Archive for the tag “economic growth”

News update

G7 leaders bid Auf Wiedersehen to carbon fuels
Leaders of the worlds major industrial democracies resolved on Monday to wean their energy-hungry economies off carbon fuels, marking a major step in the battle against global warming that raises the chances of a U.N. climate deal later this year. The Group of Sevens energy pledge capped a successful summit for host Angela Merkel, who revived her credentials as a climate chancellor and strengthened Germanys friendship with the United States at the meeting in a Bavarian resort. (Also read: Merkel convinces Canada and Japan on CO2)

India’s energy consumption increase at all-time high: BP
India’s energy consumption increased by 7.1% in 2014, reaching an all-time high and accounting for 34.7% of the global consumption increment in 2014, said British oil and gas giant BP Plc. in its review of world energy consumption in 2014. The note by BP, called as the BP Statistical Review 2014, said India’s domestic energy consumption reached an all-time high in 2014 with the year seeing the fastest growth for the last five years.

BP boss widens transatlantic rift in energy industry over climate change
The Guardian UK
Bob Dudley,CEO of British Petroleum, said the UNs global warming summit in December needed to broker agreements that encourage energy efficiency, renewable power such as wind and the use of gas. His comments came amid signs of a transatlantic rift in the oil and gas industry over how to tackle global warming. Last week, BP and a group of European oil companies including Shell and Total of France wrote a letter to the Financial Times calling for “widespread and effective” carbon pricing to be part of a Paris deal. It was dismissed by John Watson, chief executive of US-based Chevron, who said he believed that putting a price on carbon emissions was unworkable.

No, BP, the U.S. did NOT surpass Saudi Arabia in oil production
Kurt Cobb
Even the paper of record for the oil industry, Oil & Gas Journal, got it wrong. With the release of the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy, media outlets appeared to be taking dictation rather than asking questions about which countries produced the most oil in 2014. If they had asked questions, they would have ended up with a ho-hum headline announcing that last year Russia at 10.1 million barrels per day (mbpd) and Saudi Arabia at 9.7 mbpd were once again the number one and number two producers of crude oil including lease condensate (which is the definition of oil). The United States at 8.7 mbpd remained in third place.

Why EIA, IEA, and BP Oil Forecasts are Too High
Gail Tverberg
It is easy to get the idea that we have a great deal of oil resources in the ground. Given these large amounts of theoretically available oil, it is not surprising that forecasters use the approach they do. There appears to be no need to cut back forecasts to reflect inadequate future oil supply, as long as we can really extract oil that seems to be available.

We Could Power Entire World on Renewables by 2025, Says Global Apollo Program
The authors of an initiative called the Global Apollo Program say that, given the required high level of investment, it should be possible within 10 years to meet electricity demand with reliable wind and/or solar power that is cheaper—in every country—than power based on coal. They say the scale of ambition needed to produce “baseload” power from renewable energy that is generated consistently to meet minimum demand matches that which sent the first humans to the Moon in 1969—at a cost, in today’s prices, of about $230 billion.

The Difficulties Of Powering The Modern World With Renewables
Roger Andrews, Energy Matters
Even if the world succeeds in developing wind and solar to the point where they supply 100% of its electricity the job is still less than half-done because electricity supplies the world with only about 40% of its energy. The remaining ~60% comes from the oil, gas and coal consumed in transportation, heating etc. How to decarbonize that? Again no solution is presently in sight.

Renewable Energy Will Not Support Economic Growth
Richard Heinberg
The world needs to end its dependence on fossil fuels as quickly as possible. That’s the only sane response to climate change, and to the economic dilemma of declining oil, coal, and gas resource quality and increasing extraction costs. The nuclear industry is on life support in most countries, so the future appears to lie mostly with solar and wind power. But can we transition to these renewable energy sources and continue using energy the way we do today? And can we maintain our growth-based consumer economy? The answer to both questions is, probably not.

News update

Could Indias Coal Plans Derail the Global Climate?
Tobias Engelmeier, The Energy Collective
If India were to grow its electricity system based on coal (as China has done), would it derail the global climate? According to our calculations, under a “coal-heavy” scenario, India would need to increase is coal-fired power generation capacity from the 156 GW in early 2015 to 677 GW in 2035. What would be the CO2 implications of such a strategy?

Global water crisis causing failed harvests, hunger, war and terrorism
Nafeez Ahmed, The Ecologist
The world is already experiencing water scarcity driven by over-use, poor land management and climate change. Its one of the causes of wars and terrorism in the Middle East and beyond, and if we fail to respond to the warnings before us, major food and power shortages will soon afflict large parts of the globe fuelling hunger, insecurity and conflict.

The Global Water Crisis and Coal Fired Power Plants
Iris Cheng, Greenpeace
Despite the global water crisis being identified as the top risk to people across the globe, very few are taking a stand to protect dwindling water resources from the huge planned global growth of coal-fired power stations. The fact is that the planned coal expansion will contribute to water crises, as the energy sector usually wins against us when it comes to who gets access to this precious resource.

The Case for a Climate Goal Other Than Two Degrees Celsius
Diane Toomey, Yale Environment 360
Scientists and climate negotiators have largely agreed that limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius is an important goal. But David Victor, political scientist and lead author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), disagrees, arguing that the benchmark is too simplistic and should be abandoned in favor of other indicators. He maintains that not only is the 2-degree goal now unattainable, the focus on it has almost unwittingly played into the hands of the so-called climate denialists.

The puzzling flattening of carbon emissions and the problem of global growth
Kurt Cobb
Last week we learned that maybe, just maybe, global carbon emissions were flat in 2014 even though the global economy supposedly grew by 3 percent. Carbon emissions have moved up almost in lockstep with economic growth for the entire industrial age except during recessions and one year of growth 40 years ago. But there is another obvious and plausible explanation for the flat carbon emissions, namely, that the global economy did not grow by the stated percentage, that it may have grown only a fraction of that amount or not at all.

China plans to build huge space solar power station 
The Economic Times 
China plans to build a huge solar power station 36,000 kilometres above the ground in an attempt to battle smog, cut greenhouse gases and solve energy crisis, much on the lines of an idea first floated in 1941 by fiction writer Isaac Asimov, state media reported today. The power station would be a super spacecraft on a geosynchronous orbit equipped with huge solar panels. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Chinese control of Rare Earths and the future of energy 
Llewellyn King,
The 17 rare earth elements have energy supply by the throat. They are used in everything from oil refineries to solar and wind generators. Today, 90 percent of the rare earths the world uses come from China. All U.S. defense manufacturers – including giants Boeing, General Electric and Lockheed Martin are dependent on China. Now China is demanding that U.S. companies do more of their manufacturing there: China wants to control the whole chain.

Agroecology: An idea and practice coming of age
Rupert Dunn, Sustainable Food trust
Agroecology is a holistic approach to farming and food production that could shape how we feed the world in the 21st century. It offers, at last, a means through which sustainable food sovereignty can be achieved across the globe. In February, at the International Forum for Agroecology in Nyeleni, Mali, a turning point came in the dissemination of ideas and practices of what is called ‘agroecology’.

Challenging Thomas Piketty: Growth is not the answer to inequality

 Tim Jackson, The Guardian, UK

Those like me who fear that the continued pursuit of economic growth on a finite planet might be neither possible nor desirable face a different kind of challenge, brought home to us by Thomas Piketty’s 700 page tome Capital in the 21st Century. The astonishing popularity of the “rock-star economist” is itself a resounding testament to our concern for inequality.

But his painstaking analysis reveals an uncomfortable story. Piketty places the responsibility for rising inequality firmly and squarely on declining growth rates. Like Benjamin Friedman in The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, he implies that only growth can bring civility, in part because an expanding economy allows for a degree of ‘catching up’ by the poorest in society, without much sacrifice or compromise by the rich.

For those of us less than convinced by the mantra of growth at all costs, the idea that only growth can save us from disastrous inequality poses some pretty serious challenges to our endeavour. Serious enough, that two of us – my Canadian colleague professor Peter Victor and I – decided to spend a bit more time analysing Piketty’s arguments.

What we found was fascinating. Piketty’s hypothesis only holds when the growth rate, savings rate and return on capital remain unchanged over long periods of time. When they move about, as they usually do, the economy is always chasing equilibrium but never quite arrives. In some circumstances, Piketty is absolutely right: declining growth can lead to rising inequality. In others, the exact reverse can happen: de-growth can in fact be compatible with greater equality.

This was definitely good news of a kind. Even more striking were the circumstances that made the difference. It turns out that if we are serious about reducing inequality, we must pay attention to the quality – as well as the quantity – of work in our economy. The endless mining of working life in pursuit of productivity gains for the owners of capital is not just detrimental to prosperity, it is inimicable to social justice.

If the debate about inequality is really back on the political agenda, it seems important that we approach it sensibly, without resorting to comforting half-truths. It remains to be seen how that will play out in a political debate mired in trivialities. Read the original article

Read Tim Jacksons paper: Does slow growth increase inequality?
Read another article by Tim Jackson: The dilemma of growth: prosperity v economic expansion

Max Weber on energy and industrial civilisation

Max Weber Biography - Profile, Childhood, Personal Life, Major ...
The German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist Max Weber (1864-1920) is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founders of sociology. Weber is best known for his contention that ascetic Protestantism was the driving force behind market-driven capitalism and the rational-legal nation-state in the West. Against Marxs historical materialism, Weber emphasised the importance of cultural influences embedded in religion as a means for understanding the genesis of capitalism. This view was summed up in his magnum opus, The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, one of the founding texts of Sociology.

But what interests us here is this intriguing passage, which comes towards the end of Webers classic book:
[The tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order] is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which to-day determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force. Perhaps it will so determine them until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt.

According to John Bradford of the U.S. Mississippi State University, Not only does this passage eloquently articulate the binding imperatives engendered by the “modern economic order”, it also unambiguously contravenes the view that the classical theorists were unaware of the essential role that energy played in the creation and maintenance of that order.

Reviewing a work on Weber in the Times Literary Supplement, Prof Duncan Kelly of Cambridge University says, In The Protestant Ethic, [Weber] wrote that perhaps the mechanization of life would continue unchallenged until the last ounces of fossil fuel had been used up, and the danger was that we might simply fail to notice. In later work, such environmental imagery had turned into a worry about the future as a polar night of icy darkness.

Its interesting is that Weber aired this view nearly 110 years ago (The Protestant Ethic was completed in 1905). As Kelly says,  In our own age, where borderlands between environmental crisis, near-pathological boredom and disaffection with mainstream politics, and tensions driven by religion have if anything become more rigidly crippling than ever, Max Weber looks a more profound guide than we might care to think. And an overlooked one, we might add.

Download the e-book version of Webers classic:
The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism
Read John Bradfords essay: Energy and Limits to Growth

Growth and Inequality in a Carbon-Constrained World

Incrementum ad Absurdum:
Growth and Inequality in a Carbon-Constrained World

David Woodward

The paper seeks to assess the timeframe for eradication of poverty, defined by poverty lines of $1.25 and $5 per person per day at 2005 purchasing power parity, if pre-crisis (1993-2008) patterns of income growth were maintained indefinitely, taking account of the differential performance of China. On the basis of optimistic assumptions, and implicitly assuming an indefinite continuation of potentially important pro-poor shifts in development policies during the baseline period, it finds that eradication will take at least 100 years at $1.25-a-day, and 200 years at $5-a-day. While this could in principle be brought forward by accelerating global growth, global carbon constraints raise serious doubts about the viability of this course, particularly as global GDP would need to exceed $100,000 per capita at $1.25-a-day, and $1m per capita at $5-a-day. The clear implication is that poverty eradication, even at $1.25-a-day, and especially at a poverty line which better reflects the satisfaction of basic needs, can be reconciled with global carbon constraints only by a major increase in the share of the poorest in global economic growth, far beyond what can realistically be achieved by existing instruments of development policy – that is, by effective measures to reduce global inequality.

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Living in a World with Limited Resources – Sirsi, Feb 21

Date: 21 Feb 2015 , Time: 3.00pm-6.00pm
Venue: A.V Hall, Don Bosco High School, Sirsi
Speakers: Mansoor Khan and Sagar Dhara

Growth is considered to be the fundamental characteristic of any healthy economic system. This growth is fuelled by the easy availability of fossil fuel, which is a limited natural resource formed over millions of years. We have now reached a stage where half the available source of Oil has been consumed. Exponential growth continues, but the source of fuel that was driving it is half empty. What will happen now? What will happen to the economic systems that depended on this fuel? What will happen to the stock markets, to the manufacturing industry, to our agricultural sector, to transport, to everything that we have got used to? What will happen to our lives?

This talk by two experts will provide us a clearer understanding about a topic that mainstream media and even economists have refused to talk about. They attempt to unravel the complex principles of Energetics to explain why the current rates of growth based on fossil fuels cannot be sustained any longer. They will point out the signs of economic collapse that awaits us in the not-too-distant future. A historical exploration of how we got into the current mess, will be presented. Some alternative paths to avert this disaster will also be discussed. The presentations will be followed by an open discussion.

For more information, contact:
George Varghese +91.9481278348 rhao
Dr Giridhar +91.9448115363 rsrig.o
Vinish Gupta +91.8762071817 gu.vhil

Book: Degrowth A Vocabulary For a New Era


We live in an era of stagnation, rapid impoverishment, rising inequalities and socio-ecological disasters. In the dominant discourse, these are effects of economic crisis, lack of growth or underdevelopment. A new book,  Degrowth A Vocabulary For a New Era by the Research & Degrowth group argues that growth is the cause of these problems and that it has become uneconomic, ecologically unsustainable and intrinsically unjust.

When the language in use is inadequate to articulate what begs to be articulated, then it is time for a new vocabulary. A movement of activists and intellectuals, first starting in France and then spreading to the rest of the world, has called for the decolonization of public debate from the idiom of economism and the abolishment of economic growth as a social objective. ‘Degrowth’ (‘décroissance’) has come to signify for them the desired direction of societies that will use fewer natural resources and will organize themselves to live radically differently. ‘Simplicity’, ‘conviviality’, ‘autonomy’, ‘care’, ‘commons’ and ‘dépense’ are some of the words that express what a degrowth society might look like.

Degrowth A Vocabulary For a New Era is the first English language book to comprehensively cover the burgeoning literature on degrowth. It presents and explains the different lines of thought, imaginaries and proposed courses of action that together complete the degrowth puzzle. The book brings together the top scholars writing in the field with young researchers who cultivate the research frontier and activists who practise degrowth on the ground. It will be an indispensable source of information and inspiration for all those who not only believe that another world is possible, but who work and struggle to construct it right now.

Those looking to purchase a copy can visit to compare prices offered by various online stores.
Heres a report on Research & Degrowths first symposium in India

Ted Trainer: The Simpler Way

Ted Trainer, Social Work, University of NSW

(Editors Note: Below is a summary of Ted Trainers The Simpler Way, which he defines as Working for transition from consumer society to a more simpler, more cooperative, just and ecologically sustainable society. In the web page linked above, Trainer provides more information and an exhaustive set of documents arguing how environmental problems cant be solved in or by consumer capitalist society)

Global problems cannot be solved without huge and fundamental change, because they are directly caused by our present socio-economic system.

The basic cause of the problems is over-consumption the grossly unsustainable demand for high material living standards in a world of limited resources. We cannot keep up the present levels of production and consumption and resource use for long, and there is no possibility of all the worlds people ever rising to these levels. People in rich countries have these high living standards only because we are taking much more than our fair share of the available resources and depriving the majority.

Even though present levels of production and consumption are unsustainable this economic system must have constant and endless increase in output, i.e., economic growth. A sustainable world order is not possible unless we move to much less production and consumption, and much less affluent lifestyles within a steady-state economic system.

Our second major mistake is allowing the market to determine our fate. An economy which relies heavily on free market forces will inevitably allocate most of the worlds wealth to the few, produce inappropriate development, destroy the environment, and ignore the needs of the majority. What is done must be determined by what humans and ecosystems need, not by what is most profitable in a market.

Underlying these faults is a culture based on competition, individualism, acquisitiveness, wealth and luxury. There must be a value change to much more concern with cooperation, sharing, helping, caring, collective welfare and living more simply.

Technical advance cannot solve these problems. It cannot make a big enough difference to levels of resource use and ecological impact. It cannot eliminate the need for radical change in our living standards, values and economy.

Consumer-capitalist society cannot be fixed reforms to it will not solve the problems. Its basic structures and systems must be replaced.

We cannot achieve a sustainable and just world order unless we change to,

Simpler lifestyles, much less production and consumption, much less concern with luxury, affluence, possessions and wealth.
Small, highly self-sufficient local economies, largely independent of the global economy.
More cooperative and participatory ways, enabling people in small communities to take control of their own development.
A new economy, one not driven by profit or market forces, and a zero-growth or steady-state overall economy, which produces much less than the present economy.
Some very different values, especially cooperation not competition, and frugality and self-sufficiency not acquisitiveness and consuming.

The Simpler Way is about ensuring a very high quality of life for all without anywhere near as much production, consumption, exporting, investment, resource use, environmental damage, work etc. as ther e is now. There are many rich alternative sources of satisfaction other than material acquisition and consuming. Consider having much time for arts and crafts and personal growth, living in a rich and supportive community, having to go to work for money only two days a week, living in a diverse and productive leisure-rich landscape, having socially worthwhile and enjoyable work with no fear of unemploymentand knowing you are not contributing to global problems. There is no need to sacrifice modern technology to achieve these benefits.

The fate of the planet depends on whether initiatives such as the Transition Towns movement can provide many impressive examples of sustainable, just and pleasant ways showing people in consumer society that there is a better way.

The main purpose of this website is to provide information which will help people in their efforts to educate about the need for change to The Simpler Way.

News update

If We Release a Small Fraction of Arctic Carbon, Were Fucked: Climatologist
Recently, scientists have made a disturbing discovery in the Arctic Ocean: They saw vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor, as the Stockholm University put it in a release disclosing the observations. The plume of methane—a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat more powerfully than carbon dioxide, the chief driver of climate change—was unsettling to the scientists.

Heading Toward The Sidewalk
By John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report
The author, a well-known writer on peak Oil and related topics, argues that another economic crash is imminent in the U.S., this time because the fracking/shale gas bubble is about to burst.

Blame the Environmentalists
By Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute
CEOs of companies engaged in shale gas and tight oil drilling are undoubtedly aware of what’s going on in their own balance sheets, hype is an essential part of their business model.

Why doesnt the long emergency feel like an emergency?
By Kurt Cobb,
In 2006 when James Howard Kunstler published his breakthrough book The Long Emergency, the next two years seemed to vindicate his warning that the oil age was coming to an end with perilous consequences. By autumn the stock market had collapsed and with it the world economy. Oil, too, then collapsed, trading in the mid-$30 range by December as demand for oil fell off a cliff with the economy. It seemed for months that the world was headed for an economic depression.

Transformative Common Sense in Vermont
By Eric Zencey,
Because GDP-based economic development is so wrong-headed, the state of Vermonts commitment to use Genuine Progress Indicator as a yardstick is a matter of common sense; and yet, because GDP-based economic development is so deeply woven into the substance and texture of our political economy, using basic common sense here is a powerfully transformative act.

GDP: The Infinite Planet Indicator
By Eric Zencey,
If economists know GDP is not a measurement of economic well-being, why have they continued using it as a proxy for this?

Some Thoughts On Resilience and Transition
By Saral Sarkar,

Just How Legal Are Seed Libraries?
From the Post Carbon Institute
After the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture cracked down on a community seed library, hundreds of seed libraries in the U.S. are suddenly wondering if they are breaking the law.

Id be happier if I didnt write this stuff!
By Kurt Cobb,
For years my fatherwho is a really great guyhas been telling me that Id be a happier person if I didnt write about all the converging threats bearing down on the human race. Turns out hes right! Heres what a new study said on the matter: Recent evidence suggests that a state of good mental health is associated with biased processing of information that supports a positively skewed view of the future. Depression, on the other hand, is associated with unbiased processing of such information.


Symposium: Growth, green growth or degrowth?

Growth, green growth or degrowth?
New critical directions for Indias sustainability

Date: September 12 & 13 (Friday and Saturday)
Venue: Magnolia room, Habitat World, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi
Organizers: Rajeswari S. Raina, CSIR-NISTADS, & Julien-François Gerber, TERI University
Sponsors: Ford Foundation, ICSSR, and Indian Society for Ecological Economics

The symposium will be articulated around three broad questions:

1. Does the Indian economy need to grow further? Is growth per se a meaningful parameter? What are the other parameters (differentiated by space, class, demographic or cultural features) that can be used meaningfully in India? PANELISTS: Jean Drèze (on what should grow/degrow in the Indian economy), Vandana Shiva (on a critique of capitalist growth and on alternatives), Ajay Dandekar (on an historical overview of conventional growth in India).

2. What should be understood by green growth? Is it an oxymoron? How can we go beyond the current single focus on modern green technologies as the way to reach sustainability? Why do economists (even enlightened ones like Nick Stern) always turn to technologies instead of talking about norms, values or politics that would enable sustainability? PANELISTS: Kanchan Chopra (on green growth), Mansoor Khan (on the biophysical limits to growth), Rohan DSouza (on the history and ambiguities of green growth in India, e.g. through renewable energy mega-projects).

3. What are the alternatives to growth (green or not)? Couldnt prosperity without growth become a rallying slogan for myriads of grassroots alternatives that are already present and often isolated and under threat, especially in the rural world? How could this slogan be applied to the Indian context? PANELISTS: Ashish Kothari (on the orchestration of alternatives), Aditya Nigam (on linking environmental and socialist movements around degrowth), Sagar Dhara (on the energy and material basis of alternatives).

Download a concept note on the Symposium.

For more information, contact:
Rajeswari S. Raina (NISTADS‐CSIRR),  asa_iaaoc
Julien‐François Gerber (TERI University),

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