Categories
Development Environment

Biotechnology (Gordon Conway)

Professor Sir Gordon Conway discusses the role of science and innovation in driving food production in the 21st century. For a contrasting view, see: The future of food (Vandana Shiva).

Categories
Development Economy

A world of convergence (according to Hans Rosling)

Here is Hans Rosling’s extremely popular video where he presents a world of reducing inequalities (also available on TED talks). His argument has been criticised on the following points:

  • On the horizontal axis, the distance between $400 and $4000 is the same as the distance between $4000 and $40000 (this is called a logarithmic scale). It can be argued that this is misleading. He says that most countries are now in the middle (and he points at the middle of the graph). These countries appear in the middle of the graph, but in reality they are not in the middle of the income gap. Because of the logarithmic scale, most countries are in the lower income range.
  • One reason to use the logarithmic scale is to expand the lower range, in order to see what changes might be happening there. This is probably why he did it, to show that things seem to be moving at the bottom. According to other studies, the gap between nations is bigger now that it was 200 years ago. They are not converging. Wealthy nations have grown at much faster rates than poor nations. If you add up the per capita incomes of the richest 20% nations and compare that to the per capita incomes of poorest 20% nations, the gap is growing (see The cat chasing its tail (Me)).
  • FInally, he shows the per capita incomes of different countries. It can be argued that this is also misleading, because that mathematical average does not say anything about what is really happening to the gap between poor people and wealthy people living within those countries. For example:

Categories
Development Economy

Record inequality between rich and poor (OECD)

The gap between rich and poor in OECD countries has reached its highest level for over 30 years, and governments must act quickly to tackle inequality, according to a new OECD report, “Divided We Stand”.

Categories
Development Economy

Food Speculation (WEEDnetz)

This short film describes how food speculation works, what the dangers are, and what needs to be done. It may not show all the details, so here are a couple of reports for further reading on the matter: Henn, M. (2011). The speculator’s bread: What is behind rising food prices? EMBO Reports, 12(4), 296-301 and Oxfam International. (2011). Not a game: Speculation vs food security. Oxford: Oxfam GB.

Categories
Development Economy Environment

Capitalism’s Threat to Democracy (David Korten)

David Korten talks about the dangers he sees emerge from our economic system. The creation of real wealth, Korten argues, by satisfying true human needs, strengthens individuals, promotes the well-being of local communities, and protects the environment, the foundation of all living things.

Categories
Development Economy

Hunger in America (Raj Patel)

Raj Patel discusses hunger in America. The new documentary “Finding North” says one in every four American children suffers from hunger. Nearly 30 percent of American families, more than 49 million people, often go without meals.

Categories
Development Economy

Examining the case for a shorter working week (London School of Economics & New Economics Foundation)

As the economic crisis deepens, the London School of Economics and the New Economics Foundation suggest that this is the moment to consider moving towards much shorter, more flexible paid working hours – sharing out jobs and unpaid time more fairly across the population.

Categories
Development Economy Technology

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?”

Categories
Development Economy

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?”

Categories
Development Economy Environment

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.