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Sustainable cities must look beyond city limits

Sustainable cities must look beyond city limits | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"City leaders aspiring to transform their cities into models of sustainability must look beyond city limits and include in their calculation the global flow of goods and materials into their realm, argue researchers in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences journal Ambio."

 

Interesting analysis: if we look at the total footprint of cities, how sustainable are they really? Is urbanisation really the key to future sustainability? And what about the social sustainability of cities in a world of increasing inequality?

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The Great Transition
Policy news & blueprints for the transition to a new Sustainable and Social Economy
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David Graeber: ‘So many people spend their working lives doing jobs they think are unnecessary’

David Graeber: ‘So many people spend their working lives doing jobs they think are unnecessary’ | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
technology has been marshalled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. Huge swaths of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they believe to be unnecessary. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.”
Willy De Backer's insight:

Looking forward to reading Graeber's new book.

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Higher Education and the Politics of Disruption

Higher Education and the Politics of Disruption | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
As higher education's role as a center of critical thought and civic engagement is devalued, society is being transformed into a "spectacular space of consumption" and financial looting.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Absolutely brilliant essay by Heny Giroux about the devastating assault of neo-liberal market-first ideology on universities and higher education

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The collapse of Big Oil: How the industry priced itself into oblivion

The collapse of Big Oil: How the industry priced itself into oblivion | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Multinationals have long depended on an endless demand for their product. Now they're scrambling for a new model
Willy De Backer's insight:

Great analysis by Michael Klare of the demise of Big Oil.

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Schuld und Sühne in Griechenland

Schuld und Sühne in Griechenland | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Dazu aber, von der schleichenden Selbstentmachtung der politischen Instanzen, von den Souveränitätstransfers hin zu den Agenturen des Finanzregimes, vom schwindenden Einfluss des Wählers auf politische Entscheidungsprozesse und vom unheimlichen Gewicht mehr oder weniger arkaner Expertengremien (Euro-Gruppe, EZB-Rat) - dazu hören wir von Politikern, aus Griechenland wie Deutschland, im achten Jahr der Finanz-, Geld-, Banken- und Wirtschaftskrise, kein einziges gescheites Wort.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Good article (in German) on the real problem in the Germany-Greece standoff: power is no longer in hands of political players but financial markets.

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Coppola Comment: Greece and the EU: a question of trust

Coppola Comment: Greece and the EU: a question of trust | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
This, in a nutshell, was the obstacle. Syriza wanted a new arrangement in which the rest of the EU would trust it to deliver on its promises. The rest of the EU wanted Syriza to prove its trustworthiness by completing the current programme. Deadlock.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Balanced and interesting analysis by Frances Coppola of the deal between Greece and Eurozone leaders. But by trying to win trust from the austerity elites, could Syriza lose trust of its voters?

Seems to me, the endgame has just been postponed by four months.

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Europe’s ideologues of austerity stand in way of reforms

Europe’s ideologues of austerity stand in way of reforms | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The ideologues of the center have the power to crater the Greek banks and force Greece out of the eurozone. But the beatings cannot continue for long. If the common sense of the so-called radicals fails to reverse the current policies, far more ominous, nationalist, racialist, right-wing forces are gathering in the wings.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Even the Washington Post understands that the austerity fundamentalists are destroying the European project.

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It's not just Greece and Spain that need their debt restructuring | Jonathan Glennie

It's not just Greece and Spain that need their debt restructuring | Jonathan Glennie | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
That Europeans have finally been hit hard by the politics of austerity and debt repayments at all cost is regrettable, but it could have positive consequences if they wake up to the need to change things globally. Perhaps this Greek crisis will spur the world into action, now that Europeans not just Africans, Latin Americans and Asians are under the cosh.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Great article by Jonathan Glennie in the Guardian. We need an international debt restructuring conference.

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Economic and Ecological Crisis 
in Greece

In conclusion, the left worldwide, and in particular in Greece, has to make ecology central to its discourse and struggles. Climate change is a global problem but requires local solutions. Syriza must continue to add to the momentum of the activist movements in Greece, gain from them, and help them grow into a resistance movement and a political force. As more people participate and connect the pieces of the puzzle, i.e., local ecological catastrophes, to the larger picture, i.e. climate change and capitalism, the political awareness of these ecological movements will be awakened and will be successfully expressed through the left.
Willy De Backer's insight:

This article by Natassa Romanou of the NASA-Goddard Institute for Space Studies emphasis the real challenge for Syriza: can it link the austerity crisis with the ecological planetary limits crisis?

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With sub-$60 oil, fracking and tar sands losses threaten the whole financial system

With sub-$60 oil, fracking and tar sands losses threaten the whole financial system | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
A new financial crisis is threatening to dwarf the 'subprime' mortgage debacle, writes Paul Mobbs. Cheap money from central banks has fuelled some $1.3 trillion of risky investments in high-cost 'unconventional' oil and gas. Now, with oil sinking below $60, all that paper is turning to junk - and that's putting the entire economic system at risk
Willy De Backer's insight:

Brilliant must-read analysis in The Ecologist on the fracking Ponzi scheme and its future downfall.

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The Oil Price Fall: An Explanation in Two Charts

The Oil Price Fall: An Explanation in Two Charts | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
It's not really about shale or the Saudi decision not to cut production. It's about a relatively ordinary oil-production surplus that happened at the same time that QE ended.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Interesting view on the fall of price of oil.

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Engaging with oil companies on climate change is futile, admits leading UK environmentalist

Engaging with oil companies on climate change is futile, admits leading UK environmentalist | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
After years working on sustainability projects with BP and Shell, Jonathon Porritt says he came to the conclusion it was ‘impossible’ for today’s oil and gas companies to adapt to the need to exit fossil fuels
Willy De Backer's insight:

Of course, they have too much to lose. all talk about responsible capitalism and the like is naive.

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Green economics versus growth economics

I have already noted that a central component of Piketty’s answer to the current crisis is more of the same – that is, more growth, the proceeds of which can then be ‘redistributed’. The harsh truth, however, may well be, at the level of public policy debate and democratic discussion, that growth is in practice an alternative to egalitarian redistribution, an alternative to any serious effort to create a more equal society. The promise of growth is a replacement for the need to share. That is how growthism has ‘superseded’ socialism: ‘left-wing’ politicians join right-wing politicians in the mantra that everyone benefits from a growing pie,
Willy De Backer's insight:

Brilliant must-read critique of Piketty's 'Capital in the 21st century' starting from a 'limits to growth' perspective: 'The true condition for redistribution may well now be recognition that we can’t rely any longer on growth.'

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Will Europe survive 2015, the year of all elections?

Will Europe survive 2015, the year of all elections? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
In 2015, European voters could decide if the European Union will survive. Elections in Britain, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Estonia will answer two big questions. First, has disenchantment with the EU reached a tipping point? Second, is the 20th-century model of big political parties based on a collective mass and centrally run party now over?
Willy De Backer's insight:

Only one answer to both excellent questions posed in this Guardian article: an affirmative 'YES'. Time to reinvent the EU and re-boot democracy.

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Things Are Unraveling At An Accelerating Rate

Things Are Unraveling At An Accelerating Rate | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
This vast expansion of debt on the backs of marginal borrowers and the expansion of risky investments has greatly increased the systemic risk of losses from defaults arising from over-extended borrowers.

No wonder every attempt to further expand debt-based consumption is yielding diminishing returns: net income is stagnant virtually everywhere in the bottom 95% of the populace, and further declines in interest rates are increasingly marginal as rates are near-zero everywhere that isn’t suffering a collapse in its currency.

The diminishing returns manifest in three ways: the gains from each round of central-bank tricks are declining, the periods of stability following the latest “save” are shrinking and the amplitude of each episode of debt crisis is expanding
Willy De Backer's insight:

How the growth of global debt is fueling the zero-growth economy - good article from Peak Prosperity

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Only Less Will Do

Only Less Will Do | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The math of compound growth leads to absurdities (one human for every square meter of land surface by the year 2750 at our current rate of population increase) and to tragedy.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Brilliant essay by Richard Heinberg on the need for planned degrowth. "...while climate change is the mega-crisis of our time, carbon is not our only nemesis. If global warming threatens to undermine civilization, so do topsoil, freshwater, and mineral depletion. These may just take a little longer."

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'Syriza wins time—and space' by Étienne Balibar and Sandro Mezzadra

'Syriza wins time—and space' by Étienne Balibar and Sandro Mezzadra | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
By definition, going beyond capitalism lies outside of any government’s field of possibilities, in Greece or anywhere else. That is something more than urgently rescuing European capitalism from a catastrophe that would also be our own – it is a perspective on the horizon of prolonged social and political struggles that cannot limit themselves to the institutional terrain.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Interesting views but the main question is ducked. What is the project these new social and political struggles should fight for? My answer: how to prosper and redistribute in a post-growth economy? Little of this in Syriza reform proposals to the Eurogroup.

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How Greece Got Outmaneuvered - The New Yorker

How Greece Got Outmaneuvered - The New Yorker | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Once Wolfgang Schäuble, the flinty German finance minister, realized that Varoufakis couldn’t play the Grexit card, he knew that he had him where he wanted him. The German government point-blank refused even to consider a Greek request for an end to the bailout and a new bridging loan, and it quietly encouraged the E.C.B. to issue a series of warnings to the Greeks. And then, a couple of days ago, after Varoufakis had reversed course and asked for an extension of the current bailout, Schäuble rejected that request, too, forcing the Greeks to make even more concessions.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Another very good analysis of the Greece-EU deal.

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The Energiewende did not lead to more coal or CO2 emissions

The Energiewende did not lead to more coal or CO2 emissions | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Critics of renewable energy have mocked the Energiewende, claiming that it has led to an increase in coal power and related CO2 emissions in Germany. But Conrad Kunze and Paul Lehmann of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ show that this is a myth. German coal generation and CO2 emissions rose not because of but in spite of the Energiewende. They would have been even higher if Germany had not phased out its nuclear power and embarked on its remarkable renewable energy path. “There is no dark side to the Energiewende”
Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent article on the German Energiewende and its impact on coal use.

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The ECB Has Shaken The Eurozone's Utopian Foundations

The ECB Has Shaken The Eurozone's Utopian Foundations | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The 4th February late-night decision by the European Central Bank to reject Greek bank collateral for monetary policy operations will, I confidently predict, precipitate not just a run on Greek banks; not just greater price instability across the Eurozone – but ultimately, the collapse of the fantastic machinery that is the ‘self-regulating’ economy of the Eurozone.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent must-read analysis of the ECB's attack on democracy and Greece.

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With Progressive Syriza's Victory, Is a European Spring Coming?

With Progressive Syriza's Victory, Is a European Spring Coming? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Under the guise of trying to change EU institutions from within, these parties might be coopted and exploited by EU oligarchs and elites. Alternatively, Syriza and Podemos might develop and strengthen ways of doing democratic politics that work in favor of genuine popular control. We hope they will take this second path and, by doing so, genuinely contribute to the coming of a European Democratic Spring.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent article in Truthout about the dangers of the new European Spring parties being recuperated by the European elites. Will they be able to escape "Hollandeization" and Robert Michels 'iron law of oligarchy'? Only if the grassroots movements behind them stay vigilant and strong.

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A new theory of energy and the economy - Part 1 - Generating economic growth

A new theory of energy and the economy - Part 1 - Generating economic growth | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
How does the economy really work? In my view, there are many erroneous theories in published literature. I have been investigating this topic and have come to the conclusion that both energy and de...
Willy De Backer's insight:

Brillliant must-read analysis by Gail Tverberg of the link between economic growth, energy and debt.

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Nuno Gaspar de Oliveira's curator insight, January 24, 1:48 PM

"In order for economic growth to occur, the wages of workers need to go farther and farther in buying goods and services. Low-priced energy products are far more effective in producing this situation than high-priced energy products. Substituting high-priced energy products for low-priced energy products can be expected to lead to lower economic growth."

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Institutions need to radically change for the Anthropocene epoch

Institutions need to radically change for the Anthropocene epoch | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The problem with existing institutions is that they developed in a very different kind of world. They are subject to all kinds of path dependencies, and are quite capability of generating feedback that reinforces their own necessity. So the institutions of global finance have successfully positioned themselves as ‘too big to fail’. The institutions of global environmental governance have failed to produce a comprehensive global treaty on anything since the Montreal Protocol for the protection of the ozone layer in 1987 – but that aspiration remains the focus of the efforts of most concerned actors, be they governments or environmental NGOs.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent article by John Dryzek on LSE blog on the failure of current institutions to address the challenges of the social-ecological transition.

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Podemos party's plan to 'stimulate consumption' needs more ambition

Podemos party's plan to 'stimulate consumption' needs more ambition | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
The economic policy of Spain’s rising leftwing party signals a new model of prosperity, but it could go further
Willy De Backer's insight:

Interesting look by degrowth expert Giorgios Kallis of the new economic model put forward by the Spanish Podemos party. But Kallis' analysis should go further too. The key challenge for any new economic model will be a democratic one: how to set, monitor and enforce ecological limits to growth.

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Slavoj Žižek on the Charlie Hebdo massacre: Are the worst really full of passionate intensity?

Slavoj Žižek on the Charlie Hebdo massacre: Are the worst really full of passionate intensity? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
What Max Horkheimer had said about Fascism and capitalism already back in 1930s - those who do not want to talk critically about capitalism should also keep quiet about Fascism - should also be applied to today’s fundamentalism: those who do not want to talk critically about liberal democracy should also keep quiet about religious fundamentalism.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Brilliant must-read analysis by Zizek of the Charlie Hebdo killing: "Fundamentalism is a reaction – a false, mystifying, reaction, of course - against a real flaw of liberalism, and this is why it is again and again generated by liberalism. Left to itself, liberalism will slowly undermine itself – the only thing that can save its core values is a renewed Left."

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Greece: Syriza close to office, elites close to panic

Greece: Syriza close to office, elites close to panic | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Greece could be about to elect the most radical government of the left in Europe since the 1930s - the outcome could shape European society for decades to come
Willy De Backer's insight:

Great article on the importance for the Left of a Syriza victory in Greece and its impact on other EU countries.

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