Sustainability Science
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Sustainability Science
How might we keep the lights on, water flowing, and natural world vaguely intact? It starts with grabbing innovative ideas/examples to help kick down our limits and inspire a more sustainable world. We implement with rigorous science backed by hard data.
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What Do Elephants and Cocaine Have in Common?

What Do Elephants and Cocaine Have in Common? | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Wildlife products and drugs both fuel massive levels of international crime, according to a new United Nations report. A massive new report published this week by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) proves what conservationists have been saying for years: smuggling of wildlife products is huge business. The report—compiled from records of…

Via Garry Rogers
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The 2.5 Million U.S. Clean Energy Jobs Report is a Big Deal

The 2.5 Million U.S. Clean Energy Jobs Report is a Big Deal | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Greetings from Washington, D.C. where the big news of the week is a truly impressive jobs report—no, not the Department of Labor survey for March 2016 which showed an impressive 215,000 job-gain in
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Social impacts of carbon emissions on economic growth warrant stringent mitigation policy

Social impacts of carbon emissions on economic growth warrant stringent mitigation policy | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Integrated assessment models estimate the impact of climate change on current economic output, but not on its rate of growth. This study modifies a standard integrated assessment model to allow climate change to directly affect gross GDP growth rates. Results show that climate change significantly slows down GDP growth in poor regions but not in rich countries, with implications for the level of near-term mitigation.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

The social cost of carbon (SCC) or the economic damage caused by a ton of carbon dioxide emissions—which the United States uses to guide energy regulations and, potentially, future mitigation policies—is $37 per ton according to a recent U.S. government study or, according to a new study by Stanford researchers published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, six times that value.


The Stanford scientists say the current pricing models fail to reflect all the economic damage each ton of CO2 causes and that a higher value on that damage could change policy.


“If the social cost of carbon is higher, many more mitigation measures will pass a cost-benefit analysis,” said study co-author Delavane Diaz. “Because carbon emissions are so harmful to society, even costly means of reducing emissions would be worthwhile.”


“For 20 years now, the models have assumed that climate change can't affect the basic growth rate of the economy,” said study coauthor Frances Moore. “But a number of new studies suggest this may not be true. If climate change affects not only a country’s economic output but also its growth, then that has a permanent effect that accumulates over time, leading to a much higher social cost of carbon.”


But William Pizer, a faculty fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions who has worked on andrecommended regular updating of the SCC estimate, questioned the methodology of the Stanford analysis, pointing out that it relied on the impact on national economies of short-term temperature spikes rather than on long-term trends that might reveal permanent economic reductions.

 

“To me, it just seems like it has to be an overestimate,” Pizer said of the Stanford result of $220 (subscription required). “I think it's great they're doing this,” he added. “I just think this is another data point that someone needs to weigh as they're trying to figure out what the right social cost of carbon is. But this isn't like a definitive new answer.”

 

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38 maps that explain the global economy

38 maps that explain the global economy | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

AbsoCommerce knits the modern world together in a way that nothing else quite does. Almost anything you own these days is the result of a complicated web of global interactions. And there's no better way to depict those interactions than some maps.

PIRatE Lab's insight:

Absolutely stellar assortment of maps displaying our interconnected world and the systems that currently feed our society.

 

You can get lost in this page for hours, so be careful!

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Malthus, Marx, and Modern Growth - Kenneth Rogoff identifies several obstacles to keeping living standards on an upward trajectory

Malthus, Marx, and Modern Growth - Kenneth Rogoff identifies several obstacles to keeping living standards on an upward trajectory | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

The promise that each generation will be better off than the last is a fundamental tenet of modern society. By and large, most advanced economies have fulfilled this promise, with living standards rising over recent generations, despite setbacks from wars and financial crises. In the developing world, too, the vast majority of people have started to experience sustained improvement in living standards and are rapidly developing similar growth expectations. But will future generations, particularly in advanced economies, realize such expectations? Though the likely answer is yes, the downside risks seem higher than they did a few decades ago.


Via Szabolcs Kósa
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Fortune Magazine's Version of the 50 "most admired" corporations.

Fortune Magazine's Version of the 50 "most admired" corporations. | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Very, very few of these businesses have any significant emphasis on sustainability.  A few do (e.g. Whole Foods, Unilever) but the vast majority read more like a Who's Who of non-triple bottom liners.  Really?  Wall Street Banks are among the "most admired" businesses in the world.  Come on.

 

Once again, Fortune Magazine shows why 1) it is near bankruptcy and 2) takes money to write stories that other outfits would classify as "paid advertisements" or "paid promotions."  

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Solar industry job growth jumped 20% in 2013

Solar industry job growth jumped 20% in 2013 | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Employment in the U.S. solar industry jumped 20 percent in 2013 to hit 142,698, according to an annual survey released Monday. Nearly half of all U.S. solar workers counted in the most recent survey install systems, rather than make the equipment.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

For all the knocks on green jobs, they seem to be steadily increasing year over year.

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The onrushing wave

The onrushing wave | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Previous technological innovation has always delivered more long-run employment, not less. But things can change


Via Szabolcs Kósa
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Christian Verstraete's curator insight, February 3, 2014 1:33 AM

Technology Innovation and jobs.

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Efforts to curb unbridled growth that's killing the planet

Efforts to curb unbridled growth that's killing the planet | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Yet instead of applause, voices from across the political spectrum - Berkeley activists and Beltway conservatives, Pope Francis and even some corporate CEOs - offer a critique of economic growth and its harm to the well-being of humans and the...
PIRatE Lab's insight:

The efforts to incorporate natural capital into our economic thinking and policy are good, but much of this formal effort (as described by Gretchen in the piece) is very piecemeal and idiosyncratic to date.

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Alaska leaders try to agree on budget plan; oil prices hurt

Oil prices are forcing tough choices for Alaska legislature.

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Extreme Weather, Caused by Climate Change, Is Here. Can Nike Prepare You?

Extreme Weather, Caused by Climate Change, Is Here. Can Nike Prepare You? | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Following the approach we often see from companies marketing products before big storms, Nike focuses on climate change science in the promotion of its latest line of base-layer apparel. Is it a sign that more Americans are taking climate change seriously? Don’t get your hopes up.
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It's Still Too Early For Tanking Oil Prices To Curb U.S. Drilling

It's Still Too Early For Tanking Oil Prices To Curb U.S. Drilling | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The U.S. is now the world's largest oil producer, and some worry that falling prices could mean an industry slowdown. But with production costs also falling, drillers are unlikely to cut back soon.
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Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement Report

Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement Report | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement: Voices and Reflections from the Field is a snapshot of an emerging movement. This movement is a sign of the growing recognition that what often are seen as separate movements—environment, soci
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The End of the ‘Developing World’

The End of the ‘Developing World’ | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The old labels no longer apply. Rich countries need to learn from poor ones.

 

BILL GATES, in his foundation’s annual letter, declared that “the terms ‘developing countries’ and ‘developed countries’ have outlived their usefulness.” He’s right. If we want to understand the modern global economy, we need a better vocabulary.

Mr. Gates was making a point about improvements in income and gross domestic product; unfortunately, these formal measures generate categories that tend to obscure obvious distinctions. Only when employing a crude “development” binary could anyone lump Mozambique and Mexico together.

It’s tough to pick a satisfying replacement. Talk of first, second and third worlds is passé, and it’s hard to bear the Dickensian awkwardness of “industrialized nations.” Forget, too, the more recent jargon about the “global south” and “global north.” It makes little sense to counterpose poor countries with “the West” when many of the biggest economic success stories in the past few decades have come from the East.

All of these antiquated terms imply that any given country is “developing” toward something, and that there is only one way to get there.

It’s time that we start describing the world as “fat” or “lean.”


Via Seth Dixon
PIRatE Lab's insight:

The terms "developing" and "developed" are certainly problematic.  But so too are just about any such terminologies.  "Fat" and "lean" have their own host of problems.  But the unmistakable issue is that the world is much more diverse and harder to characterize than a century ago.

 

My vote would be a scale of corruption.  Or a measure of the disparity of income between the richest and poorest in the country, or perhaps a measure of the wealth/poverty concentration. 

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Joanne Wegener's curator insight, March 7, 2014 5:03 AM

Fat or Lean - what sort of world do we live in

An interesting discussion on the way we perceive and label the world.

Ma. Caridad Benitez's curator insight, March 11, 2014 10:15 AM

Hoy en día poca claridad de dónde exactamente queda y quiénes son? 

Seth Dixon's curator insight, March 13, 2014 10:46 AM

UPDATE: this article (from the Atlantic) on the exact same concept would supplement the NY Times article nicely.  

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Who are the 1 percent? Two new views

Who are the 1 percent? Two new views | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Nobel Prize -winning economist Robert M. Solow has leveled a blast at a recent attempt by Harvard economist N. Gregory Mankiw to explain rising income inequality and the primacy of the 1% in the U.S. as the result of "just desserts" going to the talented people making important economic contributions to society.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

While we certainly need innovation to tackle our vexing sustainability crises, the "one percent" are certainly more often a hinderance rather than a assistance in these matters.  At least in my opinion.  I do not find many "one percenters" or five or ten percenters for that matter in the cue to assist with new technological innovations that can bolster sustainability.  But I do find many of them on the status quo tip, arguing against technological or policy innovations to bolster sustainability.  Be it wealthy mining heiresses in Australia or fossil fuel advocating industrialists, most are actively seeking to hinder or reverse gains in environmental protection and social justice.  Unfortunately I concur that most of the ultra rich are indeed more Jamie Dimond and less Steve Jobs.

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Wealthy Businessman Compares Treatment Of The Rich To The Holocaust

Wealthy Businessman Compares Treatment Of The Rich To The Holocaust | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Venture capitalist Thomas Perkins wrote a letter to the editors at the Wall Street Journal, comparing the plight of the rich to the Holocaust, called "Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?"... and the WSJ published it.

Via pdeppisch
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Unbelievable.  Achieving sustainability is not possible when such a small majority control such a vast proportion of the overall wealth in our country/world.  And it certainly isn't possible when efforts such as those to return taxation rates to what they were for many decades is equated to the Holocaust.  

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Trading up from poverty

Trading up from poverty | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON, DC – A long-held tenet of international-trade theory is that, in the long run, increased trade correlates with faster GDP growth.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

I understand all of the macroeconomic arguments, but am still not convinced that the World Bank is the best engine for economic development out there.  Globalization has (from my perspective and the studies I have examined) been quite wrenching and harmful in terms of local, traditional communities/cultures and in terms of overall environmental quality.  I like the fact the World Bank seems more focused on the lower 40% of the world's population (measured by income), but somehow I am not sure they will be particularly successful.

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2013's Best Performing American Cities

2013's Best Performing American Cities | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
New rankings from the Milken Institute show just how diverse our tech economy has become.

To the casual observer, the narratives of economic growth in American cities seem fairly obvious: the Sunbelt is adding people, the Rustbelt is failing, and big cities like New York, Chicago, Boston and D.C. are coming back. But the reality is far more complicated once you start adding real-world statistics into the picture.

Each year, the Milken Institute’s "Best Performing Cities" index injects some much-needed clarity into the debates surrounding metro growth and decline. An "outcomes-based" ranking, the report takes into account both short and long-term growth in job numbers, wages and salary, and the concentration and size of high-tech industries — an increasingly important part of success in today’s knowledge-driven economy.

The result is a data-driven look at economic growth in America's 200 largest metropolitan areas.


Via Lauren Moss
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