Climate Change

Can economics protect the environment?

When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money,” Native American saying

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” Brundtland Report

It is undeniable that our current way of life is unsustainable; If every country consumed resources and created waste at the same per person rate as the United States, we would need three to five planets to survive. Part of the problem lies in the fact that economics—the major discipline advising global and national policy—has failed to include the environment in its calculations. To rectify this problem, different methods have been proposed, so as to make predictions and come up with better ways of managing the planet’s resources without compromising the future.

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INESAD News: 12 Initiatives Making a Difference In Food and Agriculture

This week, INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton and Adam Nelson published a cover story in the October 2012 issue of Global South Development Magazine, where Ioulia Fenton is also the Assistant Editor:

12 Initiatives Taking Positive Steps Towards a Healthier, Fairer and More Sustainable Food and Agriculture System

The world’s global food and agriculture system is not working. On the one end, the Green Revolution has converted much farmland into industrial agricultural production that uses man-made chemical pesticides and fertilizers instead of methods that are more harmonious with nature. This has led to the loss of biodiversity as tillage and use of pesticides have killed off or deterred other plant and animal species. Read More »

With or without you: Should the international cooperation support reduction of deforestation in Bolivia?

There are some policies that are obviously correct from both environmental and economic viewpoints, but which are nevertheless difficult to implement. The elimination of fossil fuel subsidies is such an example. This year, the Bolivian government expects to spend at least US$750 million on direct subsidies to diesel (62%), gasoline (27%) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) (10%) use (1). Apart from dramatically reducing funds available for public investment, these subsidies also encourage contamination, congestion and deforestation (2), all of which mean substantially higher social costs than the direct costs of the subsidy itself. The beneficiaries of the subsidy are dominated by the agro-industry in Santa Cruz, which profits greatly from the combination of cheap diesel and cheap land. Thus, the subsidy is by no means pro-poor, and a lot of the benefits are even lost to neighboring countries, as their nationals rent cheap land and use subsidized fuel for growing crops in Bolivia. For example, more than 70% of the area dedicated to soy production over the last decade is in the hands of foreigners (3). The Bolivian government realizes all this and has tried, unsuccessfully, to eliminate the fuel subsidy.

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So you want to do your bit for the planet? Here is some food for thought…

Climate change, water shortages, rising global pollution levels and food insecurity have made environmental sustainability the most pressing concern of our time. Improvements in production systems and agriculture, and advances in clean technology, will certainly help, but as the global population becomes more conscious of the issues facing us as a human race, we begin to ask ourselves what it is that we can do to help preserve our planet for centuries to come. More than in anything else, the answer to that lies in the diet choices we make.

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Happiness and Climate Change

The brain end the eye may have a contractual relationship in which the brain has agreed to
believe what the eye sees, but in return the eye has agreed to look for what the brain wants.”
Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University

 Which would you prefer: 1) Winning 100 million dollars in the lottery, or 2) Becoming a paraplegic, impotent and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life?

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Saving REDD after Cochabamba

The historical “World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth” held in Cochabamba last month highlights the need for a new global development model that secures harmony with nature and among people. Such a new system would require a change of mindset away from the current consumerist practices of human beings, and their striving for ever greater accumulation of material goods.

According to Working Group 2, the construction of new paradigms such as Living Well in Harmony with Nature requires the examination of different forms of wisdom and experiences, and a collective evaluation of current realities using new indicators that allow us to measure the well being of humans as well as the wellbeing of the planet.

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The Runaway Climate Train

I have been awfully quiet about climate change issues since the “Climate Gate” scandal broke on November 17th 2009. But by now there are several associated issues, such as “Glacier Gate” (1) and “Amazon Gate” (2), and it is time to figure out what it all means.

Climate Gate was the release (by a hacker or an insider) of thousands of e-mails and commented source codes from the Hadley Climate Research Unit (CRU). There is enough fascinating material to write books about it (3), but one of the e-mails that have attracted most attention is one from November 1999 where Phil Jones of CRU wrote to Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes (the authors of the famous “hockey stick” graph that Read More »

Bolivia’s high CO2 emissions

Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) with average per capita incomes that do not even reach half the regional average ($4140 for Bolivia compared to $9321 for LAC) (1). Average productivity per person of working age is now exactly the same as it was in 1967 (2), despite the substantial advances in education, health, basic services and available technology over the last four decades.

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