Category Archives: Social

Conflict and Change in the Era of Economic Decline: Part 1 – The 21st century landscape of conflict

Brilliant first part of a five-articles essay by Richard Heinberg on the social implications of the Great Decline. Absolute must-read. (Source: Energy Bulletin)

High and increasing inequality is usually bearable during boom times, as people at the bottom of the wealth pyramid are encouraged by the prospect of its overall expansion. Once growth ceases and slips into reverse, inequality becomes socially unsustainable. Declining expectations lead to unrest, while absolute misery (in the sense of not having enough to eat) often results in revolution.”

In summary, conflict in the decades ahead will likely center on the four factors of money, energy, land, and food. These sources of conflict will overlap in various ways. While economic inequality will not itself be at the root of all this conflict (one could argue that population growth is a deeper if often unacknowledged cause of strife), inequality does seem destined to play a role in most conflict, whether the immediate trigger is extreme weather, high food prices, or energy shortages.”

Is a sustainable future within reach?

“John Elkington finds inspiration in the ready and available solutions listed in the Sustainia100 prospectus…” (Source: Guardian Sustainable Business blog)

Interesting post by John Elkington on the Guardian’s Sustainable Business blog but strange that the "father" of the "triple bottom line" is seriously leaving out the social dimension of sustainability. Are the capitalist elites preparing their Green Army-protected sustainability islands in the midst of civilisation collapse?

What do we do about climate change?

"To sum up, the existing economic and political system has proved incapable up to now of embracing anything like an adequate level of climate mitigation. It can be argued plausibly that it is already too late to prevent runaway climate change. It is certainly touch and go. There is nothing inevitable about the future. Nevertheless it is clear that we are entering a period of economic, social and political turmoil brought about by peak oil, peak debt and the decomposition of a political system that millions of people now regard as corrupt and not to be trusted. There is increasing recognition even in parts of the business elite that major changes in the transformation of the energy system are going to be needed and that it does not make sense to deal separately with peak oil and climate change." (Source: Energy Bulletin)

Brilliant must-read first chapter of Irish think tank Feasta’s latest book "Sharing for Survival" published by the Energy Bulletin.

The key idea here, to return to the idea of indirectness, is that climate policies need to be not just head on attempts to tackle climate change but ideas for society – for reconstructing energy systems, for maintaining macro economic activity and employment (if not growth), for expressing new ideas of social justice and also for making clear how we are going to look after each other.”

Joseph Stiglitz Sees Terrifying Future for America If We Don’t Reverse Inequality |

“What will life look like down the road if we don’t reverse economic inequality? We must see through the myths of capitalism and build a mass movement if we are to save ourselves.” (Source:

Alternet has a really good interview on inequality and its dangers for democracy with Nobel-Prize economist Joe Stiglitz.

New Club of Rome Report paints dark future for humanity

"2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years", by Jorgen Randers, launched by the Club of Rome on May 7, raises the possibility that humankind might not survive on the planet if it continues on its path of over-consumption and short-termism. (Source:

While global leaders are focused on financial debt crisis, the ecological and social crisis gets worse.

Development: Aid to developing countries falls because of global recession

Major donors’ aid to developing countries fell by nearly 3% in 2011, breaking a long trend of annual increases. Disregarding years of exceptional debt relief, this was the first drop since 1997.”

New OECD report confirms that solidarity is becoming a scarce resource.

Sweden is the only country in the EU allocating more than 1% of GNI to development aid.

Read also the European Commission’s reaction to the OECD report: “"In times of crisis, the EU must not forget the poorest in the world", says Commissioner Piebalgs. EU confirms its position as the world’s largest aid donor in 2011

The 1% Strike Back

"The richest 1 percent of Americans capture 93 percent of all income growth. The challenge now is not to reinflate the economy, but to build a new foundation for growth by enpowering workers and holding executives accountable for the corrosive effect on democracy of this concentration of wealth."

Great analysis in Open Democracy about growing inequalities in capitalism, the decline of the unions and its effects and what to do about it.

Does the planet have time to wait for austerity to end?

"Environmental activism suffers in a recession – but this time our planet’s ecosystems may not have time to wait for a recovery…" (Source: The Guardian)

And what if there will be no recovery? What if we have entered the post-growth age? Maybe the planet needs a strong global austerity policy but one which is socially just (= wealth redistribution) and ecologically sustainable.

Tackling inequality: a new role for the state

"For the last thirty years we have been operating a faulty economic model. Yet it has survived the second deepest recession of the last 100 years largely intact. To escape today’s era of slow and intermittent growth and prolonged instability requires the great concentrations of income and wealth to be broken up – just as they were in the 1930s. Instead, across the globe, the great wealth divide has continued to grow through the recession." (Source: Open Democracy)

Brilliant analysis of the relationship between the Great Depression and 30 years of free-market policies which increased inequalities in all economies.

Read on the same topic also the latest Benchmarking Working Europe Report published by the European Trade Union Institute.

IMF economist: equality is the best remedy against crisis

"Unless countries reduce income disparities the next financial collapse is inevitable, argues economist Michael Kumhof. Perhaps a surprising conclusion from a senior researcher at the IMF. In interview he argues that equality is the best recipe against crisis."   Excellent interview in Eurozine with IMF economist Michael Kumhof.

Read also the recent report by the European Trade Union Institute: “Benchmarking Working Europe 2012”.


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