sustainability & design

The true size of the hole? $70,000,000,000,000?

As in: “The unregulated and poorly reported credit default swaps may have actually passed $70 trillion last year, or about $5 trillion more than the GDP of the entire world”. The story that includes this number is a really excellent analysis of why and how we got to this point: do read it. By the […]

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Did this architect trigger global financial mayhem?

We don’t know yet whether $85 billion dollars will be enough to save American International Group (AIG), the world’s biggest insurance firm (although some apparently insider commentators are not reassuring). But could an architect have been responsible for starting the panic? The Stern Review, when it was published two years ago, stated that failure to […]

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Pass the phugoid bag

A terrific new word arrives just in time for the weekend: “phugoid”. I learned about phugoids from an airline pilot called Paul in his reply to John Michael Greer’s piece on “the effluent society”. “As a pilot (writes Paul) I like to use flying analogies. An aircraft, if disturbed from straight-and-level flight, will execute a […]

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How dematerialisation adds value

Did you ever turn a packet of dried biscuits to dust trying to get them out of the packet? Me too. This brilliant solution from Bolletje, a venerable Dutch brand, adds value by de-materialising an aspect of the product. Go to the top of the class, Mr/Ms biscuit designer.

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Green fatigue league table

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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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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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