Daily Archives: November 29, 2014

Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy


The mission of CASSE is to advance the steady state economy, with stabilized population and consumption, as a policy goal with widespread public support. We pursue this mission by:

  • educating citizens, organizations, and policy makers on the conflict between economic growth and (1) environmental protection, (2) ecological and economic sustainability, and (3) national security and international stability;
  • promoting the steady state economy as a desirable alternative to economic growth;
  • studying the means to establish a steady state economy.

Our Commitment

CASSE is an organization that explores economic growth in earnest, including its downsides. We refuse to ignore the costs of economic growth, and our position sets the record straight. We recognize the conflict between economic growth and various goals for society, and we stand up for rational macroeconomic policies. Continuous economic growth on a finite planet is wishful thinking. We confront the truth that there are limits to growth, and we examine other possibilities for managing our economic affairs.

Our Strategy

Conventional economists tend to overlook physical and ecological principles when considering the effects of economic growth. These economists, along with politicians, business leaders, the media, and the public at large, are not seeing the big picture when it comes to economic growth. That’s where CASSE steps in. Our role is to help people understand the truth that growth isn’t the answer to all our problems. Our analysis is based on elemental scientific principles, and we appeal to common sense, as we accurately describe our economic situation. CASSE offers a positive solution to our economic and ecological predicament – a steady state economy provides a hopeful way to achieve sustainability and equity in an increasingly constrained world. To tell the truth about economic growth and promote the steady state economy, CASSE engages volunteers around the world, from regional directors to collaborators on outreach. CASSE also works closely with economists and scientists to build a foundation of support for the transition to a steady state economy by helping professional societies adopt their own positions on economic growth. In addition, CASSE develops and distributes a variety of information resources on concepts related to the steady state economy.

Published on Jan 29, 2014

http://steadystate.org/enough-is-enough – Enough Is Enough lays out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth—an economy where the goal is enough, not more. Based on the best-selling book by Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill, the film explores specific strategies to fix the financial system, reduce inequality, create jobs, and more. Drawing on the expertise of Tim Jackson, Kate Pickett, Andrew Simms, Natalie Bennett, and Ben Dyson, Enough Is Enough is the primer for achieving genuine prosperity and a hopeful future for all.

Enough Is Enough is produced and directed by film-maker Tom Bliss, and includes illustrations by cartoonist Polyp (see http://polyp.org.uk for more), animations by Henry Edmonds, and title graphics by Cassandra Chu. Funding for the film was provided by the Climate and Geohazard Services hub at the University of Leeds, Berrett-Koehler publishers, and the Urban Institute.

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Discover the Steady State Economy True Sustainability

Economic growth, with all of its downsides, is clearly unsustainable in the 21st  century.  Long-term recession is no panacea either.  A steady state economy is the sustainable alternative to perpetual economic growth.

Economic growth was never a magic bullet; it is simply an increase in the production and consumption of goods and services–it can’t possibly lead to a sustainable outcome.  In contrast, the steady state economy provides the means for present and future generations to achieve a high quality of life.  For more detailed information, read Enough Is Enough.

The Act of Discovery

Many people, upon discovering the steady state economy, experience one of two reactions:

Relief and joy at having found a viable way for dealing with the daunting problems society faces, including climate disruption, dwindling natural resources, widespread poverty, economic collapse, and species extinctions.

Doubt and denial due to old habits of thought, misconceptions about what a steady state economy is, and fear of change.

As you take time to discover the steady state economy for yourself (see the links at the right), we hope that you will join us in supporting a new and better way of achieving true sustainability. The impeccable logic and sound science of steady state economics have moved many people from the second reaction to the first.

(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
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An Economics Fit for Purpose in a Finite World

by Herman Daly

Causation is both bottom-up and top-down: material cause from the bottom, and final cause from the top, as Aristotle might say. Economics, or as I prefer, “political economy,” is in between, and serves to balance desirability (the lure of right purpose) with possibility (the constraints of finitude). We need an economics fit for purpose in a finite and entropic world.

As a way to envision such an inclusive economics, consider the “ends-means pyramid” shown below. At the base of the pyramid are our ultimate means, low entropy matter-energy–that which we require to satisfy our purposes–which we cannot make, but only use up. We use these ultimate means, guided by technology, to produce intermediate means (artifacts, commodities, services, etc.) that directly satisfy our needs. These intermediate means are allocated by political economy to serve our intermediate ends (health, comfort, education, etc.), which are ranked ethically in a hierarchy by how strongly they contribute to our best perception of the Ultimate End. We can see the Ultimate End only dimly and vaguely, but in order to ethically rank our intermediate ends we must compare them to some ultimate criterion. We cannot avoid philosophical and theological inquiry into the Ultimate End just because it is difficult. To prioritize logically requires that something must go in first place.

…(read more).

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A Counterproductive Lawsuit | Opinion | Divest Harvard

Divest Harvard serves an important role in calling attention to climate change itself, but we continue to believe that divestment is not the best way for Harvard to address the phenomenon. Even if the University were to divest from fossil fuels, it would continue using those fuels in day-to-day business, and other entities would likely replace Harvard as investors—investors that may be less likely than Harvard to pressure the industry in a more climate-friendly direction.

The recent lawsuit is tenuous at best as a move to trigger divestment on legal grounds. According to the New York Times, one of its chief legal arguments cites “mismanagement of charitable funds,” based on Massachusetts case law allowing those with “special interest” in an organization to sue based on mismanagement of the organization’s funds. Yet there does not seem to be precedent to rule for such a suit based on investment in the fossil fuel industry, and in any event, Harvard’s endowment appears financially sound.

Another chief legal argument in the suit is based on a tort with no precedent. This tort, as the plaintiffs present it, involves “intentional investment in abnormally dangerous activities.” The fact that this tort does not exist is enough to call into question the value of this claim, but it also seems to set a fairly drastic precedent—if a court were to rule against Harvard on these grounds, it would seem that any organization investing in fossil fuels would also be liable to such a lawsuit. To sue Harvard on these grounds when so many other institutions have similar investments seems less than tenable.

…(read more).

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Boston Living With Water

About Boston Living with Water

The Boston Harbor Association, City of Boston, Boston Redevelopment Authority, and Boston Society of Architects are pleased to host Boston Living with Water an international call for design solutions envisioning a more resilient, more sustainable, and more beautiful Boston adapted for end-of-the-century climate conditions and rising sea levels.

We are grateful for the generous support of the Barr Foundation and Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management for making this competition possible.

The competition seeks leading planners, designers, and thinkers to help the City of Boston and area businesses and residents develop and apply new concepts and strategies, including Living with Water design principles, to increase the City’s sustainability and climate change resiliency. Selected Finalists will further advance location-specific solutions to coastal flood dangers and rising sea levels that are beautiful and replicable.

The Competition

Boston Living with Water is a two-stage planning and design competition. The first stage is an open international call for proposals seeking site-specific planning and design solutions from multi-expertise competition teams.

The Jury will review design proposals and will select a limited number of finalists for each site. The second stage is a finalist competition for the selected teams to further develop and refine their proposals. The jury will review final proposals and award prizes for each site.

The Sites

This competition considers the challenges of adapting to climate change and rising sea levels at three sites specifically chosen for their vulnerability and where winning solutions could can influence future redevelopment activities.

Ranging in scale from Building to Neighborhood to Infrastructure, each site presents challenges that are representational of common urban conditions and call for scale-specific solutions. Competition solutions should address the unique aspects of the selected site while being replicable elsewhere.

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The Old City and the Sea– Boston’s Evolving Dance with Water

Event Details

With sea levels projected to rise dramatically over the next 100 years, architects and urban leaders are faced with new challenges of flood mitigation and resiliency planning for the future of this coastal city. How can a better understanding of our history help prepare us for the future?

Join us for an evening exploring Boston’s evolving relationship with the ocean—both in how we built up the shorelines over the past three centuries and what that means as we face present-day sea-level rise. Which low-lying areas do we need to start thinking about now? And what can we learn from neighborhoods—such as the Back Bay—that were created from historic wetlands? When designing new sites, what must be considered?

This event is in tandem with the Boston Living with Water competition: an international call for design solutions envisioning a more resilient, more sustainable, and more beautiful Boston adapted for end-of-the-century climate conditions and rising sea levels. Learn more about the competition:http://www.bostonlivingwithwater.org/



Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
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The geography of poverty, disasters and climate extremes in 2030

This report examines the relationship between disasters and poverty. The report’s key messages are:

  • Extreme weather linked to climate change is increasing and will likely cause more disasters. Such disasters, especially those linked to drought, can be the most important cause of impoverishment, cancelling progress on poverty reduction.
  • Up to 325 million extremely poor people will be living in the 49 most hazard-prone countries in 2030, the majority in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The 11 countries most at risk of disaster-induced poverty are Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.
  • Disaster risk management should be a key component of poverty reduction efforts, focusing on protecting livelihoods as well as saving lives. There is a need to identify and then act where the poor and disaster risks are most concentrated.
  • The post-2015 development goals must include targets on disasters and climate change, recognising the threat they pose to the headline goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.

…(read more).

See also:


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Resilience to extreme weather | Royal Society

See BBC Report:

27 November 2014

How do we reduce the impact of extreme weather today while preparing ourselves for future changes? What can we do to build our resilience?

‘Resilience to extreme weather’ investigates these, and other, key questions to help inform important decisions about adaptation and risk reduction that are being made at global, national and local levels.

We have examined people’s resilience to weather- and climate-related extreme events, in particular, floods, droughts and heatwaves. We look at how improvements can be made to protect lives and livelihoods by comparing the options available and considering the fundamental building blocks for resilience.

In 2015, important international agreements will be reached on disaster risk reduction, sustainable development and climate change. Our report will help those negotiating and implementing the new agreements to decide what action to take to most effectively build resilience.

  • Governments have a responsibility to develop and resource resilience strategies
  • Governments should act together at the international level to build resilience; sharing expertise, co-ordinating policy and pooling resources to confront common risks
  • To limit the need for costly disaster responses, more national and international funds will need to be directed to measures that build resilience to extreme weather
  • The purpose, design and implementation of policy frameworks covering climate change, disaster risk reduction and development should be aligned and consistent regarding extreme weather
  • Those who make and implement policies need to take practical measures to protect people and their assets from extreme weather.
  • The risks posed by extreme weather need to be better accounted for in the wider financial system, in order to inform valuations and investment decisions and to incentivise organisations to reduce their exposure
  • Information about extreme weather should be suitable for users’ needs. Funders should encourage collaborations and ongoing dialogue between producers and users of knowledge
  • Research to improve the understanding of risks from current weather and to model accurately future climate change impacts should be increased to provide relevant information for decision-makers, particularly at regional and local levels.
Interactive content


Summary report  PDF, 1.3 MB
Additional downloads  Full report  PDF, 4.2 MB

Mapping methodology   PDF, 136.7 KB

Sample of literature reviewed for chapter 3: Defensive options

PDF, 206.3 KB

Resilience to extreme weather

Final report, Interactive option chart
Trend maps 2010 & 2090

Side event at UN climate change conference (PDF)
Published November 2014

Call for evidence
Closed November 2013

Statement for UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction
Published May 2013

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BBC News – Extreme weather can be the ‘most important cause of poverty’

15 October 2013 Last updated at 23:04 ET
By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News

Extreme weather events including droughts could set back the progress made in fighting poverty in many countries
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New research suggests that extreme weather events will keep people poor in many parts of the world.

The authors argue that where disasters like drought are prevalent, they can be the most important cause of poverty.

They say that up to 325 million people will be living in countries highly exposed to natural hazards by 2030.

If aid is not used to reduce these risks, the progress made in fighting poverty could disappear.

The report has been compiled by the Overseas Development Institute.

It examines the relationship between disasters and poverty over the next 20 years, using population projections, climate models and estimations of how governments can cope with extreme events.

“I think there’s a direct link between the ability to raise finance and the number of people killed” Dr Tom Mitchell Overseas Development Institute

The report suggests that up to a third of a billion people could be living in the 49 countries most exposed to the full range of natural hazards and climate extremes in 2030.

In sub-Saharan Africa 118 million people in poverty will face extreme events.

…(read more).

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BBC News – ‘Up to 13,000 slaves’ working in UK

29 November 2014 Last updated at 06:51 GMT

There could be 10-13,000 victims of slavery in the UK, far more than previous estimates, analysis for the Home Office suggests.

Modern slavery victims are said to include women forced into prostitution, “imprisoned” domestic staff and workers in fields, factories and fishing boats.

Rebecca Williams reports.

Read more

Slavery levels in UK ‘higher than thought’

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BBC News – Comet landing: Organic molecules detected by Philae

18 November 2014 Last updated at 11:48 ET

By Paul Rincon Science editor, BBC News website

Related Stories

The Philae lander has detected organic molecules on the surface of its comet, scientists have confirmed.

Carbon-containing “organics” are the basis of life on Earth and may give clues to chemical ingredients delivered to our planet early in its history.

The compounds were picked up by a German-built instrument designed to “sniff” the comet’s thin atmosphere.

Other analyses suggest the comet’s surface is largely water-ice covered with a thin dust layer.

The European Space Agency (Esa) craft touched down on the Comet 67P on 12 November after a 10-year journey.

Dr Fred Goessmann, principal investigator on the Cosac instrument, which made the organics detection, confirmed the find to BBC News. But he added that the team was still trying to interpret the results.

It has not been disclosed which molecules have been found, or how complex they are.

“There’s a trade off – once it gets too hot, Philae will die as well. There is a sweet spot” Prof Mark McCaughrean Senior science adviser, Esa

But the results are likely to provide insights into the possible role of comets in contributing some of the chemical building blocks to the primordial mix from which life evolved on the early Earth.

Preliminary results from the Mupus instrument, which deployed a hammer to the comet after Philae’s landing, suggest there is a layer of dust 10-20cm thick on the surface with very hard water-ice underneath.

The ice would be frozen solid at temperatures encountered in the outer Solar System – Mupus data suggest this layer has a tensile strength similar to sandstone.

See also: Rosetta mission: Philae probe comet images shown off

(read more).

Global Climate Change
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