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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
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    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2017 edited
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2017
    Well it sounds good but it also smells like bullshit. So I eagerly await somebdoy who can translate what she said into something that a physicist can understand and a politician can act by to reach the same result.
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2017
    er... I'm still looking for the bit about the thieving, conniving, corrupt bankers ??

    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2017
    Tis easy Dave.
    Decide what answer you want, then design an experiment to prove it. Done all the time in the post-modernist world.

    Easy to get politicians to act, threaten them with 'the popular vote', Cameron fell for it, then vanished.
    • CommentTimeApr 5th 2017
    I doubt this author has done any hypothesis/testing, any more than the whole superstructure of mainstream economics has been subjected to, the last 170yrs-plus. It's all a bunch of ideas, not a science, any more than 'political science' is.

    I'll tell you when I've read it. I discovered the snag of being plugged-in to the latest - it costs launch-hardback price, not Amazon 'new and used' cheap paperback price!
    Kindle: ÂŁ9.99.

    Where I always start:

    "Kate Raworth is a renegade economist focused on exploring the economic mindset needed to address the 21st century’s social and ecological challenges, and is the creator of the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries.

    She is a Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, where she teaches on the Masters in Environmental Change and Management. She is also a Senior Associate at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

    Her internationally acclaimed idea of Doughnut Economics has been widely influential amongst sustainable development thinkers, progressive businesses and political activists, and she has presented it to audiences ranging from the UN General Assembly to the Occupy movement. Her book, Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist is being published in the UK and US in April 2017 and translated into Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese.

    Over the past 20 years, Kate’s career has taken her from working with micro-entrepreneurs in the villages of Zanzibar to co-authoring the Human Development Report for UNDP in New York, followed by a decade as Senior Researcher at Oxfam.

    She holds a first class BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and an MSc in Economics for Development, both from Oxford University. She is a member of the Club of Rome and serves on several advisory boards, including the Stockholm School of Economics’ Global Challenges programme, the University of Surrey’s Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity, and Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.

    She has written extensively for media including The Guardian, The New Statesman, Newsweek.com, and Wired.com, and has contributed to many radio programmes including for BBC Radio 4, The World Service, ABC and NPR, as well as television including CNN World News, Al-Jazeera, BBC, ITV and CBC. The Guardian has named her as “one of the top ten tweeters on economic transformation”."

    And committed, too:

    "Blimey. Just for a little moment in time, Doughnut Economics is Amazon #1 bestseller in Macroeconomics. Take that on the nose, neoliberalism"
    • CommentTimeApr 6th 2017
    That's a good resource - I'll check out my favourite renegade authors.
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeApr 6th 2017
    Where love meets social justice
    How goes the studying, Tom?

    Herr Monbiot is enthusiastic:

    "I see her as the John Maynard Keynes of the 21st century: by reframing the economy, she allows us to change our view of who we are, where we stand, and what we want to be."

    I suspect an element of confirmation bias there, though - since he seems to engage with the rhetoric rather than looking at any analysis.
    • CommentTimeApr 13th 2017 edited
    Going great - got to the point where she says that there's never been
    Posted By: ferdinand2000any analysis
    or research to confirm or deny whether the basic hypotheses of Economic 'science' - e.g. humans as rational, self-interested decision makers, whose consequent choices are reliably reflected in price, supply and demand etc - are true or not.

    Until the last 40yrs of 'behavioural psychology' experiments - which demonstrate the complete falacy of that pillar of Economics, but which have been avidly (realistically and effectively) exploited by marketeers, while Economics has continued in impotent delusion (my words).

    So Monbiot is allowed to respond to this as rhetoric, just as populations, Economists and governments responded to Keynes as rhetoric, and so on back 170yrs via Marx and others to Adam Smith and earlier. Economics is Politics, Ideology, not a science that anyone's bothering to verify or disprove. Don't get me wrong - there's all sorts of impressively professional number-crunching in Economics - but in service of a chimera.

    In fact Paul Samuelson, father and writer of standard teaching-textbooks of mainstream post-WW2 Economics said
    "It should be clear that there is a wide gate for ideology to enter into this process. In fact it enters on the very ground floor, into the preanalytic cognitive act of which we have been speaking. Analytic work begins with material provided by our vision of things, and this vision is ideological almost by definition".

    So look at this book as a new vision, rhetorical if you want to tar it with a brush - don't ask for proof any more than we ask for proof of the politics and economics that have shaped our world to the increasingly unequal vast benefit of a few, the destitution of very many (though reducing apparently, to be sure) and the devastation of our planetary support systems (worsening by the day).
    • CommentAuthortorrent99
    • CommentTimeApr 13th 2017
    Just reading Monbiot's boil down, I like the idea. Basically she (or is it Monbiot) seems to be saying that

    1) just measuring "growth" is a bad idea. We need to measure a much larger number of variables.
    2) Rather than aim for Maximizing or Minimizing a variable we need to aim to keep them within a range that does not force people into poverty at one end or damage the environment (physical, social etc) at the other.

    Not read any more than Monbiot, but that in itself would be a huge step forward. It's something that some politicians have even paid a tiny bit of lip service to e.g. Cameron's "happiness" drive...(cynical though that was)
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeApr 13th 2017
    Not read the book but have read Monbiot's piece and watched her TEDx talk:


    Seems to me that torrent99's two points aren't a terrible summary.
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2017
    Nice poser in Doughnut Economics (Sunday Times no.6 bestseller):

    "No country has ever ended human deprivation without a growing economy.
    And no country has ever ended ecological deprivation with one"

    "We have an economy that needs to grow, whether or not it makes us thrive.
    We need an economy that makes us thrive, whether or not it grows".
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2017
    Why do we need growth?
    • CommentAuthorjfb
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2017
    Indeed - the assumption that growth is good and that even running on an even keel is failure has been (well still is) established doctrine for a long time. I can see arguments for growth in less developed nations to help bring standards of living up but at some point you have to ask when is enough enough.
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2017 edited
    She says that as it stands
    Posted By: fostertom"We have an economy that needs to grow, whether or not it makes us thrive"
    not that 'we need growth'.

    The reason "We have an economy that needs to grow" is the particular variant of money system that we've been oppressed by since the 1300s - interest-bearing centrally-issued currency. It was set up that way at that time so the the Kings ('owners' and issuers of the currency) and their Aristocracies would grab a majority slice of economic value even if the money-system depressed the total generated. Money became a dreadful dual-purpose thing - both token of exchange and in itself a scarce commodity that would be rented out (interest charged, a tax on all economic exchange). Economic activity, nutrition, health all nosedived, culminating in the Black Death, but the rich got richer - to this day.

    Every bit of such money that's been issued, someone somewhere is paying interest on it, only limited by defaults/bankruptcies - and often not even then. How is that interest paid? By growth. No growth, no interest paid, collapse of currency. They don't allow that to happen.

    For the planet to live without growth, the money system would have to change radically - we can only live in hope. Numerous money-system alternatives can be designed, which can incentivise rather than tax the velocity of circulation.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2017 edited
    Posted By: fostertomHow is that interest paid? By growth. No growth, no interest paid,
    Yep, that's the bit that makes my head hurt (even more than other bits of economics/finance). What's special about renting money, as opposed to, say, people or land, which needs growth for payment? Is it that with a fixed amount of money you'd eventually have all of it being paid as rent on itself and none doing anything useful? So you need to be adding more money. So you have to have growth otherwise you'd have deflation and nobody would want money then?

    Is part of it that you need growth so that the bottom 10% or whatever have some hope and don't get so pissed off they become revolting?

    This stuff puzzles/confuses/frustrates me no end.

    And, yes jfb, more people asking when enough is enough is big part of what we need.

    For the planet to live without growth, the money system would have to change radically - we can only live in hope.
    Is that going to help people like George Osborne, do you suppose?
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2017
    He's mostly off his head, so no sense there.
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2017 edited
    This long scan, from
    explains it so even I can understand:

    Before the invention of central currency, money’s primary purpose was to help people exchange goods with one another more effi ciently than simple bartering allowed. Anything that promoted the circu lation of goods between people was considered a plus.

    In fact, prior to the emergence of the bazaar, most people didn’t have any need for money, anyway. They were peasants and farmed the land of a noble in return for a bit of the crop for themselves. The only money was precious-metal coin, either left over from the Roman Empire or issued by one of the trading centers, such as Florence. A bit more currency was issued to pay for soldiers during the Crusades, and some of this returned home with the survivors, along with the crafts and technologies of foreign lands.

    As we saw, this gave rise to the bazaar, where locals traded crops and crafts with one another and purchased spices and other “imports” from the traveling merchants. But there wasn’t enough gold and silver coin in circulation for people to buy what they wanted. Precious metals were con sidered valuable in their own right. What little existed was hoarded, often by the already wealthy.

    People bartered instead, but barter just wasn’t capable of handling complex transactions. What if the shoemaker wants a chicken but the chicken farmer already has shoes? Barter facilitators arose to negotiate more complicated, multistep deals, much in the style of multiteam sports trades. So the shoes go to the oat miller, who gives oats to the wheelwright, who makes a wheel for the chicken farmer, who gives a chicken to the shoemaker. But the relative values of all these items were different, mak ing the brokered barter system incapable of executing these complicated transactions with any efficiency.

    That’s when clever merchants invented currencies based on some thing other than precious metal. Instead, vendors whose sales over the course of a market day were fairly regular could issue paper receipts for the chickens or loaves of bread they knew they would sell by the end of the day: “This receipt is redeemable for one chicken at Mary’s chicken stand.” Market money could be issued by any merchant whose sales were stable enough to engender trust.

    So at the beginning of the market, the chicken farmer could spend her chicken receipts and the shoemaker could spend his shoe receipts on the items they needed, jump-starting the whole marketplace. The receipts would then circulate through the market throughout the day—just like money—until they got into the hands of people who needed chickens or shoes, at which point they would be exchanged with the original merchant for goods. To make matters even easier, the receipts would have a declared value stamped right on them—the market price of the products they rep resented. At the end of the day, extra receipts would be brought back to the merchants who issued them in return for metal coin, or saved for the next market day. The purpose of the money was not to make the issuer rich but to promote transactions in the marketplace and make everyone prosperous by getting trade moving.

    Almost anything could be represented as currency. Another very popular, longer-lasting form of money was the grain receipt. A farmer would bring his crop to the grain store and receive a written receipt for the amount of oats or barley he brought in. The receipt might be for a hundred pounds of grain, which had an equivalent numerical value in coin. It would usually be printed on thin metal foil, with perforations on it so that the farmer could tear off a piece and spend a portion at a time.

    Since the grain was already banked and in a facility that wasn’t going anywhere, grain receipts tended to have a bit more long-term value. But they couldn’t be hoarded like precious metals. Instead of gaining value over time, grain receipts lost value. The people running the storage facil ity had to be paid, and a certain amount of grain was lost to spoilage and vermin. So the issuing grain store reduced the value of the receipts by a specified amount each month or year. A hundred-pound receipt in March might be worth only ninety pounds of grain by December.

    Again, this wasn’t so much a problem as a feature of this money. People were incentivized to spend receipts as soon as they received them. Money moved through the economy quickly, encouraging transac tions. Ideally, someone who needed grain ended up with the receipt just before its next date of reduction and redeemed it for the oats.

    These local moneys worked right alongside the long-distance precious- metals currencies. Gold coins and silver pennies were still required by traveling merchants, who had no real use for stored grain or a future pair of shoes. They also provided easy metrics through which to denominate all those local currencies. The declared value of a loaf of bread on a bread receipt could be some fraction of a gold coin, making it easier for consumers to negotiate transactions, as well as for issuers to reconcile unredeemed re ceipts with one another at the end of the day.

    The lords and monarchs tolerated all this trade for a while but began to resent people putting real monetary values on their self-issued curren cies. Besides, the more people traded laterally, that is, with one another, the less dependent they were on the aristocracy. The peasants were getting wealthy from the bottom up, in an economy whose strength was based on the robustness of its transactions. Growth, a happy side effect of their increased capacity to transact, had to be appropriated. In doing so, it was turned into a financial weapon.

    The nobles hired financial advisors—mostly Moors, who had more advanced arithmetic techniques than the financiers of Europe—to come up with monetary innovations through which the wealthy could retain their class advantages over the rising middle class. We already saw how the chartered monopoly would give royals the ability to assign entire industries to particular companies in return for stock in the enterprise. But not every industry was that scalable—at least not back then. Kings also needed a way to extract value from all those little transactions between people and, ideally, to slow down all that economic activity so that the middle class did not overtake them.

    So one by one, the monarchs of the late Middle Ages and early Renais sance outlawed local currencies and replaced them with what amounted to coin of the realm. By law, people were forbidden to use any other currency—a rule officially justified, ironically, by the fact that the non- Christian icons of the Muslims appeared on some of the coins people had been using since the Crusades. The real reason, of course, is that with absolute control over coin, monarchs could exert absolute control over their economies. People protested and much blood was shed, but they lost the right to issue their own currencies. Instead, all money would be coined by the king’s treasury. As many economic historians have noted, this al lowed the monarch to tax the people simply by debasing the currency and keeping the extra gold. What these same historians seem loath to point out, however, is that monarchs made money simply by issuing coin. The monetary system itself gave those who owned capital a way to grow it.

    In a practice analogous to the way central banks issue currency to this day, monarchs created coin by lending it into existence. If a merchant wanted cash to purchase supplies or inventory, he needed to borrow it from the king’s treasury, then pay it back with interest. It was a bet on future growth. Unlike market money, which had no fees, or grain receipts, whose fees went toward a working grain store, central currency cost money. If people wanted to use money, they would have to pay for the privilege.

    This was a brilliant, if exploitative, innovation: money whose core func tion was to make wealthy people more wealthy. Since the aristocrats already had wealth, they were the only ones who could participate in the new supply side of money lending. If people and businesses in the real economy wanted to purchase anything, they would have to get some cash from the central treasury. Then they’d have to use that money to make some deals and somehow end up with more money than they started with. Otherwise, there was no way to pay the lender back the principal and the additional interest.

    So if a merchant borrowed a thousand coins from the treasury or its local agents, he might have to pay back twelve hundred by the end of the year. Where did the other two hundred come from? Either from someone else who went bankrupt (and was therefore facing debtors’ prison) or, in the best case, from some new borrower. As long as there was more new business, there was more money being borrowed to pay the interest on the money borrowed earlier. This was great for the wealthy, who could sit back and earn money simply by having money.

    Participants in the bazaar didn’t fare so well. This new money was still scarce and expensive. Where market money was as plentiful as the demand for goods at the market, central currency was only as abundant as the participants’ credit. Merchants who used to cooperate now com peted against one another for coin in order to have enough to pay back their loans. Frequent currency debasements also led people to hoard money out of fear that current coin had more gold in it than whatever was coming next. Moreover, everything in the market now cost more, because money itself was extracting value from people in the form of interest. They weren’t just paying for a chicken, but also for the chicken farmer’s debt overhead. If they were participating in growth businesses, they might have stood a chance of keeping up with the cost of capital. But these were largely subsistence enterprises.

    In country after country where local moneys were abolished in favour of interest-bearing central currency, people fell into poverty, health de clined, and society deteriorated by all measures. Even the plague can be traced to the collapse of the marketplace of the late Middle Ages and the shift toward extractive currencies and urban wage labor.

    The new scheme instead favored bigger players, such as chartered monopolies, which had better access to capital than regular little busi nesses and more means of paying back the interest. When monarchs and their favored merchants founded the first corporations, the idea that they would be obligated to grow didn’t look like such a problem. They had their nations’ governments and armies on their side—usually as direct inves tors in their projects. For the Dutch East India Company to grow was as simple as sending a few warships to a new region of the world, taking the land, and enslaving its people.

    If this sounds a bit like the borrowing advantages enjoyed today by companies like Walmart and Amazon, that’s because it’s essentially the same money system in operation, favoring the same sorts of players. Yet however powerful the favored corporations may appear, they are really just the engines through which the larger money system extracts value from everyone’s economic activity. Even megacorporations are like competing apps on a universally accepted, barely acknowledged smartphone operat ing system. Their own survival is utterly dependent on their ability to grow capital for their debtors and investors.

    Central currency is the transactional tool that has overwhelmed busi ness itself; money is the tail wagging the economy’s dog. Financial ser vices, slowly but inevitably, become the biggest players in the economy. Between the 1950s and 2006, the percentage of the economy (as measured by GDP) represented by the financial sector more than doubled, from 3 percent to 7.5 percent. This is why, as Thomas Piketty demonstrated in Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the rate of return on capital exceeds the growth rate of the economy. Money makes money faster than people or companies can create value. The richest people and companies should, therefore, position themselves as far away from working or creating things, and as close to the money spigot, as possible.
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2017 edited
    Re Growth
    Growth is a product of population, resources and efficiency.
    So taking a simple example of a population that increases in size at 10% a year, economic growth is a fundamental by-product. There is nothing sinister in that.
    The flip-side is resources, if these become limited, then more effort is required to get them. This generally takes more time, and as money is just Time multiplied by Talent, the price goes up.
    This is where efficiency comes in, as we develop technologically, we can reduce the time, and in some circumstances the talent, to make a product. This limits the use of resources and still allows growth.

    One of the problems in Economics is that most countries use Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a gauge of growth. This seems sensible on the face of it. More people, greater growth, more use of resources, greater growth, more efficient production, more growth.
    But there is a problem, GDP also encapsulates what could be called 'negatives'. So say I am a large Swiss chemical company and I pollute a large European river very badly, or a British oil company that pollutes the Gulf of Mexico. The price of clean up, and associated price of legal/social costs actually increase GDP, which is just odd to say the least.
    War has the same affect, as does space exploration.

    Money is not really a problem, as inflation and interest rates are closely linked, in fact at the moment, the banks are often giving money away, with a little bit of cash thrown in for good measures, as long as you have been canny with your purchases.
    But any economy, be it a natural one i.e. ecology, or man-made i.e. property development, is cyclical. Sometimes it expands, sometimes it contracts. The rates of expansion/contraction, as well as ultimate size in any cycle can vary, and often seem out of step. We call this hoarding and is often seen as a bad thing, but it is not really, it is just normal cycling. Get used to it.
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2017 edited
    The reality of UK currency is of course that it had 92.5% silver content as recently as 1919. And 50% silver content until 1947. Isaac Newton was among many Masters of the Royal Mint who ensured the currency wasn't debased and was worth what was stamped on its face.


    I have no idea how that squares with the pontifications above.
    • CommentTimeMay 20th 2017 edited
    Posted By: djhI have no idea how that squares with the pontifications above.
    Only if you want money to have a secondary function as a rare, tradeable, hoardable commodity in itself - which is a fatal confusion which distorts, usually obstructs money's other, primary, essential function, as a token of exchange (because pure barter is inefficient). As the latter, money needs no silver content, can be bits of paper or electrons, blockchain etc.
    • CommentTimeMay 20th 2017
    Hoarding money causes inflation to decrease, and in extreme cases deflation.
    An individual will still have to work just as hard though, so nothing really changes.
    • CommentAuthorskyewright
    • CommentTimeMay 20th 2017 edited
    Posted By: fostertomThis long scan,

    You might also like: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08k1x2b

    That's the "Banking" episode from "50 Things That Made The Modern Economy".

    Indeed you might like other episodes too? All I've heard so far have been interesting (even when on subjects I have some familiarity with.

    I listen to the World Service podcasts (which are succinct, non-fluffy, 9 minutes rather than the full 15 minutes of the R4 versions):

    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeMay 20th 2017
    Thanks Tom, interesting read. Nothing terribly surprising but helps crystallize understanding a bit. Have bookmarked and will re-read in a few days.
    Posted By: fostertom"No country has ever ended human deprivation without a growing economy.
    And no country has ever ended ecological deprivation with one"

    "We have an economy that needs to grow, whether or not it makes us thrive.
    We need an economy that makes us thrive, whether or not it grows".

    Has line 2 ever happened, anywhere, to *any* country, without a growing economy?
    • CommentTimeMay 21st 2017 edited
    Has what exactly in line 2 ever happened? You mean 'ending ecological deprivation'?

    Whatever that means to you - to me I think it means
    'a country's human society re-inserting itself into stable (though evolving), self-sustaining integration with the ecosystem that surrounds it - from which it had hitherto, catastrophically, imagined itself separate.

    Many indigenous, steady-state economies have achieved that stable (though evolving) integration over millenia. Others have lost the plot and slipped out of that integration.

    The suggestion is that no growing economy has ever maintained that integration, still less managed to re-integrate, having lost it.

    The question for us is - whether for the first time ever, humans have become wise and aware enough
    a) to achieve such re-integration, and
    b) to do that by deploying our new capabilities i.e. scientific understanding including ecological/systems understanding, and technology wisely used accordingly.

    The Permaculture and the Transition Towns movements are at the forefront of that hope.

    The classic book on the subject, ref'd above, is essential but doesn't make it quite, because the guy is a leading Geographer speaking from his silo of specialist knowledge - not good enough.
    • CommentTimeMay 21st 2017
    Posted By: fostertomThe Permaculture and the Transition Towns movements are at the forefront of that hope.
    I am not so sure about that. I was recently at a Transition Town day at the local Eco Park.
    There was an artist from Devon (100+ miles away) that was selling natural pigments and some art, a seed swap (mainly flowers), a bee keeper from the Lizard (50 mile round trip), some Permaculture people advertising a course in Wales (200+ miles away).
    Hardly local stuff and when you consider the transport needed, not very environmentally friendly.

    All nice people, in their own way, but seriously misguided and hated it when quoted numbers at them.
    • CommentTimeMay 22nd 2017
    Yes, Permaculture, Transition, also Green Party are pretty fluffy 'out in the field', even lost their way a bit I'd say, Green Party stuck in the issues of the 1990s - but there's serious work going on at their core.
    • CommentTimeMay 22nd 2017 edited
    Does anyone remember 'Peak Oil', was all the rage back in 2005 when we had supposedly used up half the recoverer oil reserves.
    Energy prices were going to sky rocket, we would all be riding bicycles and food would cost a fortune.
    Not seen an analysis of our recoverable oil reserves in recent years. May go and have a look at it.
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