on the plaintiffs, according to Hana Vizcarra, a staff attorney at Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law program. She stressed to the HPR that given the lack of political consensus on climate change, the court is simply one of the last avenues available to address the issue. Further, she says that Juliana’s assertive claims are highly strategic — “the remedy asked for in this type of complaint are often broader than plaintiffs hope or expect to get in the long run.” Something, it would seem, is better than nothing. For her part, Wood is confident in the far-reaching ambition of the current litigation, saying her greatest worry is that, “in 50 years, we find out the courts didn’t go far enough.”

A WIN REGARDLESS OF OUTCOME A standard American civics education may emphasize a neat division of labor between the three branches of government — the executive and legislative craft laws, while the judiciary evaluates and upholds them. In the political landscape of the present day, such straightforward distinctions can often seem more aspirational than realistic. It is in this present context of a willfully misinformed executive branch and a paralyzed Congress that the courts may just be this country’s last best hope for coherent climate policy. According to Takacs, cases like Juliana are a victory for addressing climate change regardless of their actual verdicts. “This is an incredibly mediagenic lawsuit, so the fact that we are talking about this is the victory even if the case loses,” he said. Despite his criticism, Professor Huffman believes that the involvement of young plaintiffs has been effective in garnering sympathetic support from the public. Whether the judge will side with Wood’s call for an atmospheric public trust is anyone’s guess. Whatever the outcome, Wood agreed the case has already done much to move the national conversation forward on addressing climate change. In an interview with the HPR, Jacob Lebel, one of the named youth plaintiffs in the Juliana case, recognized there are myriad societal avenues to get at mitigating climate change. “The question I ask is, ‘How do we position our efforts in the world so that we can tell our children and grandchildren we did something for climate?’” So far, going to court seems like a pretty good option. The case Juliana v. United States is set to go to trial in Federal District Court in Eugene, Oregon on October 29th, 2018. 



Little but Fierce



ell me, how large is the population of your country?” the representative from China asked Christiana Figueres, the representative from Costa Rica, during a lunch break at the Kyoto Protocol negotiations in 1997. They had just spent the morning debating the establishment of the Clean Development Mechanism, which would allow developing countries to earn tradable carbon credits by implementing emission-reduction projects. Costa Rica, one of the smaller countries present with a population of 4.8 million compared to China’s 1.5 billion, was strongly advocating for this market-based implementation scheme. The industry-dependent China, on the other hand, was less interested in this prospect. In an attempt to scare Costa Rica away from accomplishing their intended resolution, China played the size card. In so doing, China implied, “we are bigger than you, and we are right.” Figueres was not convinced. She returned to negotiations with renewed zeal, drawing upon her passionate and inspiring voice to persuade more and more countries to support and eventually pass the Clean Development Mechanism. This episode suggests that smaller countries have power on the world stage — at least in the context of climate change negotiations. Figueres, who went on to serve as the executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, told


the HPR that far from being weak, they are the powerhouses that drive change: smaller countries, despite their negligible emissions and their correspondingly negligible contributions to emissions reductions, can play an important role in solving the climate problem. Just as Costa Rica was able to push through the passage of the Clean Development Mechanism during the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, smaller countries can act as political pioneers to pilot solutions that will combat climate change.

NOT JUST UP TO THE BIG DOGS The world is currently embroiled by the uncertain political legacy of the 2015 Paris Agreement. As natural disasters increase around the world, and concurrent public concern for climate issues builds, large polluting economies like the United States and China have garnered increasing criticism for their relative inaction towards this grave humanitarian threat. Indeed, the politics of climate change have always leaned towards expecting large countries to carry a greater share of the burden, and for good reason — they are often the biggest polluters. In fact, the United States and China alone are responsible for 45 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Clearly, it is important that these two countries play a substantial role in cutting down carbon emissions, but it should not just be up to the


big countries to take the lead.

POLICY-LED TRANSITION “We are not going to solve our environmental problems without significant technological innovation,” stated Andrew Grant, a senior partner at McKinsey and the co-leader of McKinsey’s Sustainability and Resource Productivity Practice, in an interview with the HPR. Figueres agrees, arguing that in order to effect this technological revolution, the transition that needs to be made is inherently policy-led. Thus, small countries, with their political nimbleness, are the ideal starting point for these technologies to develop. The Industrial and Information revolutions were sparked by technological innovations such as the steam engine and the computer chip; the policies to regulate their consequences followed suit. This time, it is different. The urgency with which we need to address the climate issue does not allow for the slow process of unregulated technological development. Rather, it requires the deliberate support of government subsidies and policies to ensure that the technology develops fast enough to be able to start reducing emissions before it is too late. In an attempt to trigger exactly this policy revolution, the Paris Agreement was drawn up in 2015. An unprecedented 195 countries committed to targets that will reduce their carbon emissions. In order to achieve these targets and to ensure that technology develops fast enough, the world needs real and tangible political change. But how do we know what policies to put in place, and which ones will be effective? The answer lies in the political pioneering of small countries. From his vantage point in the small, climate-conscious country of New Zealand, Grant sees that the only way to cut emissions is through technological innovation, sparked by political innovation. Grant offers examples ranging from New Zealand’s policies to invest in new technologies to reduce the amount of methane in cow flatulence — New Zealand is the country with the largest number of cows per capita — to planting 100 million trees every year under the Billion Trees Planting Scheme. In addition, New Zealand has committed to transitioning entirely to renewable energy by 2035, and zero carbon emissions by 2050. This political support is evident at the highest levels of New Zealand’s government. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has suggested the implementation of an independent commission to aid in this transition, thereby “ensuring supportive regulations and policies are in place.” These examples demonstrate how small countries can harness the power of new technologies through policy.

SMALL COUNTRIES AS ROLE MODELS Figueres, who also played a major role in effecting the Paris Agreement, has emphasized the importance of small countries within climate action. In May 2018, while speaking about climate change at the annual Oslo Business for Peace Conference, she pointed out that “even if we put all [the] small economies together, we cannot make a substantial dent in climate change from a numerical perspective, but we can definitely make an important political dent … [We] can demonstrate that this transition is possible, and in small economies it does tend to be easier

because we’re more open to innovation.” Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously described the individual states within the United States as “laboratories of democracy” that can “try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” Figueres’ father, the then-President of Costa Rica, in a similar manner referred to Costa Rica as an “experimental farm” capable of testing out different policies and strategies and determining the best ways forward. Costa Rica is “open to innovation [and is] willing to try new things because we know that humanity needs to progress, and we’re willing to take the first step,” the younger Figueres told the HPR. She believes this applies especially to the climate issue: politically nimble small countries can act as experimental farms for innovative climate solutions and act as role models for other countries. Another small country leading the way in implementing ambitious policy changes is Norway. Its abundance of fast-flowing rivers generate renewable hydropower, contributing to 98 percent of its electricity production. Norway can therefore sustainably rely on the immediate electrification of its transportation systems to reduce its carbon emissions. According to the New York Times, in order to guide its five million-strong population towards electric cars, the Norwegian government has enacted substantive incentives including tax exemptions and free use of fast lanes otherwise reserved for taxis and buses. These changes make the Tesla Model X luxury cars infinitely more feasible than they once were. As of June 2017, the Model X was the country’s second most popular car. With the pioneering efforts of Oslo, “The Electric Vehicle Capital of the World,” Norway is well on its way to reaching its goal for all new cars to have zero emissions by 2025, compared with the United Kingdom’s 2040 target. As the New York Times further noted, this success has made Norway a “global model of how to get the public to embrace electric vehicles, an experiment that is attracting researchers and policy makers from around the world.”

PUNCHING ABOVE THEIR WEIGHT Small countries are not only role models, but also have “huge political sway,” according to Figueres. Indeed, the Paris Agreement was so successful largely because of the pioneering effort of the “High Ambition Coalition.” This coalition initially consisted of only Pacific and Caribbean small-island states who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but who were successful in “punch[ing] above their own weight [because] they punch[ed] together.” They triggered a domino effect of countries joining the coalition that snowballed into much larger political action, eventually reaching 100 member countries. Just as small countries can make a disproportionate political dent by modelling technological innovations that combat climate change due to their political agility, smaller entities within countries can also achieve a disproportionate impact by banding together and achieving action. Despite President Trump pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement, American political and business leaders are stepping up to the plate backed by organizations like the bipartisan We Are Still In Coalition. In an attempt to reassure the international community, more than 2,700 U.S. mayors, county executives, governors, tribal leaders, university leaders, businesses, faith groups, and investors from



Christiana Figueres speaks on the final day of the UN Climate Change Conference.

every state have pledged their continued commitment to the Paris Agreement. Elan Strait, the director for U.S. Climate Campaigns at the World Wildlife Fund who plays a key coordinating role in maintaining the “We Are Still In” Coalition, told the HPR that a main precept of the group is that climate action is most impactful at the state level, particularly when it is collective. Strait described the coalition as a “network of networks” that works to build local networks on the smaller state-level. It is easier for groups to commit to climate action when they can be assured that the collective efforts of the whole group will achieve real results, and if they can follow the lead of others. In fact, California has already succeeded in reducing its emissions to 1990 levels, providing much inspiration for other government entities below the federal level. Nor is there a shortage of pioneers to follow in the corporate world. Strait points out that some groups in the Coalition are out ahead: Walmart’s unprecedented Project Gigaton made it the first retailer to have a verified Science Based Target emissionsreduction plan. After recognising that over 90 percent of its emissions comes from primary production in its supply chain, Walmart has, with the support of NGOs such as the World Wildlife Fund, launched a project to directly involve its extensive supply chain in its emissions-reductions strategy. As the world’s largest retailer with over 200 million customers, this will substantially contribute to global emissions reductions. In fact, if successful, Walmart and its suppliers will have contributed to eliminating one gigaton of emissions by 2030. Furthermore, Walmart is saving both the environment and money — the project has proven to be a sound business strategy, making


Walmart one of America’s leading commercial solar and on-site renewable energy users and saving the company nearly $1 billion compared to its 2005 baseline by doubling the efficiency of its U.S. fleet. In March 2018, McDonalds followed suit, becoming the world’s first restaurant company to commit to a science-based target for emissions reductions. We Are Still In is valuable because it provides a platform for smaller non-state groups to work together, each providing inspiration to each other, producing infinitely many chain reactions of climate innovation. McDonalds and Walmart are amongst many large and small member businesses that are now committing to more ambitious targets as a result of support from the coalition.

A CHAIN REACTION Strait highlighted that the coalition is growing as more political leaders and members of the public are getting on board. The movement is all about achieving a critical mass — a critical mass of countries, cities, leaders, and individuals all united under a common goal to create a better future for the next generation. Thus, the We Are Still In Coalition forms a powerful example of what can be achieved on a global scale. Climate change is a difficult, multilateral issue; that is why it has taken decades for political leaders to wake up to the urgency it demands and start to take action. But there is “power that comes with being on the right side of history,” said Figueres. If small entities band together to tap into this power and pioneer change for the future, we can start to make a real dent in climate change.




roundbreaking advancements in technology over the past two decades have introduced cleaner, renewable energy sources into the mainstream marketplace for consumer energy. Be it the exponential growth of global wind power capacity or the burgeoning adoption of electric hybrid vehicles, the beginning of the 21st century has been marked by revolutionary innovations in the energy sector. However, as of now, these environmentally-friendly sources of energy are often more expensive and less reliable for consumers than traditional sources such as coal and other fossil fuels. In a free marketplace, cost-conscious customers will often overlook the potential long term benefits of clean energy and instead opt to buy a cheaper, but less sustainable, appliance. In order to induce citizens to adopt green energy in their daily lives, governments at both the state and federal level have created numerous programs and regulations aimed at lowering the relative costs of sustainable energy and discouraging the use of fossil fuels. While these policies are well-intended, with the explicit purpose of shifting energy consumption to more environmentally-friendly means, the undue costs of government policy can sometimes greatly exceed the benefits, making intervention more costly than the initial market failure.

A LEGITIMATE ROLE FOR GOVERNMENT? Advocates for state intervention in energy markets often claim that government regulation plays a legitimate role because of the presence of negative externalities, or situations where the consumption or production of a certain good has an adverse impact on bystanders who are not the consenting buyer or seller in the given transaction. In an interview with the HPR, Joseph Aldy, associate professor of public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, affirmed the necessity of government intervention to address externalities caused by energy consumption, stating that “we see socially harmful high levels of local air pollution and carbon pollution because people don’t bear the full cost of those emissions.” Because the “external” costs of this good are not completely internalized by the involved parties, its market price is lower

than its actual cost to society. Therefore, the government seeks to address this mismatch between private and social costs by implementing policies such as a tax equal to the difference of these costs. Aldy held that because of this failure of markets, “there’s always going to be a role for the state in the power sector.” However, a corrective tax is only considered efficient to the point where it equates the private and social costs. Given the difficulty of determining this equilibrium before the fact, the costs of government environmental programs often exceed any received benefits. For instance, a 1999 report demonstrates the potential shortcomings of intervention when costs are unknown before the fact. This study examines the efficacy of the federal EPA Superfund, a program “responsible for cleaning up some of the nation’s most contaminated land” and averting cases of cancer for local populations. This policy was an attempt to address the negative externality of toxic waste disposal. The authors found that at “the majority of sites the expected number of cancers averted by remediation [was] less than 0.1 cases per site and that the cost per cancer case averted [was] over $100 million.” At first glance, it may seem uncompassionate, or morally repugnant, to try to express the value of a human life in financial terms; however, within the field of economics it is a useful academic practice. In a recent interview, Jeffrey Miron, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard, indicated to the HPR that economists have long placed a dollar figure on human lives. According to the EPA, which provides one of the higher valuations, the average value is around $9 million. This is not to say that all externalities should be regarded as trivial. “What it comes down to is the empirical question about how much we are, due to policy intervention, spending to reduce health risk or climate change risk and how much that compares to the benefits,” explained Aldy. Instead of leaving these abstract words — “risk,” “benefits,” “value” — up to the subjective interpretation of the individual, economists quantify these measures in order to objectively and empirically analyze the efficiency of a given policy, so that policy is driven by evidence, and not emotion.



In the case of the EPA Superfund, it is evident that the cost of intervention greatly outweighs the benefit, as not even one case of cancer was averted per site on average, and the cost of each case averted was ten times greater than the modeled benefit. Therefore, at least from an economic efficiency standpoint, the costs of intervention can, and often do, exceed the benefits. Not all interventions are created equal; while they might all share the same noble intention — mitigating the adverse health risks of pollution — they do not all make sense economically. Following the advice of Aldy, policymakers should weigh their legislative goals against the costs of intervention in order to pursue less wasteful public policy.

MANDATES AND INCENTIVE PROGRAMS A common way that the government has tried to steer consumers towards less harmful energy sources is through mandates and incentive programs. A mandate is a “command and control” regulation, which sets the legal standards of consumption for a certain type of energy. For example, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 established a principle that all home-use light bulbs “had to use about 25 percent less energy,” effectively banning the use of the then-common incandescent light bulb and leading to the more widespread adoption of CFL and LED light bulbs. By contrast, an incentive program denotes a state-sponsored subsidy created to help people purchase more environmentallyfriendly appliances. These are prevalent at both the state and federal levels, and subsidize a range of appliances from electric vehicles to washing machines. Incentive programs are often hailed as a better policy alternative to mandates because they ultimately preserve consumer choice, while still nudging people towards more energy efficient goods by lowering their market costs. Patrick Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, disagrees with this standard interpretation, however. “One is just a softer form of the other … I call it ‘free-market socialism,’” he quipped to the HPR in a recent interview. “The optimal solution is no solution ... I don’t think there has to be a law.” Both mandates and incentive programs are costly. By regulating energy efficiency standards, these policies increase the production costs of manufacturers, which are in turn passed on to consumers through higher prices. Subsidies are often costly for the sponsoring government and can distort the markets in which they are given. There is also little evidence that they achieve their desired goals of reducing overall harm to the environment. According to a Dartmouth study, the majority of statewide subsidies to incentivize the purchase of electric vehicles “ ... [make] society as a whole worse off” because local air pollution damage is simply “exported” to other states, owing to “the distributed nature of electricity generation.” Simply, in harnessing electric energy, fossil fuels are burned anyways. By incentivizing the use of electric cars, states are simply substituting clean energy use in their state for more harmful energy production in another state. In this instance, more emissions are released into the atmosphere through power generation on average than if people were to drive gasoline-powered vehicles. Thus, by encouraging the


purchase of electric vehicles through subsidies, state governments inadvertently contribute to the very problem that they are trying to solve. Michaels suggested that policymakers would do better to encourage innovation, rather than forcing something onto consumers that is against their interests. “There are clear markets for efficient things,” he stated. “Everybody is in search of a better mousetrap — that also applies to energy.” Currently, the problem with leaving the energy sector up to the market is that the private costs for traditional fossil fuels, which generate negative externalities, are lower than those of clean sources. Therefore, taxes on fossils fuels or clean energy subsidies may be economically efficient in the sense that they are correcting the externality. It seems, however, that this price parity between traditional sources of energy and cutting edge, clean energy is fast approaching. A recent report notes that by 2020, “all the renewable power generation technologies that are now in commercial use are expected to fall within the fossil fuel-fired cost range.” When this occurs, there should be no economically sound argument for continuing subsidies — consumers will adopt renewable power because it will be in their economic best interest to do so, demonstrating the effectiveness of markets in correcting social problems through innovation.

CROWDING OUT AND BUYING IN This desired innovation is less likely to occur, however, in the event of excessive government intervention. Because mandates, regulations, and taxation are costly to businesses, they generate deadweight loss, or market inefficiencies that arise due to intervention. This leaves firms with less available capital to devote to research and development. On the other hand, “[i]f industry, and therefore people, kept their money, then they would invest it in technologies of their choice … and it is the efficient technologies that are advantaged [in this market],” said Michaels. It is this private enterprise, and not government control, that is driving innovation in the tech sector. Take, for instance, the case of NET Power, a Texas energy startup that has successfully created a zero-emissions power plant using natural gas. NET power is able to “produce emission-free power at about $0.06 per kilowatt-hour … about the same cost as power from a stateof-the-art natural gas-fired plant — and cheaper than most renewable energy.” By allowing private businesses to operate free from unnecessary regulations or costs, governments can work towards addressing environmental issues without inhibiting the growth that drives innovation in the energy sector. As firms experiment and develop cheaper, more effective ways to deliver energy, the forces of the market, and not of the law, will efficiently bring about sustainability in a way that regulation simply never could. While subsidies and corrective taxes may promote the use of clean energy in the short run, these interventions come at a cost to both taxpayers and entrepreneurs. Technological innovation, on the other hand, is driven by competing private companies in a marketplace, which will allow for clean energy to naturally reach price parity with fossil fuels, ultimately leading to its widespread adoption. Policymakers should step out of the way of progress, and allow entrepreneurs to usher in a new century of American energy innovation.



Raj Karan S. Gambhir


n the race to see who has the most polluted air, China may be passing the baton to India. According to Michael Greenstone, professor of economics at the University of Chicago, China has cut the concentration of fine air particulates by as much as 39 percent in just four years. Though China has enjoyed astronomical GDP growth in the past few decades, the price of this prosperity has been polluted air, sullied water, and contaminated soil. In 2014, Premier Li Keqiang publicly declared a “war against pollution.” Now, barely four years later, not a single city from the so-called pollution capital of the world made the World Health Organization’s 2018 list of the top 10 most polluted cities. As of late, India appears to have stripped China of its title as the most coal-polluted nation. Currently, 14 of the 20 cities listed by the WHO are in India, prompting WHO Head of Public Health Maria Neira to call on India to follow China’s example and produce a “similar movement.” But though China’s environmental policy has been effective, its environmental strategy has been unique to its institutions. Simply asking India to follow China’s example ignores fundamental differences between the political structures of the two nations and what incentives politicians have when implementing policy.

A SUCCESS STORY (IN PROGRESS) Few have a more penetrating insight into China’s evolving environmental policy than Peggy Liu, founder and chairperson of the Joint U.S.-China Collaboration on Clean Energy. According to Liu, China’s willingness to take short-term losses in favor of long-term gains has been instrumental in reducing coal use. “[China] doesn’t try to cut off an arm in order to save a leg. … For example, in six months in 2016-2017 they suspended 104 coal plants. They basically said that they’re just going to suspend $30 billion of contracts,” Liu said in an interview to the HPR. Beyond vision and resolve, Liu views China’s centralizing and nondemocratic nature as key factors to its environment success. “In China we have the equivalent of a national level business plan that says ‘we are going to drop coal to 58 percent of our energy consumption by 2020 and 50 percent of our consump-

tion by 2030.’ In the U.S., the federal government could, if it had the willpower, pass legislation to do the same thing,” Liu said. Rather than lack of ability, Liu believes fear of electoral rebuke from segments of the population dependant on coal jobs limits the scale to which democracies can implement drastic environmental policy. For Liu, the prospects of other nations taking the same drastic steps China took to address the climate are slim to none. “Every country and or company that is business oriented will ultimately make decisions based on an economic basis. Only in the case where you’re totally wiped out like Haiti, and you might as well build from scratch will you go to Tesla for energy storage and solar. Only when it is too late will they really make the change,” said Liu. If Liu’s prognosis is correct, the environmental prospects for democratic nations such as India and the United States are grim. This outlook however, is founded on the assumption that the economically sound decision is necessarily in conflict with the ecologically sound, and that China is inherently better suited to make the environmentally sound choice.

ECONOMICS OVER ENVIRONMENT While Liu may see China’s centralization as an asset in cleaning up its environment, many academics view such a system as imperfect, and at times even an impediment to progress. One such academic is Debra Knopman, a principal researcher at the RAND Corporation. In an interview with the HPR, Knopman argued that “A very big and important factor in the way that the U.S. made progress is giving individual citizens or environmental groups the right to take the government to court to meet the standards established.” Without the ability for citizens to take governments to court, the Chinese people lost a very powerful tool in the fight against climate change, according to Knopman. Unlike democracies, where policy is implemented based on specific legislation and legal precedent, China runs on a “rule of mandate” system. In this framework, the central government



issues a directive and local governments put the directive into action. Where a democratic politician relies on the favor of their constituents, the career prospects of a Chinese cadre depend on how well they can implement an order from Beijing. This system can sometimes reward those who only technically meet job requirements, as opposed to those who truly complete the mission. According to a 2015 study from American University, Beijing mandated environmental targets significantly decreased only air pollution, while water and soot pollution were much less affected. This is because China’s “performance-based bureaucratic accountability system” rewards tackling visible pollutants while less visible pollutants are neglected. Due to this system, there exists a sizeable gap between top level intent and ground level implementation. In democratic societies where organic civil participation is permitted, citizen action can exert pressure on politicians to fill in that gap. Such action is not permitted in China. “If a provincial government decides that it can’t afford to shut down a coal plant even though it’s very dirty … economic forces will trump the environmental concerns, and there’s not much recourse for individual citizens. … It’s been a long struggle in China trying to balance the economic needs with environmental quality.” According to Knopman, economic needs have won most of these battles. Happily, Knopman and her colleagues have found that there does not have to be a choice between improved air quality and continued economic growth for China. A 2015 study by the RAND Corporation found that cutting coal use in homes, businesses, and for power generation would save the nation almost $400 billion per annum in air pollution-related costs. Rather than being an issue of environmental gains for the price of long-term economic cost, the coal question is really more about paying for long term sustainability with short-term disruptions. For Liu, China’s centralization allows the nation to prioritize long-term gains better than democratic nations can. Others, however, doubt the sustainability of a system not bounded by the legislative action and citizen action characteristic of democratic nations.

RIGHTS AND DUTIES While broad emissions reduction guidelines are issued by central leadership in Beijing, actual implementation of these cuts is very much at the whims of both central leadership and fickle local politicians. This lack of consistency in policy could pose serious problems for sustainable and long-term environmental reform. Lawyer and professor at New York UniversityShanghai Dan Guttman views the short-term success of reducing coal emissions as coming at the price of a long-term environmental solution. “Different enterprises will respond to what local leaders do with no clarity. Today they’re closing this down, but who knows what will happen tomorrow. … The question is whether things are going to be sustained, and to sustain it you need to have predictable rules,” said Guttman in an interview with the HPR. While Guttman may not be a fan of China’s inconsistent environmental implementation, he admits to the efficacy of a program not usually associated with environmentalism — China’s One-Child Policy. “From my perspective, starting in 1980 with the One-Child


Policy, China put into effect the single most effective climate change rule in the world. … If you have hundreds of millions of less people, you have that much less resource use,” said Guttman. The trend of restricting childbirth for environmental reasons is not limited to China. According to the New York Times, 33 percent of young adults who have or plan to have fewer children than they would like cite climate change as a factor. What separates China from other nations is that Chinese childbirth restrictions are a matter of civic duty rather than individual choice. For Guttman, the key weapon in China’s arsenal is not its centralization, but rather its cultural value of paramount duty to one’s nation. While a Chinese citizen technically has the right to free speech, they have the duty to “safeguard the unification of the nation.” As Guttman puts it, a Chinese citizen “may have a right to one child, but a duty not to have more than one.”

AN NON-TRANSFERABLE MODEL It is clear that China has made tremendous progress over the last few years in terms of reducing its coal emissions. Certainly, countries like India would do well to find their own solutions to air pollution; however, the idea that India should adopt environmental policies similar to those of China is unrealistic. Unlike China, where politicians are rewarded by compliance to central goals, Indian democracy is contingent on satisfying a quiltwork of demographics, whether that be through appeals to caste, religious sectarianism, or promises of business deals. Any Indian politician that goes around coal plants mandating businesses be closed to meet emissions targets would be punished at the polls, and rightly so. Ultimately, it is not that democracies are more or less equipped to handle the environmental challenges of the future, but rather that the messaging and implementation of environmental reform must be tailored to each country’s political and social context. When Guttman presented the idea of population control in India, his students balked at the idea. “I gave this presentation in Delhi and they said ‘How can you say this! How can you suggest that human rights violations is good policy?’ Then one of them said, ‘Dan, no. The most effective climate change policy in the world is Indian vegetarianism,’” said Guttman. When it comes to the balance between freedom and duty, citizens of India and China have completely different conceptions. India’s flirtation with widespread centralized population control in the ’70s still inspires outrage and shock, and the two-child policy adopted by some Indian states applies only to government workers. A nationwide one-child policy would almost certainly inspire mass protest and ruin many political careers. Asking India to follow China’s example would be akin to asking India to adopt the One-Child Policy, or asking China to adopt vegetarianism. Rather than expect India to imitate China’s methods of pollution reduction, experts could instead follow Knopman’s lead and continue to champion research that illustrates the strong connection between economic and ecological gains. Electoral democracies such as India need solutions that bring down pollutants and bring in votes. There could very well be a day where India, like China, finds itself booted off the most polluted cities list. One thing is for certain though — India will not take China’s path to get there. 


Harvard in Chains Will Boggs


t first glance, the diary of Edward Augustus Holyoke, son of Harvard president Edward Holyoke, does not appear to be a particularly interesting document. After flipping through personal notes from the 1700s for more than a few minutes — including remarks about prayer sessions, unsuccessful fishing days, and Locke recitations — one would likely be bored and uninterested. Assuming one searched long enough, however, they might come across a few names: “Johny,” Edward’s younger brother, and later “Juba.” In April of 1744, “Johny went to Bost[on] on foot with Juba” to run an errand. But Juba was not another sibling or one of the children’s friends; Juba was not a free man. He was the Holyoke family’s slave, and he lived and labored on Harvard’s campus. In the final years of her tenure, President Drew Gilpin Faust made major strides in the conversation around Harvard’s complicity with slavery, most notably by coordinating the 2017 conference, “Universities and Slavery: Bound by History.” Faust’s leadership has brought about unprecedented public acknowledgement of Harvard’s connection to slavery, as well as increased conversation on the topic, but the university could potentially undertake more tangible action in the future. Keeping the future in mind, productive dialogue about Harvard and slavery requires a deeper understanding of the university’s past,

one which highlights the specific ways that slavery has promoted each stage of its development. Boasting a nearly 400-year history, it is not shocking that Harvard is intertwined with slavery in New England and worldwide. Harvard’s collusion, however, does not end with Massachusetts abolition or even nationwide abolition but instead extends far beyond it. Ta-Nehisi Coates, the keynote speaker at the 2017 conference, argued that universities embarking on discussions of reconciliation or reparations for their ties to slavery should not “limit the study of enslavement to enslaved peoples.” Instead, the discussion of enslavement should broaden far beyond the Civil War to include the “plunder of enslavement,” referring to the segregation, prejudice, and discrimination that stretched for decades after the end of the Peculiar Institution. In the first centuries of its existence, the university directly employed the labor of enslaved persons on campus. As early as 1639, just three years after Harvard’s founding, records detail the practice of slavery on university grounds. The wife of Nathaniel Eaton, Harvard’s first schoolmaster, complained that “the Moor” — a then-commonly used phrase to refer to African slaves — had slept in student Samuel Hough’s “sheet and pillow-bier.” She also noted a series of student grievances about having to eat the same food as this “Moor.”



As some scholars describe it, slavery on Harvard’s campus was “intimate.” Enslaved persons would perform tasks like caretaking, making food, cleaning houses and student residences, running errands in Boston, and catering to the needs of administrators and high-level faculty members directly. Interpersonal interactions between slaves and other members of the Harvard community occurred on a day-to-day basis. At the same time, the university made efforts to restrict contact between enslaved persons and students. In 1740, the university prohibited a slave named Titus, one of the slaves owned by President Benjamin Wadsworth, from coming to the college and communicating with students.

CONTINUITY AFTER ABOLITION IN MASSACHUSETTS Although slavery in Massachusetts gradually ended by the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1783, slavery generated mass profits for individuals and institutions in the state for decades after its abolition. Throughout the 18th century, Harvard not only continued to employ slave labor on campus, but also profited from the practice of slavery in other ways. For example, Harvard Law School owes it existence to a bequest made by Isaac Royall, Jr., the heir to highly profitable sugar plantations in Antigua. Upon his father’s death, Royall inherited lands in New England and Antigua, at least 18 slaves, and additional wealth from other slave-labor plantations in Suriname. When he left Massachusetts at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, he used these assets to bequeath lands to Harvard, which the university later sold to create the “Royall Professorship in Law” in 1816. This professorship eventually grew to become the Harvard Law School, a legacy that the school continued to honor until the Royall Crest was removed from the school’s seal in 2016. The regional economy also remained inextricably linked to servitude, notably in trade with the West Indies. For example, in the 1780s and 1790s, the Perkins brothers accrued great wealth through the slave trade on Saint-Domingue in the Caribbean. In 1791, a 13-year-long slave revolt on the island forced the brothers to leave the Caribbean for Massachusetts. They became leaders of the Boston business community and donors to many institutions, including Harvard. Moreover, Harvard remained linked to slavery in countries that abolished it after the United States, like Cuba and Brazil. A prominent example of the Cuban connection is Edwin Atkins, who made substantial donations to Harvard from his slaverybased fortune. More importantly, even after emancipation in Cuba, he held onto Soledad Plantation, which he had acquired in the 1880s. In 1899, he collaborated with Harvard Professors Oakes Ames and George Goodale to turn the property into the Harvard Botanic Station for Tropical Research and Sugar Cane Investigation.

CONNECTIONS BEYOND NATIONWIDE ABOLITION Although one may assume that Harvard’s connection to slavery ended, or at least tapered off, with the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the 13th Amendment, this was not


the case. As a leading academic institution of the 19th and 20th centuries, the university contributed to the proliferation of race science that was used to justify both the past — slavery — and its evolved form — the institutionalized racism that black Americans have experienced since then. The best-known race scientists of Harvard include Louis Agassiz, after whom Agassiz Street in Cambridge, Mass. is still named. According to Agassiz, non-white races did not descend from Adam but instead were created by God separately to populate the rest of the Earth. As such, his so-called “polygenesis theory” posited that each race of humankind originated independently, suggesting a hierarchy of the races manifesting in physical appearances as well as emotional and moral characteristics. He claimed that there was a certain “negro disposition,” defined by characteristics like “a proneness to imitate those among who he lives” and “a peculiar indifference to the advantages afforded by civilized society.” The relationship between Agassiz and Harvard was symbiotic in that Harvard afforded Agassiz the opportunity to network with the scientist luminaries of his time, which was in turn instrumental to the expansion of the school’s science departments. During Agassiz’s lifetime, slaveholders used his work to justify their positions, but more notably, the influence of his ideas extended beyond his death. Alejandro de la Fuente, a professor of African and African American Studies and a member of the Faculty Committee on Harvard and Slavery, told the HPR: “Some of the most articulate, scientific defenses of this kind of black inferiority came from the institutions of higher learning in the United States, Harvard included.” While Harvard’s scientific research has created progress, it also has fostered the exploitation of black people in America and abroad.

CONVERSATION AND ACTION TO DATE In 2003, Brown University set an important precedent for higher education institutions, publicly recognizing its historical involvement with slavery and laying out a plan for future action. Commissioned by President Ruth J. Simmons, a steering committee of faculty members, students, and administrators completed a public report on the university’s history of slavery and organized efforts to reflect on the meaning of such history in the present, leading the Brown Corporation to approve various programs in 2007. Inspired by Brown’s leadership, Professor Sven Beckert initiated efforts for Harvard to address its own past by offering the “Harvard and Slavery Research Seminar” in 2007. Although records of the university’s history of slavery have existed for centuries, the issue gained real momentum when Beckert, then-graduate student Katherine Stevens, and other students delved into those sources during his seminar. The research findings from the seminar were compiled in the years since and published as a report titled “Harvard and Slavery: Seeking a Forgotten History” in November 2011. While scholarship tied to Harvard and slavery was not previously unheard of, “Harvard and Slavery” marked a first of its kind — a comprehensive report focusing exclusively on Harvard and slavery, from slavery on campus all the way to the lasting influences of racist theories by the university’s scholars. The report in part motivated Faust to spur further conversation around the topic, through efforts such as the commemoration of


the Wadsworth plaque and her op-ed in The Crimson. Furthermore, in the same year as the ceremony, the Harvard Law School took the Royall Crest out of its seal. Finally, the momentum for historical reconciliation led to the 2017 conference on Harvard and slavery, which entailed a full day of conversations featuring scholars from universities across and outside the United States. In fact, Faust’s commemoration at Wadsworth, a ceremony attended by Representative John Lewis, was foreshadowed by the report. Years before the ceremony, one of the contributing students, Shelley Thomas, commented that the creation of a memorial at Wadsworth House would “be a sign of respect for all of the men and women who were forced into slavery and for all of the individuals who would die never having known freedom.” Like Harvard, many other universities have long possessed records of their past collusion with slavery, but have failed to come up with meaningful conclusions from or responses to them until recently. For example, Georgetown’s history, including its 1838 sale of 272 enslaved persons which saved the school from financial disaster, had never been a secret but was “not widely known,” according to Georgetown professor Adam Rothman. Not only had the names of enslaved persons involved in the 1838 sale been documented in Jesuit archives, but Jesuit historians had also been writing about the university’s history with slavery since the early 20th century. While Georgetown’s American Studies curriculum has included this chapter of the past since the 1980s and 1990s, such scholarship failed to reach the broader public until very recently. Universities and numerous other social institutions in the United States suffer from what de la Fuente calls a disconnect between “knowledge and acknowledgment,” or between knowledge that is housed in archives and what is publicly known. “There may be some kind of vague knowledge that the cathedrals in Mexico or Lima were built by Africans, but it’s very important to acknowledge that those [structures] exist because of the labor and the sweat of these people and to try to recover [their] existence and the experiences.” He also added that a university’s duty extends beyond simply extracting and producing knowledge, but should include “finding ways to disseminate that knowledge and to make that knowledge part of who we are.”

SEEKING FURTHER ACTION Although Harvard has demonstrated a stronger willingness to delve into its complicity with slavery, most of the actions taken on behalf of the cause have been symbolic, and the question of reparations looms. Coates offered a series of case studies supporting reparations, expressed in his widely-read article in the Atlantic, “The Case for Reparations.” But Coates also noted that the American people generally do not believe that they are obligated to pay reparations, posing a greater barrier to reparations than the inability to come up with a workable payment system. Proof of this mentality is that for almost three decades, a bill to initiate studies to investigate the issue of reparations, even without commitment to any specific payment — H.R.40, “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for AfricanAmericans Act” — has stalled in the House of Representatives. In the same article, however, Coates also points out that 19th century Quakers in New York, New England, and Balti-

more required compensation to former slaves as a condition of membership. Although this rule dates from centuries ago, it could be seen as a way for today’s institutions to push for reparations among their members. While it did not issue reparations, Georgetown similarly took a more proactive approach toward addressing its historical responsibility, granting legacy admissions status to the thousands of descendants of the 272 enslaved persons sold by the university in 1838. While this action may appear insufficient or too narrowly focused on one event at the expense of many other uses of slave labor by the school, it did offer rare practical results. On the other hand, some scholars argue that reparations would be too extreme. After all, most institutions that existed before emancipation would have had some ties to slavery, even if the connection were tertiary through some minor donor. The anti-reparations camp claims that too much action could reverse or discredit positive development, while memorializing enslaved persons and acknowledging the history in detail is necessary. In his article “The Case against Reparations for Slavery,” the Hoover Institution’s Richard A. Epstein critiques Coates for having “acute tunnel vision,” which he claims completely ignores “the contributions of people of all races who fought fiercely against the evils of slavery and Jim Crow.” In his conclusion, Epstein argues that “rather than speaking of reparations, we should consider the many constructive steps that could, and should, be taken right now as part of our ongoing social commitments to black Americans.” Whether Harvard should take similar steps as Georgetown or pursue reparations remain in question, but it is imperative for Harvard to pursue solutions with practical, measurable outcomes. In an interview with HPR, Stevens — now an assistant professor at Oglethorpe University — recommended that the school “focus its efforts in the areas of education, research, and investment but need not be limited to those traditional strengths.” Furthermore, she urged that the university “include the broader community in decisions,” looking beyond the administration and faculty and including students and the school’s staff members whose views are seldom heard. Furthermore, she suggested that the school approach the issue of reconciliation with a creative mindset, instead of prematurely ruling out potential courses of action that may appear to be impossible at first glance. Alexandra Scherf, a student in Beckert’s seminar who contributed to the 2017 conference, offered the following perspective on the subject of taking action, particularly in regard to addressing Harvard’s more nuanced, donation-based links to slavery. Although she has not researched the subject herself, she said in an interview to the HPR, “I hope this kind of research would inspire the university to think more carefully about who we accept money from and what legacy we want to leave for the next generation.” When asked about reparations specifically, de la Fuente encouraged ongoing discussion, arguing that “it is not premature at all to speak about these things; it is, however, a conversation that is an ongoing process that will continue. Which particular shape it takes, and how do we end up thinking about reparations, that I don’t know.” He echoed Stevens’ emphasis on an inclusive decision-making process: “At the end of the day, it is students who will keep moving the goalposts, who will keep expanding our questions and our agenda in this area.” 




Daniel Brickhill and Gabrielle Landry


one are the days when dominance of American higher education by religious institutions sowed tension on campuses around the country, but debate about political ideology in the hallowed halls of the nation’s flagship universities is far from over. As high school seniors continue to weigh college options, few will be able to avoid the national discussion of political polarization in higher education. Amidst calls for ideological diversity at Harvard and other institutions, students join the conversation. The Harvard Crimson’s editorial board recently called upon the university to hire “professors with diverse beliefs and backgrounds who can challenge prevailing campus ideas.” Only about 1.5 percent of respondents to the Crimson’s May faculty survey “identify as conservative or very conservative, compared to 83.2 percent who identify as liberal or very liberal.” Public distrust rises as a result of this lopsided political breakdown; a 2017 Pew Research Center study found that 58 percent of “Republicans and Republican-leaning independents” view higher education in a negative manner, up from 45 percent in 2016. Among critics and concerned students, however, few consider how the lack of ideological diversity on campuses affects


conservative applicants — the future college students who can reverse the trend toward an America where institutions of learning are ideologically one-sided and distrusted by the right. Facing their futures in America’s dominantly liberal higher education system, conservative applicants fear generalization of and ostracization for their views. But to reverse the uniformity of thought in higher education, right-leaning applicants must recognize the opportunity to be challenged, and liberals must embrace their classical roots and encourage better representation of conservative voices on campus.

THE APPLICANT LENS Tobi Ariyo ’22 knows what it is like to be in the political minority. In an interview with the HPR, he described his South Carolina high school’s “pretty liberal” student body, explaining that he received backlash from fellow students and even a few faculty members when he founded the school’s first Teenage Republican Club. Ariyo also served as the vice chairman of the South Carolina Federation of Teenage Republicans, and when he began applying to Harvard, he struggled with claiming this


part of his resume. He told the HPR: “I really had to sit down and ask myself, ‘Should I put that I was involved in Teenage Republicans?’ I talked to a lot of teachers and counselors about it, and most of them recommended that I didn’t.” Ariyo ended up including his involvement with Teenage Republicans on his application, but not without worrying that it might appear as if he was “pushing an agenda.” As he begins at Harvard, Ariyo wants “to stay connected to [his] conservative roots, while also interacting with the liberal campus and being able to hear new arguments.” He said that he recognizes that many people will oppose his views, but he wants “to be exposed to new ideas.” This awareness is critical in a conservative student’s transition to attend a school like Harvard, especially in the face of rising political activism on college campuses. The commonly cited overreaches on college campuses — controversy that led to an Evergreen State College professor’s resignation, riots at UC Berkeley, and students screaming at Yale faculty — may not be as commonplace as they are portrayed; however, they build a reputation of higher education that can be daunting to right-leaning applicants. Offering clarity in such situations, Lucy Gordon Smith, a University of Virginia alumna and college adviser with the Virginia College Advising Corps, provides application guidance to high school students in a conservative, rural region of Virginia. Smith told the HPR that she helps applicants discern the political atmosphere of a campus by examining popular activities and asking questions like, “Even if [a college] has a branch of a political group, is it a social group, or are they actually trying to make a change in the college?” Smith reminds high school students with clear and active political beliefs that they may be dissatisfied at a school where most students disagree with them. This is sound advice for all conservative applicants creating their college lists; the goal is to find an environment where these students can be challenged, as Ariyo desires, but not silenced.

THE CONSERVATIVE NICHE The search for such an equilibrium was at the front of Kelley Babphavong ’20’s mind when she considered applying to Harvard three years ago. Babphavong, who realized her conservative viewpoints after working for a Rhode Island Democratic campaign, told the HPR, “I recognized that Harvard is extremely liberal.” Despite this impression, Babphavong was not deterred from choosing Harvard — “The only way that campus culture can change is by conservatives who aren’t afraid to speak out, and I wanted to contribute to that dialogue.” Still, it was challenging for Babphavong to find a healthy conservative population at Harvard. “It took some time for me to find my place,” she said. “I had a connection with someone from my high school, but [the conservative community] wasn’t something that was advertised.” Babphavong’s experiences taught her that “people can make snap judgements about you based on your activities,” and that “censoring yourself in the classroom, especially in section, is definitely something that conservatives have to do.” At the same time, she has realized that the classroom is another place to be courageous and an opportunity to represent conservatism. Benjamin “Benny” Paris ’21 shared similar views with the HPR. He said: “I didn’t really have a great impression of the Ivy

League in general before starting the whole application process.” As he received offers from schools, he formed his impressions based on conversations with people he met. “The thing I noted at Harvard, and part of the reason I really liked it,” Paris added, “was that people were really interested in politics, and there was definitely a lot of energy. And certainly more than Yale, people at Harvard seemed more willing to listen to the other side. That was important to me.” Paris shared some experiences from his freshman year: “In my freshman seminar, I quickly became known as argumentative, the devil’s advocate. But I was always treated with respect.” Paris found an outlet for his beliefs in the John Adams Society, a debate organization that focuses on political and moral philosophy. “The John Adams Society has served as a really great outlet for me, and also a great place to refine my own ideas,” Paris explained. He now serves in a leadership position as the Right Honorable Chief Whip. Kate Krolicki ’20, who is part of Harvard’s ROTC program, told the HPR that Harvard’s strong student involvement in various political groups was what led her to choose Harvard over other schools. Although she embraced the school’s political activism, Krolicki spent some of her first days on campus in the First-Year Urban Program, a freshman pre-orientation program, where she was dismayed at how quickly incoming students “were thrown into a very politically charged environment before school even began.” Despite her surprise with FUP, Krolicki was able to connect with multiple conservative groups. She went on to become a board member of the Harvard Republicans and the president of Harvard’s chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women, an organization for conservative university women. Krolicki explained, “We welcome people of all genders and [political leanings], and we invite different conservative women speakers and have conversations about [various topics].” She cited several positive encounters through NeW, such as a discussion on the portrayal of conservative women in the media, but she has still experienced some less positive confrontations as a member. Krolicki cited activities fairs as an example of these less positive experiences: “We’re often put next to other women’s groups that, although many do great things for women, many are very liberal-leaning.” At one fair, Krolicki, who was nearby in her military uniform working the Air Force ROTC booth, saw from across the room some disgusted looks and whispers from members of another women’s group. Krolicki added, “It’s crazy how quickly some people will judge the Network of Enlightened Women. It’s really disheartening how people say they’re inclusive and respective of all opinions and backgrounds and that’s how they treat [us].” Because of her conservative beliefs, Krolicki said she is sometimes “honestly scared” to speak out in large classes, where she fears she would be immediately labeled or judged for her beliefs. But to incoming students, she advises: “Don’t be scared; you’ll find your place.” Portia Berry-Kilby ’20, a conservative international student from England, told the HPR that when she began studying applied math, she thought that “calculus and geometry could be taught untarnished by liberal bias”; however, the day before the 2016 presidential election, Portia was taken aback when her teaching fellow “spent more time condemning Trump supporters than she spent explaining maths.”



Berry-Kilby went on to tell the story of a student who was punched by a dormmate for revealing that he voted for Trump, and how half the students in one of her classes were absent the day after the election: a protest “more or less praised by the teaching fellow.” Even though she may not have had the most favorable experiences with American campus politics, the conservative niche is a community that Berry-Kilby knows is vital at Harvard. She told the HPR: “Without a doubt, conservatives exist at Harvard. Sometimes, it is simply a question of knowing where to look.” Rather than becoming discouraged by Harvard’s ideological leanings, conservative applicants must understand that belonging to the political minority has its benefits as well. Government professor Harvey Mansfield agrees, going as far as to say that conservatives at Harvard receive better educations than liberals. In an interview with the HPR, he said, “Conservative students are more selective of their classes, more critical in their classes, and they must defend themselves constantly.” From classes to dining hall discussions, right-leaning students must “work out their position and think out their answers,” which leaves them with a stronger understanding of their own viewpoints. For conservative students at Harvard, extracurricular groups are the path to a more welcoming community. Babphavong, Paris, Krolicki, and Berry-Kilby found their homes in Harvard’s conservative student organizations, holding leadership positions in Harvard Right to Life, the Harvard Republican Club, the Network of Enlightened Women, the John Adams Society, and a multitude of other groups.

THE COMPLEMENTARY CHALLENGE As conservative applicants strive to embrace the unique position they occupy in higher education, modern liberals can join the effort to promote an ideal of diversity. To truly realize this goal, however, the liberal majority of Harvard’s student body must retire the “arc of history” mindset, which curbs perspectives believed to hinder progress. A more classically liberal approach — one that celebrates ranges of opinions and the right of individuals to express them — better fosters diversity of thought. Roger Barrus, Ph.D ’84, is a political science professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Hampden-Sydney, Va. He shared with the HPR an intriguing observation about modern progressivism: “If you really think that you know the way that progress is moving, then how do you reckon with people who disagree? You might say, ‘Gee, are they so benighted that they can’t see what I see so clearly?’ And if that’s what you think of them, why not shut them down?” Barrus argued that if the American left embodied classically liberal values — including prioritizing the right to self-expression — universities would draw closer to the ideals of equality they promote. He added that accepting diversity of thought is imperative, especially because “people at some level understand that no individual has a monopoly on truth.” For a different perspective, the HPR spoke with Harvard College Democrats President Devontae “Dev” Freeland ’19. Responding to outside criticism of higher education as overly liberal, he said: “I’ve been really proud of how Harvard students in the past have responded to types of things they thought were inappropriate at Harvard’s campus. I’ve only seen people organize peaceful protests, and counter-dialogue in response.” He pointed out that these respectful forms of disagreement have


actually increased dialogue on campus. Freeland added that for events and speakers brought to campus, there must be the opportunity for those who disagree to engage in dialogue and to ask challenging questions. For Freeland, political diversity must be thought of in companion with other aspects of diversity. He expressed his concern at over-emphasizing ideological diversity as the most important and, like the authors of the Crimson’s editorial, explained that political diversity should be considered along with other crucial aspects of diversity, such as race and socio-economic class. Of course, diversity of many kinds benefits students by allowing them to consider the worldviews of others and refine their own. According to some conservative professors, however, it is ultimately ideological diversity that best exposes students to a multiplicity of ideas in institutions of knowledge. “The only diversity that has sense in a university is that of thought,” former Harvard professor Ruth Wisse told the HPR, because “the function of the university is to further thought and the inquiry into truth: Veritas.” Mansfield agrees: “Diversity of thought is very important. [It] opens the mind and raises questions, opens up a campus and makes it freer — which may be less comforting — and it wakes you up, makes you alive and aware.” Like many of the conservative students the HPR interviewed, Wisse believes that ideological diversity must come from the students. Today’s situation “is the result of pressure from radical students in the 1960s,” she said. “Student energy is what changes things.” Whether the students will truly become a force, however, is “a question to which we don’t yet have an answer.” And what if that answer is no? Maybe conservative applicants decide to avoid inevitable ideological conflict at left-leaning colleges, and some progressive students continue to prevent others from hearing opinions deemed unacceptable. High school seniors to the right of the political center will flock even more toward religiously affiliated and stalwart conservative institutions, while liberal students enroll at increasingly leftist campuses. Instead of learning how to reconcile their differences, these applicants — the students of the future — will become the products of an educational system that is capable of little more than one thing: perpetuating the creation of polarized and narrowminded leaders. In the current political climate, in which the gap between ideologies seems to grow with every tweet, post, and news story, those struggling for unity amidst differences will have lost a major battle.




or parents who are informed that their child is deaf or hard of hearing, the number one concern is how they will be able to communicate with their child. My mother told me that when she learned I was deaf, when I was 13 months old, what pained her most was thinking I would never hear her say “I love you.” Yet with the advent of novel technologies, more and more children are gaining access to sound. Though technology has developed rapidly and recognition of the power of individuals with disabilities has heightened immensely over the past few decades, those who are deaf or hard of hearing continue to face huge barriers to full integration into society. The realm of higher education is just one area where these challenges are overwhelmingly evident. Because one’s access to and experience in higher education can determine life outcomes — from employment opportunities to standards of living — better integration for the deaf in higher education is

crucial to levelling the playing field.

ACCESSING COMMUNICATION There are four major communication approaches that deaf individuals can elect to pursue: Listening and Spoken Language, American Sign Language, Cued Speech, and Total Communication. While these methods all provide the hard of hearing with a mode of communicating with others, each has its own risks and shortcomings. Listening and Spoken Language is the most common communication approach that involves using hearing devices such as hearing aids or cochlear implants and undergoing speech therapy to develop normal hearing and speaking skills. Today, more than 88 percent of families choose an LSL outcome for their deaf child, and that number is likely to continue to grow as



incorporating deaf individuals into a mainstream school environment becomes more commonplace. The deaf community, comprised of those who are “culturally deaf” and communicate primarily through American Sign Language, is often opposed to using hearing technology, as it is viewed as a suppression of deaf culture. The communication method predominantly used by this group, ASL, does not involve verbal communication, but instead relies on hand gestures to replace spoken words. Cued Speech is a third form of communication which combines gestures with audible speech, aiming to allow children to internalize the basis of spoken language by making spoken language visible. Lack of trained professionals and services for those using cued speech has resulted in its waning popularity as a major communication approach for the deaf. Finally, Total Communication is the most integrative of the strategies, defined as a “philosophy of educating children with hearing loss that incorporates all means of communication — formal signs, natural gestures, fingerspelling, body language, listening, lipreading and speech.” In an interview with HPR, Karen Putz, co-director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infusion at Hands & Voices, the leading organization promoting Total Communication, emphasized that it is not a uniform methodology so much as a guiding approach to encouraging language development.

FOUNDATIONS FOR SUCCESS Today, there is a lack of robust data that compares these four approaches. In spite of this, the widespread academic consensus is that regardless of the communication method used, early intervention, parental involvement, and an accompanying educational model to enhance early spoken language skills are the three major determinants of success among deaf children. The first, early intervention, refers to the importance of diagnosing deaf children with hearing loss early in their lives. An article published in 2010 from the University of London concluded that the most successful deaf children, based on age-level reading skill attainment, tended to have earlier diagnoses. The largest benefits of early intervention can be seen with children who undergo surgery to receive cochlear implants at a young age, allowing them to fully access sound. A 2010 article in Otology and Neurotology concludes that “deaf children receiving cochlear implants before the age of 18 months show more rapid progress in auditory performance and speech intelligibility in comparison to children implanted at an older age.” The second, often overlooked, key factor for success — family involvement — was highlighted in a Michigan State University study from 2000. Much of the success of a deaf individual, especially when pursuing a communication method that utilizes


sound, is contingent upon having technology that is appropriately fitted, programmed, and worn consistently, along with broad and extensive access to therapy. Dedicated parents, therapists, and audiologists are integral to the success of children pursuing an LSL approach, along with consistent exposure to sound. A longitudinal analysis published in June 2018 solidifies the relationship between childhood spoken language skills and adolescent reading comprehension, underscoring the importance of developing language skills early in order to reach proper educational attainment later in life — the third widely agreed-upon determinant of success. Further, there exists a clear link between the quantity and quality of sound and children’s educational outcomes. Early intervention to maximize the quantity of sound delivered, and the use of cochlear implants — the most powerful sound-provision technology — are thus two mechanisms through which these first two key variables can be prioritized to improve educational outcomes.

DISPARITIES IN EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT Today, 90 percent of deaf children elect to pursue spoken language as a communication method and spend their school day among hearing peers. Yet despite this heartening shift toward equal access to education, deaf individuals continue to experience much lower educational attainment than the general population. Robust studies from the United States, Finland, United Kingdom, and Sweden, for example, conclude that deaf individuals have levels of education attainment that range anywhere from half to one-quarter of the rates of their hearing peers. And while the educational level of the deaf has increased over time, these gains are only on par with those of the general population, despite greatly expanded access to services and more comprehensive legislation. The most significant legislation that educational institutions must abide by regarding students with disabilities are the Americans with Disabilities Act of 2008, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The IDEA mandates that “to the extent possible, students must be educated in the least restrictive environment,” and schools have tended to interpret that to mean accommodating students within the mainstream school system. Under these laws, all schools, including colleges and universities, are required to “provide qualified interpreters, captioning (now called CART), assistive listening devices, and other auxiliary aids and services to deaf and hard of hearing students” and the cost of such services is not to be imposed on the individual with disabilities. For those with hearing loss, accessible buildings and facilities must also be provided, which can often take the form of visual fire/smoke alarms and bed-shaker alarm clocks.


Despite these and other great strides that have been made to equalize access to education for those who are deaf and hard of hearing, a significant gap remains: only 83 percent of deaf individuals receive a high school diploma, as opposed to 89 percent of hearing individuals. In an interview with the HPR, Gayla Guignard, the chief strategy officer from the Alexander Graham Bell Association, attributed this disparity to a lack of equal access. Guignard explained that “if you are in a classroom and you don’t have a notetaker, don’t have CART, or don’t have assistive listening devices, then you don’t have access to your education, and you are not in a situation where the playing field is level.” That is what the ADA is about — leveling the playing field. Increasingly, universities have recognized the value of the perspectives that students with disabilities bring to college campuses and are working to increase diversity within their student bodies. But still, a surprisingly low 1.5 percent of all students registered with the Accessible Education Office at Harvard University report having some type of a hearing loss, according to Grace Moskola, the director of the Accessible Education Office. Nonetheless, in an interview with the HPR, Moskola emphasized the importance of recognizing disability as an important aspect of diversity, explaining the AEO’s philosophy centering on “equity, access, and social justice for all students.” She noted that an important component of fulfilling this mission lies in forming relationships with partner organizations on campus, including Counseling and Mental Health Services, University Disability Services, the Bureau of Study Council, BGLTQ+ Services, and others to adopt a truly holistic approach to providing accommodations to students. Efforts like those at Harvard forecast a more equitable future ahead.

EMPLOYMENT AND LIFE OUTCOMES Employers who value a diverse workforce are also aiming to increase representation from this historically underrepresented talent pool. A 2018 report from McKinsey concludes that “many successful companies regard [Inclusion and Diversity] as a source of competitive advantage. For some, it’s a matter of social justice, corporate social responsibility, or even regulatory compliance. For others, it’s essential to their growth strategy.” Lime Connect, an organization that connects talented individuals with disabilities with top employers, is working to “rebrand disability through achievement,” shattering stereotypes about individuals with disabilities. Despite the optimism from organizations like Lime Connect, reality paints a slightly grimmer picture of the achievement gap that still exists for those who are deaf. While a third of the normally hearing population receive a bachelor’s degree in the United States, less than a fifth of deaf individuals do. Though

official unemployment rates are similar for deaf and hearing individuals, this statistic is highly misleading as close to half of deaf individuals are not even considered to be in the labor force — defined as those who are working or actively seeking a job. In comparison, the labor force participation rate for those who can hear normally is twice as high. This can mean that deaf individuals experience long-term unemployment or give up seeking work, among myriad other possible explanations. It is heartening, though, that salaries for those deaf individuals who do work mirror those of their similarly educated hearing colleagues, reflecting a similar rate of pay increases accompanying higher educational attainment.

LOOKING FORWARD With early intervention and years of therapy, it is possible for deaf children to achieve the same level of educational and life outcomes as their hearing peers. Ultimately, improving outcomes for deaf individuals comes down to increasing access to information, language, and resources. Guignard emphasized the importance of providing parents with adequate information to empower them to make decisions regarding their child’s communication method and educational placement. She stated, “Our goal is awareness, and providing parents with the resources they need to ensure that their child will arrive in school ready and able to learn.” Organizations such as the National Institute for the Deaf and the Alexander Graham Bell Association are also working to increase awareness and access to information. It is also clear that for deaf individuals to reach their fullest potential, the first few years of life make all the difference. Early and effective access to language, regardless of its form, is the most important factor in supporting educational outcomes among deaf children, with those exposed to sound and/or therapy earlier performing better on standard indicators of literacy. Finally, access to resources in an educational setting is imperative to promoting learning among deaf children. Continuous and robust monitoring from a young age is crucial to ensuring grade-level language skill attainment. Frequent testing and implementation of adjustments are necessary to continuously refine the accomodations provided both inside and outside of the classroom setting. Armed with the knowledge of these key components for success — better technology, more robust legislation, and increased accessibility of information — this generation has an unshakable foundation on which to build a society where deaf individuals are valued and provided the resources they need to succeed. 





hen many people hear the words “The American Dream”, the image of “Main Street” comes to mind: Small mom-and-pop shops line a road surrounded by crops, and kids chase each other into candy stores. John Norris used to be a boy walking down the equivalent of Main Street in Red Oak, Iowa, a town with a population of under six thousand people. The former commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and departmental chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Agriculture now lives in Des Moines, Iowa and sends his children off to school from the biggest metro area in the state. Norris isn’t alone in leaving small-town America for life in the big city; across the nation, rural flight is occurring as more Americans are leaving behind the “simpler life” for the vibrancy and opportunity of the city. Since 2010, 46 states have seen population loss in over 1,300 counties, the vast majority of them rural. Without thriving rural communities, the United States will see an increase in urban crowding and outsourcing of agriculture and manufacturing. The overall quality of life in these rural towns will continue to decrease without sustainable work, and citizens often have no choice but to stay there. Rural communities must make their towns more attractive in order to attract new residents and prevent old residents from fleeing to the city.

next generation to work on the farm are instead choosing to migrate from the rural communities to city centers in droves, causing the average age of a farmer in America to follow a 30-year steady increase. In rural New Hampshire, for instance, young people are increasingly feeling discouraged with the opportunities available in their communities. In 2008, 67 percent of young adults in Coos County, one of the most rural regions in New Hampshire, reported that “it is easy for people their age to find a job.” In 2011, only 19 percent felt this way. Youth that no longer find themselves working in the rural job sector, where sustainable jobs are constantly being stripped away, don’t find their communities sustainable places to work and live anymore. A lack of adequate educational opportunities has also contributed to rural flight. Many rural communities do not have colleges nearby that their young people can attend, so students must leave to continue their education beyond high school. It has always been true that young people who leave for college often end up settling near their school instead of returning to their childhood homes, but the fact that students from all around the nation are attending at much higher rates than decades ago is only contributing to the growing populations fleeing.


While it may seem inevitable and inconsequential that young people are leaving rural areas, this trend has widespread negative economic consequences. Many rural areas experience a weakened tax base due to rural flight. As a result, these communities cannot fund schools, infrastructure, healthcare, and other necessities. The aging rural population then suffers as it finds itself left with inadequate public services. The community’s suffering becomes cyclical since few of the young people who watch their community crumble as they grow up want to stay.

The United States once found its rural lands occupied by family farms as generations upon generations took over the plots of land and continued their family tradition. Now, rural flight is occurring as agriculture is growing increasingly mechanized; with each technological advancement, less people are required to farm large expanses of land. Young people who would be the




Although many believe that those having negative experiences in rural America should just move to a city, doing so often proves too difficult. Many people in rural communities are poor; rural Americans have consistently had higher poverty rates than urban Americans. Many people in small towns simply cannot afford to move to urban areas due to the rising costs of living in cities. Furthermore, the migration of those who can afford to leave rural areas for a better life carries economic consequences for the rest of the nation. Constraints caused by urban crowding, such as unemployment and lack of solid infrastructure, can ultimately make the idealized “better life” in the big city much worse. As more people leave rural areas, less people will be available for agricultural work. As a result, the United States might eventually have so few of the farms that it needs to feed its people that it could find itself dependent on other countries for food. The nation would consequently have to increase its imports, therefore increasing its trade deficit and damaging its economy. Rural flight will likely also harm the manufacturing industry. Although manufacturers are drawn to rural areas due to the lower taxes and land prices in these places, declining rural populations are depriving these companies of workers. Rural manufacturers might eventually be forced to follow their workers to the cities, in which case the current 79.5 percent of manufacturing that already occurs in urban areas will increase. The movement of rural manufacturers to cities would exacerbate the strains that urban areas already face due to the space and energy that manufacturing plants require. Without citizens being able to make a living working in agriculture and manufacturing in rural areas, the United States has the potential to lose much of the self-sustainability it has left.

STAYING RELEVANT In small towns around the nation, immigrants are beginning to fill a vacancy left by those fleeing for the big city. Buena Vista County in Iowa, for example, is home to Storm Lake, which is the most diverse county in thestate. While Iowa is 91 percent white, white students attending Storm Lake schools comprise only 16 percent of the population. While many small towns in rural Iowa are struggling, Storm Lake is not only growing — it is booming. In fact, the immigrant population is cited as keeping Storm Lake alive. “All of these manufacturing plants have been built-up and can’t find workers,” Norris told the HPR. “The only real opportunity for labor supply is the immigrant population. Without them the manufacturing plants will gravitate toward the urban centers.” Storm Lake embraces their immigrants; these are residents who are opening local businesses and contributing vitality to the community. As children are born and grow older, they stay in Storm Lake and create lives of their own. Garden City, Kansas is similar to Storm Lake. Only 40 percent of the town identifies as “white, non-Hispanic,” compared to the just shy of 80 percent of Kansans who identify that way. Immigrants residing in Garden City open businesses and work in food production, keeping the local economy running successfully. In turn, local schools, infrastructure, and community life improve as well. In Diana R. Gordon’s book, Village for Immigrants, Hispanic immigrants, who comprise one third of the local popula-

tion in Greenport, New York, are noted for reviving the local economy in a seasonal tourist town. Local residents that left their rural communities are finding their economic, cultural, and physical voids filled by faces from around the world. All around the nation people are finding unique ways to retain, and sometimes increase, population in rural areas. One company is working to create mini tech hubs throughout rural America with the hopes that they will retain and attract young people. Pillar’s “Future Ready Iowa” was the brainchild of Linc Kroeger. Iowa-born, Kroeger moved away like most young people do and came back 20 years later to attempt to resurrect these small towns. “These aren’t remote software development jobs where people are working alone in their home office,” Kroeger told the HPR. “Technologists work in collaborative teams in a state-of-the-art technology innovation facility you’d expect to find in Silicon Valley.” For a town like Jefferson, Iowa — which hasn’t seen a population this low since WWII — Kroeger hopes to do more than simply create job opportunities; he hopes to reform the way these communities operate. Jefferson passed a bond to open a community college that will teach the prerequisites required to join the new tech hub. This will provide young people right out of high school the skills they need to begin working in a highly desirable sector, and with an annual salary sitting high above the $43,333 average income in Jefferson, at $55,000 to $60,000. Kroeger said that Future Ready Iowa’s first rural “Forge” is set to open in Jefferson in May 2019. Some research proposes creating walkable “city centers” in small towns in order to construct densely populated areas and mimic the convenience that comes with an urban area. Other towns will literally pay people to come live there. “In order to develop or recruit businesses, some remote rural towns have tried to compensate for the lack of advantages larger towns and urban areas have by providing ‘carrots’ such as subsidies or tax breaks,” Younjun Kim, assistant economics professor at Southern Connecticut University, explained to the HPR. Grant County, Indiana, for instance, gives new residents $5,000 toward a downpayment on a home. Marne, Iowa, on the other hand, gives new residents a free plot of land to build a house on. Kim warned that although these measures sometimes prove successful, local governments run the risk of paying for business activity that would have occurred in their towns anyway.

FUTURE REVIVAL Ultimately, the only way citizens will be attracted to small towns is if the quality of life is attractive and sustainable. Although some people find community in rural towns that may be lost elsewhere, the growing demands of the U.S. economy will continue drawing people toward the higher salaries, and quality of life often deemed synonymous with urban living. Rural America will need to find innovative ways to remain relevant in a continually changing labor and educational world, or the U.S. economy will suffer. Without family farms and the vibrancy of “Main Street,” America runs the risk of losing what it prides itself on—being a land of opportunity. If there aren’t opportunities for people from all backgrounds in the 97 percent of land that is considered “rural,” citizens will all be crowded together looking for the same thing: a better future.





n August 7, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican, and two-term Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) coasted to easy primary victories in the race for McCaskill’s current Missouri Senate seat. News outlets from the Washington Post to NBC framed the election as a head-to-head race between the candidates, with no predictable outcome. Local news outlets emerged from the woodworks to cover the election set up by the primaries. In a state that Trump won by nearly 20 points in 2016, the Hawley-McCaskill Senate race will be one of the most hotly contested races in the country, and deserves the media coverage it has received. But such coverage has been predominantly inaccurate. The 2018 Missouri Senate race is not just a race between incumbent Democrat McCaskill and Republican Hawley. Centrist, independent candidate Craig O’Dear will also be running for Senate after submitting over 20,000 signatures from Missouri citizens to get his name on the ballot — more than double the number of signatures required by state law. O’Dear is a business litigation attorney and community leader in Kansas City who has demonstrated his viability as a candidate through the sheer number of people who fought to put his name on the ballot. He is running on a moderate platform, devoted to working across the aisle to promote political progress. According to the media, however, O’Dear is not running. Several publications have run profiles on O’Dear and his platform, but when one types “Missouri Senate race 2018” into a search engine, the only articles that appear cover the Republican and Democratic nominees. O’Dear has been counted out since the moment he entered the race. O’Dear is not alone in this lack of coverage. A movement of centrist, independent candidates is sweeping the nation, from Neal Simon for Senate in Maryland to Terry Hayes for governor in Maine to a full slate of independent candidates for the Colorado state legislature. Backed by Unite America, a centrist organization seeking to provide support for independent candidates in an effort to overcome the partisan divide in the United States, these candidates are gaining traction when they speak to voters, but finding the social and formal barriers to electing an independent nearly insurmountable. Complaints about hyper-partisanship are omnipresent in the United States today, with neither major political party offering a viable solution. The centrist, independent movement could overcome this partisan tension, but it is being preemptively counted out by social and formal political constraints that American vot-


ers must overcome.

MITIGATING THE MEDIA Such counting out begins with a lack of media attention for independent candidates. Joel Searby, owner of the Sycamore Lane company — a political consulting group that focuses on statewide independent races — and former manager of independent candidate Evan McMullin’s presidential campaign in 2016, explained to the HPR how press coverage for his independent candidates this cycle has declined as their races grew more contentious. “Out of the gate,” Searby explained, “the coverage was good. But pretty quickly, that cynicism set in.” Searby went on to note that the media sets very high barriers to what it means for a candidate to be gaining traction, meaning that independent candidates frequently get left behind, even when they are steadily gaining support. Nonetheless, Searby was quick to comment that this dismissiveness may come from “a deeply entrenched, knee-jerk reaction by reporters to see every race as a two-way race.” Though Searby sympathizes with where journalists are coming from, he commented that such reporting is “not an informed, thoughtful approach.” To combat the issue, he suggested that strategists for independents must be “relentless” in getting coverage for their candidates and “push back” in the social media space when a race is portrayed as a two-way race so early in the electoral process. Searby’s comments make an important point: How can voters choose a third option, when it appears as if only two exist?

BRIDGING THE PSYCHOLOGICAL DIVIDE Low media coverage is not, however, entirely to blame for the barriers to the independent movement. The psychological barriers to voting for an independent in an entrenched two-party state pose some of the largest obstacles to even the most viable candidate. According to a 2015 Pew Research study, 39 percent of American voters identify as Independent, outnumbering those who identify as Democrats (32 percent) and those who identify as Republicans (23 percent). This is the highest number of Independent voters in over 75 years, and it continues to increase. Though this trend indicates that American voters are tired of hyper-partisanship, electing independents has not become easier, especially in closely contested races. Independent candidates run the risk of being labelled “spoilers,” who hand the


election to one candidate by pulling votes from the other. This mentality leads unaffiliated voters to choose party candidates, if only to ensure that the lesser of two evils is elected, or to avoid “wasting” their votes.

STRUCTURAL SOLUTIONS While social barriers frequently prevent the election of independent candidates, structural reform can be crucial to future independent success. Electoral reform presents one of the most promising paths to ensuring the viability of independent candidates. The current United States electoral system of first-past-thepost voting means that candidates must only win a plurality of the vote, or the most votes of any candidate, to be elected into office, rather than a majority, or more than half of all votes. This frequently leads to elected officials who are not representing a majority of voters in a particular area, while also contributing to the spoiler argument. Ranked-choice voting presents a solution to these issues. Under a ranked-choice system, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no first-choice candidate receives a majority of the votes in the first round, a second round is held. The candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is removed from the running, and his or her votes are transferred to the candidate’s voters’ second-choices. The process is repeated until a candidate with a majority emerges. Maine used ranked-choice voting in its statewide primary elections for the first time in June 2018, and it is used in numerous cities across the United States. Evan Falchuk, a former independent gubernatorial candidate in Massachusetts and member of the Advisory Board of Voter Choice Massachusetts — which is working to institute rankedchoice voting in the state of Massachusetts — commented to the HPR that ranked-choice voting presents “a brilliant solution to the problem we have in this country of people believing that their vote doesn’t really matter.” In fact, according to Falchuk, “ranked-choice voting is the single best structural reform that can fix our democracy, without a doubt.” Drawing from his experience as a former independent candidate, Falchuk asserted that there are structural barriers meant to box out unaffiliated and third-party candidates that have been “created by Democrats and Republicans in a bipartisan way.” According to Falchuk, ranked-choice voting could eliminate such barriers. Falchuk also noted that voters “like having more choices. They like knowing that candidates have to appeal to more voters because they have to get 50 percent.” When asked to respond to the argument that ranked-choice voting is confusing to voters, Falchuk commented that ranked-choice voting is “different, not difficult” and that the data “doesn’t back up” such a claim. A ranked-choice system eliminates both the spoiler argument and the notion of the wasted vote, which could prove crucial in overcoming the psychological barriers to voting for an independent candidate. No candidate becomes a “spoiler,” because if the candidate does not receive a majority, their votes will be transferred. Moreover, no vote is ever wasted, because it constantly transfers.


Ranked-choice voting alone, however, cannot eliminate all barriers to electing independents. Though voters may be more likely to choose independent candidates, independents will still be up against a two-party system that has been entrenched for centuries, fighting candidates who have the resources a party backing can provide. All hope is not lost for underdog independents though, especially with groups like Unite America. Founded just two years ago, Unite America has endorsed two dozen independent candidates across the country for the 2018 election. Unite America is “a movement of Democrats, Republicans, and independents who are committed to bridging the growing partisan divide in order to tackle our largest challenges and leave a better country to future generations.” The organization is working to build “the grassroots community, donor network, and electoral infrastructure to help independent candidates run winning campaigns.” By providing independent candidates with traditional party resources without forcing them to swear allegiance to a party platform, Unite America is opening the door for a new generation of independent candidates devoted to representing the people rather than the parties. The key to electing independents, though, will be exposure and innovation, such as that proposed by Win My Vote, a nonpartisan voter engagement platform that brings voters, candidates, and organizations together to discuss, debate, and make decisions on how to vote. Voters can make “ballots” with their choices for each race in which they are eligible to vote, see ballots from other voters and trusted sources, and communicate directly with candidates. In an interview with the HPR, Jim Gillis, the founder of Win My Vote, compared the platform to “a modern day Constitutional Convention.” Motivated to “build a better voter guide,” Gillis created Win My Vote as a platform for candidates to communicate directly with the masses without having to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaigning. Gillis envisions this platform as one that will level the playing field where voters can see “a schoolteacher, a retired mailman, a billionaire, and a doctor, and it doesn’t really matter who spent five million dollars on their campaign because they are all right there, side by side.” Creating this kind of a level playing field is crucial to unaffiliated candidates because it mitigates the necessity of party backing. Putting principle over party is an impossible task for the American voter without this level playing field, but accessible and inclusive options for all creates a system based on equality, validation, and affirmation of civil rights.

ASSUMING THE RISK The centrist, independent movement in modern America is up against countless obstacles, but they are not insurmountable. Instituting structural reforms like ranked-choice voting while building a support network for independent candidates is crucial to overcoming the psychological barriers that have previously kept the movement at bay. Still, the final burden rests on American voters who must teach themselves to be open-minded and accept positive change, even when it is uncomfortable. Griping about hyper-partisanship in the United States will not make it go away, but the independent movement might. It is incumbent upon the American people to take that chance. 



Wall or Mosaic?





hether constructed to manipulate societies or assert order over natural environments, humans have long loved walls. As literal barriers between areas, walls have the power to either stave off powerful forces or confine them. In the Sahel, a semi-arid region between the Sahara Desert of North Africa and the savannas of West Africa, international experts, national leaders, and local officials have conceived of a wall to keep the desert out. With modern crises like desertification and land degradation calling for a grand solution, the idea of a Great Green Wall, a 10-mile-wide swathe of trees designed to stretch more than 4,350 miles across the continent, is one of the grandest ever considered. However, despite its planners’ grandiose ambitions, a wide range of ecological and practical issues have prevented the this literal wall of trees from being built. Fortunately, alternative processes can fight desertification more effectively, but in order to truly ensure their success, international and local policymakers alike must adapt their thinking to consider local needs and invest more into the project. The consequences of failure range from the continued degradation of a unique ecosystem to an exacerbated migration crisis and a proliferation of extremist groups.

WORRYING ISSUES Currently, the Sahel region faces a number of serious issues, such as poverty and instability caused by Boko Haram, and experts have increasingly pointed to a pervasive underlying culprit: land degradation. Myriad factors have contributed to this environmental problem. Mohamed Bakarr, the lead environmental specialist at the Global Environmental Facility, told the HPR that he blames much of it on “poor land use practices, especially trying to grow crops that are not suitable for that particular system.” Growing crops such as maize “can easily expose the fragile ecosystem” because annual crops do not hold the soil in place, and the overgrazing of livestock has further reduced perennial vegetation. Finally, French colonial policies, which declared all trees property of the colonial government, discouraged individuals from planting trees and allowing natural regeneration. Beyond agricultural practices, climate change continues to alter global temperature and precipitation patterns, creating a hotter and drier Sahel capable of supporting less plant life. Collectively, these factors have led to increased wind erosion, which removes topsoil and other nutrients, leaving only poor subsoils in place. Under these conditions, poor plowing and tilling techniques have only increased the potential for water erosion in the brief but intense Sahel rainstorms. Desertification and land degradation in the area have led to dire consequences. Sedentary farmers, such as the Berom in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region, have clashed with nomadic Fulani herdsmen over the increasingly limited supply of arable land capable of supporting crops or livestock. Additionally, as previously arable lands become infertile, many farmers and herders find that they cannot continue their traditional practices and must give up farming or ranching. Unfortunately, they lack the skills to find other occupations, leading to greater regional poverty. In turn, this poverty has led to fears of greater instability throughout the region. Already, lack of opportunity in the Sahel

has driven many to either move to cities with inadequate services or seek opportunities in Europe, where European governments have struggled to deal with the ensuing migration crisis. Also worryingly, extremist groups like Boko Haram are taking advantage of poverty to recruit young men to join their cause. These groups can provide these men with a steady paycheck and a sense of manhood, and as they expand in power and influence, they only foster greater instability and violence in the region. As a result, policymakers throughout the Sahel region have sought solutions to stem the tide of desertification. For many, the most obvious came in the form of a proposal first espoused over six decades ago.

FIGHTING THE “SPREADING CANCER” In 1952, British environmental scientist Richard St. Barbe Baker proposed a continuous line of trees spanning the Sahel in order to block wind-carried sands and sediments from the Sahara, improve soil quality, and mitigate wind erosion. Although his ideas never gained popularity at the time, they gained new traction when Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo started promoting them to the international community in 2005. In 2007, the African Union threw its weight behind the concept, with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade touting it as the solution to fight the desert’s “spreading cancer.” Three years later, the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification also backed the idea at the 2011 Bonn Conference, with goals similar to Baker’s original proposition. The project has certainly grown, both in international funding and prominence: 21 countries have joined the Great Green Wall Initiative since 2011, and donors have pledged more than $4 billion towards the project. In May 2016, the GGWI reaffirmed its commitment with the Dakar Declaration, which pledged to speed up tree planting efforts. By September 2016, it claimed that it had already planted more than 15 percent of the planned number of trees. However, the initiative faces numerous problems, from ecological to financial.

PROBLEMS WITH THE SOLUTION? Ecologically, the idea of a literal wall of trees makes little sense. As Professor Rosetta Elkin of the Harvard Graduate School of Design told the HPR, pressing “agriculture and forests in a prairie-like landscape” like the Sahel is inane, especially since it never supported a forest in the first place. Instead, Elkin argues that planting and cultivating native grasses would be more conducive to maintaining and managing the Sahel’s grasslands. Bakarr agreed, telling the HPR that “when you have an ecosystem where it’s very dry … then it becomes a logistical challenge to create a belt of trees that stretches the entire length of the Sahel.” Practical results bolstered Elkin and Bakarr’s conclusions: as a consequence of the region’s dry climate, more than 80 percent of trees planted in past projects died within two months of being planted. Additionally, because forests demand a large quantity of water, planting trees will significantly stress the region’s native aquifers, which already replenish at a negligible rate. Elkin told the HPR that the Great Green Wall is “ a great irrigation project, [but] you can’t have that many trees without pumping paleozoic



water to the surface.” From an ecological point of view, therefore, the idea of a literal wall of trees stretching across Africa is impractical at best and counterproductive at worst. A lack of clear data about the project has also hampered its success. As Elkin observed in the journal Urbanography in 2015, “the complicated network of actors makes it difficult to measure effectiveness.” She further explained that the project’s backers have touted “small projects that work locally, but may not take to scaling up.” Even when data about the project is available, it has shown that the project still needs a lot of work to accomplish its goals. Dr. Moctar Sacande, a biologist at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, noted in an interview with the HPR that progress has widely varied by country. According to him, current progress is clearly insufficient when compared to the amount needed to make an impact. With the United Nations’ goals calling for the restoration of 10 million hectares per year, Sacande stressed that the undertaking “is a massive task, and countries are lacking funding.” While the issue of replicating success on a large scale continues to worry many experts, many are also tailoring their solutions to the needs and ecologies of individual communities without adopting a one-size-fits-all approach.

NEW APPROACHES TO RESTORATION International agencies such as USAID and the World Bank have adopted some of these new solutions, and current plans have shifted to the most salient alternative: the idea of farmermanaged natural regeneration. In an interview with the HPR, Chris Reij, a Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute and one of FMNR’s leading proponents, defined the concept for the HPR as “farmers protecting and managing trees of species which regenerate naturally on their farmland.” A simple and cost-effective solution, FMNR has an advantage over actively planting trees because it avoids the depletion of natural aquifers, maintains the current ecology of the Sahel, and utilizes the right species that can help regenerate the land. Reij unequivocally stated the necessity for FMNR: “There is no future for drylands without increasing the number of unfarmed trees.” Aside from the ecological benefits, FMNR also benefits the communities of the Sahel. First, the increase in trees has reduced wind speed, which previously destroyed young crops and forced farmers to plant crops many times. With the decrease in wind speed, Reij explained that local farmers “only plant once instead of two, three, four times,” which reduces costs and wind erosion. Additionally, some trees fix nitrogen in the soil, improving soil fertility and crop yields. In turn, this improves food supply in the region, which reduces famine and allows farmers to sell their food surpluses as an extra source of income. During drought years, trees serve as insurance policies: farmers can cut down trees, sell them as firewood or construction wood, and purchase grain on the market, helping them to avoid starvation. Furthermore, FMNR has empowered women, who generally care for children, cook meals, and gather water and firewood. As Reij told the HPR, “Twenty years ago, [they] had to walk two and a half hours a day to collect firewood. Now they walk half an hour a day on average, because they can collect firewood from their own fields, simply by pruning their own trees.” Sacande went on to explain how “non-timber forest production” can enable farmers to tap the international demand for shea butter and


gum arabic, which are produced by the African shea tree and acacia tree, respectively, to make a living while also helping to restore the land. While the additional income helps all farmers, it helps female farmers specifically by enabling them to set up a financial safety net. As Reij said, the aphorism “the tree is our granary” perfectly sums up the benefits of FMNR. Other practices can help reduce water erosion in the Sahel. For example, the system of contour plowing, whereby farmers plow parallel to the land or along its natural contours, can slow water flow and channel formation. These practices reduce soil erosion by lowering the amount of water flowing across fields, improve soil quality, and provide extra sources of income.

THE FUTURE OF THE SAHEL To actually implement these ideas, international organizations will need to adopt strategies that avoid the traditional Western top-down approach. Reij proposed several ways to incentivize farmers to adopt alternative approaches to farming. First, national governments should look at adopting forestry policies that encourage agroforestry and recognize farmers’ ownership of unfarmed trees. As Reij put it, “Ownership is key. If farmers do not perceive that they own the trees on their farmland, they will not invest in trees.” Second, Reij proposed the development of “radio programs with experienced farmers” and “farmer-to-farmer study visits.” He elaborated that farmers might not trust foreign experts who come in to preach these reforms, but that they would trust fellow farmers in similar situations explaining the benefits of new land use practices. Clearly, the new ideas of FMNR represent a massive improvement over the old idea of a literal wall of trees, which was infeasible at best and counterproductive at worst. However, governments must expand their work to incentivize FMNR and scale it up from a foundation of recent successes. They must devote more funding to the GGWI, NGOs, and local governments, all of whom work with the individual stakeholders on the ground. Additionally, governments must simplify organizational lines, consolidate committees, create more substantial data collection initiatives, and work carefully with stakeholders to develop individualized plans for each region. Above all, the Sahel must fully embrace FMNR and other practices that reflect the reality of the climate on the ground and create a mosaic of land use practices, not a wall. 




ridays in Jordan have a magical quality about them, as thousands of Muslims congregate in mosques to pray alongside their neighbors. For many, it is also water day — when enormous government water trucks fill tanks on the roofs of homes and businesses. For the average family, this tank holds approximately 1,000 gallons and will be their only source of water for the next week. In this environment of relative scarcity, water is treated with reverence.

But just 40 miles away, in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp, that much water is an unimaginable luxury. Row after row of tattered shelters harbor almost 81,000 Syrian refugees in the sweltering heat. Water is so scarce that each person is allotted only nine gallons per day. Multiple families are forced to share one bathtub, avoid washing clothes, and reduce drinking water consumption to ensure they don’t run out before the next day’s rations.



Government officials are banking on an ambitious pipeline connecting the Red Sea and Dead Sea to solve the crisis. Called the Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance Project, or RSDSCP, the project remains in flux as diplomatic tensions in the region flare.

EXTREME DROUGHT One million, four hundred thousand refugees have crossed the Jordan border in the past decade, primarily due to the escalating violence in Syria. They now comprise 15 percent of the population, straining infrastructure and government resources across the country. The water sector has been hit particularly hard. “Syrian refugees have increased water needs by 21 percent throughout the Kingdom and 40 percent in the north,” Iyad Dahiyat, Jordan’s minister of water, told FranceInfo last year. According to the ministry, each Syrian refugee costs the water sector approximately 440 JD/year. This rapid influx of demand for a resource which was is already in scarce supply means the country is desperate for water. At the same time, Jordan is confronting its worst drought in decades. Located in one of the driest areas in the world, Jordan receives less than 200 millimeters of rainfall per year. Most of its water originates in the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers, which are increasingly struggling to supply enough water to meet demand as temperatures rise and rainfall declines. Conditions are only expected to get worse as carbon emissions accelerate global climate change. Modeling from the Stanford University Jordan Water Project estimates that by the end of the century, rainfall will decrease by 30 percent and Jordan’s average temperatures will increase by 42 degrees Fahrenheit.

A ‘PIPE DREAM?’ Since 1665, those who live on the banks of the Dead Sea have dreamed of saving it by connecting it to the Red Sea via a canal. The past 350 years have seen little progress on the project, due primarily to geopolitical tensions preventing cooperation among Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, all of which have a significant stake in the body of water. Especially over the past century, as Israel and the Arab world remained locked in constant conflict over Palestinian statehood, the countries that share the Dead Sea have never been able to cooperate enough to build a canal. However, in the past three decades, as droughts became more severe and large refugee flows dramatically increased demand for water, Jordan has faced heightened pressure to find a solution. Hussam Hussein, a professor at East Anglia University, told the HPR that Jordan’s desperation for a solution is well-known in the region. “For Jordan, it is a must to proceed with [the canal] in order to secure water in the country,” said Hussein. “At one point, Jordan even considered moving forward by itself.” However, as Emily McKee, assistant professor of anthropology at Northern Illinois University, explained, since countries in the region share water sources, cooperation on infrastructure is challenging. “There’s a troubled history of cross-border water use between Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and Syria as well,” she told the HPR. “The debate has been really intense since the Ottoman Empire, but has become particularly politically charged with threads of Zionism and Israeli statehood.” The origins of the modern project stem back to 2002, when


Jordan’s King Abdullah approached Israeli President Moshe Katsav about saving the Dead Sea. Abdullah and Katsav agreed to hold a joint dialogue but later formed a trilateral partnership with Palestine at the request of the World Bank. Surprisingly, the World Bank did not provide funds for the pipeline’s infrastructure, a unique agreement that has occurred only few times in the organization’s 74-year history, according to a bank official. Instead, it conducted a series of studies that ultimately recommended a 110-mile pipeline be built to connect the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, running through Jordanian territory. Alongside the pipeline, the study recommended a desalination plant and two hydropower plants be built. At full capacity, the pipeline would carry up to two billion cubic meters of seawater per year. Once the studies were complete, two problems became apparent. First, the estimated project cost was $10 billion, far out of reach for any of the countries involved. Second, environmental groups spoke out against the project, expressing concerns about unknown chemical reactions that might occur if too much brine was diverted to the Dead Sea. These problems ultimately led Israel, Jordan, and Palestine to initially limit the scope of the RSDSCP, allowing them time to navigate the pipeline’s complex logistical and funding challenges. The resulting smaller project, “Phase I,” was announced in 2016 and serves as a pilot, allowing environmental impacts to be studied on a micro-scale before potential large-scale catastrophes occur.


Phase I involves the construction of a desalination plant north of Aqaba, which will process 80-100 million cubic meters of water per year. A pipeline will be constructed to carry salt brine from the Red Sea to the desalination plant. After desalination, salt brine will be piped to the Dead Sea in hopes of saving it from evaporation. The infrastructure project builds on a 2015 water-swap agreement between Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. Israel will be able to purchase 35 million cubic meters of water from Jordan’s desalination plant. In exchange, Jordan will be able to buy 50 million cubic meters of water from Lake Kinneret in Israel annually, which would double its current allocation. This agreement allows both countries to supply water to constituents traditionally isolated from water production facilities. “It’s not really a Red-Dead Sea canal anymore,” Hussein said. “There’s still a connection through the canal, but overall, it’s more of a water swap agreement between the three governments than the huge canal that was planned in the ’90s.”

SAVING A SYMBOL Officials are hopeful that the RSDSCP will help alleviate the country’s drought, but also that it will save a symbolically important body of water: the Dead Sea. Formerly part of a large lake which extended all the way to the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea is now only a shadow of its former self. 18,000 years ago, its connection to Galilee evaporated, leaving extremely salty brine trapped in the desert basin 1,300 feet below sea level. Freshwater from the surrounding mountains flows into the basin, keeping the Dead Sea alive but quickly evaporating in triple-digit temperatures, leaving behind rich salt and mineral deposits. Fifty years ago, this cycle was interrupted as growing populations in the region diverted freshwater for drinking water and irrigation. Now, the sea is rapidly evaporating, receiving only 10 percent of the freshwater necessary to replenish itself. This is distressing to those in the region for a number of reasons. The sea is significant in both Islamic and Christian scripture, believed to be the home of the ancient people of Sodom, whom God punished for their wickedness. Some Muslims also believe Moses is buried in a mosque near the sea. And, of course, the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947, are a treasure trove for scholars, containing 2,000-year-old scripture written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. If the sea evaporates, a major symbol for multiple world religions will be lost. The site is also important ecologically and for the robust tourism industry it supports. Last year, 3.6 million visitors came from around the world to visit the famous body of water and soak up what many believe to be its curative minerals.

NO SHORTAGE OF CHALLENGES Though geopolitical tensions have since thawed enough for the project to get a green light from all three countries, fundraising for the project remains imperative for its success. “The symbolic importance of saving the Dead Sea is important for the two countries from a funding perspective,” Hussein told the HPR. “It’s very easy to use that symbolic importance to attract funding from all over the world.” Much of the funding is expected to come from the private sector, but the United States pledged $100 million to the project in 2015, and other countries and agencies have raised a com-

bined $400 million. Aside from the enormous logistical challenges involved in constructing a pipeline 110 miles long, bitter rivalries in the region threaten to destabilize the project. In July 2017, two Jordanians were killed in Amman by an Israeli embassy guard, heightening tensions between the two countries and halting the project. Just as the parties reached a resolution that allowed the project to move forward, Trump burst onto the scene, upsetting the already-fragile sense of order. “The role of Trump in the region has been quite detrimental, and tragic, especially when he decided to move the embassy to Jerusalem,” Hussein said. “The decision came when the relations between Jordan and Israel were already at their lowest due to the attacks.” While Trump’s actions in Jerusalem threaten the pipeline, he has otherwise aligned himself with past administrations by supporting the project. “Trump is in line with the U.S. policies that were in place under previous administrations, pushing for the project financially and politically,” Hussein said. Pressure from environmentalists and other advocates is also building, tarnishing the brand of the project. Ecopeace Middle East launched several information campaigns against the project in the past few years, calling for government policies that restore water tributaries to their natural state, reducing the need for potentially invasive infrastructure. “There are those that say, rather than building giant infrastructure projects ... we should pursue returning flow to the Jordan River, allowing it to be a viable ecosystem and waterway,” McKee said. There seems to be little appetite for such projects, however — Jordan is narrowly focused on infrastructure development, forging ahead with the RSDSCP instead.

THE PATH AHEAD This project is just one of many in the works in Jordan and the rest of the region, as shrinking water supplies and rising populations force governments to seek innovative solutions. Many drought-affected countries lack sufficient financial resources to independently develop massive infrastructure projects, and look to international funding sources for assistance. McKee urged the global community to remember that their consumption decisions have a direct impact on the plight faced by Middle Eastern countries. “This is not simply the far-away problem of a very dry area … we need to think about the interconnections involved; for example, a great proportion of Jordan agriculture is export-oriented. Water scarcity problems around the world are a shared problem and a shared responsibility,” she said. In Christian scripture, the prophet Ezekiel has a vision that the Dead Sea will someday live again. When the coming Messiah rules the earth, he prophesied that water will flow from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, bringing life back to the sea. It remains to be seen whether the Dead Sea will last long enough for his prophecy to have a chance at fruition.







hen Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth was released in 2006, some of its most striking images depicted the flooding of major cities from dramatic sea-level rise. Although the film’s imagery was somewhat exaggerated, the danger of flooding is a reality for many coastal cities. In Jakarta, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, 40 percent of the land area is already below sea level. Indonesia’s capital remains dry only thanks to an extensive system of canals and seawalls. If they were to fail, almost a million people — and one fifth of Indonesia’s GDP — would be underwater within days. Twice in the past 15 years, Jakarta has experienced catastrophic floods. In 2007, a storm surge submerged half the city under nearly four meters of water, causing $500 million in damage and leaving half a million homeless. Another flood in 2013 was almost as disastrous. Scientists initially believed climate change was responsible for increased flood severity: Higher rainfall and rising sea levels magnify Jakarta’s natural vulnerability as a coastal city with heavy monsoons. Urbanization and population growth also contribute to an inability to absorb rainfall. Still, these factors alone cannot account for the disastrous extent of the floods. JanJaap Brinkman, a scientist with the Dutch water knowledge management firm Deltares, produced another explanation: subsidence. Subsidence is the sinking of land, usually due to the compaction of underground sediment. While scientists predict an average 7.5 centimeter sea-level rise per decade on Indonesian shores in the next century, Jakarta is subsiding that much per year, making Indonesia’s capital the fastest-sinking city in the world. Although subsidence in Jakarta was acknowledged by academics nearly a century ago, serious attention has only been paid to the issue since 2007. Although many environmental factors contribute to sinking, hydrologists agree that Jakarta’s affliction is predominantly caused by over-abstraction of deep groundwater: As large developments in Jakarta drain water from the aquifer beneath the capital, deep layers of soil dry out and compact, causing upper layers to subside. As a result, Jakarta has sunk four meters in the last 30 years. Today, the sea looms above the northern quadrant of the city.

ADDRESSING FLOODING, NOT SUBSIDENCE The Jakarta government has prioritized flood prevention over subsidence. Following the 2007 disaster, the existing 20mile seawall was raised and Jakarta’s extensive canal system was dredged and widened. Embankments were strengthened, water retention basins were dug, and rivers were redirected into massive flood canals. Despite these efforts, Brinkman was convinced that there were only “two ways to keep Jakarta safe from floods: move four million people out [and] give North Jakarta to the sea,” or turn Jakarta Bay into a “very large pump lake.” The first option was both politically infeasible and economically disastrous. That left the second. The Jakarta Coastal Defense Strategy, developed in 2011, was initially envisioned as a large dike separating Jakarta Bay from the Java Sea. By bailing water and lowering water levels, rivers could flow out of the city. Indonesian academics expressed skepticism about the project’s effectiveness, warning that the dike would turn Jakarta Bay into a stagnant cesspool capturing the

effluent of 13 heavily polluted rivers and a city without a public sanitation system. In addition, “tens of thousands of people connected to small-scale fisheries will lose their livelihood,” opponents protested. The government’s own Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry confirmed the predicted damages and added that the dike would likely cause the erosion of offshore islands, the forced relocation of 24,000 fishermen, and eutrophication in the enclosed bay. Following the 2013 flood, the JCDS was abandoned in favor of the much larger National Capital Integrated Coastal Development plan, which combined the dike with a 1990s plan to build artificial islands in Jakarta Bay. Selling land reclamation permits for the islands was pitched as a way to fund the $40 billion undertaking but soon evolved into a vision to construct Jakarta’s own version of Dubai’s famous Palm Islands, dotted with luxury hotels and apartments. However, the NCICD was criticized for its motives, as well as the social and environmental costs of the JCDS. Scholars argued that “the sinking crisis has been politicized to pave the way for the NCICD.” Academics likened the plan to the monument-building obsessions of Indonesia’s earlier leaders and to historical development policies that favored large, visually impressive projects over social equality and poverty reduction. “By developing North Jakarta, the project promises to [realize] the world-class city aspirations of Indonesia’s political elites,” wrote Octavianti and Charles, researchers at the University of Oxford. Instead of seeking the most efficient way to protect the city and mitigate future damage, policymakers and developers became fixated on the NCICD as a kind of international status symbol and profit-making opportunity. “The name change said it all,” Michelle Kooy, associate professor at the Delft Institute for Water Education, told the HPR. “‘Coastal defense’ changed to ‘coastal development.’” The project had one other mortal flaw. While policymakers and media reported that the seawall would “prevent land subsidence,” the NCICD was actually only intended “to adapt and improve flood protection,” Peter Letitre, Brinkman’s successor as the director of Deltares in Jakarta, told the HPR. “It was not preventing further subsidence,” he said. One consultant warned, “Unless subsidence stops, NCICD won’t work.” Still, the apparent necessity of the sea wall to prevent further flooding “dominated the public discourses.” Consequently, the NCICD did not face widespread resistance for three years. In March 2016, however, public opposition and interest spiked due to a highly publicized bribery and corruption scandal, pressuring President Joko Widodo to commission an evaluation of the project. While the six-month review was underway, a cabinet reshuffle replaced the sitting Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs, who had cancelled one of the artificial island’s unlawful reclamation permits, with a staunch supporter of the NCICD project who quickly reissued the permit. The incident only reinforced impressions that the project was mired in corruption. At the end of the review, Jokowi committed to completing Phase A of the NCICD — strengthening the existing seawall along Jakarta’s coast. “This is the ‘no regrets’ stage,” Tuty Kusumawati, head of the city’s planning agency, told The Guardian; “everyone agrees we need to do this now.” Jokowi delayed final approval of the dike, a non-decision that exemplified the political issues surrounding the project. Although some welcomed the administration’s apparent caution, Octavianti and Charles



warned that the president’s real motive was probably “stalling for time” before he came up for re-election in 2019.

PLAN B: ADDRESSING SUBSIDENCE The original NCICD plan is now on hold. Meanwhile, Jakarta continues to sink. Prior infrastructure projects, while necessary, have failed to address subsidence. As Brinkman explained in a Deltares documentary, the only way to stop subsidence is “by stopping the deep groundwater abstraction, and that can be done by connecting everybody to public water supply.” Deltares has therefore been working with the government and other partners to develop a new plan, ‘Plan B,’ that addresses subsidence in addition to flood prevention. Planning flood defenses with the expectation of reduced subsidence allows for less extreme infrastructural measures, Letitre explained. If Plan B succeeds and subsidence is significantly reduced by 2035-2040, completion of the large dike — which will still be partially constructed — will not be necessary. Higher seawalls will still be built around the rivers and the coast, but the environmental and public health nightmare of an enclosed Jakarta Bay will not materialize, land reclamation will be significantly reduced, and fishermen will have better access to ports and fishing grounds. That is a big ‘if.’ The good news is that to stop deep groundwater abstraction, only deep-groundwater abstracters must be connected to public water. About three-quarters of Jakarta residents rely at least in part on shallow groundwater for daily use, which is easily replenished by rainfall and does not cause subsidence. The bad news is that installing public water connections for every abstracter — no small feat in itself — will not be enough: Abstracters must be persuaded to use public water. Jakarta’s current public water network, run by private contractors, barely reaches 60 percent of the city and does not provide potable water. Even those connected to the system “rely primarily upon other sources of water supply given low water quality and low network pressure.” For those who can afford to make the initial investment of drilling a deep well, deep groundwater has two major advantages: It is clean and free. Public water, half of which comes from the bottom of the “world’s dirtiest river,” is neither. There are over 4,000 known illegal deep wells. Several past network expansion efforts have failed, and one effort that accomplished its goal of expanding access to several major industrial centers still failed to change practices — most clients still preferred groundwater. What makes Plan B different, Letitre says, are legal reforms, stronger enforcement, and taxation, in addition to expanding public water supply. “There is no law enforcement or legal framework to apply taxes to deep groundwater,” he told the HPR. “If there are still bylaws that allow government buildings to use deep groundwater instead of piped water, it is very difficult to set an example for private sector and other users.” A new law, “hopefully … approved by parliament this year,” will provide the legal basis for further regulation. But regulation is easier said than done. In 2014, Jakarta’s then-governor claimed he would begin enforcing “a 2008 law that imposes fines … and jail terms … for those who misuse groundwater.” That promise never materialized. A tax on


groundwater imposed in 2009 still made wells cheaper than piped water “for large volume users.” Metered water connections have been magnets for low-level corruption, with tariff collectors accepting bribes to misread meters, alter rates, or ignore illegal connections. In all, Kooy said, “Jakarta’s private sector contract has created such a huge mess that it’s hard now to get out.” For water supply improvements to take place, politicians and bureaucrats must also have a basic knowledge both about the causes and the impact of subsidence. Yet “it is very hard to collect data and information on groundwater levels,” Letitre said, “and it’s still sometimes difficult to find funds to study these issues.” Furthermore, there “should be a process … of technical studies to really see the proof.” That process “takes time.” Even after government officials became aware of the link between worsened flooding and subsidence in 2007, political prioritization was another hurdle. Flooding and subsidence “have different characteristics in terms of policy impact,” noted Octavianti and Charles. “Unlike the immediate threat of a flood, land subsidence is a gradual phenomenon that does not create the [same] urgency.” Indonesian government insiders also said politicians may have “exploited the unclear cause of subsidence to stall a decision to take serious action towards water supply provision.”

POLITICAL CHALLENGES “I still [do not see] enough effort by the government,” said Nila Ardhianie, of the Amrta Institute for Water Literacy, in an interview with the HPR. “It is the political will that is really needed in this case.” Octavianti and Charles have found scarce political support for investing in water services. One reason is the long-term nature of the issue. “Water supply infrastructure requires large investments, [and] takes a long time to achieve results,” Kooy explained. For politicians, “there’s not a lot to win.” The “major question,” Letitre concluded, is whether there will be “a champion … that puts this on his priority list.” Jakarta’s new governor has shown some potential to be that champion. Opposition to land reclamation was a mark of Anies Baswedan’s candidacy platform, and he now plans to visit 80 high-rise apartments in a wealthy area of Central Jakarta to raise awareness about subsidence and water use. “We are happy to see that [Jakarta] is not only ready to take its responsibility in words but also in actions,” Letitre said. “That lacked … in the last couple years.” Kooy also praised the governor’s progressive intentions. However, the extent of Anies’ commitment to the issue remains to be seen. In many ways, Jakarta’s experience with subsidence and flooding foreshadows many environmental challenges facing Indonesia and the world. These long-term issues only attract widespread attention after already causing significant, costly damage, and they require expensive transformations of status quo natural resource usage to solve. Short-term political cycles appear grossly ill-equipped to motivate necessary reforms, and are further hobbled by public misunderstanding or ignorance of scientific research. It remains to be seen whether these shortcomings will waste the small window of time in which such problems can be addressed. Jakarta’s future, and the world’s, depends on it. 




e live in an era of pessimism. In a recent Associated Press poll, 62 percent of Americans surveyed said their nation is “heading in the wrong direction.” Only 13 percent disagreed. And this is not just an American problem — all over the world, people fear for their futures. YouGov asked 18,000 adults from 17 countries whether the world is getting better or not. Majorities in all but two countries polled said they believe it is getting worse. In 13 of the countries surveyed, less than 10 percent of respondents felt that the world is improving. But every era has its discontents. What is most shocking about today’s cynicism is that it is so widespread and yet so empirically unfounded. In The Short History of Global Living Conditions and Why It Matters That We Know It, Oxford economist Max Roser describes a world far healthier than we think. Global poverty has dropped by 86 percent since 1950. Over the same period, illiteracy has fallen by over 70 percent and infant mortality has almost disappeared. Statistically, we ought to be optimistic. But we are not. One show has captured our imaginations and interpreted these fears: Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror. At the beginning of most Black Mirror episodes, viewers enter a near-future world with a technology that appears novel, even benign. Then this

technology goes horribly, unpredictably wrong. In this chaos are echoes of our paradoxical anxiety, which grows worse and worse in a world becoming better and better. Black Mirror has resonated. The series has earned huge ratings, prestigious awards, and praise from figures ranging from Jordan Peele to Stephen King.

BLACK MIRROR AND MODERN ANXIETY To understand Black Mirror’s success, consider “USS Callister,” an episode that epitomizes the show’s dystopian appeal. The antagonist of “USS Callister” is an awkward, bitter man and the CTO of a virtual-reality company. His name is Robert Daly. Using stolen DNA, Daly has uploaded digitized versions of his coworkers and his CEO onto a virtual-reality platform accessible only to him. Within this digital world, Daly torments the sentient AI copies of his coworkers and commands the Starship Enterprise-esque USS Callister. “USS Callister” explores two contemporary anxieties. Speaking to the HPR, “USS Callister” producer Louise Sutton put the first bluntly: Daly’s character is “about toxic masculinity.” Daly is an entitled white male. And on a literal level, his harassment of his subordinates echoes the crimes of Harvey Weinstein,



Kevin Spacey, and others brought to light during the #MeToo movement. By projecting the issue of sexual harassment into the future, Brooker urges us to humble the men who exacerbate the problem. How, he asks, could today’s perverts use tomorrow’s technology? Sutton mentioned that Brooker has a “knack for managing to be the zeitgeist,” and she was right. This episode offers incisive social criticism. But the episode’s subtler theme comes from its subject matter, not its plot. “USS Callister” is a case study in online interaction and self-conceptualization. Dana Schwartz links Daly to “the poisonous engine behind ... GamerGate” and “the alt-right” — online communities that use anonymity to vent reactionary frustrations. In Daly’s virtual world, an outcast can become a tyrant and a CEO a pawn. Through social media, marginal political ideologies can become movements and confident people can become insecure. Daly’s captives are confused for the same reason we are: in our world, too, comfortable assumptions about truth, justice, and identity are threatened online. Many other Black Mirror episodes capture this uncertainty. In an interview with the HPR, Professor LaReeca Rucker of The Black Mirror Project identified several. “White Bear,” she said, explores how “being behind a camera ... disconnects us from what is happening in front of us.” She also mentioned “Playtest,” which is “about disconnecting from the world through technology,” and “Arkangel,” which grapples with “privacy invasion ... and ethical boundaries.” That such dystopian themes are so popular is both a reflection of and a testament to today’s anxieties. Black Mirror’s success is evidence of our anxiety; its content is a lens through which we can face our fears.

TWIGHLIGHT ZONE AND COLD WAR ANGST Only once in recent memory has similar fear held such power in American hearts. The United States of the Cold War mirrors the United States of today in its anxiety, sparked not by strange technologies but by the spectre of nuclear annihilation. Both eras interpreted their fears through innovative science fiction television. During the Cold War, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone delivered commentary through explosive, surreal plots driven by whiplash-inducing twists, sci-fi tropes, and timely moral lessons. Commentators often compare the two shows, and rightly so. Both Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone express the real-life anxieties of their eras in far-flung hypotheticals. In fact, “USS Callister,” is a remix of a Twilight Zone classic called “It’s a Good Life,” in which a cruel child plays with a helpless town. Consider “To Serve Man,” a famous episode of The Twilight Zone. “To Serve Man” follows Michael Chambers, a cryptographer decoding a book written by the Kamanit, a race of seemingly benevolent aliens. Kamanit technology has ended war and poverty by the time a member of Chambers’s staff named Patty decrypts the title of their book: To Serve Man. More and more humans travel to the Kamanit planet. Chambers joins them. But as he steps onto the Kamanit ship, Patty rushes towards him, screaming a warning. To Serve Man is a human cookbook. Just as “USS Callister” speaks to two modern fears, “To Serve Man” comments on two cold war anxieties. In an interview with the HPR, MacLean’s Magazine film writer Jaime Weinman identified the first as to “question the idea of the benevolent race from outer space.” This subversion channels the Red Terror of the 1950s and 1960s. Each Kamanit promise


echos a Soviet promise — to end wars, to cure disease, to feed the hungry. To 1960s Americans, these ideals seemed as empty as the Kamanits’ goodwill. The wounds of McCarthyism were still fresh. For them, Communist promises appeared enforced by domestic oppression and foreign aggression. Aired in the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis, “To Serve Man” could have been retitled “To Serve the Worker.” Weinman phrased the second subtext as a question: “Isn’t the way we treat animals really horrifying?” During the early 20th century, the meat industry exploded. And like the protagonists of “To Serve Man,” if we were livestock we might think “we were being pampered” but then realize “we’re being pampered in order to be killed and eaten,” Weinman pointed out. This moral dilemma reflects the cultural anxiety of 1960s America. When “To Serve Man” ran, the nation was wrestling with the implications of 1950s consumerism and questioning the moral underpinnings of domestic society. Later that year, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring would decry the environmental impacts of DDT, and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar would relate the neuroses of women forced into housewifery. Serling’s pointed question evokes the national anxiety underlying these controversies: what seemed to be advances in the 1950s were appearing more and more sinister to Americans in the 1960s. “To Serve Man” is not the only episode of The Twilight Zone to channel Cold War anxieties. In “Time Enough at Last,” Serling confronts nuclear holocaust. In “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” he parodies McCarthyism. And in “The Encounter,” he ponders Japanese internment, ruled legal by Korematsu v. United States. Like Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone finds appeal by reflecting the anxieties of its age.

CHANGING TIMES, CHANGING FEARS But while commentators are right to compare The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror, they would be wrong to equate them. Both became popular by commenting on the widespread fear that accompanies eras of supposed progress. But they come from different eras and express different anxieties with different techniques. Rod Serling’s daughter Anne observed her father’s “moralizing streak,” which generated sci-fi tropes and clear messages. In contrast, The New Yorker’s film and television critic Troy Patterson calls Brooker’s Black Mirror a “cacotopia” — a dystopia governed only by chaos. This is the difference between the horror of The Twilight Zone and that of Black Mirror, and it is the distinction between the anxieties of the Cold War and those of today. Cold War America was a nation of Eisenhower-era domesticity and bipolar geopolitics. Look at the two themes of “To Serve Man,” for instance. The resemblance between the Kamanit and the Soviets relates to the Cold War — a slow, simmering conflict, the seeds of which were sown before many of Serling’s viewers were born. Similarly, the moral anxiety Serling evokes around animal rights stems from the political beliefs of the Baby Boomers, a generation disgusted by the consumerism and conservatism inherited from their parents and grandparents. The anxieties of the Cold War were the fears of a man trapped behind a wall he did not build. The neat, sermonizing plots of The Twilight Zone appealed to the anxiety of a world too constrained. Serling grew up on pulp fiction, and it influenced his writing. Twilight Zone episodes


Production still of USS Callister from Netflix’s Black Mirror.

often followed tropes — the twist ending, for example. “The twist ending,” Weinman said, “has become completely identified with Serling because of Twilight Zone and Planet of the Apes, but obviously he didn’t invent that. It’s a standard convention of short fiction going back to writers like O’Henry.” Like the society it critiqued, The Twilight Zone had structure. This predictability and morality is what distinguishes The Twilight Zone from Black Mirror and the anxieties of its age from those of today. Black Mirror speaks to 21st century anxiety: the product of social alienation, amorphous threats, and unfamiliar technologies. We see this in the subtexts of “USS Callister.” Daly represents toxic masculinity, but appears meek. It is a surprise when he turns sadistic. Indeed, many of today’s anxieties take power from surprise: racism, sexism, homophobia, and many other contemporary evils hide within familiar institutions. After all, many of Black Mirror’s viewers faced their first national crisis in 9/11 — a moment in which the familiar became terrifying. 9/11 was not a predictable, far-away conflict, but a sudden, shocking attack on the homeland. Its victims were not soldiers or politicians, but regular working-class Americans. “USS Callister’s” other message also stems from surprise. Exemplified by Daly and his victims, the problems of online bullying and digital identity are byproducts of technologies which seem helpful. The anxieties Black Mirror channels are insidious, lurking beneath the surface of society. They are far from the fears of Serling’s rigid world, provoked by obvious enemies. Black Mirror’s unhinged plots and senseless violence appeal to these new fears. When asked for main difference between The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror, Weinman explained that Black Mirror is “not as constrained by [...] a particular format or a particular length.” Black Mirror episodes are melees that end in darkness, but never get there in a predictable way. In the series’ first episode, the Prime Minister has sex with a pig on live televi-

sion. In another, a character flees a vicious, bloodthirsty robot hound. Fading from these stories are Serling’s dependable tropes and reliable morals. Like the anxieties they reflect, the plots of Black Mirror are chaotic, confusing, and desperate.

CONTEMPORARY REFLECTIONS Yet we must be cautious in drawing conclusions. Yes, the popularity of Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone reflects that in each of their eras, people were worried. But this insight is secondary; it speaks to how people react to an age, not the age itself. The Red Scare of Serling’s time should remind us that these responses are not infallible. The popularity of Black Mirror is no more a death sentence for our age than that of The Twilight Zone was for the 20th century. Black Mirror’s reflection of our cynicism is no invitation to dive deeper into despair. For the most part, the technology Black Mirror lambasts has made the world better. People are living longer, healthier, and happier lives, and the globe is more connected than ever before. With this revolution comes opportunity and risk. The Twilight Zone critiqued its society, but it did not turn its viewers into cynics. And Black Mirror may critique technology, but it should not turn its viewers into luddites. In this age of anxiety, people need shows like Black Mirror. The program’s name is apt. Brooker’s show holds a black mirror to society, and in it we see our darkest impulses and deepest anxieties. We ought to learn from these reflections; they prompt us to ask why we fear and what we can do about it. The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror come from different eras. But just as Serling’s show guided viewers through the rigid past, Brooker’s program can help us understand the chaotic present. 




Joseph Winters


hey don’t know how to plant rice, so let them die of hunger in poverty,” was the advice offered by Brazilian politician Fernando Furtado, who went on to call Brazil’s 800,000 indigenous persons, from 239 distinct cultures, “a bunch of little gays.” Furtado, a deputy from Brazil’s northern state of Maranhão, was named “Racist of the Year” by Survival International for his inflammatory comments, delivered to a group of settlers near the border of the Awá tribe’s land. The previous year, Luiz Carlos Heinze won the award for saying “the government […] is in bed with the blacks, the Indians, the gays, the lesbians, all the losers.” Of these “losers,” it is often the indigenous Brazilians who receive the least attention, but who are most endangered by this sort of bigotry. At best, anti-indigenous racism has produced apathy toward Brazil’s struggling indigenous populations. At worst, it incites violence — even today, racism continues to legitimize the extermination of the country’s Amazonians. For Brazil’s native groups, violence has become commonplace. Rather than stepping in to defend indigenous peoples, the Brazilian government has often kowtowed to a powerful ruralist lobby, leaving Amazonians to die at the hands of ranchers and cattle farmers. Since 1985, more than 1400 have been killed in native/ ranchero land conflicts.



This violence is often barbaric. In 2011, a Catholic Missionary group reported that a native Amazonian girl — just eight years old — had been tied to a tree and burned alive by illegal loggers as part of a ceaseless effort to expel indigenous peoples from their lands. “We heard they laughed as they burned her to death,” said Luis Carlos Guajajaras, a local tribal leader, in an interview with The Telegraph.

with The Guardian. Such a policy would allow up to 90 percent of native land claims to be immediately dismissed. Rather than working in the interests of indigenous peoples, many analysts believe the proposed rule is meant to bolster Temer’s reelection bid. It’s gotten him lots of support from Brazil’s powerful ruralista bloc, despite some pushback from the Supreme Court and the public prosecutor’s office.



Anti-indigenous prejudice in Brazil dates back to the earliest years of Western colonial expansion in Latin America. From the moment Portuguese colonists arrived, natives who weren’t wiped out by European diseases like the flu or measles were inducted into an already-cogent slavery system; native Brazilians joined an existing population of nearly 5.8 million African slaves in forced labor on sugarcane, tobacco, and cotton plantations. Those who escaped slavery were killed en masse to create space for the colony’s growth. Even in post-independence Brazil, indigenous tribes have faced violence and discrimination. Indeed, the agency tasked with protecting them, the Indian Protection Service, was complicit in what some have called an indigenous genocide. A 1967 Sunday Times exposé known as the Figueiredo Report revealed over 1000 specific incidences of crime committed by the government agency against the country’s indigenous population. Some of these crimes involved deceptive land negotiations, but the worst included air bombings, torture, and donations of sugar laced with arsenic. The Indian Protection Service was quickly scrapped following international outrage, and replaced by a new organization, FUNAI, which was subjected to closer international scrutiny. However, as illustrated by Furtado’s incendiary comments, anti-indigenous racism continues to thrive in Brazil. In many ways, Amazonian rights are no more secure now than they were fifty years ago. In particular, the anti-indigenous voice of the agricultural sector booms through the Brazilian government, where ranchers and farmers in the “beef caucus” are represented by a shocking 207 out of 513 members of Congress. Given their way, they would revoke native lands to expand industry operations and grow their businesses. Many of these rancheros don’t bother waiting for legislation to go through. Thousands of acres of Amazonian tribal land (up to 750,000 in the single state of Pará) are occupied by “squatters” who clear the forest and begin operations without governmental approval. Rather than cracking down, President Temer has been exceedingly generous in granting amnesty to these ruralist invaders. Indeed, in August of 2017, the Temer government went so far as to come out in support of a rule called the marco temporal (cutoff point). Proposed by the attorney general’s office, it would allow the government to expel tribes from lands they weren’t occupying in 1988, the year Brazil’s constitution came into effect. Of course, 1988 was only three years after the fall of the country’s military dictatorship — not the most amicable time for indigenous-government relations. Many tribes had been violently removed from their lands in the years preceding the cutoff point. “They could not possibly have been living on this land in 1988,” noted Juliana de Paula Batista, a lawyer working for the Socio-environmental Institute in Brasilia, in an interview

In Brazil alone, there are over 100 isolated tribal groups living in the Amazon rainforest, each with their own traditions and heritage. From the club-wielding Korubo of the Javari Valley to the nomadic Kawahiva of Mato Grosso, all of these groups have developed astounding approaches to surviving in the difficult forest environment. Some members of the Awá, for example, hunt using incredible six-foot bows. Others build elaborate communities around bustling cassava plantations. “If you dig a little bit under the surface, you find complex interactions with the environment that challenge this assumption that they’re simple or savage,” explained Jason Bucciferro, an associate professor of economics at Eastern Washington University, in an interview with the HPR. Why the virulent treatment, then? At the root of anti-indigenous racism, in Brazil and elsewhere, is a Western obsession with progress. In the eyes of modern farmers and ranchers, natives underutilize land by not clearing the rainforest and repurposing it for economic growth. Despite myriad traditions and histories with the land that are far older than those of European colonists, indigenous Brazilians are still viewed as little more than “brutes” or “savages,” limited by their lack of traditional markers of “progress” like cell phones and grocery stores. But Western notions of progress have so far come with dire environmental consequences. Since 1990, over 300,000 square miles of the Amazon rainforest have been chopped down, and more than 400 billion tons of ice sheet have melted. Now, as up to 37 percent of the Earth’s species are predicted to be extinct by mid-century, borderline apocalyptic environmental figures have become almost trite. Unlike their “advanced” counterparts, indigenous peoples have a rich and deep knowledge of their environments, one that has allowed them to develop a remarkable capacity for balance with the natural world. “They might not be literate societies, but that doesn’t make them any less knowledgeable,” explained Survival International’s Fiona Watson in an interview with the HPR. “They’re scientists,” she added. Indigenous Brazilians know how to work the land without exhausting it, how to identify a feast of edible plants in the middle of the jungle, and how to create swaths of tools and rows of buildings from the forest’s offerings. Science can corroborate this data, elevating support for indigenous environmental practices beyond romanticization. Satellite imagery from around the globe reveals an indigenous legacy of environmental stewardship, suggesting that native occupation is the single most important factor protecting wild lands from development. One study from the National University of Mexico found that 80 percent of the Earth’s richest ecological regions are inhabited by at least one native tribe. In the Amazon, research from the World Wildlife Fund, the World Bank, and others shows



indigenous lands are some of the jungle’s only forested areas left. And as that status becomes more precarious, many Amazonian communities are actively engaging in whatever ways possible to protect their environments. “They’re not just sitting around in headdress[es],” said Christine Halvorson, program director of the Rainforest Foundation, in an interview with the HPR. “They’re using their bodies and technology” to stop illegal logging, agriculture, and other land speculation, she explained. Some activists, like Sonia Guajajara, run for office. Others, like those enlisted by the Rainforest Foundation, become citizen scientists, monitoring the forest’s health with GPS technology, cell phones, and pollution sensors. This empowers indigenous persons to make formal denunciations of unlawful activity and negotiate fair land demarcations. Unfortunately, this kind of active land protection is the only option left for many indigenous tribes. The choice to remain uncontacted is increasingly under threat. Beyond militant protest, perhaps the last remaining vestige of hope is that the developed world will begin to appreciate the rainforest as more than a resource-laden cash cow. It will take a cultural shift. Even if suburban Brazilians won’t abandon their iPhones en masse and flock to the woods, can indigenous peoples offer an alternative vision of modernity, one in which progress and invention are tempered by other, more sustainable values? The answer may be yes. According to Bucciferro, “we’ve become affluent, and life expectancy in the US is in the upper ‘70s ... but we can learn to adapt sustainable practices and to value other objectives in life besides just financial ones.” PROGRESS AND PROTECTION


But to benefit from the lessons that the world’s indigenous populations offer, we must first move beyond the anti-indigenous bigotry that has proved so harmful throughout history. And in Brazil, the upcoming presidential election puts anti-indigenous enmity in the spotlight with candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who once told a Brazilian newspaper, “it is a shame that the Brazilian cavalry has not been so efficient as the Americans which exterminated the Indians.” If elected, he promises not to further demarcate “another centimeter” of the Amazon for tribespeople. Bolsonaro was even fined in 2017 for claiming that quilombolas (Afro-Brazilian descendants of runaway slaves) were “not even good enough for procreation.” Between Bolsonaro, the marco temporal, and the encroaching agriculturists, Brazil’s natives are under threat. Violence is legitimized by the false perception that native peoples are less developed than — and therefore inferior to — their modern counterparts. “Part of the uphill battle is making a case for providing some defenses for the last vestiges of indigenous culture, which is valuable in its own right,” explained Bucciferro. In the face of politics that would strip natives of their only homes, human rights advocates have good reason to be concerned. “Are we going to stand by and let another Amazonian tribe disappear because our society thinks there’s no space for people who are different?” Watson asked. Unfortunately, the answer may be yes. But she notes that “we also have a duty to question our consumption,” as well as the culture that values progress so much that it’s willing to raze the earth in its pursuit. Indigenous peoples can offer an alternative vision for the future, one that balances the impulse for progress with the importance of sustainability and respect for the land. But only if we let them.


One Man Show Cat Zhang


he “boy band” BROCKHAMPTON — a sprawling, multiracial American collective of 13 rappers, producers, and creatives — met on a Kanye West online message forum after founder Kevin Abstract asked if anyone wanted to start a band. The group occupies a two-story house together in Hollywood, where they produce content in furious, hyperactive spurts: They released their debut mixtape, All American Trash, in 2016, followed by three albums — Saturation, Saturation II, and Saturation III — in 2017. In 2018, they signed a record deal with RCA, performed on Jimmy Fallon, and announced a new Beats 1 radio show. BROCKHAMPTON’s size makes them an anomaly in the hip hop world. A few years ago, journalists began noticing a decline in rap artists who record in groups. Multi-member collectives like Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, and A Tribe Called Quest dominated the rap scene in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Now, with the notable exception of Atlanta’s Migos and Rae Sremmurd, who grew out of family ties, almost all prominent hip-hop artists are solo acts. Similar do-it-yourself Internet collectives like Tyler the Creator’s raw, off-kilter Odd Future, who once shared the same management as BROCKHAMPTON, were never wedded to the concept of a singular collective energy; even they dissolved. The Billboard hip-hop charts function as endless catalogues of individual talents — Cardi B, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake, Nicki Minaj — each with their own distinct personalities and fandoms. The Wall Street Journal’s Steve Knopper has noticed as much. “Over 25 years ... the hip-hop group has become an endangered species,” he observed in 2015, “almost as rare as breakdancing and the word ‘wack.’” Data substantiates the notion that hip-hop is losing its groups. An independent analysis by Billboard reveals that the percentage of Top 10 hits performed by duos or groups steadily declined over a period of almost three decades. In the 1990s, 44.8 percent of hits that reached the Top 10 featured a duo or a group; the number receded to 20.2 percent in the 2000s, and has reached only 10.8 percent in the past eight years. In the midst of this steep decline, 13 member collectives are virtually unthinkable. So what explains the decline?

I’M NOT A BUSINESSMAN, I’M A BUSINESS, MAN! The big-group era of hip-hop began in the 1970s, before its music was ever recorded. Inner city black and Latinx youths threw block parties in the South Bronx, where large crowds would congregate in clubs or on streets. Back then, there was strength in numbers. “If you were going to throw a block party, or something at a community center around the way, you had to show you could throw a party that a lot of people would come to,” hip-hop historian Jeff Chang explained in an interview with the HPR. Rapping began with multiple MCs trading routines to back up the DJ. They would rally crowds with audience call-outs and quick-witted improvisations in between tracks, riffing off of each other to keep momentum. And so the crews were big: popular groups at the time included Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Funky Four Plus One, and the Cold Crush Brothers. “They literally named themselves by the number of people in their crew,” laughed Chang. Things changed when hip-hop went commercial, moving from the street to airways and suburban living rooms. In 1979, Sylvia Robinson and her Sugar Hill Gang released “Rappers Delight,” a 15-minute long single whose goofy, infectious rhymes catapulted the young genre into the mainstream. Record labels scrambled to capture, package, and sell its essence. As Chang documents in his book Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, which won the American Book Award in 2005, the music industry quickly figured out how to polish off the excess: “Six-man crews would drop to two. Fifteen-minute party-rocking raps would become three-minute ready-for-radio singles. Hip-Hop was refined like sugar.” In other words, the decline of groups appears to be — like most things — a consequence of capitalism. “When things become successful, they become more like everything else,” explained Dan Charnas, a hip-hop historian, former record executive, and author of The Big Payback, in an interview with the HPR. Hip-hop is like the NBA: consumer culture values



the individual over the collective, and so the god-like celebrity of a player like Lebron James will inevitably overshadow the performance of his team. Dynamics have changed from raising a group of people in a community to raising up an individual artist in the “late capitalist, neoliberal kind of sense,” as Chang said — one that transitions from being “a kind of businessman to being a business, man.”

WATCH THE THRONE At a more granular level, hip-hop suffers from a variety of centrifugal forces that make group collaboration difficult. Rappers have their own competing interests, schedules, and staminas, and the more members there are in a group, the more difficult it is to negotiate collective decisions. The journalist Amos Barshad chased down the 10 Wu-Tang members in 2014, interviewing them as they struggled, then failed, to piece together a final hurrah by their 20-year anniversary mark. “It’s like getting the United Nations to all agree on one fucking thing,” said rapper Raekwon. “Italy ain’t having it. Japan is on some shit. You know what I mean?” Furthermore, there’s a financial incentive to going at it alone. “It’s more money in the solo play,” said the rapper Ice Cube, “The royalties don’t go up for how many members you have in the group.” The issue is not only the division of royalties, but the politics of distribution. Ice Cube left N.W.A in 1989 after a financial dispute with group manager Jerry Heller. His lawyer, Michael Ashburn, claimed that he “wanted to continue with N.W.A, but he just wasn’t getting paid.” Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav cited similar complaints when he sued co-founder Chuck D and other Public Enemy affiliates last August. The language in these lawsuits treat collaboration as a matter of business, not camaraderie — a brand-meets-brand exchange, where each individual extracts their share based on their contribution to total profit. When asked whether the departure of Ice Cube was a loss to the band, Eazy-E, whose relationship to Heller was cozy, responded bluntly. “No, it means we get more money.” Oddly, the group that best demonstrates the music industry’s corrosive forces also happens to be one of its biggest crews. Wu-Tang Clan originally found difficulty reaching agreements with labels, who were skeptical of their ability to maintain a rap group with eight MCs. But following the underground success of “Protect Ya Neck,” they eventually signed a groundbreaking deal with Loud Records, one that allowed each individual member to pursue solo careers with other labels. Thus began a revolution in the business of hip-hop, furthering the demise of the group.

PROTECT YA NECK Before Wu-Tang’s historic deal, members of multi-person collectives had to sign contracts with “leaving member” clauses, granting their label the rights to their solo albums if they chose to leave. But RZA, Wu-Tang’s mastermind and de-facto leader, discovered that labels were more interested in certain members than the group itself. Method Man accepted $180,000 from Def Jam; GZA signed to Geffen; RZA committed to to Island Records. In five years, all six major labels at the time had invested in the Wu-Tang Clan. But while their monumental recording deal ostensibly made it easier to work as a group, the successful solo careers of Wu-


Tang’s stars impeded their effort to make music as a collective. The group struggled to come together for their second album, Wu-Tang Forever, and pulled out of a tour with Rage Against the Machine due to internal conflict. As each MC in Wu-Tang developed his own cult of personality, he became convinced that he did not receive the credit he deserved. Ghostface Killah sued RZA for unpaid royalties in 2005. Two years later, he issued a warning on MTV: “N***as better pay my fucking money.”

AIN’T NOBODY MESSIN WITH MY CLIQUE In our interview, Charnas cautioned me to take everything with a grain of salt. “Even though the culture has elevated the single superstar over the collective, really the collective has not gone away,” he said. What has emerged in the past few decades is more flexible forms of collaboration, including guest features, joint albums, and creative collectives. Industry-wide data has not yet been assessed for evidence of a surge in guest cameos, but analysis by independent music distributor Distrokid found a 20 percent spike in the share of hip-hop tracks distributed on their site that feature a guest collaborator in the title. Label-based collectives, like Drake’s OVO, Kanye West’s GOOD Music, and Lil Wayne’s Young Money, have also become more prominent. Frank Guan, a journalist and cultural critic, points to Black Hippy, a hip-hop supergroup comprised of rappers signed to Los Angeles’ Top Dawg Entertainment, to contend that the narrative of the decline of rap groups has been exaggerated. “Who knows if Black Hippy will ever drop an album, but Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul are already a creative collective, without a doubt,” he wrote in an email to the HPR. But there is a stark difference between the collectives of yesterday and those of today. Black Hippy has yet to record a full-length project together; before they began collaborating, they each had their own solo deals with TDE. GOOD Music released a compilation album, Cruel Summer, but its most collaborative work, like this summer’s five-album series, has still been targeted toward building solo careers. Crews are more business partners than friends: even more tight-knit, anarchic collectives succumb to these kind of transactional interactions. Tyler the Creator’s Odd Future, which was labeled this generation’s WuTang Clan and, as a prolific Internet-age group, the precursor to BROCKHAMPTON, splintered apart after springboarding Frank Ocean, The Internet, and other careers. The split has enabled them to move onto other circles. In the words of Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt, “We came together for a job, and we disbanded as a job.” It is a wonder, then, that a scrappy Internet-based collective like BROCKHAMPTON, with 13 members, no central geographic origin, and no family ties, has managed to come this far: resisting the flattening forces of the music industry and defying inefficiencies inherent in large-scale collaboration. In June, they emerged intact after kicking out rapper Ameer Vann for allegations of sexual and emotional abuse. But questions about the longevity of groups still linger. At what point does hip-hop dissolve completely into a set of one-man bands, with everyone furiously trying to march to their own individual beat? At the end of the day, you alone only eat what you kill. Everyone else, unfortunately, is a liability.





Juan Martín Guevara is a political activist and author, best known as Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s brother. In 2016, he published Che, My Brother, a retelling of his perspective on Che’s life and legacy.

Despite the fact that it has been half a century since your brother’s death, his image is still a strong symbol, not only in Latin America but also in the entire world. Which aspects of Ernesto Guevara, the human, not the revolutionary, have been lost throughout those decades? Juan Martín Guevara: It is no longer possible to separate the man from the revolutionary. It is possible to humanize the myth, and it is possible to make people see the myth as a man. Society has lifted [Che] up. But separating the revolutionary is difficult. I was saying the other day that if he had never met Fidel, he probably would have never been Che. Also, if he had never done his journey throughout Latin America, seeing firsthand the problems and injustices that people faced, he also would not have become Che. There is a series of events and milestones that happen through life — family, reality, life in general — that lead to someone walking toward their destiny. It is complicated to say in which moment Ernesto Guevara [began] to be Che. He started to become, over time, a person set out to carry out actions for a change for all mankind.

Personally, is it difficult to separate this icon from the brother you knew? JMG: The hardest part to separate is not the icon, but, once again, the revolutionary, as that is who Che truly is. The icon is a construction by society — a mythical construction, or a semireligious construction. In some cases, it is a construction by the great powers that have tried to obscure to the public what Che’s ideas really were and reduce him to simply Ernesto. I say that my brother Ernesto is my brother in blood and that Che is my companion in ideas. All the time, Che is becoming more of a revolutionary. Every day, his presence becomes more important in the world. He is no longer my brother, as my brother has already passed away. Nevertheless, Che persists and continues to grow, and this is what makes him more important day by day.

In the beginning of your memoir, you describe how [difficult] it was to visit the site of your brother’s death. What motivates you to expand your brother’s legacy and continue to promote his ideas? JMG: Of course, being in a place where [my brother] was murdered by the Bolivian army was not the best for me. However, with time, especially once I started to give interviews and participate in public activities, I began to see how important it is for people to receive a message directly. What I have to do with the myth is contextualize it. That is precisely what I am doing right now; this is a new militancy. It is a militancy to provide context to [Che’s] thoughts.


You talked at length about the commercialization of your brother’s image—for example, in the Mercedes-Benz campaign in 2012. What effect does the omnipresence of your brother’s image have on your ability to diffuse his ideals? Is it helpful or limiting? JMG: I talk about two revolutionaries for whom capitalism and imperialism are indigestible. One is Lenin, and the other is Che. Lenin has yet to become a myth, so there is not much of a problem. On the other hand, what happens with Che? Che has indeed become a myth. Che is in shirts, Che is commercialized, and Che does appear here and there. The belief for the great powers of the world is that [Che] is much more problematic than any of the other [revolutionaries]. They will always be after him — trying to vulgarize his image, with the purpose that people never come to understand why he was a fighter. Why? For social justice. Some people have an interest in converting him into a product. But, in reality, the product is no more than an indication that, in society, Che’s presence is still latent. The question is: Why? I say that the two images most manipulated and known in the world are those of Jesus Christ and Che. The other day, one friend told me, “Christ’s image is much more well known.” He is right. But Christ was assassinated two thousand years ago, and Che fifty years ago. Che’s presence is closer.

You have also been a visible political activist in spreading your brother’s ideals, and spent more than eight years in prison. How was your experience? JMG: We [in Argentina] have seen a long history of dictatorships, both military and nonmilitary, but overall from the military. I was incarcerated at a time when there was not a military dictatorship. I started serving time in 1974, when [Juan Domingo] Perón was President. Then, in 1975, Perón’s wife [Isabel Perón] was President. Afterward, the coup happened. The fact that I was in prison prior to the coup may be the reason why I am not part of the disappeared and why I am alive. In prison, maybe I was benefitted by the fact I was Che’s brother, but it never was relevant by itself. For many years in prison I was identified by a number: 449. I was not even called Guevara.

What is an aspect of the life of a political revolutionary that the public does not comprehend? JMG: People and the media try to make other people lose some sense of their history, especially parts of history that are unpalatable. The world today is complicated. Capitalism and the great globalized powers have developed a mechanism through which they are dehumanizing humanity. What is it like to fight against that? My activism centered around the 1960s, and in my time, we fought this problem a certain way. How will future generations take up the mantle and fight to get out of this dead end? Because this is indeed a dead end — it is a Titanic headed for the iceberg. Capitalism has that essence: it is unconscious of anything else, and cannot understand that everything it is working for is headed toward an inevitable collapse. [Capitalism’s] essence is


to win, gain rent, be individualistic, be selfish, be a predator. It is impossible to ask capitalism to control itself or to stop for a moment and say, “Now, we will make things better.” No. Capitalism is capitalism and that is its essence — to prey on others.

Where do you see symptoms of this imminent “collapse”? JMG: The symptoms are everywhere. In Germany, there was just an election, and a far-right neo-Nazi party has received considerable support. There must be a sector within the younger population that has supported this party because they are against Merkel’s neoliberal politics. Certainly, however, in another moment this demographic will say, “This is not the solution either.” After the fall of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of the two worlds, there is no one to say, “This is what the future looks like.” The future will be in the hands of new generations.

Given the context of accelerated globalization in the world today, does this have a direct relationship with the ideals your brother promoted, and are they still relevant? In which ways have they changed, or in which way has the model not been sufficient to understand today’s conflicts? JMG: I say that Che was a Marxist, a Leninist, and, of course, a Guevarist. As a Marxist, he was critical in saying that 1848 is not the same as 1960 and it’s also not the same as 2017, where we are now. So then, what is it that we have to take? We have to take the foundation. That leads us to ask, what does Marx say? Marx postulates that the internal laws of capitalism should not be used, as philosophers have often done, only to analyze reality. It is also a matter of changing reality itself. Another thing Che raises is the idea of conscience. He says that before and after a big transformation, it is not only a matter of economics or a change in the economic system. If the economic system changes but there is not any change in the people’s conscience, society will regress. In a work titled “Critique on the Soviet Manual of Political Economy,” written in 1966, he says that the Soviet Union returns to capitalism because it has failed in changing the conscience of the people. This is an important addition [Che] made to the ideology. If society is not conscientious of what is happening, it is hard to think it will ever change.

Are there any examples in which people have reached this consciousness or have tried to change the systems Che was talking about, or what obstacles are there as a global society today to achieve this vision? JMG: I believe humanity is not suicidal. The inequality and situations of crisis that become more visible lead people to start to realize what is going on. Of course the great powers, especially the media, try to prevent people from reaching the conclusion that what is happening is not like the earthquake in Mexico

or the hurricanes in the Caribbean. This inequality is a direct product of the great powers, and, as such, they try to obscure the ‘why’ for situations of misery, inequality, and crisis. Look at everything that is going on in Europe regarding migration from Africa: What is the reason people risk drowning in these dinghies to try to reach Europe? To seek out a better life. The enormous accumulation of wealth that went from Africa to Europe makes it possible for Europe to enjoy a state of capitalist well-being. The world, as it becomes more globalized, has started to lose sight of the idea that some are better than others. It will become clearer that the problem involves everyone. Today, we are seeing the same phenomenon in Europe itself. Is Greece on the same footing as Germany? No. Is Spain? No. In these countries, the conscience that there is a reason — not from the skies and not from decisions of the cosmos — that this inequality persists will begin to grow. There is a reason why you are unemployed, or you are in a terrible job, or you do not receive medical insurance. The question at the crux of this struggle to look for something better— how and through which means — is for the future. What is clear is what the problem is.

Beside your desire to keep promoting these ideas you have discussed, where did your decision to write a memoir factor in? How did this process come to fruition? JMG: I am not a writer. I was in the military in my youth, and then in that time I was focused on providing context to Che’s thoughts. How did it start? A writer, who was also a journalist, interviewed me many years ago. I was adamant that I did not want to talk about Che. Years later, it was her idea to record my conversations with her and make a book, and the book was originally published in French. Now, it has been translated to 11 languages. And I ask myself: Me? A writer? Nobody knows me — how come is has reached 11 languages? Famous writers do not reach that count. What is the truth? It is Che. It is Che that explains why you are calling me or why CNN in Miami interviewed me or why I was interviewed in Berlin and in El País, a newspaper that is, evidently, oriented to the political right. Everywhere, there is an incipient phenomenon that says: “This is not right, and this has to change.” They ask me: “If Che were alive, what would he say?” If Che were alive, Latin America would be free, independent, sovereign, and socialist. He would have made that happen. Of course, I say this with a shred of humor. It is impossible to put oneself in Che’s situation and think where he would fit today or what the solution is for today. Logically, popular movements are the ones that are going to solve, in an organized fashion, this situation, and in a not-so-distant future. I say that if feudalism lasted a thousand years, and we think capitalism started to develop around the 1600s, let’s say [capitalism will last] until 2600 — no, please. Let’s hope change comes before then. This interview has been edited and condensed. Leer en español en harvardpolitics.com. 





ewistown, Mont. is a town made by the intersection of two highways and a spring — a town of one grocery store, one post office, three gas stations, and 5,000 people. A place where I once felt trapped even in miles of empty space. There are three stop lights but not enough people to require more than one. I talk about home like a campfire story in conversation with strangers who cannot fathom such a place, and now I have been away long enough that I sympathize. I romanticized leaving and when I did I romanticized returning with grandeur but instead I come home to hollow idle-talk in the grocery store. Asking someone “How are you?” yields little because they do not keep a record and have no practice telling anyone who has not already heard. I have spoken to but a few classmates in three years, and when I do our words are short and empty. I cannot relate much to them nor they to me. I flew home from New York for a day this summer to see a couple of friends wed. It rained as I left the airport and it still rained two hours later when I turned from a 300-count town, 40 miles from Lewistown, onto a long gravel road that I went too far down looking for the right address. After a while I realized the venue had moved on account of the weather. No one had told me. I drove back and walked soaking wet into the only bar for 20 miles, where the bartender directed me to the Methodist church that took up one of the few blocks of the town. He described the building as unmissable but it was in fact low and brick and unremarkable except for crosses faintly etched in the windows. No one noticed as I rushed in late to sit in the back behind the extended families that together comprise a large portion of both this town and its neighbor. The whole thing lasted only a few minutes. The newlyweds thanked me on the way out and


though they were happy to see me, I knew that they were confused by my willingness to travel so far. The reception was in a bare cinderblock room behind the library, where there were no complaints of the rain since it carried at least a second cutting of hay and maybe a third if it kept up. My gift was a portrait of the couple I had printed from a series of engagement photos, too large for the frame because I had not read the dimensions when I bought it online. I left it against a small folding table near the door among small boxes wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. I knew I had to leave. My welcome was warm but worn. On the drive back from the wedding the clouds parted heavenlike over the foothills of the Moccasin Mountains, slopes steep and full of rock and not disturbed by planted wheat or barley or soybeans. I stopped the car by the side of the road to step out and look over the grasslands, where a small herd of Angus cows and their new calves moved slowly on the valley floor. Cattle and grass. Grass and wind. All else was quiet as the plains waited calmly for the rain to resume. I stood for a long time listening for some wisdom of the prairie and the mountains but they could not teach me anything that I did not already know: God filled these people with love and contentment and though they had set me out to find my own fulfillment I knew I was not yet satisfied with the life of my making and could no longer understand theirs. Home is a pictureshow of unmatched silverware and longing for the lives of the people there — if I ever return it will be long after I have years enough to repay them. Until then, my transient time there will be spent looking over the land and the people fit to live happily upon it and hoping that I will someday find the same peace elsewhere. 