Monthly Archives: April 2012

Podcast: Talking about workplace, community democracy, climate change and sustainability with David Schweickart

[Updated from Dec. 2011 with podcast episodes] Here’s the video of a conversation I had with David Schweickart, author of After Capitalism, at this year’s ICAPE conference.

It was a great discussion; David’s work on economic democracy is one of the most fully-fleshed out alternative economic models we have, and I greatly appreciated this chance to really explore some of the deep issues that arise when we try to imagine life after capitalism.

  • Part I:

    Download the audio segment
  • Part II:

    Download the audio segment

[Subscribe on iTunes * Podcast link]

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Earth Day 2012: Environmental Movement at a Crossroads

Originally published by Alternet

April 20, 2012  | This Sunday marks the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day. I was privileged to be legislative director for Senator Gaylord Nelson, who had the vision in 1970 for Earth Day’s “national teach-in on the environment,” and who helped make that vision a reality. Over the past four decades, I have witnessed and cheered the growth and development of the modern environmental movement. Yet, even as the achievements of the movement are honored, we should also be honest: viewed with any serious attention to long and deep trends, the environment is in serious and ever-growing danger.
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The New Economy at Harvard, and Historical Insights for Movement-Building

From March 30th-April 1st 2012, the on-campus group Economy Futures, consisting of 18 committed Harvard undergraduates, hosted the Transition to a New Economy Conference. In a piece entitled “Young People Tire of Old Economic Models” on The New York Times website, environmental journalist Andrew C. Revkin provides excellent context within which to situate the Harvard conference. He quotes Rina Kuusipalo, one of the student organizers, who considers the event “an effort to create holistic alternatives to the current economic system — a discourse cracked open by Occupy Wall Street.” Read More »

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Podcast: Left Forum’s Path to Systemic Change in American Society

On March 17, Between The Lines Radio News Magazine hosted a panel at the Left Forum entitled, “From Evolution to Revolution: The Path to Systemic Change in American Society.”

This podcast is adapted from a longer recording available at BTL’s website, which hosts other audio files from the three-day conference’s various speakers and events. This podcast features Gar Alperovitz’s presentation, followed by his responses during the wide-ranging and extensive question-and-answer period that followed.

Download the audio segment

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RIO+20: Building a Sustainable and Desirable Economy-in-Society-in-Nature

“Building a Sustainable and Desirable Economy-in-Society-in-Nature” is a report synthesizing some of the best current thinking around the intersection of economic growth and ecological crisis, prepared under the auspices of the Sustainable Development in the 21st century (SD21) project as a part of the lead up to the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (RIO+20).  The report, coauthored by Robert Costanza, Gar Alperovitz, Herman E. Daly, Joshua Farley, Carol Franco, Tim Jackson, Ida Kubiszewski, Juliet Schor, and Peter Victor, is a call to come to terms with the impossibility of infinite economic growth on a finite planet, and to imagine (and build) a real alternative to the business as usual system before it’s too late. As the report’s introduction puts it:

The world has changed dramatically. We no longer live in a world relatively empty of humans and their artifacts. We now live in the “Anthropocene,” era in a full world where humans are dramatically altering our ecological life-support system. Our traditional economic concepts and models were developed in an empty world. If we are to create sustainable prosperity, if we seek “improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities,” we are going to need a new vision of the economy and its relationship to the rest of the world that is better adapted to the new conditions we face. We are going to need an economics that respects planetary boundaries, that recognizes the dependence of human well-being on social relations and fairness, and that recognizes that the ultimate goal is real, sustainable human well-being, not merely growth of material consumption. This new economics recognizes that the economy is embedded in a society and culture that are themselves embedded in an ecological life-support system, and that the economy cannot grow forever on this finite planet.

This report is a synthesis of ideas about what this new economy-in-society-in-nature could look like and how we might get there. Most of the ideas presented here are not new. The coauthors of this report have published them in various forms over the last several decades, and many others have expressed similar ideas in venues too numerous to mention.

What is new is the timing and the situation. The time has come when we must make a transition. We have no choice. Our present path is clearly unsustainable. As Paul Raskin has said, “Contrary to the conventional wisdom, it is business as usual that is the utopian fantasy; forging a new vision is the pragmatic necessity”. But we do have a choice about how to make the transition and what the new state of the world will be. We can engage in a global dialogue to envision “the future we want,” the theme of Rio+20, and then devise an adaptive strategy to get us there, or we can allow the current system to collapse and rebuild from a much worse starting point. We obviously argue for the former strategy.

Download the report: Building a Sustainable and Desirable Economy-in-Society-in-Nature

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