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Policy news & blueprints for the transition to a new Sustainable and Social Economy
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The hidden reasons behind slow economic growth: Declining EROI, constrained net energy

The hidden reasons behind slow economic growth: Declining EROI, constrained net energy | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
the growth in net energy appears to have slowed while EROI of fossil fuels continues to fall. That has led to greater competition for the available net energy and a general rise in fossil fuel prices from 2000 onward. There have been fluctuations, sometimes violent ones, tied to the so-called Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 and to the softening of the world economy in the past year which led to steep declines in oil prices (something which may be telling us there is another recession in the offing).
Willy De Backer's insight:

Excellent article by Kurt Cobb on the real reasons behind the world's low-growth (maybe even degrowth) problem.

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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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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 That is how growthism has ‘superseded’ socialism: ‘left-wing’ politicians join right-wing politicians in the mantra that everyone benefits from a growing pie,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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Boom or bust time for critical thinking?

Following the massive bailouts, stimulus spending and quantitative easing of recent years, everyone breathed a sigh of relief and went back to sleep, says Richard Heinberg. But the coming global energy crisis will likely provide the jolt that wakes everyone up again.

Willy De Backer's insight:

Very good interview with Richard Heinberg in Eurozine - the problem with economics and limits to growth

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The global Transition tipping point has arrived - vive la révolution

The global Transition tipping point has arrived - vive la révolution | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Nafeez Ahmed: A new post-carbon era dawns as the old fossil fuel system dies. It's time to step up.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Another must-read top post by the brilliant Nafeez Ahmed but I disagree with his "optimism of the will". Of course there will not be any extinction by 2030 but the transition from the old fossil-fuel and debt-based paradigm to the new 'one-planet economy' will not be without lots of pain and violence. Vive la révolution? Revolutions have a habit of eating their children or heroes, dear Nafeez.

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Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?

Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Nafeez Ahmed: Natural and social scientists develop new model of how 'perfect storm' of crises could unravel global system
Willy De Backer's insight:

Great must-read article in The Guardian.

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Eli Levine's curator insight, March 15, 2014 2:22 PM

The warning signs are all there.

 

No one of significance is paying attention to it, and the population of humanity remains bogged down in trivial issues.

 

It's funny that the conservative instinct to resist change and take everything for their own small self is the cause of most of the significant changes in our world for the worse.

 

Looks like we're going to have to develop plans for how to dig out of this crater that we're going to fall into.

 

Think about it.

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Power, Identity and Social Change as We Enter Degrowth

Power, Identity and Social Change as We Enter Degrowth | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Dan Bednarz  Understanding the interplay of power[i],[ii] identity, and social change is critical to those who recognize that modern societies are at the limits to growth, in ecological overshoot[i...
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Absolutely brilliant analysis by Dan Bednarz of the Health after Oil blog

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System Innovation and a New ‘Great Transformation’: Re-embedding Economic Life in the Context of ‘De-Growth’

System Innovation and a New ‘Great Transformation’: Re-embedding Economic Life in the Context of ‘De-Growth’ | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"the parameters of a post-growth welfare regime might be expected to include a new social compact between ‘mutualized’ capital and partially de-commodified labour along with a greater role for bottom-up, communitarian forms of welfare provision. It is more likely than has been the case under conditions of growth that the selection environment may favour more ‘embedded’ forms of economic activity, insulating both social and ecological capital from the predations of unregulated markets.."

Willy De Backer's insight:

One of the best articles of 2012, not always easy to read but a great analysis of how the new limits to growth needs fundamental rethinking of the role of the state, communities, and social innovators fighting for social and ecological protection.

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think2share's curator insight, September 7, 2014 10:43 AM

Just showing Thomas this interesting material ....

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Degrowth, expensive oil, and the new economics of energy

"Expensive oil ... does appear to be suffocating the debt-ridden, global economy, just as it is trying to recover ...

 

Unfortunately, mainstream economists, including those in government, seem oblivious to the close relationship between energy, debt, and economy, and this means they are unable to see that expensive oil is one of the primary underlying causes of today’s economic problems. Consequently, they craft their intended solutions (e.g. stimulus packages, quantitative easing, low interest rates to encourage borrowing, etc) based on flawed, growth-based thinking, not recognising that the new economics of energy means that the growth model, which assumes cheap energy inputs, is now dangerously out-dated. When growth-based economies do not grow, household, firms, and nations struggle to repay their debts, and quickly things begin to unravel in undesirable ways."

 

Excellent analysis by Dr Samuel Alexander of the links between global energy descent, rising commodity prices, the end of growth and the Great Depression.

 

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Green growth or steady state? Rival visions of a green economy |

I’m not convinced that either side – green growthers or steady-statists – has yet won the argument, even after forty years of doing battle. The historical evidence for green growth is threadbare, even nonexistent – though this should give no-one, not even the steady-statists, any cause for pleasure. What’s more, we can’t assume the past will determine the future (in this debate, if it does, we’re stuffed either way). Rather, the two sides ought to take one another far more seriously, and see the merits of a combined programme for transition.

 

Excellent article in openDemocracy with an honest appraisal of the inadequacies of both theories.

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Where Economic and Environmental Prosperity Meet

Where Economic and Environmental Prosperity Meet | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Overdeveloped countries, including the United States, need to adopt a strategy of economic "degrowth" to limit ecological collapse and severe climate shifts. This does not mean stagnating economic development; it means cutting down on waste and overcoming the social pressure to accumulate material wealth at the expense of others' well-being.

 

Short summary of the Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2012: Moving towards Sustainable Prosperity".

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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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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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Degrowth – A Vocabulary for a New Era: Review

Degrowth – A Vocabulary for a New Era: Review | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
To the extent that degrowth is an involuntary process then another set of issues arise – will the society and economy withstand the process without catastrophic breakdowns and what can the many kinds of projects and policies described in this book do to make energy descent a survivable process for the population? A great many people will be finding that their lifestyle packages are severely stressed and breaking apart and this will generate a great deal of fear and ‘negative’ emotions.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Fascinating, must-read debate between Feasta's Brian Davey and  Giorgios Kallis on the framing of #degrowth. Can we manage degrowth or do we prepare for collapse?

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Scientists vindicate 'Limits to Growth' – urge investment in 'circular economy'

Scientists vindicate 'Limits to Growth' – urge investment in 'circular economy' | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Nafeez Ahmed: Early warning of civilisational collapse by early to mid 21st century startlingly prescient - but opportunity for transition open
Willy De Backer's insight:

Good review of the latest study by Prof. Ugo Bardi for the Club of Rome on how climate change and resource constraints will force us to rethink our way of life.

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Daniel LaLiberte's curator insight, July 31, 2014 10:00 PM

Zero Footprint means not just lowering our environmental impact, but eliminating it, and eliminating waste by recycling 100% of the resources we use, powered by 100% renewable energy.

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Exploring the 'why' behind extreme energy

Exploring the 'why' behind extreme energy | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Thus far the debate around unconventional gas/fracking has focussed on pollution, flammable water, earthquakes, noise, toxic fumes, climate change, etc. As a result people mainly focus on the "what?", or at a local level the "where?", of the issue. My research leads me toward one single question… "why?".
Willy De Backer's insight:

Smart article on the real reasons behind the fracking myths. "It is economic growth and consumption within a finite environment which are the problem."  Extreme energy will do nothing to stave off the inevitable transition towards a post-growth society.

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Malign Confusion About Growth, Economic Growth or "Degrowth": Which Way Forward?

Malign Confusion About Growth, Economic Growth or "Degrowth": Which Way Forward? | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
climate scientists have suggested that intentional ''de-growth'' is the only hope to stop the rising emissions associated with economic development and growth.
Willy De Backer's insight:

Long but excellent must-read analysis by Michael Hoexter of New Economic Perspectives on the need for degrowth strategies to tackle climate chaos.

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Spring forecast 2013 - The EU economy: degrowth

Spring forecast 2013 - The EU economy: degrowth | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
European Economic Forecast - spring 2013 - The EU economy: adjustment continues
Willy De Backer's insight:

Despite or maybe because of the austerity mania, EU leaders have achieved what all the sustainability fans can only dream about: degrowth. Time to move from the growth obsession to a new development model based on well-being beyond growth and radical redistribution.

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Social Innovations for Economic Degrowth

Social Innovations for Economic Degrowth | The Great Transition | Scoop.it

"... a growing community of scientists and social activists, sharing the basic insight that a reduction of energy and material use implies a reduction of gross domestic product (GDP), is gathering under the heading of sustainable degrowth.3 Degrowth obviously entails a fundamental transformation of economic structures. But what precisely are the necessary steps?"

 

Very good article in Solutions Journal on the need to scale up social innovations for sustainable degrowth if we want to move from the failing growth paradigm to a new paradigm of the good life.

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New report: Taking environmental limits seriously: The need to reshape environmental policy

New report:  Taking environmental limits seriously: The need to reshape environmental policy | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Despite this large untapped potential, a sufficient degree of decoupling may not be achieved. As part of a precautionary strategy, policy and society should therefore also reflect on conditions of social and political stability under conditions of low economic growth.

 

This new report from the German Advisory Council on the Environment is one of the few reports which looks beyond the "decoupling" paradigm and puts forward ideas to adapt economic and social practices and institutions for a coming post-growth world.

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International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas

International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas | The Great Transition | Scoop.it
Drawing from previous degrowth conferences in Paris and Barcelona in 2008 and 2010 respectively, the Montreal conference will focus on the particular situations and dynamics of the Americas. What does degrowth mean for our Hemisphere with its rich geographical, cultural, social and economic diversity? How can degrowth models apply to different contexts from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego? What does degrowth mean for the indigenous peoples of the Americas and their aspirations for their lands and peoples? How can degrowth concepts be made audible, understandable and acceptable to rich North Americans?

 

This conference held in Canada from 13-19 May will probably be much more relevant for the future than the upcoming Rio+20 summit.

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Décroissance: how the French counter capitalism - FT.com

"Décroissance is a kind of environmentalism, but it is more than that. An important intellectual underpinning of the movement is the idea that gross domestic product is a deficient yardstick for economic performance and growth. It doesn’t measure the degradation of the environment as lost wealth, nor distinguish between productive economic activity and pointless (or destructive) make-work. And we now know that the huge role of debt in a growth-obsessed economy makes any measurement of its size untrustworthy."

Great to see an article on the French degrowth movement in the Orange Stronghold of Capitalism.

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