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Can we save the Baltic and improve our economy?

 

Stephen Hinton is a member of the board of the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation and specializes in aligning environmental concerns with fiscal systems. He has been involved in several projects, including with the Nordic Council of Ministers, to explore the possibility of using market forces to drive a circular economy for nutrients. One of the Foundation’s recent initiatives is a role-play/business game that explores the assumptions behind fiscal instrument application and sustainable technology investment decisions. These simulations reveal a wealth of insight into possibilities to change economic paradigms.

Stephen’s presentation focuses on the fiscal approaches to overcoming barriers including:

  • Behaviour: How to make doing right cheaper
  • Information:Opportunities arising from the digitalised economy
  • Efficacy:Where to apply instruments to encourage circularity
  • Investment:Using money collected from fees to overcome investment barriers
  • Political resistance: Ways to gaining political acceptance for extra charges
  • Public Opinion: Different effects on public opinion and behaviour.
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Climate change and growth – Nordhaus and Romer

Micheal Roberts skillful analysis of the overlap (or lack of overlap) between the economics view of climate change and IPCC. A must read!

Michael Roberts Blog

It is both appropriate and Ironic that, on the day that William Nordhaus should get the Riksbank prize (also called Nobel) for his contribution to the economics of climate change, the top scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), should release its latest update on global warming.  The report sets out the key practical differences between the Paris agreement’s two contrasting goals: to limit the increase of human-induced global warming to well below 2℃, and to “pursue efforts” to limit warming to 1.5℃.

The IPCC says that if we are to limit warming to 1.5℃, we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030, reaching near-zero by around 2050. Whether we are successful primarily depends on the rate at which government and non-state bodies take action to reduce emissions. Yet despite the urgency, current national pledges under the Paris Agreement are not enough to remain within a…

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Focussing on creativity rather than skill – the art of Transition?

This summer I had the pleasure of attending a rather unusual type of art class: the lessons were about creativity with basically nothing taught about actual painting. That’s right. I spent a lot of time in front of a canvas with brushes I knew very little about how to use and paint I knew even less about. And I learnt more than I could have dreamed of, even painted some paintings. Read More…

Explaining the extractive economy as embedded mindset

Extractive economy is business-as-usual and the mental model taught in business schools. It is not called that of course, but examining any business textbook will reveal that the mental model – or paradigm – of extraction is underlying most teaching. This article aims to explain in clear terms what extractive models are, point out some of the shortcomings  and hopefully opens up to the possibility of other, more functional, models. Read More…

Putting a price on phosphorus: links and publications

Dagram_fosfor2

  1. Phosphorus is mined and processed into fertilizer along with other nutrients like potassium and nitrogen.
  2. Applied to the fields, it is incorporated into vegetables and sold direct or as animal feed.
  3. Phosphorus leaks from agriculture into waterways and is exported to shops as food.
  4. Consumers purchase food for consumption.
  5. Phosphorus leaves the body mainly as urine.
  6. Sewage is processed at water purification plants.
  7. Some phosphorus is dumped as waste from purification, some ends up in waterways.
  8. Eventually phosphorus travels to the sea.
  9. Some phosphorus can be recovered from the sea-bed, most remains in the sea. New technology is being tested to restore seabeds and recover nutrients. Read More…

Monetary theory and a safe house for humanity

Could it be so that it is a badly-constructed monetary system that is holding humanity back in its shared project of peace on Earth? Or at least this miss-construction is not doing us any good? Marc Gauvin, money theoretician and author of two websites Money Transparency and  Bibo Currency offers some interesting angles on money as a system. In recent correspondence, he suggested that the money system itself impacts peace negatively, but the system could be adapted to be a peace-promoting tool for humanity. We’ll lay out the ideas here and look forward to hearing your comments in the comments box below. Read More…

For the love of phosphorus: presentation in Swedish

This presentation comes from the “Future day” seminar arranged by waste handler Ragnsells.

It covers why phosphorus requires to be treated as a special case in the circular economy, indeed in a circular economy culture. And gives a few ideas how to do that – mentioning the acute need to do something about the Baltic Sea.

Slides can be downloaded here. RAGNSELLS1

To learn more about the circular economy see the online courses available here http://circleeconomy.tssef.se

 

Advanced circle economy training being made available

Launched just a few days ago, with Stephen Hinton as one of the main course developers, this new site will be offering both free and paid courses in the circle economy.

The site offers courses appealing to a wide range of audiences, from entrepreneurs, activists, policy makers, macro-economists and even those working with the peace economy.

Currently the site offers two free courses, one for entrepreneurs and the other connecting macro-economics and the circular economy.

Be sure to sign up to get notifications of coming courses!

Http://circleeconomy.tssef.se

Stephen will talk about phosphorus

Friday the 25th March, at the Future Day arranged by recycling giant Ragnsells, Stephen will present several views of the importance of phosphorus – claiming that if we fix that we fix a lot of the SDGs.

Click here to join.  (in Swedish)

A Community of Practice needs Pattern Language

Maybe it is just a sinking feeling you get in your stomach when you think of the global economy, or maybe you have delved into the depths of economic thinking. Either way we are not alone if you are concerned that the great human invention – money – is dysfunctional. Many are commenting on how our economic system – often called capitalism although that is hard to define exactly what it is – is coming apart. The comments are coming from the direction of Marxists, conventional economists, free thinkers and even the World Economic Forum.

In other words, the way we use money is not fulfilling the purpose of distributing wealth, ensuring the basic for survival, or driving stewardship of land and minerals.

People have started taken action. Although in their infancy, alternatives abound, including the REconomy movement – a branch of the Transition Towns movement that seeks to help create social, resilient enterprises based on local conditions. REconomy is very much a grass-roots movement. Those involved in REconomy locally have very little time for coordinating with others, sharing knowledge or engaging in EU-funded large projects. Making something happen on a local basis takes a lot of effort. Despite the initial enthusiasm you can whip up initially, it is a long, hard slog to get your high-street, if you  are lucky enough even to have one (most are gone in Sweden), free of the domination of global brand chains. Indeed its hard enough just to get a local bakery started.

But it IS working. In several places the REconomy movement has increased the number of jobs in local firms, seen businesses be more sustainable and helped foster a sense of community,

The REconomy movement doesn’t have to start its own brand chain. Like many other movements it sees itself as a community of practice (COP). A community of practice is a network of practitioners helping each other get on with their practice, or business. A community of practice does not have to have its own organisation, rules, by-laws, membership fees, shareholders, stakeholders or the like. Just people sharing experiences. It COULD have some or all of that – if it helped – of course. You can commercialize a community of practice. Do that in a fair way and you get a platform co-operative.

A shared language of patterns

One thing that helps communities of practice is to develop a shared language. Terms appear that only practitioners understand the real meaning of – like names of tools used by people pursuing the same craft. But how do you share experience? The answer came from Christopher Alexander who put forward a ‘pattern language’ approach. He believed – and proved it – that you can describe something in a way that others pursuing your craft can follow. They can at least get started, copy what you describe and learn from experience from there.

As Alexander says: “no pattern is an isolated entity.  Each pattern can exist in the world, only to the extent that it is supported by other patterns: the larger patterns within which it is embedded, the patterns of the same size that surround it, and the smaller patterns which are embedded in it.  This is a fundamental view of the world.  It says that when you build a thing you cannot merely build that thing in isolation, but must also repair the world around it, and within it, so that the larger world at that one place becomes more coherent, and more whole; and the thing which you make takes its place in the web of nature, as you make it”.

We need to name the patterns in operation. And evaluate them

This is huge. As Peter Senge pointed out in his book the Fifth Discipline, we all go around with patterns in our heads of “good ways to get stuff done” without even knowing. For practitioners of a craft, as their surrounding context changes, for them to change with it they need to be aware of the pattern (or paradigm) they are applying and question whether it will take them into the new context.

This is REconomy : Bringing to the surface the patterns that are hidden but operating, putting them together with the new context, questioning their fitness for purpose and developing new ones.

What follows is a first attempt to create a pattern for how to describe an emerging pattern for REconomy , based on experience.

  • What is the underlying economic paradigm that is working, hidden.
  • What is the context that it is operating in.
  • Explain how the paradigm is unfit for purpose.
  • Summarize the problem or challenge that the REconomy pattern you have discovered will address. you can use question form like “how can we increase employment in locally-owned companies?”
  • Explain what this new pattern will do, how it will help
  • Give your explanation as succinctly as possible with enough detail that it can be tried elsewhere.
  • Include: number of people, the time-frame, the geographical reach and resources needed.
  • Explain how your pattern addresses the initial challenge
  • Provide additional information including other patterns this pattern works with, reference links and next steps to move forward.

More reading

Very useful in this context is to understand the two loops theory of system change. We are in a dying system and a new one is emerging.

Footnote: you might be asking for an example of the way this pattern language could work in practice. If you revisit the article you will see it is written using my proposed structure. Still needs work but a start at least!