Response to terrorism makes victims we don’t see

While the average number of deaths in terrorist attacks in Europe is going down since the 1990s, it seems that a few isolated, high-impact cases remain, and – quite tragically – they are unlikely to go away. Terrorism in the 1980s was more of an internal issue – politics and crime in Italy, separatism in Spain / Ireland, etc. People got used to the idea that over 100 people would die across the continent year after year due to some ETA or Brigate Rosse extremist.

Nowadays, the lower average number of victims may have caused us to assume that terrorism is nearly extinguished. Of course one rationally knows that 09/11-like attacks may come at any time, but deep inside the fact that a relatively long time passes between attacks (see graph) can effectively switch on our wishful-thinking cognitive bias. Given the (unrealistic) expectation that the number of victims will remain close to zero, cases such as Paris can have a much stronger public opinion impact now than they would have had 20 years ago. Continue reading “Response to terrorism makes victims we don’t see”

Book Review: Falling Inequality in Latin America, edited by Giovanni Andrea Cornia

[Originally published in the LSE Review of Books blog]

Falling Inequality in Latin America. Giovanni Andrea Cornia (eds). Oxford University Press. January 2014.

You have been transposed to a country where every person has a height equal to their income. The very poor are tiny dwarves and the very rich unimaginable giants. Someone has lined up all those people from shortest to tallest and asked them to parade. As the curious event develops you observe the march from your hotel’s window. What exactly do you see? Continue reading “Book Review: Falling Inequality in Latin America, edited by Giovanni Andrea Cornia”

Book Review: The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock by Tony Weiss

[Originally published in the LSE Review of Books blog]

The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock. Tony Weiss. Zed Books. November 2013.

Let’s face it: most of us have recently considered diminishing our meat consumption on environmental and ethical grounds. With the livestock sector pointed out as responsible for one seventh of greenhouse-gas emission, poor animal welfare standards, and increasingly unhealthy human diets, the act of consuming animal products is in the verge of becoming a genuinely political decision. One that Tony Weis, the author of The Ecological Hoofprint and an Associate Professor of Geography at Western University (Canada), believes must become the centrepiece of any global food policy that intends to shorten the gap between the current reality and a more sustainable food production and distribution system. Continue reading “Book Review: The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock by Tony Weiss”