The importance of conservation is growing each year, with increasing concerns over the destruction of biodiversity and the rising awareness of ecosystem services generating new debates on the human-nature relationship. This compact overview integrates the process, theory and practice of conservation for a broad readership, from non-specialists to students and practitioners. Taking a global perspective, it uses examples from around the world to illustrate general themes and show how problems arise from the impact of societal trends on ecological communities.
Provides an integrated account that develops a broad picture of conservation and its relevance to human development; key points at the end of chapters condense many details into valuable take-home messages; and material from original research and fieldwork, giving both beginners and experts a fresh set of examples, ideas and perspectives. Contents:
1. Introduction to conservation; 2. Threats to biodiversity; 3. Evaluation of priorities for species and habitats; 4. Monitoring, indicators and impact assessment; 5. Management of natural and fragmented habitats; 6. Management of species; 7. Sustainable use, semi-natural cultural landscapes, and the matrix; 8. Restoration and offsetting; 9. Environmental policy; References; Index to species names; Index. LINK TO THE BOOK
1. Local, National, and Global Citizen Movements
"The term Global Citizens Movement (GCM) refers to a profound shift in values among an aware and engaged citizenry. Transnational corporations, governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) remain powerful actors, but all of these are deeply influenced by a coherent, worldwide association of millions of people who call for priority to be placed on new vales of quality of life, human solidarity, and environmental sustainability. It is important to note that the GCM is a socio-political process rather than a political organization or party structure." Global Citizens Movement (GCM), Encyclopedia of Earth, November 2007.
We, members of the Occupy movement and civil society, highlight the critical window of opportunity at the Earth Summit to vastly scale up political, financial & public response to the environmental, social & economic crisis of our time, & to raise ambition to the level that science demands. We are exceeding 3 of 9 planetary boundaries (climate change; biodiversity loss; changes to the nitrogen cycle) and our economy has outgrown the ecosystems we depend on. We denounce debt-created money and demand urgent regulation for a steady-state economy. We vow to respect and protect the beauty and diversity of life on Earth, realising our interconnectedness with nature. Governments, corporations and financial institutions must wake up and dramatically prioritise people & the planet over abusive exploitation for short-term profit & “growth”.
In defence of our rights, freedoms & future, we call for:
1. A direct participatory democratic UN: inclusive rights-based global decision-making; open-source communications. Prioritise youth, women, marginalised voices & civil society formally in negotiations.
2. Ending corporate capture of the UN: end compromising partnerships & transfer of officials. Exclude business lobbyists from talks. Expose & prohibit the bullying & bribing of poor nations by rich nations.
3. Realisation of new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by increased cooperation, commitment, funding & resources, strengthening the Millennium Goals (MDGs) & cancelling unjust poor country debt.
4. Peace & demilitarization, democratising the UN Security Council, a binding global arms treaty, SDG on peace & conflict, nuclear disarmament by 2030 & transfer funds to local sustainable development.
5. A Financial Transaction Tax, abolition of tax havens & a Global Carbon Fee on extraction of fuels, to transparently & equitably fund life-saving adaptation solutions, prioritising resilience & climate justice.
6. Ending fossil fuel subsidies now & extraction by 2020. Invest in non-nuclear Renewable Energy for All: global wind/solar/small-hydro/geo-energy; efficient stoves; zero carbon global electricity by 2030.
7. Outlawing Ecocide as the 5th International Crime Against Peace: prosecute destruction of ecosystems e.g. tar sands, oil spills, mountaintop removal, fracking. Protect the commons & Rights of Mother Earth.
8. Zero deforestation of Amazon rainforest by 2015 & globally by 2020. Rejection of pricing & trading nature, including forests, water & the atmosphere; and rejection of offsetting damage/destruction.
9. Food & water sovereignty & security. Ban land grabs. Protect Indigenous peoples’ land rights. Switch support for biofuels & industrial, chemical & GM agriculture to small organic farming & permaculture.
This is what democracy looks like. This is Harmony with Nature. This is the Future We Need for a just, resilient, thriving world. Join Global Days of Action on June 5th & 20th to raise our voice to challenge & bring hope to Rio+20.
A high priority of global citizenship is education, either informally through personal contacts and public means of communication such as the internet, or more formally via programs sponsored by educational institutions. At a time when both developed and developing nations seem to be engulfed in political and financial corruption, education in noviolence is especially important. If a global revolution is coming, let it be a nonviolent revolution!
If a global revolution is coming, let it be a nonviolent revolution!
The Way Ahead: Educating Minds, Lightening the Underbelly – the Sustainable Solution
This article was ioriginally published in
Millennium Post, 10 March 2017 REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
The road to freedom goes through books; salvation lies in knowing. Being educated is when you get to terms with your existence. It is when one gets hold of one's past, present, and future. Without it, we are nothing but puppets in the hands of destiny, government and every institution around it. All the talk about human development and the uplifting of the underprivileged is nothing but a hoax if the state does not make adequate efforts towards educating them.
Recognising the right of children to be entitled to free primary education, leaders from around the globe have decided to include the achievement of universal primary education as one of the Millennium Development Goals. The very idea of sustainable human development which is being promoted by IMF centres on the entitlement of children to a free, quality basic education. In an ideal world, education for all sections of society should be publically financed. The bitter truth, though, is that the world is not that ideal a place yet.
Every grand and pious idea as this is bound to bump in front of brutal realities of economics – that crude supply-demand truth. Such is the problem with financing public education in developing countries as the state is often found wanting in terms of its financial capabilities. This fiscal crisis (often a mix of several institutional shortcomings) is partly natural, partly man-made. However, the failure of the state in such countries to ensure free, quality education for the underprivileged in such country often boomerangs and emerges as a monumental problem. The cost of educating them is often outweighed by the colossal cost of not educating them. Such is the story of India – a country poised at the crossroads between the glossy dreams of achieving double-digit GDP growth and sustaining its ever teeming population while ensuring that they get hold of their basic necessities.
Despite the Constitutional amendment where Right to primary education has been included as a fundamental right under Right to Life (Article 21), the grim reality of our educational system is there for all to see. The stark urban-rural divide, the inability of the government to ensure a steady flow of 'educated' and not just literate human capital, ready to take care of their employment needs without depending on the state's employment schemes, has been a steady policy flaw.
'Education', in the purest sense of the term, helps them in breaking the shackles of caste, class, creed, sex, and hierarchies imposed on them by the society – is yet a distant dream for millions of Indians. And it is where the role of public-private partnerships and NGOs becomes very important.
Any developing society under the march of a steady inflow of capital and technology can never be subservient to the state machinery in ensuring its basic human rights. The grandest of stories of human success in any society has been made possible because of the steady partnership between the civil society and the community. India's success story has been no different. As a country, we have been blessed with a vibrant crop of philanthropists who have devoted their lives towards achieving such pious aims.
While we often crib against the absence of the state in the most interior parts of the nation, it is time we must approach this problem with a solution-seeking attitude.
The practical solution about providing affordable and quality education to the underprivileged would emanate only when the civil society of our country rises and takes up the responsibility. The role of NGOs in forging a sustainable and solution-oriented partnership with the state cannot be denied. Unless and until, are private institutions take calculated, informative and philanthropically motivated measures to channelise formal education in the hinterlands, the hydra-headed problem of lack of education among the downtrodden will never be tackled.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Coomar Arunodaya is a philanthropic educationalist. Views expressed are strictly personal.
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) worldwide - at all levels - is a high priority. UNESCO has a worldwide program, but universities and other educational institutions must contribute. The family is the best school of sustainable human development.
The Social Science Library (SSL), which is a contribution to the UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development, contains over 3,400 full-text journal articles, book chapters, reports, and working papers in Anthropology, Economics, History, Philosophy, Social Psychology, Sociology and Political Science. To browse the SSL collection online, click here. Note: This resource is also available in UBS/CD format.
To inquire about getting/distributing this resource, visit the GDAE SSL website or write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org
The EveryAware Project, European Union. "EveryAware is an EU project intending to integrate environmental monitoring, awareness enhancement and behavioral change by creating a new technological platform combining sensing technologies, networking applications and data-processing tools."
Global Systems Science Education, University of California - Berkeley. "Global Systems Science, a science course for grades 9-12, focuses on science-related societal issues. 12 books, teacher guides, and software can support a 1-year integrated science course or supplement existing biology, physics, chemistry, Earth science, or environmental science."
Climate Change Education. "Portal Web Site Dedicated to: Global Warming Education, Climate Change Science Education, Science, Solutions -- Directory of Vetted Resources & Programs. For Teachers, Students, Parents, Families, Education Programs, Everyone."
ESD BEST PRACTICES should include practical (and field tested) means to advance public policy for sustainable development. It is hoped that ESD will overcome the ambiguity of the term "sustainable development" to make it clear that infinite growth in a finite planet is a practical impossibility in the long-term. What really matters going forward is "sustainable human development."
3. Net Energy and Energy Return on Investment (EROI)
At each point in the energy supply chain:
NET ENERGY = ENERGY GAINED - ENERGY SPENT (in energy units, eg., MegaJoules)
ENERGY RETURN ON INVESTMENT = ENERGY GAINED / ENERGY SPENT (dimensionless ratio)
Thus, Net Energy and Energy Return on Investment (EROI) -- or Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) -- are conceptually the same measure. Generally, EROI is closely correlated with "financial return on financial energy investment" -- a measure of financial return in dollars -- as long as "constant [year] dollars" are used.
ENERGY RETURN ON ENERGY INVESTED (EROEI, also abbreviated as EROI)
"Energy Return on Investment (EROI) refers to how much energy is returned from one unit of energy invested in an energy-producing activity. It is a critical parameter for understanding and ranking different fuels. There were a number of studies on EROI three decades ago but relatively little work since. Now there is a whole new interest in EROI as fuels get increasingly expensive and as we attempt to weigh alternative energies against traditional ones. This special volume brings together a whole series of high quality new studies on EROI, as well as many papers that struggle with the meaning of changing EROI and its impact on our economy. One overall conclusion is that the quality of fuels is at least as important in our assessment as is the quantity. I argue that many of the contemporary changes in our economy are related directly to changing EROI as our premium fuels are increasingly depleted." Charles Hall, Introduction to Special Issue on New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Investment), Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 10, 7 October 2011.
COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF ENERGY RESOURCES
As the time window of opportunity may be shorter than expected, it is imperative to work out short-term energy strategies in conjunction with long-term strategies. A 2009 study by Richard Heinberg and the Post-Carbon Institute includes a comparative analysis of 18 energy sources according to 10 criteria, as follows:
3) Natural gas
7) Wind Power
8) Solar Photovoltaics
9) Active Solar Thermal
10) Passive Solar
11) Geothermal Energy
12) Energy from Waste
15) Tar Sands
16) Oil Shale
17) Tidal Power
Criteria for comparative analysis:
1) Direct Monetary Cost
2) Dependence on Additional Resources
3) Environmental Impacts
5) Potential Size or Scale of Contribution
6) Location of the Resource
8) Energy Density
10)"Net Energy" or "Energy Returned on Energy Invested" (EROEI)
The tenth criterion, "Net Energy" or "Energy Returned on Energy Invested" (EROEI), is critical: "This
measure focuses on the key question: All things considered, how much more energy does a system
produce than is required to develop and operate that system? What is the ratio of energy in versus
energy out? Some energy “sources” can be shown to produce little or no net energy. Others are only
"The present analysis, which takes into account EROEI and other limits to available energy
sources, suggests first that the transition is inevitable and necessary (as fossil fuels are rapidly depleting
and are also characterized by rapidly declining EROEI), and that the transition will be neither easy
nor cheap. Further, it is reasonable to conclude from what we have seen that a full replacement of
energy currently derived from fossil fuels with energy from alternative sources is probably impossible
over the short term; it may be unrealistic to expect it even over longer time frames.
"The core problem, which is daunting, is this: How can we successfully replace a concentrated
store of solar energy (i.e., fossil fuels, which were formed from plants that long ago bio-chemically
captured and stored the energy of sunlight) with a flux of solar energy (in any of the various forms in
which it is available, including sunlight, wind, biomass, and flowing water)? ...
"Based on all that we have discussed, the clear conclusion is that the world will almost certainly
have considerably less energy available to use in the future, not more, though (regrettably) this strong
likelihood is not yet reflected in projections from the International Energy Agency or any other
notable official source. Fossil fuel supplies will almost surely decline faster than alternatives can be
developed to replace them. New sources of energy will in many cases have lower net energy profiles
than conventional fossil fuels have historically had, and they will require expensive new infrastructure
to overcome problems of intermittency...
"How far will supplies fall, and how fast? Taking into account depletion-led declines in oil and natural
gas production, a leveling off of energy from coal, and the recent shrinkage of investment in the
energy sector, it may be reasonable to expect a reduction in global energy availability of 20 percent
or more during the next quarter century. Factoring in expected population growth, this implies substantial
per-capita reductions in available energy. These declines are unlikely to be evenly distributed
among nations, with oil and gas importers being hardest hit, and with the poorest countries seeing
energy consumption returning to pre-industrial levels (with energy coming almost entirely from
food crops and forests and work being done almost entirely by muscle power).
"Thus, the question the world faces is no longer whether to reduce energy consumption, but how.
Policy makers could choose to manage energy unintelligently (maintaining fossil fuel dependency
as long as possible while making poor choices of alternatives, such as biofuels or tar sands, and
insufficient investments in the far more promising options such as wind and solar). In the latter case,
results will be catastrophic. Transport systems will wither (especially ones relying on the most energy intensive
vehicles—such as airplanes, automobiles, and trucks). Global trade will contract dramatically,
as shipping becomes more costly. And energy dependent food systems will falter, as chemical
input and transport costs soar. All of this could in turn lead to very high long-term unemployment
and perhaps even famine.
"However, if policy makers manage the energy downturn intelligently, an acceptable quality of life
could be maintained in both industrialized and less-industrialized nations at a more equitable level
than today; at the same time, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced dramatically. This would
require a significant public campaign toward the establishment of a new broadly accepted conservation
ethic to replace current emphases on neverending growth and over-consumption at both
personal and institutional-corporate levels."
These conclusions are confirmed by many independent analyses done as far back as the 1970s and as recent as January 2012. The data is noisy, but the signal is always strong and always the same: barring a technological miracle (or an "act of God") it does not appear possible to replace fossil fuels with any or all of the renewable ("clean") sources and maintain the same rate of energy flow through an industrial economy. This brings to mind the applicability of the precautionary principle to the energy availability situation worldwide.
EROI TRADEOFF ANALYSIS FOR TRANSITION PLANNING
With proper funding, it might be possible to use biophysical input-output analysis to explore energy policy tradeoffs going forward. For a given year, let
X = n-dimensional total production vector ($) U = n-dimensional final demand vector ($) A = NxN matrix of direct inputs (i.e., aij = input from industry i to industry j)
Note that the n industries include the energy extraction, production, and delivery sectors, as well as the pollution abatement and environmental remediation sectors. The basic Leontief equation for total required production is
X = AX + U
X - AX = U
(I-A) X = U
X = (I-A)-1U
Let, for a given energy resource r,
Y = n-dimensional industry energy input vector (i.e., production energy intensity vector, y=1,...,n, in joules/dollar), and
Z = n-dimensional public consumption output vector (i.e., consumption energy intensity vector, z=1,...,n, in joules/dollar)
Then, for the total economy,
Ey = X . Y
is the total amount of energy resource r (in $ . joules/$ = joules) required by the economy during the year, taking into account both direct and indirect inter-industry energy flow requirements; and
Ez = U . Z
is the total amount of energy resource r (in $ . joules/$ = joules) used by consumers of all products during the year.
One problem with input-output analysis in economics is that the interindustry coefficients are in dollars of input from industry i to dollars of output by industry j. Given the volatility of monetary issues (inflation, deflation, politics, etc.), data in dollars are always problematic. From the perspective of biophysical economics, it would be preferable to use coefficients in physical units, i.e., the ratio of units of industry i input to units of industry j output. This would allow for analysis of technological tradeoffs with much of the "noise" filtered out. Dollar conversions can then be applied to translate EROI results (in biophysical units) to financial return on investment in dollars. While input-out models provide a static "snapshot" model of the economy at a given point in time, the biophysical coefficients could be formulated as functions of time in order to take into account the time required for technological changes to be implemented.
Given the technological complexities and social risks of a transition from a high-EROI to a low-EROI economy (as painfully experienced, for example, in Cuba during the early 1990s and North Korea during the early 2000s, both due to unanticipated oil shortages) it is arguably reasonable to spend significant effort (and dollars) in developing better analytical tools to ease the pain.
OTHER ANALYTICAL METHODS FOR ENERGY POLICY ASSESSMENT
The input-output method of analysis is static, i.e., it is based on a "snapshot" of the economy at a given point in time. It is most useful when detailed (and short-term) comparative evaluation of specific energy sources and technologies are required -- oil versus coal, oil versus wind, oil versus solar, etc. Even in such cases, the data refinement effort pursuant to make the interindustry coefficients time-dependent may or may not be possible.
A broader analysis may be required in order to include long-term dynamic interactions between social, economic, and environmental variables in conjunction with plausible energy transition scenarios. Then analysis at a higher level of aggregation might be indicated, and it may be more expedient to use simulation models such as Limits to Growth -- with "resources" more specifically reformulated as "energy resources" -- to examine the repercussions of the transition from high-EROI to low-EROI economies and lifestyles. There is a need for "Revisiting the Limits to Growth After Peak Oil." This is the kind of analysis that will be attempted with SDSIM 2.0.
The social-economic-ecological system is too complex for any single method of analysis, or any combination of existing methods. The best practice is to start with the policy questions or issues to be addressed and use the method(s) that would yield the best insights for consideration by citizens and policy makers. In this regard, the recently emerging method of behavioral economics is promising and may be useful to capture changing patterns of human decision-making during the transition from high-EROI to low-EROI societies.
Another good practice is to recognize that modelers are scientists, not policy makers or problem solvers. Modelers are scientists using models and simulation experiments to test a hypothesis under "controlled" conditiones that may or may not to amenable to replication in the real world. There must be constant dialogue between scientists and decision-makers. But conflating science and decision-making generally exacerbates confusion and seldom leads to practical solutions.
Center for Sustainable Engineering, Partnership of Syracuse University (lead institution), Arizona State University, Carnegie-Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Texas at Austin, 2009-present.
It is important to understand the difference between EROI and net energy: EROI is a percentage, net energy is a quantity in physical energy units.
Energy Output - Energy Input = NET ENERGY (units of net energy remaining)
But this is NOT the equation for EROI, which is not subtraction, but division:
___________ = EROI (energy gained as a percentage of energy spent)
This is what makes EROI a ratio, not just a remainder. Since it is a ratio, it therefore graphs as a curve, not a straight line. While these words appear trivial, the graph appears anything but trivial. That's why it's important to make the subtle distinction between linear subtraction and exponential division.
The following section is about reforming tax codes so as to protect the integrity of the human habitat. The following is a excerpt from one many recent reports calling for taxing financial transactions to support the transition to clean energy:
Synopsis by the Publisher: "What if we lived in a world where everyone had enough? A world where everyone mattered and where people lived in harmony with nature? What if the solution to our economic, social, and ecological problems was right underneath our feet? Land has been sought after throughout history. Even today, people struggle to get onto the property ladder; most view real estate as an important way to build wealth. Yet, as readers of this book will discover, the act of owning land—and our urge to profit from it—causes economic booms and busts, social and cultural decline, and environmental devastation. Land: A New Paradigm for a Thriving World introduces a radically new economic model that promises a sustainable and abundant world for all. This book is for those who dream of a better world for themselves and for future generations."
Many of us already sense that our current economic system creates inequality and also engenders the ecological destruction of our planet. What we don’t seem to understand is why: For example, why does it lead to financial insecurity for many, even for those who, by all accounts, shouldn’t have to worry about money? And why exactly are we destroying our planet in our frantic conversion of nature into digits and little bits of paper we call money?
One of the main reasons our current economic system doesn’t work for everyone is because the revenue flow from the commons—which include all gifts of nature—has been privatized. For example, when an oil company makes money, it not only charges money for its effort and for the machinery it uses to extract oil from the ground, it also makes money from the value of the oil itself. The same can be said of the money that people make through their private ownership of land—and what banks make through their financing of private landownership via the mortgage. This privatization of the revenue flow from nature is one of the root causes of economic recessions, ecological destruction, as well as social and cultural decline.
All of nature is community wealth, including—and especially—land. People give value to land through the goods and services they provide to their communities. For example, because people offer more goods and services in the city than in the countryside, urban land tends to be much more expensive than rural land. As communities become more attractive to live in, some property owners—but mostly the financial institutions that finance them—then extract this value by making money from real estate (buildings, like cars, decrease in value over time, but land increases in value the more prosperous a community becomes), and this extraction is one of the root causes of wealth inequality, ecological destruction, and even economic recessions.
Land—even undeveloped land—costs a lot of money in our society. Why is that? It’s because land has an intrinsic value to human beings: We all need land. And because we all need land, those that own land can make money by buying and selling land at the expense of other people who have to pay money to live on it. Under our current land ownership model, property owners only pay other property owners for land as well as the banks that finance property ownership.
While land can certainly be privately used, its value is created by the community and therefore belongs to the community. Land has to be owned in common, and whenever people use land, they need to reimburse their local communities for their exclusive use of it. They can do this by making community land contributions for the land they use. A land contribution approximates the market rental value of land, and the rental value of land is a measuring stick that reveals the financial value of the benefits that land users receive from their exclusive use of land. In most nations around the world, the value of land has already been privatized: If communities were to suddenly impose land contributions upon existing property owners, property owners would end up having to pay twice for their ownership of land—first to the previous landowner (from whom they bought land), and a second time to their local communities.
In order to transition from a land ownership model to a land stewardship model, therefore, local governments and community land trusts would either have to financially compensate existing property owners for the land value portion of the properties in question or offer a transition plan that would allow new property owners to acquire exclusive use of the land without obtaining ownership of the land itself. Land users would then be required to share the value of land with all members of their community through community land contributions. And finally, these contributions would then have to be redistributed to all community members in the form of a Universal Basic Income to prevent gentrification, reduce wealth inequality, and create a truly fair economy for all participants.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Adams is a systems thinker and author. As a child, it pained him to see most people struggling while a few were living in opulence. This inspired in him a lifelong quest to co-create a fair and sustainable world in collaboration with others. As a graduate of a business school with ties to Wall Street, he opted not to pursue a career on Wall Street and chose instead to dedicate his life to community enrichment. Through his social enterprise work, he saw firsthand the extent to which the current economic system causes human and ecological strife. Consequently, Martin devoted himself to the development of a new economic paradigm that might allow humanity to thrive in harmony with nature. His book Land: A New Paradigm for a Thriving World is the fruit of his years of research into a part of this economic model; its message stands to educate policymakers and changemakers worldwide. Martin is executive director of Progress.org.
The Free Banquet ~ The Case for Universal Basic Income
Originally published in
Commonweal, 25 April 2017 REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
A poster that appeared in Geneva, Switzerland, in May 2016
ahead of a national referendum on the introduction of an
unconditional basic income for all Swiss citizens / AP photo
From St. Paul’s venerable saying, “if a man does not work, neither shall he eat,” to the always-contemporary saw, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” the common sense of humankind has always seemed dead against a universal, unconditional basic income. Charity, of course, is no less a tradition: for widows, orphans, and the infirm in all periods, and in the modern period also as social insurance for the elderly and the involuntarily unemployed.
But aid for the deserving poor has at times, and especially in modern times, entailed the expensive and humiliating burden of proving to the satisfaction of donors that the recipient is indeed both deserving and poor. And even in the most generous and enlightened societies, such aid has sometimes had perverse effects. The most common is the “poverty trap.” When aid is means-tested, every dollar of earned income above the qualifying level results in a corresponding reduction of aid. This is a disincentive to accept the generally low-income, training-poor jobs available to welfare recipients. The same disincentive functions as a “household trap,” keeping women—the usual caregivers—with small children at home until the children are grown, insuring that when those women do eventually enter the labor market, they are at a severe disadvantage. In the United States, the Clinton administration resolved this dilemma by the simple, harsh step of eliminating long-term assistance to poor households, forcing even parents of small children into the labor force—a boon to low-wage employers. Unemployment insurance, meanwhile, is conditional on recipients’ producing evidence of a minimum number of job applications per week—a requirement that, as often as not, proves either burdensome or farcical.
We do not, obviously, take very good care of our poor and unemployed. And we will soon have even more of them: the elimination of jobs by automation has barely begun. Without a radical new approach to economic security, we are headed either for an even worse bureaucratic morass or for a Blade Runner, devil-take-the-hindmost world.
Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy (Harvard University Press, $29.95, 400 pp.) by economist Philippe van Parijs and political scientist Yannick Vanderborght proposes a radical idea that will be new to many readers although, as they conscientiously point out, it has a rich history. Like most good political ideas, the right to a basic income originated in the Enlightenment, though proposals for the relief of the poor are of course much older. St. Ambrose waxed eloquently indignant on the subject of economic inequality. Luther admonished the German nobility that “it would be easy to make a law, if only we had the courage…that every city should provide for its own poor.” The narrator of More’s Utopia railed against England’s savage punishment of crimes against property: “It would be far more to the point to provide everyone with some means of livelihood, so that no one is under the frightful necessity of becoming first a thief, then a corpse.”
The philosophes radicalized and universalized this impulse. According to Montesquieu, the state “owes all its citizens a secure subsistence”; Rousseau posited that “every man has naturally a right to everything he needs”; Condorcet wrote that “society is obliged to secure the subsistence of all its citizens.” Thomas Paine even proposed the first universal basic income, combining an endowment at age twenty-one and a retirement income at fifty. The subsequent history of experiments with income-security schemes in modern Europe and the United States, from Bismarck to Milton Friedman, from the Poor Laws to the current experiments in Switzerland, is a secondary but fascinating theme of Van Parijs and Vanderborght’s book.
There are three defining elements in Van Parijs and Vanderborght’s proposal. First, basic income is individual, paid to each citizen rather than to a family or household. Second, it is universal, paid without regard to other income or assets. Third, it is obligation-free, a matter of right, and not tied to any work requirement. Other aspects of their plan—income levels, funding mechanisms, pace of adoption—are less fundamental.
The chief reason for individual rather than household payments is that marriage and cohabitation are complicated enough without introducing economic incentives into a relationship. Public-assistance programs usually take account of the economies of scale in consumption that living together entails, reducing benefits accordingly. But basic income is not a poverty-reduction program; it is a freedom-maximization program. Its purpose is to increase options for everyone, in both work life and intimate life.
Why universality? In the first place, because means-testing is an administrative nightmare. But even more important, because it frees recipients to work. At present, earned income reduces public assistance dollar for dollar, and a full-time job is likely to result in termination of benefits. But far too many of the jobs available to most recipients of public assistance are insecure dead-ends. If the jobs disappear or prove intolerable, the resulting interval until benefits resume can plunge a family into a debt spiral. With a secure basic income, taking whatever job is available entails no such risk, and recipients are freer to take a low-paying job that provides valuable training or experience, hence perhaps a way out of the low-wage ghetto. They are also freer to create their own jobs, and even to become entrepreneurs, on however humble a scale.
It is the obligation-free part that sticks in many people’s craw—who, after all, is not incensed by the spectacle of the idle poor? Forcing recipients of public assistance to prove that they are involuntarily unemployed serves several unworthy social purposes: it gratifies popular sadism; it keeps the number of recipients down; and it swells the reserve army of the unemployed, thereby subsidizing low-wage employers. Van Parijs and Vanderborght quote a sociologist’s scathing description of the effects of obligation-to-work regulations: by “allowing the authorities to force someone into a job, however rotten or badly paid,” they “assure that the meanest employer, paying the worst wages for the filthiest jobs, is not kept out of a worker while there is one able-bodied unemployed man available.” And of course, like means-testing, obligation-to-work regulations require a large, expensive, and intrusive bureaucracy.
Historically, the two main grounds for criticizing unbridled competitive individualism have been efficiency and justice: it wastes the talents of the losers and deprives them of chances for a decent life. These are also the moral underpinnings of a universal basic income. Van Parijs and Vanderborght repeatedly stress that their proposal is not a species of poor relief; it provides a floor, not a safety net. It is not only, or even primarily, intended to keep people from starving or sleeping in the streets. Shelters and soup kitchens might achieve that goal equally well, but the goal itself is too modest. A basic income aims at allowing people to design their lives, on the principle that while creativity in some form is a universal biological endowment, chronically insecure, degraded, and exploited people cannot be creative, and society will be worse off for the loss.
The argument from justice may, as in Rousseau, appeal to every individual’s natural right to realize her powers, rather than, as in the argument from efficiency, to society’s interest in her doing so. This argument is perfectly adequate, provided rights are derived from contingent moral intuitions—Smith’s and Hume’s “sympathy,” for example—rather than from supposedly immutable (but unfortunately nonexistent) metaphysical principles. But there is another, even firmer ground for treating basic income as a right: the social nature of wealth creation. Markets do not allocate rewards fairly; no one deserves to be filthy rich. Van Parijs and Vanderborght illustrate by quoting the economist and computer scientist Herbert Simon, one of the twentieth century’s biggest brains:
When we compare average incomes in rich nations with those in Third World countries, we find enormous differences that are surely not due simply to differences in motivations to earn [or natural resources, but to] differences in social capital that takes primarily the form of stored knowledge (e.g., technology, and especially organizational and governmental skills). Exactly the same claim can be made about the differences in income within any given society.... It is hard to conclude that social capital can produce less than about 90 percent of income in wealthy societies like those of the U.S. or Northwestern Europe.... [A flat tax of 70 percent] would generously leave the original recipients of the income with about three times what, according to my rough guess, they had earned.... In the U.S., a flat tax of 70 percent would support all governmental programs…and allow payment, with the remainder, of a patrimony of about $8000 per annum per inhabitant, or $25,000 for a family of three.... Of course, I am not so naïve as to believe that my 70 percent tax is politically viable in the U.S. at present [i.e., 1998], but looking toward the future, it is none too soon to find answers to the arguments of those who think they have a solid moral right to retain all the wealth they “earn.”
It is, indeed, never too soon to disturb the ineffable confidence of overpaid blockheads in their perfect entitlement to a disproportionate share of the common wealth. There most certainly is such a thing as a free lunch. There is, in fact, a free banquet, of which every rich person daily partakes. It is long past time they invited the rest of us.
Much of Basic Income is devoted to practical matters: in particular, to comparing Van Parijs and Vanderborght’s proposal with likely alternatives. Traditional guaranteed-minimum-income schemes involve means-testing, clawback (the reduction of assistance dollar for dollar of earned income), and proof that the recipient is actively seeking employment, with the undesirable effects already noted. Those disadvantages have been widely enough recognized that both liberals and enlightened conservatives generally prefer a different income-maintenance approach, either a negative income tax or an earned-income tax credit.
The best-known proponent of a negative income tax was Milton Friedman. As with a basic income, a minimum income level is set for all individuals or households, and those with incomes lower than the minimum receive an amount equal to the difference. By means of a somewhat technical but always clear discussion, Van Parijs and Vanderborght show that, given certain common features (payment to individuals, no work requirement, and similar funding mechanisms and tax rates), a negative income tax and a universal basic income are equivalent in every respect but one. That respect is, however, crucial. A basic income is paid upfront: weekly, monthly, or quarterly. A negative income tax is paid out at the end of the tax year; and as Van Parijs and Vanderborght dryly observe, “poor people cannot wait until the end of the tax year before receiving the transfer that will enable them not to starve.”
An earned income tax credit (EITC), a variant of the negative income tax, first introduced in 1975, is now the largest poverty program in the United States. Its defining feature is that benefits are paid only to the employed. If a means-tested program is also in place, the EITC would approximate the effects of a negative income tax, though again without the ability to cushion families through periods of income deprivation. Without a minimum-income program, an EITC functions as a subsidy to low-wage employers, which doubtless explains its popularity in the United States.
Van Parijs and Vanderborght also discuss a range of other possibilities: wage subsidies, a reduction of the work week, the government as employer of last resort, and a close cousin of universal basic income, a universal lump-sum endowment at age eighteen or twenty-one. They argue, plausibly I think, that in all cases a universal basic income offers more freedom and security for the money. They also discuss whether and how other kinds of government assistance—for housing, education, health care, etc., as well as social-contribution programs like Social Security—might be combined with a basic income.
Is it feasible? Even if America were a functioning democracy rather than a dysfunctional plutocracy, would there be enough money? Van Parijs and Vanderborght propose, for illustrative purposes, a funding level of 25 percent of average GDP—around $1,200 per month in the United States. On one side of the ledger, this would replace the public-assistance portion of the government’s current social-welfare spending—a considerable saving. But on the other side, if financed solely by a flat tax on labor income, and without taking into account likely improvements in productivity and human capital that would eventually result from a basic income, this funding level would entail marginal tax rates somewhere between 60 and 80 percent.
Is that the end of the story, the graveyard of our noble hope? Not quite. There are several other possible—indeed socially beneficial—ways of raising revenue besides taxing labor income. Before even mentioning them, though, one should note an elementary fact about taxes. As a famous social parasite once remarked (a sentiment echoed by another social parasite during a recent presidential campaign debate): “Only the little people pay taxes.” Tax evasion—primarily by those who can afford to hire expensive tax lawyers—costs hundreds of billions of dollars in lost tax revenues each year, and an estimated $20 trillion is held offshore for purposes of tax evasion. In a rational world, the costly and destructive Global War on Terror would be replaced by a Global War on Tax Evasion.
Even before that happy day, much progress can be made simply by holding President Trump to his campaign promise to eliminate the carried-interest deduction, a $250 billion-a-year gift to hedge-fund managers, and more generally by taxing capital income at the same rate as labor income. Since the top 0.1 percent of American households receive half of all capital gains, there can be no reason for taxing them at a substantially lower rate than the median wage earner, except a fanatical devotion to increasing the income of the fabulously wealthy, a compulsion one might call Republicans’ Disease.
Other possible sources of revenue discussed by Van Parijs and Vanderborght include user fees on scarce resources like land, the atmosphere, and the broadcast spectrum; a “Tobin tax” on financial transactions; and consumption and value-added taxes. They mention only in passing possible reductions in military expenditures, but there are large savings to be looked for from closing some of our nearly one thousand foreign military bases and canceling unnecessary weapons programs, above all the mind-bogglingly expensive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Convalescence from large-scale social pathologies like plutocracy is bound to be gradual. Barring a miraculously rapid disappearance of Republicans’ Disease, a universal basic income will have to be approached by stages. Essentially this means compromising on funding levels, funding range, or obligation to work. After further technical but, again, lucid discussion, Van Parijs and Vanderborght settle on two options: in societies where the obstacles to a basic income are mainly political, a negative income tax, which appears to base assistance on virtuous behavior (i.e., participation in the labor market); and in societies where the chief obstacles are economic, a partial universal income, starting low and perhaps increasing along with average productivity.
We can, of course, start anywhere—“if only we had the courage,” as Luther put it. It hardly matters where or how. What matters—what will lift the heart of every reader of Basic Income—is that Van Parijs and Vanderborght have enlisted the rigor and scruple of first-rate social science in the service of a generous social vision that is at least as old as Saint Ambrose and as up-to-date as Pope Francis. Our sensible and humane descendants—they are bound to be sensible or humane, since humanity would otherwise have long since succumbed to nuclear or environmental catastrophe—will doubtless wonder, with the easy impatience of posterity, what we were waiting for. They may, in fairness to us, decide that we were waiting for books like this.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George Scialabba is the author of What Are Intellectuals Good For? and For the Republic.
7. Industrial Quality Standards and Best Practices
Competitive and Sustainable Manufacturing in the Age of Globalization
This article was ioriginally published in
Sustainability, 24 December 2016 under a Creative Commons License
Abstract: Competitiveness is the ability and performance of a firm, subsector or country to sell or supply goods or services in a given market. The competitiveness and sustainability of an enterprise are closely related. Competitiveness has received ever-growing attention in the era of globalization. This Special Issue provides a forum for researchers and practitioners to review and disseminate quality research work on competitive and sustainable manufacturing in the era of globalization and their applications, and to identify critical issues for further developments.
With the trend of globalization, the competition within some industries is becoming increasingly fierce. To survive in the industry, every firm must strive to continually improve its competence in one way or another . For example, some firms do not have their own factories, so they can focus on activities that are more profitable , while others continue expanding their manufacturing capacity to further drive down costs . Other common strategies include: outsourcing , the blue ocean strategy , better scheduling [6,7], factory simulation [8,9], green and lean technologies [10,11,12], applying the competitiveness diamond model , cyber-physical systems and cloud manufacturing [14,15,16], developing next-generation technologies [17,18], forming alliances [19,20], etc.
In contrast, some studies have shown that even with considerable research and development (R&D) capabilities, manufacturers cannot guarantee long-term competitiveness (i.e., sustainability) [1,21]. In addition, in the past, support from the government enabled the continued growth of manufacturers in some regions. After such support disappears, maintaining competitiveness and sustainability becomes a big problem . Further, the rise of the Chinese market and of its manufacturers has brought opportunities and threats to existing firms [22,23].
This Special Issue is intended to provide details regarding sustainable development and competitive strategies, and their applications to manufacturing.
2. Competitive and Sustainable Manufacturing Approaches
Sophisticated models for assisting the design processes of complex mechanical products are essential for managers or designers to manage design processes and further improve design efficiency. Zheng et al.  put forth a supernetwork-based model for designing complex mechanical products. They first identified the key elements in the design processes of complex mechanical products. Then, based on these, they analyzed the sub-elements of the key elements and the relationships between the sub-elements. Finally, sub-networks with sub-elements were built as nodes and their relationships as edges, forming the supernetwork model for assisting the design processes of complex mechanical products based on the sub-networks and their relationships.
The conventional failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) approaches fail to explain the aggregate effects of a failure from different perspectives such as technical severity, economic severity, and production capacity in some practical applications. To fulfill this gap, Nguyen et al.  proposed an extension by considering the associated quality costs and the capability of a failure detection system as additional determinants to signify the priority level for each failure mode. Analytical results indicated that the proposed approach remarkably reduced the percentage of defective fabrics, thus significantly reducing wastes and increasing the operational efficiency.
Joining global production networks is critical to fostering local supplier upgrading. However, heterogeneous buyer-supplier relationships have rarely been configured and even incorporated into such networks empirically. To address this issue, Cho and Lim  proposed a framework based on which the features of buyer-supplier relationships can be related to the aspects of local supplier upgrading. In addition, the results of a latent class analysis showed that the ways value chains are governed have different effects on various types of technological upgrading.
Woo and Cho  discussed the mechanism under which the cost of wage rigidity is transferred from contractors to subcontracting firms, which in turn aggravates the inequality among the wages of workers in contracting and subcontracting firms. In addition, after studying a Korean case, the intensity of this transferring mechanism was shown to differ from industry to industry. Lu et al.  examined consumers’ moral reactions to a product-harm crisis. After conducting a national-wide survey with 801 respondents in China, they found that consumers will react to a product-harm crisis through controlled cognitive processing and emotional intuition. In addition, the survey results also showed that consumers view a product-harm crisis as an ethical issue, and will make an ethical judgment according to the perceived severity and relevance of the crisis.
The Japanese automobile industry has been suffering a huge economic downturn in the recent decade. The rise in costs and the decline in sales led to serious problems in this industry, such as the waste of time in replacing assembly boards for manufacturing lines. To tackle this issue, Wang et al.  applied the Teoriya Resheniya Izobreatatelskih Zadatch (TRIZ) approach to provide efficient solutions for the automobile industry. They first analyzed the technical problems using the function and attribute analysis (FAA) model. Then, a contradiction matrix and the inventive principle were applied to find possible solutions to these problems.
Equal channel angular pressing (ECAP) is the most popular and simple process to produce nano-titanium. However, ECAP is time-consuming, power-wasting, and far from sufficient to produce the required ultrafine-grain structure. To address this issue, Wang et al.  applied the Teoriya Resheniya Izobreatatelskih Zadatch (TRIZ) approach to improve the performance of ECAP, especially in reducing the production costs.
Because of the dynamic and complex characteristics of foods and their production, environment and sustainability issues are critical to the food industry. Pipatprapa et al.  applied the hybrid structural equation modeling (SEM) and the fuzzy analytic hierarchy process (FAHP) approach to find out factors that are influential on the environmental performance of Thailand’s food industry. The results showed that quality management, market orientation, and innovation capability have significantly positive effects on the environmental performance.
Aggregate production planning (APP) is an important task in production planning and control. However, the existing models, either static or dynamic, have several shortcomings. To overcome these, Davizón et al.  formulated a mathematical model to achieve optimal control. The mathematical model integrates a second-order dynamical system with a first-order system by considering the production rate, inventory level, capacity, and costs of the work force.
Galal and Moneim  formulated a mixed integer nonlinear programming model to determine the product mix in a manufacturing facility to maximize the sustainability index (SI) which is the weighted sum of the economic, environmental, and social measures of sustainability. The weights of these measures were determined using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) approach.
Electronic paper (e-paper) has a lot of important applications. Huang et al.  estimated the future market size of Taiwan’s e-paper industry using a hybrid grey model. They incorporated Fourier series and a Markov chain into discrete Grey model (DGM) (2, 1) and the Verhulst model, respectively, and proposed two new models—Fourier Markov (FM)-Verhulst and FMDGM (2, 1). According to the experimental results, the two models outperformed the existing grey models in improving the estimation accuracy.
Lu et al.  investigated the effects of the internal technological innovation capability (ITIC) and external linkages (ELs) on the upgrading of the Chinese automotive manufacturing industry (CAMI) in the global value chain. The results showed that compared to ELs, ITIC was more critical to the upgrading of CAMI. In addition, in some regions, such as Shanghai and Chongqing, the effects of EL are far from significant. In contrast, in other regions, more benefits can be gained through suitable clustering.
In the era of globalization, many world-class companies have migrated to certain countries or regions for competitive manufacturing, which highlights the importance of competitive manufacturing for any global company’s sustainable development. This Special Issue features a balance between state-of-the-art research on competitive and sustainable manufacturing in the era of globalization. All methods proposed in this Special Issue have been applied to practical examples. Several valuable results were obtained, which support these methods to be viable strategies in planning-related activities.
Acknowledgments: The guest editor would like to thank the Sustainability Editor-in-Chief, Marc A. Rosen, for fully supporting the release of this Special Issue. The guest editor is also grateful to the contributors who shared their research as well as to the reviewers who spared their valuable time to review papers. The guest editor would also like to thank the journal’s staff. Without their support and professional assistance, prepublication would not have been possible.
Conflicts of Interest: The author declare no conflict of interest.
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All humans have a propensity to cut corners. Regardless of how income is taxed (Section 5) and returned (Section 6) to tax payers, there is a continuing need for quality standards in all kinds of human work, and all kinds of industrial production and consumption. Methods and tools for this purpose have been developed in such fields as industrial engineering, operations research, and system dynamics. Industrial engineering is specifically concerned with improvements in manufacturing productivity and efficiency. The International Standards Organization (ISO), an agency of the United Nations, has veveloped a comprehensive set of standards, guidelines, and best practices. The IEEE, and other professional organizations, have developed useful quality management standards for manufacturing, health care, education, and other professions.
What about quality standards for financial institutions? ISO 9000 could be used, but it would seem that the financial services industry should have a dedicated five digit standard. ISO-26000 on social responsibility is a guideline, not an auditable standard. Both stricter regulation and auditable standards are urgently needed for the global financial system. Furthermore, quality standards should ensure that dangerous biotechnologies are not used, even if they are financially profitable:
8. Transferring Subsidies from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy
The transferring of subsidies from the fossil fuels industry to the clean energy industry is understandably a sensitive political issue. The fossil fuel industry is enormously powerful. The age of fossil fuels has practically run its course. However, the temptation to keep producing and using "cheap energy" is very strong regardless of environmental consequences. The United States of America has yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because "it is bad for business." The "easy profits" derived from the exploding manipulation of worthless financial assets is also bad for business, but not yet recognized as such by the general public. Subsidies are tricky business, and there seems to be a paucity of expertise about the societal cost of subsidizing pollution-intensive industries.
"Average fossil fuel subsidies in the world's richest countries have reached $112 per person, draining national treasuries while undermining international efforts to avert dangerous climate change, according to a new report from the Overseas Development Institute. Fossil fuel subsidies are costing the 34 OECD countries between $55 billion and $90 billion a year, with the highest level of subsidies in Russia, the United States, Australia, Germany and the UK. It calculates that each of the 11.6 billion tons of carbon emitted by the top 11 rich-country emitters in 2010 came with an average subsidy of $7 a ton - around $112 for every adult in those countries - locking the world into a high-carbon future while failing to benefit poorer people."
"A new, peer-reviewed, report from Friends of the Earth brings to light one of Big Oil’s most overlooked subsidies: royalty-free flaring on public and tribal lands... Royalty-free flaring is both a dangerous addition to climate disruption and a de facto subsidy for the oil industry... For over a century Big Oil has been subsidized to the hilt with everything from tax breaks to royalty free-leasing. To that list we can now add natural gas flaring -- and it has to stop... Focusing on the national epicenter of the flaring boom in North Dakota’s Bakken shale, the new report, “A Flaring Shame: North Dakota & the hidden fracking subsidy,” uses data directly from Bureau of Land Management to reveal the exact amount of gas wasted by individual companies... The original data provided by the BLM is available here."
"The successful outcome of COP21 has raised hopes and expectations of concerted global efforts to tackle climate change. How will this affect the momentum behind the deployment of key renewable technologies and the drive for greater energy efficiency? Ample supply is keeping downward pressure on fossil fuel prices, coal, oil and natural gas. When and how will market dynamics change – or might lower prices for some fuels be here to stay? The impact of local pollution, often energy-related, on air quality is a matter of rising social and political concern in many countries. How can governments act to tackle this problem – and what would these actions mean for the energy sector?
The World Energy Outlook 2016 (WEO-2016) series – including a special report in June and the full Outlook in November – will seek to shed light on these questions and more, all with the customary mix of rigorous quantitative modelling and insightful analysis. The new projections for different scenarios to 2040, based on the latest data and market developments, will cover all fuels, regions and technologies, with a particular focus on the following topical issues:
• The impact of COP21: WEO-2016 will track progress with the implementation of the different country climate pledges made in Paris and judge what they mean for long-term energy trends. Based on this assessment, it will examine and present policy options to bridge the gap and reach climate objectives in full.
• Major focus on renewables: renewable energy is vital to steer the energy system to the low-carbon future envisioned in the Paris agreement. This analysis will assess the rapid improvement in the competitiveness and economics of renewables, relative to fossil-fuels and other low carbon options, as well as the opportunities and questions that a rising share of renewable energy open up for the energy system as a whole.
• The road ahead for fossil fuels: coal, oil and natural gas remain the bedrock of global energy use but all face an uncertain period of adjustment, both to today’s market conditions and – over the longer term – to the prospect of a new policy landscape post-COP21. With lower prices bringing down the axe on many new projects, WEO-2016 will assess the impact on tomorrow’s market balances and the different pathways and risks that lie further ahead.
• Mexico’s energy outlook: the comprehensive energy reform package passed in Mexico will have profound effects on the country’s energy sector development. This analysis will evaluate the potential impact of the reforms for Mexico’s upstream as well as its power sector and wider economy, and consider Mexico’s choices within the context of an increasingly integrated North American energy market.
• Energy and water: Energy depends on water, and water requires energy. This analysis will build on work done in WEO-2012 and assess current and future freshwater requirements for energy production, highlighting potential vulnerabilities and key stress points. It will include, for the first time, the energy requirements for different processes in the water industry, including wastewater treatment, transport and desalination.
• Special report on energy and air quality (to be released in June): Energy-related air pollution leads to millions of premature deaths and costs the global economy trillions of dollars each year. As the world’s population grows and demand for energy services swells, the already high costs of air pollution risk increasing dramatically. This ground-breaking special report will provide new analysis to help decision-makers evaluate different policy paths and to provide clear recommendations for future action."