Running Dry: Water, People, and the Planet in Marathwada, India

This is a very interesting series on water problems in Marathwada, India. Well worth the read, and certainly important for understands the broader interconnections and logics affecting people and water.

New book – Ecological economics for the Anthropocene: an emerging paradigm

9780231173438Just out from Columbia University Press:

Ecological Economics for the Anthropocene: An Emerging Paradigm

Edited by Peter G. Brown and Peter Timmerman

Ecological Economics for the Anthropocene provides an urgently needed alternative to the long-dominant neoclassical economic paradigm of the free market, which has focused myopically–even fatally–on the boundless production and consumption of goods and services without heed to environmental consequences. The emerging paradigm for ecological economics championed in this new book recenters the field of economics on the fact of the Earth’s limitations, requiring a total reconfiguration of the goals of the economy, how we understand the fundamentals of human prosperity, and, ultimately, how we assess humanity’s place in the community of beings.

Each essay in this volume contributes to an emerging, revolutionary agenda based on the tenets of ecological economics and advances new conceptions of justice, liberty, and the meaning of an ethical life in the era of the Anthropocene. Essays highlight the need to create alternative signals to balance one-dimensional market-price measurements in judging the relationships between the economy and the Earth’s life-support systems. In a lively exchange, the authors question whether such ideas as “ecosystem health” and the environmental data that support them are robust enough to inform policy. Essays explain what a taking-it-slow or no-growth approach to economics looks like and explore how to generate the cultural and political will to implement this agenda. This collection represents one of the most sophisticated and realistic strategies for neutralizing the threat of our current economic order, envisioning an Earth-embedded society committed to the commonwealth of life and the security and true prosperity of human society.

Joshua Farley: Economics of the Anthropocene

A short, good talk. It fits broadly with the Economics for the Anthropocene partnership I am a (small) part of between several Canadian and American universities.

New book out – Degrowth: a vocabulary for a new era

The degrowth movement(s) for alternative economics have picked up a bit more steam with this new book, which includes contributions and endorsements from a wide array of scholars. There is also this introductory video that makes a few peculiar claims. Here is the video and the web description:

We live in an era of stagnation, rapid impoverishment, rising inequalities and socio-ecological disasters. In the dominant discourse, these are effects of economic crisis, lack of growth or underdevelopment. This book argues that growth is the cause of these problems and that it has become uneconomic, ecologically unsustainable and intrinsically unjust.

When the language in use is inadequate to articulate what begs to be articulated, then it is time for a new vocabulary. A movement of activists and intellectuals, first starting in France and then spreading to the rest of the world, has called for the decolonization of public debate from the idiom of economism and the abolishment of economic growth as a social objective. ‘Degrowth’ (‘décroissance’) has come to signify for them the desired direction of societies that will use fewer natural resources and will organize themselves to live radically differently. ‘Simplicity’, ‘conviviality’, ‘autonomy’, ‘care’, ‘commons’ and ‘dépense’ are some of the words that express what a degrowth society might look like.

Degrowth: A vocabulary for a new era is the first English language book to comprehensively cover the burgeoning literature on degrowth. It presents and explains the different lines of thought, imaginaries and proposed courses of action that together complete the degrowth puzzle. The book brings together the top scholars writing in the field with young researchers who cultivate the research frontier and activists who practise degrowth on the ground. It will be an indispensable source of information and inspiration for all those who not only believe that another world is possible, but who work and struggle to construct it right now.

Some old tropes will not die: van Dijk on water and economics

Last weekend many people celebrated World Water Day, which has fallen on March 22 since it was instituted in 1993. At UNESCO-IHE an address was given to graduating students by Meine Pieter van Dijk as a retirement speech. It starts out with an odd claim about how water is not a public good, and then proceeds to tell a story about water and economics that is relatively free of any of the many counterpoints that make this issue a thorny one. I post it here below because, at the very least, it should make for an interesting teaching tool.

Note, the video is for the whole ceremony but Dr. van Dijk doesn’t start until after his introduction about an hour and 14 minutes in. UPDATE: I think the video below should now start right at the lecture – thanks to UNESCO-IHE for sending me this new link:

Kate Raworth: economics for the Anthropocene

The last installment of her three-part video series (see here), in this video Kate Raworth looks forward to economics in the 21st century:

What is economics? Kate Raworth

Kate Raworth is probably best known for her work on economics within the “doughnut” (i.e. within planetary and social boundaries). She is also putting together a series of short videos on “What is Economics?”

Here are the first two, with a third on the way:


Tim Jackson and Peter Victor: Green economy at a community scale

Ecological economists Tim Jackson and Peter Victor have a new report out on the green economy at a community scale. You can download it here (PDF) or go to the website where it is located. Here is a brief description:

“Greening the economy at the local level will bring jobs, prosperity, and help us address the environmental challenges we’re facing. That is the finding of Green Economy at Community Scale, by Professors Tim Jackson and Peter Victor — two of the world’s top ecological economists and leading thinkers on issues of environmental sustainability and economic growth.

A green economy is not business as usual — with some clean technology added in. The transition is more fundamental and more exciting. It requires rethinking work and productivity, and developing a new vision of enterprise, investment, and a money economy that can support a shared and lasting prosperity.

For Jackson and Victor, prosperity is more than producing and consuming material stuff. It’s about providing the capabilities for people to flourish in their community — socially and psychologically — without destroying the ecological assets on which our future prosperity depends.

Green Economy at Community Scale is one of the first research-based explorations of the green economy at the local level. The report is drawn from the authors’ original analysis of the flow of natural and financial assets at the national level. It analyses conceptual foundations, and provides empirical evidence, for more sustainable community-based economic activities. The final section of the report draws together findings and identifies positive steps towards the creation of green local economies.”

What water is worth: new book from Palgrave

Interesting new title from Palgrave:

What Water Is Worth
Overlooked Non-Economic Value in Water Resources

By Kira Artemis Russo and Zachary A. Smith41N23kPXnWL

Water managers tend to have narrow views on what they consider to be the value of water. However, not all water use is market driven; therefore, a comprehensive understanding of local community values associated with water can inform decision making by water managers. We use the term ‘water manager’ to encompass not only the singular person assigned this community duty but also the many councils and institutions who make decisions regarding local water resources. Regarding conventional values of water, an abundance of research exists; yet, for intangible aspects such as conservation for its own sake and spiritual connections, research involving value is limited. There are volumes of works that estimate the monetary values of water; however, intangible values are often overlooked. In general, few studies endeavor to estimate worth for water that encompasses more than a monetary value. We argue that it is the inclusion of both monetary and non-monetary values that justifies trust in the position of water manager.

(H/T to CH)

Anthropocene re-writes: democracy, economics, liberalism

Peter Brown, from McGill University, has published a couple of new pieces on, respectively, democracy and economics in the Anthropocene. These work in some interesting ways to the piece I noted earlier from Andrew Dobson on whether resource abundance wasn’t what allowed liberalism to become, as Immanuel Wallerstein put it, “triumphant”.

Here is the opening salvo from Peter’s article on democracy in the Anthropocene, it came out from the Center for Humans and Nature. The other is a pdf download on ethics and economics in Anthropocene that came out in the fall issue of Teilhard Studies.

“Contemporary science radically reframes a fundamental idea at the heart of democratic theory and practice: that each person is free to act as he or she wishes so long as that action does not harm other persons. Two important sources of this idea are John Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) and John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (1859). Locke held that our religious beliefs are internal matters and hence should be beyond the legitimate reach of the state, whose principal tasks are external—to secure “life, liberty, and property.” Mill held that the state has no right to interfere in what he called “purely self-regarding acts”—though interpreting this phrase has proved contentious, even for Mill. Despite the pedigree of these two philosophers, the assumptions their ideas contain have become problematical.”