Sustainability Achieving sustainability will enable the Earth to continue supporting human life. In ecology, sustainability is how biological systems remain diverse and productive. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. Healthy ecosystems and environments are necessary to the survival of humans and other organisms. Despite the increased popularity of the use of the term "sustainability", the possibility that human societies will achieve environmental sustainability has been, and continues to be, questioned—in light of environmental degradation, climate change, overconsumption, population growth and societies' pursuit of indefinite economic growth in a closed system. Etymology The name sustainability is derived from the Latin sustinere (tenere, to hold; sub, up). Components Three pillars of sustainability Circles of sustainability History
The Markets are Mad: Is High-Frequency Trading Making Things Worse? (liquidlibrary) Thursday’s 423-point gain by the Dow marked the first time ever that the industrial average has posted four consecutive days of 400-point moves. Less than two weeks into August, there have already been six trading days that saw triple-digit swings this month. While the recent sell-off has been swift (the Dow is off more than 12% since July 21), it’s also been choppy. While your average investor generally hates volatility, there are those who feed off it, namely high-frequency traders. Now, it’s not quite fair to lump all high-frequency traders together. Ever since last year’s Flash Crash, there’s been a debate brewing over the utility of high-frequency trading. A pair of recent academic papers have taken a long look at the pros and cons of high-frequency trading, and together paint a not-so-nice picture. This study investigates the effect of high trading volume on observed stock volatility.
Economic growth GDP real growth rates, 1990–1998 and 1990–2006, in selected countries. Economic growth is the increase in the market value of the goods and services produced by an economy over time. It is conventionally measured as the percent rate of increase in real gross domestic product, or real GDP. Of more importance is the growth of the ratio of GDP to population (GDP per capita, which is also called per capita income). An increase in growth caused by more efficient use of inputs is referred to as intensive growth. GDP growth caused only by increases in inputs such as capital, population or territory is called extensive growth. In economics, "economic growth" or "economic growth theory" typically refers to growth of potential output, i.e., production at "full employment". Growth is usually calculated in real terms – i.e., inflation-adjusted terms – to eliminate the distorting effect of inflation on the price of goods produced. Measuring economic growth Quality of life M.
Club of Rome The Club of Rome is a global think tank that deals with a variety of international political issues. Founded in 1968 at Accademia dei Lincei in Rome, Italy, the CoR describes itself as "a group of world citizens, sharing a common concern for the future of humanity." It consists of current and former heads of state, UN bureaucrats, high-level politicians and government officials, diplomats, scientists, economists and business leaders from around the globe. It raised considerable public attention in 1972 with its report The Limits to Growth. The club states that its mission is "to act as a global catalyst for change through the identification and analysis of the crucial problems facing humanity and the communication of such problems to the most important public and private decision makers as well as to the general public. Formation A study by Graham Turner of the research organisation CSIRO in Australia in 2008 found Organization National associations Worldviews
Over-consumption CO2 emission per capita per year per country pre-2006 The theory was coined to augment the discussion of overpopulation, which reflects issues of carrying capacity without taking into account per capita consumption, by which developing nations are evaluated to consume more than their land can support. Green parties and the ecology movement often argue that consumption per person, or ecological footprint, is typically lower in poor than in rich nations. Causes Planned obsolescence Planned obsolescence is, by definition: "a method of stimulating consumer demand by designing products that wear out or become outmoded after limited use." Effects The scale of modern life's overconsumption has enabled an overclass to exist, displaying affluenza and obesity. In the long term these effects can lead to increased conflict over dwindling resources  and in the worst case a Malthusian catastrophe. Economic growth  Counteractions Overconsumption in the USA
Les neuf vies du secret bancaire helvétique, par Sébastien Guex Au début de 2009, sous l’impulsion des principaux pays membres de l’Union européenne et des Etats-Unis, l’Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques (OCDE) s’est décidée à faire un pas, après avoir longtemps résisté. Elle a menacé d’inscrire la Suisse sur une liste de paradis fiscaux — ce qui aurait impliqué de lourdes sanctions à son égard — si Berne ne révisait pas rapidement au moins douze conventions dites « de double imposition » (CDI) en souscrivant au principe d’entraide internationale en cas non seulement de fraude, mais aussi d’évasion fiscale. La législation helvétique opère en effet une distinction entre la fraude fiscale — c’est-à-dire la soustraction à l’impôt grâce à la falsification de documents, considérée comme un délit pénal — et l’évasion fiscale, passible de simples poursuites administratives, et donc n’autorisant pas la levée du secret bancaire. En parallèle de l’action de l’OCDE s’est développée celle des Etats-Unis. Vous êtes abonné(e) ?
Our Common Future Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report, from the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) was published in 1987. Its targets were multilateralism and interdependence of nations in the search for a sustainable development path. The report sought to recapture the spirit of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment - the Stockholm Conference - which had introduced environmental concerns to the formal political development sphere. The document was the culmination of a “900 day” international-exercise which catalogued, analysed, and synthesised: written submissions and expert testimony from “senior government representatives, scientists and experts, research institutes, industrialists, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and the general public” held at public hearings throughout the world. The Brundtland Commission's mandate was to: An oft-quoted definition of sustainable development is defined in the report as:
Systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems in general, with the goal of elucidating principles that can be applied to all types of systems at all nesting levels in all fields of research. The term does not yet have a well-established, precise meaning, but systems theory can reasonably be considered a specialization of systems thinking; alternatively as a goal output of systems science and systems engineering, with an emphasis on generality useful across a broad range of systems (versus the particular models of individual fields). A central topic of systems theory is self-regulating systems, i.e. systems self-correcting through feedback. Self-regulating systems are found in nature, including the physiological systems of our body, in local and global ecosystems, and in climate—and in human learning processes (from the individual on up through international organizations like the UN). Overview Examples of applications Systems biology
Birth rates 'must be curbed to win war on global poverty' - World Politics - World Gordon Brown has staked his future premiership on leading the world in tackling global poverty. And the report, by the all-party parliamentary group on population, development and reproductive growth, makes the point that the population surge presents a massive stumbling block for his ambition. Since the 1970s, when coercion was used in India and China, family planning has become a dirty word among environmental and hunger campaigners. The group says the UK will have to take on the religious ideology of the neoconservatives in the White House against contraception. It has put non-governmental organisations outside the US "in an untenable position" and forced them to choose between carrying out their work safeguarding the health and rights of women or losing their funding from the US. The report says there is "overwhelming" evidence that the UN's millennium development goals will be missed if population growth is not curbed. UN goals in jeopardy Reduce Extreme Poverty Gender Equality
Why Adult Adoption is Key to the Success of Japanese Family Firms (iStockphoto) What happens when the heir to a family business isn’t up to the job? Not great things, apparently. But the Japanese have a solution: adult adoption. Rather than hand the firm to a less-than-worthy blood heir, Japanese families often adopt an adult to take over. America and Japan have the highest rates of adoption in the world – with one big difference. Mehrotra explains that adopting a scion is similar to a hostile takeover. Tokugawa Ieyasu, first shogun of the Tokugawa period. The roots of Japanese adult adoption trace back to merchants of the Tokugawa era (1603-1867). Unlike China or India, where preference for baby boys is extreme to the point of gendercide, the Japanese have an adage that rejoices in the birth of a girl: You can’t choose your sons, but you can choose your sons-in-law. Today, it is preferred (though not required) for the adopted heir of a business dynasty to marry one of the family’s daughters, becoming a family member twice over.
On the Ground in Gabon - the Gamba Complex Gabon and its newly created network of 13 national parks is a sanctuary for tropical wildlife, and boasts some of the most majestic scenery in the world. Along Gabon's coast, towards the border of neighbouring Congo Brazzaville, lies the Gamba Complex of protected areas. Undiscovered, and stunningly beautiful. The habitat is a mix of dense tropical rainforests, wide open savannahs, swamps and lagoons bordering deserted ocean beaches. Rich variety of species The Gamba Complex is not only home to elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, 4 species of marine turtle, manatees, hippos and the like, but is also at the heart of Gabon's main economy: oil. And while oil production declines, pressures on natural resources through logging, hunting and fishing increase. WWF's work in the area WWF has been active in the area since 1992. Gamba Complex - the area
Twelve leverage points The twelve leverage points to intervene in a system were proposed by Donella Meadows, a scientist and system analyst focused on environmental limits to economic growth. The leverage points, first published in 1997, were inspired by her attendance at a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) meeting in the early 1990s where she realized that a very large new system was being proposed but the mechanisms to manage it were ineffective. Meadows, who worked in the field of systems analysis, proposed a scale of places to intervene in a system. Her observations are often cited in energy economics, green economics and human development theory. She started with the observation that there are levers, or places within a complex system (such as a firm, a city, an economy, a living being, an ecosystem, an ecoregion) where a "small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything" (compare: constraint in the sense of Theory of Constraints). Leverage points to intervene in a system 12.
Malthusian catastrophe A chart of estimated annual growth rates in world population, 1800–2005. Rates before 1950 are annualized historical estimates from the US Census Bureau. Red = USCB projections to 2025. Work by Thomas Malthus In 1798, Thomas Malthus wrote: The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. Notwithstanding the apocalyptic image conveyed by this particular paragraph, Malthus himself did not subscribe to the notion that mankind was fated for a "catastrophe" due to population overshooting resources. The passion between the sexes has appeared in every age to be so nearly the same that it may always be considered, in algebraic language, as a given quantity. Neo-Malthusian theory Wheat yields in developing countries, 1950 to 2004, in kg/ha (baseline 500). Growth in food production has been greater than population growth. Criticism See also Notes
Should Bad Predictions Be Punished? Government corn predictions are based on the work of people like Phil Friedrichs, gathering data in a corn field in Hiawatha, Kansas. (Photo: Stephen Koranda) What do Wall Street forecasters and Romanian witches have in common? But then there’s the U.S. This week on Marketplace, Stephen J. We’ll also hear from journalist Vlad Mixich in Bucharest, who tells us why those Romanian witches might not be getting away with bad fortune telling for much longer. Here’s where to find Marketplace on the radio near you.