Category Archives: Sustainability

Pennies for Puffins

In the last two decades of the 20th Century, environmental economists made tremendous strides in developing techniques to measure economic values when there are no markets (they call these “non-market valuation”).  These efforts grew out of the criticism of the environmental statutes adopted in the 1970s like the Clean Air Act or the Endangered Species […]

312 & 2,600,000,000

I am inspired by students from Dalhousie University in Halifax who have been getting tattoos.  These are simple tattoos, just three digits, placed somewhere conspicuous.  The number is the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere in their birth year.  Were I inclined to get a tattoo, mine would be 319. Since my birth […]

Biomass Energy and Climate Change

The new administration in Washington is filled with climate change deniers.  They reject the consensus among scientists that human behaviors emitting greenhouse gases contribute significantly to climate change.  The reality — climate change is part of a larger problem better known as global change.  Over 9 billion humans, many living relatively sumptuous lifestyles like ours […]

The Wilderness Ethic

In many faith communities it is common for adherents to sacrifice.  The Shakers embraced celibacy, though some might find that a flawed “business plan” for the endurance of the sect.  Catholics for years avoided eating meat on Fridays, a practice good for fish mongers. Likewise, many Jews and Muslims forsake pork in their diets.  Dietary […]

When Dollars Meet the Grizzly Bear Spirit

When most people hear the word economics they think of money.  I remember visiting a local Maine historical society and the excitement the caretaker felt when he learned that I was an economist.  He immediately assumed that I would want to see their collection of 19th Century currency in circulation in Maine.  I did not. […]

Must Economic Growth Continue?

I recently suggested that one solution to the crisis of our age is a shift in economic paradigms to one called Sustainable De-growth.  To understand fully the implications of de-growth, we need to see where the phenomenon of growth comes from.  A new book by Swiss economic historian Matthias Schmelzer provides deep insights into the […]

The Crisis of Our Age – Part III: Sustainable Degrowth

By the middle of the 20th Century the world had endured two world wars and a global economic depression unprecedented since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  With the defeat of various forms of Fascism in World War II, Soviet and Chinese forms of Communism vied with Democratic Market Capitalism to dominate the social and […]