What George Mason University Experts Are Doing about…G8 Issues

Posted: July 8, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Rey Banks

This week, the Group of Eight (G8) Summit is convening in Scotland to discuss the political and economic progress being made in Africa and the state of the world’s environment. At George Mason, professors are already hard at work researching global solutions to some of the very topics being addressed on the world stage.

Donald Boudreaux
Donald Boudreaux
Photo by Eric Goodman

Donald Boudreaux, chair of the Economics Department, provides analysis on economics and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. In questioning whether aid to Africa can bring real solutions, Boudreaux says the more than $40 billion in debt relief that G8 leaders recently agreed to for Africa and other developing countries is far more likely to bring harm than help. Boudreaux argues that aid money provided by Westerners to alleviate Third World poverty has been known to be stolen or misspent by ruling government leaders. “Nothing is done to foster the rule of law and private property rights that alone are the foundation for widespread prosperity,” he says.

Boudreaux is an expert on the nature of law, antitrust law, economics, and international trade. He has lectured in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Europe on a wide variety of topics, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Regulation, Washington Times, Journal of Commerce, and others.

Another perspective on world poverty is offered by researchers from the Mercatus Center. Enterprise Africa!—a project dedicated to finding and documenting the success stories of Africa’s entrepreneurs—was launched by the Mercatus Center and the Free Market Foundation of Southern Africa. This joint initiative involves sending field teams to various locations throughout Africa, including some of its poorest nations such as South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania, to study and identify possible solutions to poverty at the local level. Already, results have shown that these field teams are capable of finding practical local methods to combat poverty and its related causes and effects, including poor educational systems and health care, government corruption, and famine.

Global Prosperity Center Director Brian Hooks believes in identifying possible solutions to poverty at the local level. He is working on domestic as well as international levels to identify new and interesting ways to advance understanding of social change, and transform ideas into policy action. “The Western world’s failure to spur development in Africa demonstrates that poverty is not going to be eliminated by ideas born of Western elites at conferences on wealth redistribution,” he says. “[Our work] will demonstrate how entrepreneurs are erasing poverty locally and sharing their successes with other entrepreneurs, governments, and international development groups that clearly need models that work.”

The environment is also getting some attention at this year’s G8 Summit, and George Mason Environmental Science and Policy Instructor Chris Parsons is conducting research on how climate changes affect the earth. According to his studies, global warming is affecting even the coldest regions of the world. Parsons presented a report to the International Whaling Commission last month that collated research published over the past year on global warming and other environmental issues, concentrating on the effects of global warming in the polar regions, and warned of their possible impact on the marine environment.

“The scientific evidence for global warming is now overwhelming,” Parsons says. “Numerous changes and shifts in the climate and oceanography of the polar regions and other areas …are already having an effect on endangered marine species. For example, several researchers have documented shifts in the distribution of whales and dolphins and their prey, and these shifts are linked to global warming.”

Parsons has been involved in whale and dolphin research for more than a decade and has conducted projects in South Africa, India, China, the Caribbean, and the United Kingdom. His research on Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and finless porpoises in China involved studies on the behavior and ecology of Hong Kong’s cetaceans and marine pollution, and the effects of both on marine life.

For more information on the G8, visit the web site.

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