Halcyon Days in Maine

This summer has been spectacular. After a few days of rain last week, the sun has returned in its full glory. Tonight, after the wind died down, the bay turned into a mirror reflecting the dark tones of the setting sun. Tomorrow promises to repeat today’s beauty. I spend much time thinking about and composing the posts to this blog. As those of you that follow from time to time know, I try to connect whatever I write to sustainability. Sometimes it’s easy when I chance upon something out there that is simply begging to be the subject of barbs and arrows. Listening to events of these days, I find… Read More

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An Inconvenient Sandwich

This is the title of a recent report from nef (the new economics foundation), an independent UK “think-and-do tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being.” These are the same people that have developed and promoted the Happy Planet Index and other topics relating to sustainability. Their topmost objective is to transform the economic system at its roots in what they have called, The Great Transition. While much of their research is derived from the UK, the findings and implications are highly relevant for the US. For those of us that grew up with Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful, the nef has updated the subtitle of his book to read “economics… Read More

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What Is a Green Economy?

This is the opening question in a brand new publication of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The title of the report is A Guidebook for IUCN’s Thematic Programme Area on Greening the World Economy (TPA5). It can be downloaded from the IUCN website. It a great collection of sources on this subject. This guide is intended to offer an overview of available literature relating to the main topics covered by IUCN’s Thematic Programme Area on Greening the World Economy (TPA5). It is a compilation of papers, reports, and articles that can be freely accessed on the internet. It is not intended to serve as a complete… Read More

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Pricing Fat Away

The Nike way, “Just Do It,” is not the solution to the many addictive consumption patterns in the US. The core of my book is an argument that these patterns are deeply embedded in the cultural environment, so deeply that the best intentions of individuals fail in the struggle against the cultural pressures. Writing in the New York Times, Natasha Singer finds this true in the particular case of obesity. Unfortunately, behavior changes won’t work on their own without seismic societal shifts, health experts say, because eating too much and exercising too little are merely symptoms of a much larger malady. The real problem is a landscape littered with inexpensive… Read More

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The Beauty of Summer

Summer is winding down and I will soon have to get back to the real world. I have been blessed for any years to be able to head for Maine every May, and linger there until the beginning of the Fall. This season has been memorably spectacular for the long succession of perfect days. Last year was also memorable, but for the torrents of rainfall that seemed to cascade down almost every day. Today the sky was cloudless and the bay sparkled, but the wind was much too strong to chance going out on the water. Tomorrow morning, I will head over to the local Saturday Farmer’s market with one… Read More

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The 0.1 Percent Solution

The most recent issue of the New Yorker has two articles that piqued my interest. The first is the periodic financial column by James Surowiecki, titled “Soak the Very, Very Rich.” The second was a longer article (subscription required) about a dealer in exotic foods located in Las Vegas. I found this second piece more about how these very, very rich folks manage to spend all their money. Surowiecki presents some startling statistics. I knew the top of the income spectrum lived in rarified air, but I was stunned with the numbers. The top 0.1% earn as much as the rest of us put together (120,000,000). Not only has the… Read More

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Awaiting My “Guaranteed” Millions

My wife asked me to complete the entry form for the Publishers Clearing House (PCH) periodic sweepstakes that just came in the mail. This one is all about useless things, not the old standard list of publications at reduced rates. I look on the process as a game, “How can I find all the hidden sticky things I have to put on the form without noticing any of the objects for sale?” The contest designers already know about this game that I and others play, and have designed the package so that it is virtually impossible not to scan the items. I don’t know how many separate items are included,… Read More

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Does Slum Tourism Count as Experience-based Consumption?

One of the alternatives to materialistic, status-driven consumption is said to be activities that provide experience-based satisfaction, like travel, services, and activities that bring people together. That may be true, but I do not think the kind of travel described in an article headlined, “Slum Tourism,” fits the bill. The article paints a picture of rich folks traveling to see how the “other half” lives, a practice that that has roots in antiquity. Even sovereigns went out into the streets in disguise to see how the hoi polloi lived. The article mentioned popular destinations like Mumbai and Rio, both with massive slum populations. The smash hit movie, Slumdog Millionaire, has… Read More

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From Genetic Engineering to Geo-engineering

Yale’s Environment 360 reported this little, but very significant, squib a few days ago. Reporting a finding from the just concluded Ecological Society of America, the [article](http://e360.yale.edu/content/digest.msp?id=2538&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+YaleEnvironment360+%28Yale+Environment+360%29) was headlined, “Scientists Find First Evidence Of GM Crops Reproducing in the Wild.” This is not supposed to happen as these crops are designed to be infertile, requiring farmers to buy seeds every year. I know it’s not kosher to copy stuff more or less in its entirety, but the Yale report is very terse. Scientists conducting research in North Dakota have found the first evidence of established populations of genetically modified crops in the wild. After testing and photographing 406 canola plants… Read More

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Cognitive Dissonance

I came home late last night from a 2-day gathering of the faculty of the Marlboro College Graduate School MBA in Managing for Sustainability. It was the first time we have met in numbers more than a few at a time for a year or so. The program is just about three years old, but has greatly matured judging from the richness of the conversations that took place. As we exchanged details of each of our courses with one another, I realized how complex and challenging the program is. An MBA degree implies that the holder will most likely work somewhere in the world of business, although the Marlboro students… Read More

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