New Economic Thinking

There are quite a few academic initiatives and institutes dedicated to a New Economic Thinking, for example:

And probably so many more… check them out!

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“Trees that did not exist before the storm are now 30 feet high”

An older article now, but if you’re into collecting potential visions of apocalypse, this one couldn’t be more interesting. It also presents an incredibly fascinating study of the manner in which economic chaos, caused at least in part by natural forces, effects bizarre ecological transformation. It’s Latour’s moebius strip — just when we think we’re safely walking the band concerning human or ‘natural’ consequences, we unwittingly cross over to the other side. There will only be more strange stories that make this abundantly obvious.

Crises and visions from the past

How to be a Retronaut is an unfailingly great blog, and not only for those interested in 19th century photography. So many of their so-called capsules would be of interest to those that do concern themselves with the broadly ecological. I was struck in particular by the series of photos depicting the 1973 oil crisis–this one in particular.

It’s still inconceivable to me that we have cultures entirely built up around the availability of petroleum…I ocassionally pretend to be outside it, to turn my nose up at the cars, but my childhood was just as characterized by cross-country road trips in our enormous van as by playing in the woods. I cannot help but think that a reaction to an oil shortage today would mean precisely the same thing as it did 39 years ago, at least in the US–we haven’t come all that far.

What’s also fantastic about How to be a Retronaut, however, are the past visions of the future it offers, futures which are now our present. They seem comical to us now, entirely improbable, but they always make me wonder how inevitable our current mode of living really is or was…

Institut für Ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung (IÖW) and Nachhaltige Wissenschaft

A couple of days ago I read an article about sustainability reports in companies. The IÖW took a closer look at these reports and published a ranking on how good they actually were (transparency, clear goals etc.).  Apparently two bavarian firms were the best: the BMW and Neumarkter Lammsbräu. (as a proper Bavarian I was proud)

Interested myself, I took a closer look at the IÖW and it seems to be quite an interesting institution as it is doing “praxisorientierte Nachhaltigkeitsforschung”. Apart from the ranking of sustainability reports, I found lots of interesting stuff on their homepage. For example that

  • 2012 is the “Wissenschaftsjahr  ‘Nachhaltigkeit/Zukunftsprojekt Erde'” – never heard of it so far
  • that BaWü and NRW published a report on regional value chains through renewable energies; which made me think of the vision of regionality in the last oikos meeting…
  • and that there is a “Verbund für Nachhaltige Wissenschaft” currently having a series of events on the hot topic of “Transformatives Wissen schaffen”

If OIKOS wants to contact others doing research on ecology, economy and – possibly – culture, these two addresses Icould be good starting points. – Have a nice weekend!

KPMG – gone badly wrong?

Sometimes the most interesting stuff can be found in the – seemingly – most uninteresting places, places where you expected it the least. – This is a very general ecological, nay, cosmic principle, as especially the elder amongst us know through their lifetime’s experience.

Just another instance of this cosmic law is the new report of KPMG, the well-known  auditor: It is called “Expected the Unexpected” and tries to “present a system of ten sustainability megaforces that will impact each and every business over the next 20 years.” Interestingly, their report is based on the rather sytemic notion of interconnectedness as they “want to build awareness that these forces do not act alone in predictable ways. They are interconnected. They interact.”

Maybe even more interesting for OIKOS is the report’s conclusion:

“This report shows that population growth, exploitation of natural resources, climate change and other factors are putting the world on a development trajectory that is not sustainable. In other words, if we fail to alter our patterns of production and consumption, things will begin to go badly wrong.”

As far as my humble opinion’s concerned, KPMG got it quite right there.

Piece of advice for the younger ones: Keep searching in weird places!

Waiting for Gaia

This Latour article contains so many profound and profoundly sensible statements about the current ecological state of things, that it’s impossible to ignore.

We the Earthlings are born from the soil and from the dust to which we will return, and this is why what we used to call “the humanities” are also, from now on, our sciences.

The article offers nothing terribly new, but it’s so well synthesized that it will make you feel like it does. Reading it again, I’m also struck by the fact that I ought to read Eating the Sun as soon as humanly possible. Has anyone here had a chance to read it?