What would it take to create a truly resilient solution to climate change? Our Director, E3 Economist Kristen Sheeran discusses the long standing implications of global climate change on Al Jazeera.
By Robin Hahnel.
On November third James Hansen signed an open letter addressed to environmental organizations urging them to demonstrate “real concern about risks from climate damage by calling for the development and deployment of advanced nuclear energy.”
Like Hansen and some notable long-time environmentalists who have recently come out in support of nukes, I am desperate. I am desperate because, like them, I know we we have very little time left to pull off the greatest technological “re-boot” in human history, turning global fossil-fuel-istan into global renew-conserve-istan before it is too late. That is why I recently sent my own open letter to those in the climate justice movement who argue that green capitalism is an oxymoron and climate change can only be solved by economic system change. In my view those who argue that greener capitalism is a false hope and not worth pursuing have no sense of time. They have no sense of how fast irreversible climate change is coming compared to how fast we can marshal support for economic system change. However, I find it sad that people like Hansen are caving on nukes when we do not need dangerous or new technologies to solve the problem.
In the coming months, President Obama will decide whether to approve the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport crude tar-sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. We know that the pipeline would greatly aggravate climate change, allowing massive amounts of the world’s dirtiest oil to be extracted and later burned.
The payoff, say supporters such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is a job boom in construction industries, which are currently suffering from high unemployment. Earlier this month, Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue called on the president “to put American jobs before special interest politics.”
If you believe headline-grabbing challenges such as Donohue’s, the president is painted into a corner on the KXL pipeline — trapped by a stagnant economy and an ailing environment.
The E3 Network is awarding grants to economists to apply an analytical framework to case studies of future economy innovations – emerging models of sustainable enterprise at the level of the firm, cluster, industry, community. Grant recipients will apply the framework to a case study of their choosing and submit a report based on their findings. The report will be included in a collection of case studies edited and produced by E3 Network. E3 Network will complement the case study analyses with photography, video, and other story telling support to create a rich online media presentation of emerging economic innovations.
Deadline for applications is January 30, 2014. The grant period runs from February through December 2014.
As the days count down toward Black Friday and its opposite, Buy Nothing Day — both celebrated the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, by buying things or not buying things, respectively — it’s time for the planet’s most fortunate to mount more than a symbolic protest of refusal on the nation’s favorite day of consumer excess. It’s all well and good not to buy for a day, or even a weekend. But after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, Typhoon Haiyan, record droughts and mounting climate casualties, the logic of securing this year’s latest toy just doesn’t cut it. (Did it ever? Who remembers pet rocks and Chicken Dance Elmo?) Nor does a cashmere twin-set and pearls. This year we need to give the gift of survival, to ourselves and the planet.
New research shows that replacing failing infrastructure in Keystone XL states creates more and better jobs than the proposed pipeline
Replacing aging wastewater, drinking water, and gas distribution pipes in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas can create more jobs and better jobs in the pipeline and construction industries than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, according to a new report released today by E3 Network and Labor Network for Sustainability.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been touted as a means to address America’s job crisis. This new report, The Keystone Pipeline Debate: An Alternative Job Creation Strategy, shows that we can create five times more jobs than Keystone XL by investing in much needed water, sewer, and gas infrastructure projects in the five states along the proposed pipeline route. The study finds that meeting water and gas infrastructure needs in the five states can create more than 300,000 total jobs. Every dollar spent on gas, water, and sewer infrastructure in those states generates 156% more employment than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Transformation doesn’t require an alternative “social economy,” because the economy we have is already social. We just need to recognize and act on that fact.
Socially equitable. Ecologically sustainable. Personally and spiritually satisfying. What sort of economic transformations are needed to achieve societies like these?
Many writers including Gar Alperovitz, David Loy and David Korten argue that the current economic system of global, profit-oriented, individualistic, and greed-driven corporations and markets must be dismantled, and replaced with a “new economy” of local, well-being-oriented, cooperative, and compassion-inspired communities. You’ve probably read articles along these lines – or perhaps you’ve written them.
This isn’t another.
Future Economies Project, Starting Now
Back in 2009, I had the chance to interview two Oregon policy experts about the emergent green economy in that state. The interview is here:
Angus Duncan and Dave Van’t Hoff (starting at minute 3:15) talked to me about the vibrant industry clusters in Oregon that have developed around energy efficiency, solar, biofuels, wind power, sustainable forestry, green building and design. Add in craft beer brewing, light rail, great fair-trade coffee, and urban chicken-raising, and you get—well—the backdrop for a popular, offbeat TV show.
This project seeks to rigorously study examples of “new” economic institutions that are attempting to move the American economy in a different, more progressive and productive, direction. We hope to be able to measure the ways in which these “new economy” efforts are succeeding or not. That obviously raises the question of what metrics are appropriate to use in evaluating these efforts to build new economic institutions.
At the most basic level, “success” has to involve mere survival and the capacity to be reproduced so that the new institutions can ultimately actually make a difference in changing the overall economy. But since the point of this type of institutional innovation is to improve economic performance and well-being relative to existing institutions, measurement of those improvements has to be a primary focus on the measurement of performance too.
Open-Space Under Threat
Public budgets are becoming increasingly strained and manipulated due to economic and political factors. Though temporary, the recent federal government shutdown is an extreme manifestation of this phenomenon. If the ability and/or willingness of government to fund, protect, and manage our open-space continues to deteriorate there will be profound environmental and social consequences. This inability or unwillingness will likely result in decreased protection and access to open-space and parks. Public spaces will be developed or acquired for private interests. Spaces still managed by public agencies will increasingly rely on the pay-for-use model. These trends are especially troubling when the public’s value for preservation and stewardship are ignored.
While the strain on public budgets is problematic in its own right, growing income inequality will only exacerbate the consequences of this straining. The enjoyment of the natural environment is increasingly only for the economically advantaged. Inequity of access and use will continue as income inequality proceeds on its current trajectory. Willingness to pay is directly related to one’s ability to pay. As such, pay-for-use ignores equity of access to our public spaces. Growing inequality will drive a deeper wedge between individual’s value of amenities and their ability to pay for access and preservation.