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fred first's List: NewEconomy

  • Nov 29, 09

    Personal lifestyle change makes us feel better and is good, but it is not enough. We need change from the top down and very soon.

    • Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet?
    • He argues that if environmentalists are to achieve their goals, they must join with social activists, cultural innovators, and neighborhood advocates in creating a New Economics -- one that shares wealth, encourages diversity and decentralization of production, is responsible to the environment, and puts community accountability ahead of profits.  
    • This New Environmentalism is as much a political movement as an economic one.  It will take rethinking policies at the national, state, and local levels to encourage a "sustaining" economy.  It can be done.  At least Gus Speth feels we have no choice but to make the effort.  This passion has put him at the head of multiple initiatives to define a New Economics and implement a New Economy.

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  • Feb 24, 10

    We can't simply change within the past system of capitalism in a no-growth, steady-state sustainable future. If we do what we've always done, we'll get what we've always got.

    • Reskilling for an Age of Energy Descent

      Transition Towns founder Rob Hopkins {2} calls the educational work we need to be doing over the next couple of decades "the Great Reskilling", acquiring and re-acquiring the skills we will need to manage the energy transition we face. I've already written a bit about the organizational skills we will need on the local level {3}. Here I want to offer some thoughts about the sorts of practical skills adults and children alike could start learning now to cope with a world of drastically reduced and altered energy sources.
    • What many within the movement probably don’t know is that for decades some of us in the “deep green” camp have been arguing that the key element in a sustainable and just world has to be small, highly self sufficient, localised economies under local cooperative control. (See my Abandon Affluence, published in 1985, and The Conserver Society, 1995.) It is therefore immensely encouraging to find that this kind of initiative is not only underway but booming. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that if this planet makes it through the next 50 years to sustainable and just ways it will be via some kind of Transition Towns process
    • Above all it must be a zero-growth economy, with a far lower GDP than at present, and most difficult of all, it cannot be an affluent society.  

        I refer to this alternative as The Simpler Way. Its core principles must be 

       • Far simpler material living standards.   

       • High levels of self-sufficiency within households, national and especially neighbourhoods and towns, with relatively little travel, transport or trade. There must be mostly small, local economies in which most of the things we need are produced by local labour from local resources.   

       • Basically cooperative and participatory local systems. 

        • A quite different economic system, one not driven by market forces and profit, and in which there is far less work, production and consumption than at present, and a large cashless sector, including many free goods from local commons. There must be no economic growth at all. There must be mostly small local economies, under our control via participatory systems, and run to meet needs – not to make profits (although I think we could have markets and many private firms). 

        • Most problematic, a radically different culture, in which competitive and acquisitive individualism is replaced by frugal, self-sufficient collectivism. 

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    • The New Economy Challenge: Implications for Higher Education     

            A new economy requires a new approach to education. David Korten discusses how we can rethink our goals, reskill ourselves, and teach Spaceship Management 101
    • We humans are in the midst of a potentially terminal economic, social, and environmental crisis of our own making. Our economic systems are unstable, extreme inequality is tearing apart the social fabric, and Earth’s critical living systems are collapsing. We have gathered for this conference, not to debate the seriousness of our situation, but rather to explore how our educational institutions can contribute to the solution.

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    • An economic transformation to rival the Industrial Revolution is on its way – and this time nature will be properly valued, predict John Elkington and Alejandro Litovsky
    • The focus of his work, and that of a growing number of economists, is the creation in the coming decades of what we call the Biosphere Economy. The evidence suggests that this will be as profound in its impacts as the original Industrial Revolution, except this time the economy will be working with the grain of the biosphere, rather than against it.

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    • Weber and Savitz make the crucial point that sustainable development is about business, and not philanthropy. It is not simply an add on. To succeed, sustainable development must be an integral part of a company’s core business. And this does not just apply to big businesses -- but follows all the way down the supply chain. As Savitz himself expresses it: "All companies need to realize that 'Sustainability will be opening in a theatre near you.’ - and that no-one will get away from doing something about it."
  • Jul 10, 11

    Home page Elkington

    • It is abundantly clear that individuals and communities can make radically different choices about how to live their lives. In many ways, they are quite successful at it. And through living differently, these people can create a new sense of identity for themselves. They develop a richer sense of purpose and of their relationship to the world. When you study that empirically, you find that these people are measurably happier.
    • the idea of the immortal soul lost its influence. That obviously placed a huge importance on our physical existence. So progress came to be framed within the context of those finite existences: Future generations deserved better lives, they deserved more than we had

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  • Jul 06, 11

    SustainAbility Appetite for Change


  • Jul 05, 11

    Described by its authors, the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) provides citizens and policymakers fruitful insight by recognizing economic activity that diminishes both natural and social capital. Further, the GPI is designed to measure sustainable economic welfare rather than economic activity alone. To accomplish this, the GPI uses a simple three underlying principles for its methodology: account for income inequality, include non-market benefits that are not included in the Gross Domestic Product, and identify and deduct bads such as environmental degradation, human health effects, and loss of leisure time.
    The GPI developers identified 26 indicators and then populate them with verifiable data. As one example, the pure economic activity stemming from the explosive growth of urban sprawl contributes greatly to the GSP. Yet, along with sprawl come increased commuting time, increased traffic congestion, land use conversion, and automobile impacts. In short, just because we are exchanging money within an economy does not necessarily mean that we are sustainable or prosperous.
    In the effort of the GPI to measure prosperity, though, there are of course inherent challenges. The most obvious is, how do we quantify the unquantifiable? First, what are the indicators of social well-being? Next, how do we calculate such indicators? That is, what really is the cost of crime? What is the value of wetlands? Of forests? How do we measure human health? To answer, while the identification of each indicator is subjective, the use of cited, nationally accepted data and peer-reviewed studies lends considerable credibility. Because of this and its long track record, many countries and national jurisdictions have used the GPI as a construct and included indicators and data to assist policymakers as they guide their communities to the future.
    Origins of the GPI
    The precursors to the current Genuine Progress Indicator were the Measured Economic Welfare (MEW) and the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW). In 1972, American economists William Nordhaus and Nobel Prize winner James Tobin developed the Measured Economic Welfare (MEW) in an attempt to answer if growth was obsolete. Ecological economist Herman Daly (currently at the University of Maryland, College Park) and theologian John Cobb picked up their work nearly two decades later as they investigated how to develop a macro measure of welfare by creating the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW).

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