Unreliable GDP stats lead to misguided ‘evidence-based’ policies (Morten Jerven)

There has been a lot of discussion about the viability of GDP as a measure of development (see The Genuine Progress Indicator, an alternative to GDP (Ron Colman)). Here, Morten Jerven discusses another issue with GDP, namely its unreliability (with a focus on Africa). Estimates of economic growth rates and per-capita income are basic to the operation of governments in developing countries and to nongovernmental organizations and other entities that provide financial aid. As Jerven notes, the current catchphrase in the development community is “evidence-based policy,” and scholars are applying increasingly sophisticated econometric methods—but no statistical techniques can substitute for partial and unreliable data. Similar arguments have been put forward  regarding extreme poverty calculations (see What is happening to poverty? (Rammelt and Surace)).

Will Work For Free (Maveric Media)

The documentary is lengthy and repetitive, but it presents interesting recent examples of technologically-driven unemployment. These could be used as updates to New Technology: Whose Progress? (Frank Morrow), an older (but in my view clearer) documentary on the effects of automation and new technology on workers and the workplace. An even older documentary, Valley Town (Educational Film Institute of New York University), shows us that this process has been going on for a very long time.

The $250,000 Synthetic Hamburger (CBS News)

Global meat production rose from less than 50t in 1950 to about 275t in 2010. This growth has caused unaccounted environmental and social damage (see the $200 Hamburger (Raj Patel)). Recently, the most expensive hamburger in the world was produced by extracting stem cells from cows. Muscle tissue was grown in laboratories with the hope that this will someday solve the problems of growing meat consumption. The total cost of the project: €250,000. In the $200 Hamburger (Raj Patel), we saw that the environmental costs of a 50-cent fast food hamburger was 400 times its price at the register. It makes you wonder about the true price of the new synthetic hamburger. Are we solving problems or just trying to dig ourselves out of the hole that we created?

2013 Jack Beale Lecture on the Global Environment (David Suzuki)

Dr David Suzuki presents the 2013 Jack Beale Lecture on the Global Environment, on the topic of Imagining a sustainable future: foresight over hindsight. In a wide-ranging talk the Canadian scientist and broadcaster discusses the environmental movement’s successes and failures, explores human evolution and the threats to our future, outlines the problems of a globalised economy, criticises the Australian government’s climate change policies, and points to a sustainable way forward.

Coral reefs under rapid climate change (Ove Hoegh-Guldberg)

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg has studied oceans from Mexico to Antarctica and is leading the creation of an online virtual diving experience into the Great Barrier ReefHere’s a short 6-minute TED talk. For more details see this review article of the scenarios for coral reefs under rapid climate change or his more elaborate video presentation here.

Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement (Dr Ariyaratne)

The Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement is the largest people’s organization in Sri Lanka. Sarvodaya is Sanskrit for ‘Awakening of All’ and Shramadana means to donate effort. It began in one village and has grown to more than 15,000. Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne, the founder-president of Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement speaks about the ideologies behind the movement.