Technological Disobedience in Cuba (Ernesto Oroza)

In 1991, Cuba’s economy began to implode. “The Special Period in the Time of Peace” was the government’s euphemism for what was a culmination of 30 years worth of isolation. It began in the 60s, with engineers leaving Cuba for America. Ernesto Oroza, a designer and artist, studied the innovations created during this period. He found that the general population had created homespun, Frankenstein-like machines for their survival, made from everyday objects. Oroza began to collect these machines, and would later contextualize it as “art” in a movement he dubbed “Technological Disobedience.”

Sustainable Systems (Donella Meadows)

Lecture from Donella Meadows on sustainable systems, which integrates ecological and equity concerns. In this talk, she refers to the Daly Laws (see also Sustainability and the scale of the economy (Herman Daly). Here is another one of her lectures: Down to Earth (Donella Meadows). Meadows draws on systems thinking; an approach with historical roots explained in Cybernetics, self-organisation and power (Adam Curtis).

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)).

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.