22 Jun 2017

Yes water markets work

Just my 183rd reminder to everyone that Australia has gone down that road :)

Happy summer solstice!

Stay cool! Drink water! (and stay warm if you're in the Southern Hemisphere :)

Growth, development and the doughnut

This post discusses a book (Doughnut Economics) that uses said image to help people understand how we need balance between too much (unsustainable) growth and too little (unfair) development. As someone who teaches on these topics, I think the image captures the key messages that are often lost on citizens and in public debates.

21 Jun 2017

Links of interest

  1. "There is really nothing much to be said about China that does not start with a river"
  2. China farms the world (can technology overcome pollution and resource consumption?)
  3. Chinese techno-infrastructure vs prepaid meters on groundwater [pdf]
  4. How Eritrea's dictator micro-manages and macro-fails
  5. "The Earth has been taking advantage of America" and "Trump trolls the world on the Paris Agreement" including suspending rules on methane leaks ("because they cost money to reduce"). Trump is hell-bent on getting to that tipping point of unstoppable CC.
  6. A connection is nice, a reliable connection is way better (applies to water as well as electricity)
  7. Hayek would have supported a carbon tax. (These 40 countries -- including China -- are pricing carbon)
  8. The blessings of Lake Malawi and Gash the river (Eritrea) are more obvious as they become more drained and diverted :(
  9. "Economics" is not about money as much as production choices in a large group
  10. "When the money gets big enough, finance and economics and politics are all the same thing. They are ways to measure risk."

20 Jun 2017

Leadership will prevail over censorship

This kid's going places...

Scam conflict diamonds

Speaking of India...

ps: I still am looking for someone who wants to run and "eco-diamond" business. PM me.

India's institutions are failing its people

Institutions are the "rules of the game" -- the formal rules and informal norms that can -- when strong -- enhance cooperation, defeat corruption, and contribute to prosperity and development.

One ready measure of "development" (or functional institutions) is the ready availability of safe drinking water and functioning sanitation.

In India, the institutions are weakened by corruption, caste-discrimination and bureaucratic indifference. To get an amazing insight into how dysfunction leads to failure, read this epic (17,000 word) investigation into the failing attempt to end "open defecation"

But not all Indians -- and very few politicians -- understand how failure occurs or who should get the blame. Read this piece on the scapegoating of Coke and Pepsi due to failures to manage groundwater, deliver drinking water or regulate pollution. Ask yourself how it might be possible for these companies to "destroy water security" in India, but not in many developed countries? The reason is that they are not the problem, but merely participants in India's failure.

Bottom Line: The Indian people need to go after their politicians and bureaucrats -- their fellow citizens -- if they are going to get safe water and the dignity of sanitation.

17 Jun 2017

Community is dying but nobody is watching

(Originally sent to my Aguanomics update mailing list)

It was about a decade ago that the iPhone and other "smart phones" came to the world. Little did we know that they would turn numerous people into zombies staring, swiping and liking whatever was "fed" to them by apps, websites and the like.

I grew up in the pre-internet era when TV had 3-5 channels, most people read the local paper, and buses and sidewalks were occupied by people who looked at each other. Although the internet (and related media) have brought us a deluge of content that's just right for me, that same freedom of choice has made it easier to forget what might be right (or useful) for others or society.

We've seen countries split into political factions claiming their own truths, pluralistic cultures dividing into "threatened" groups of Christians, Millennials or Blacks, and righteous groups forming around an endless circle-jerk of how special they are -- and others not.

These developments are changing us in slow and subtle, but serious ways: we are losing our communities.

I've blogged on these dynamics numerous times, have a paper "in press" on how people cooperate against a common enemy, and work hard to help our fledgling Leiden-University-College community work with its idealism and diversity.

Take a moment to look at your life. Do you have empathy sympathy for the people around you? To the point where you're happy to see your taxes help them, your work burdened (or assisted) by them, or your views resisted by them? Yes, it takes "two to tango," but social media and smart phones have made it ever easier to dance alone as "demands" -- including this newsletter -- fight for your attention.

I wouldn't mind losing my share of eyeballs if I knew that people were putting more time into their local community matters, but it seems that people are more isolated these days.

I have selfish reasons to say this -- as a public intellectual advertising new (sometimes uncomfortable) ideas, an entrepreneur asking others to support my climate-change projects, or as a teacher fighting students' addiction to "status updates" -- but I make these observations for all of us.

If there's one thing I've learned about sustainable communities, it's that connection is the key to success -- and survival.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these ideas, but I also want your help:

Please consider contributing to the Life plus 2 meters Kickstarter, as that money will help me attract writers with diverse "visions" of life in a climate-changed world. I am crowdsourcing the money (and stories!) because I think these projects should be part of a community effort to understand and negotiate how we will live with each other. Check out volume 1 to get an idea of the diverse potential futures we may experience.

We're only $100 short of the $600 goal and there's about a week until the deadline. (If we go over, then I put more money into prizes :)

Please contribute here if you're in North America.

If you want to contribute outside of Kickstarter, then you can PayPal to dzetland@gmail.com, transfer € to NL80ABNA0518695174 or send Bitcoin to 19G1kvaqwKKoyJcqRXPPvBjPXrHTTKGaqY. Please add your name and email to any donations :)

This is a non-profit negative-profit endeavor -- here's the spreadsheet of expenses to date.