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Papistry

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Measuring what matters in France

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has recruited two Nobel economists, Amartya Sen of India and Joseph Stiglitz of the US, to advise him on changing the way French economic growth is calculated. “We must change the way we measure growth,” said Sarkozy, adding that “the way gross national product is calculated should take into account the […]

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Drops in the bucket

Further to my note yesterday on the UK going nuclear, my attention was drawn to Charlie Hall’s celebrated (in energy circles) balloon graph. As Kurt Cobb explains, “it is not always obvious to modern industrial people that it takes energy to get energy. The more energy we spend on finding, extracting, refining, and transporting energy […]

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UK goes nuclear

Yesterday’s announcement that Britain is to ‘go nuclear’ was a foregone conclusion, but is nonetheless a dispiriting reminder of the institutional inertia that stands between us and a radically lighter economy. As Polly Toynbee points out in The Guardian today, “no voice in cabinet queried this decision. Faced with persistent cabinet and industry lobbying, and […]

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Wikinomics vs Getting Real

Don Tapscott’s new book Wikinomcs gallops along at a heady pace. “The knowledge, resources, and computing power of billions of people are self-organising into a massive new collective force”, it gushes. This marvelous news is tempered by the suspicion that either I, or the Web 2.0 world, is afflicted by a severe reality deficit. Wikinomics […]

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No new lists!

My new year’s resolution is to stop writing sustainability to-do lists. I’m supposed to be an expert, but it still gives me a headache trying to keep track of: the Triple Bottom Line; the Three Main Components (and Four System Conditions) of The Natural Step; the Five Capitals Model promoted by the Forum for the […]

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Of doomers and bottle fillers

In Sao Paulo before Christmas someone referred to me as a “doomer.” I had not heard the word before, but was told that it describes sad, train-spotter-like people who can’t stop talking about peak oil, climate change, the instability of financial markets, the impending food crisis, and what John Michael Greer calls the “catabolic collapse” […]

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Eco Design Challenge (Schools’ sustainability competition, North East England, 2006-2007)

In Dott07’s Eco Design Challenge, more than fifteen thousand school students used custom–designed calculators to measure their school’s eco-footprint. They then ran projects to design lighter alternatives to the systems (food, water, transport, energy and waste) operating in their school. Many schools, with some modest help from Dott, invited professional designers in to help with […]

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High entropy notions of quality

Last week I gave this talk at a seminar in Milan called Art For Business. “On my way to this conference on art and business, two Erasmus University business school students (a Russian and a Dane) came to meet me in Amsterdam. They came from “Team Aesthetics” . We talked of Aesthetics, Innovation, Complexity, Meaning, […]

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