Entropy, Gaia and the Invisible Hand
Authors: Geoff Willis
Abstract: A basic economic model is presented that shows many emergent features seen in real world economies. These features include personal distributions of wealth and income, macroeconomic income shares, and distributions of company sizes. The models are stock-flow consistent, dynamic ABM models and were partly inspired by the work of Ayres & Nair. Other influences include standard finance and physics theory, classical economics, and the work of Sraffa, Minsky and Godley. Derived from these models, an asset-based welfare system is discussed which can provide a universal basic income even under zero growth conditions. All the models are in steady-state equilibrium and resemble ‘Maximum Entropy Production’ ecological models. As such, the models suggest that economic systems can be considered to be maximum entropy production systems that are sub-systems of the world ecological system as a whole – entropy, Gaia and the invisible hand are all essentially the same thing.
Health narratives and the urban-rural divide: discursive practices versus contaminated realities of water and diarrhoea
Authors: Panagiota Kotsila
Abstract: This article explores and questions the relationship between water supply & sanitation (WSS) and waterborne diseases, particularly in the case of diarrhoea. Analysing empirical material from the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, I show how this relationship is more unclear and complex than causal and linear. Such complexity, even though evidenced in official data, has been selectively silenced in Vietnam’s official policy and discourse. It is hidden behind a state narrative which equates urbanisation with hygiene and health safety, while exclusively and falsely associates disease with rurality, poverty and backwardness; following a development agenda of ‘high modernism’. This work shows that the spread of disease is shaped by people’s access to safe water, environmentally and socially sustainable sanitation, as well as trusted healthcare and relevant health information. It however stresses that, in essence, these determinants depend more on political processes and decisions than on urban-rural categorisations and mainstream development indicators.
Intergenerational Resource Sharing: An Experimental Study Using Rawls’s Veil of Ignorance
Authors: Stephan Wolf, Cameron Dron
Abstract: Based on Rawls’s Veil, one may question the legitimacy of many decisions made by the currently living where burdens are shifted on future generations. For Rawls, this is normatively inacceptable: knowing their place in the generational sequence, the current generation fails decide from an impartial perspective. Starting from Rawls’s theory, we conducted a laboratory experiment on intergenerational resource sharing with 120 student participants. One part had to distribute a given endowment over 5 generations in the form of a sequential dictator game. In a second treatment, people could ex ante agree on a joint distribution; there was no formal enforcement mechanism, and people knew their position in the sequence. The third treatment was similar to the second, but while bargaining, people did not know their later position. As expected, bargaining as such created more equality, but to our surprise, the third treatment produce less egalitarian outcomes than the second one.
The neglected social aspects of resource use caps
Authors: Veronika Kiss, György Pataki
Abstract: This paper aims to put again into the spotlight the need for considering ecological limits, while ensuring dignity and fair benefit sharing for all by examining social aspects of energy resource capping proposals. Examining them deeply, it turns out that these tools not only address environmental problems but contribute significantly to human well-being.
Resource caps tools benefit the poor the most either rewarding marginalized people who use less energy or opening up opportunities for them through providing interest free loans and professional advice to transform their energy consumptions.. Among the social benefits they bring to society, are direct job creation, enhancement of human labour, reduced household costs as well as wider access to environmental friendly products and services. Furthermore, they create common purpose – aligning individual and collective aims to meet the requirement of the set energy caps, while using the fairly distributed energy units in the most efficient way.
Measuring the rural-urban disparity with GDP, ISEW and life satisfaction: A case study in Japan
Authors: Takashi Hayashi, Hiroki Saski
Abstract: This paper aims to measure rural-urban disparity in Japan with three different indicators: GDP, Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW), and life satisfaction (LS), and to identify whether there is any difference in the determinants of SWB between rural and urban residents. Recent research has shown that subjective well-being (SWB), elicited in survey, can serve as an empirical proxy for people’s experienced utility. However, their application to rural-urban disparity issues is as yet rather limited. The results show that (1) rural-urban disparity is larger in the order of GDP, ISEW, then LS, (2) the volume of the disparity heavily depends on the indicator applied, and (3) various factors other than economic one affect to SWB particularly for rural residents. Therefore, we conclude that rural-urban disparity should be measured not only by economy based indicators like GDP and ISEW but also by subjective indicators.
Community energy and the dynamics of inequality
Authors: Emilia Melville, Tim Jackson, Ian Christie, Celia Way, Jim Coleman
Abstract: This paper considers the extent to which the growing community energy sector in the UK can be seen as part of the transformation to a more sustainable economy. Community energy institutions are viewed as attempts to transform the economic system whilst surviving within it. This pragmatic approach means that the transformational potential of the intervention is limited by the constraints of the wider system. This paper focuses on ways in which the community energy sector attempts to disrupt the systemic increase in economic inequality, and barriers to doing so. Issues identified so far include the relative legitimacy of local authority or ‘community’ action, the return on investment required to attract sufficient capital for large projects, the personal resources required to be able to participate, perpetuating social inequalities of privilege, and the procedural inequality issues associated with allocation of community benefit.
Development within planetary boundaries? Distributional effects of recent African hydropower projects
Authors: Ines Dombrowsky
Abstract: In Africa hydropower is on the rise and often promoted as a low carbon strategy for development within planetary boundaries. However, in the past hydropower development often took place at the expense of the project affected population (PAP). This paper therefore analyzes the likely distributional effects of the Ruzizi III and the Rusumo Falls hydropower projects which are currently planned in Africa’s Great Lakes region.
The paper finds that in both cases the PAP has high expectations that the projects will foster development, employment as well as access to electricity and other services. However, it also shows that considerable uncertainties exist among the PAP with respect to the projects’ status, planned compensation procedures as well as benefit sharing mechanisms. While the projects are likely to contribute to low carbon development in urban areas, considerable additional efforts will be needed to ensure that they also truly benefit the project affected population.
A world distribution of green house gas emissions
Authors: Lucas Chancel
Abstract: The rise in domestic inequalities pose a substantial challenge to policymakers in the coming decades and little is known about how to reduce them under climate and resource constraints. This paper will estimate direct and indirect GHG emissions of different income and social groups in the USA and France over the past three decades using Multiregional Input Output methodologies. Estimates will then be used to address the following questions: How was the evolution of resource use distributed among income and social groups in France and the USA and what drivers explain these trends? What consumption categories account for the rise in material resource requirements over the past two decades and how does this change across countries, income and social groups? What types of changes in expenditure patterns and distribution would be consistent with equitable access and life satisfaction, while remaining within planetary boundaries?