These days we hear a great deal about the sustainability or unsustainability of intentionally endless economic growth on a finite planet. Some argue for “green growth,” and claim that we can somehow ‘decouple’ economic growth and environmental damage so that growth can continue as a key component of business-as-usual. While that view has considerable support … More Clash of Values or Will to Power? Commerce Confronts Catastrophe
Overpopulation has been an on-and-off issue for many decades. With the publication of Paul Ehrlich’s book, The Population Bomb in 1971, the issue came to a head…for a while. Then, with the apparent hopelessness of controlling population growth through public policy, few talked much about it for several decades. The idea of population control languished, … More Is the Over-Population Crisis a Non-Starter?
Inequality is an odd word. First, it’s a negative, that is, it represents the absence of something; that something is equality. Equality is a simple term meaning that one thing is equal or the same as another. In economic affairs it is usually talked about in terms of equal opportunity, not equality of outcomes. Economists, … More Life Expectancy and the Complexity of Inequality
Many years ago, I read an article by Irwin Deutscher titled, “Words and Deeds: Social Science and Social Policy.” It was his 1965 presidential address to the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), published in 1966 in the journal, Social Problems. Deutscher was alluding to the fact that most of the data collected … More Words and Deeds: Entanglements of Hope and Doom
Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at the center of current buzz among techies, business people, and economists these days. Why? Well, recently developed AI software appears to be able to generate increasingly human-like ‘intelligence,’ at least on the surface. Vastly improved voice recognition software allows human language to be processed by AI software in order … More The Buzz on ChatGPT vs the Original A.I.
The trajectory of police violence against mostly young Black and Brown men has taken many turns. It finds expression in diverse situations. However, we cannot fully understand it without looking beyond the immediate murderous actions of particular officers in the heat of the moment. The violence of authority runs much deeper than that. Predatory Authority … More Predatory Authority and the American Culture of Violence
I have thought about the implications of the wisdom of indigenous cultures for industrial-consumer culture for quite a while now. The dominant worldview of industrial civilization, despite its power to control some elements of Nature, for a while, is so clearly out of step with the fundamental principles of both science and indigenous wisdom in … More Indigenous and Dominant Worldviews: Realism vs. Illusion
Many thoughtful comments by knowledgeable critics of COP27 and even institutional actors who recognize the climate crisis but fail to take serious climate action, reflect one fundamental underlying dilemma. Great ideas mean nothing unless converted into action. I am often amazed by the superficial clarity of statements of what must be done to avert or … More Global Triage: How to Optimize Opportunity While Mitigating Madness and Risk
COP27 did not disappoint. Disappointment implies that one had expected something positive. After decades of dodging the action question of the necessity of major reductions in carbon emissions and therefore producing and using fossil fuels, there had been (and still is) NO indication that any nation would commit to action. Thus, they did not disappoint. … More The Legacy of COP27: COP28 and Chronic Failure
Well, that depends. I know of nobody who considers the climate emergency a cheery optimistic prospect to look forward to. On the other hand, some get their buzz from the strangest things—the pain and suffering of others, the death of some creature who did them no harm, the wasted lives of victims of mass incarceration. … More Is the Climate Emergency a Buzzkill?