Text 18 Dec 3 notes Will these be the pillars of a new economy? (part 1)

The Wikipedia defines economy as ‘a spatially limited and social network where goods and services are exchanged according to demand and supply between participants by barter or a medium of exchange with a credit or debit value accepted within the network’. The definition of economy implies thus there there is a credit and debit value that is accepted within the social network for goods and services. Translating this to a country and its citizens, it then up to us, the citizens, to decide what is valuable in our economy. And it is up to responsible and real democratic governments to implement policies that maximize the well-being of its citizens through maximizing what is valuable to their citizens and thus their (real)economy.

If we consider the value of goods and services to include things that are important to us such as social, individual and environmental value, and include the debt caused by the negative impacts in these values, we will see the real value of goods and services, and thus have a real economy. This is not being limited to the monetary value as we conventionally are used to.

One interesting point here is that a new economy is possible without significantly changing the infrastructure of the present system. In order for this to work, we as citizens should initiate a debate about what is valuable and brings progress to our lives, and demand our governments to apply these values in their policies. The same as consumers. A well informed consumer, the consumer of the new economy, that is aware of the social and environmental value or debt of his purchase, and eventually be rewarded or penalized from it, will act differently from the conventional consumer who only sees the monetary value.

This re-thinking of values and including them in our economy, will add depth to our present system. In this way our economy will include the values that are important to our society. It will act as an evolution of capitalism, in which social and environmental values are part of the economic system.

Text 16 Dec 2 notes Who are the terrorists?

The Iraq War began on March 20, 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by the United States under the administration of President George W. Bush and the United Kingdom under Prime Minister Tony Blair. The war was formally ended by the U.S. on December 15, 2011. Prior to the invasion, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom asserted that the possibility of Iraq employing weapons of mass destruction threatened their security and that of their coalition/regional allies. In 2002, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which called for Iraq to completely cooperate with UN weapon inspectors to verify that it was not in possession of weapons of mass destruction and cruise missiles. The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission was given access by Iraq under provisions of the UN resolution but found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Following the invasion, the U.S.-led Iraq Survey Group concluded that Iraq had ended its nuclear, chemical, and biological programs in 1991 and had no active programs at the time of the invasion but that Iraq intended to resume production once sanctions were lifted. Although some degraded remnants of misplaced or abandoned chemical weapons from before 1991 were found, they were not the weapons which had been the main argument to justify the invasion. Some U.S. officials also accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda, but no evidence of a meaningful connection was ever found. 

The price paid in Iraqi civilians lives during the military mission to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime: 104,080 to 113,728 (with possible additional 15 000).

Results of poll taken in Iraq in August 2005 by the British Ministry of Defense (Source: Brookings Institute):

Iraqis “strongly opposed to presence of coalition troops: 82%

Iraqis who believe Coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security: less than 1%

Iraqis who feel less secure because of the occupation: 67%

Iraqis who do not have confidence in multi-national forces: 72%

Photo 14 Dec No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square, it would incite protests that would topple dictators and start a global wave of dissent. In 2011, protesters didn’t just voice their complaints; they changed the world.

No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square, it would incite protests that would topple dictators and start a global wave of dissent. In 2011, protesters didn’t just voice their complaints; they changed the world.

Text 10 Dec 3 notes Durban’s Climate Change Conference, call for action

The Durban’s United Nations Climate Change Conference is starting this Monday, 28 November for two weeks. The hope is that a new protocol following Kyoto, will reduce carbon reductions and stimulate the development of a green economy. Carbon emissions are now higher by 40% compared with 1990, the Kyoto base year. Since 2000 that the carbon emissions have been growing at a 3% per year rate. There has been improvements in terms of production efficiency: since the last 18 years that the the world’s GDP have grown at a larger rate than carbon emissions, however we still keep on growing the absolute emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th assessment report suggests that in order to keep a global temperature raise within 2 to 2.4 deg. Cel. by 2050, we need to stabilize atmospheric carbon to within 445-490 ppm (parts per million). This means that we would need to reduce emissions from today until 2050 at a rate of about 5% per year, without accounting for global population and income growth. This calls for urgent action.  

The world’s green nations should not wait for nations like the US, India, China or Japan to legally bind to a climate treaty. The green nations should take the lead, even without a global agreement, and drive themselves into a cleaner economy, with all the competitive advantages they will have in the long term, by defining the rules of the new economy and lead the market in green technology and sustainable energy production. The grey countries will loose competitiveness in the long term when the rest of the world is green and still have to pay the accumulated environmental and social bills.

Text 4 Dec 11 notes How developed countries control the climate negotiations

The Durban climate conference is now in the end of its first week and it’s now clear the stalling strategy of some of the developed countries such as the US, Canada, Japan in trying to delay an agreement to 2015 and action to 2020, while allowing Kyoto to expire. Some other countries such as Brazil, India and Russia are following these steps, while China position is still unclear. The EU is leading the group of countries that want to take immediate action.

This stalling strategy is not new and has been used in the past in Cancun and Copenhagen. The World Development Movement has just published a report that shows the bullying and bribary tactics of developed countries such as the US and the UK in trying to kill the Kyoto Protocol. 

Through interviews with developing countries negotiators, the report shows the ‘unfair, undemocratic and deceitful’ tactics used by developed countries to drive the climate negotiations.

The report also shows how countries like the UK have bribed poorer countries by making development funding available only upon signature to the Copenhagen and Cancun agreements. Other interviews shows how developing country negotiators ‘are taken out of delegations for one reason or another, or booted upstairs, or suddenly are transferred, or lose their jobs, as a result of external pressures, usually in the form of some kind of bribe (not necessarily money), or exchange.’

Climate change is a matter of justice. The developed countries who have caused the problem must assume their responsibility and take the right decisions to  allow future generations to inherit a liveable world and reduce the suffering of the countries most affected by global warming.

Text 30 Nov 1 note an emerging enlightening?

Inspired by the Arab spring, the uprises a bit everywhere in Europe, by the occupiers, by the tea party demonstrators, and the many other protests, people in the west are waking up from a state of granted accommodation to a free market capitalism, into a wide-range perspective debate over democratic, ecological, social, financial, economical, life-perspective, justice and human-rights issues. Awareness and mental flexibility, perhaps motivated by the global communication technologies revolution, are motivating a shock wave of ideology confrontation among these people, making them prone to realize that a systemic change is needed. People realizing that the present system is not solving nowadays crisis, do not refuge in past ideologies. Instead, they face change and emerge themselves into a future that looks different from the now. This feeling is common to many participating in the many global protests or movements. Those who criticize these movements by claiming that they are vague and without demands fail to understand this feeling of change and action. Those who fail to understand these movements at all, are trapped in the jail of the old paradigm.

Quote 29 Nov
The gap between rich and poor and the number of people below the poverty line have both grown over the past two decades. The increase is widespread, affecting three-quarters of OECD countries. The scale of the change is moderate but significant.
Video 27 Nov 1 note

The Earth’s climate has changed many times in response to natural factors. But over the course of the last century we have seen an unusual rise in the average global temperature that can not be explained by natural causes alone. Here’s an explanation on what aspects of our climate are changing and what may be causing these changes.

Text 25 Nov 9 notes We need political innovation for a more sustainable world

The world is facing change: the Arab spring, the recessions in the US, Japan and Europe with some countries in near default, the climate, and resources crisis. The sense of injustice and the growing inequality in income distribution is present many’s mind. There is an increasing movement of people that claim that the political class is not representing the majorities interests. Greece and Italy see governments being formed without democratic elections, for the sake of financial reforms imposed by technocrats. We live a period where innovative political leadership is needed in order to listen, reflect and act upon the global age problems. We need political leaders that can think and act out of the box, who can leave the confort zone of frozen political ideologies, and leave behind laws and theories that are centuries old. We need innovative leadership in the political class in order to bring forward global solutions for a more sustainable future, with social, environmental and individual value without compromising future generations. The wealthy north globe has to acknowledge that in order to transfer wealth to countries in development, we need to consume less unsustainable resources. This doesn’t mean that we need to produce less, since we can produce services that don’t consume unsustainable resources. The Internet, probably the most revolutionary invention of the last century is an immaterial concept. Innovation goes in that direction. We have to give space to countries in development who really need material resources to improve their well-being. It is known historically that even with an economy 2 or 3 times smaller than the present in the west, that the perceived happiness levels of its population do not change. This can be seen in the last 50 years, that despite continuous economical growth, the well being as subjective happiness has maintained. So we need to change the foundations of economy and for that we need leadership that can think laterally. We need a revolution in the political mind set.

Quote 24 Nov
I think there are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has
ended. Today, many things indicate that we are going through a
transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out
and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were
crumbling, decaying, and exhausting itself – while something else,
still indistinct, were rising from the rubble.
Photo 23 Nov 7 notes 
Several commodity prices have been steadily increasing since the last decade. Are we reaching sustainability limits?

Several commodity prices have been steadily increasing since the last decade. Are we reaching sustainability limits?

Link 22 Nov ethical consumption for social change »

The Boston Review presents a series of articles under a forum on using ethical consumption for social change. The several articles focus on the power the consumer has in shaping our economy through our wallets and that consumer campaigns have more effectively influenced manufacturing than has government regulation. The examples are many: Apple, Nike, Puma, Adidas, Gap, Levi’s, conflicts in Africa (particularly Congo) on resources used in electronic products manufacturing, water pollution, and labor rights in China. The articles also pinpoint he fact that we are shifting form a culture centered in the producer to a culture oriented to the consumer, as sociologist Ulrich Beck argues:  ”If modernity is a democracy oriented to producers, late modernity is a democracy oriented to consumers: a pragmatic and cosmopolitan democracy where the sleepy giant of the ‘sovereign citizen-consumer’ is becoming a counterweight to big transnational corporations.”

Video 21 Nov 6 notes

As the world faces recession, climate change, inequity and more, Tim Jackson delivers a piercing challenge to established economic principles, explaining how we might stop feeding the crises and start investing in our future.

Link 20 Nov 1 note The Anatomy of Global Economic Uncertainty»

Mohamed A. El-Erian, the CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, the world’s largest bond investor, writes about the global sense of uncertainty and how it is driving a paradigm change in global economy. He claims “that the future of many Western economies, and that of the global economy, will be shaped by their ability to navigate four inter-related financial, economic, social, and political dynamics”. He acknowledges that “growth, while necessary, is insufficient by itself, given today’s high unemployment and the extent to which income and wealth inequalities have increased. Hence the West is being challenged to deliver not just growth, but “inclusive growth,” which, most critically, involves greater “social justice.He expects that “calls for a fairer system will not go away. If anything, they will spread and grow louder. The West has no choice but to strike a better balance – between capital and labor, between current and future generations, and between the financial sector and the real economy”. He mentions the mindset blockage of the political class “which underscores the extent to which an inherently complex paradigm change is straining traditional mindsets, processes, and governance systems” Finally he see this moment as an opportunity: “a global paradigm shift implies a significant change in opportunities, and not just risks.”

Text 19 Nov 1 note Is prosperity only about economical growth?

Prosperity is traditionally associated with economical growth in terms of GDP growth. Economists and politicians are obsessed with it. However prosperity should also speak about the total value in terms of individual, social and environmental value, and not being limited to economical growth. The last should not compromise the others, or we run the risk of loaning from the future and indebting our children in individual, social or environmental value. Thinking in these terms a prosperous society could be one in which social and environmental values are respected above economical growth. We live in an hypocrite model based in continuous economical growth, in a limited resources world. This goes against the laws of physics or maths. We keep on indebting our children with such model without even considering changing it to a more sustainable one, that cares about real people.

Several economical crisis are happening all around the word, mainly in the so called “developed world”. These crisis are clearly showing that our present model is unsustainable and that by continuing to follow such model we keep on indebting future generations. This is seen both at nation level and at family level. The economy of these nations are stagnating while we are reaching a tipping point of technology development vs resources availability at economically sustainable prices. By keeping the current model we are creating social and environmental debt, that is increasing every day we delay in assuming it, and who will pay it are our children or the poor who have no access to the economy of the “developed world”. Smaller scale economies are being first hit, while their politicians keep on applying old economy principles to solve the “financial problem”. Is like living still with the rules of Ptolemy, believing that the Earth is in the centre of the universe, while we all know that it isn’t. So why don’t we leave the old paradigm and make a mind (r)evolution? These countries face an excellent opportunity to apply new economy models in their society and serve as case studies on new (steady-state) economical models, environmentally and socially sustainable, that bring individual, social and environmental value. Let’s stop seeing well being as economical growth and consumerism. Life is more than that let’s start living it!

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