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Recent resources for Ecological Economics

A bit of a grab-bag of stuff that I’ve seen over the last few weeks that has some relevance / bearing / context in relation to the final assessments for the module…

Interface is now offering ‘carbon negative’ carpet tiles. As a firm they have been pursuing sustainabilty in a significant fashion, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen a carbon negative product – ie one that actually means less carbon emitted than if the product had not been made.

The FT had interesting results from a survey of 21,000 consumers about what things individuals could do to reduce their own climate impact, illustrating a ‘perception gap’, with most people failing to identify the most impactful ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

The return of the US to the global stage in terms of environmental policy under Biden has had a fair bit of attention recently, given the virtual climate summit the administration ran:

Though not without some criticism of some concerns – eg the polar opposites of Greta Thunberg on fossil fuel subsidies and US industry groups on the absence of carbon pricing in Biden’s plans. Less recently, but still pertinent, is William Lamb’s article on How ‘discourses of delay’ are used to slow climate action.

The term NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) is now one being used a lot: So what has the rest of the world promised to do about climate change?

Whilst the UK’s CCC’s has set revised targets under the sixth carbon budget that the UK government has just agreed to adopt, James Dyke, Robert Watson and Wolfgang Knorr have recently written about issues with ‘net zero’ – Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap and this FT article on carbon capture can also be seen as relevant.

In a wider sense, the extent to which economics as a discipine is adressing the scale of the climate emergency is explored by Sam Butler-Sloss and Marc Beckmann. Summary: it isn’t, and Noah Smith offers some commentary on this.


Posted in environment.

Hope in the midst of chaos?

In our current, bizarre circumstances, most mornings my brain seems to rebel against trying to think about almost anything and it’s taking a lot of coffee to get the neurons firing. This morning, this article by Rebecca Solnit helped a bit:

Hope offers us clarity that, amid the uncertainty ahead, there will be conflicts worth joining and the possibility of winning some of them. And one of the things most dangerous to this hope is the lapse into believing that everything was fine before disaster struck, and that all we need to do is return to things as they were. Ordinary life before the pandemic was already a catastrophe of desperation and exclusion for too many human beings, an environmental and climate catastrophe, an obscenity of inequality. It is too soon to know what will emerge from this emergency, but not too soon to start looking for chances to help decide it.

Posted in economics, environment, Uncategorized.

Invisible Women

Image result for invisible women

Caroline Criado Perez’s book should be required reading for *everyone*. It explores the myriad ways in which women are ignored or sidelined in society, given a widespread (and often not consciously recognised) tendency to default to the thinking that male = everyone, and the consequences and damage of this. The scope covers a wide range of concerns, including medical research, employment, product design and the economy. In the reviews and discussion of the book, one of the most commonly raised examples is the issue of car crash testing. The EU crash tests do use a female crash test dummy, but only in the passenger seat – so there is no data on how women would be affected in a crash as the driver. That the ‘female’ crash test dummy is merely a scaled-down male dummy is another issue. Moreover, as cars are typically ill-designed for women’s proportions, many women drivers will be ‘out of position’ when driving, often having to move seats far forward to reach the pedals. The consequence of this is that in car accidents, a woman is “47% more likely to be seriously injured than a man… She is also 17% more likely to die” (p186). This is a compelling book and often one that leaves one infuriated at the state of society. Recognising the issues is the first step to fixing things and Invisible Women is an excellent pointer to where we need to start. I also like the hardcover edition’s design, where under the slipcover, the Invisible Women are made visible. Listen to Criado Perez interviewed on Radio 4’s Women’s Hour.

Posted in Uncategorized.