Nov 30, 15

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Mapping: Infrastructure and Flow

I love airline route maps. I’ve fallen asleep staring at the tangle of possible journeys so often that I sometimes confuse the capillaries I see with my eyes closed with the red paths of Northwest flights hubbed out of Detroit and Minneapolis. I love the questions the maps raise: why is there a direct flight on Air Canada from Halifax to Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta? (Lots of Nova workers in the oil sands, I suspect, but I never would have asked the question without the map.) Why...

Inside WCI: Biomass

Why treat all forms of carbon emissions alike? By Eric de Place This is the seventh in a short series of posts that explain some important but often overlooked policy issues in the Western Climate Initiative -- the West's regional cap-and-trade system. Earlier in this series, I've worried that WCI is waiting too long to include some major sources of climate pollution in their program. But worse, they are also proposing to completely ignore some sources of emissions. Early on, the latest...

Inside WCI: Offsets

Why limiting offsets works best. By Eric de Place This is the fifth in a short series of posts that explain some important but often overlooked policy issues in the Western Climate Initiative -- the West's regional cap-and-trade system. Alan Durning wrote a very substantial portion of this post. “Offsets” are surely one of the most contentious issues in cap and trade. That's because they could improve the cost-effectiveness of cap and trade while bringing substantial side-benefits for...

Doing Business Series Gets Slammed by World Bank Watchdog

"So, what do you think about the IEG report?" I was g-chatting with my friend Smita the other night when she brought up the World Bank. "What IEG report? What's the IEG?" I replied, showing my ignorance of the latest Bank goings on (and of the acronym – it stands for Independent Evaluation Group). Smita sighed. "I'm surprised you haven't heard. I'll forward you an e-mail from this listserve I'm on. Take a look."That's how I found...

Resilience TV

I have just returned from an excellent conference in Stockholm on Resilience, Adaptation, and Turbulent Times. To a certain extent, this conference marks a new stage in resilience science—the study of dynamic social-ecological systems—as it expands from academics into policy. I only wish I could have kept pace with the conference's sheer abundance of activity. Fortunately, many of talks are online (watch them here), several of which I’ve recently caught up with: Steve Carpenter, of the...

Humanitarian Response Index: What Could $93.8 Billion Extra a Year Do to End Poverty?

We've written before about making disaster and humanitarian relief efforts more effective. Here's a new tool to aid such efforts: the Humanitarian Response Index, created by a Madrid-based nonprofit called Dara. Per Foreign Policy's blog, the index "ranks 22 developed countries plus the European Commission in five categories: response to humanitarian needs; integration of relief with development; work with NGOs; implementation of international law; and promotion of accountability." FP...


Today, October 4, is the 50-year anniversary of the launch of Sputnik by the USSR -- the first satellite launched by humans into space. Having spent my undergrad years studying Soviet-American relations, I feel a bit of a warm glow as folks from all over jump into re-analysing the dynamics of the Space Race phase of the Cold War -- it's like revisiting a fascinating phase of my teen years. The Space Race, for all its tensions, led to a huge expansion of human knowledge, from engineering...

Global Richistan: Inequality Gap Grows in Asia, United States

In a new study, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) reports that the gap between the rich and poor in many Asian countries, particularly China, has grown significantly in recent decades as economies have boomed. The United States is struggling with the same issue as new technologies such as the Internet converge with fluid and speculative economic markets, bolstering the “super-rich,” according to The Observer. Although poverty rates in Asia are declining and inequality rates in the...

Dissecting the New Gilded Age in America

I don't hear many voices raised against the market economy as a concept these days, but I do detect a lot of anxiety about how much harder it's getting to simply earn a comfortable living. Maybe it's all about who your friends are. There is a new Gilded Age in America, with wealth concentrating in ways not seen since before the Great Depression, and it has implications for creating a sustainable society as well as more economically just one. In These Times points us at three new books that...

Hope, Not Fear, Inspires Change

Last year my pal and sometimes-colleague Dave Roberts, editor of Gristmill, wrote a compelling series on fear and environmentalism, firmly and refreshingly grounded in the current realities of American politics: how fear of the terrorist (or more lately, the illegal immigrant) has been used for the past several years to induce Americans to accept an increasingly authoritarian government and the dilution of our civil liberties. In particular, Dave took on the notion that liberals and...

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