BOOK SUMMARY: "The recent global financial crisis has raised widespread concern for the sustainability of the global economy. Much has been written concerning the negative impacts of economic development on natural ecosystems and civil societies. Unfortunately, few viable alternatives to the prevailing economic paradigms have been suggested for consideration. Those that have been are typically little more than suggestions for fine tuning capitalist or socialist economies. In his new book, John Ikerd addresses the basic principles and concepts essential to economic sustainability. Some of these concepts are capitalist, some are socialistic, and others are general principles validated by philosophy or common sense. What results is a synthesis: something that is neither capitalist nor socialist but fundamentally different; it is sustainable. A special emphasis is placed on the essential, but limited, role of markets in economic sustainability, including the constraints that must be placed on markets to protect nature and society from economic exploitation. Readers of any political and ideological persuasion will find this brief book engaging, informative, optimistic and refreshing. Instead of threats and apocalyptic pronouncements, Ikerd offers possibilities and assurance. Instead of epithets hurled at opponents, Ikerd offers possibilities for reconciliation and a renewed sense of the need to work cooperatively to find solutions to the most urgent problems of our era."
"In a lecture delivered at Stanford University, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the current state of the world and "the future we must shape together." He outlined three ways to navigate our way through this "Great Transition," namely by advancing sustainable development, helping people meet their aspirations for democracy and dignity, and empowering women and young people.
On the sustainable development challenge, Ban underscored that he has made sustainable development the leading priority of the UN. He stressed the need to urgently "change course" to build the clean energy, low-carbon
"At the current rate, we will soon need two planet earths. But we have only one planet. There can be no Plan B because there is no planet B. Both science and economics tell us that we need to change course – and soon."
economy of tomorrow that will address the challenge of climate change. Noting the size of the economy of California, he noted that the state has "a special role" to play in spurring the on-going climate negotiations in order to reach a global, legally binding agreement on climate by 2015.
Ban also mentioned his Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL), stressing that California can contribute to efforts made to reach the goals set by the Initiative, namely to ensure universal access to modern energy services, double energy efficiency, and double the renewable energy share in the overall global energy mix. In concluding, Ban stated that "this time of Great Transition is also a period of great opportunity." [UN Secretary-General's Statement] [UN Press Release]
"The next Human Development Report – “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World” – will be published in March 2013. The 2013 Human Development Report will examine the profound shift in global dynamics that is being driven by the fast-rising powers of the developing world - and the implications of this phenomenon for human development.
"China has already overtaken Japan as the world’s second biggest economy, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty in the process. India is actively reshaping its future with entrepreneurial creativity and social policy innovation. Brazil has become another engine of growth for the South, while reducing inequality at home through antipoverty programs that are emulated worldwide. Turkey, Thailand, South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia and other dynamic developing nations are also leading actors on the world stage today, offering important policy lessons and valuable new partnerships for the South as a whole, including today’s least developed countries."
Berkeley Earth video representation of the land surface temperature anomaly, 1800 to the present. The map of the world shows the temperature anomaly by location over time. The chart at the bottom, shows the global land-surface temperature anomaly. The Berkeley Earth analysis shows 0.911 degrees Centigrade of land warming (+/- 0.042 C) since the 1950s.
8. Sustainable Development Modeling and Simulation
The graph below is a simple simulation of world population, gross production/consumption, and energy availability trends:
As of EOY 2011, World Population = 7 Billion, World GDP = 61 Trillion PPP Dollars,
World Energy Use = 0.5 Zeta Joules (or approx 82 billion barrels of oil), and
Average Consumption per Capita = 9000 Dollars
The simulation tipping points would seem to approximate current trends. If the supply of usable energy from fossil fuels peaks and declines as shown by the green curve, how much energy would have to be generated from other sources to support the current GDP output? Even for the sake of social solidarity and ecological sustainability, would most people in the "developed" nations be able/willing to "survive" with $9000/year?
The past cannot be changed, and the future is unknown, but there is empirical evidence to the effect that:
1. Fossil fuel resources are high in energy content but are not infinite.
2. Fossil fuel emissions are environmentally detrimental and/or potentially unsafe.
3. Currently known clean energy alternatives offer relatively low energy content.
Given that fossil fuels are being depleted, pollution levels are damaging the environment, and clean energy alternatives may not provide enough energy to sustain industrial economies, is it wise to just continue doing "business as usual" and trusting that some earthshaking technological breakthrough will come to pass soon enough? Is it fair for people in the "developed" nations to keep indulging in energy consumption and waste while approx. one billion people must subsist on $2 per day or less?
The scale of the global sustainable development challenge is unprecedented. The fight against extreme poverty has made great progress under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but more than 1 billion people continue to live in extreme poverty. Inequality and social exclusion are widening within most countries. With the world at 7 billion people and current annual GDP of US$70 trillion, human impacts on the environment have already reached dangerous levels. As the world population is estimated to rise to 9 billion by 2050
and global GDP to more than US$200 trillion, the world urgently needs a framework for sustainable development that addresses the challenges of ending poverty, increasing social inclusion, and sustaining the planet.
Under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General, and in line with the recently launched High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was announced on August 9, 2012 and will provide global, open and inclusive support to sustainable-development problem solving at local, national, and global scales. The SDSN will work together with United Nations agencies, other international organizations, and the multilateral funding institutions including the World Bank and regional development banks, to mobilize scientific and technical expertise to scale up the magnitude and quality of local, national and global problem solving, helping to identify solutions and highlighting best practices in the design of long-term development pathways.
Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General on the MDGs, will direct the project with the core aim of creating an open, inclusive, and world-class global network of expertise and problem solving. The network will comprise mainly universities and scientific research institutes, but will also tap technical expertise within technology companies, science foundations and academies of sciences and engineering. Columbia University's Earth Institute will serve as the Secretariat for the Network.
The global network will accelerate joint learning and help to overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated approaches to the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world.
The network should therefore spawn a new kind of sustained problem solving, in which experts, leaders, and citizens in all parts of the world work together to identify, demonstrate, and implement the most promising paths to sustainable development.