Sustainable business news & articles August 2011

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/China-resources-economy-boom-inflation-budget-Gill-pd20110802-KBTPF?OpenDocument&src=spb Reality check on China’s economic growth: an ageing population, increasing social unrest and rubbery figures.

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/obamas-debt-capitulation-will-only-embolden-the-extremists-20110801-1i84j.html Paul Krugman’s incisive analysis of the US debt deal.

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Australian-firms-could-face-top-up-fee-on-UN-offse-KC5AH?OpenDocument&src=hp8  Complications in the carbon package with collapse in the UN CER floor price.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/aug/02/global-demand-for-food  The impact of biofuel production on world food security.

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Small-firms-looking-local-on-net-report-KCSFV?OpenDocument&src=tnb  The contribution of the internet to the Australian economy.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/03/shell-liability-oil-spills-nigeria Shell accepts some responsibility for massive oil spills in the Niger delta.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/03/shell-oil-spills-niger-delta-bodo?intcmp=239

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/thailands-new-green-revolution With the costs of the green revolution in Thailand, organic farming is increasing.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/news/china-eyes-steel-cement-sectors-carbon-credit-trade-report  China’s plans for industrial cap-and-trade: sectoral carbon trading.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/shell-given-goahead-to-drill-off-alaska-2332689.html A dangerous precedent.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/news/congo-republic-wants-26-billion-replant-forest  An interesting proposal in reforestation from the Congo.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/news/oceans-neglected-aust-climate-debate-says-green-group  Including oceans and coastal zones in climate accounting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/09/science/09profile.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general Economic valuation of environmental services.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/aug/11/fewer-farmers-turn-to-organic  Falls in UK organic production.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/news/china-double-solar-capacity-year-end-report Growth in China’s solar production.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/climate-change-drives-animals-to-high-ground-2340152.html  Biological impacts of climate change.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/news/new-iceland-current-could-sway-n-atlantic-climate  Important oceanographic discovery.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/science/earth/22fossil.html?_r=1&hp Western Australia discovery of oldest fossils.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/news/dow-takes-monsanto-new-biotech-soybean  Dow’s biotech soybean.

http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/2011/07/05/selling-out-for-shell  Shell greenwash.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/water-crisis-population-surge-prompt-rethink-on-food-un-2342058.html  UN report on food and water.

http://www.theage.com.au/business/parkinsons-lore-and-the-law-of-sustainability-20110826-1jeg8.html  Coherent thinking from the Australian Treasury on sustainability.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/obamas-big-dirty-oil-test  The US tar sands controversy.

http://www.oneplanetliving.org/index.html  A useful ten principles for sustainable living.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/news/volkswagen-invest-1bn-renewables-report  Volkswagen’s commitment to sustainability initiatives in production, and investment in wind energy–

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/news/volkswagen-road-carbon-free-car-report-0 and its cars.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/aug/27/disney-factory-sweatshop-suicide-claims Disney China sweatshop.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/australias-big-solar-turning-point  Accelerating solar development.

 

Wendell Berry on “The Idea of a Local Economy”

In these days of international economic crisis–days when the economic underpinnings of the global economy are being exposed as seriously flawed–it is worth looking at other ways forward.  What is new about this global financial crisis is that no one can see how it can be reversed by policy intervention: the fiscal and monetary levers that have been used to stimulate economic growth seem to have been almost entirely exhausted.  Policy-makers are reduced to the expedient of printing money: the last stand of a bankrupt system of thought and practice.  I am ruminating on the need to write a book entitled “The end of economics”; because surely, if economics regards itself as a science, subject to the scientific discipline of “conjecture and refutation” (to quote Karl Popper), then the present extended series of crises begins to look like a serious refutation which threatens the legitimacy of its intellectual foundations.  So it is useful, as I say, to look at other ways forward.

In 2001 Wendell Berry wrote a piece for Orion magazine on “The Idea of a Local Economy.”  He has written many other pieces along these lines, gathered in such publications as “Home Economics” (1987) and “What Matters?  Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth” (2010).   This piece seems to me to be particularly apposite to the times. Wendell Berry is one of those rare writers who think clearly, write beautifully and are fearless in taking disparaged positions on moral grounds.  Often, I find, he simply says (very well) what everyone knows to be true, on the family and community level, but which national populations and their policy-makers find it convenient, for reasons of short-term self-interest, to ignore.  A particular virtue of his critiques is that they don’t remain critiques: he has something to offer in place of the current conventional wisdoms.  He writes on behalf of  ordinary people and their ordinary, human concern for the welfare of their families and neighbours, and for the welfare of the world–a conspicious contribution to the public discourse on how we are to live.

There is a proverb of sorts, variously attributed (I like Benjamin Franklin, as it sounds like him, although it probably wasn’t), to the effect that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”  I leave you to draw the implications.  Wendell Berry offers a different thing.  At the very least he seems to be in and around the right place, which he firmly believes–and I agree–is likely to be local, not global.

Wendell Berry The Idea of a Local Economy

Sustainable business news & articles July 2011

http://blogs.crikey.com.au/thestump/2011/07/01/the-changing-climate-of-climate-change-reportage/ Interesting trends in global climate change reportage.

http://www.theage.com.au/world/4000000000000-cost-for-us-wars-over-decade-20110701-1gv5x.html Words fail me.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/02/biofuels-land-grab-kenya-delta Environmental impacts of biofuels in Kenya.

http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/07/04/gillards-petrol-trade-off-more-complex-than-it-seems/ The intricacies of petrol pricing in carbon policy.

http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/06/29/inside-story-green-growth-sprouting-in-mainstream-economic-analysis/ Michael Jacobs on the economics of green growth.

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/01/in-a-twist-loggers-nurture-spotted-owls/?ref=science Logging and the conservation of the northern spotted owl.

http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/06/16/look-beyond-a-carbon-price-and-examine-whether-your-cuts-will-count/ Richard Dennis on cap-and-slice schemes.

http://www.theage.com.au/environment/conservation/wildlife-fears-over-british-billionaires-plans-for-arctic-megamine-20110705-1h0mf.html British plans for open cut mine inside the Arctic Circle.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/news/eu-lawmakers-give-backing-national-gm-crop-bans-0 The EU backs national government decisions on GM crops.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/what-carbon-farming-means-agriculture CSIRO modelling of farming for carbon shows a carbon price of $40 per tonne is needed to make it economically viable.

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo1182.html Study shows relatively modest effect on emissions of afforestation.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/dawn-baseload-solar-energy A spectacular and important development in providing baseload solar energy.

http://ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/pdf/0510.pdf The potential of soil for carbon sequestration.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/jul/08/natural-history-museum-south-america?intcmp=122 Ecological and human rights challenges in the Chaco, in Paraguay

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/12/science/12crowd.html?_r=1&hpw Crowd funding for scientific projects.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13945072 Rural poverty in China unabated, increasing the gap between wealthy and poor.

http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/07/15/carbon-tax-average-household-tax/ John Quiggin’s analysis of the positive impacts of the carbon price package.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jul/14/india-coal-rush Coal-fired electric power in Andhra Pradesh

http://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/forests-soak-up-third-of-emissions-study-20110715-1hhl2.html New evidence on potential effect of forests as a global sink.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/global-warming-study-finds-natural-shields-being-weakened-2314921.html Other evidence on the weakening of some soil and ocean ecosystems to act as a sink.

http://socialmediainfluence.com/2011/07/06/social-sustainability-google-overshadows-search-engines-big-climate-news/ Google’s projections on cutting oil.

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/28/googles-green-energy-wish-list/

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Forrest-slammed-over-Pilbara-project-JVBEG?OpenDocument&src=hp13 Andrew Forrest criticised over indigenous rights in Pilbara deal.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/gas-fracking-dilemma Environmental impacts of fracking.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/news/west-russia-divided-un-council-climate-role First debates on the institutional role of the UN in managing climate change impacts.

http://www.swcs.org/documents/filelibrary/climate/SWCS_Climate_Position_Statement_751_46C025478C4CA.pdf A welcome statement from US agriculture on climate change, mitigation and adaptation.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/opinion/sunday/24bittman.html?_r=1 Using economic instruments to incentivise healthier eating.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/news/african-land-grab-threatens-food-security-study More evidence on the acquisition of agricultural land in Africa by China and other countries.

http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/organic-farm-ruined-by-neighbours-genetically-modified-seed-20110728-1i126.html?from=age_ft First Australian court action on GM cross-contamination.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/dont-be-shanghaied-chinas-well-down-road-carbon-reduction Cap-and-trade systems for curbing cars in Shanghai.

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/global-warming-debunked-not-quite-0 Cloud research and climate change debate.