Letter from the Editor

Article excerpt

Lately we've been finding that there's too much information to include in each print issue. But this time it was particularly difficult. Quite frankly, we may have gotten a little too ambitious-in part because of the complexity and richness of the topic and in part because we were compelled by the possibilities of new media and our expanding technological capacity.

We decided over a year ago to devote this issue to natural resource extraction. It was an easy choice, but not an easy subject to cover. While the global demand for everything from soy beans to iron ore to oil-driven in part by China and India's industrialization-is spurring unprecedented growth in the region and changing geopolitics, the age-old question of how to avoid the pitfalls of an economy dependent on commodity trade remains.

No other economic sector is as fraught with suspicion as natural resource extraction. But as the patterns of global demand demonstrate today, natural resource extraction is an integral part of the world economy and will remain so.

The question for stakeholders is how do we make the work of tapping our natural resources safer and less destructive to not just the environment but also to the economies and social fabric of the countries where it takes place?

The effort to get broad, nuanced and diverse answers took us to mining sites in Peru, Chile and Colombia to visit with miners, community leaders, environmental activists, and local politicians. (Made possible with support from the Ford Foundation.)

Fortunately, we were able to bring along a videographer and photographer on our travels (in the latter case a great friend of AQ's, Nicolas Villaume) to record what we saw, heard and felt.

And this is where technology helped our ambition to bring you the full story. On page 62 you'll find our first integrated research article woven around a series of photo essays on the social, environmental and political conditions we discovered on these trips. …