Waste equals food (Michael Braungart & William McDonough)

A documentary on the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) design concept of Michael Braungart and William McDonough. It present ideas about how to ‘close’ cycles in our production/consumption systems. They have received the following critiques:

Moving Forward (Zeitgeist)

Video clip on ‘intrinsic obsolescence’. See also Pyramids of Waste (Cosima Dannoritzer) on ‘planned obsolescence’.

Common arguments against the idea of intrinsic obsolescence:

  1. You won’t build a table using the best materials (just strong enough, with best materials you can afford, with the time you have).
  2. Consumers decide how long they want things to last, some consumers decide they want to buy a cheap watch that won’t last as long.
Counter-arguments:
  1. Cost efficiency mechanism is ignored. Regardless of your intent, you can’t produce the best quality from an environmental perspective in the market system.
  2. For some products (disposable bags and cups) the inferior quality is clear, this is what you buy. Is there a strategic need for a cheap watch? What about the resources and waste?

 

In Praise of Idleness (Bertrand Russell)

Excerpt from ‘In Praise of Idleness’ by Bertrand Russell: “Suppose that, at a given moment, a certain number of people are engaged in the manufacture of pins. They make as many pins as the world needs, working (say) eight hours a day. Someone makes an invention by which the same number of men can make twice as many pins: pins are already so cheap that hardly any more will be bought at a lower price. In a sensible world, everybody concerned in the manufacturing of pins would take to working four hours instead of eight, and everything else would go on as before. But in the actual world this would be thought demoralising. The men still work eight hours, there are too many pins, some employers go bankrupt, and half the men previously concerned in making pins are thrown out of work. There is, in the end, just as much leisure as on the other plan, but half the men are totally idle while half are still overworked. In this way, it is insured that the unavoidable leisure shall cause misery all round instead of being a universal source of happiness. Can anything more insane be imagined?”

Growth versus development (Herman Daly)

In part 1: Ecological Economist Herman Daly gives an answer to the question: “What is the distinction between economic and uneconomic growth?”

In part 2: Ecological Economist Herman Daly gives an answer to the question: “What is the difference between globalization and internationalism?”

Civil society, fragmentation and the role of universities (Manfred Max-Neef)

Manfred Max-Neef is a Chilean economist who focussed on ‘development alternatives’. After teaching economics at Berkeley in the 1960s, he served as a Visiting Professor at a number of US and Latin American universities. He has worked on development projects in Latin America for the Pan-American Union, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Labour Office. In 1981 he wrote the book for which he is best known, ‘From the Outside Looking In: Experiences in Barefoot Economics’, published by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, Sweden. It is concerned with practising ‘economics as if people matter’ among the poor in South America. In the same year he set up in Chile the organisation CEPAUR (Centre for Development Alternatives). He was Rector of the Universidad Austral de Chile in Valdivia and currently teaches and lectures globally. He received the Right Livelihood Award in 1983.