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Smooth Operators

Southeast Asia is a haven for ivory smugglers. For now, government efforts to stop the flow of contraband fall short.

Naomi Doak walked into a pop-up jewelry shop in Chatuchak Market, a weekend shopping bazaar in Bangkok, Thailand, and pointed at the thickest ivory bangle in the store, whose price tag said $800. Necklaces hung on the makeshift walls, and a glass case displayed several ivory bracelets under bright white lights. Doak asked a shopkeeper where the ivory was from. “Thailand,” he said. Doak, an expert on the global wildlife trade, nodded…
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by: Mike Ives – Summer 2015

Open for Business?

As Myanmar transitions to democracy after decades of military rule, its increasingly vocal civil society is scrambling to protect forests and farmland from rapacious development.

photo Reuters / Soe Zeya Tun Late last fall, the government-built irrigation pipelines in the village of Alwan Sok stopped pumping water to rice fields. Local officials governing this small farming area about 13 miles southeast of Yangon, Myanmar’s former capital, offered no explanation. The fall rice crop had been harvested already, but without irrigation farmers wouldn’t be able to plant the year’s second crop in the dry season. That was troubling.…
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by: Mike Ives – Summer 2013

Activists Fear Toxic Pollution from Malaysia Rare Earths Plant

Facility near South China Sea slated to be largest rare earths processing operation outside China

HANOI —  Citizen groups in Malaysia are opposing a new rare earths processing plant on the country's eastern coast. Photo by Flickr user avlxyzLocal environmentalists echo scientists' claims that the plant will contaminate watersheds and groundwater, and that the Australian mining company,…
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by: Mike Ives – February 25, 2013

Burmese Environmentalists Slam Proposed Economic Zone

Some Burmese worry that natural resource plunder will only increase in wake of Obama visit

YANGON — Myanmar (also known as Burma) is basking in the glory of Barack Obama's visit this week — the first by a sitting American president to a nation that had until recently had been considered a repressive pariah state. Dawei Development…
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by: Mike Ives – November 20, 2012

Green Dragon

A suspicious and powerful government. Home to incredible biodiversity and the world’s biggest polluters. A citizenry struggling to define its notion of civil society. Despite these challenges, the environmental movement in China is gaining momentum.

Dalian, China, defies the surly stock image of a polluted Chinese city. On a typical weekday, Audi sedans and electric trolley cars glide past upscale restaurants and fancy clothing boutiques in its prosperous downtown. Skyscrapers reflect a blue sky that shows no glaring signs of air pollution. During summer holidays, tourists from Beijing, which lies 500 miles to the west, flock to Dalian’s beaches to swim in the Yellow Sea. It is…
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by: Mike Ives – Summer 2012

Mekong River Commission Postpones Decision on Controversial Dam in Southeast Asia

But it Might be too Early to Celebrate a "Reprieve" for the Mekong River

This autumn I wrote an article for Earth Island Journal about a brewing controversy over 11 proposed hydropower dams on Southeast Asia’s Mekong River.  Photo by Prince RoyLaos says the $3.5 billion Xayaburi dam and other dams would help to lift its people out of poverty.…
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by: Mike Ives – December 13, 2011

Agent Orange Blues

Scorched Earth: Legacies of the Chemical Warfare in Vietnam
By Fred A. Wilcox
Seven Stories Press, 2011, 240 pages

In 20 years at the Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Dr. Nguyen Thi Phuong Tan has seen it all: twisted toes, missing limbs, mental disabilities, dysfunctional spinal cords. Her patients are children whom she suspects were poisoned by the dioxin that lingers in Vietnam’s soil and water more than three decades after American pilots sprayed the highly toxic Agent Orange herbicide over an area the size of Massachusetts. Agent…
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by: Mike Ives – Winter 2012

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