If you only read one thing this week…

‘Greensumption’? A closer look at shopping to save the planet by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek

The New York Times .earth section is covering a new video from the International Forum on Globalization that looks at “absurdity of the notion that the way out of this planetary crisis — which is deeply rooted in overuse of scarce resources – is to go out and “shop to save the planet”.  Among many “false solutions” now coming at us, it is surely the most peculiar, but so American: every crisis viewed as a new business growth opportunity.  Obviously the better answer is less use of energy, materials, consumption, not more.

It’s a fun five minute satire on the idea that planetary crisis is a great new business opportunity.

Read the interview and watch the video here, and read the transcript of the interview here.

[The IFG] believes that modern economic globalization will not survive the current set of planetary crises, even if all of us naysayers offered no protest at all. At least it cannot survive in anything approaching its current forms and scale. You cant have globalization without digging up the last resources on the earth to feed corporate growth, and to engage in a staggering amount of transoceanic shipping (as the video showed) using fuel which is getting constantly more expensive and dangerous to our survival. The modern economic globalization model (since the 1946 Bretton Woods meetings) depends upon four impossible conditions:  First and foremost, continuous rates of high economic growth for global corporations, and for the overall system itself. That idea is itself preposterous on a finite planet.  The growth itself depends on:  Second, ever-increasing access to supplies of (inexpensive) natural resources, especially cheap energy and inexpensive global transport, arable soils, and water.)  Third, always increasing new markets.  And, Fourth, always expanding supplies of cheap labor. Global corporations had a field day over the past five decades, while all of those things were in abundant supply. But we live on a finite planet: limited resources, limited sinks, limited rates of recovery, limited carrying capacity.  To sustain the voracious appetites of global corporations, at anything like the rate of development over the past half century is impossible on a planet with such clear natural limits.


What the world thinks. by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 20, 2008, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Development theory, If you only have 15 mins

The Pew Global Attitudes Project, a project of the Pew Research Center, is a regular survey of how the peoples of various countries feel about issues of global concern.

Topics covered include costs and benefits of globalization; migration; religion and social issues; wealth and inequality; and democracy and governance.

The first chapter examines global publics’ views of global change, including opinions about international trade, multinational corporations and free markets. The second chapter focuses on views of immigration, including views about key immigrant groups in North America and Western Europe. Chapter 3 examines public attitudes about religion and morality, as well as Muslim publics’ views about modernizers and fundamentalists in the Muslim world. Chapter 4 looks at values and American exceptionalism and includes questions about individualism, cultural superiority and the use of military force. Chapter 5 includes questions on gender roles in education and political leadership, and examines Muslim publics’ attitudes about wearing the veil and about men and women working together in the same workplace. Chapter 6 looks at views about key principles of democracy, especially in the developing world. Chapter 7 focuses on where the world gets its news. Chapter 8 looks at the use of new technology, including the internet and cell phones, around the world.

Read the summary here, or download the full report here.

Saving Children’s Lives – Save the Children’s new report by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 19, 2008, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Development theory, If you have 30 mins

Save UK has a new report out titled “Saving Children’s Lives – Why Equity Matters”. It contains the new “Wealth and Survival Index” which compares child mortality to national income per capita. Save says “It shows who is making the most of what they have and who is squandering their resources. The index states how many children’s lives the worst performing countries should be expected to save each year, given their national wealth.

Save the Children’s director of policy, David Mepham said: “A child’s chance of making it to its fifth birthday depends on the country or community it is born into. This sounds like a lottery, something beyond human control, but this should not be the case. While poverty and inequality are consistent underlying causes of child deaths, all countries, even the poorest, can cut child mortality if they pursue the right policies and prioritise their poorest families. Good government choices save children’s lives but bad ones are a death sentence.

Read the summary here, or download the full report here.

Innovation – 99% perspiration! by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 15, 2008, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This article in the New York Times business section starts out by saying, “as humans, we want to believe that creativity and innovation come in flashes of pure brilliance, with great thunderclaps and echoing ahas”. It then goes on to tell us that this is one of the greatest myths ever – and that in most cases, the things that we think of as great innovations, have been developed and rolled out gradually over time. The writer talks to people currently considered as innovators who have brought into existence some well-known modern-day inventions who also emphasize this point. It is food-for-thought for those of us in organizations where there is a constant drive to be cutting-edge and where we sometimes feel as though we are expected to have at least a couple of new innovative ideas each morning before breakfast!

Yale School of Management on Markets and The Poor by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
February 1, 2008, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you have 30 mins, Web sites

Q2, a publication of the Yale School of Management, has some interesting discussions of markets, and the ways in which they can hurt or help the poor. Download the whole of the Fall edition of the journal as a PDF here, or browse the site here.