Prefer Fair Trade, Shade Grown Coffee? What About Cocaine?

There’s an excellent, thought provoking article in today’s Observer (The devastating price of Britain’s cocaine habit; via the talented Mexico Reporter). Many young, upper middle class university students party and binge on the weekends when they aren’t protesting slave labour, sweatshops, and human rights. Meanwhile, they don’t give a second thought to the 8-ball of blow they imbibe with their friends every other weekend. From The Observer:

Consumers here should reflect more deeply on the impact their habit has on people around the world. For cocaine, a drug that has halved in price over the last 10 years and become as readily available as marijuana, has a longer ‘tail’ than most other outlawed substances. The trail of misery, destruction, violence and death it leaves in its wake as it departs South America is undeniable. Those who choose to use cocaine are directly responsible. If the demand dries up, then the misery stops. Those who decide to use it are making an unconscionable decision.

The Observer has another great article on cocaine trafficking in Guenea-Bissau, the fifth poorest country in the world: How a tiny West African country became the world’s first narco state. An excerpt:

By day, Guinea-Bissau looks like the impoverished country it is. Most people cannot afford a bus fare, never mind a four-wheel drive. There is no mains electricity. Water supplies are restricted to the wealthy few, and landmark buildings such as the presidential palace remain wrecked nine years after the end of the war. But this wreck of a country is what the UN – which declared war last week on celebrity cocaine culture – calls the continent’s ‘first narco-state’. West Africa has become the hub of a flow of cocaine from South America into Europe, now that other routes have become tough for the traffickers.

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: