Posts Tagged ‘global’

Spotlighting Social Returns of Impact Investing

This recent and relatively in-depth article (January 2015) offers a great look at the promise and excitement of impact investing: “Bannick says that if you picture a graph of the capital invested every year in the United States, it would look like a lopsided barbell: on one end, tens of trillions of dollars seeking the highest return possible; on the other, nearly $45 billion of philanthropic money seeking no return whatsoever. In the middle, very little. ‘We need to fill in that capital curve,’”he says. One potentially viable pool: high net-worth individuals. The 127 people to date who have signed the Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge, promising half of their money to philanthropic causes, have a net worth of around $600 billion. The Forbes listing of the richest 400 Americans alone totaled just over $2 trillion in 2013. ‘The pools of capital are absolutely massive,” says Bannick. “And while some may still be looking to maximize their investments, a lot of these folks would be willing to invest and get a more modest return, perhaps, while having a fabulous social impact.” Read the article.

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This world is enough

This essay by Australian economist John Quiggin offers an overview of several factors that make a Muddle Through Up future plausible, and thus reinforce the Dealer response to our times. In particular, Quiggin looks at ways we can successfully share the economic prosperity pie to include today’s excluded populations while living within the planet’s ecological limits. Read essay.

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Peer To Peer Lending Sites: Comparing Lending Club, Prosper, and Kiva

This article describes how peer to peer lending (or micro-lending) works, and compares several of the leading lending sites: Lending Club, Prosper, and Kiva. All these platforms allow investors to lend money to groups or individuals. Kiva loans are interest-free; principle only is returned. The other two require credit checks from investors and return interest as well as principle. Read the article.

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Global Shapers: Youth Leadership Program

A network of hubs of of young leaders, centered on cities/regions. Participants are chosen for their leadership potential and desire to serve society. Hubs lead local projects to improve their communities, and shapers are able to participate in the worldwide network of Global Shapers as well as other World Economic Forum events. Visit their website.

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Jared Diamond: Collapse (it can happen here)

Jared Diamond is a geographer and cultural historian. While his books range widely, and he is by no means a Doomer himself, his book “Collapse” offers some of the most solid evidence for the fundamental point that even complex societies like ours can and have crumbled in the past. The point of the book is more complex than this; in particular he looks at how we could “choose to succeed.” Still, as a reality check, this book is valuable to us all.

The book: Diamond’s website synopsis of “Collapse”
Quotes from the book on Good Reads
The rest of Diamond’s books
Video: “Why Societies Collapse”


Beyond GDP: measuring true wealth

In recent years, the shortcomings of the commonly-cited GDP (gross domestic product) have become more widely recognized, spreading even to some governments and mainstream organizations such as the UN. Many alternative metrics have been proposed, each of which aims to capture aspects of societal well-being that are omitted by GDP, and/or to minimize the values-neutral elements of GDP (which considers money spent on, say, cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon spill as a positive contribution to GDP). Economist Hazel Henderson is a long-time champion of such alternative measures; Ethical Markets, where she is a principle, tracks news from around the world on such matters, and in an early-2015 essay, she highlights several current initiatives:

Genuine Progress Indicator. This website includes numerous articles and scholarly papers about GDP, several alternative measures, and the GPI, which estimates “economic welfare,” which appears to have peaked in 1978, while GDPs have generally continued rising.

Beyond GDP: The Need for New Measures of Progress (pdf). A report published by Boston University in 2009, by the team that developed the GPI.

Living Planet Index. Developed by the World Wildlife Fund, the focus here is on species and habitats.

Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators. A twelve-topic assessment of quality of life trends in the United States.

Sustainable Society Index. A recently-developed metric that tracks twenty societal measures of sustainability (including sanitation, gender equality, income distribution, governance, and ecological factors) for individual countries around the world.

Gross National Happiness. A national initiative in Bhutan that has spurred interest from countries and cities around the world.

Happy Planet Index. An initiative that builds on Bhutan’s lead.

Canadian Index of Wellbeing. Since 2011, this initiative has looked at country-wide wellbeing, and recently Ontario became the first province to use the methodology.


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Hans Rosling: Videos that illuminate statistics to reshape your worldview

Hans Rosling is not as much of a big-picture philosopher/analyst, like many of our D-type thought leaders, but rather offers dramatic visual representations of our recent history, making the point that by nearly every measurable criteria, human society has been steadily improving. He’s a professor of international health, and a wizard at presenting statistical data in ways that delight and inspire.

Video: 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 minutes
The best introduction to his overall message; from a BBC special.

See all his TED talks here.

Video: How Not to be Ignorant About the World
In this video, Hans Roslings shares charts on global population, health, and income to demonstrate that many of our ideas about the state of the world are wrong. His son Ola provides guidance on four ways to become less ignorant about the world in which we live.

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Humanity’s deep future

This fascinating long form article takes a deep dive into the foreseeable and nearly unforeseeable future of earth and humanity, focusing on the work of Nick Bostrom, the director of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, a research collective tasked with pondering the long-term fate of human civilisation. Bostrom considers an array of risks on different timescales, from natural mass extinctions via asteroid impact or a supervolcano to technological missteps to our possible interstellar future. Read article.

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NASA/NSF-funded study: industrial civilization at risk of “irreversible collapse” ?!?

NASA/NSF-funded study: industrial civilization at risk of “irreversible collapse” ?!?
A new study sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution. Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.” See article.

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The Breakthrough Institute: Ecomodernism

The Breakthrough Institute is a think tank committed to “modernizing environmentalism for the 21st century” by rethinking old left-right framing and challenging some key liberal dogmas. Despite their name, we see them more as Drivers, in that their analysis and recommendations are rooted in an eco-pragmatism that includes elements of business-as-usual, albeit directed toward clear sustainability goals. They’ve coined the terms “ecomodernist” and “radical pragmatism” to describe their approach, which includes embracing nuclear power as the most viable path to a carbon-free electricity system in the short timeline available, as well as GMOs as useful tool for global nutrition and agricultural resiliency in the face of climate change. They’ll push your buttons if you’re a standard-issue liberal, but we find their reasoned, contrary voices to be well worth hearing, whether you agree with their bottom line or not.

Breakthrough Institute website
Contains a wealth of in-depth articles and essays

Breakthrough Journal
This quarterly journal, available online or in print, is the best place to stay current with what the New Republic called
“among the most complete efforts to provide a fresh answer to” the future of liberalism.

Breakthrough Dialogue 2014: High-energy Planet
Here’s an example of the Breakthrough mindset. Each year, they convene a 2-day “anti-Davos” organized around a theme; see this page for links to essays that summarize the discussions on panels exploring energy issues.

Videos: Breakthrough’s YouTube Channel

Videos: Modernizing Liberalism
A large collection of videos from a 2011 conference put together by Breakthrough Institute.

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Fair Trade certified products features information on the fair trade issues for several key product categories, and links to Fair Trade organizations in many countries around the world. Their affiliated US partner is Fair Trade America, whose website includes a list of several dozen Fair Trade certified products available here.  Another US group, Fair Trade USA, split off from the international group several years ago, and its site features a much larger list of products bearing its own certification label; see FairTradeUSA product guide.

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