Economics, Society — by Aldo Leopold May 1, 2013
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948)
When god-like Odysseus returned from the wars in Troy, he hanged all on one rope a dozen slave-girls of his household whom he suspected of misbehavior during his absence. This hanging involved no question of propriety. The girls were property. The disposal of property was then, as now, a matter of expediency, not of right and wrong. Concepts of right and wrong were not lacking from Odysseus’ Greece: witness the fidelity of his wife through the long years before at last his black galleys clove the wine-dark seas for home. The ethical structure of that day covered wives, but had not yet been extended to human chattels. During the three thousand years which have since elapsed, ethical criteria have been extended to many fields of conduct, with corresponding shrinkages in those judged by expediency only.Comments (2)
Consumerism, Economics, Ethical Investment, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Kenton Zerbin April 29, 2013
Maximum security, maximum return. Who doesn’t want that? In a world of uncertainty and change, more than a few people are reconsidering where it is they want their money.
I grew up being encouraged to save and invest in savings. The two are not the same thing. To invest in savings is to invest in money itself. To put your money into money… such a strange idea. But in a civilization bent on growth, how can your money not grow as well? It really isn’t a bad idea if you have faith that growth never ends….Comments (4)
Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.Comments (2)
Consumerism, Society, peak oil — by Earth Policy Institute April 26, 2013
by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute
Politicians, lobbyists, and tourists alike can ride bicycles along a specially marked lane between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, part of the 115 miles of bicycle lanes and paths that now crisscross Washington, DC. In Copenhagen, commuters can ride to work following a “green wave” of signal lights timed for bikers. Residents in China’s “happiest city,” Hangzhou, can move easily from public transit onto physically separated bike tracks that have been carved out of the vast majority of roadways. And on any given Sunday in Mexico City, some 15,000 cyclists join together on a circuit of major thoroughfares closed to motorized traffic. What is even more exciting is that in each of these locations, people can jump right into cycling without even owning a bicycle. Welcome to the era of the Bike Share.Comments (1)
The case for banning advertisements aimed at children is overwhelming.
How many people believe this makes the world a better place? A company called TenNine has hung advertising hoardings in the corridors and common rooms of 750 British schools(1). Among its clients are Nike, Adidas, Orange, Tesco and Unilever(2). It boasts that its “high impact platform delivers right to the heart of the 11-18 year old market.”(3)
Other firms are closing in. Boomerang Media, which represents Sega, Atari, Virgin, Umbro and others, has persuaded schools to distribute Revlon perfume samples to their pupils(4). This campaign, it says, “was effectively linked into their PSHE and PE classes”. PSHE means personal, social, health and economic education, or “learning to live life well”(5). How the disbursement of perfume by teachers helps children to keep fit and live well is a mystery I will leave you to ponder.Comments (1)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Society — by George Monbiot April 24, 2013
Devolving policy to “the market” doesn’t solve the problem of power. It makes it worse.
In other ages, states sought to seize as much power as they could. Today, the self-hating state renounces its powers. Governments anathematise governance. They declare their role redundant and illegitimate. They launch furious assaults upon their own branches, seeking wherever possible to lop them off.
This self-mutilation is a response to the fact that power has shifted. States now operate at the behest of others. Deregulation, privatisation, the shrinking of the scope, scale and spending of the state: these are now seen as the only legitimate policies. The corporations and billionaires to whom governments defer will have it no other way.Comments (4)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Marcin Gerwin April 18, 2013
The disappearing Amazon rainforest
Marcin Gerwin: You propose introducing a new international law of ecocide as an amendment to the Rome Statute. Ecocide is defined as “an extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.” Why do we need the new law to protect the planet? Aren’t current regulations enough?Comments (2)
Consumerism, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Society — by George Monbiot April 15, 2013
We have offshored both our consumption and our perceptions
Every society has topics it does not discuss. These are the issues which challenge its comfortable assumptions. They are the ones that remind us of mortality, which threaten the continuity we anticipate, which expose our various beliefs as irreconcilable.
Among them are the facts which sink the cosy assertion, that (in David Cameron’s words) “there need not be a tension between green and growth.”
At a reception in London recently I met an extremely rich woman, who lives, as most people with similar levels of wealth do, in an almost comically unsustainable fashion: jetting between various homes and resorts in one long turbo-charged holiday. When I told her what I did, she responded, “oh I agree, the environment is so important. I’m crazy about recycling.” But the real problem, she explained, was “people breeding too much”.Comments (6)
Society — by George Monbiot April 12, 2013
Why are 97% of our rivers shut to the public? A millionaire minister’s amazing conflicts of interest give you a clue.
Nowhere in Britain is power more concentrated than in the countryside. Some people claim we have the second lowest distribution of land in the world, after Brazil.
Because (thanks to the resistance of the landlords) there is no comprehensive record of who owns what, we can’t be completely sure. But in 2002 Kevin Cahill’s book Who Owns Britain and Ireland estimated that 69% of the land is owned by 0.6% of the population. It has intensified since then: government figures show that between 2005 and 2011 the number of landholdings in England has fallen by 10%, while the average size of holding has risen by 12%.Comments (0)
Consumerism, Economics, Society, peak oil — by Earth Policy Institute March 29, 2013
by Janet Larsen, Earth Policy Institute
Freeing America from its dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world is an admirable goal, but many of the proposed solutions—including the push for more home-grown biofuels and for the construction of the new Keystone XL pipeline to transport Canadian tar sands oil to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast—are harmful and simply unnecessary. Gasoline use in the United States is falling, and the trends already driving it down are likely to continue into the future, making both the mirage of beneficial biofuels and the construction of a new pipeline to import incredibly dirty oil seem ever more out of touch with reality.Comments (1)
Energy Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Nikos A. Salingaros March 25, 2013
Interview of Nikos Salingaros by Mumtaz Soogund on Defimedia, Mauritius, 8 March 2013.
Dr. Salingaros recently joined the CT (Centrale Thermique) Power debate in Mauritius, and in this light graciously agreed to share his views on the matter with the readers of News on Sunday.
MS: A coal-powered plant proves to be a massive investment in the long run, and people are talking more and more about renewable sources of energy. Are they viable and would they be equally efficient in Mauritius?Comments (0)
Economics, People Systems, Society — by Rhamis Kent March 11, 2013
Something interesting happens to you once given an opportunity to take a well-taught, well-presented, and properly contextualized Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course. You are provided with new tools with which to view virtually every conceivable topic through very different eyes – in this instance, economics & history.
The American Civil War, for example, could easily be understood as America’s first energy war. It was also explicitly a war over capital – the most important capital the United States held at the time, enabling it to become the world’s greatest, most influential economic power with the eventual emergence of mass industrialization & financialization globally.Comments (14)
Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, Society — by George Monbiot March 5, 2013
Take a ringside seat as a giant company beats the living daylights out of itself.
“Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?” The current answer to Alexander Pope’s question is the power company Électricité de France (EDF). It is suing 21 climate change activists for £5m as a result of their week-long occupation of its power station at West Burton in Nottinghamshire.
In doing so it has made the biggest strategic mistake since McDonalds pursued two impoverished activists – and inflicted more damage on its brand than its critics had ever managed. The campaign against EDF’s vindictive bullying is snowballing with astonishing speed. During daylight hours yesterday, signatures on the petition against this lawsuit were coming in at the rate of 1,000 per hour.
Already the company’s customers are leaving in droves, and letting other people know why. And the backlash has scarcely begun. This, if EDF does not pull out, will turn into the biggest anti-corporate campaign in the UK for at least a decade.Comments (0)
Economics, Society — by George Monbiot March 1, 2013
Companies like EDF, seeking to terrify protesters with lawsuits, are likely to become victims of their own aggression.
Image: Todd Wiseman
Without public protest, democracy is dead. Every successful challenge to excessive power begins outside the political chamber. When protest stops, politics sclerotises: it becomes a conversation between different factions of the elite.
But protest is of no democratic value unless it is effective. It must disturb and challenge those at whom it is aimed. It must arouse and motivate those who watch. The climate change campaigners trying to prevent a new dash for gas wrote to their MPs, emailed the power companies, marched and lobbied. They were ignored. So last year 17 of them climbed the chimney of the West Burton power station and occupied it for a week(1). Theirs was a demonstration in two senses of the word: they presented an issue to the public which should be at the front of our minds. Prompted to act by altruism and empathy, one day they will be remembered as we remember suffragettes and anti-slavery campaigners.
Last week the operator of the power station – EDF, which is largely owned by the French government – announced that it is suing these people, and four others, for £5m(2). It must know that, if it wins, they have no hope of paying. It must know that they would lose everything they own, now and for the rest of their lives. For these and other reasons, EDF’s action looks to me like a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation: a SLAPP around the ear of democracy.Comments (1)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Conferences, Economics, Society, Village Development — by Bronwyn White February 20, 2013
The Economics of Happiness is a 2011 documentary film directed by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorelick, and John Page, and produced by the International Society for Ecology and Culture. The film has been widely acclaimed and received numerous awards but most pertinently it has linked a number of cutting edge thinkers across the globe who are building the groundswell to see the wisdom from The Economics of Happiness film translated into action. The second of three international conferences will be taking place from 15-17 March 2013 in Byron Bay, Australia and you are invited!
The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, an unholy alliance of governments and big business continues to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, people all over the world are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future.Comments (0)