Highlights from Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution

By Peter Kalmus

Independence is an illusion. If you truly depended on nothing, it would mean that you could float out in deep space by yourself, alive and happy. We certainly depend on our biosphere. We also depend on each other. If you depend on some tool for survival, a parka or a knife perhaps, doesn’t this mean you depend on the people who made that tool, and the people who made it possible for those people to make the tool? And would life be meaningful if it were lived in isolation, apart from any other person? Self-reliance differs from independence.

A self-reliant person can solve problems and find new ways of doing things; has a wide array of skills; is confident and optimistic; is strong and able to help others. In my experience, community-reliance grows out of self-reliance. Community-reliance means contributing to community, so that the community is strong and there for you when you need it.

What was a problem with a solution in 1986 has become a predicament. We probably can’t solve it, but we can choose how we respond to it and how bad we let it get. A predicament is an existential challenge. We cannot make it go away. Death, the archetypal predicament, challenges us to respond by finding meaning in our brief lives. Likewise, I think our collective socio-ecologic predicament challenges us to find out who we really are and what it means to be children of this Earth, in harmony with ourselves, each other, and the rest of the biosphere.

We climate scientists have done good work. We’ve concluded, unequivocally, that global warming is caused by humans burning fossil fuels, although we continue to understate the urgency and seriousness of the threat by systematically “erring on the side of least drama.”

The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. — ALBERT ALLEN BARTLETT

I hold a different dream: living well on Earth without growth.

I’ve noticed that my brain extrapolates growth by assuming trends will follow a straight line over time. For most processes, this is a good short-term approximation. But if this is true of most human brains, and I think it is, it explains why exponential growth takes us by surprise: it sneaks up on us by seeming linear at first. Then it explodes.

Human greenhouse gas emissions (mainly CO2) and atmospheric CO2 concentration are both growing exponentially at a rate of 2.2% per year (see Chapter 3). Something growing at a continuous rate of R percent per year doubles every 69/R years.6 At 2.2% annual growth, the cumulative amount of greenhouse gases we’ve dumped into the atmosphere is doubling every 30 years.

Before James Watt patented his steam engine in 1781, the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration was 280 ppm. The Earth’s climate was stable and amenable for human civilization. By 2014, the CO2 concentration had risen to 400 ppm. This increase implies that if we continue business as usual, 30 years after 2014 the human contribution of 120 ppm will have doubled, taking us up to 520 ppm in 2044.

Between 1961 and 1999, irrigated acreage increased by 97%, and use of pesticides and nitrogen fertilizer increased by 854% and 638% respectively.24 Today, less than 20% of this nitrogen ends up in our food.25 The rest becomes nitrate pollution groundwater, washes downstream where it causes algal blooms and dead zones, or is blown into the air where it causes respiratory illness and eventually imbalances forest ecosystems.26

My philosophy is to make money. — REX TILLERSON, former CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation

Once formed, corporations seek to make as much profit as possible—indeed, they’re legally bound to do so.84 Naturally they seek to pay as little as possible in taxes and to limit any regulation that might impinge on profits. Their only goal is to grow as rapidly as possible.

As voters, much of this corporate influence is out of our control: the two-party system in the US, for example, has long ensured that almost every candidate with a reasonable chance of winning high office is under corporate influence—Republican and Democrat alike. This infiltration of the political system brings capital ever more wealth, growth, and control over the halls of power, a positive feedback loop. Systems with such a feedback are inherently unstable.

With very vigilant control, we can prevent this feedback with checks and balances; but as soon as there’s a lapse in our vigilance, the feedback—wealth’s self-gravity—will again metastasize. We can call this metastasis the corporatocracy. Its building blocks are corporations, wealthy individuals, politicians, and laws. Its essence is the systematized love of money.

Climate stalemate

Fossil fuel corporations are among the largest and most profitable corporations the planet has ever seen,87 and all industrial extraction of wealth, from agriculture to mining to manufacturing, runs on fossil fuels. Not surprisingly, the corporatocracy views climate action as a threat to its survival. To preserve the status quo, it actively blocks meaningful climate action by controlling policymakers, and by confusing the public by falsely sowing scientific doubt.88

Effective climate action is certainly hamstrung under corporatocracy, which prioritizes rent-seeking over the biosphere. Even without the additional burden of runaway corporatocracy, modern capitalistic democracies would still tend to prioritize economic growth over the biosphere.

Global extractivist trade, and the growth and consumption that are its lifeblood, appears incompatible with meaningful climate mitigation. This is why we see efforts, for example, to put price tags on ecosystem services. I personally fear that these sorts of incremental efforts are too little, too late; and that what we really require is a paradigm shift: instead of viewing the biosphere as part of the human economy, we need to view the human economy as part of the biosphere.

Tribalism Groups of humans with a common identity—whether tribes, political parties, nations, races, or religions—tend to feel separated and afraid of other groups. We humans use mechanisms such as language, clothes, stories, and beliefs to identify individuals in our group and to set ourselves apart from others. Our need to belong to a group is so strong that we tend to take on all the beliefs of our group. Open-minded, fact-based thinking shuts down.

Not every human culture has believed that humans are exceptional among species; many indigenous people did not, and do not, share this belief. For example, aboriginal people in Australia believe that nonhuman animals and plants were once people, an expression of oneness between beings.11 I believe that the modern human exceptionalism central to the industrial mindset is a driver of our current ecosocial predicament.

Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis

George Monbiot

Last annotated on Monday October 9, 2017

It is not enough to challenge an old narrative, however outdated and discredited it may be. Change happens only when you replace it with another. When we develop the right story, and learn how to tell it, it will infect the minds of people across the political spectrum.

The old world, which once looked stable, even immutable, is collapsing. A new era has begun, loaded with hazard if we fail to respond, charged with promise if we seize the moment. Whether the systems that emerge from this rupture are better or worse than the current dispensation depends on our ability to tell a new story, a story that learns from the past, places us in the present and guides the future.

Stories are the means by which we navigate the world. They allow us to interpret its complex and contradictory signals. We all possess a narrative instinct: an innate disposition to listen for an account of who we are and where we stand.

In his illuminating book Don’t Even Think About It, George Marshall explains that ‘stories perform a fundamental cognitive function: they are the means by which the Emotional Brain makes sense of the information collected by the Rational Brain. People may hold information in the form of data and figures, but their beliefs about it are held entirely in the form of stories.

When we encounter a complex issue and try to understand it, what we look for is not consistent and reliable facts but a consistent and comprehensible story. When we ask ourselves whether something ‘makes sense’, the ‘sense’ we seek is not rationality, as scientists and philosophers perceive it, but narrative fidelity. Does what we are hearing reflect the way we expect humans and the world to behave? Does it hang together? Does it progress as stories should progress?

Drawing on experimental work, Marshall shows that, even when people have been told something is fictitious, they will cling to it if it makes a good story and they have heard it often enough. Attempts to refute such stories tend only to reinforce them, as the disproof constitutes another iteration of the narrative.

The only thing that can displace a story is a story. Effective stories tend to possess a number of common elements. They are easy to understand. They can be briefly summarised and quickly memorised. They are internally consistent. They concern particular characters or groups. There is a direct connection between cause and effect. They describe progress – from a beginning through a middle to an end. The end resolves the situation encountered at the beginning, with a conclusion that is positive and inspiring.

(One is) the story of the hero setting out on a quest, encountering great hazard (often in the form of a monster), conquering it in the face of overwhelming odds, and gaining prestige, power or insight.

Our minds appear to be attuned not only to stories in general, but to particular stories that follow consistent patterns.

I will show how both stories ran into trouble, encountering problems that, if facts and evidence ruled the world, would have forced either the radical modification or abandonment of these doctrines. But because of their narrative power and a disastrous failure to develop effective countervailing stories, they have yet to be replaced. The facts changed, but our minds did not.

If the rupture is to be resolved for good rather than for ill, we need a new story. Our challenge is to produce one that is faithful to the facts, faithful to our values, and faithful to the narrative patterns to which we respond.

Without a coherent and stabilizing narrative, these movements remain reactive, disaggregated and precarious, always at risk of burnout and disillusion. Despair is the state we fall into when our imagination fails. When we have no stories that describe the present and guide the future, hope evaporates. Political failure is, in essence, a failure of imagination. Without a new story, a story that is positive and propositional rather than reactive and oppositional, nothing changes. With such a story, everything changes.

In seeking to develop a restorative political story around which we can gather and mobilize, we should first identify the values and principles we want to champion. This is because the stories we tell propagate the beliefs around which they are built.

The failure to tell a new story has been matched by an equally remarkable omission: the failure to discern and describe the values and principles that might inform our politics.

Values are the bedrock of effective politics. They represent the importance we place on fundamental ways of being, offering a guide to what we consider to be good and worthwhile. They can often be described with single words.

Research across seventy nations suggests that intrinsically motivated people are more open to change, have a stronger interest in universal rights and equality, and a stronger desire to protect and cherish both human beings and the natural world than more extrinsically motivated people.4

Most people, when asked what they care about, prioritise intrinsic values, placing community, friendship and equality at the top of the list.5 Surveys of both children and adults reveal that the value which tends to be favoured above all others is what psychologists call ‘benevolence’, by which they mean protecting or advancing the welfare of people we know.6

(Some others, extrinsically motivated) are strongly motivated by the prospect of individual reward and praise. They have little interest in cooperation or community. People who emphasise these values tend to report higher levels of stress, anxiety, anger, envy, dissatisfaction and depression than those at the intrinsic end.7 We are not born with these values. They are strongly shaped by our social environment, by the cues…

If, by contrast, people live in a country in which no one is allowed to fall out of the boat, in which social norms are characterised by kindness, empathy, community and freedom from want and fear, their values are likely to shift towards the intrinsic end

Whether or not people become involved in civic life is influenced by their perceptions of their culture’s dominant values. For example, research by the Common Cause Foundation reveals that if people perceive others to be mostly extrinsically motivated, they are less likely to vote in elections.9 When political parties dilute or abandon their values and adopt the values, phrases and stories of their… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

If our purpose is to create a kinder world, we should embed within the political story we tell the intrinsic values that promote this aim: empathy, understanding, connectedness with other people… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

They help to develop a social environment that fosters their aspirations, turning the Values Ratchet in the right direction. This is what many adherents of religion are able to do, and it might help to explain… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

Effective religious narratives, like effective political narratives, are often restoration stories. They tell us that, through the observance of faith and other religious values, we find redemption:  the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

The lesson religion has to teach politics is: first, know your values; then evangelise them in the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

principles are the fundamental propositions at the heart of a political philosophy. In other words, they are a description of the world as we would like it to be. Again, they need to be expressed clearly and overtly, so that… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

We want to live in a place guided by empathy, respect, justice, generosity, courage, fun and love. 2.We want to live in a place governed by judgements that are honestly made, supported by evidence, accountable and transparent. 3.We want to live in a place in which everyone’s needs are met,

4.We want to live in a place in which the fruits of the work we do and the resources we use are fairly and widely distributed, in which shared prosperity is a general project, and the purpose of economic life is to enable universal well-being. 5.We want to live in a place in which all people have equal rights, in practice as well as in theory. 6.We… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

We want to live in a place in which, regardless of where they were born, everyone has a neighbourhood of which they feel proud, where they can freely participate in the life of the community. 8.We want to live in a place which, proudly and consistently, supports people in… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

9.We want to live in a place in which a thriving natural world provides a refuge both for rich and abundant wildlife and for people seeking relief from the clamour of daily life. 10.We want to live in a place whose political system is fair and fully representative, in which everyone has a voice and every… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

11.We want to live in a place in which decisions are taken at the most appropriate level, to enhance democratic participation and connection. 12.We want to live in a place in which everyone has access to the information needed to make meaningful democratic choices,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

13.We want to live in a place in which education is a joyful process, encouraging children of all abilities to engage with enthusiasm, and adults to continue learning throughout their lives. 14.We want to live in a place in which good housing, fast and effective… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

15.We want to live in a place that helps to build a safe, prosperous and resilient community of nations. 16.We want to live in a place that is open to new ideas and information, and… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

A politics that has failed to articulate its values and principles leaves nothing to which people can attach themselves but policies. Policies should grow from the soil of principles. But, like the plants in our flowerbeds, they have a… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In mainstream, inclusive politics today, the soil has been washed away. Parties have been growing their policies hydroponically. A set of principles, important as it is, does not constitute a story. Nor can all the principles I have listed be incorporated into a story – they cover too much ground to create a coherent or satisfying narrative. But in seeking to develop one, we should be constantly aware of what we are trying to achieve. If the story succeeds, is it likely to advance these principles or clash with them?

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The narrative we build, informed by our values and principles, has to be simple and intelligible. If it is to transform our politics, it should appeal to as many people as possible, crossing traditional party lines. It should resonate with deep needs and desires. It should explain the mess we are in and the means by which we might escape

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it must be firmly grounded in… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Part 1: Original Virtue There is something deeply weird about humanity. As an article in the journal Frontiers in Psychology points out, we are ‘spectacularly unusual when compared to other animals’.11 This phrase does not refer to our skills with language or our use of tools or ability to change our environment, remarkable though these are. It refers… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We possess an unparalleled sensitivity to the needs of others, a unique level of concern about their welfare, and a peerless ability to create moral norms that generalise and enforce these tendencies. Studies in neuroscience, psychology and evolutionary biology all point to the same conclusion: in this respect we are the extreme biological outlier… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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By the age of fourteen months, children begin to help each other, attempting to hand over objects another child cannot reach.13 By the time they are two, they start sharing some of the things they value. By the age of three, they start… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We evolved in the African savannahs: a world of fangs and claws and horns and tusks. We survived despite being weaker and slower than both our potential predators and most of our prey. We did so through developing, to an extraordinary degree, a capacity for mutual aid. As it was essential to our survival, this urge to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Just as we feel physical pain to protect ourselves from physical injury, we feel emotional pain to protect ourselves from social injury. The emotional pain caused by isolation from other members of our group drove us to return to them, so that we did not get picked off by predators or die of starvation. Social pain and physical pain are processed in our brains by the same… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Social contact reduces physical pain.18 This is why we hug our children when they hurt themselves: affection is a powerful analgesic. Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation, which might explain… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Social pain can be harder to bear than physical pain, which could be why some people self-harm in response to emotional distress: it could be interpreted as an attempt to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We, the supremely social mammal, cannot cope alone: we need connection – togetherness – just as… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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our minds – which are always on the lookout for signs of danger – emphasise the rare but spectacular acts of violence a small proportion of the population inflicts on others, but not the daily acts of kindness and cooperation the rest of us perform, often… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We remember, for example, the two terrorists who murdered twelve people in Paris in January 2015, and our recollection of that horror persuades us that evil is a central feature of the human condition. Less prominent in our minds are the 3 million people in France and the millions elsewhere who gathered, lit candles and marched in public places in solidarity with the victims. These people, not the two terrorists, represent the human norm. Our… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Every day, I see people helping others with luggage, offering to cede their place in a queue, giving money to the homeless, setting aside time for others, listening to friends in distress, volunteering for causes which offer no material reward. Occasionally we risk everything for the sake of other people – even for people we do not know. I think of my Dutch mother-in-law, whose family took in a six-year-old Jewish boy – a stranger – and hid him in their house for two years during the German… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Our time is distinguished from previous eras by atomisation: the rupturing of social bonds, the collapse of shared ambitions and civic life, our… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The consequences are devastating. That loneliness (by which I mean the pain inflicted by involuntary isolation) causes unhappiness goes without saying. It is strongly associated with depression, paranoia, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat.22 It also has major impacts on our physical health, partly because it… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Chronic loneliness has been linked to dementia,23 high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes,24 lowered resistance to viruses25 – even a higher rate of accidents. Some research suggests it has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking fifteen… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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the great general advance in material conditions has not been accompanied, as our forebears might have expected, by general happiness. Instead, this age of atomisation breeds anxiety, discontent and dissatisfaction – conditions that afflict even the wealthiest classes.28

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Loneliness is just one symptom of a wider crisis of alienation: a loss of connection with people and place, and with a sense of meaning and purpose. Society, the world’s living systems, our happiness, our self-control, our sense of belonging: all are falling apart. Why has this happened?

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Part 3: The Causes Part of the answer is that this crisis is self-generating. The pursuit of material satisfactions dulls our concern for other people and for the living planet. It blinds us to our place in the world and the damage we impose on others. It propels us down a narrow corridor of self-interest, self-enhancement and immediate gratification.

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These tendencies are reinforced by an economic system that puts a price on everything and a value on nothing; a political system that promotes economic growth above all other aims, regardless of whether it enhances human welfare or damages it; and organisational and technological changes that could scarcely have been better designed to drive us apart. We were once… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Globalisation has weakened our connections with our neighbours and neighbourhoods. Jobs are outsourced to cheaper workforces, causing, in some cases, the collapse of local economies and the communities that depended on them. Power is outsourced to global institutions we cannot influence, undermining our sense of self-ownership and political community.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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above all, I believe, the trend towards social breakdown is driven by the dominant political narrative of our times. This narrative is a reiteration of the story told by the philosopher Thomas Hobbes in 1651. He asserted that the default state of human relations is a war of everyone against everyone else. Life in the state… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Competition and individualism are the values at the heart of the twenty-first century’s secular religion. Everywhere we are encouraged to fight for wealth and social position like stray dogs over a dustbin: competition, we are told, brutal as it may be, will enhance our lives to a greater extent than any other instrument. This story is supported by a rich mythology of rugged individualism, and advanced through an inspiring lexicon of lone rangers, sole traders, self-starters, self-made men and women, going it alone.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Seeing some people grab vast wealth while others go hungry (at the time of writing, the world’s eight richest people have the same net worth as the poorest half of its population)31 reinforces the sense that this is a dog-eat-dog world. We either join the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Many economists insist that we are typically selfish and self-maximising. They use a term to describe this perception of humanity that sounds serious and scientific: Homo economicus. Most of them seem to be unaware that the concept was formulated, by J. S. Mill and others, as a thought experiment. Soon it became a modelling tool.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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we have heard the story of our competitive, self-maximising nature so often, and it is told with such panache and persuasive power, that we have accepted it as an account of who we really are. It has changed our perception of ourselves. Our perceptions, in turn, change the way we behave.

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Our tendency is to stop seeing ourselves as people striving together to overcome our common problems, and to view ourselves instead as people striving against each other to overcome our individual problems. Never mind that these problems are often much bigger than we are, and arise from structural forces that no person acting alone can tackle. As individualism is the religion of our times, it must be the solution to whatever crisis we face.

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No solutions are proposed for insecurity, precarity and desperation. Indeed, as the cruel eighteenth-century doctrines of Thomas Malthus and Joseph Townsend – ‘it is only hunger which can spur and goad them on to labour’ – are disinterred, precarity and desperation are recast as the necessary incentives to encourage the poor to work harder.34

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The loss of common purpose leads in turn to a loss of belief in ourselves as a force for change. Many, in recent years, lost their belief in the promise of democracy: that, through voting, mobilising and campaigning, we can make our political systems work for all of us, rather than just a select few. We have tended to face our crises with passivity and resignation.

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Faith in democratic norms is collapsing. A study published in the Journal of Democracy revealed that, while 72 per cent of those born before the Second World War in the United States believed it was essential to live in a democracy, this figure fell to just 30 per cent of those born in 1980.35 One in six of the people surveyed asserted that army rule would be a good or very good development – a proportion that has more than doubled in twenty years.

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The reaction against democratic failure has licensed a clutch of suppressed hatreds – of women, immigrants, racial and religious minorities, difference of all kinds.

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Governments founded on lies and exaggerations are making promises they cannot possibly keep, and blaming an ever wider array of scapegoats when they fail to materialise. If jobs are destroyed en masse by automation, this will enhance the need for distraction. As people become angrier and more alienated, the net of blame will be cast wider.

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Eventually the anger that cannot be answered through policy will be turned outwards, towards other nations. Lacking other means of disguising their failures or establishing legitimacy, governments will discover the potential of foreign aggression. Terrorism provides ample opportunities for justification. Major war, which seemed until recently a distant prospect, begins to look like a plausible threat.

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By reviving community, built around the places in which we live, and by anchoring ourselves, our politics and parts of our economy in the life of this community, we can recover the best aspects of our humanity. We can mobilise our remarkable nature for our own good and the good of our neighbours.

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We will no longer walk alone. We will no longer work alone. We will no longer feel alone. We will restore our sense of belonging: belonging to ourselves, belonging to our communities, belonging to our localities, belonging to the world. In turn, we will develop a politics and an economy that belong to us. By rebuilding community, we will renew democracy and the hope we invest in it. We will develop political systems that are not so big that they cannot respond to us but not so small that they cannot meet the problems we face.

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We will achieve something that, paradoxically, we cannot realise alone: self-reliance. By helping each other, we help ourselves. The strong, embedded cultures we develop will be robust enough to accommodate social diversity of all kinds: a diversity of people, of origins, of life experiences, of ideas and ways of living. We will no longer need to fear people who differ from ourselves;

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By coming together we discover who we are. We ignite our capacity for empathy and altruism. Togetherness and belonging allow us to become the heroes of the story.

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In The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control.2 Partly as a result of people’s justifiable fear of the state power marshalled and deployed by both fascism and Soviet communism, his book influenced a wide range of readers. Among them were some of the world’s wealthiest people, who were chafing against restraints imposed by the state, such as high taxes and strong public protections. They saw in the story he told an opportunity to challenge the prevailing political narrative of the time: the narrative of social democracy.

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restricting the freedoms of the rich and powerful, intrude on the creation of wealth, thereby causing harm to others. The freedoms of the opulent, he contended, should be absolute. Democracy, by contrast, ‘is not an ultimate or absolute value’. In fact, liberty depends on preventing the majority from exercising choice over the direction that politics and society might take. He

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justified this position by creating a heroic narrative of extreme wealth. He conflated the economic elite, spending their money in new ways, with philosophical and scientific pioneers.

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Inherited wealth, he claimed, is more socially useful than earned wealth: ‘the idle rich’, who don’t have to work for their money, can devote themselves to influencing ‘fields of thought and opinion, of tastes and beliefs’. Even when they seem to be spending money on nothing but ‘aimless display’, they are in fact acting as society’s vanguard. Hayek softened his opposition to monopolies and hardened his opposition to trade unions. He lambasted progressive taxation and attempts by the state to raise the general welfare of citizens.

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Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht Treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was the ideology’s adoption by parties that once belonged to the left, such as Labour in the UK and the Democrats in the United States

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We have all internalised and reproduced its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

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Performance anxiety and social phobia spread like fungus. They reflect a fear of other people, who are perceived as both evaluators and competitors: among the few remaining social roles neoliberalism envisages.

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Not only have we adopted the words neoliberalism uses; we have accepted its definitions. ‘The market’ sounds like a natural system that might bear upon us equally, like gravity or atmospheric pressure. But it is fraught with power relations. What ‘the market wants’ tends to mean what corporations and their bosses want.

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Andrew Sayer points out in Why We Can’t Afford the Rich, ‘investment’ means two quite different things.11 One is the funding of productive and socially useful activities, the other is the purchase of existing assets to milk them for rent, interest, dividends and capital gains. Using the same word for different activities ‘camouflages the sources of wealth’, leading us to confuse wealth extraction with wealth creation.

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Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that binds society together.

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Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, infantilising regime of surveillance and auditing, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers.

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The doctrine that Ludwig Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning14 has instead created one. But it works, spectacularly, for some.

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The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays.

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Those who own and run privatised or semi-privatised public services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through fire-sales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services, and soon became the world’s richest man.

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These, in aggregate, amount to a transfer of money from the poor to the rich. As property prices and the withdrawal of state funding load people with debt, the banks and their executives clean up.

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The state must intervene to support them when disaster threatens.18 Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk. Perhaps the most dangerous impact of neoliberalism is not the economic crises it has caused, but the political crises.

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If their dominant ideology stops governments from changing social outcomes and delivering social justice, they can no longer respond to the needs of the electorate. Politics becomes irrelevant to people’s lives; debate is reduced to the yabber of a remote elite. The disenfranchised turn instead to a virulent anti-politics, in which facts and arguments are replaced by slogans, symbols and sensation.19

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The most remarkable aspect of neoliberalism is that it is still here. Its evident and devastating failures have not dislodged it. When the system it built came crashing down, the ideology survived. If anything, it has become more extreme. Governments have used neoliberal crises as both excuse and opportunity to cut taxes, privatise remaining public services, rip holes in the social safety net, deregulate corporations and re-regulate citizens.

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we have seen it as nothing more than the natural order of things. Those who promote neoliberalism have gone to some lengths to keep its mechanics hidden from view. The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. The Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully and repeatedly in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963.20 Charles and David Koch, two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute – Americans for Prosperity – that set up the Tea Party movement.21 Charles Koch, in establishing one of his think tanks, noted that ‘in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organization is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised’.22

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To change the world, you must tell a story: a story of hope and transformation that tells us who we are.

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Across four decades, John Maynard Keynes’s work dominated economic thought and practice. During the period the French call the trente glorieuses – 1945 to 1975 – his prescriptions are widely credited with reviving economies and distributing their benefits. That they remain more or less the only mainstream alternative to neoliberalism today reveals a remarkable stagnation of both thought and ambition.

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Political stories need to be renewed. If politics does not feel fresh, it struggles to kindle the imaginative excitement from which hope arises.

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Other Keynesian measures, such as raising taxes when an economy grows quickly, to dampen the boom-bust cycle; the fixed exchange rate system; capital controls and a self-balancing global banking system (an International Clearing Union) – all of which Keynes saw as essential complements to these policies – have been discarded and forgotten.

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We cannot hope that the strategies deployed by global finance that helped to destroy the efficacy of Keynes’s measures in the 1970s will be unlearned. If the soft Keynesianism proposed by opponents of neoliberalism is to amount to anything but tinkering, it has to confront a wider set of challenges than most of its advocates have yet been prepared to acknowledge. But perhaps the

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In the neoliberal era, the principal strategy of the leaders of these parties, such as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, was to triangulate.6 This means that they extracted a few elements of what their parties had once believed, mixed them with elements of what their opponents believed, and developed from this unlikely combination a ‘third way’.

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For the first time in over a century of Democratic policy, Bill Clinton’s first platform (his manifesto) made no mention of controlling corporate monopolies. Through mergers and acquisitions, monopoly power burgeoned during his presidency. He deregulated the financial sector (through the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act), licensing the recklessness that led to the financial crisis of 2008. He allowed Alan Greenspan, chair of the Federal Reserve, to apply the doctrines of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman rigidly to monetary policy.

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He completed the ratification of NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement – which permitted corporations to acquire legal powers over democratic assemblies. He pressed world trade bodies to expand the definition and scope of intellectual property, allowing corporations to enclose what had previously belonged to everyone and no one.

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Under Clinton, the party appeared to forget the warning by the Supreme Court judge and stalwart of the Democrats in the first half of the twentieth century, Louis Brandeis: ‘We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.’9

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Mass foreclosure was not an accident of policy, according to testimony by Obama’s Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner; it was the policy. Allowing up to 10 million foreclosures, he said, would ‘help foam the runway’ for the banks (this refers to the practice of covering runways with fire-suppressant foam when aircraft need to make an emergency landing).10 The aim was to protect the banks at all costs: impoverished homeowners were seen as the necessary sacrifice. There could scarcely have been a more powerful symbol of abandonment, of both people and values.

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This reinforced the corrosive sense that, as a result of its political power, Wall Street enjoys effective legal impunity. Obama’s policy on monopolies fell somewhere between the feeble and the nonexistent, with the result that economic power was further concentrated. During the first three years of his presidency, an astonishing 95 per cent of the income growth in the United States was captured by the richest 1 per cent of earners.11

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the leak revealed was that, among other policies, it intended to bring privatised public services such as the railways, water, mail and energy back under public control, increase public spending, restore free education at universities, enhance the rights of workers and the unemployed, restrict the freedom of landlords to exploit their tenants and strengthen environmental rules and other public protections.

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This’socialist programme’, media pundits averred, signed the party’s death warrant. But it had the opposite effect. What the United Kingdom witnessed was perhaps the most dramatic political turnaround in modern democratic history. The policies in the Labour manifesto resonated widely. With the help of some of the Big Organising techniques I discuss in Chapter 9, Labour began to surge. Young people, many of whom had failed to participate in previous elections, began to flock to the party. When the country voted in June, Labour won 40 per cent of the votes and gained an extra thirty seats in parliament, while the Conservatives forfeited thirteen seats, losing their absolute majority, and spiralling into disarray.

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With the manifesto, the Labour Party ceased to be a reactive, oppositional movement and became a propositional one.

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Alienation means many things. Among them are people’s loss of control over the work they do; their loss of connection with community and society; their loss of trust in political institutions and in the future; their loss of a sense of meaning and of power over their own lives; and a convergence of these fissures into psychic rupture. In the political sphere, alienation leads to disengagement, and disengagement opens the way for demagogues.

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A marketing company called the Edelman Corporation compiles an annual ‘Trust Barometer’, based on surveys in twenty-eight countries. It has documented a collapse of the trust we invest in major institutions of all kinds since the financial crisis began. In two-thirds of the countries it studies, fewer than 50 per cent of respondents now trust mainstream business, government, media and non-governmental organisations to ‘do what is right’.1 Only 15 per cent believe that ‘the present system is working’; 53 per cent do not.

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The loss of trust cuts across social categories, affecting graduates and non-graduates; the prosperous and the poor; the well-informed and the poorly informed. Leadership in almost all fields is now an object of suspicion: people are much more likely to trust ‘a person like yourself’ than a chief executive or a government official.

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development consultants, who sometimes had more letters after their names than in their names. They were paid vast per diems by the United Nations and the World Bank to fly into countries they had never visited before and produce plans for the ‘development’ of their peoples. I made a point of asking them about what they proposed to do, and why. Time and again, I discovered that they knew nothing about the lives of the people they had been sent to instruct: their arrogance was matched only by their ignorance. At those moments, I understood the anger that the ‘liberal elite’ attracts.

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If you have work – especially if this work is insecure and contracted by the hour – you are likely to be subjected to a humiliating regime of impossible requirements, meaningless exhortations and panoptical monitoring. If you do not have a job, and try to obtain welfare payments, you are prey to a similar regime. Corporations and the state are experienced by many people as clubs raised on either side of them. If they turn in either direction, they will be hit.

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In his last book, Ill Fares the Land, the late historian Tony Judt observed that, as state services are both cut back and delivered by private companies, ‘the thick mesh of social interactions and public goods’ is reduced to a minimum, leaving ‘nothing except authority and obedience binding the citizen to the state’.

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The more we drive, the more bloody-minded and individualistic we become. Traffic also damages social interaction at home. Studies in San Francisco and Bristol show a powerful inverse relationship between the number of vehicles using a street and the degree of social connectedness.4 On streets with little traffic, the social engagement between neighbours is represented by a thick web of lines connecting the houses, often so dense that it resembles a woven cloth – this is the fabric of society. On streets with heavy traffic, the web is reduced to a few thin threads.

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The streets were once our commons, where children played and adults talked. But cars have occupied the space that people used for other purposes, drowned out conversation and – through noise, pollution and stress – driven us indoors. They slash through the social fabric of the street like a knife. The motorcar, I believe, though it is seldom recognised as such, is a potent agent of political change.

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In the United Kingdom, for example, self-employed contractors, on average, are now paid less than they were in 1995.5 The philosopher Byung-Chul Han argues: Neoliberalism turns the oppressed worker into a free contractor, an entrepreneur of the self. Today, everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise. Every individual is master and slave in one. This also means that class struggle has become an internal struggle with oneself. Today, anyone who fails to succeed blames themselves and feels ashamed. People see themselves, not society, as the problem.6

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Television, while it tended to shut down conversation, at least was something that we watched, in the early days, together. Now we often watch it alone. We spend hours every day watching other people doing what we might otherwise be doing: dancing, singing, playing sport, even cooking. What television tells us is that life is somewhere other than where we are. It encourages us to connect not with those around us, but with celebrities whom we will never meet, whose

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state provision. It has relieved levels of want and squalor that many people now find hard to imagine. But it can also, inadvertently, erode community, sorting people into silos to deliver isolated services, weakening their ties to society and their sense of belonging. Unless it is accompanied by a thriving community life, it can leave people dependent, isolated and highly vulnerable to cuts.

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I suspect that what many people want above all else is a strong sense of home: to be embedded in a thriving and caring community. But social revitalisation is also critical to the wider change we seek. If, as many political movements claim, people wish to take back control of their lives, this is a way to do it, without scapegoating immigrants, Muslims, Jews, foreign workforces, single mothers or the governments of other nations.

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Though cars were allowed back after the experiment, the community’s attitude towards them had changed: the speed limit was cut by half, reducing the number of vehicles passing through, and street parking was restricted. The district now organises a car-free day every month.

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His claims were thoroughly debunked by people with real knowledge of the systems he described, including the late political scientist Elinor Ostrom.4 But facts are irrelevant when the theory is so useful. The myth of the tragedy of the commons has provided great service to both state power and private wealth accumulation, justifying the seizure of common wealth from those who once controlled it.

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The results of enclosure include the extreme concentration of wealth; the alienation of large numbers of people from the Earth’s resources, the wealth we generate collectively, and the shared prosperity they could support; the erosion of community and the mutual aid that underpins it; and environmental destruction. Our relationships are reduced to the exchange of financial value, as both human life and the rest of the living world are commodified.

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In a trial of UBI in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh – whose levels of poverty ensure that even small payments can make a big difference – strong improvements were seen after six months in health, nutrition and school attendance.20

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For mainstream economists, the living planet is an afterthought – or, worse, a prayer. The prayer goes something like this: Dear God/Invisible Hand/Spirit of Friedrich Hayek, May our quest for endless economic growth somehow coexist with a viable future for the world’s living systems and the people who depend on them. We have no idea how this might happen, but the economy works in mysterious ways. Amen. PS: Don’t worry if you’ve got too much on; it’s not such a big deal.

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The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation uses a more relevant metric. At current rates of soil degradation, it reports, the world on average has sixty more years of harvests.3 A combination of powerful machinery and the drive for immediate profit rather than long-term protection incites farmers to compact and churn the soil and leave it exposed at crucial moments, whereupon rain or wind strips it from the land.

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keep up with global food demand, the UN estimates, 6 million hectares (14.8 million acres) of new farmland will be needed every year. Instead, 12 million hectares a year are lost through soil degradation.4 In an era in which everything is treated as disposable, we use it, lose it, and move on, trashing rainforests, wetlands, savannahs and other precious habitats to mine what lies beneath.

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As she reminds us, drawing on the work of the cognitive linguist George Lakoff,14 refuting a dominant frame serves only to reinforce it. To displace it, we must create a new one.

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all economic activity is embedded both within the Earth’s living systems and within society. It belongs to us and belongs to the world in which we live. It also reminds us that we are not just workers, consumers and owners of capital. We are also citizens, members of families and communities, volunteers and cooperators. And we emerge from a sphere that, like the commons, economics has characteristically neglected: the household.

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Unless children are loved, looked after, fed, taught basic skills at home and taken to school, they will have no means of joining the workforce, except at the lowest level, when they grow up. Unless workers are healthy and emotionally stable and have some order in their lives, they might not be able to remain in employment. The household, identified by some thinkers as the core economy, makes everything else possible.

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The hole in the middle represents deprivation: a hole into which no one should have to fall. The outer ring consists of the Earth’s environmental limits – the planetary boundaries identified by the team of scientists led by Johan Rockström and Will Steffen.18 These include climate change, ozone depletion, nutrient and chemical pollution, freshwater use, the acidification of the oceans, the loss of the diversity and abundance of life, and the destruction of habitats.

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The aim of the economy should be to bring everyone into the doughnut, which represents the ‘ecologically safe and socially just space’ for humanity.

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Currently, economic life transgresses both limits. Billions of people live below the social foundation, deprived of sufficient food, healthcare, energy, housing, peace, gender equality or political voice. Man-made climate change, the destruction of the biosphere, and water pollution by fertilisers extend far beyond the planetary boundaries. Bringing economic life into the doughnut means ceasing to leave social and environmental outcomes to chance – ceasing, in other words, to imagine that the magic of the markets will somehow sort it all out.

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Raworth asks us to be agnostic about growth: instead of ‘economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive’, we need economies that allow us to thrive ‘whether or not they grow’.

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‘living metrics’ involve monitoring the human, social, ecological and cultural wealth on which all economic life is based. The Genuine Progress Indicator and the Sustainable Well-Being assessment proposed by Robert Costanza, Gar Alperovitz and others are examples of efforts to create measures that match the demands of our age.19

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We might also need new money. As the New Economics Foundation explains in its report ‘Energising Money’, monetary design helps determine the form that commerce takes.20 Developing new currencies could encourage both the protection of the gifts of nature and the distribution of the wealth arising from them.

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An analysis by US political scientists found an almost perfect linear relationship, across thirty-two years, between the money available to Congressional candidates and their share of the vote.3 Those who collect and spend the most money win, while those with the least lose, in almost all cases. In other words, this is not democracy, but plutocracy.

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The same study shows that corporations and the very rich spend their money almost exclusively on politics that favours their interests – less taxation of the rich, less redistribution, less protection for people and planet. ‘Essentially no major American corporations or members of the Forbes 400 support union drives or politicians like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.’

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hundreds of groups purporting to be either independent think tanks or grassroots campaigns were founded and financed by billionaires and corporations.5 Few people would see a tobacco company as a credible source on public health, a coal company as a neutral commentator on climate change, or a billionaire as a disinterested observer of taxes on the very rich. To advance their political interests, such companies and people must pay others to speak on their behalf. Most of the misinformation machines they fund qualify for tax exemptions,

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Instead, the United States now suffers the worst of both worlds: a large electorate dominated by a tiny faction. Instead of republics being governed, as Madison feared, by ‘the secret wishes of an unjust and interested majority’, they are beholden to the wishes of an unjust and interested minority.

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Rather than representation tempered by competition between factions, the political constitution of the United States is plutocracy tempered by scandal. Now, however, scandal has lost its force:

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political rentiers can buy their way into parliament. British party leaders insist that there is no causal relationship between donations and appointments to the upper chamber of the Westminster parliament, the House of Lords. But a study by researchers at Oxford University found that the statistical probability of this being true is ‘approximately equivalent to entering the National Lottery and winning the jackpot five times in a row’.

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there is no nation on Earth that has embraced the full potential of democratic innovation, new thinking and new technologies. Every polity could be improved, by drawing both on the practices of other nations and on ideas yet to be realised anywhere.

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loyalty is often defined by opposition to another group. When one community regards the members of another as inferior, even sub human, all ethical constraints fall away. In the ensuing struggle for resources, the winning communities, or their leaders, acquire power. In the absence of government, powerful elites are even more dangerous to the common welfare than they are where the writ of government runs.

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rule of law. In other words, if government ceased to exist, we would need to reinvent it. The state – partial, flawed and often oppressive as it is – is all that stands between us and the unmediated power of money and weapons. This, after all, is why billionaires and corporations seek to dismantle some of its core functions: the protection of people and the natural world, the redistribution of wealth, the creation of a social safety net and the supply of free, universal public services.

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Of course, they also seek to capture what remains of the state and use it as a means of enhancing their power. Our task is not to dissolve the state they have corrupted, but to wrest it back from them. Only the state is big enough to defend us from our common threats.

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We need a common authority – a government – but we need to bring it within public control, to ensure it belongs to all citizens equally, rather than belonging to a small circle. Democratic power should be grounded in actual choice and consent, rather than in the imagined permission that political systems presumptuously grant themselves. Just as we should in the field of economics, the citizens of a nation should ask themselves a set of fundamental questions: What is politics for? What is it supposed to deliver? What is our role within it? We the people should determine the principles that govern our politics.

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What this means is a meeting whose purpose is to identify a set of governing principles and then put them to the vote. While the need is most urgent in countries without a clearly codified constitution (there are just four: the United Kingdom, Israel, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia), the process is useful everywhere.

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White argues instead for a process known as sortition: choosing most delegates by lot. The process would not be entirely random, as the population would first be sorted by social category, such as gender, ethnicity, class, age and religion. The aim would be to represent the character of the population as closely as possible: if half the population is female, half the delegates should be. Not everyone will accept the invitation: replacements should also be chosen by

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lot. There is an argument for allowing some politicians to join, to ensure that parliament accepts the outcomes. When Ireland held a constitutional convention, two-thirds of the delegates were chosen by sortition and the remainder were politicians. The politicians championed the convention’s recommendations in parliament. This might explain why several of the recommendations of the Irish convention were adopted by the government (in one case after a public referendum),11 while the results of the Icelandic convention were dumped.

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The controversial ‘Diversity Trumps Ability’ theorem proposes that a wide range of life experience is a more useful asset than expertise: a group of citizens from starkly different backgrounds tends to produce a wider range of possible solutions than a group of qualified experts could, including ideas that might have been considered unthinkable by people with specialist training.12 An international study of citizens’ assemblies offers possible support to this theorem.13

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Alan Renwick, suggests that the best method is the one used by assemblies in British Columbia and Ontario.14 In the first phase, expert tutors arrived, often from other parts of the world, to explain the issues to the convention’s members. In the second phase, the delegates travelled to public meetings around their provinces and took written submissions from other citizens. In the third phase, helped by facilitators who ensured that every voice was heard, they worked out what to do.

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We should also have the power, through a petition that attracts a certain number of signatures, to request a convention, perhaps to discuss particular issues, without waiting for parliament to propose one. Citizens’ conventions would refer their decisions directly to the people in a referendum, whose authority would be final: parliament would be obliged to implement them.

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If sortition is good enough for a constitutional convention, why should it not replace elections to parliaments? Should our representatives not be chosen by lot, as they were in ancient Athens? This, enthusiasts argue, would prevent systemic corruption and the capture of parliament by powerful interests. It would ensure that parliament was composed of a broad range of citizens, rather than the well-connected and prosperous people the current process favours.

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There may be an argument for some sortition. If, for example, a quarter of a parliament’s members were chosen by lot, they could add to its social and cognitive mix. One proposal suggests that every vote not cast in an election should be considered a vote for sortition.

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15 In other words, the percentage of representatives in a parliament who are chosen by election should be the same as the percentage of people who vote, and the remainder should be selected randomly. This is the kind of idea that could be considered by a constitutional convention.

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While all electoral arrangements have disadvantages, it seems to me that the least flawed is the form of proportional representation known as the Single Transferable Vote (STV). Proportional representation means that the number of seats allocated to a party in a parliament or congress should reflect the number of votes cast.

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Unlike many other proposed systems, STV possesses a crucial political quality: simplicity. Voters write numbers on the ballot paper beside the names of the candidates they favour, in order of preference. If their first choice of candidate already has sufficient votes, or has no chance of election, their vote is switched during the count to their second choice.

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The STV system ensures that almost everyone has a member for whom they voted and to whom they can turn in the expectation of a sympathetic hearing, rather than the pantomime of interest with which a hostile representative will receive them. To appeal to as wide a group of voters in a constituency as possible, parties have an incentive to field a broad slate of candidates. This is likely to boost the numbers of women, people of colour and others who tend to be under-represented in political life.16

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A system in which almost every vote counts and almost every voice can find a fair hearing during the electoral term is a system likely to build engagement, trust and belonging. But the electoral process alone does not guarantee that politics works.

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If no one’s vote is to count for more than any other, no one’s money should either. No voting system, without constraints on campaign finance, can prevent the very rich from buying the policies and even the election results they want. Fair politics means fair funding. This, I believe, is another essential element of a politics of belonging.

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the old dispensation will be swept away only when our demands for a better one are transformed into a determined political campaign with a clear and simple message around which we mobilise, using… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Here is an example of a fair political funding system. Every party or independent candidate would be entitled to charge the same small fee for membership (independents would be encouraged to form a supporters’ club) – perhaps $20, £20, or its equivalent in other currencies. This would be matched by the state, on a fixed multiple. Any other political funding of parties and candidates, whether spent by the parties and candidates themselves or by others on their behalf, would be illegal. The arrangement would be simple, transparent and entirely dependent on the enthusiasm politicians could muster. They would have a powerful incentive to re-engage with… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The cost of the current system is the destruction of democracy in anything but name: financial crises, caused by the ability of the financial sector to buy its way out of democratic constraints; the environmental crisis, exacerbated by the political power that destructive industries have purchased; the wages crisis and the collapse of working conditions, caused by the freedom to exploit that employers have purchased; and innumerable bad, destructive and irrational policies, arising from the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In other words, it runs into many billions. It runs beyond billions, into costs that money alone cannot represent. Regulating the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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There are two features that a fair system would suppress. The first is the inordinate power of the very rich, who can buy an infrastructure of persuasion not available to others. The second is the secrecy and deception they employ in seeking to hide their spending and persuade us… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The first step is for governments to stop treating such organisations as charities: in other words, to cease exempting them from tax and granting them associated privileges. The second is to insist that any organisation involved in public advocacy publicly declares all donations of, say, $1,000 or more. The third is that, when people from advocacy groups appear in the media, the media organisation, to fulfil legal standards of accountability and transparency, should mention any of the group’s financial interests that are relevant to the discussion. In other words,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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There is no contradiction between an accountable representative system and a rich culture of participation. In fact, the one depends upon the other. At… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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How many times have I been told, ‘If you don’t like it, why don’t you stand for election?’ – as if the only valid political role a citizen can play is to become a representative. In the nation to which I belong, of some 60 million, this riposte suggests that only 650 people have a legitimate place in national politics, beyond voting once every five years. The result is a system that offers us political control so coarse and diffuse that democracy loses all but its crudest meaning.

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Hundreds of issues are bundled into every election, as a result of which almost none are politically intelligible. A government might be elected (often by a minority of the adult population) principally because of its economic promises, or its position on crime or immigration, but it will use its election to claim support for all the issues in its manifesto – which might include airport development, food safety standards, wage levels, disability benefits, health spending, foreign policy, the right to protest, funding the arts, and weapons procurement – and for anything else it decides to change during its term in office.

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These decisions will be imposed on everyone, regardless of their choice at the election, and often regardless of the unpopularity of the particular policies. Without a meaningful opportunity to consider such policies, it is hard for us even to determine our view of them. Excluded from decision-making, we are reduced to passive recipients of whatever distorted account the media chooses to produce. Everything, across the entire term of office, is justified by reference to a single decision made on a single day. A fine-grained democratic control over the decisions affecting our lives is denied to us.

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It is unjustified in the digital era. The idea that any government could meet the needs of a modern nation by ruling without constant feedback, and actual rather than notional consent, is ridiculous. It frustrates the potential offered by current technologies for a democracy worthy of the term. It thwarts our need for a system within which we can belong.

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At present, the people of many nations are trapped in a vicious circle. Disempowered and alienated, they have neither experience of meaningful participation, nor faith that their involvement will lead to political change. Governments are equally suspicious,

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Politicians then assume that meaningful consultation is pointless, and revert to business as usual.

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Effective participation requires a lively, creative and intelligent political culture; a lively, creative and intelligent political culture requires effective participation. Breaking this impasse in nations whose people have seldom been meaningfully involved in politics will take time, patience and experiments.

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If participatory democracy is to become more than a slanging match between uninformed people about unrelated issues, it should become a familiar and trusted form of political expression. It should, in other words, look something like the Swiss system.

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The great constitutional question – where should sovereignty reside, in parliament or in the people? – has been decisively resolved in favour of the people. The people of Switzerland vote in around ten referendums a year, clustered into three or four polling days. Some of these are initiated by parliament, some by citizens. Any law passed by parliament can be challenged by the people. If, within one hundred days, someone can furnish 50,000 signatures from people opposed to the law, the government is obliged to put the question to the country. These referendums are binding: if the people vote against it, the law is struck down. People can also propose amendments to the constitution, if they can gather 100,000 signatures within eighteen months. The federal council might suggest a counter-proposal, which is put to the popular vote at the same time.

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Rather than fostering extremism, the system tends to encourage caution (sometimes excessive caution) among political parties: they hesitate to introduce disruptive laws for fear of triggering a referendum.

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While direct democracy might limit innovation by governments, it stimulates innovation by citizens. The impact of the system is to favour the median voter, but people’s right to launch referendums allows issues and views that have been marginalised to be brought to the fore.

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The overall effect, as the Swiss diplomat Simon Geissbühler reports, is to encourage public engagement with politics, high levels of political information, and reasoned debate.19 Still more important is the sense of political ownership the system fosters: people perceive that government belongs to them. This is how trust in politics is earned.

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At present, well-funded groups are more likely to be able to raise the necessary signatures than those that struggle to attract big money. There is also an argument, as the campaign group Democracy International proposes, for oversight by a supreme constitutional court, to ensure that referendum decisions do not breach fundamental human rights: this would provide a safeguard against the tyranny of majorities.

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The political thinker Peter Emerson argues that instead of being confronted with raw binary decisions, voters in referendums should typically be given a choice of several options.

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a multiple-choice referendum reveals the complexity of the question, and encourages people to consider the implications of their choice. It obliges the government to offer a detailed explanation of what change would mean.

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smaller questions can still be addressed directly, and digital technology, in principle at least, makes this easier.

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vTaiwan is an online consultation tool that seeks to resolve narrow but tricky issues.21 People meet on an online forum, share facts about the issue (which are checked by facilitators), and exchange views. Their recommendations are then passed to the Taiwanese government. I would hesitate to call it democracy: it looks more like the pooling of expertise among a large crowd of people with specialist knowledge. But it has improved the quality and speed of decision-making. In one… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Brazil has taken the process further. It crowdsourced 30 per cent of its Youth Bill from young people through an electronic portal.22 Much of its Internet Civil Rights Bill was also supplied by online citizens. Again, it seems to have improved the range of ideas and quality of… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The best example of online democracy so far is the scheme developed in Reykjavík to allow people to propose ideas for improving the city and influence the infrastructure budget. So far, astonishingly,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Anyone can propose an improvement; anyone can vote for or against it. The fifteen most popular ideas each month are passed to the city council to consider. During the first six years of the programme, 1,000 ideas were submitted, of which over 200 were adopted. The result seems to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Why does it work so well? Partly because the ideas are reviewed every month: the rapid feedback enhances public trust. And partly because the city authorities provide clear and reasoned explanations for their decisions, including their rejection of proposals.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Digital democracy is no magic wand. It risks empowering one group (typically tech-savvy young men) at the expense of others. It is vulnerable to hacking by money and undemocratic power. Online forums are placeless. Used well, they can enhance our sense of belonging (this seems to be the case in Reykjavík); used badly, they could undermine it.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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New technologies could expand its potential. For example, as natural language processing improves, it could be used to analyse vast consultations. Algorithms seek out key words and syntax, gaining a sense of the balance of opinion. They also search for unusual vocabulary and sentence forms that, as artificial… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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This might enable the Reykjavík model to be scaled up to allow meaningful mass participation in national decisions. The blockchain ledger (the technology used to verify the owners of Bitcoin) could be used to confirm online identities, and potentially votes, preventing fraud, trolling and botswarming (using… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We cannot expect miracles from digital technologies, but we can, when they are used… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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we should at least have a chance to inform ourselves better. One of the democratic duties of governments is to assist us by spreading objective information. A good start would be to copy Germany and Switzerland. Germany’s Federal Agency for Civic Education has 200 staff.26 It publishes books, pamphlets, materials for schools, and webpages about the key political issues of the day, and organises film and theatre festivals, study tours and competitions.

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It runs an online service called Wahl-O-Mat, consulted many millions of times during elections, that presents a list of political statements to the competing parties and asks them to say whether they agree, disagree or have no position on them.27 The same questionnaire is then published. Voters can supply their own answers, and rank the importance of the issues. The website then compares their answers to those of the parties, to show people which party best matches their positions.

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Smartvote platform allows electors to compare their positions not only with the parties but also with the candidates in their constituencies, generating a graphic showing where they stand in relation to those who wish to represent them.28 This could, of course, reinforce bias, though it might also prompt people to question their customary votes.

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There are plenty of issues that can be resolved only globally. For example, the greatest threat we face, climate breakdown, requires international action. Debt between nations, the balance of trade, nuclear proliferation, the manufacture and sale of illegal weapons, war, international crime, the shipment of toxic waste, the traffic of endangered wildlife, pollution and overfishing of the oceans: none of these can be addressed only within national borders.

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Plainly, the principle of subsidiarity should operate here: only issues that nation-states cannot handle should be determined at the global level. But to what extent could global powers be repatriated? On some issues, states could act unilaterally. For example, they could simply refuse to accept instructions from the IMF or the European Central Bank when these bodies insist that governments cripple their economies, destroy their public services and throw millions out of work on behalf of the private banking industry. If this means defaulting on their unpayable debts or falling out of the Eurozone, it might be judged a price worth paying. If enough states followed suit, the political crisis would shift from them to the IMF or the ECB,

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global bodies have no more right than any others to operate without explicit public consent.

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the UN Security Council should be scrapped, and its powers vested in a reformulated UN General Assembly. This would be democratised by means of weighted voting: nations’ votes would increase according to both the size of their populations and their positions on a global democracy index.

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The World Trade Organisation should be replaced by a new body – a Fair Trade Organisation – which, instead of subjecting all nations, regardless of their power and wealth, to the same set of global rules, allows poorer nations to protect their infant industries from foreign competition until they are strong enough to fend for themselves (this is the path to prosperity that most rich nations followed).

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This would ensure that companies operating between nations would be subject to mandatory fair trade rules, losing their licence to trade if they exploited workers or damaged the living world. (In other words, it would set minimum standards for trade, rather than the maximum standards now imposed by global treaties). The World Bank and the IMF, which are governed without a semblance of democracy and cause more crises than they solve, should be replaced by a body charged with preventing excessive trade surpluses and deficits from forming, and therefore international debt from accumulating.

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a weak and remote democracy is better than no democracy at all, especially if it were supplemented by new participatory techniques.

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before the late eighteenth century, there were no clear national boundaries, and no border checks.30 Even in the nineteenth century, many Europeans could not name the nation to which they belonged. The locus of attachment for most people was their village or town. The discrete nation-state developed in response to rising industrial and social complexity. National identities typically had to be invented,

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the crucial factor is the extent to which the various cultural and ethnic groups are included in the national project. She argues that it is not diversity itself that causes civil strife, but the systematic denial of power to particular factions.

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Such conflict, according to the researchers MacKenzie interviewed, is best averted by subsidiarity – the devolution of power to the smallest appropriate unit. This is how Switzerland resolved the crises arising from its ethnic and linguistic diversity. Paradoxically, perhaps, the more autonomy within the nation we possess, the greater is our sense that we belong to it.

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Perhaps we could envisage a system whose primary political unit is the city and its hinterland, or the subnational region (the canton in the Swiss model). This authority would then devolve all possible powers to its districts, counties and villages. It would collaborate with other cantons to solve common problems, creating federal forums to resolve certain issues but remaining independent in other respects. The federal forums would delegate still larger issues to a global body, whose scope and powers would be closely defined.

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At every level, from the village to the global forum, there would be a directly elected body exercising primacy over both unelected and indirectly elected institutions. Every elected body would be subject to the will of the people, who could challenge or propose legislation through referendums, and suggest and refine ideas in physical or online forums. Everywhere, sovereignty would reside in the people.

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By these means, we could perhaps begin to strike a balance between universalism and belonging. Without compromising our fundamental rights, we could reclaim power over the systems that purport to represent us. This is what democracy looks like.

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Only when their politics became acceptable to the proprietors of the newspapers and other billionaires, they believed, was electoral success possible. To win, they had to lose. Taking power meant abandoning power; victory required retreat on all fronts.

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Losing their principles meant losing the passionate support of their base. As the loyalty of their supporters was replaced by disillusionment, the ambitions of these parties shrank further. As they lost and failed to replace their stories, they had nothing left to say. Their pessimism about radical change became self-fulfilling.

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American voters were craving major change. Hillary Clinton, the continuity candidate who represented everything that had gone wrong with the Democratic Party – its dynastic self-regard, its umbilical relationship with Wall Street, its reliance on big money, its technocratic machine politics and abandonment of principle – could not deliver it. Perhaps only Sanders could have beaten Trump.

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the most encouraging book I have read in years. Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything, written by two of Sanders’s campaigners, Becky Bond and Zack Exley, explains how, with hardly any staff and a tiny initial budget, they built the biggest voter-contact operation ever unleashed in a presidential primary.2

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Campaigns such as Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid begin with the assumption that the key to victory is big money and big data. Big data, in this context, means information about voters, allowing staff to identify those who might swing from one party to another. Treating such electors as the campaign target means shifting ever further towards the positions of your opponents.

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As this strategy offers only minimal changes in a few fairly safe areas of policy, the campaign cannot rely on public enthusiasm for its success. Instead, it becomes wholly dependent on paid staff, micromanaging a controlled and technical operation. This, in turn, ensures it becomes ever less ambitious and ever more reliant on big money to pay its staff. This is the curse of what Bond and Exley call ‘small organising’.

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Big change requires Big Organising. Big Organising means starting with major goals: policies commensurate with the scale of the challenges we face. It means pursuing big targets: most of the electorate, rather than a few narrow segments. It means relying on a great mobilisation of volunteers. And it means asking them to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Paradoxically, Bond and Exley report, the more you ask of people, the more likely they are to come forward: ‘far more people are willing to step up if you ask them to do something big to win something big than … if you… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The Sanders campaign was a gigantic live experiment. What the experiment revealed – too late to swing the outcome – was that volunteers can fill almost all the positions traditionally reserved for staff. As the method for recruiting and mobilising them was refined, the campaign found that there was almost no limit to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The campaign’s key realisation was that voters are not much moved by television ads, direct mail, people waving signs at them on street corners, and automated messages from a robot caller. What brings them round is a conversation with a real person, ideally a person like themselves, rather than a paid persuader. It does not matter whether this conversation is on the telephone or on the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The Sanders campaign discovered that conversations between volunteers and other citizens – people whose footing in society is, in other words, more or less equal – not only motivate people to vote for a candidate, but can also ‘… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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and that ‘those changed attitudes can endure over time’. The advice is beautifully simple: junk the advertising, junk the data, junk the political machine, and talk. Bernie Sanders’s uncompromising messages had inspired people all over the United States to offer their services. The campaign had compiled a vast list of emails, but at first… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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It was to contact all the volunteers in a particular town or city and ask them to come to a mass meeting (a ‘barnstorm’). Only one email was required to organise each meeting; everywhere people turned up in droves. At these barnstorms, there was no need to explain the issues at length, to educate or motivate… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The organisers spelled out the campaign strategy, then asked people to commit, there and then, to hosting phone-banking events, in their homes or in any room they could borrow. Generally, around 10 per cent of the audience would volunteer. These people would then line up at the front of the meeting and announce the date, time and place at which they would run their event, and ask the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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When people get together to make calls, the campaign discovered, they work harder, enjoy it more, and have more effective conversations with potential voters than if they work alone: the power of connection seems to operate at every level. The volunteers were given access to the campaign’s phone-dialler software, contact details for the helpdesk (which was also run by volunteers), training videos, and a script. Then, in front rooms, cafés, offices and… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The next discovery was that the mass meetings could also be led by unpaid activists: they were just as effective as the salaried staff at organising and mobilising people. As a result, there were no financial or logistical constraints on the number of… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Altogether, 1,000 were held, of which 650 were run by people who had put themselves forward. Each of them launched several teams of people who, within a few days, were phoning electors in their district. As people realised that there was something meaningful they could do… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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the goals and methods and phone scripts were still determined centrally by staff. But it does mean that they could execute the plan with scarcely any oversight. Bond and Exley and their team developed a model they call ‘radical trust’: delegating the biggest possible tasks to volunteers and leaving them to get on with it. Their aim was to be big rather than perfect; by relinquishing control, they got more done. While occasionally volunteers let them down, they found that most were ‘more passionate and driven than any staff could… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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There were some roles that could not safely be allocated to unpaid activists, such as the national press operation, where a small mistake could have major consequences. But almost anything else could be. Formal training turned out to be unnecessary: a one-page guide and a short video were all that the phone-bank volunteers required. With the clever use of… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Big Organising freed the campaign from the grip of big money. Those who joined the campaign and those they spoke to began to donate. Bernie Sanders raised $230 million from 2.8 million people. Because fundraising became an organic part of the campaign, he had no need to waste a minute of his time listening to the demands of… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Had they done it all again, Bond and Exley would have advised dispensing with ordinary marketing and using the small pot of money with which the Sanders bid began to put volunteers to work immediately. They would have allowed the volunteers to organise state campaigns long before any staff arrived, to set up their own offices, and to create a leadership structure whose most effective members could then be recruited into the state staff when enough money arrived.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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And they would have had the time and the scope to start a national conversation about the future of America – on every telephone line and doorstep in the Union. This is perhaps the most exciting discovery: that, had it been activated a few months earlier, the volunteer network could have abandoned all forms of… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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This, the authors contend, is how we ‘swamp the influence of big money, corporate media and other establishment players’. However much money the billionaires pour into the campaigns of their favoured candidates, they are unlikely to be able to hire enough staff to contact everyone. And if they do, those staff are unlikely to resemble the people they talk to. A bold, generous, inclusive… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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self-generating wave of volunteers whose passion proliferates into ever wider networks. To read their book is to release yourself from the poverty of imagination that has locked us into despair. It is to start imagining how campaigns of any kind – not just to win elections but to win the battle over climate change, or rights for asylum seekers or for universal healthcare – can be transformed. It is to understand how we can mobilise the enthusiasm of the many against the control of the few. And it shows… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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good demonstration should meet two definitions of the word: it should be a demonstration against the forces we oppose, and a demonstration of the better future we envisage. And it should observe the first two rules of effective campaigning: identify exactly what you are trying to achieve, and ensure that every step you take towards that objective leads to the next step. There are some notable exceptions, but most of those I have attended fail on all counts.

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Most of these speakers are chosen not for their ability to captivate, inspire or inform a crowd, but because they helped to organise the event or belong to groups represented by the event. The speaking rota is created for their benefit

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The speeches range from the inaudible to the ranty, but they have one thing in common: they are always too long. People start to freeze, the kids tug at their parents’ hands, the mood deflates. Then the convener will lead the crowd in a chant. This tends to be either a chant thought up on the spot or one they have been leading for the past… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Then, for want of anything better to do, the convener will announce the continuation of the march – perhaps to the nearest intersection and back, whereupon the event will either break up as… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The hard work applied by the organisers and the great potential provided by the enthusiasm of… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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to inspire, to inform, and then to direct the crowd to action, by which I mean a specific task rather… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In the weeks before the march, this energiser would sit down with the organisers and plan the event as carefully as the logistics have been planned. They would choose some musicians and a maximum of three speakers, all of whom possess the skill of holding an audience in the palm of their hand. The role of these speakers would not be to represent the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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they would be carefully briefed about the aims of the demonstration and the messages that had to be conveyed. The musicians would play as the crowd assembled, ensuring that nobody missed the speeches, which would now be a crucial component of the event. Then the energiser would use her or his skills to raise the level of excitement, before introducing the first speaker. The speakers would each have just a few minutes, and the final one would lay out in unequivocal terms what the audience was being asked to do. This… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The energiser would bring back the musicians to lead the crowd in an anthem: there’s no better way of generating a sense of solidarity and shared emotion. The energiser would announce the end of the demonstration, reminding the audience of the next step they had been asked to take. The march might lead directly to this step – a planning meeting in a nearby building, for example – or stewards would line the exit points to take email addresses or to sign people up on the spot as volunteers for a specific task. In… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Every step builds towards the next one, each combining to build towards the eventual aim of the campaign. Nothing is done without strategic thinking, no strategy is agreed without a set of tactics to implement it. No opportunities are wasted, no enthusiasm… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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a watertight constitutional amendment is drafted, with the help of sympathetic lawyers. Then the problems with the current system and the promise of a better one are explained in blog posts, articles and videos. Initial rallies and marches are held to raise the issue in people’s minds, and build towards the next concrete actions. Then Big Organising, using its proliferating, volunteerled barnstorms, would allocate a national network of volunteers to phone-bank teams and doorstep canvassing.

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These volunteers would begin to contact Americans. Not some Americans, or most Americans, but every adult in the United States. They would raise the issue of how the whole damn system is bought and sold, and explain how the constitutional amendment could save US democracy and transform the life of the nation. They would make a specific request: they want people to speak to their Member of Congress, on the phone number provided, and press that Member to support the amendment.

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the Indivisible techniques would kick in. The volunteers, clustered in local groups, would lead the lobbying effort. They would not only ring and email their own Members, but visit their offices to speak to them in person, ideally bringing a well-known local figure with them, with the media in tow.

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Campaigners would turn up at the public town hall events the Member holds, spread through the room and politely but trenchantly press the request that she or he support the amendment, with a series of focused and carefully phrased questions developed in advance.

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If the first questioner does not get a satisfactory reply, the next one builds on the previous question – in every case supported by the applause of the other volunteers in the audience. The exchanges are filmed and shared on social media and, if it will play the footage, on the established media.

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This must be done peacefully and calmly, and the process should stop after a few such questions are asked. The meeting must not be hijacked: other people in the room have a democratic right to have their concerns heard, and the Member must also be able to speak.

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At no time, in campaigning of this kind, should we overlook the humanity of the person we are trying to reach. Whatever we might think of their politics, we must never forget that we are addressing a real person, whose feelings and perceptions of threat are likely to be similar to our own.

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In this spirit, the campaigners appear at other public events the Member attends – parades, ribbon-cuttings and the rest – and raise the issue politely, visibly, but briefly, in front of the press and voters. More rallies and marches take place – now much bigger than before – amplifying the demand and moving people towards the next stages of the campaign.

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The more Members peel off, the more exposed the remainder feel. And throughout all this, the phone banks are working, talking to every adult in the Union, and the phones in the Congressional offices are ringing off the hook. The pressure begins to look impossible to resist … If this dam breaks, the political system goes with it. It is a revolutionary transformation from which many others will follow, in America and around the world.

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Most people are socially minded, empathetic and altruistic. They would prefer to live in a world in which everyone is treated with respect and decency, and in which we do not squander either our own lives or the natural gifts on which our children and the rest of the living world depend. But a small handful, using lies and distractions and confusion, stifle this latent desire for change.

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how we can build communities in which everyone can thrive. Community projects proliferate into a vibrant, participatory culture that transforms the character of our neighbourhoods. New social and commercial enterprises strengthen our sense of attachment and ownership. A flourishing community stimulates our innate urge to cooperate. It helps immunise us against extremism and demagoguery, and it turns democracy into a daily habit. Community is the place from which a new politics begins to grow.

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The Common Weal Communities come to own and manage local resources, ensuring that wealth is widely shared and that the sense of belonging to place and people is strengthened. Using common riches to fund universal benefits provides everyone with security and resilience. A kinder world stimulates and normalises our kinder values.

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By gaining control of public investment, we take ownership of both our localities and our lives. We come to see ourselves as political agents, rather than as supplicants. These shifts help to embed a new economics, whose purpose is to allow us to thrive without destroying the Earth’s living systems.

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By reclaiming democratic power, we build a politics that belongs to all of us. A real democracy is one that allows the people to design the system. New methods and rules for elections ensure that every vote counts and that financial power can never vanquish political power.

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Representative democracy is reinforced by a participatory democracy that allows us to refine our political choices. The tussle for sovereignty between parliament and people is resolved in favour of the

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people. Global bodies that have seized power without a democratic mandate are either disbanded or democratised. Decision-making is returned to the smallest political units that can discharge it. Wherever power resides, it is accountable to the people, through election and participation. Power becomes a function of community.

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Organising self-motivated networks of volunteers, using the wisdom of crowds to refine and enhance new political techniques, we mobilise a force that the power of money can never match: mutual aid, operating on a grand scale. In combination with new strategies for reaching and persuading politicians, there may be nothing within the scope of democratic politics that this method cannot achieve, nothing that it cannot change. Coming Home to Ourselves Through restoring community, renewing civic life and claiming our place in the world, we build a society in which our extraordinary nature – our altruism, empathy and deep connection – is released.

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researcher, Charlie Young. His ability to map the political territory, his erudition and knowledge of who is doing what, and the speed and accuracy of his research have been a constant support to me. This is someone who will go far. My agents James Macdonald Lockhart and Ant Harwood

You Will Be My Witnesses: Saints, Prophets, and Martyrs (American Society of Missiology #50)

John Dear and William Hart McNichols

Last annotated on Tuesday October 3, 2017

107 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

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By reaching out to someone in need, by putting love into action, she offers a witness to the good news of Jesus’ coming. That experience of active nonviolence leads her to proclaim the Magnificat, a manifesto of prophetic nonviolence.

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to God’s disarmament and active transformation of the world. “God’s mercy is from age to age. God has dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. God has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:46-56). Mary announces God’s revolution of nonviolence.

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Mary has become a legend; her story, her very name, a living icon. But the four Gospels report little about her life. She gives birth to Jesus, witnesses his childhood and youth, hears his first sermon in the Nazareth synagogue, and arranges his first miracle. At the wedding feast in Cana, after the wine runs out, she instructs the waiters, “Do whatever he tells you.” That one line sums up her life message.

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Mary became a witness again, calling us to take heart and stay focused on the Resurrection of her son. The original icon witnessed Phil’s beautiful spirit and death, and the loving community of family and friends that formed around his bed during his last week, a twenty-four-hour circle of prayer, silence, and love. Mary was our mother, our consolation. She helped us to trust once again in her son, our brother Jesus, and to center our hearts in the new life of resurrection.

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Bill McNichols painted this icon as a companion to his icon of Our Lady of Medjagorje, he says, because Mary first appeared in Bosnia on June 24, 1981, the birthday of John the Baptist, signaling a new advent, calling us to repent of the sin of war and to prepare for the coming of the Prince of Peace and his gift of peace on earth.

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do not miss the gentleness, the long suffering, the fidelity, the face of one who has waited for God, served God, loved God, and announced God’s reign. Here is the face of the first public witness, the face of a Christian martyr, the face of nonviolent resistance to imperial injustice. Even before he was born, John leapt in his mother’s womb when the pregnant Mary approached

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Several aspects of John’s witness urge me to be a witness for Christ. First, when he is asked who he is, he answers, “I am a messenger, a voice in the desert crying out, ‘Prepare a way for the Lord!’” (Mark 1:1-8; John 1:1-9). John teaches me that I, too, have to become a voice crying out in the New Mexico desert, telling people to prepare a way for the Lord.

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John calls us to repent. He proclaims “a baptism of repentance of the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:1-20; Mark 1:4). He wants us to repent personally, to repent communally as a Church, and to repent nationally as the people of the United States. This call to repentance demands conversion not only from personal sin but also social sin, the systemic sins of violence, greed, oppression, war, and nuclear weapons. Just as he challenges the Pharisees to show the fruits of their repentance, John challenges us to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” He does not want us to work for war, support war, pay for war, kill in war, build nuclear weapons, participate in corporate greed, destroy creation, or allow millions to starve.

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love, justice, peace, and compassion.   John then announces that “the reign of God is at hand!” He denounces the sinful, worldly “anti-reign” of greed and war, and announces God’s realm of peace and justice here in our midst. He calls us to let go of every trace of violence within our hearts and to reject our complicity with the culture of war and greed. Only then can we welcome God’s reign—humbly, gratefully, and with open hearts—

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Gandhi taught, like John the Baptist, that living in the reign of God requires complete allegiance and steadfast devotion to God’s reign, and not to any earthly nation. When we respond to John’s announcement, we no longer place our trust in America or in any other nation. Instead, we live first and foremost as citizens of God’s reign.

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John does not announce himself.

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John points to Jesus. His life is a burning witness to the coming of Christ. When he sees Christ, he tells everyone what he sees. And he wants us to do the same—to look for Jesus, to tell others to look for Jesus, to help others see Jesus in our midst, and to point out the presence of Jesus in our world among the poor, in our struggle for justice, and in every act of nonviolent and compassionate love.

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Finally, John tells us that he listens to the voice of Jesus, and, in doing so, his joy is complete. Although we do not usually think of John as a joyful person, he calls himself the best man, the bridegroom’s friend “who stands there and listens to him and is filled with joy at his voice. I feel joy and my joy is complete. He must grow greater and I must grow less” (John 3:22-30).

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If, like Jesus, we dare spend our lives denouncing our government’s injustice and announcing God’s reign of justice and peace, we, too, may suffer persecution, arrest, even martyrdom. But also like John, our joy will be complete.

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of the many women who follow Jesus, Mary of Magdalene is mentioned first in every listing of Jesus’ female disciples (Mark 15:40-41, 47; 16:1; Matthew 27:55-56, 61; 28:1; Luke 8:2-3; 24:10).

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tomb, for fulfilling your mission, for announcing the good news of Resurrection to a people stuck in the culture of death.

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“When Christ calls a person,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his classic work, The Cost of Discipleship, “he bids us come and die…The call goes forth, and is at once followed by the response of obedience. The response of the disciples is an act of obedience, not a confession of faith in Jesus. According to our text, there is no road to faith or discipleship, no other road—only obedience to the call of Jesus. And what does the text inform us about the content of discipleship?

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‘Follow me, run along behind me!’ That is all. To follow in his steps is something that is void of all content. It gives us no intelligible program, no goal or ideal to strive after. It is not a cause which human calculation might deem worthy of our devotion. It is nothing else than bondage to Jesus Christ alone, completely breaking through every program, every ideal, every set of laws.

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Romero became a beacon of light, hope, and peace to the war-torn, impoverished peoples of Latin America. He spent three years as archbishop calling for an end to the war, the killings, the poverty, and the violence. His life was a living call to conversion and discipleship. “Be converted! Be reconciled! Love one another!”

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“Once we are converted, try to follow the Lord,” he said on another occasion. “We don’t follow him as yet with perfection, but the effort to follow him is what makes a true disciple.” “To each one of us,” Romero declared, “Christ is saying, ‘If you want your life and mission to be fruitful like mine, do as I do. Be converted into a seed that lets itself be buried. Let yourself be killed. Do not be afraid. Those who shun suffering will remain alone.

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No one is more alone than the selfish. But if you give your life out of love for others, as I give mine for all, you will reap a great harvest. You will have the deepest satisfaction.’”

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love, nonviolence, and compassion. We see ourselves challenged to resist evil, denounce injustice, do good, make peace, love our enemies, liberate the oppressed, announce God’s reign of justice, forgive those who hurt us, bless those who persecute us, and give our lives in love for suffering humanity.

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Andrew summons us to hear that call, to say yes to the life of radical Gospel discipleship, and to be faithful to the nonviolent Jesus for the rest of our lives.

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“Origen.” He was hated, Merton wrote, because he taught that in the end, everyone in hell would repent and be forgiven.

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Maximilian prefigures the testimony of St. Thomas More before he was executed, when he told the judge, “As a Christian, I wish none harm. I think none harm. I say none harm. I do none harm.” Third, Maximilian’s example summons us to reject idolatry as he did by refusing to wear the emperor’s seal. He calls us to place our trust and security in the living God and to obey the teachings of Christ even if it costs us our lives. This means that we no longer pledge our allegiance to America or its idols,

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Francis gave his life to those who were poor and marginalized. In the process, he decided to become as poor as possible, to wed “Lady Poverty.” He slept outdoors and in caves, served those who were hungry and sick, led prayer services, and fixed broken churches. Others soon joined him, and the order of “Friars Minor” eventually was formed.

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When officials demanded a rule for his order, Francis opened his missal three times at random to the words: “If you will be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor.” “Take nothing for your journey.” “If anyone wishes to come after me, let them deny themselves, take up the cross and follow me.” These Gospel verses became his rule.

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In 1219, he began a year-long, unarmed walk right through a war zone from Italy to northern Africa, where he managed to meet the Sultan, Melek-el-Kamel, the leading Muslim of the time. Before the meeting, Francis begged the Christian warrior commander, Cardinal Pelagius, to stop the killings and the wars. The Sultan was so impressed by Francis’ kindness and gentleness, that he announced, “If all Christians are like this, I would not hesitate to become one.”

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According to Franciscan Father Richard Rohr, scholars now state that Francis’ real crisis began on his journey back home. First of all, the crusaders wanted to kill him as a heretic, so the Sultan’s soldiers had to protect him from the other Catholic warriors. Then, when he arrived home, the friars began to grumble. They did not like his “politics,” his outreach to the Muslim enemies. Eventually, they turned against him.

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Rule” that all friars are to love their enemies “as the Lord commands” (Chapter X and Admonitions). “Francis took the message of Jesus absolutely seriously, as if it were personally directed toward him,” Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff (a former Franciscan) writes. “He accepted it totally.” Today’s “rule,” however, is: Refuse to love your enemies. Refuse to meet with your enemies. And always, always, refuse to support those who do love your enemies.

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They did not support his nonviolence or his voluntary poverty. Francis was so distraught that he eventually resigned the administration of the order. He fell into a severe depression and walked off to a hermitage on the mountain of La Verna, where he spent his last years in solitude, prayer, penance, sickness, hunger, and sorrow.

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“We have only just begun to practice the Gospel,” Francis told his followers as he died. Today we hear Francis tell us to embrace simplicity and poverty, serve those who are poor and needy, live in peace and nonviolence, love one another including our enemies, spend our days in contemplative prayer, and be devoted servants of Jesus and his Gospel.

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“If you own possessions, you need weapons to protect them and so we do not own anything and we are at peace with everyone.” Francis’ logic points the way toward personal, social, and global justice and peace. If each one of us practiced Gospel simplicity, voluntary poverty, and downward mobility, like Francis, we would share the world’s resources with one another, have nothing to fear from others, and live in peace with everyone.

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The United States comprises only 4 percent of the world’s population, yet it controls over 60 percent of the world’s natural resources. It maintains the world’s largest arsenal of weapons, including 20,000 nuclear weapons. If we applied Francis’ Gospel ethic toward ourselves, we would return the natural resources to the world’s poor; relinquish the world’s oil fields to their rightful owners, including Iraq; dismantle our nuclear weapons; and live in peace with everyone. In the process, we would learn, like Francis, to trust the God of peace.

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“I have done my part,” Francis said to the friars around him as he died. “May Christ teach you to do yours.” May we do our part, like Francis, and become instruments of Christ’s peace.

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“Christ is the way,” she once wrote, “and Francis showed it to me.”

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She did not like giving orders, so community decisions were made not by hierarchical obedience but through consensus, an enormous historical breakthrough in the male-dominated Church. She also publicly insisted that women and men were equal, and so women need not rely on men to survive. Instead of punishing wayward sisters, she insisted on forgiveness, which became “the hallmark” of her community of mutual love.

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Clare was the first woman in Church history to have her own rule for religious life approved. Two days after this long-awaited papal document arrived, on August 11, 1253, she died at San Damiano. She was canonized two years later and is buried in Assisi. When sick people were brought to her, Clare would make the sign of the cross on their foreheads, and they would be healed. Clare herself was always sick,

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She spent time every day meditating on the crucifixion of Christ. In this beautiful icon, Clare holds a jeweled cross, indicating the wounds of Christ and her friend Francis. “Behold Christ’s poverty even as he was laid in the manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes,” she wrote to Agnes of Prague. “What wondrous humility, what marvelous poverty!

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Over 100,000 men engaged in the crusades of 1187, but only 10,000 survived. Many died during battle or from starvation and disease.

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Theodore invites us to take up the power and wisdom of the cross. He urges us to reject our modern-day crusades against Muslims, terrorists, and those who are different from us, and instead, to walk the way of the cross by practicing love, not hatred; mercy not revenge; compassion not condemnation; nonviolence not violence. He insists that the only way to reform the Church is through the cross. He calls us to undergo the cross, like his martyred brothers, not to put others on the cross; to be willing to be killed for the struggle for justice and peace, not to kill others; to sacrifice ourselves, not others, in pursuit of a more just and peaceful world. The cross was a scandal

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Instead of taking up the cross, we avoid the cross and put others on it. Instead of risking the powerlessness, pain, and failure of the cross, we seek power, glory, and success for ourselves and first world America. Instead of confronting injustice by nonviolent resistance, as Jesus did on the way of the cross, we support systemic injustice, and marginalize those who seek social change through active nonviolence.

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In Jesus’ day, the cross was a form of capital punishment used by the Roman Empire to execute revolutionaries and deter the population from resisting imperial injustice. When the early Christians used the cross as the symbol of their Way, they said, in effect, that they too were willing

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When we give our lives for justice and peace in a spirit of nonviolence, forgiveness, and compassion, as Jesus demonstrated on the cross, our suffering love wears down our opponents, causes scales to fall from their eyes, opens up a greater recognition of our common humanity, and gives birth to social transformation, even the downfall of empires.

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If nonviolence goes deep into the power of suffering love as Jesus demonstrated on the cross, King taught, it works. Justice and peace are the inevitable outcome. “We will match your capacity to inflict suffering,” Dr. King said, explaining the practice of the cross, “by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you.

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We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system because no cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, and so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. We will wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves, we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.”

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That is the logic of the cross, King explained. “Unearned suffering is redemptive.” “To be a Christian, one must take up the cross with all its difficulties and agonizing and tension-packed content,” King taught, “and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way which comes only through suffering.”

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If we pursue justice, truth, and peace, even to the point of suffering and dying in a spirit of nonviolent love, then we participate in the cross of Jesus and sow the seeds for a future of peace and justice. Theodore invites us to return to the wisdom of the cross, to take up the cross, and to carry the cross. He tells us not to be afraid of the cross or to reject the cross, but to embrace it as the way of God of social change. If we do, he insists, like Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi, we will not only reform and transform the Church, but we will help abolish war and injustice. We will become faithful disciples of the Crucified Jesus.

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He marked his conversion by literally disarming. From that moment on, he would be a nonviolent soldier of Christ. Then, as Ignatius left the shrine, he gave his expensive clothes to a beggar, put on the beggar’s rags, and became a pilgrim for Jesus. Ignatius was born in 1491 in the Basque country of Loyola, Spain, the youngest of thirteen children.

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As he prayed for hours each day, then reflected on his prayer, he noticed how he moved from desolation to consolation, from thoughts of suicide to feelings of ecstasy. With that awareness, he learned how to discern the presence of the Holy Spirit.

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As he meditated on the life of Jesus, he wrote down his meditations which, over time, became the basis for a groundbreaking retreat manual on spiritual growth and discernment known as the “Spiritual Exercises.”

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There he had a mystical vision of God the Father asking Jesus who was carrying the cross to “take this pilgrim with you.” Over time, this seminal vision was meant to give all Jesuits the mission to accompany Jesus as he carries the cross for the disarmament and transformation of the world.

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and spent the last fifteen years of his life composing the community’s “Constitutions” and organizing the growing number of Jesuits. He spent his days writing letters to Jesuits and friends around the world. Some 6,000 letters survive. He also set up a variety of service programs around his headquarters, including a soup kitchen, a shelter for the homeless, and a house for prostitutes.

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the culture, call people to conversion, and lead people deeper into the spiritual life. Jesuits were to spend only a short amount of time in prayer, attend daily Mass, and work hard for “the greater glory of God” by transforming people and cultures.

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Jesuit missionaries tried to inculturate themselves in foreign lands and point out how God is already at work in their culture, as with “the Reductions” in South America.

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pursue the “magis,” the greatest good for the whole world. His Jesuit spirituality focused, first and foremost, on Jesus. Jesuits were to see life through his eyes, accompany him as he carried the cross in the struggle for justice, and become “companions of Jesus,” “Friends in the Lord.” Instead of turning away from the world, Jesuits were sent out to address and transform the world. Finally, Jesuits were to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, notice the movement of Spirit in their lives, move from desolation to consolation, and help others “find God in all things.”

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Ignatius broke new ground by inviting Jesuits and lay people to use their imagination to contemplate the life of Jesus and understand the nature of God. By calling us to imagine God as a God of love and peace, he helps us break free from our false gods to know and serve the living God.

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This beautiful icon portrays St. Ignatius standing outside at night underneath the stars, which he loved to contemplate each evening. He lifts up his hands to open himself to God and surrender himself to God’s will. The icon invites us to open ourselves to God that we, too, might give ourselves entirely to the God of love and peace.

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With Ignatius, we can pray the concluding prayer of the “Spiritual Exercises:” “Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours. Do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.”

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urging them to ask themselves, “What would Christ do in my position?” For Albert Hurtado, the poor were the focus of the Church, and the heart of the Gospel. “For the poor, the rich are nothing more than exploiters, fortunate beings, unworthy of their respect or consideration, devoid of any sentiments for the impoverished,” he wrote while in Spain.

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In 1941, he wrote a controversial and widely read book called, Is Chile a Catholic Country? He denounced Chile’s growing secularization, urged the Church to side with laborers, unions, and the poor, and accused rich Catholics of rejecting church social teachings. He suffered constant criticism from all sides because many feared he was leading the Church into communism, but he also had the support of Jesuit officials and the Vatican. That same year, Alberto became national director of Catholic Action, the international movement that mobilized thousands to work for the Church and those in need.

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Young people responded eagerly to his call to work for “the reign of Christ in our midst.” He published magazines, organized national conferences, and directed torchlight processions through Santiago. “If the times are bad,” he would say, quoting St. Augustine, “then let us be better ourselves and the times will be better, for we are the times.”

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Besides serving meals and providing clean places to sleep, he set up workshops that would help the homeless find work and change their lives.

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Hogar de Cristo touched a nerve, and money poured in, allowing for thousands to be housed and fed. Alberto was the first to name these desperate poor people as Christ in our midst. “I hold that every poor person, every vagrant, every beggar is Christ carrying his cross. And as Christ, we must love and help them. We must treat them as our brothers and sisters, as human beings like ourselves.” While he named the poor as Christ, he also insisted that the Gospel demands not just charity but justice. “Injustice causes infinitely more evil than charity could ever undo,” he wrote. The ultimate task for the Church, he maintained, is to change the entire social system which forces thousands of human beings into misery.

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Chile’s political system turned thousands not only into the street poverty, but also what Alberto called “misery.” Every night, he drove through Santiago in his famous green truck and picked up homeless people. He also wanted to get homeless youth permanently off the streets, so he founded an agricultural school in the countryside where any youth from Hogar de Cristo was welcome to study and work the land.

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In his 1947 book, Social Humanism, Alberto Hurtado insisted that “there can be no fidelity to God without justice for human beings.” True Christians cannot preach resignation to the poor, he wrote. They must lead the struggle for justice, and not just out of fear of communism but because the Gospel demands that we transform injustice into justice.

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After traveling through the United States and Europe in 1947, Alberto Hurtado poured his energies into the labor union movement as director of the Association of Chilean Trade Union Action. Because he defended workers rights and labor unions, he suffered countless attacks from all sides, but he persisted because he knew that Catholic social teaching insists on justice for workers. Despite the criticism, his movement blossomed within a few short years.

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While attending a march against hunger in Washington, D.C., she prayed that God would open up a way for her to practice her radical politics as a devout Catholic. Her prayer was answered in the person of Peter Maurin, a French peasant intellectual who was waiting for her back in New York. Within a few months, they founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Seventy-five years later, the Catholic Worker still runs over 140 houses of hospitality for the homeless, publishes many newspapers, and manages a few farming communes.

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Anything you do not need belongs to the poor…Once we begin not to worry about what kind of house we are living in, what kind of clothes we are wearing, once we give up the stupid recreation of the world, we have time which is priceless—to remember that we are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and that we must not only care for their needs as far as we are immediately able, but we must try to build a better world.”

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her determination to find the causes of poverty and change the system that leaves billions of people impoverished, which crucifies Christ all over again. She made the connection among poverty, injustice, and war. She demanded not only charity for the poor, but justice as well. She knew that the billions of dollars that should be spent on food, homes, healthcare, education, and jobs for the poor were spent instead on war and weapons.

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the works of peace and justice. In her solidarity with the poor, she stood up to defend them against the evils of war, weapons, and injustice. She was arrested repeatedly throughout her life for civil disobedience against war and injustice. She even said that we can measure our discipleship only by how much trouble we are in for our stand for peace and justice.

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attack. Each year, the group repeated their civil disobedience and spent a month in prison. Then, in 1961, when 2,000 people refused to go underground, the air-raid drills were stopped.

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“All our talks about peace and the weapons of the Spirit are meaningless,” she wrote, “unless we try in every way to embrace voluntary poverty and not work in any position, any job, that contributes to war, not to take any job whose pay comes from the fear of war, or the atomic bomb.” Dorothy consistently denounced every war during her lifetime, at a time when no other Catholic was even questioning the idea of war.

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She advocated voluntary poverty, radical nonviolence, personalism, direct service of those in need, and public witnessing on behalf of the Gospel. Almost single-handedly she broke new ground for the Church. Her influence is far greater than we can measure. “As we come to know the seriousness of the situation—the wars, the racism, the poverty, the nuclear weapons,” Dorothy Day once wrote, “we come to realize that things will not be changed simply by words or demonstrations. Rather it’s a question of living one’s life in a drastically different way.”

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“Becoming a saint is the revolution,” Dorothy wrote.

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“All my prayers, my own suffering, my reading, my study would lead me to this conclusion, that love is a great and holy force and must be used as a spiritual weapon,” she wrote. “Love against hate. Suffering against violence. What is two thousand years in the history of the world? We have scarcely begun to love. We have scarcely begun to know Christ, to see him in others around us.”

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In Loaves and Fishes, she names our challenge: “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us. When we begin to take the lowest place, to wash the feet of others, to love our brothers and sisters with that burning love, that passion, which led to the cross, then we can truly say, ‘Now I have begun.’”

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In late 1977, Jean quit her executive position at the Cleveland, Ohio, branch of Arthur Andersen, a national accounting firm, turned her back on frst-world North America, gave away her Harley Davidson, said goodbye to friends, and joined the Maryknoll Lay Mission program to follow Jesus among the third-world poor in El Salvador.

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Jean and the rest of El Salvador found hope in the fearless homilies of Archbishop Oscar Romero. She wrote to a friend that his message was convincing her that prayer does make a difference. In gratitude, she baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies and delivered them to Archbishop Romero every Sunday afternoon after his morning Mass.

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We are still plugging along. Life continues with many interruptions. I don’t know how the poor survive. People in our positions really have to die to ourselves and our wealth to gain the spirituality of the poor and oppressed. I have a long way to go on that score. They can teach you so much with their patience and their wanting eyes. We are all so inadequate in our help. I am trying now more and more to deal with the social sin of the First World.”

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Jean Donovan and the other churchwomen invite us to enter the world of the poor, to share their powerlessness and pain, and to risk the consequences of this Christian solidarity. Jean challenges us to defend the poor, stay with the poor, even give our lives for the poor, as Jesus did. Her witness summons us to do whatever we can to help the poor, to walk with the poor, to stand with the poor, to speak up for the poor, and to become, like Jesus on the cross, one with the poor.

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“I pray that I will be an example of Christ’s love and peace. I pray that people will always be more important to me than the job I do.”

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everyday theologians, we can ask ourselves: What is God like? What is our image of God? How do we reflect the nature of God? How does Jesus reveal the mystery of God? The last century saw an array of luminous theologians. Hans Urs von Balthasar is considered one of the greatest. He wrote on every aspect of Christian life and continues to inspire reflection on the meaning of life and the mystery of God.

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He also wrote about the saints, calling them lovers who “teach us the way to God.” He wrote that “lovers are the ones who know most about God, and the theologian must listen to them.” For von Balthasar, the point of life is to search for God and to know God. His groundbreaking book, Prayer, explained that prayer is ultimately the experience of our relationship with God, so we have no need to fear when we pray.   “The deepest thing in Christianity is God’s love for the earth,” von Balthasar wrote.

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through his Incarnation he enabled himself to prove his love to his creatures: this is the hitherto unheard-of thing.”

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He also founded Communio, an international theological journal. In the 1980s, Pope John Paul II asked von Balthasar to serve as his theologian, and to give workshops and retreats for him and the Curia. Over the years, von Balthasar asked John Paul II to apologize for the sins of the Church, including the Crusades, the Inquisition, violence against women and indigenous peoples, and Catholic support for Nazi genocide,

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Von Balthasar also urged the pope to abolish the office of cardinal. Von Balthasar wrote an open letter to Opus Dei, pointing out that their secrecy betrays the Gospel of Jesus. The pope responded by naming him a cardinal.

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In this icon, von Balthasar blesses us and invites us to become theologians. He calls us to reflect on the meaning of our lives, the mystery of God, and the presence of God in our lives. If we become everyday theologians, thinking constantly about God, we, too, will grow in love for God and witness to God’s loving presence in the world.

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Instead of speaking of the lowest caste as untouchables or dalits, he uses the name Gandhi gave to them: Harijans, or Children of God. “We try to be with them,” he explains, “and when we are with them, things happen. Being extremely poor, they are on the receiving end of society. I try to unite them, to help them stand up for their rights, to help them come to the realization that they are human beings. This involves education, healthcare, and women’s programs, and so, lots of community-building sessions and informal meetings. We try to build a sense of unity and community and oneness.

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Our work appears to be political, but it is not along political lines. It is simply the work of the Gospel. Like Jesus, we are trying to be one with the people.”

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The vast majority of people have no voice. They cannot speak out for their rights. In Bihar, the violence is aimed at the poor. They are gunned down. Their houses are burned down. They are demoralized in a hundred and one ways.” When asked if he was afraid about being killed for his solidarity with the dalits, A. T. responds by saying this is a real possibility.

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“Yes, it is a possibility, I told him. But when one works for the poor, these are the things which one has to face. Jesus would not have died on the cross if he had not made the option for the poor. He would have died from a heart attack. Jesus made the option for the poor and he inspires me to do the same.”

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degree. A few years earlier, he had led a legal fight against the mafia-type, upper-caste landlords who stole the dalits’ land for their higher caste. A. T. hired lawyers and brought the landlords to court, and much to everyone’s surprise, won. The landlords’ thugs were sent off to prison, but they never forgot that their imprisonment was due to this troublemaking Jesuit.

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If Christians are to reclaim the story of John the Baptist and Jesus, not only do we have to give our lives to that struggle for justice for the poor, but we, too, must risk them, as A. T. did, so that the poor will have justice and an authentic Gospel witness for Jesus will be proclaimed. That means we too must stand with the Children of God. We must touch “the untouchables,” and pay the price of reaching out to our sisters and brothers in love.

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Mychal told my friend that when he got up in the morning, he allowed himself two minutes for “a pity party—to feel sorry for myself.” After that, he went to work, helping and serving those in need, whomever he met. Father Mychal Judge was a friend of Father Bill McNichols. In 1986, he showed up at one of Bill’s monthly healing Masses for people with AIDS, asking how he could help. After September 11, Bill recalled an ancient icon entitled “The Protecting Veil of the Mother of God,” which shows Mary holding out her veil to gather those crying out to her.

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“Lord, take me where you want me to go,” Mychal Judge said in a prayer he once wrote. “Let me meet who you want me to meet. Tell me what you want me to say, and keep me out of your way.”

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“Those who truly believe in nonviolence, in justice, have no choice but to break unjust laws,” Philip Berrigan wrote in his autobiography, Fighting the Lamb’s War.

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Having faith means we haven’t given up on the world. Together, we are part of God’s reign.

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priority. Peacemaking is not only a central characteristic of the Gospel, peacemaking is the greatest need of the world today. We are daughters and sons of God, and that means we are called to be peacemakers.

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“The Christian who follows Jesus must be a nonviolent resister and revolutionary,” Philip wrote in his autobiography. “There is no avoiding this truth. A Christian must take risks for the kingdom of God, the new Jerusalem. Christians are obligated to resist collusion between church and state, and to fight nonviolently against tyranny, injustice and oppression.”

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bars. “I die with the conviction, held since 1968 and Catonsville, that nuclear weapons are the scourge of the earth, that to mine them, manufacture them, deploy them, and use them is a curse against God, the human family, and the earth itself,” he said in his last statement.

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that is precisely what a Gospel witness does—point beyond the merely possible to the impossible, the coming of God’s reign of peace in our hearts and throughout the world here and now.

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Nuclear disarmament is not a pie-in-the-sky dream or a fairy tale for young children. Both South Africa and the Ukraine have unilaterally dismantled their nuclear arsenals.

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As we ponder this mysterious, powerful icon, we can pray the prayer of Pope John Paul II (written in 1999 to the Immaculate Heart of Mary), that we might join with Mary and serve as a living witness to Christ and his reign of peace and love: Mary, help us to conquer the menace of evil which so easily takes root in the hearts of people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our world and seem to block the paths toward the future. From famine and war, deliver us. From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.

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From sins against human life from its very beginning, deliver us. From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us. From every kind of injustice in society, both national and international, deliver us. From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us. From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.

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From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us. Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies. Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer all sin: individual sin and the “sin of the world,” sin in all its manifestations.

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Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the redemption, the power of merciful love. May it put a stop to evil. May it transform consciences. May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the Light of Hope. Amen.

The Great Convergence

Richard Baldwin

Last annotated on Friday September 22, 2017

52 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

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Understanding the First Unbundling’s Stylized Facts Chapter 2 identified five top-line facts that marked globalization’s first unbundling: The North industrialized while the South deindustrialized Trade boomed Growth took off worldwide but sooner and faster in the North than in the South The Great Divergence happened Urbanization accelerated, especially in the North.

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falling trade costs produced industrialization in the North and deindustrialization in the South.1

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The curtain goes up on the Krugman-Venables story with industry equally dispersed between the North and South since people everywhere were tied to the land and horrible transportation tied industry to people.

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the American colonies—which eventually became the United States—were explicitly forbidden from exporting manufactured goods, but exports of raw materials like cotton and wood were encouraged. Colonies were supposed to supply England with raw materials and buy British manufactured goods. Likewise, the emigration of British skilled manufacturing workers and the export of British textile machinery were forbidden by Acts of Parliament.

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Globalization is, I believe, in for a radical new transformation, but it will only happen if the cost of moving people falls in the future as much as the cost of moving ideas has in the recent past. The driving force is simple.

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If technology opens a sluicegate that allows these people to offer their labor services in advanced economies without actually being there, the impact on jobs could be shocking. And the necessary technology is, I conjecture, not too far away.

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John Naisbitt: “The most reliable way to forecast the future is to try to understand the present.”

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The three-cascading-constraints view of globalization rests on bedrock made of three costs: the costs of getting goods, ideas, and people from one place to another. Since the timer on modern globalization started in 1820, these costs have generally been compressed by technological advances. Politics, however, have frequently trumped technology.

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the rise of international production networks has deeply changed the politics of protection—at least for the nations that are involved in these networks. When a nation’s factories are crossing borders, closing the borders no longer saves jobs even in the short run.

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The second unbundling started when falling oil prices provided a powerful tailwind (Figure 62). In inflation-adjusted prices, a standard barrel of oil halved from $40 in 1990 to $20 in 2000; this made it cheaper to move goods internationally. But the second unbundling continued to power ahead in its second decade of this century despite the strong headwind created by a fivefold rise in oil prices. Plainly, oil prices do affect the cost of moving goods, but they are not determinant.

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Communication Costs The trajectory of communication costs seems to be much easier to calculate. The “laws” driving the ICT revolution—Moore’s, Gilder’s, and Metcalfe’s—are in the rising part of their S-curve (see Chapter 3 for details). This suggests that the cost of moving ideas is likely to continue to fall in the coming years—even without any new Star Trek-like technological breakthrough.

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it would take a truly radical closing of ICT borders to stop firms from leveraging their knowledge with low-cost labor abroad. My guess is that, at least in G7 nations, the instinct for an open society is stronger than any protectionist instinct that is likely to arise. It seems likely, therefore, that the cost of moving ideas internationally will continue to fall.

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Communication Technology (CT), however, is only one half of the ICT revolution. The other half concerns Information Technology (IT).

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When thinking about the future of global supply chains, we must speculate about the possibility of truly revolutionary IT developments. One such possible development relates to computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM). This is not futurology. It has already had a big impact. It has already produced a tectonic shift in manufacturing in high-wage nations—moving manufacturing from a situation where machines helped workers make things to a situation where workers help machines make things. The integration and automation of tasks, however, does not stop at the factory gate. Many design, engineering, and management tasks have been computerized.

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Face-to-Face Costs, the Virtual Presence Revolution and Telerobotics The third separation cost—the cost of face-to-face interaction—is also likely to persist on its downward path. More specifically, really good ICT is creating reasonable substitutes for in-person meetings. This “virtual presence revolution” is based on high-quality video and audio systems on both ends of what can be thought of as “the telephone wire.” It is—in essence—really, really good Skype. An example is Cisco Systems’ TelePresence. This combines full-size images of participants, using three plasma screens, sound channels, high-precision microphones, custom lighting, and high-definition cameras. Audio is arranged such that the voices of the participants on the “left” (who could be in Mumbai) sound like they are coming from the left.

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The result is much more information being passed among participants than is possible with audio or even standard video conferencing. High-quality video allows a much better reading of faces. Psychological research shows that “microexpressions”—split-second facial changes lasting only a twenty-fifth of a second—can indicate whether a person is concealing an emotion, consciously or unconsciously. These reactions cannot be perceived over regular video calls or Skype and, indeed, these sorts of nonverbal messages are one of the reasons face-to-face meetings generally lead to better understanding and trust than calls or Skype.

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If such systems became much cheaper and more mobile, they could significantly reduce the need for specialists and managers to travel to remote factories and offices. Of course, in-person meetings are likely to be part of coordination for a very… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The next step is “holographic telepresence.” This projects real-time, three-dimensional holographic images of people (along with audio) in a way that makes it seem as if the remote person is right next to you. This allows the participants to gauge each other’s full “body language” in an interactive way. This is the stuff of science fiction, but it is not unimaginable. Cisco has already demonstrated a… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Telerobotics is another important trend. After all, moving people is not just about people-to-people meetings, it is also about people-to-machine interactions. Keeping a complex production process running usually involves specialists manually engaging with various forms of hardware. If virtual presence technology were combined with human-controlled robots of the type used today in… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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As with telepresence, the widespread use of telerobotics is constrained by high costs. But if it is possible to develop systems that allow surgeons to fix people at a distance, surely it is possible to develop systems that allow technicians sitting in Stuttgart to fix machinery in Brazil. Given the falling cost of manufacturing things, it would seem to be… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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An important complement of this trend is the rapid development of computerized translation. When it comes to translating written words, amazing strides have been made in the last ten years or so. Google Translate, for example, was the source of great mirth to bilingual people… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Even more recently, Apple released “iTranslate,” which translates voice to and from dozens of languages. The language barrier, which has been an important separating force throughout human… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The impact of lower trade costs and lower face-to-face cost quite clearly make it easier to separate production processes into finer stages while simultaneously making it easier to transfer more stages overseas. These trends thus suggest that the unbundling of G7 factories and the offshoring of an ever wider range of production stages is likely to continue.

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the push of high Northern wages and the pull of low Southern wages will continue to drain manufacturing jobs from the G7 to an ever widening circle of developing nations.

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Fractionalization of the supply chain is determined by the interplay between the gains from specialization and costs that the extra coordination this requires. Some types of ICT—especially better communications technology (CT)—reduce the cost of specialization, in the sense that they make it easier to coordinate a finer division of labor.

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This pushes toward more fractionalization. Other types of ICT—especially robotics and computerization—reduce the benefit of specialization because they make it easier for one worker to deal with a wider range of tasks. In short, CT is pro-fractionalization, whereas IT is anti-fractionalization. Mobile, always-on, virtual presence would be an extreme example of better communication technology that pushes firms toward an ever finer division of labor.

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the decision to relocate production stages abroad turns on the costs and benefits of doing so. Generally speaking, lowering any of the separation costs makes offshoring more attractive given the very large wage differences that exist around the world despite the Great Convergence.

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There is always a tendency to locate production near consumers.

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As the Great Convergence proceeds, the force of the argument switches from anti-offshoring to pro-offshoring. The number of customers with the means to buy products is, after all, rising faster in the developing world than it is in the developed world.

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By lowering face-to-face and face-to-machine interactions, such a revolution would make the geography of international production networks less sensitive to cartographical distance, and thus easier to spread to a wider range of developing nations.

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extreme specialization that allows firms to become the low-cost supplier in particular varieties of intermediate goods (see Chapter 6). In other words, such trade is based on firm-level excellence rather than on wage gaps. This tendency to shift from cost-competitiveness based on low-wage to cost-competitiveness based on firm-level excellence is already underway. Developing nations like China are producing more sophisticated intermediate goods domestically—parts that previously would have been imported. China, for example, is a major supplier of intermediate goods to nations around the world.

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As routine, low-skill, and repetitive tasks are easier to computerize and automate, advancing IT is likely to continue eliminating occupations that involves such tasks. At the same time, the more intensive use of sophisticated production machines will make the remaining jobs more skill, capital, and technology intensive.

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This leads to a polarization of stages in terms of skill content. Routine low-skill tasks are bundled into high-skill occupations, while the remaining low-skill tasks will typically be highly labor intensive but less routine. The resulting broader stages will involve more capital-intensive, more technology-intensive, and more skill-intensive processes.

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Deep down, this polarization stems from the fact that computers were substitutes for some workers but complements for others, as David Autor, Larry Katz, and Melissa Kearney pointed out in their 2006 paper, “The Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market.”

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One of this book’s central premises is that understanding globalization requires a sharp distinction between three types of “separation costs”—trade costs, communication costs, and face-to-face costs. Globalization’s first acceleration—or first unbundling—came when the cost of moving goods plummeted in the nineteenth century. Globalization’s second unbundling came when the cost of moving ideas plummeted in the late twentieth century. A third unbundling is likely to happen if the cost of moving people plummets.

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I am talking about technologies that would create very close substitutes to being there in person. The two breakthroughs discussed might accomplish this. The first is really good substitutes for people traveling to be in the same room to exchange brain services (telepresence). The second is really good substitutes for people traveling to provide manual services (telerobotics).

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Offshoring, in other words, is a means of arbitraging international wage differences. Telerobotics, Telepresence, and “Virtual Immigration” Such arbitrage via offshoring is not possible for all activities. For the offshoring option to work, the firm needs some way of getting Mexican labor services out of Mexico. For many types of manufactured goods, this is easy since the labor services, as mentioned, are added to goods that are then exported. For many other types of activities—especially service activities—labor services cannot be separated from the laborers. For example, the only way to use Mexican labor services to tend to a U.S. garden is to have Mexicans in the garden. Telerobotics could change all this for manual workers. It would allow workers based in developing nations to provide labor services inside developed nations without actually being there. Call it “virtual immigration” or telecommuting for manual workers. Hotel rooms in Oslo could be cleaned by maids sitting in Manila—or more precisely by robots in Oslo that were controlled by Philippine-based workers.

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The remote provision of labor services is likely to flow both ways. The general trend would be for low-skilled workers from developing nations to telecommute to rich nations, and high-skilled workers from rich nations to telecommute to developing nations. For example, experienced German technicians could fix German-made capital equipment in China by controlling sophisticated robots placed in Chinese factories.

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Telepresence could do the same for brain workers living in developing nations. When telepresence meeting facilities are cheap and portable, and holographic telepresence is widespread, the need for face-to-face meetings will be greatly reduced, even if the need is not eliminated. This will make it… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Given the vast North-South salary differences that exist for engineers, designers, accountants, lawyers, publishers (and let us not forget professors of economics), the ability to fractionalize the production of business services could lead to a great deal of “virtual offshoring.” That is to say, telepresence would make it possible for developing… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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This would be nothing more than an amplification of what is already happening. “Microwork” or “micro-outsourcing” is the ability to get individuals to perform small, disjointed tasks as part of a larger project with all the work taking place over the Web. Virtual presence will make the fractionalization and offshoring much easier to coordinate. Think of it as… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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All sorts of back-office tasks have been offshored or outsourced already. This… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In a nutshell, the next radical change in globalization is likely to involve workers in one nation undertaking service tasks in another nation—tasks that today require physical presence. Or to use the unbundling theme, globalization’s third unbundling is likely to mean that labor services are physically unbundled from laborers. Consequences Relaxation of the face-to-face constraint via telepresence and telerobotics would make it much easier to separate the physical application of labor services from the physical presence of laborers. This is likely to produce two monumental changes. The first would… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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the North-South imbalance in knowledge-per-worker is still quite extreme. Opportunities for arbitraging… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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If the geographic extent of the GVC revolution does widen, more developing nations could join the rapid-industrialization parade. This might reignite the commodity super-cycle and the Great Convergence would continue apace. The second set of monumental changes would come from poor nation… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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For manufacturing sectors, this would be an evolution—a continuation of the unbundling and offshoring trend. But rather than sending production stages abroad to take advantage of lower cost labor, the labor would… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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virtual immigration. For service sectors, the impact is likely to be more revolutionary. Many service sectors were only indirectly affected by the first and second unbundlings since they sold services that were essentially un-tradable. The heart of the un-tradability was the necessity for service providers and service buyers to be physically in the same place at the same time. Really cheap, reliable, and ubiquitous virtual presence technology and telerobotics would break the necessity. Nontraded services would become… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Because something like two-thirds of all jobs are in service sectors, the impact could be historic. In a broad swath of service sectors, rich nation workers could find themselves in direct wage competition with poor… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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According to Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, authors of The Second Machine Age, the near future will be marked by a very systematic use of AI to operate robots that replace humans in high-wage nations.6 The authors point out that this would have large effects for workers ranging from truck drivers to investment managers. I would suggest that “Remote Intelligence” (RI) could end up as at least as… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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start thinking ahead about the impact of RI,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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“Things have changed so much that not even the future is what it used to be.” I hope this book serves as a reminder that today’s globalization does not resemble your parents’ globalization. And tomorrow’s globalization is very likely to be quite different from today’s. The baseline reason is that the driving forces changed. Until the late twentieth century, the main driver was a massive cut in the cost of moving goods, which was ultimately triggered by the steam revolution.

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The main driver switched to phenomenal drops in the cost of moving ideas when the ICT revolution came along. In the future, the main driver may be transformative reductions in the cost of telepresence and telerobotics triggered by the virtual presence revolution. If I am right, it will be important for governments and businesses to start rethin

Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen

James Suzman

Last annotated on Friday September 22, 2017

169 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

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Sahlins was particularly interested in the fact that hunter-gatherers appeared to be content—in fact, to thrive—on mere nutritional adequacy and with a limited material culture. Their approach to well-being, he noted, was based on having few material wants, and those few wants were easily met with limited technologies and not too much effort. He reasoned that hunter-gatherers were content by the simple expedient of not desiring more than they already had. In other words, Sahlins took the view that hunter-gatherers were content because they did not hold themselves hostage to unattainable aspirations.

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The fact that hunter-gatherers were understood to form the base of the human evolutionary tree was also important, for it meant that they represented something essentially human. If hunting and gathering societies pursued “a way of life that was, until 10,000 years ago, a human universal,”3 as Richard B. Lee reasoned, then there must be something of a hunter-gatherer in all of us.

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July 1969 issue under the title “The Original Affluent Society.” “Imagine a society in which the work week seldom exceeds 19 hours, material wealth is considered a burden, and no one is much richer than anyone else,” enthused the writer. “Unemployment is high there, sometimes reaching 40%—not because the society is shiftless, but because it believes that only the able-bodied should work, and then no more than necessary. Food is abundant and easily gathered. The people are comfortable, peaceable, happy and secure.

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Their work spoke of the effectiveness of the Bushmen’s shamanic practices, of their “fierce” egalitarianism, of their apparent disdain for material possessions except as a means to reaffirm social relationships, and, later, of the challenges they encountered adapting to a rapidly changing world.

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What was special about the Bushman data was that it showed that they coped easily with relative scarcity and that they had mastered the art of not obsessing about whether the grass was greener on the other side, which—given that they lived in one of the world’s oldest deserts—almost certainly was the case. What was also special about primitive affluence was that it suggested that Keynes’s “economic problem” was not a “permanent condition” of the human species but instead that it was a relatively recent phenomenon when viewed against the broader scope of human history. One that emerged only when some of our ancestors abandoned a life of foraging and became farmers and food producers.

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The glue that holds these fragments together is the story of one particular Bushman group, the Ju/’hoansi of Namibia. The words Ju and /hoan translate into English as “people” and “truth.” Thus “Ju/’hoan” means “Real Person” or “Proper Person” and “Ju/’hoansi” means “Real People.”

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this landscape had nurtured them in such a way that they were not driven to contrive new technologies or new ways of being. I wanted to tell him that if necessity is the mother of invention, my sense is that his ancestors had found something within this place and the surrounding desert that enabled them to banish necessity from their lives.

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all suggest an extraordinary level of cultural continuity between the people who lived here tens of thousands of years ago and people like the Ju/’hoansi who still hunted and gathered well into the twentieth century. I wanted to say that this is important because we are living in an era of unprecedented change, because there are so few “wild” spaces left, and because maybe there is something we can learn from understanding how his ancestors had lived. But then I realized that /Kunta knows all of this anyway.

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an important part of that formula was the fact that the Khoisan were satisfied that their environment provided everything they desired without asking too much in return.

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their economy was premised on having few needs, which could be easily met. And he would also not have realized that they managed to do this by not having to work very hard at all, and so had as much free time as only the most indolent of the nobles back in Portugal.

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outlined in grim detail how Bushmen were by far the worst off of any population group in the region and told of how fewer than 10 percent of them retained any meaningful access to the lands they traditionally occupied or had any substantive rights to land at all.

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there is no debate about the reality of globalization now. And there is also no debate about the near universality of a very particular set of economic behaviors based on labor exchange, trade, and the creation, accumulation, circulation, and consumption of wealth. But the history of anatomically modern humans stretches back nearly two hundred thousand years before da Gama imagined a sea route to the Orient and clambered aboard the São Gabriel. Viewed from this much grander timescale, other moments present themselves as more important in defining the historical trajectory of our species. And perhaps the most important of these was the Neolithic Revolution, the extended moment when our ancestors transitioned from being hunters and gatherers to farmers and in doing so gave birth to the “economic problem” that has preoccupied us ever since.

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If the ultimate measure of sustainability is endurance over time, then hunting and gathering is by far the most sustainable economic approach developed in all of human history, and the Khoisan are the most accomplished exponents of this approach. And the success of hunting and gathering as an economic system cannot be doubted. It is as hunter-gatherers that modern Homo sapiens expanded out of Africa and occupied Asia, the Pacific Islands, Australia, and eventually the Americas.

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Based on several decades of careful observation of their bosses, Ju/’hoansi concluded that most white people were violent, proud, selfish, and unreliable. They were also irrationally greedy, sly, often sexually frustrated, obsessed with work, and perversely preoccupied with being shown gratitude even when all they had to offer was a beating.

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They said that farmers could also be resourceful, brave, occasionally compassionate, loyal, caring, and very clever. They also reminded me that, while white people were broadly similar in most respects, there were nevertheless important differences between specific tribes. Afrikaners, I was told, were typically more relaxed but were far more likely to lose the plot when drunk or lovesick. They were also far more likely to fly into a rage. German farmers were obsessive about detail and order, and generally calmer, but they could be very uncompromising when you got on the wrong side of them.

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as long as the Ju/’hoansi were able to hunt and gather freely, they could survive outside of the colonial labor-based economy.

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while the majority of Namibians jived and sang to celebrate the birth of a new republic and the end of apartheid, many Omaheke Bushmen spent Independence Day in 1990 sitting hungry, looking over fences marking the boundaries of vast ranches established on land that two or three generations previously had been theirs. Similar purges occurred in other commercial farming areas in Namibia, and the new government decided that something had to be done. A new act of parliament was passed empowering the government to purchase land to provide landless Bushman farmworkers and other vulnerable groups somewhere to stay. Skoonheid was one of the first farms to be transferred to the authority of the newly established Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation. It was one of three farms acquired in the Omaheke by the new government soon after independence from a prominent Gobabis rancher.

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there are others who understand farm life and trek between farms. I know farm life.” As a young man !A/ae noted that whenever he started work at any new farm, his name would be entered into an employment ledger, documents that over the decades had assumed great mystical power among Ju/’hoansi on the farms. The secrets held by these ledgers evidently had the power to give or withhold pay, issue rations, and determine an individual’s right to stay on any particular farm. “Those ledgers!” !A/ae railed. “Look, the farmer can write that he has paid you a thousand rand for the month but you know he has only paid you ninety rand and even taken money for rations. But you cannot complain and you will put just your thumbprint there or make a cross even though you do not know what it is saying. And you cannot go to the magistrate. The book doesn’t lie. No. Even when it does not tell the truth, the book doesn’t lie.” The employment ledger was a form of magic !A/ae was determined to unlock. The key to doing so was to learn to read and write.

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Farmers worried that his articulate questioning of labor practices and fair pay would put incendiary ideas in other Bushmen’s heads. By the time I met him, !A/ae, unlike most other Ju/’hoan men, had foresworn all forms of alcohol.

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!A/ae’s repudiation of drink was also a sign that he had abandoned the optimistic fatalism that enabled Ju/’hoansi to succeed as hunter-gatherers and, later, cope with life at the bottom of the social pile in the Omaheke. In contrast to most other Ju/’hoansi, he was determined to become master of his own destiny and became deeply despondent when his efforts to do so were frustrated.

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Like with the other Ju/’hoansi at Skoonheid, the fact that !A/ae was considered a “settler” in a land that his ancestors had lived for tens of thousands of years often filled him with despair.

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For farmers the Bushmen’s “childlikeness” was there for all to see. They complained in particular how the Bushmen’s tendency “to live in the moment” was ill-suited to wage labor and farming in particular because almost every job on the farm was future-oriented and the rewards for labor were only ever harvested long after the hard work was done. Farmers conceded that Bushmen had some desirable qualities that compensated for their shortcomings. They often remarked how Bushmen were “technically gifted” and how many demonstrated “an almost supernatural affinity for mechanics.” They also described them as “inventive,” “imaginative,” and “intelligent.” And, despite everything, many farmers also described the Bushmen as “loyal” and “likable.” But perhaps the quality that farmers liked the most was that they could get away with paying Bushmen little or nothing for their labor.

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It seemed to me that after half a century of being beaten and punished for tardiness and unreliability, Ju/’hoan laborers were mostly diligent, competent, hardworking, and punctual.

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“You whites don’t understand time like we do,” explained Old /Engn!au slowly and carefully so that my dust-clogged Dictaphone wouldn’t miss a syllable.

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He then set about trying to persuade me that if I and the white farmers considered time to be linear, finite, and evidenced by constant change, then he considered time (at least until recently) to be cyclical, rhythmic, and characterized by the predictability of the seasons and the metronomic periodicity of the movements of the sun, stars, and moon.

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“Sharing is important,” /Engn!au explained when I asked him why he kept his zwaa hidden. “A person who does not share is not a person, but, like the meat of a springhare or tortoise, my ‘special tobacco,’ that zwaa, is not for everyone. A man should have at least four children before he can smoke zwaa, and anyway I need it for my health. The young men sometimes try to steal it. That is why I keep it hidden. I won’t share it with them.”

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/Engn!au took the view that there were three periods in the history of the world. These were “First Times,” “Old Times,” and “New Times.” First Times was the period soon after God created the world. It was a time “when animals were people and people were animals and they married each other.” Old Times was the period when people and animals were no longer the same and no longer intermarried but instead shared the land and occasionally ate one another. The third and final phase of history, New Times, began when the goba—black people—and the /hunsi—white people—arrived, claimed the land for themselves, and set in motion an era of continuous and unpredictable change.

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New Times, he explained, was a period of constant, dramatic, and unpredictable change. Those Ju/’hoansi whose sense of the world was shaped by life on the farms or in the townships or by working for goba were “New Time people.” As were those who liked to drink alcohol, attended school, or “prayed to Jesus.” /Engn!au did not particularly care for New Times. Nor did he care a great deal about what New Time people thought.

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New Times had chiseled a generation gap into a society where none had existed before. Like their contemporaries in inner cities across the globe who viewed the elderly as ignorant relics of another era, many younger Ju/’hoansi were openly scornful of the Old Time people like /Engn!au. They blamed them for being weaker than the whites, for not having cattle like the Herero, and for not understanding guns, cars, or work. And so instead of referring to them by the respectful term ju!ae!ae, meaning “elders,” they occasionally addressed them as ju≠angsi: “worn-out” or “useless” people.

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G//aua, the trickster deity, also featured frequently in these stories. He embodied and engaged with the full spectrum of human behaviors, emotions, and motivations but had access to powers denied to ordinary men. He exercised these with very little restraint or self-awareness. To Ju/’hoansi, G//aua was capable of being all things. He was a creator and destroyer, a life giver and life taker, the bringer of cool rain and the harbinger of drought. He was jealous and trusting, vindictive and warm, lustful and lewd, perverted and prudish, self-loathing and proud. He was also capable of extreme and self-destructive behavior. He repeatedly and outrageously violated the norms that governed Ju/’hoan social life simply to entertain himself.

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while change was immanent in the world around them, it was constrained by systematic predictability. Every season was different from those that preceded it, yet any differences between seasons, whether marked by drought or rain, would fall within a range of predictable change. In this sense, successive summers were simultaneously different and the same. Unlike in New Times, when making sense of the present required roping a series of disparate and wholly unpredictable events into sequential chains of causality, in Old Times there was no need to do so.

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Like the Ju/’hoansi whom Lee worked with, the Hadza typically went out gathering or hunting only when they needed to. They made no effort to store food and always gathered only enough food to meet their immediate needs. In seasons when wild fruits were at their most abundant, the Hadza didn’t change their behavior to exploit this abundance, perhaps by drying fruit to eat when the seasons turned. Similarly, if for some reason hunting was particularly easy at a certain time of year, they didn’t exploit the opportunity to kill and store meat for use when times were lean. Instead they were grateful for an easy hunt but would not hunt again until all the meat was consumed. Among foraging Ju/’hoansi, the idea of killing more than could be reasonably eaten before it rotted meant risking social and spiritual sanctions.

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In delayed-return economies, labor effort is focused on meeting future rewards. To a farmer it means planting a field to harvest when the season turns.

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If hunter-gatherers like the Hadza and the Bushmen worked almost exclusively to satisfy only their immediate needs, what enabled them to have the confidence to do this? Surely they would have had to have tremendous faith in both the providence of their environments and their own abilities to get what they wanted from it whenever they needed

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Namibia is larger than France and Germany combined but is home to only around two million people. Nearly half of Namibians depend in part on subsistence agriculture to survive. But with most of the productive agricultural land owned privately by commercial farmers, people are always on the lookout for new places to graze their cattle or plant their crops. And Tsumkwe is one such place. To many of the neighboring Herero pastoralists the vast open spaces now reserved mainly for wildlife in Nyae Nyae are a criminal waste. For where they see a herd of eland or zebra grazing, they imagine instead long-horned cattle, mottled in red or black, grazing in their place.

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where Herero imagine herds of cattle, they conjure images of fields of millet, maize, and sorghum ripening in the sun. And then there are the small-scale entrepreneurs: men and women with few resources of their own who have come here to carve out a basic living by brewing beer, which they sell from their huts or small improvised bars.

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an expanding cash economy that will soon seduce the Ju/’hoansi into an ever more complex web of money, work, and aspiration.

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As much as it is possible to feel content with not very much, it is very hard to feel affluent when you are often hungry and others can afford flashy four-wheel drives and meat every night. There is also a pervasive sense of fragility to life in Nyae Nyae and a muted acceptance that change in some form or another is inevitable. But for the moment, at least, the fact that foraging still plays an important role in Nyae Nyae speaks to the extraordinary resilience of hunting and gathering.

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A farmer’s job is to persuade his land to conjure up reliable harvests of yams, wheat, or any of the thousand plant species that have been carefully selected by his ancestors over generations. But to do so requires that the farmer engage with and think about a landscape in a way that a hunter-gatherer doesn’t. Whereas a hunter-gatherer finds something, a farmer must produce it. To the hunter-gatherer, an environment is autonomously productive. It will produce whether the hunter-gatherer is there or not. For a farmer, however, a landscape left to its own devices is only potentially productive. To become fully productive, it requires the farmer’s agency. Where the hunter-gatherer engages skillfully if opportunistically with his environment, the farmer repurposes his environment according to his intentions.

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When an environment offers something for free—for example, in the form of vitamin-rich seedpods from a giant baobab—the farmer cannot help but view its gift as a transaction that needs to be reciprocated. In some instances the farmer responds by nurturing the tree in much the same way that wild truffle hunters on Mont Ventoux in the South of France or wild berry pickers in a Surrey woodland might look after their preferred foraging patches and hedgerows. But as often as not the transaction is fulfilled in symbolic form simply through the expression of gratitude to the gods.

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Some hunter-gatherer societies like the Mbuti in Congo or the Nayaka in Tamil Nadu describe their environment’s providence as “generosity.” But they do not do it in the same way farming peoples do. Instead they typically describe their environment as a “parent” that expresses affection by sharing its abundance with the many creatures that consider it their home.

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Foraging Ju/’hoansi don’t animate their environment like the Mbuti. They also don’t talk about animal spirits or speak of conscious, living landscapes. Rather, they describe their environment’s providence in more matter-of-fact terms: it is there and it provides them with food and other useful things, just as it does for other species. And just as importantly, even if they consider their environment to be provident, they don’t think of it as “generous”—firstly because it can sometimes be austere, and secondly because Ju/’hoansi do not think of their environment as a “thing” capable of agency. Rather, they describe it as a set of relationships between lots of different things capable of agency—plants, insects, animals, people, spirits, gods, and weather—that interact with one another continuously on what Ju/’hoansi called the “earth’s face.”

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And while it is true that most societies conceptualize humans as something distinct from the natural world, foraging societies like the Ju/’hoansi simply do not. To them everything in the world is natural and everything cultural in the human world is also cultural in the animal world, and “wild” space is also domestic space. So while Ju/’hoansi consider the litter to be an irritation, few see it as pollution—at least in the way the tourists do. To most of them, the litter is no more offensive than the leaves that fall from the trees in the Kalahari autumn or the broken baobab seedpods that litter the soil near the Holboom.

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Lee also wanted to get a better sense of how hard the Ju/’hoansi worked to get their food as part of a simple energy input and output equation. He established that on average during this survey period healthy adult Ju/’hoansi worked 17.1 hours per week on food collecting, with that number skewed upward by hunting trips, which almost always took up much more time than gathering excursions. For women, the workweek rarely exceeded twelve hours. Lee’s survey also revealed that the Ju/’hoansi ate well. Adults consumed on average over 2,300 calories of food each day. This is more or less the recommended caloric intake for adults according to the World Health Organization and was considered more than adequate by the Ju/’hoansi.

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In other words, even when the food quest was difficult, Ju/’hoansi never lost faith in the abundance of their environment. And just as importantly, when foods were superabundant, as was often the case, Ju/’hoansi did not wallow in their plenty or try to maximize short-term benefits by gorging themselves. Instead, they ate to the point of satisfaction and appreciated the fact that the daily food quest hardly took any effort at all.

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Ju/’hoansi were puzzled as to why farmers didn’t eat more moderately. Some Ju/’hoansi took the view that the farmers struggled to control their appetites because of all the alcohol they consumed. After all, Ju/’hoansi also had a hard time keeping a lid on their basic desires after a few drinks, and the farmers did drink an awful lot of beer and brandy. Others took the view that it was because most white people were simply incapable of controlling their appetites, their tempers, and their sexual desires. A few Ju/’hoansi reached the conclusion that it was a cultural matter and that greed was something that was taught in “cities.”

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the costs associated with managing health problems related to obesity globally now exceed those associated with problem drinking and smoking. Of the many factors that are said to have contributed to the obesity epidemic, the sedentary nature of modern life has probably received the most attention.

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When we were hunters and gatherers, we led active lives that ensured that we burned off excess blubber merely by doing what was needed to stay alive. Thus surgeon generals and health organizations encourage us to get off our behinds and exercise, even if only for twenty minutes a day.

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the emergence of a dieting industry estimated to now be worth over half a trillion dollars annually. But fancy first world diets are an expensive luxury.

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As counterintuitive as it seems to those of us who interpret the world around us primarily through the prism of grammar and words, language is neither the primary medium of culture nor is it a universal tool capable of translating everything from one culture into another. It also reminds us of the limits to understanding that come from only asking questions. Although anthropologists are meant to participate as much as possible in the daily lives of the people we work with, in practice we mainly watch and ask questions. Doing so enables us to describe aspects of things like n!ow, but it does not give us the ability to make sense of them. To know n!ow and understand it, you have to have been a product of this land, to have been shaped by its seasonal rhythms, and to have experienced the bonds that formed between hunters and their prey.

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rural Nyae Nyae and the adjoining Khaudum National Park, elephants outnumber people by a ratio of two to one. But it wasn’t always like this. When the Marshalls arrived in Nyae Nyae half a century ago, elephants were only occasional visitors: then the most prolific dangerous animals were lions. But over the last three decades lions have become ever more scarce and the elephant population has grown from

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And the fact that these technologies have not been superseded in any substantial way since is a testament to their technical refinement and effectiveness.

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Except for iron arrowheads and spearheads, the hunting equipment used by hunters in Nyae Nyae today closely resembles that used by Bushman hunters across southern Africa. Ju/’hoan hunting kits comprise a short-shafted spear with a metal spearhead that extends eight inches from the shaft; a hardwood digging stick sharpened to a flat point on one end that doubles as a club; and a bow and a set of arrows stored in a neat, almost perfectly cylindrical quiver made of hard bark that is bound by three or four neat twists of heavy sinew and topped with a perfectly fitted cap of rawhide. Also bundled within the kit are other essentials for a night in the bush: sticks for making fire, a leather blanket for warmth, spare bowstrings, and perhaps an axe. Some Ju/’hoansi like to attach shoulder straps to their quivers, to which they latch their spears and digging sticks. Others prefer to carry their equipment in neat bags made from the entire skin of a small antelope, into which the quiver is bound. The entire hunting kit weighs no more than five pounds, and when hung from a hunter’s shoulder it finds an easy balance, making it light enough not to be a burden but weighty enough to stay in place when the hunter runs.

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alone. The key to their effectiveness is poison. Ju/’hoansi and other Bushmen could easily have built much larger bows capable of delivering larger arrows with much greater force. But these would not have been as effective. It is only recently that easily portable bows have been manufactured that are powerful enough to kill an animal the size of a giraffe or eland with any reliability. For modern bow hunters armed with precisely engineered and geared compound bows, the recommended minimum draw weight for hunting a giraffe is 95 pounds—some 10 percent greater than that of the immense longbows used by English archers at the Battle of Agincourt and nine times greater than that of the Ju/’hoan bow. And even then a shot needs to be perfectly placed if it is to cut into either a lung or the heart. But for a Ju/’hoan hunter to be guaranteed a kill with this diminutive bow, all he has to do is make sure that his arrow is delivered with enough force to break the skin anywhere on an animal’s body.

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The poisons used by Bushmen differ from place to place.5 The poison compounds found in Border Cave were made from acids extracted from indigenous castor beans. The Hai//om of Etosha gently cooked sap bled from the roots of the impala lily (Adenium multiflorum, a plant that now graces many first world greenhouses) for their poison. Developing poisons that can kill by entering the bloodstream of an animal in small quantities and not make the meat toxic must have involved a lot of potentially fatal trial and error. Bearing this in mind, the poison used by the Ju/’hoansi and other northern and central Kalahari groups is especially remarkable—not only because it is so effective but also because it comes from a source that is far from obvious.

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Hunters approach the job of applying poison to their arrows with the care of a watchmaker and the caution of a neurosurgeon. They always check their hands and fingers for small cracks or cuts before applying the poison and make sure that nothing is around that might distract them. Once poisoned, arrows are always carefully stored in the boughs of a tree or on the roof of a hut—anywhere far out of the reach of curious children. The only time I ever saw an adult Ju/’hoan raise his hand to a child was when his infant son startled him while he was giving me a demonstration on how to apply poison to an arrow. No one chided this man for hitting that child, even though Ju/’hoan toddlers were generally free to play with all sorts of dangerous things—like axes, knives, and machetes—that would send most parents in other countries into a state of panic.

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despite appearances, hunter-gatherer societies like the Ju/’hoansi were happy to embrace innovation. Unlike agricultural societies, hunter-gatherers were neither slaves to tradition nor, if the behavior of contemporary hunter-gatherers is anything to go by, dogmatic adherents to practices that didn’t serve an immediate and obvious purpose. They were just particular about which innovations were worth embracing. But if something helped them to hunt or gather more effectively—and it was ready to hand—it was adopted enthusiastically. And the history of contact between hunting and gathering Bushmen and others shows how quickly San embraced new materials and pressed them into service to their own way of doing things. San groups across the vast expanses of the Kalahari all embraced the use of iron for their arrowheads almost as soon as they were introduced to it. And they did so entirely independently of one another.

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Foraging Ju/’hoansi rarely hunted when there was still meat in the village. Doing so was considered excessive and inappropriate. It also might lead to some kind of spiritual sanction from God or more likely the spirits of recently dead ancestors. But if people were hungry for meat, Ju/’hoan hunters never passed up the opportunity to kill a meat animal that crossed their path. Porcupines, springhares, birds, and even jackals were always taken if meat was needed. Two-thirds of all the animals that hunters regularly killed were small. Even if they killed more small animals than large ones, it was the large meat animals that populated hunters’ dreams.

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It was not only the white farmers’ bullets that scythed their way through the Omaheke’s once abundant wildlife. The barbed-wire fences the farmers built to manage the movements of their livestock immobilized the herds of migratory game like wildebeest, hartebeest, and zebra while ever more abundant cattle herds bullied them off the seasonal grasses. Some species of indigenous game adapted well to this new reality. To the elegant kudu, which carry their helix-shaped horns like giant crowns, the cattle fences were minor obstacles that could be gracefully hurdled. Smaller antelope like red-hided steenbok and duiker also found niches for themselves on the cattle ranches. They did not need to hurdle the fences. Instead they crawled under them and took comfort from the fact that the farmers had wiped out most of the carnivores that preyed on them.

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For Australopithecus, as with modern hunter-gatherers, there was a clear advantage to eating flesh from larger animals, because bigger animals typically had much more fat and provided far greater energy relative to the effort involved in acquiring it. Evidence of Australopithecus’s taste for meat coincides with a period in hominid evolution that was marked by rapid brain growth and an increasing tendency to bipedalism that left their arms free to do other tasks and enabled the evolutionary refinement of dexterous hands able to do very clever things. The evolutionary

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Cooking made hominids much more versatile eaters than most other creatures. Their dietary adaptability combined with their ability to concentrate nutrition through cooking also meant that hominids were no longer hostage to specific ecological niches and could improvise a living in a far broader range of habitats than most other creatures. Fire also must have helped hominids navigate the perils of life on the savanna, while other higher primates remained confined to the relative safety of forests. Fire sticks—and more recently disposable lighters and matches—are as vital a part of a Ju/’hoan hunter’s kit as his bow. A good campfire is still the most effective means of deterring unwelcome visits by lions, hyenas, and elephants at night in Nyae Nyae.

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Cooking also played a role in redesigning our faces. Eating softer, cooked foods meant that big-muscled jaws ceased to be a selective advantage. So, as hominid heads grew, their jaws shrank, a process that aided the development of our unique vocal capabilities and—because the morphology of our teeth did not evolve as rapidly as our jaws shrank—ensures that orthodontists are never short of work.3

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By Richard B. Lee’s calculations, Ju/’hoansi still dependent exclusively on hunting and gathering ate first world quantities of meat. But where meat currently provided around 15 percent of most people’s caloric intake in the United States, meat provided roughly double that proportion among foraging Ju/’hoansi. This was because Ju/’hoansi didn’t have loads of carbohydrates to eat and because they preferred cuts of meat with lots of fat, offal, and gristle, with their higher energy, vitamin, and mineral content. Ju/’hoansi also preferred to boil meat rather than grill it on an open fire so that rendered fat was not lost to the flames. When compared to other well-researched hunting and gathering societies, foraging Ju/’hoansi were among the most moderate meat eaters.

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Australian Aboriginals in Arnhem Land, for example, acquired 77 percent of their nutrition from animal products; the Aché in Paraguay, 70 percent; and the Khoisan’s closest genetic and linguistic relatives outside of southern Africa, the Hadza of Tanzania, 48 percent.5 Isotopic analysis of Paleolithic hominid collagen tissues suggests that these higher proportions were the norm throughout the history of modern Homo sapiens.

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in the context of their broader diets that include high fiber and antioxidant intakes combined with hardly any carbohydrate-rich foods, has probably made the difference. Exactly why it has made a difference, though, is uncertain. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they had to spend so little time working.

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in all the learned discussions among anthropologists and archaeologists about the relationship between hunting, meat eating, and human evolution, one of the most distinctive of all human traits has been largely ignored: our ability to empathize with others, people and animals alike—to project ourselves into their worlds and experience them from their perspectives.

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Even if dogs were “different,” this didn’t help me make sense of the Ju/’hoansi’s apparent indifference to their and other animals’ suffering. It seemed at odds with the idea that Ju/’hoansi and other hunter-gatherers had developed profoundly empathetic relationships with the animals they lived among. But in time I learned this is precisely what justified their indifference. Ju/’hoansi insisted that animals were people of a sort—not humans but people, because they too lived and thought. They asserted that each species of animal had its own distinctive physical forms, customs, habits, and ways of experiencing and interacting with the world.

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Most pet owners claim that the love they “share” with their pets is based on an empathetic relationship with them built on traits our two species have in common: in the case of dogs, their sociability, their loyalty, their affection, and their gratitude. But this is a different understanding of empathy from that which hunter-gatherers like the Ju/’hoansi had for their animal neighbors. For them, empathy with animals was not a question of focusing on an animal’s humanlike characteristics but on assuming the whole perspective of the animal.

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Ju/’hoan hunters’ empathy with their prey was not unique. Many other hunting populations across the globe have described feeling similar forms of empathy for their prey. This kind of empathy arises out of the performance of the hunt and, for the Ju/’hoansi, found its most graceful expression through the art of tracking, arguably one of the earliest and most enigmatic forms of reading.

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/I!ae agreed to try to teach me to track. He had thought it an odd request, because, as he explained, tracking was something that you could show people but you couldn’t teach it to them. Tracks were there for everybody to see, he insisted, but to read them you had had to understand why they were made. Ju/’hoan hunters’ tracking skills are as important as their poison arrows. For without them hunting is near impossible in the vast, flat Kalahari. Here there are no hills to afford hunters a view of their prey grazing on plains below. Dense scrub often limits a hunter’s view to just a few meters. And while climbing a tree or scrambling up a termite mound offers a little additional perspective, the only reliable way of finding animals in most of the Kalahari is to be able to read fluently their tracks in the sand.

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To be a good tracker requires engaging in a constant physical dialogue with the environment and ultimately an ability to project oneself into the animals that left the tracks. Like poetry, tracks have a grammar, a meter, and a vocabulary. But also like poetry, interpreting them is far more complex than simply reading sequences of letters and following them where they go, a task that was hard enough for me because tracks that were obvious to /I!ae, like the slight bend in a blade of grass or an apparently meaningless scuff on a rock, were invisible to my eyes. Tracking required an ability to read between the marks and infer their maker’s mood, circumstances, and intentions. To do this required a lifetime of practical experience and an intimate knowledge of the animals that made the tracks.

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/I!ae experienced the desert as a vast interactive canvas animated by the stories its many creatures inscribed into the sand. He insisted that if you walk through this part of the Kalahari looking only ahead of you “like people in the town do,” it is a dead place, a home only to birds, flies, livestock, and the dung beetles that followed them. As he walked, his eyes would dart back and forth across the ground, picking out interesting stories from the cacophony of narratives etched into the sand.

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Out of a seemingly insignificant set of indistinct prints, scuffs, and twisted grass stems he would conjure detailed descriptions of their movements and motivations. He’d explain where they were going and why, what they were doing, and where they had been. He’d also tell me their gender, their size, and whether they were healthy, hungry, nervous, or agitated.

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/I!ae considered the animals he hunted to be both companions and adversaries. They knew he was a hunter and were right to fear him, just as he was right to try to outwit and kill them. /I!ae described the different species he hunted according to characteristics like how they behaved, what they ate, and how they socialized. He told me how kudu males care little for the females, how they are bullies and not very bright, and how females by contrast care a great deal for each other and hate being alone; how oryx are brave and solitary; and how warthogs are clever, sociable, and vengeful.

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/I!ae’s difficulties in describing how other animals saw the world were not only because he was a man of action but also because his sense of an animal’s view of the world was experiential. It was something that was felt and so could not be easily translated into words. When he discovered fresh tracks of something he wished to hunt, he shivered briefly, as if tickled by this trace of the animal’s presence. It was a sensation, he explained, that he felt in the back of his neck and sometimes his armpits. Dogs also feel something similar when they pick up a scent, he said, and added that this is one of the reasons that people do not eat dogs, no matter how hungry they are.

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Nyae Nyae is also by far the largest of the last few places anywhere in southern Africa that San can hunt without fear of being prosecuted for poaching. But even so, far fewer men hunt regularly than did in the past. The most prolific hunters in Nyae Nyae are middle-aged and they complain about how only a few young men are interested in hunting and fewer still are skilled hunters. While Ju/’hoansi in Nyae Nyae are free to hunt whenever and wherever they wish within the Nyae Nyae Conservancy boundaries, they are forbidden to hunt using anything but “traditional methods.”

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to enforce the “fierce” egalitarianism that underwrote Ju/’hoan social life. One Ju/’hoan man offered Richard B. Lee a particularly eloquent explanation of why they did this. “When a young man kills much meat, he comes to think of himself as a chief or a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his servants or inferiors,” Lee’s informant stated. “We can’t accept this … So we always speak of his meat as worthless. This way we cool his heart and make him gentle.”1 The lighthearted insults and the hunter’s theatrical humility also reminded everyone of the constant tension between self-interest and community interest that simmered below the surface of band life and that occasionally erupted into arguments.

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And for a hunter, especially one who was particularly skilled and energetic, this meant taking care not to be so successful that he stood out or, worse still, began to consider other people to be in his debt or himself to be in theirs. “Insulting the meat” was one of many tricks Ju/’hoansi used to cool hearts, discourage arrogance, and tear down any potential hierarchies before they formed. But this kind of teasing was not only confined to good hunters. Nor was it always without real malice. No one was exempt from mockery and almost any opportunity was seized on to tease or laugh at others.

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If insults prevented hunters from getting too big for their leather sandals, it also created an atmosphere in which sharing was second nature. Gathered foods were not subject to any strict conventions on sharing. They were said to belong to the person who collected them and would be shared among those who slept at her fire. But since gathering trips were cooperative affairs, and knowledge of where to go and what was in season was shared, no individual household within a band ended… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Meat, by contrast, needed to be very carefully distributed for fear of invoking jealousy and anger. Even more so than tobacco, meat exercised sufficient power over foraging Ju/’hoansi to persuade them to forget their manners if and when they felt slighted. Omissions or errors in protocol when distributing… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Distributing the meat of smaller kills posed few difficulties. Their meat was usually given to the very young and very old to eat. There was a certain logic to this. These animals were too small to share widely, so apportioning them to those who were not able to contribute food not only ensured… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Distributing the meat of larger kills was most difficult precisely because it provided more than enough meat to go around. A sudden surplus of the most valued of all foods tested the cohesion of communities otherwise bound together by the common experience of having just enough. For in surpluses, as Ju/’hoansi understood all too well, lay the roots of power and control.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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the hunter’s ownership was conditional. Not sharing the meat widely was inconceivable, not only because a single household would never be able to consume all of it before it spoiled, but also because doing so… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Foraging Ju/’hoansi were textbook examples of “acephalous” societies: ones with no formalized hierarchies or established governance systems. Instead, they organized their relationships with one another according to a series of norms that were maintained by consensus rather than by any individual’s or institution’s authority.

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the absence of formalized leadership roles did not mean an absence of leadership. In any band there were always individuals whose character, intelligence, ability, charm, or charisma made them more influential than others. But they tended to be especially cautious about exercising their influence for fear of provoking jealousy.

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Everyone blamed the white farmers. “The Boers came here to waste the Bushmen,” they said, “to steal our land, to steal our work, and to make themselves rich.” And everyone also agreed that the Gobasi—the “blacks”—were not much better. “They do not see the Bushmen. They just walk over us like we are sand under their shoes.” Everyone also agreed that while it was a good thing that the farmers could no longer beat them and cheat them with impunity as they had been doing a few years previously, the quality of the equality that independence brought was a pale imitation of what they considered real equality.

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They also reaffirm every citizen’s “fundamental rights” as enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Like the historical documents that inspired Namibia’s new constitution—the Magna Carta, France’s Declaration of the Rights of Man, the American Declaration of Independence, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—there is a notable omission from it. For while it asserts that “no persons may be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status,” it also reaffirms property rights and implies that material inequality is not only acceptable but also a natural and self-evident truth.

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For the landless Ju/’hoansi in the Omaheke, by contrast, the most obvious and unacceptable form of inequality is material inequality. This is not an ideological position so much as a practical one. !A/ae Langman’s older brother, Kan//a, put it this way to me soon after his arrival at Skoonheid in late 1995: “I don’t know what this freedom is. As long as we have no land and no life on our own, we are nothing. We will always be under the Herero and Boers. They can do what they want … they can cheat us and hit us and we must just say, ‘Yes, baas,’ ‘No, baas.’ Even here the government administrator tells us she will chase us away if we don’t do what she says.” Kan//a, like many others, simply couldn’t imagine how… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The kind of egalitarianism practiced by hunter-gatherers was not born of the ideological dogmatism that we associate with twentieth-century communism or even the starry-eyed idealism of New Age “communalism.” Rather, it was the outcome of interactions between people acting explicitly in their own self-interest in a highly individualistic society. This was because, among foraging Ju/’hoansi, self-interest was… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Jealousy was the “invisible hand” of the Ju/’hoan social economy. Yet it exerted its influence very differently from the “invisible hand” famously imagined by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations. For Smith, man “intends only his own gain,” but in doing so he is guided by an invisible hand “to promote an end which was no part of his intention.” And this, according to Smith, is to promote the interests of society more effectively than man could, even if he had intended to. Smith believed that trade and enterprise in pursuit of personal enrichment and unburdened by… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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ironically, hunter-gatherer egalitarianism suggests that even if Smith’s hidden hand is nonsense, his belief that the sum of individual self-interests can ensure the fairest distribution of the “necessaries of life” was right, albeit in a very different way from how he imagined it. For hunter-gatherers the sum of individual self-interest and the jealousy that policed it was a fiercely egalitarian… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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To confine jealousy to the shadows, Ju/’hoansi emphasize the importance of good manners and cheerful banter just as they go to considerable lengths to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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despite the fact that most of us live in economically stratified societies, there is good reason to believe that we remain as uncomfortable with gross inequality as our hunting and gathering ancestors were. We may find that describing this instinct in terms of jealousy somehow diminishes it, for we have learned to think of jealousy as a sin rather than a social regulatory force capable of extraordinary things. Yet, as much as modern human history has been shaped by the pursuit of wealth, status, and power, it has also been defined by popular movements determined to flatten established hierarchies. And as much as we sometimes find pleasure in others’ success, we often find just as much pleasure when we see the successful stumble.

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For the Ju/’hoansi, the challenge of avoiding inequality did not require the abolition of private property; it just required thinking about private property slightly differently. As far as they and many other hunter-gatherers were concerned, private property in itself is not what’s problematic—it’s the desire to needlessly accumulate private property or to control its production and distribution.

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Men typically only ever owned their clothing, blankets, hunting kits, and a few small odds and ends, like musical instruments. Women only ever owned their clothing, digging sticks, and jewelry. Yet these objects were owned individually and absolutely. Theft from one another was considered unconscionable, but covetousness was considered natural. After all, if people did not own things and others did not covet them, where would the joy be in giving or receiving? And without the joy of giving and receiving gifts, how would one demonstrate friendship, respect, or love?

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The act of giving or receiving a gift usually provided Ju/’hoan hunter-gatherers much more pleasure than the gift itself. This is true in most hunting and gathering societies. And while gift giving no longer plays the same important role it did when they still hunted and gathered, it still gives Ju/’hoansi great pleasure today.

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Before they were dragged into the expanding settler economy based on labor exchange, gift giving was the only form of delayed exchange between Ju/’hoansi, and it didn’t happen between just anyone. Gifts were given to reaffirm bonds between individuals and were always expected to be reciprocated, but never immediately, because doing so would have made it a trade. Over their lifetimes, foraging Ju/’hoansi usually developed many formal gift-giving relationships, which they called hxaro (generosity) partnerships. Most were within their individual bands or with people in neighboring bands, but almost everyone had gift-giving relationships with a few people from distant bands.

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Ju/’hoansi gave gifts solely to reinforce friendships. The logic behind showing discretion when giving gifts was not to conceal the gift or the relationship but to ensure that the process did not give immediate cause for jealousy. Presenting a gift with undue fanfare would inspire the same sort of derision as a hunter bragging about his prowess. In presenting one another gifts, Ju/’hoansi were unconcerned with the equivalence of the gifts themselves.

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in the world of Ju/’hoansi, the minute something became a gift, it became equal in value to all other gifts.

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Demand sharing did not lead to a free-for-all that ended up undermining any sense of private ownership at all. Instead, demands for individual objects were usually—though not always—carefully considered and were often invoked either as part of an existing gift-giving relationship or sometimes to initiate one. And, just as frequently, gifts were often given in anticipation of someone’s demand for a gift.

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the intimate and private nature of these relationships always meant that these relationships were more affective than strategic, because socializing and visiting friends was for many Ju/’hoansi the single greatest source of joy in the world. As Thai Dam, one of /Engn!au’s fellow Old Timers, explained, “If you have friends to laugh with wherever you go, even if you are hungry, you can have a happy heart.” Anthropologists have often been reluctant to write about amorphous ideas like happiness. Instead, in a reflection more of their own societies, they have tended to make sense of human motivations in terms of their strategic economic and material benefits. But well-established social networks built on strong, emotionally fulfilling relationships are widely recognized as one of the most important determinants of happiness.

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strong social networks generate contentment and that the social atomization that characterizes contemporary urban life is a path to misery. For Ju/’hoansi and other hunter-gatherers like them, these cooperative networks were underwritten by affection and maintained by jealous egalitarianism.

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Ju/’hoansi considered lions to be among the most humanlike of all animal-people. The similarities were obvious. Lions lived in extended family groups and had distinct territories that often overlapped individual Ju/’hoan bands’ territories. Also like people, lions were social and affectionate with one another, liked to sing in the night, and loved to eat meat. Ju/’hoansi were quick to note there were many big differences as well. Male lions were often bullies, think nothing of killing other lions’ young, and were very hierarchical. And of course, among lions, females were hunters too.

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Hai//om considered the lions to be co-owners of their territories. Despite the Etosha lions’ reputation for aggression, Hai//om oral histories tell of a peaceful accord with them. They also speak of how it is easy for a male human hunter to be seduced by a lioness and persuaded to join their world as a lion-person and how many shamans could transform into lions at will—hence the Twyfelfontein petroglyph with its humanlike digits. The Hai//om’s kinship with lions was grounded in the obvious similarities between the species and the fact that lions lived in far greater numbers around Etosha than they did in places like Nyae Nyae.

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Ju/’hoansi did not have quite the same intimate relationship with lions as Hai//om. But they too considered lions to be tolerable neighbors on account of a timeless accord that enabled them to peacefully share water, space, and meat with each other. The Ju/’hoansi’s accord with lions, like that between the lions of Etosha and the Hai//om, was in essence a non-aggression pact grounded in the shared knowledge that both lions and humans were perfectly capable of killing each other. Thus lions would not hunt people and people would not hunt lions.

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where lions were hunted, they were dangerous to people. But where lions were not hunted, they were not dangerous to people. To maintain this accord, Ju/’hoan hunters occasionally left a small portion of an animal they had killed as a share for the lions if they were nearby. Likewise, once lions had enjoyed a good feed from a kill, they occasionally let Ju/’hoansi approach and take a portion of the carcass for themselves. In practice, chasing lions off a kill when they are too full to put up a fight was pure opportunism and something done only by the most experienced Ju/’hoan hunters. Hunters in eastern Africa regularly did this too, but Ju/’hoansi described it as an act of sharing. The peaceful accord between Ju/’hoansi and lions in Nyae Nyae did not survive John Marshall’s efforts to persuade the Ju/’hoansi to begin farming cattle in the 1980s.

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The fate of G/am’s predators was similar to that of Europe and America’s wolves when they too were forced to share their worlds with farming peoples. The Herero were once the most powerful of precolonial Namibia’s peoples. Their oral historians tell of how they migrated from the Great Lakes region of eastern Africa “many hundreds of years ago,” eventually arriving in Namibia with their cattle sometime around the seventeenth century. Once there, they displaced established hunter-gatherer populations and claimed much of the central spine of the country as their own. As pastoralists they were highly mobile, and as their herds expanded they extended east and west across Namibia in search of new grazing and water.

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there was little water, and the Ju/’hoansi there were far from welcoming. The Herero, for their part, took the view that these Ovakuruha (First People) were more dangerous than others they encountered and that these areas were best avoided.

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The relationship between Herero and Ju/’hoansi in G/am and Nyae Nyae was typical of the kinds of relationships that evolved between established hunter-gatherer populations and farming peoples whenever they encountered one another, from the Americas to Southeast Asia. Wherever these encounters occurred, farming societies expressed their derision for hunter-gatherers in similar terms. They used words like “wild,” “savage,” “dangerous,” “animal-like,” and “primitive” to refer to the hunter-gatherers and to justify their genocide and the conscience-free colonization of their lands.   15 Fear and Farming There was a biblical quality to the Herero repatriation to G/am.

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our physiology is a legacy of our hunting and gathering past, much of what we do and how we think about our place in the world stems from our relatively short history as farmers.

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It is also almost certain that the first farmers did not consciously embrace agriculture so much as inadvertently become dependent on it as a result of a convergence of climatic and environmental factors. Whatever the immediate catalysts were for this change—and there must have been many—the shift from hunting and gathering to farming occurred independently in several different places. Populations in and around the Tigris and Euphrates floodplains were the first to transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture around 10,000 years ago when they began to cultivate grains and pulses and to domesticate sheep, goats, and pigs. Then, around 8,000 or 9,000 years ago, foragers in the Yangtze and Yellow river basins in eastern Asia started to farm rice, millet, pigs, and silkworms. They were followed over the course of the next five thousand years by New Guinea highlanders—who domesticated bananas and sugarcane—and Native Americans, who began to cultivate corn, beans, and manioc.

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Confronting the problem of scarcity in a once benevolent environment also would have challenged the hunter-gatherers’ sense of cosmic order. Where deities and spirits once interacted with people as moral equals, people now looked to them for help. There is good evidence to suggest that a series of giant limestone pillars (a construction of a scale usually associated only with farming societies) decorated with carvings of wild animals in Göbekli Tepe in modern-day Turkey was constructed by hunter-gatherers just before or during the transition to agriculture. Among the ruins archaeologists found traces of wild grains and nuts as well as the bones of gazelle, wild cattle, and wild pigs. But they found no evidence of the domesticated animal species that characterize early Neolithic archaeological sites nearby. The site has been dated to around 9600 BCE, several centuries before agriculture really took off, suggesting that here, at least, hunter-gatherers began to adopt some of the cultural forms that would in time help them embrace the possibility of manipulating their environments to help their survival.

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As vulnerable as they must have felt, Neolithic farmers did not consider themselves to be completely at the mercy of the gods. They had a strong sense of themselves as being at least partially the authors of their own destinies. If they did things right, they could minimize the risks that fed their fears. This meant pleasing the gods in the conduct of their day-to-day life but above all it meant working hard to make the land productive. In this sense they assumed some of the responsibilities of their creator, as if deputized to complete their work on earth, a motif common to many of the organized religions that emerged out of agricultural societies. But where gods created universes, humans worked on smaller canvases, like homes, gardens, villages, pastures, and dams—spaces where the forces of nature were kept at bay and in which the wild was made tame.

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tantalized by the idea that sufficiently large

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Societies that became productive enough to support many more people than were needed to work in the fields became highly differentiated and saw the emergence of tradesmen, priests, mongers, accountants, and specialist artisans. Here surpluses were transformed into debt, wealth, and money, and, for those who controlled their distribution and circulation, power.

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Comparisons of DNA extracted from the skeletons of Europe’s early farmers with the DNA of Europe’s various hunting and gathering peoples shows that farming did not spread because hunting and gathering populations were persuaded to adopt agriculture by their more productive neighbors.2 Instead it shows that hunting and gathering populations were typically displaced by aggressive farmers seeking new lands. While the genetic data offers only a soft-focus picture of the history of the Neolithic expansion, it suggests that Neolithic farmers expanded from the Middle East into Europe around nine thousand years ago following a maritime route through Cyprus and the Aegean Islands. Once established in the south of mainland Europe, farming peoples expanded farther westward and northward,

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The spread of farming across Africa followed a similar pattern to that of early Europe. But in Africa’s case it resulted in the descendants of a single distinct human lineage colonizing almost all of central and southern Africa over a period of two thousand years. This population group is now referred to as “Bantu,” a linguistic term derived from the root word ntu (people) in the 650 or so closely related modern Bantu languages.

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These studies point to the verdant Cross River valley on the Cameroon-Nigeria border as the likely epicenter of Africa’s own Neolithic Revolution. With no domesticable grain species like wheat or corn, the first farmers there focused their energies on cultivating yams. Even though they did not have access to as diverse a set of domesticable plant species as farmers in the Fertile Crescent, Africa’s Neolithic population grew rapidly and from around seven thousand years ago expanded northward and westward. The descendants of this migration formed what linguists now refer to as the Niger-Congo language group.

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Then, beginning around 5,500 years ago, one of the Niger-Congo groups, the Bantu, expanded eastward, following savanna corridors between rain forests. In doing so they laid the foundations for a series of distinct social, cultural, and economic dynasties.

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The expansion happened in two phases. The first flowed eastward toward the Great Lakes region in Africa’s Rift Valley around three thousand years ago. It was here that Bantu were introduced to new technologies and other domesticated plant species by other farming peoples with Asiatic roots. The Bantu expansion flowed southward, with groups breaking off and settling pretty much everywhere that was not hostile to agriculture, like deserts and rain forests.

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There is no reason to believe that Khoisan didn’t live in many of the areas of southern Africa that we now associate almost exclusively with Bantu peoples: countries like Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia. But if Khoisan ever did live there in large numbers, they left few obvious archaeological traces beyond some rock art panels. Genetic studies reveal traces of Khoisan ancestry in the DNA of people living in these countries now, but not as much as one might expect if these populations had merged.

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Beyond a wealth of archaeological sites predating the Bantu expansion and the hundreds of galleries of rock art and petroglyphs in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, Khoisan in southeastern Africa inscribed their presence deep into the cultural memories of some Bantu peoples like the Zulu and Xhosa, South Africa’s two most powerful civilizations during the early colonial era. As much as the Zulu and Xhosa peoples were almost certainly as contemptuous of hunter-gatherers as other pastoralists, the interactions between them and Khoisan populations were intense and enduring enough for the Zulu and Xhosa to integrate some of the click consonants peculiar to the Khoisan languages into their languages.

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When they still foraged independently, Ju/’hoansi, like most other well-documented hunter-gatherers, defined gender roles very clearly. But they were adamant that gender differences were no grounds to assert the superiority of one gender over the other. Individual charisma, strength of character, persuasiveness, common sense, and humility were much more important factors in an individual’s influence within a band than his or her genitals. Both men and women could be healers and both could be n!orekxausi, the holders of inheritance rights to any particular territory.

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Traditionally Ju/’hoansi also did not make a tremendous fuss about weddings or, for that matter, divorces. While monogamy was the norm amongst Ju/’hoansi, people occasionally entered polygamous relationships. These raised few eyebrows, even though to most Ju/’hoansi the idea of having two or more spouses and sets of in-laws to deal with at any one time sounded horrible. Parents sometimes took an active role in discussing the suitability of a union but were never in a position to overrule the wishes of their children.

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In productive terms alone, subsistence farming does place a slightly higher value on male brawn simply because of the energy input involved in some farming-related tasks. Thus, societies with roots in “plow agriculture,” which required significant upper-body strength, are typically more patriarchal than those that prepared their fields with equipment like hoes that were wielded just as effectively by women as men.

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There was plenty of work for everyone regardless of gender. With an increased workload came an increased emphasis on making babies, who in time could also be put to work. The increased demands for infant care meant that women focused on jobs that could be undertaken while nursing at or near the home, like processing cereals, making clothing, preparing food, and mending tools. This resulted in the development of the almost universal association of women with domestic spaces and men with outside “public” spaces in agricultural societies.

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the risks and fears that haunted farmers’ dreams. Increased productivity also meant larger, denser communities. And larger, denser communities enabled more complex, often hierarchical social institutions to manage behavior, distribute resources, and manage risks. Tethered to their domestic duties, women typically had fewer opportunities to participate in ever more important public spaces.

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In all farming societies, social and political power was ultimately shaped by the flow of goods and resources between people. Among Africa’s pastoralists, like the Herero, cattle became the primary form of wealth and the number of wives a man had became the primary expression of that wealth, with women being exchanged for cattle in the form of a bride-price.

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even though there was plenty of money coming in, its impact confounded the economic principle that states that the scarcer something is, the more valuable it becomes. Because in Nyae Nyae, the more money people made, the more valuable it seemed to become. Those with the most money became the most preoccupied with it, and those with the least, the most dismissive of it.

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Unlike other objects and gifts that circulated among Ju/’hoansi, money claimed a power that existed independently of the giver and receiver. And this power was amplified by the fact that pretty much everyone from outside of Nyae Nyae obviously fetishized it to the point that there were very few areas of their lives into which money didn’t intrude.

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Should money be shared like meat or food or private property? And if so, how much and with whom? Was it an appropriate hxaro gift? In much the same way that there is no clear consensus on the answers to these questions in highly industrialized economies, the Ju/’hoansi didn’t reach a consensus either.

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In the absence of any established norms for dealing with or redistributing money, the influx of cash generated many problems. Jealousy alone, which had been so successful at maintaining a delicate egalitarian balance in band life, was clearly not up to the job.

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In the maelstrom of misunderstanding, loans were misinterpreted as gifts and gifts as loans. Accusations of selfishness, profligacy, and theft flew everywhere, and almost everyone in Nyae Nyae ended up being offended by or upset with someone else.

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Old /Engn!au was the only Ju/’hoan I ever met to propose a theory of sorts about where money came from. He expressed it in the form of a story about his favorite character, the trickster jackal. In his stories the trickster jackal was presented as a mythological Ju/’hoan everyman who survived by his wits.

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Simultaneously a jackal and a human, he was a creature of the First Times, the period when human and animal identities were in a constant state of flux. But the First Times that the jackal lived in were not the same as those of most other traditional Ju/’hoan “stories of the beginning.” For this jackal lived in a First Times where white farmers and Herero were in charge.

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/Engn!au’s money story went like this: Jackal had been riding his donkey and grew tired. He decided to stop and cook some meat. When the meat was stewing in his pot, he saw some Herero coming toward him. Quickly he covered the fire with sand so they could not see it. When the Herero arrived he said to them, “Look, you black people, this is a magic pot. It doesn’t need a fire to cook food. You must just hit it three times like this.”

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Jackal grabbed his whip and hit the pot three times. Tca-tca-tca! Then he opened it and showed the Herero that the meat was still sizzling hot. “I will sell you this magic pot for one thousand dollars,” said Jackal. “That is a wonderful pot,” the Herero conceded. So they gave Jackal a thousand dollars, took the pot, and

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When they reached Jackal, the Herero said, “Jackal, this pot is not magic. Take it and give us our money back!” “I can’t,” replied Jackal. “This pot is yours now. Anyway, I have already spent the money.” But just as he said this, the donkey farted and all the money tumbled from its backside. For a second Jackal was terrified, but then he smiled.

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Unlike his other stories, the elements of this one—that money is created by magic; that it is acquired through trickery and deceit; that it inspires greed, violence, fear, possessiveness, and anger; and that it often appears to come from assholes and is covered in shit—do not require tremendous reinterpretation to find meaning in it.

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For instance, if we substitute “subprime mortgage” (or any number of other purchases on easy credit) for “magic pot”; “mortgage-backed security” for “donkey”; “promised returns” for “donkey shit”; “Wall Street bankers” for “Jackal”; and “everyday dupes” for “the Herero,” then you have most of the key elements needed for retrospective analysis of the subprime financial crisis that began in 2007.

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hat-knitting project I helped a group of Skoonheid’s mothers to set up. //Eng and others poured aeons of accumulated creative energy and artistry into the hats, producing multicolored designs of great beauty, complexity, and symmetry. Their skills baffled and awed others who could not imagine how such complex designs could be created without the rudimentary mathematical skills needed to count stitches or the literacy needed to map designs on paper beforehand.

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she explained simply that the hats created themselves and that the patterns do the counting for them.

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The victim and the murderer, we learn, are a Ju/’hoan father and son who were squabbling over something while drunk. “Why do so many of the murders involve people killing their own family?” I wonder aloud. “Kill a member of your family?” replies //Eng. “Why, who else would you want to kill?”

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This small-town environment is much more abundant than the bush ever was, but if you don’t have money, it is far from provident. And the Ju/’hoansi here wonder why it is that they must continue to live on the edge of starvation when there is so much food nearby.

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For the first time since the Neolithic Revolution we live in an era where more than enough food is produced for everyone on the planet to eat well. We produce so much food that around 440 pounds of food per person currently alive ends up in landfills every year—enough again to adequately nourish another five billion or so of us for a year. This has been the case for some time and most of us are better nourished than the average person at any time since the development of farming.

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In outlining his vision of the future, Keynes differentiated between what he considered our “absolute” needs and our “relative” needs. Absolute needs were the basic elements of a satisfactory life. To his mind this probably included enough food, clean water, comfortable housing, properly managed utilities, universal health care, an effective transportation infrastructure, and so on.

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relative needs, which he considered to be those that “satisfy the desire for superiority” and that we embrace “only if their satisfaction lifts us above, makes us feel superior to, our fellows.” Keynes believed that technological advances and improved productivity would ensure that our absolute needs were met with the minimum of effort, because much of the work that needed to be done would be automated

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When our absolute needs are all so comfortably met, Keynes argued, our sense of what is truly important would change organically and we would learn to recognize that “avarice is a vice, that the exaction of usury is a misdemeanour, and the love of money is detestable.”

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And all of this stuff is imported or produced by the roughly one in ten of us who are employed in agriculture or manufacturing. The rest of us expend our productive and creative energies in the ever more expansive services sector, leaving some to wonder whether there is any point at all to what they do.

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the truth is that increased productivity and technological advancement are the real culprits.

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Perhaps the only way for us to embrace the abundance that has by and large already arrived is to find a way to deal with the inequality that inspires jealousy and anger as much as the impulse to work hard enough to keep up with or even overtake the Joneses.

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For younger people having to cope with education systems and jobs that place such an emphasis on working alone, the digital community provides some comfort.

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there are no Old Time people like /Engn!au living in Kanaan. There are now just old people. The last generation of Ju/’hoansi in the Omaheke to experience life as hunters and gatherers has disappeared.

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When I ask about the difference between Ju/’hoansi and others, the first thing I am told is that Ju/’hoansi are “poor” and others are “rich.” For the Ju/’hoansi, the old certainties that enabled their grandparents to live in the present have long gone.

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They remind me that everyone in the world is a New Time person, because where parents once guided their children, now parents often depend on their children to guide and help them come to terms with new technologies and new ways of interacting.

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For them impermanence, unpredictability, and change are imminent in almost every aspect of their lives.

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Robert and Edward Skidelsky’s How Much Is Enough?: Money and the Good Life (New York: Other Press, 2012; New York: Penguin Books, 2013) offers a good introduction to Keynes’s optimistic vision for the future and offers some interesting ideas on how we might achieve something resembling

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Marshall Sahlins’s Stone Age Economics (New York: de Gruyter, 1972), remains as compelling as it was at the time of its publication. Sahlins is one of cultural anthropology’s most insightful meta-theorists.

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Among the more interesting recent anthropological contributions to the discussion on primitive affluence are David Kaplan’s “The Darker Side of the ‘Original Affluent Society,’ ” published in the Journal of Anthropological Research 56, no. 3 (Autumn 2000): 301–24, and Nurit Bird-David’s essay “Beyond ‘The Original Affluent Society’: A Culturalist Reformulation,” Current Anthropology 33, no. 1 (February 1992): 25–47.

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Mathias Guenther’s Tricksters and Trancers: Bushman Religion and Society (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000) also deals with Bushmen as a broader cultural group. It’s a rich and detailed synthesis of Bushman religious beliefs and ritual distilled from his own research and an exhaustive review of the academic literature. It is dense, thorough, and intellectually challenging.

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George Silberbauer’s monograph of the G/wikhoe of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, Hunter and Habitat in the Central Kalahari Desert (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981). Silberbauer spent more time living and working in the field than any other twentieth-century Bushman ethnographer and did so in one of the toughest and driest parts of the Kalahari in part in the capacity of the Bechuanaland Protectorate’s “Bushman survey officer.” It is my favorite ethnography.

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Nyae Nyae Kung: Beliefs and Rites (Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 1999), also occupy a special place in the anthropological canon. While her writing is more workmanlike than Lee’s, as an ethnographic record of Ju/’hoan life in Nyae Nyae before they came into sustained contact with others, her books are without equal.

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Willemien Le Roux’s Shadow Bird (Roggebaai, SA: Kwela Books, 2000). Le Roux grew up in the Kalahari and spent all of her adult life with Bushmen in Botswana’s Ghanzi District, the Okavango Delta, and beyond. Shadow Bird is a partially biographical collection of short stories, each based on the lives and stories of the people she lived and worked with. It is gritty, perceptive, empathetic, and beautifully written.

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Life Among the Bushmen (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979)—is poignant, honest, and vivid.

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Kuela Kiema, a Kua from Botswana—Tears for My Land: A Social History of the Kua of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Tc’amnqoo (Gabarone, Botswana: Mmegi Publishing House, 2010).

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San Youth Network (https://sanyouthnetwork.wordpress.com), an online initiative through which young San activists contribute

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Projects like the Kuru Art Project in D’kar, Botswana (http://www.kuruart.com) continue to produce—as they have since the early 1990s—works of great beauty and power from a wide range of San artists much more comfortable with artistic rather than written represention, producing a corpus of work that is articulate, cathartic, and empowering.

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A committed hunter, Rane Willerslev’s Soul Hunters: Hunting, Animism, and Personhood Among the Siberian Yukaghirs (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007) offers a unique insight into Siberian hunters’ empathetic relationships with their prey. It also offers readers a sense of how the practice of living off the land shapes people’s sense of self and the world around them.

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James Woodburn. His ideas are neatly captured in his essay “Egalitarian Societies,” published in Man, the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 17, no. 3 (September 1982): 431–51.

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America

Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

Last annotated on Wednesday September 6, 2017

84 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

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what was so strikingly different from a decade and a half earlier was that there was virtually no cash coming into these homes. Not only were there no earnings, there was no welfare check either. These families didn’t just have too little cash to survive on, as was true for the welfare recipients Edin and Lein had met in the early 1990s. They often had no cash at all. And the absence of cash permeated every aspect of their lives. It seemed as though not only cash was missing, but hope as well. The question that began to keep Edin up at night was whether something had changed at the very bottom of the bottom of American society.

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Census Bureau employees ask detailed questions about every possible source of income, including gifts from family and friends and cash from odd jobs. A key goal of the survey is to get the most accurate accounting possible of the incomes of the poor and the degree to which they participate in government programs. No one claims these data are perfect: people may not want to tell a stranger “from the government” about the intimate details of their finances, especially if they think it could get them in trouble with the law. But the SIPP can tell us more about the economic lives of the poorest Americans than any other source. And because it has asked the same questions over many years, it is the only tool that can reveal if, and how much, the number of the virtually cashless poor has grown in the years since welfare

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At the time, the official poverty line for a family of three in the United States worked out to about $16.50 per person, per day over the course of a year. The government’s designation of “deep poverty”—set at half the poverty line—equated to about $8.30 per person, per day. As far as Shaefer and Edin could tell, no one had ever looked to see whether any slice of the American poor fell below the even lower threshold of $2 a day for even part of a year. With the SIPP, it was fairly easy to estimate how many American families with children were reporting cash incomes below this very low threshold in any given month. Like any good social scientist, Shaefer

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In early 2011, 1.5 million households with roughly 3 million children were surviving on cash incomes of no more than $2 per person, per day in any given month. That’s about one out of every twenty-five families with children in America. What’s more, not only were these figures astoundingly high, but the phenomenon of $2-a-day poverty among households with children had been on the rise since the nation’s landmark welfare reform legislation was passed in 1996—and at a distressingly fast pace. As of 2011, the number of families in $2-a-day poverty had more than doubled in just a decade and a half.

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the experience of living below the $2-a-day threshold didn’t discriminate by family type or race. While single-mother families were most at risk of falling into a spell of extreme destitution, more than a third of the households in $2-a-day poverty were headed by a married couple. And although the rate of growth was highest among African Americans and Hispanics, nearly half of the $2-a-day poor were white.

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When Shaefer added in SNAP as if it were cash—a problematic assumption because SNAP cannot legally be converted to cash, so it can’t be used to pay the light bill, the rent, or buy a bus pass—the number of families living in $2-a-day poverty fell by about half. This vital in-kind government program was clearly reaching many, though not all, of the poorest of the poor. Even counting SNAP as cash, though, Shaefer found that the increase in the number of families with children living in $2-a-day poverty remained large—up 70 percent in fifteen years. And even after throwing in any tax credits the household could have claimed in the prior year, plus the cash value of housing subsidies, the data still showed a 50 percent increase. Clearly, the nation was headed in the wrong direction.

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Reports from the nation’s food banks showed a sizable rise in the number of households seeking emergency food assistance since the late 1990s. A look at government data on those receiving SNAP revealed a large increase in the number of families with no other source of income. And reports from the nation’s public schools showed that more and more children were facing homelessness. Taken together, these findings seemed to confirm the rise of a new form of poverty that defies every assumption about economic, political, and social progress made over the past three decades.

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William Julius Wilson, who used Chicago as his case study for The Truly Disadvantaged, the most important book written about poverty in the past three decades. It was Wilson who first observed, famously, that a poor child fared worse when she grew up among only poor neighbors than she would have if she’d been raised in a neighborhood that included members of the middle class, too. Wilson argued that the reason poverty had persisted in America even in the face of the War on Poverty declared by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 was that in the 1970s and 1980s, poor African Americans had become increasingly isolated, relegated to sections of the city where their neighbors were more and more likely to be poor, and less and less likely to find gainful employment.

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For Wilson, it was the rise of joblessness among a black “ghetto underclass” that had left poverty rates so stubbornly high despite billions spent on antipoverty efforts. As we started looking for families who were living below the $2-a-day threshold—walking the streets of some of the very same neighborhoods that Wilson had studied—we worried that our efforts might be something akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. But, in fact, it turned out that the extreme poor were surprisingly easy to find. Within just a few weeks in Chicago, we had identified multiple families who qualified. The same would prove true in each of our other sites.

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job. This book is about what happens when a government safety net that is built on the assumption of full-time, stable employment at a living wage combines with a low-wage labor market that fails to deliver on any of the above.

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there are simply not enough jobs, much less good jobs, to go around. And for those without work, there is no longer a guarantee of cash assistance. $2.00 a Day shows that the transformation of the social safety net is incomplete, with dire consequences.

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The government’s emphasis on personal responsibility must be matched by bold action to expand access to, and improve the quality of, jobs. But there will always be circumstances in which work as a primary approach to alleviating poverty won’t work. In those cases, we need a system that truly acts as a safety net for families in crisis, catching them when they fall.

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Out of every one hundred Americans, fewer than two get aid from today’s cash welfare program. Just 27 percent of poor families with children participate. There are more avid postage stamp collectors in the United States than welfare recipients.

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In 1996, welfare reform did away with a sixty-year-old program that entitled families with children to receive cash assistance as long as they had economic need. It was replaced with a new welfare program, called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)—the one Modonna waited in line for—which imposes lifetime limits on aid and also subjects able-bodied adult recipients to work requirements. If they fail to meet those requirements, they risk being “sanctioned”—losing some or even all of their benefits. At the old welfare program’s height in 1994, it served more than 14.2 million people—4.6 million adults and 9.6 million children. In 2012, the year Modonna took her trip to the DHS office, there were only 4.4 million people left on the rolls—1.1 million adults (about a quarter of whom were working) and 3.3 million kids. That’s a 69 percent decline. By fall 2014, the TANF caseload had fallen to 3.8 million.

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As of early 1996, the program was lifting more than a million households with children out of $2-a-day poverty every month.

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By mid-2011, TANF was lifting only about 300,000 households with children above the $2-a-day mark. One reason families in $2-a-day poverty—whose incomes are far beneath the threshold TANF requires—often fail to claim benefits is because it just doesn’t occur to them to do

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When pressed to explain her reluctance, she explains, “I just don’t want to get rejected again.” Every time she gets turned down by a prospective employer, she cries uncontrollably. Why open herself up to certain failure by applying for welfare?   Welfare’s virtual extinction has gone all but unnoticed by the American public and the press.

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the Affordable Care Act has made health care coverage even more accessible to lower-income adults with and without children. Perhaps most important, a system of tax credits aimed at the working poor, especially those with dependent children, has grown considerably. The most important of these is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is refundable, which means that if the amount for which low-income workers are eligible is more than they owe in taxes, they will get a refund for the difference. Low-income working parents often get tax refunds that are far greater than the income taxes withheld from their paychecks during the year. These tax credits provide a significant income boost to low-income parents working a formal job (parents are not eligible if they’re working off the books). Because tax credits like the EITC are viewed by many as being pro-work, they have long enjoyed support from Democrats and Republicans alike. But here’s the catch: only those who are working can claim them.

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Taken together, the cash and food aid she could have claimed, even when working full-time, would have been in the range of $5,700 per year. The federal government was providing Modonna with a 36 percent pay raise to supplement her low earnings.

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lost wages. Not to mention the fact that SNAP is meant to be used only to purchase food, not to pay the rent, keep the utility company happy, or purchase school supplies. Thus, as Modonna’s earnings fell from $17,500 to nothing, the annual cash and food stamps she could claim from the government also fell, from $5,700 to $4,400.

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history. Between 1964 and 1976, the number of Americans getting cash assistance through AFDC nearly tripled, from 4.2 million to 11.3 million.

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NWRO was also the impetus behind a series of court decisions in the late 1960s and the 1970s that struck down discriminatory practices that had kept some families over the prior decades off the welfare rolls, particularly those headed by blacks, as well as divorced and never-married mothers. Through “man in the house” rules, state caseworkers had engaged in midnight raids to ensure that recipients had no adult males living in the home. In addition, “suitable home” requirements had enabled caseworkers to exclude applicants if a home visit revealed “disorder.” Some instituted “white glove tests” to ensure “good housekeeping.” An applicant could be denied if the caseworker’s white glove revealed dust on a windowsill or the fireplace mantel. When these practices were struck down, the caseloads grew bigger, and with rising caseloads came rising expenditures. No longer was cash welfare an inconsequential footnote among government programs. It was now a significant commitment of the federal and state governments in its own right. As costs increased, AFDC’s unpopularity only grew.

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Once again, no credible social scientist has ever found evidence that the sharp rise in nonmarital childbearing was driven by welfare. While welfare may have led to a small decrease in the rate of marriage among the poor during those years, it could not begin to explain the skyrocketing numbers of births to unwed women. Yet Americans were primed to buy the story that AFDC, a system that went so against the grain of the self-sufficiency they believed in, was the main culprit in causing the spread of single motherhood.

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As president, Reagan took a somewhat softer tone, rhetorically portraying the welfare recipient as more of a victim of bad public policy than a villain. Like FDR, President Reagan viewed the poor as caught up in a system that acted like a narcotic. He was buoyed by the work of the libertarian social scientist Charles Murray, whose influential 1984 book Losing Ground argued that social welfare policies had increased long-term poverty. Murray’s logic was simple: Pay women to stay single and have babies, and more of them will do so. Pay them not to work, and you have a double disaster on your hands. Murray laid the blame for continuing high rates of poverty squarely at the feet of the welfare system.

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The most notable legislative accomplishment of the 1980s was the Family Support Act, a bipartisan effort by conservatives and New Democrats who sought to distance themselves from the tax-and-spend image that was losing them seats in Congress.

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Ellwood and Bane’s findings was that most families used welfare as a temporary hand up during a crisis or transition. The majority did not seem to be trapped in Reagan’s “spider’s web of dependency.”

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Ellwood was shocked by the vitriol that his defense of welfare inspired. He wondered how a system that engendered such hate—even among many of those whom it was supposed to help—could ever survive. There had to be a better way. During this time, Ellwood came to a critical realization: Americans didn’t hate the poor as much as they hated welfare. In fact, during the very years that Reagan was fighting his war on welfare, the number of Americans who thought we were spending too little on help for the poor actually rose, up from 63 percent in 1986 to 70 percent in 1988. The public’s concern with welfare was not about how much it cost, but rather about the terms under which aid was given.

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Ellwood concluded that if government aid to the poor could be restructured in such a way as to promote work and promote family, perhaps the American

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Welfare brings some of our most precious values—involving autonomy, responsibility, work, family, community, and compassion—into conflict.” If a new model was to have a chance at success, it had to involve a social compact of some sort that was in line with American values. Help should be rendered, but work should be required as well.

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First, he wanted to boost the payoff for low-wage work by raising the minimum wage and greatly expanding a small and then little-known program called the Earned Income Tax Credit, a program that, through a refundable tax credit, offered a wage subsidy to the working poor. He also proposed converting AFDC “into a transitional system designed to provide serious but short-term financial, educational, and social support for people who are trying to cope with a temporary setback.” In Ellwood’s vision, this program might provide assistance for a few years while recipients pursued education and training. After that, they would be required to work. For those who were unable to find work before the time limit expired, a public, minimum-wage job would be provided.

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Reed seized on the only conservative tenet of Ellwood’s plan and proposed that in the Clinton program, families would get up to two years of cash aid coupled with job training and other services. After that, they had to work, either in a private sector job or by fulfilling a significant community service requirement. “Two years and you’re out” became Clinton’s other catchphrase, making it quite clear which part of the Ellwood plan was to be featured most prominently in the campaign.

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his pledge to end welfare that kept him in the race. Nothing polled better for Clinton than welfare reform. The New York Times’ Jason DeParle reported that a campaign staffer called the issue “pure heroin.” Clinton’s plans for welfare reform were featured prominently when he accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

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Marian Wright Edelman published an op-ed in the Washington Post in November 1995, telling the president that “irreparable damage will be inflicted on children if you permit to be destroyed the fundamental moral principle that an American child, regardless of the state or parents the child chanced to draw, is entitled to protection of last resort by his or her national government.”

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If Clinton owed his first presidential election to welfare reform, making good on his campaign pledge probably helped solidify his election to a second term. Perhaps the most surprising fact, though, is how quickly the issue faded from view. A federal program in existence for sixty years, a system that had survived would-be reformers for decades—including a full frontal attack by Ronald Reagan—was terminated by Congress and the stroke of the president’s pen in the summer of 1996 without much fuss at all. Welfare, as the country knew it, was dead, and very few people seemed to care.

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In an Atlantic Monthly article published in early 1997, Peter Edelman warned that when the new cash assistance program’s time limits took effect, there would be “more homelessness, for example, with more demand on already strapped shelters and soup kitchens.”

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The EITC’s expansion, coupled with the 1996 increase in the minimum wage and the increased availability of child care dollars, made government provision for working-poor parents far more generous than ever before.

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Most of those who left welfare did so for a job, but 40 percent of them did not have a job at exit, some because of the new requirements, but most for reasons that no researcher could discern. Among those who found work, the wages, benefits, and overall quality of their jobs were typically low. As a result, poverty among these “welfare leavers” remained high. Of even greater concern was the fact that a series of studies in the 2000s showed that the number of single mothers who were neither working nor on welfare—a group that researchers referred to as “disconnected”—had risen substantially. One in five single mothers was in such circumstances during the mid-2000s. Disconnected welfare leavers experienced substantially higher rates of material hardship than those who left welfare for jobs.

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Starting in 2001, more and more families with children who were receiving SNAP began to report that they had no other source of cash income to live on—not from work, not from public assistance. By 2006, the number of such families had grown 143 percent from a decade before. By 2012, 1.2 million families on SNAP told eligibility workers they had no other income. Private charities began to feel the pinch, too. According to Feeding America, an antihunger organization and national network of food banks that conducts the nation’s largest study of charitable food distribution in the United States every few years, pantries and other emergency food programs nationwide served roughly 21.4 million Americans in 1997. By 2005, that number was higher by 3.9 million, and it ballooned even further during the Great Recession,

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Beginning in 2004, public schools were mandated to count the number of homeless children in their classrooms. (This is the number of children whose parents or guardians could not afford permanent housing but were still attending school.) In 2004–2005, there were 656,000 such children. This number spiked temporarily in 2005–2006 because of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, but then gradually increased over time, reaching 795,000 in 2007–2008 and 1.3 million in 2012–2013.

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there is no guarantee that proving your need will earn you a place on the rolls. Even if you are approved for TANF, the payoff is questionable, given that benefit levels have fallen so much in value over the years. In addition, you are now expected to engage in work activities in exchange for your benefits, in some cases with unpaid community service, unless you are exempt for some reason.

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TANF receipt became rare enough among the poor that it has simply faded from view. No one in Modonna’s network of family and friends knew anyone who was getting welfare—even those in obvious need.

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the typical family in $2-a-day poverty is headed by an adult who works much of the time but has fallen on hard times. In fact, roughly 70 percent of children who experienced a spell of $2-a-day poverty in 2012 lived with an adult who held a job at some point during the year. Yet even when working full-time, these jobs often fail to lift a family above the poverty line.

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even when she was working full-time at $8.75 an hour—a full $1.50 above the federal minimum wage—and had a generous temporary housing subsidy to boot, Jennifer struggled to pay her share of the rent and utilities, buy food, pay for the bus pass she needed to get to work, put minutes on her phone, and still somehow manage to keep her kids in respectable school clothes and winter coats, hats, gloves, and boots. Without the housing subsidy, an extraordinarily rare commodity available to only a tiny fraction of Chicago’s homeless families, she never could have afforded their apartment—and there was little chance that she would secure such a subsidy again.

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About one in four jobs pays too little to lift a family of four out of poverty. Low-wage workers are concentrated in the service sector; the typical American experiences direct benefit from their labor. Like Jennifer at Chicago City, some are all but invisible to the nine-to-five professional worker or daytime shopper. Others are constantly interacting with people, taking lunch orders, selling groceries or clothing, or caring for the elderly in nursing homes. Few of these jobs offer workers much autonomy, and many extract a physical or psychological toll, as Jennifer’s job at Chicago City did. Not only do they pay low wages, but those who work them are often subject to variable hours and are seldom offered benefits such as affordable health insurance, paid vacations, or retirement plans.

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How is it that a solid work ethic is not an adequate defense against extreme poverty?

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Service sector employers often engage in practices that middle-class professionals would never accept. They adopt policies that, purposely or not, ensure regular turnover among their low-wage workers, thus cutting the costs that come with a more stable workforce, including guaranteed hours, benefits, raises, promotions, and the like. Whatever can be said about the characteristics of the people who work low-wage jobs, it is also true that the jobs themselves too often set workers up for failure. The costs of paying their workers are often the only expenses over which service sector employers have any real control. They can’t control consumer demand, but by using “just-in-time” scheduling practices, they can peg their labor costs as closely as possible to fluctuations in demand. In

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wide scheduling availability across days and times has become the key qualification for getting and keeping a low-wage service sector job.

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such flexibility often means relying on a patchwork of child care arrangements. In one case, as we’ll discuss later, Jennifer’s reliance on a relative to care for Kaitlin and Cole backfired in the most serious of ways.

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growing prevalence of “on-call” shifts. In recent years, many service sector employers have begun requiring workers to be available on certain days and at certain times even when they aren’t working. They might be expected to call in (or even show up) each day and, if a supervisor demands it, report to work in short order. If they are not needed, they get no compensation for the time spent on call. The allocation of hours can also be a way for managers to reward “good” workers and punish “bad” ones.

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The results from the Milwaukee study indicated that the average white applicant with no criminal record had to apply for only three jobs to get a callback, while a white job seeker with a criminal record had to apply for six. Contrast this to the findings for African Americans: the average black applicant with no criminal record had to apply for seven jobs to get a callback, while a black job seeker with a felony conviction had to put in twenty applications. The researcher noted how depressed and anxious the black actors in her study became after experiencing this degree of rejection month after month, even though they were only playing a part.

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With each dollar earned, the family lost roughly 30 cents in SNAP. Health insurance didn’t come with the job. They still couldn’t afford a place of their own. Devin couldn’t even afford to maintain his cell phone, though he continued to pay the bill on Susan’s phone.

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jobs in the low-wage labor market can be exceedingly unforgiving.

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What low-wage employers now seem to demand are workers whose lives have infinite give and 24-7 dedication, for little in return. Only an employer who is guaranteed a steady stream of desperate job applicants could require a worker to be on call, ready to come in if needed, with no promise of hours. Labor practices such as work loading and on-call shifts are important tools for service sector employers, especially retail chains trying to offer the lowest prices. Simply put, in the face of this race to the bottom, it’s hard for those employers who want to do right by their workers to stay in the game.

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Most parents, like Jennifer and Rae, hope for a little more. If they could just make $12 or $13 per hour, they say, they could make it; $15 per hour is really shooting the moon. Safe working conditions, and some sick or personal days, would be a real plus. The other “extras” that once came routinely with a full-time job—health insurance, vacation days, and retirement benefits—don’t often come up in conversations with the $2-a-day poor. These perks are so uncommon among the jobs available to low-wage workers that they seem all but outside the bounds of reality.

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Today there is no state in the Union in which a family that is supported by a full-time, minimum-wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent without being cost burdened, according to HUD.

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the number of extremely low income renters has grown dramatically—up by 2.5 million—while the supply of affordable rentals has remained flat. Because one-third of these low-cost rentals were occupied by higher-income renters, in 2011 only thirty-six affordable units were available for every one hundred renters with extremely low incomes. And most affordable units are older—usually fifty years old or more—and at heightened risk for disinvestment due to the costly nature of upgrades and repairs. It follows that they are the most likely to be deemed “substandard.”

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research—a randomized control trial—that they reduce housing instability considerably. Access to a Section 8 voucher, in particular, reduces the chances that a family will be homeless—either doubled up or out on the streets. It lessens by half the share of families living in overcrowded units, and it greatly diminishes the average number of moves a family makes over a five-year period.

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Today there are far more people in need of help with their housing expenses than receive it. Only about a quarter of income-eligible families get any kind of rental subsidy. In 2011, a smaller fraction of Americans received any sort of rental assistance from the government than was the case two decades earlier. And twenty years

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During the summer of 2012, when Modonna and Brianna Harris were bouncing around from shelter to shelter in Chicago, the city’s waiting list for a Section 8 voucher or public housing included 85,000 families. To make matters worse, the list was closed.

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Ellwood’s conclusion—that welfare must be replaced, not just reformed—was based on a crucial insight: any program so out of sync with American values was doomed to fail. He made the case that four values were especially important: the “autonomy of the individual,” the “virtue of work,” the “primacy of the family,” and the “desire for and sense of community.” The old welfare system was portrayed, if unfairly, as supporting the opposite—indolence and single parenthood.

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The ultimate litmus test we endorse for any reform is whether it will serve to integrate the poor—particularly the $2-a-day poor—into society. It is not enough to provide material relief to those experiencing extreme deprivation. We need to craft solutions that can knit these hard-pressed citizens back into the fabric of their communities and their nation. With this in mind, we propose a radical return to the central idea that was behind the 1996 welfare reform: work opportunity is vital and must be at the center of a multipronged strategy to help the $2-a-day poor.

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Our approach to ending $2-a-day poverty is guided by three principles: (1) all deserve the opportunity to work; (2) parents should be able to raise their children in a place of their own; and (3) not every parent will be able to work, or work all of the time, but parents’ well-being, and the well-being of their children, should nonetheless be ensured.

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There’s no getting around the fact that there aren’t enough jobs—much less ones with adequate pay, hours, and stability—to go around. The solution is a robust program of job creation—one that goes beyond anything America has undertaken since the Great Depression.

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Government-subsidized private sector job creation is one way forward. Recently, the federal government sponsored a promising short-term subsidized jobs program through something called the TANF Emergency Fund. States that chose to participate were allowed to use TANF dollars to provide employers (mostly in the private sector) with incentives to hire unemployed workers, targeting those on TANF or those who were in a spell of extended unemployment. Each state was given considerable leeway to design the program however it saw fit, often in close collaboration with employers.

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Across the District of Columbia and the thirty-nine states that took part in the program, employers created more than 260,000 jobs with an investment of only $1.3 billion dollars. Roughly two-thirds of participating employers said they created positions that would not have existed otherwise, and the businesses that took part expressed, on the whole, eagerness to participate in such a program in the future. Further,

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A program that included some support services could be particularly effective. In Michigan, a program called Community Ventures not only helps place individuals in jobs but also goes further by providing a set of services that make it easier for workers to stay in those jobs, such as assistance in arranging transportation or child care in a pinch. Imagine if Rae McCormick had had a resource like this when the truck had no gas and she couldn’t find a way to get to her job at Walmart. Including a caseworker who can counsel workers when conflict arises or advocate on their behalf might make a program like this especially valuable.

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If one tallied all of the losses suffered by victims of robberies, burglaries, larcenies, and motor vehicle thefts combined, the figure wouldn’t even approach what is taken from hardworking Americans’ pockets by employers who violate the nation’s labor laws. And the victims are generally the most vulnerable among

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Insufficient hours and unstable schedules are huge problems. Many low-wage employers choose not to hire entry-level workers full-time, or even to provide stable part-time hours. Unpredictable work schedules multiply the deleterious impact of low pay and too few hours. There’s plenty of evidence that on-call shifts, zero-hour workweeks, variable scheduling, and temporary contracts—practices that skirt worker protections and make it difficult to qualify for unemployment insurance—are all too common. Policy proposals aimed at improving conditions for low-wage service sector workers include provisions for minimum or guaranteed hours—perhaps thirty-five hours per week for full-time workers and twenty-five hours for part-time workers. Policy makers would have to look hard at how to design these regulations so as not to tie the hands of workers and firms too much. But a rule that could make an immediate impact would be one requiring employers to post schedules at least three weeks in advance. More predictability at work—and in the family’s finances—might bring more stability to the lives of those who otherwise might be prone to fall into $2-a-day poverty.

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we need better sources of information about which employers treat their workers well—or poorly. Casting a bright light on poor working conditions,

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Could drawing more attention to such practices create a race to the top among low-wage employers, especially as the labor market tightens? The nation needs an index of retail firms that offers information on how each one treats its low-level workers—pay, working conditions, scheduling practices, the proportion of employees working full-time—that consumers can use to make decisions about where to shop.

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Market Basket, a successful grocery store chain operating in New England, starts employees off at $12 an hour and offers health insurance and paid sick leave to everyone. Wegmans, another regional grocery store chain, QuikTrip convenience stores, and Southwest Airlines are all profitable while treating their employees well. Each firm differs, but as a group they tend to pay higher-than-average wages, rely more heavily on full-time workers, employ more stable scheduling practices, offer more fringe benefits, and invest in their workers through on-the-job training. And their workers seem to perform better because of

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Only employers who know their employees personally can exercise the discretion to discern whether someone like Rae, the two-time “cashier of the month,” has missed her shift because she’s a shirker or is a valued employee who has hit a rough

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We need to be creative about work to ensure that everyone can make a contribution and thus find a way to belong. Extending opportunities for supported work, much as we do for some adults who are officially disabled, would offer a middle ground. Another creative option for informal entrepreneurs like Martha are the small business “incubators” that have sprung up all over the country helping to formalize the “brown”—informal yet not illegal—economy. A food incubator, for example, might provide access to a professional kitchen that’s up to code, allowing Martha to produce her Kool-Aid pickles and market them on grocery store shelves.

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rents. Clearly, a few million additional government rental subsidy vouchers would help. In addition, there is a place for investment in the building or rehabbing of more affordable housing. There’s actually already an underutilized mechanism in place at the federal level that could help with this—the National Housing Trust Fund. The NHTF is supposed to act as a pot of money that could be tapped by states to help support the building of affordable housing developments. Yet the recent housing crisis derailed efforts to fully fund the NHTF, and the federal government has yet to build the program up. One idea to fund such an initiative is to limit the home mortgage interest deduction on mortgage values above a certain level, perhaps half a million or a million dollars, in effect shifting a subsidy away from very wealthy families to some of the very poorest ones.

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Another possible avenue to increase the stock of affordable housing and decrease residential segregation is to reduce the prevalence of discriminatory “exclusionary zoning” regulations. Through such provisions, municipal (often suburban) governments restrict what kind of housing can be built in a community—such as by prohibiting apartment buildings or setting large minimum lot sizes—so as to limit the supply of housing

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we do need a program that can provide a temporary cash cushion, because no matter what strategies we implement, work—even supported work—will sometimes fail. Factors not related to the availability of jobs can throw families into crisis, especially those whose lives are sometimes overwhelmingly complicated. In difficult times, they need a real safety net to catch them. In-kind benefits such as SNAP and Medicaid offer a lifeline to families in these straits, but they just aren’t the same as cash. They don’t offer the flexibility of cash—the kind of flexibility that the stories in this book have shown to be so crucial. For many of our families, their downward spiral into $2-a-day poverty might have been reversed by a timely infusion of cash. Right now, we don’t have a functioning cash safety net to catch people when they fall. Thus, too many families at the very bottom feel compelled to secure a modicum of cash by trading their SNAP. This isn’t good for them, and it’s not good for society.

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Since most families work, perhaps something called a “family crisis account” might be built on top of the EITC—something that families could tap a finite number of times over a given period to help them bridge the gap during a crisis. Credits could be earned with work effort and banked until needed. The key would be that families would be able to access these resources quickly, in a pinch, without having to cut through too much red tape. One idea is to provide those claiming the EITC the option to “save” some of their refund—to have it disbursed at intervals throughout the year rather than in a lump sum at tax time—and offer them incentives to

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Of the $16.5 billion the federal government transfers to states for TANF, more than $11 billion is siphoned off for other uses, sometimes to fund a state’s child welfare system. Strained state budgets are thus eased. TANF has become welfare for the states rather than aid for families in need. Beyond eligibility rules and other formal restrictions on who qualifies, there’s evidence that some prospective applicants may be “diverted” from applying for aid in unauthorized ways. After nearly a year without employment, a desperate Rae McCormick swallowed her pride and finally took a trip to the welfare office to apply for TANF. She says she was told, “Honey, I’m sorry. There are just so many needy people, we just don’t have enough to go around.”

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TANF offices in nearly every state require applicants to jump through numerous employment-related hoops before they can be deemed eligible, including attending an orientation, making an employment plan, registering for employment services, or engaging in hours of job search activities. For those who do manage to get on TANF, stringent work requirements must then be met—typically thirty hours a week of work for a private employer or at a community service job—the latter in return for only a couple of hundred dollars’ worth of benefits each month. Ironically, this work may put them no closer to finding a “real” job.

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In thirty-two states plus the District of Columbia, TANF benefits for a family of three with no other income are now below 30 percent of the poverty threshold. In sixteen states, the maximum payment is below 20 percent of the poverty line. And in one state, Mississippi, TANF benefits are so low they wouldn’t even lift a family above the $2-a-day threshold. One can imagine that very low benefit levels could easily lead a prospective applicant to conclude that it is just not worth the trouble to apply.

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What would happen if states were incentivized to spend a far greater proportion of what they received from the federal government for the TANF program on basic cash assistance?

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Without cash, they can’t meaningfully participate in society. Furthermore, no American should have to resort to the lengths they must go to in order to generate that critical resource. Most Americans cringe at the idea of fellow citizens having to spend hours scrounging for aluminum cans or to take iron pills to ensure they can donate plasma twice a week—just to keep their families barely treading water. Selling your SNAP, your kids’ Social Security numbers, or your body are strategies that the $2-a-day poor believe are immoral, not merely illegal. Parents should not be forced to cast aside strongly held notions of right and wrong simply to keep their kids in socks and underwear.

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As it turned out, however, the most revolutionary aspect of the EITC was that it managed to fold the poor back into society. How did it do so? In-depth interviews with 209 EITC claimants in the Northeast and Midwest in 2007 showed that while TANF receipt confers stigma and shame, claiming the EITC gives people dignity and restores their pride.

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research shows that the intrusive treatment people typically receive at the welfare office can undermine their confidence in government and erode political participation. It stands to reason that this kind of treatment could also erode the very confidence that is so necessary for pulling yourself out of $2-a-day poverty.

How Did We Get Into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature

George Monbiot

Last annotated on Sunday September 3, 2017

43 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

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This apparatus of justification, or infrastructure of persuasion, and the justifying narratives it generates allow the rich to seize much of our common wealth, to trample the rights of workers and to treat the planet as their dustbin. Ideas, not armies or even banks, run the world. Ideas determine whether human creativity works for society or against it.

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For every independent voice with a national platform, there are one hundred working on behalf of plutocratic power.

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Progressive change requires mass mobilisation. But, by identifying and challenging power, by discovering its failings and proposing alternatives, by showing the world as it is rather than as the apparatus of justification would wish people to see it, we can, I believe, play a helpful part in this mobilisation, alongside politicians, protesters, social entrepreneurs, pressure groups and a host of other agents of change. This, at least, is the conviction that enables

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The age we are entering, in which we exist apart, is unlike any that has gone before. In the past few years, we have seen loneliness become an epidemic among young adults.1 Now we learn that it is just as great an affliction for older people. A study by Independent Age shows that severe loneliness in England blights the lives of 700,000 men and 1.1 million women over fifty,2 and is rising with astonishing speed. Ebola is unlikely ever to kill as many people as the disease of loneliness. Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, while loneliness, research suggests, is twice as deadly as obesity.3 Dementia, high blood pressure, alcoholism and accidents – all these, like depression, paranoia, anxiety and suicide, become more prevalent when connections are cut.4 We cannot cope alone.

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More than a fifth now say they ‘just want to be rich’ – wealth and fame being the sole ambitions of 40 per cent of those surveyed.5 A government study in June 2014 revealed that Britain is the loneliness capital of Europe.6 We are less likely than other Europeans to have close friends or to know our neighbours.

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Research by economists at the University of Milan suggests that television helps to drive competitive aspiration.9 It strongly reinforces the income–happiness paradox: the fact that, as national incomes rise, happiness does not rise with them. Aspiration, which increases with income, ensures that the point of arrival, of sustained satisfaction, retreats before us. The researchers found that those who watch a lot of television derive less satisfaction from a given level of income than those who watch only a little. Television speeds up the hedonic treadmill, forcing us to strive even harder to sustain the same level of satisfaction.

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the myriad forms of career-making competition the medium celebrates, the generalised obsession with fame and wealth, the pervasive sense, in watching it, that life is somewhere other than where you are, to see why this might be.

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wealthier. New figures show that while the income of company directors has risen by more than a fifth, wages for the workforce as a whole have fallen in real terms over the past year.10 The bosses now earn – sorry, I mean take – 120 times more than the average full-time worker. (In 2000, it was forty-seven times.) And even if competition did make us richer, it would make us no happier, as the satisfaction derived from a rise in income would be undermined by the aspirational impacts of competition. The top 1 per cent now own 48 per cent of global wealth,11 but even they aren’t happy. A survey by Boston College of people with an average net worth of $78 million found that they too are assailed by anxiety, dissatisfaction and loneliness.12 Many of them reported feeling financially insecure: to reach safe ground, they believed, they would need, on average, about 25 per cent more money. (And if they got it? They’d doubtless need another 25 per cent.) One respondent said he wouldn’t get there until he had $1 billion in the bank. For this we have ripped the natural world apart, degraded our conditions of life, surrendered our freedoms and prospects of contentment to a compulsive, atomising, joyless hedonism, in which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. For this we have destroyed the essence of humanity: our connectedness.

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Today the dominant narrative is that of market fundamentalism, widely known in Europe as neoliberalism. The story it tells is that the market can resolve almost all social, economic and political problems. The less the state regulates and taxes us, the better off we will be. Public services should be privatised, public spending should be cut and business should be freed from social control.

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Even when outcomes are based on talent and hard work, they don’t stay that way for long. Once the first generation of liberated entrepreneurs has made its money, the initial meritocracy is replaced by a new elite, who insulate their children from competition by inheritance and the best education money can buy. Where market fundamentalism has been most fiercely applied – in countries like the US and UK – social mobility has greatly declined.2 If neoliberalism were anything other than a self-serving con, whose gurus and think tanks were financed from the beginning by some of the richest people on earth (the American tycoons Coors, Olin, Scaife, Pew and others), its apostles would have demanded, as a precondition for a society based on merit, that no one should start life with the unfair advantage of inherited wealth or economically determined education.

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But they never believed in their own doctrine. Enterprise, as a result, quickly gave way to rent. All this is ignored, and success or failure in the market economy is ascribed solely to individual effort. The rich are the new righteous, the poor are the new deviants, who have failed both economically and morally, and are now classified as social parasites. The market was meant to emancipate us, offering autonomy and freedom. Instead it has delivered atomisation and loneliness. The workplace has been overwhelmed by a mad, Kafkaesque infrastructure of assessments, monitoring, measuring, surveillance and audits, centrally directed and rigidly planned, whose purpose is to reward the winners and punish the losers. It destroys autonomy, enterprise, innovation and loyalty, and breeds frustration, envy and fear. Through a magnificent paradox, it has led to the revival of a grand old Soviet tradition, known in Russian as tufta. It means the falsification of statistics to meet the diktats of unaccountable power. The same forces afflict those who can’t find work. They must now contend, alongside the other humiliations of unemployment, with a whole new level of snooping and monitoring. All this, Verhaeghe points out, is fundamental to the neoliberal model, which everywhere insists on comparison, evaluation and quantification. We find ourselves technically free but powerless. Whether in work or out of work, we must live by the same rules or perish. All the major political parties promote them, so we have no political power either. In the name of autonomy and freedom we have ended up controlled by a grinding, faceless bureaucracy. These shifts have been accompanied, Verhaeghe writes, by a spectacular rise in certain psychiatric conditions: self-harm, eating disorders, depression and personality disorders. Performance anxiety and social phobia are rising fast; both of them reflect a fear of other people, who are perceived as both evaluators and competitors, the only roles for society that market fundamentalism admits. Depression and loneliness plague us. The infantilising diktats of the workplace destroy our self-respect. Those who end up at the bottom of the pile are assailed by guilt and shame. The self-attribution fallacy cuts both ways: just as we congratulate ourselves for our successes, we blame ourselves for our failures, even if we had little to do with them. So if you don’t fit in; if you feel at odds with the world; if your identity is troubled and frayed; if you feel lost and ashamed, it could be because you have retained the human values you were supposed to have discarded.

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Lord Macdonald, formerly the director of public prosecutions, points out, ‘It is difficult to imagine a broader concept than causing “nuisance” or “annoyance”. The phrase is apt to catch a vast range of everyday behaviours to an extent that may have serious implications for the rule of law.’10 Protesters, buskers, preachers: all, he argues, could end up with IPNAs. The Home Office minister, Norman Baker, once a defender of civil liberties, now the architect of the most oppressive bill pushed through any recent parliament, claimed that the amendments he offered in December 2012 would ‘reassure people that basic liberties will not be affected’.11 But Liberty describes them as ‘a little bit of window-dressing: nothing substantial has changed’.12 The new injunctions and the new dispersal orders create a system in which the authorities can prevent anyone from doing more or less anything. But they won’t be deployed against just anyone. Advertisers, who cause plenty of nuisance and annoyance, have nothing to fear; nor do opera lovers hogging the pavements of Covent Garden. Annoyance and nuisance are what young people cause; they are inflicted by oddballs, the underclass, those who dispute the claims of power. These laws will be used to stamp out plurality and difference, to douse the exuberance of youth, to pursue children for the crime of being young and together in a public place, to help turn this nation into a money-making monoculture, controlled, homogenised, lifeless, strifeless and bland. For a government which represents the old and the rich, that must sound like paradise. 6 January 2014

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‘One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds’, the pioneering conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote. ‘An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.’1 I remembered that when I read the news that the world has lost 52 per cent of its vertebrate wildlife over the past forty years.2

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The hominins from whom we evolved inhabited a fascinating, terrifying world, in which survival depended on constant observation and interpretation. They contended not only with lions and leopards, but with sabretooths and false sabretooths, giant hyaenas and bear dogs (monstrous creatures with a huge bite radius).

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We still possess these capacities. We carry with us a ghost psyche, adapted to a world we no longer inhabit, which contains – though it remains locked down for much of the time – a boundless capacity for fear and wonder, curiosity and enchantment. We are pre-tuned to the natural world, wired to respond to nature.

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By damaging the living planet we have diminished our existence. We have been able to do this partly as a result of our ability to compartmentalise. This is another remarkable capacity we have developed, which perhaps reflects the demands of survival in the ever more complex human world we have created. By carving up the world in our minds we have learnt to shut ourselves out of it.

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Now almost every aspect of our lives is lived within grids, either concrete or abstract. Linearity, control and management dominate our lives. We fetishise progress: a continuous movement in the same direction. We impose our lines on the messy, contradictory and meandering realities of the human world, because otherwise we would be completely lost in it. We make compartments simple enough, amid the labyrinths we have created, to navigate and understand. Thus we box ourselves out of the natural world. We become resistant to the experiences that nature has to offer; its spontaneity and serendipity, its unscripted delights, its capacity to shake us out of the frustrations and humiliations which are an inevitable product of the controlled and ordered world we have sought to create. We bully the living world into the grids we impose on ourselves. Even the areas we claim to have set aside for nature are often subjected to rigid management plans, in which the type and the height of the vegetation is precisely ordained and, through grazing or cutting or burning, nature is kept in a state of arrested development to favour an arbitrary assemblage of life over other possible outcomes. Nothing is allowed to change, to enter or leave. We preserve these places as if they were pickles in a jar. The language we use to describe them is also rigid and compartmentalised. In the UK we protect ‘sites of special scientific interest’, as if the wildlife they contain is of interest only to scientists. The few parts of the seabed which are not ripped up by industrial trawling are described as ‘reference areas’, as if their only value is as a baseline with which to compare destruction elsewhere. And is there a more alienating term than ‘reserve’? When we talk about reserve in people, we mean that they seem cold and remote. It reminds me of the old Native American joke: ‘We used to like the white man, but now we have our reservations.’ Even ‘the environment’ is an austere and technical term, which creates no pictures in the mind.

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We have our bread; now we are wandering, in spellbound reverie, among the circuses. The world’s most inventive minds are deployed not to improve the lot of humankind but to devise ever more effective means of stimulation, to counteract the diminishing satisfactions of consumption. The mutual dependencies of consumer capitalism ensure that we all unwittingly conspire in the trashing of what may be the only living planet. The failure at Rio de Janeiro belongs to us all. It marks, more or less, the end of the multilateral effort to protect the biosphere. The only successful global instrument – the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer – was agreed and implemented years before the first Earth Summit, in 1992.2 It was one of the last fruits of a different political era, in which intervention in the market for the sake of the greater good was not considered anathema, even by the Thatcher and Reagan governments. Everything of value discussed since then has led to weak, unenforceable agreements, or to no agreements at all.

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Total impact should be measured as I = CAT: consumers times affluence times technology. Many of the world’s people use so little that they wouldn’t figure in this equation. They are the ones who have most children. While there’s a weak correlation between global warming and population growth, there’s a strong correlation between global warming and wealth.

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And most of the farmed animals in this country are fed on either soya or maize, whose impacts on the living world are terrible.2 A new paper in the journal Science of the Total Environment reports that, ‘Livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss.’3 Perhaps you can dismiss these problems from your mind. But the overuse of antibiotics by livestock farms that can lead to resistant strains of pathogens, and the competition for scarce arable land between the production of animal feed and grain for human consumption, must surely trouble

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Like the growing of potatoes, maize cultivation with conventional methods in this country is a perfect formula for ripping the soil off the land, as the ground is ploughed deeply, then left almost bare for several months. A study in south-west England suggests that the soil structure has broken down in 75 per cent of the maize fields there.1 Maize cultivation has expanded from 1,400 hectares to 160,000 since 1970.2 It is not grown to feed people, but to feed livestock and to supply anaerobic digestion plants producing biogas. If the National Farmers’ Union gets its way, maize growing will expand by another 100,000 hectares in the next six years, solely to make biogas.3 Subsidies which were meant to encourage farmers to turn their slurry and crop wastes into biogas – a sensible and commendable idea – are instead being used to grow virgin feedstocks on the best arable land. Across the European Union, thanks to this perverse incentive, virgin crops (mostly maize) now account for 55 per cent of all the feedstock being poured into biogas plants. Our soils are being torn apart for no good reason. Soil erosion and an associated problem, soil compaction — mostly caused by using heavy machinery in the wrong conditions – is a major contributor to floods. Rain percolates into soils whose structure is intact, but flashes off fields where the structure has broken down, taking the soil – and the pesticides and fertiliser – with it.

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Researching her film The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discovered that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1 per cent remain in use six months after sale.1 Even the goods we might have expected to hold onto are soon condemned to destruction through either planned obsolescence (breaking quickly) or perceived obsolescence (becoming unfashionable). But many of the products we buy, especially for Christmas, cannot become obsolescent. The term implies a loss of utility, but they had no utility in the first

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The movement started with Rick Santelli’s call on CNBC for a tea party of city traders to dump securities in Lake Michigan, in protest at Obama’s plan to ‘subsidise the losers’.6 In other words, it was a demand for a financiers’ mobilisation against the bail-out of their victims: people losing their homes. This is the opposite of the Observer’s story. On the same day, a group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP) set up a Tea Party Facebook page and started organising Tea Party events.7 The movement, whose programme is still lavishly

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knew this once, but now we’ve forgotten. What hope do we have of resisting a force we won’t even see?

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is subtler than No Turning Back. There are fewer of the direct demands and terrifying plans: these movements have learnt something in the past thirty years. It is hard to think how their manifesto could have been better tailored to corporate interests. As if to reinforce the point, the front cover carries a quote from Sir Terry Leahy, until recently the chief executive of Tesco: ‘The path is clear. We have to be brave enough to take it.’ Once more the press has taken up the call. In the approach to publication, the Daily Telegraph commissioned a series of articles called Britain Unleashed, promoting the same dreary agenda of less tax for the rich, less help for the poor and less regulation for business.17 Another article in the same paper, published in September 2012 by its head of personal finance Ian Cowie, proposes that there be no representation without taxation. People who don’t pay enough income tax shouldn’t be allowed to vote.18 I see these people as rightwing vanguardists, mobilising first to break and then to capture a political system that is meant to belong to all of us. Like Marxist insurrectionaries, they often talk about smashing things, about ‘creative destruction’, about the breaking of chains and the slipping of leashes.19 But in this case they appear to be trying to free the rich from the constraints of democracy. And at the moment they are winning. 1 October 2012

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Neoliberalism claims that we are best served by maximum market freedom and minimum intervention by the state. The role of government should be confined to creating and defending markets, protecting private property and defending the realm. All other functions are better discharged by private enterprise, which will be prompted by the profit motive to supply essential services. By this means, enterprise is liberated, rational decisions are made and citizens are freed from the dehumanising hand of the state. This, at any rate, is the theory. But as David Harvey proposes in his book A Brief History of Neoliberalism, wherever the neoliberal programme has been implemented, it has caused a massive shift of wealth not just to the top one per cent, but to the top tenth of the top one per cent.4 In the United States, for example, the upper 0.1 per cent has already regained the position it held at the beginning of the 1920s.5 The conditions that neoliberalism demands in order to free human beings from the slavery of the state – minimal taxes, the dismantling of public services and social security, deregulation, the breaking of the unions – just happen to be the conditions required to make the elite even richer, while leaving everyone else to sink or swim.

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So the question is this. Given that the crises I have listed are predictable effects of the dismantling of public services and the deregulation of business and financial markets, given that it damages the interests of nearly everyone, how has neoliberalism come to dominate public life? Richard Nixon was once forced to concede that ‘we are all Keynesians now’: even the Republicans supported the interventionist doctrines of John Maynard Keynes. But we are all neoliberals now. Mrs Thatcher kept telling us that ‘there is no alternative’, and by implementing her programmes, Clinton, Blair, Brown and the other leaders of what were once progressive parties appear to prove her right. The first great advantage the neoliberals possessed was an unceasing fountain of money.

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The Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institute, the American Enterprise Institute and many others in the US, as well as the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute in the UK were all established to promote this project. Their purpose was to develop the ideas and the language which would mask the real intent of the programme – the restoration of the power of the elite – and package it as a proposal for the betterment of humankind.

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force. In the US, the Democrats were neutered by new laws on campaign finance. To compete successfully with the Republicans, they would have to give big business what it wanted. The first neoliberal programme of all was implemented in Chile following Pinochet’s coup, with the backing of the US government and economists taught by Milton Friedman, one of the founding members of the Mont Pelerin Society.

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sense. The corporations’ tame thinkers sell the project by reframing our political language.7 Nowadays I hear even my progressive friends using terms like wealth creators, tax relief, big government, consumer democracy, red tape, compensation culture, job seekers and benefit cheats. These terms, all deliberately invented or promoted by neoliberals, have become so commonplace that they now seem almost neutral. Neoliberalism, if unchecked, will catalyse crisis after crisis, all of which can be solved only by the means it forbids: greater intervention on the part of the state. In confronting it, we must recognise that we will never be able to mobilise the resources its exponents have been given. But as the disasters they have caused develop, the public will need ever less persuading that it has been misled.

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Little distinguishes the British imperial project from any other. In all cases the purpose of empire was loot, land and labour. When people resisted (as some of the Kikuyu did during the Mau Mau rebellion), the response everywhere was the same: extreme and indiscriminate brutality, hidden from public view by distance and official lies. Successive governments have sought to deny the Kikuyu justice: destroying most of the paperwork, lying about the existence of the rest, seeking to have the case dismissed on technicalities.9 Their handling of this issue, and the widespread British disavowal of what happened in Kenya, reflect the way in which this country has been brutalised by its colonial history. Empire did almost as much harm to the imperial nations as it did to their subject peoples.

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In his book ‘Exterminate All the Brutes’, Sven Lindqvist shows how the ideology that led to Hitler’s war and the Holocaust was developed by the colonial powers.10 Imperialism required an exculpatory myth. It was supplied, primarily, by British theorists. In 1799, Charles White began the process of identifying Europeans as inherently superior to other peoples.11 By 1850, the disgraced anatomist Robert Knox had developed the theme into fully fledged racism.12 His book The Races of Man asserted that dark-skinned people were destined first to be enslaved and then annihilated by the ‘lighter races’. Dark meant almost everyone: ‘what a field of extermination lies before the Saxon, Celtic, and Sarmatian races!’13 Remarkable as it may sound, this view soon came to dominate British thought. In common with most of the political class, W. Winwood Reade, Alfred Russel Wallace, Herbert Spencer, Frederick Farrar, Francis Galton, Benjamin Kidd, even Charles Darwin saw the extermination of dark-skinned people as an inevitable law of nature.14 Some of them argued that Europeans had a duty to speed it up: both to save the integrity of the species and to put the inferior ‘races’ out of their misery. These themes were picked up by German theorists. In 1893, Alexander Tille, drawing on British writers, claimed that ‘it is the right of the stronger race to annihilate the lower’.15 In 1901, Friedrich Ratzel argued in Der Lebensraum that Germany had a right and duty to displace ‘primitive peoples’, as the Europeans had done in the Americas. In Mein Kampf, Hitler explained that the eastward expansion of the German empire would mirror the western and southern extension of British interests.16 He systematised and industrialised what the imperial nations had been doing for the past five centuries. The scale was greater, the location different, the ideology broadly the same. I believe that the brutalisation of empire also made the pointless slaughter of the First World War possible. A ruling class which had shut down its feelings to the extent that it could engineer a famine in India in the 1870s in which between 12 and 29 million people died was capable of almost anything.17 Empire had tested not only the long-range weaponry that would later be deployed in northern France, but also the ideas. Nor have we wholly abandoned them. Commenting on the Kikuyu case in the Daily Mail, Max Hastings charged that the plaintiffs had come to London ‘to exploit our feebleminded justice system’.18 Hearing them ‘represents an exercise in state masochism’. I suspect that if members of Hastings’s club had been treated like the Kikuyu, he would be shouting from the rooftops for redress. But Kenyans remain, as colonial logic demanded, the ‘other’, bereft of the features and feelings that establish our common humanity. So, in the eyes of much of the elite, do welfare recipients, ‘problem families’, Muslims and asylum seekers. The process of dehumanisation, so necessary to the colonial project,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Remittances from the diaspora amount to between $1.2 and 1.6 billion a year,2 which is roughly 50 per cent of Somalia’s gross national income.3 Forty per cent of the population relies on these remittances for survival.4 Over the past ten years, the money known to have been transferred to suspected terrorists in Somalia amounts to a few thousand dollars.5 Cutting off remittances is likely to kill more people than terrorists will ever manage.

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There are no good solutions that military intervention by the UK or the US can engineer. There are political solutions in which our governments could play a minor role: supporting the development of effective states that don’t rely on murder and militias, building civic institutions that don’t depend on terror, helping to create safe passage and aid for people at risk. Oh, and ceasing to protect and sponsor and arm selected networks of death. Whenever our armed forces have bombed or invaded Muslim nations, they have made life worse for those who live there. The regions in which our governments have intervened most are those which suffer most from terrorism and war. That is neither coincidental nor surprising. Yet our politicians affect to learn nothing. Insisting that more killing will magically resolve deep-rooted conflicts, they scatter bombs like fairy dust.

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the remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of Parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing. The mechanism is called investor–state dispute settlement. It’s already being used in many parts of the world to kill regulations protecting people and the living planet.

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There is no right of appeal on the merits of the case. Yet they can overthrow the sovereignty of parliaments and the rulings of supreme courts. You don’t believe it? Here’s what one of the judges on these tribunals says about his work: When I wake up at night and think about arbitration, it never ceases to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment arbitration at all … Three private individuals are entrusted with the power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws and regulations emanating from parliament.8 There are no corresponding rights for citizens. We can’t use these tribunals to demand better protections from corporate greed. As the Democracy Centre says, this is ‘a privatised justice system for global corporations’.9 Even if these suits don’t succeed, they can exert a powerful and chilling effect on legislation. One Canadian government official, speaking about the rules introduced by the North American Free Trade Agreement, remarked: I’ve seen the letters from the New York and DC law firms coming up to the Canadian government on virtually every new environmental regulation and proposition in the last five years. They involved dry-cleaning chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, patent law. Virtually all of the new initiatives were targeted and most of them never saw the light of day.10 Democracy, as a meaningful proposition, is impossible under these circumstances. This is the system to which we will be subject if the transatlantic treaty goes ahead. The US and the European Commission, both of which have been captured by the corporations they are supposed to regulate, are pressing for investor–state dispute resolution to be included in the agreement.

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It is precisely because our courts are generally not biased or lacking independence that the corporations want to bypass them. The European Commission seeks to replace open, accountable, sovereign courts with a closed, corrupt system riddled with conflicts of interest and arbitrary powers. Investor–state rules could be used to smash any attempt to save the NHS from corporate control, to re-regulate the banks, to curb the greed of the energy companies, to renationalise the railways, to leave fossil fuels in the ground. These rules shut down democratic alternatives. They outlaw leftwing politics. This is why there has been no attempt by our government to inform us about this monstrous assault on democracy, let alone consult us. This is why the Conservatives who huff and puff about sovereignty are silent. Wake up people, we’re being shafted.

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The Act, Parliament was told, was meant to protect women from stalkers. But as soon as it came onto the statute books, it was used to stop peaceful protest. To obtain an injunction, a company needs to show only that someone feels ‘alarmed or distressed’ by the protesters, a requirement so vague that it can mean almost anything. Was this an accident of sloppy drafting? No. Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden, the solicitor who specialises in using this law against protesters, boasts that his company ‘assisted in the drafting of the … Protection from Harassment Act 1997’.3 In 2005, Parliament was duped again, when a new clause, undebated in either chamber, was slipped into the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.4 It peps up the 1997 Act, which can now be used to ban protest of any kind. Mr Lawson-Cruttenden, who represented RWE npower, brags that the purpose of obtaining injunctions under the act is ‘the criminalisation of civil disobedience’.5 One of the advantages of this approach is that very low standards of proof are required: ‘hearsay evidence … is admissible in civil courts’. The injunctions he obtains criminalise all further activity, even though, as he admits, ‘any allegations made remain untested and unproven’.6 Last week, stung by bad publicity, npower backed down. The villagers had just started to celebrate when they made a shocking discovery: they now feature on an official list of domestic extremists. The National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU) is the police team coordinating the fight against extremists. To illustrate the threats it confronts, the NETCU site carries images of people marching with banners, of peace campaigners standing outside a military base and of the Rebel Clown Army (whose members dress up as clowns to show that they have peaceful intentions). It publishes press releases about Greenpeace and the climate camp at Kingsnorth.7 All this, the site suggests, is domestic extremism. NETCU publishes a manual for officers policing protests. To help them identify dangerous elements, it directs them to a list of ‘High Court Injunctions that relate to domestic extremism campaigns’, published on NETCU’s website.8 On the first page is the injunction obtained by npower against the Radley villagers, which names Peter Harbour and others. Dr Harbour wrote to the head of NETCU, Steve Pearl, to ask for his name to be removed from the site. Mr Pearl refused. So Dr Harbour remains a domestic extremist.

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To vote no is to choose to live under a political system that sustains one of the rich world’s highest levels of inequality and deprivation. This is a system in which all major parties are complicit, which offers no obvious exit from a model that privileges neoliberal economics over other aspirations.13 It treats the natural world, civic life, equality, public health and effective public services as dispensable luxuries, and the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor as non-negotiable.

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Independence, as more Scots are beginning to see, offers people an opportunity to rewrite the political rules. To create a written constitution, the very process of which is engaging and transformative. To build an economy of benefit to everyone. To promote cohesion, social justice, the defence of the living planet and an end to wars of choice.15 To deny this to yourself; to remain subject to the whims of a distant and uncaring elite; to succumb to the bleak, deferential negativity of the no campaign; to accept other people’s myths in place of your own story: that would be an astonishing act of self-repudiation and self-harm. Consider yourselves independent and work backwards from there, then ask why you would sacrifice that freedom. 2 September 2014

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In 1909 a dangerous subversive explained the issue thus: Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains – and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labor and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived … the unearned increment on the land is reaped by the land monopolist in exact proportion, not to the service, but to the disservice done.12 Who was this firebrand? Winston Churchill. As Churchill, Adam Smith and many others have pointed out,13 those who own the land skim wealth from everyone else, without exertion or enterprise. They ‘levy a toll upon all other forms of wealth and every form of industry’.14 Land value tax recoups this toll. It has a number of other benefits.15 It stops the speculative land hoarding that prevents homes from being built. It ensures that the most valuable real estate – in city centres – is developed first, discouraging urban sprawl. It prevents speculative property bubbles, of the kind that have recently trashed the economies of Ireland, Spain and other nations and which make rents and first homes so hard to afford. Because it does not affect the supply of land (they stopped making it some time ago), it cannot cause the rents that people must pay to the landlords to be raised. It is easy to calculate and hard to avoid: you can’t hide your land in London in a secret account in the Cayman Islands. And it could probably discharge the entire deficit.

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This is where the debate about workers and shirkers, strivers and skivers should have led. The skivers and shirkers sucking the money out of your pockets are not the recipients of social security demonised by the Daily Mail and the Conservative Party, the overwhelming majority of whom are honest claimants. We are being parasitised from above, not below, and the tax system should reflect this. 21 January 2013

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Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information: The History of Information in Modern Economics

Philip Mirowski and Edward Nik-Khah

Last annotated on Friday September 1, 2017

4 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

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The preexistence of an inviolate preference order rules out of bounds most phenomena of learning, as well as the simplest and most commonplace of human experiences—that feeling of changing one’s mind.

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Some of the more philosophically inclined, dissatisfied with a basic trinity of matter, energy, and information, go so far as to attempt a further reduction of all three into the One True Entity.

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Society (MPS), founded in 1947, was ground zero in

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significance; implementable algorithms are more highly regarded than in-principle proofs. The

Debt – Updated and Expanded: The First 5,000 Years

David Graeber

Last annotated on Tuesday August 29, 2017

47 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

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hard to make a case that the loss of ten thousand

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It’s money that had made it possible for us to imagine ourselves in the way economists encourage us to do: as a collection of individuals and nations whose main business is swapping things. It’s also clear that the mere existence of money, in itself, is not enough to allow us see the world this way. If it were, the discipline of economics would have been created in ancient Sumer, or anyway, far earlier than 1776, when Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations appeared.

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Credit Theorists insisted that money is not a commodity but an accounting tool. In other words, it is not a “thing” at all. For a Credit Theorist can no more touch a dollar or a deutschmark than you can touch an hour or a cubic centimeter. Units of currency are merely abstract units of measurement, and as the credit theorists correctly noted, historically, such abstract systems of accounting emerged long before the use of any particular token of exchange.9 The obvious next question is: If money is a just a yardstick, what then does it measure? The answer was simple: debt.

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A coin is, effectively, an IOU.

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whose most famous exponent was the historian G.F. Knapp, whose State Theory of Money first appeared in 1905.12 If money is simply a unit of measure, it makes sense that emperors and kings should concern themselves with such matters. Emperors and kings are almost always concerned to established uniform systems of weights and measures throughout their kingdoms. It is also true, as Knapp observed, that once established, such systems tend to remain remarkably stable over time. During the reign of the actual Henry II (1154–1189), just about everyone in Western Europe was still keeping their accounts using the monetary system established by Charlemagne some 350 years earlier—that is, using pounds, shillings, and pence—despite the fact that some of these coins had never existed (Charlemagne never actually struck a silver pound), none of Charlemagne’s actual shillings and pence remained in circulation, and those coins that did circulate tended to vary enormously in size, weight, purity, and value.13 According to the Chartalists, this doesn’t really matter. What matters is that there is a uniform system for measuring credits and debts, and that this system remains stable over time. The case of Charlemagne’s currency is particularly dramatic because his actual empire dissolved quite quickly, but the monetary system he created continued to be used for keeping accounts within his former territories for more than 800 years. It was referred to, in the sixteenth century, quite explicitly as “imaginary money,” and derniers and livres were only completely abandoned as units of account around the time of the French Revolution.14 According to Knapp, whether or not the actual, physical money stuff in circulation corresponds to this “imaginary money” is not particularly important. It makes no real difference whether it’s pure silver, debased silver, leather tokens, or dried cod—provided the state is willing to accept it in payment of taxes. Because whatever the state was willing to accept, for that reason, became currency. One of the most important forms of currency in England in Henry’s time were notched “tally sticks” used to record debts. Tally sticks were quite explicitly IOUs: both parties to a transaction would take a hazelwood twig, notch it to indicate the amount owed, and then split it in half. The creditor would keep one half, called “the stock” (hence the origin of the term “stock holder”) and the debtor kept the other, called “the stub” (hence the origin of the term “ticket stub.”)

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assumption—again, coming from Smith’s legacy—that the existence of states and markets are somehow opposed, the historical record implies that exactly the opposite is the case. Stateless societies tend also to be without markets.

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Whatever its earliest origins, for the last four thousand years money has been effectively a creature of the state. Individuals, he observed, make contracts with one another. They take out debts, and they promise payment.

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This does not mean that the state necessarily creates money. Money is credit, it can be brought into being by private contractual agreements (loans, for instance). The state merely enforces the agreement and dictates the legal terms. Hence Keynes’ next dramatic assertion: that banks create money, and that there is no intrinsic limit to their ability to do so: since however much they lend, the borrower will have no choice but to put the money back into some bank again, and thus, from the perspective of the banking system as a whole, the total number of debits and credits will always cancel out.29

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It was only with the Brahmanas that commentators started trying to weave all this together into a more comprehensive philosophy. The conclusion: that human existence is itself a form of debt. A man, being born, is a debt; by his own self he is born to Death, and only when he sacrifices does he redeem himself from Death.34

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to our ancestors (“the Fathers”), who we must repay by having children; and finally, “to men”—apparently meaning humanity as a whole, to be repaid by offering hospitality to strangers.37 Anyone, then, who lives a proper life is constantly paying back existential debts of one sort or another; but at the same time, as the notion of debt slides back into a simple sense of social obligation, it becomes something far less terrifying than the sense that one’s very existence is a loan taken against Death.38 Not least because social obligations always cut both ways. After all, once one has oneself fathered children, one is just as much a debtor as a creditor.

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And it is these powers that invented money as a means of settling debts—a means whose abstraction makes it possible to resolve the sacrificial paradox by which putting to death becomes the permanent means of protecting life. Through this institution, belief is in turn transferred to a currency stamped with the effigy of the sovereign—a money put in circulation but whose return is organized by this other institution which is the tax/settlement of the life debt. So money also takes on the function of a means of payment.39

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Human nature does not drive us to “truck and barter.” Rather, it ensures that we are always creating symbols—such as money itself. This is how we come to see ourselves in a cosmos surrounded by invisible forces; as in debt to the universe.

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The “primordial debt,” writes British sociologist Geoffrey Ingham, “is that owed by the living to the continuity and durability of the society that secures their individual existence.”40 In this sense it is not just criminals who owe a “debt to society”—we are all, in a certain sense, guilty, even criminals.

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Before long, it became more or less a regular habit for kings to make such a declaration on first assuming power, and many were forced to repeat it periodically over the course of their reigns. In Sumer, these were called “declarations of freedom”—and it is significant that the Sumerian word amargi, the first recorded word for “freedom” in any known human language, literally means “return to mother”—since this is what freed debt-peons were finally allowed to do.56 Michael Hudson argues that Mesopotamian kings were only in a position to do this because of their cosmic pretensions: in taking power, they saw themselves as literally recreating human society, and so were in a position to wipe the slate clean of all previous moral obligations. Still, this is about as far from what primordial-debt theorists had in mind as one could possibly imagine.57

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if we are born with an infinite debt to all those people who made our existence possible, but there is no natural unit called “society”—then who or what exactly do we really owe it to? Everyone? Everything? Some people or things more than others? And how do we pay a debt to something so diffuse? Or, perhaps more to the point, who exactly can claim the authority to tell us how we can repay it, and on what grounds? If we frame the problem that way, the authors of the Brahmanas are offering a quite sophisticated reflection on a moral question that no one has really ever been able to answer any better before or since. As I say, we can’t know much about the conditions under which those texts were composed, but such evidence as we do have suggests that the crucial documents date from sometime between 500 and 400 BC—that is, roughly the time of Socrates—which in India appears to have been just around the time that a commercial economy and institutions like coined money and interest-bearing loans were beginning to become features of everyday life. The intellectual classes of the time were, much as they were in Greece and China, grappling with the implications. In their case, this meant asking: What does it mean to imagine our responsibilities as debts? To whom do we owe our existence? It’s significant that their answer did not make any mention either of “society” or states (though kings and governments certainly existed in early India). Instead, they fixed on debts to gods, to sages, to fathers, and to “men.”

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We have already seen how both Vedic and Christian teachings thus end up making the same curious move: first describing all morality as debt, but then, in their very manner of doing so, demonstrating that morality cannot really be reduced to debt, that it must be grounded in something else.1

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almost all this literature concentrates on the exchange of gifts, assuming that whenever one gives a gift, this act incurs a debt, and the recipient must eventually reciprocate in kind. Much as in the case of the great religions, the logic of the marketplace has insinuated itself even into the thinking of those who are most explicitly opposed to it. As a result, I am going to have to start over here, to create a new theory, pretty much from scratch. Part of the problem is the extraordinary place that economics currently holds in the social sciences. In many ways it is treated as a kind of master discipline.

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As a result, those tenets have come to be treated as received wisdom, as basically beyond question (one knows one is in the presence of received wisdom when, if one challenges some tenet of it, the first reaction is to treat one as simply ignorant—“You

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the greatest claims to “scientific status”—“rational choice theory,” for instance—start from the same assumptions about human psychology that economists do: that human beings are best viewed as self-interested actors calculating how to get the best terms possible out of any situation, the most profit or pleasure or happiness for the least sacrifice or investment—curious, considering experimental psychologists have demonstrated over and over again that these assumptions simply aren’t true.2

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From early on, there were those who wished to create a theory of social interaction grounded in a more generous view of human nature—who insisted that moral life comes down to something more than mutual advantage, that it is motivated above all by a sense of justice.

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if one examines matters closely, one finds that all human relations are based on some variation on reciprocity. In the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, there was something of a craze for this sort of thing, in the guise of what was then called “exchange theory,”

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Almost everyone continues to assume that in its fundamental nature, social life is based on the principle of reciprocity, and therefore that all human interaction can best be understood as a kind of exchange. If so, then debt really is at the root of all morality, because debt is what happens when some balance has not yet been restored.

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But can all justice really be reduced to reciprocity? It’s easy enough to come up with forms of reciprocity that don’t seem particularly just. “Do unto others as you would wish others to do unto you” might seem like an excellent foundation for a system of ethics, but for most of us, “an eye for an eye” does not evoke justice so much as vindictive brutality.

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for most human beings, the most pleasurable activities almost always involve sharing something: music, food, liquor, drugs, gossip, drama, beds. There is a certain communism of the senses at the root of most things we consider fun.

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The surest way to know that one is in the presence of communistic relations is that not only are no accounts taken, but it would be considered offensive, or simply bizarre, to even consider doing so. Each village, clan, or nation within the League of the Hodenosaunee, or Iroquois, for example, was divided into two “moieties,” or halves.18 This is a common pattern: in other parts of the world (Amazonia, Melanesia) too, there are arrangements in which members of one side can only marry someone from the other side, or only eat food grown on the other side; such rules are explicitly designed to make each side dependent on the other for some basic necessity of life. Among the Six Iroquois, each side was expected to bury the other’s dead. Nothing would be more absurd than for one side to complain that, “Last year, we buried five of your dead, but you only buried two of ours.”

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any community could be seen as criss-crossed with relations of “individualistic communism,” one-to-one relations that operate, to varying intensities and degrees, on the basis of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”19

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First, we are not really dealing with reciprocity here—or at best, only with reciprocity in the broadest sense.21 What is equal on both sides is the knowledge that the other person would do the same for you, not that they necessarily will. The Iroquois example brings home clearly what makes this possible: that such relations are based on a presumption of eternity. Society will always exist. Therefore, there will always be a north and a south side of the village. This is why no accounts need be taken. In a similar way, people tend to treat their mothers and best friends as if they will always exist, however well they know it isn’t true. The second point has to do with the famous “law of hospitality.” There is a peculiar tension between a common stereotype of what are called “primitive societies” (people lacking both states and markets) as societies in which anyone not a member of the community is assumed to be an enemy, and the frequent accounts of early European travelers awestruck by the extraordinary generosity shown them by actual “savages.”

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Communism, then, is based neither in exchange nor in reciprocity—except, as I have observed, in the sense that it does involve mutual expectations and responsibilities. Even here, it seems better to use another word (“mutuality”?) so as to emphasize that exchange operates on entirely different principles, that it’s a fundamentally different kind of moral logic. Exchange is all about equivalence. It’s a back-and-forth process involving two sides in which each side gives as good as it gets.

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It would be entirely inappropriate to simply accept three eggs from a neighbor and never bring anything back. One did not have to bring back eggs, but one should bring something back of approximately the same value. One could even bring money—there was nothing inappropriate in that—provided one did so at a discreet interval and above all, that one did not bring the exact cost of the eggs. It had to be either a bit more or a bit less. To bring back nothing at all would be to cast oneself as an exploiter or a parasite. To bring back an exact equivalent would be to suggest that one no longer wishes to have anything to do with the neighbor. Tiv women, she learned, might spend a good part of the day walking for miles to distant homesteads to return a handful of okra or a tiny bit of change, “in an endless circle of gifts to which no one ever handed over the precise value of the object last received”—and in doing so, they were continually creating their society. There was certainly a trace of communism here—neighbors on good terms could also be trusted to help each other out in emergencies—but unlike communistic relations, which are assumed to be permanent, this sort of neighborliness had to be constantly created and maintained, because any link can be broken off at any time.

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Recall the feasts and festivals alluded to above: here, too, there is a base of conviviality and playful (sometimes not so playful) competition. On the one hand, everyone’s pleasure is enhanced—after all, how many people would really want to eat a superb meal at a French restaurant all by themselves? On the other, things can easily slip into games of one-upmanship—and hence obsession, humiliation, rage … or, as we’ll soon see, even worse. In some societies, these games are formalized, but it’s important to stress that such games only really develop between people or groups who perceive themselves to be more or less equivalent in status.

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Even if Medieval writers insisted on imagining society as a hierarchy in which priests pray for everyone, nobles fight for everyone, and peasants feed everyone, it never even occurred to any of them to establish how many prayers or how much military protection was equivalent to a ton of wheat. Nor did anyone ever consider making such a calculation.

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an Amazonian or indigenous North American chief. Unlike big men, their role is more formalized; but actually such chiefs have no power to compel anyone to do anything they don’t want to (hence North American Indian chiefs’ famous skill at oratory and powers of persuasion). As a result, they tended to give away far more than they received. Observers often remarked that in terms of personal possessions, a village chief was often the poorest man in the village, such was the pressure on him for constant supply of largesse. Indeed, one could judge how egalitarian a society really was by exactly this: whether those ostensibly in positions of authority are merely conduits for redistribution, or able to use their positions to accumulate riches. The latter seems most likely in aristocratic societies that add another element: war and plunder.

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We are all communists with our closest friends, and feudal lords when dealing with small children. It is very hard to imagine a society where this would not be true. The obvious question is: If we are all ordinarily moving back and forth between completely different systems of moral accounting, why hasn’t anybody noticed this? Why, instead, do we continually feel the need to reframe everything in terms of reciprocity? Here we must return to the fact that reciprocity is our main way of imagining justice. In particular, it is what we fall back on when we’re thinking in the abstract, and especially when we’re trying to create an idealized picture of society. I’ve already given examples of this sort of thing. Iroquois communities were based on an ethos that required everyone to be attentive to the needs of several different sorts of people: their friends, their families, members of their matrilineal clans, even friendly strangers in situations of hardship. It was when they had to think about society in the abstract that they started to emphasize the two sides of the village, each of which had to bury the other’s dead.

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Markets aren’t real. They are mathematical models, created by imagining a self-contained world where everyone has exactly the same motivation and the same knowledge and is engaged in the same self-interested calculating exchange.

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a sense of debt—and hence, inferiority. Communes or egalitarian collectives in the United States often face similar dilemmas, and they have to come up with their own safeguards against creeping hierarchy. It’s not that the tendency for communism to slip into hierarchy is inevitable—societies like the Inuit have managed to fend it off for thousands of years—but rather, that one must always guard against it. In contrast, it’s notoriously difficult—often downright impossible—to shift relations based on an assumption of communistic sharing to relations of equal exchange. We observe this all the time with friends: if someone is seen as taking advantage of your generosity, it’s often much easier to break off relations entirely than to demand that they somehow pay you back. One extreme example is the Maori story about a notorious glutton who used to irritate fishermen up and down the coast near where he lived by constantly asking for the best portions of their catch. Since to refuse a direct request for food was effectively impossible, they would dutifully turn it over; until one day, people decided enough was enough and killed him.49

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Those who have argued that we are the natural owners of our rights and liberties have been mainly interested in asserting that we should be free to give them away, or even to sell them.

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Finally, similar ideas have become the basis of that most basic, dominant institution of our present economic life: wage labor, which is, effectively, the renting of our freedom in the same way that slavery can be conceived as its sale.

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Just as lawyers have spent a thousand years trying to make sense of Roman property concepts, so have philosophers spent centuries trying to understand how it could be possible for us to have a relation of domination over ourselves. The most popular solution—to say that each of us has something called a “mind” and that this is completely separate from something else, which we can call “the body,” and that the first thing holds natural dominion over the second—flies in the face of just about everything we now know about cognitive science. It’s obviously untrue, but we continue to hold onto it anyway, for the simple reason that none of our everyday assumptions about property, law, and freedom would make any sense without it.123

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This is why I developed the concept of human economies: ones in which what is considered really important about human beings is the fact that they are each a unique nexus of relations with others—therefore, that no one could ever be considered exactly equivalent to anything or anyone else.

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At this point, we can finally see what’s really at stake in our peculiar habit of defining ourselves simultaneously as master and slave, reduplicating the most brutal aspects of the ancient household in our very concept of ourselves, as masters of our freedoms, or as owners of our very selves. It is the only way that we can imagine ourselves as completely isolated beings.

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It perhaps stands to reason that Chinese Buddhism, a religion of merchants that then took popular roots, should have developed in this direction: a genuine theology of debt, even perhaps a practice of absolute self-sacrifice, of abandoning everything, one’s fortune or even one’s life, that ultimately led to collectively managed finance capital. The reason that the result seems so weird, so full of paradoxes, is that it is again an attempt to apply the logic of exchange to questions of Eternity.

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that treating money as an end in itself defied its true purpose, that charging interest was unnatural, in that it treated mere metal as if it were a living thing that could breed or bear fruit.123

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Yet, faced with the prospect of capitalism actually ending, the most common reaction—even from those who call themselves “progressives”—is simple fear. We cling to what exists because we can no longer imagine an alternative that wouldn’t be even worse.

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In fact, it could well be said that the last thirty years have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus for the creation and maintenance of hopelessness, a giant machine designed, first and foremost, to destroy any sense of possible alternative futures.

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At its root is a veritable obsession on the part of the rulers of the world—in response to the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s—with ensuring that social movements cannot be seen to grow, flourish, or propose alternatives; that those who challenge existing power arrangements can never, under any circumstances, be perceived to win.39

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To do so requires creating a vast apparatus of armies, prisons, police, various forms of private security firms and military intelligence apparatus, and propaganda engines of every conceivable variety, most of which do not attack alternatives directly so much as create a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity, and simple despair that renders any thought of changing the world seem an idle fantasy.

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It can also only operate by continually converting love into debt.

 

Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good

Chuck Collins and Morris Pearl

Last annotated on Monday August 28, 2017

261 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

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Inequality is shorthand for all the things that have gone to make the lives of the rich so measurably more delicious, year after year for three decades—and also for the things that have made the lives of working people so wretched and so precarious. Thomas Frank

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Actually, there are two class wars, though they are not comparable. There is a top-down class war against the non-rich. As billionaire super-investor Warren Buffett quipped, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” This is the war of the powerful few against the many. But there is also a bottom-up class antagonism expressed in rhetorical attacks against the rich, some of which I take responsibility for creating. Does rich-bashing move us forward? As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye is making the world blind.” Can we suspend the economic class hostilities long enough to consider what would move humanity forward? Is it really good for anyone that most of society’s wealth is pooling at the tippy-top of America’s income and wealth ladder? Do we—including the 1 percent—really want to live in an economic apartheid society? All the evidence now suggests that too much inequality is bad for everyone, even the super-rich.

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The ecological catastrophe at our door will wipe out our most treasured assets—our natural ecosystems, the foundations of all private wealth. What is wealth without clean water and healthy oceans? What is wealth on a degraded Earth? As scientist Johan Rockström writes, “We’re still blind, despite all the science, to the fact that wealth in the world depends on the health of the planet.” All of humanity—billionaire hedge fund managers, suburban soccer moms, and Bangladeshi farmers—is now wound together, our fate linked to our ability to respond to a planetary challenge bigger than anything we’ve faced before. At the same time, we are confronting a societal challenge of unprecedented inequality. The accelerating polarization of income, wealth, and opportunity is moving us quickly to a society that no one will want to live in, including the most privileged. But many people remain unperturbed by inequality, in part because they appreciate the freedom of a society where some can become wildly wealthy. They remain unconvinced that inequality adversely affects their

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Piketty argues that if we don’t intervene in the current economic system, wealth and power will continue to concentrate in fewer and fewer hands. We are moving toward a society governed by a hereditary aristocracy of wealth. The wealthy have already hijacked our democracy. Roughly a year before the 2016 presidential election, nearly half the money in the campaign had come from just 158 families, many of them billionaires.1 Realities like this have led former President Jimmy Carter to describe our political system as a political oligarchy.2

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“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Many decades later, we have a different kind of imbalance. With apologies to Churchill, never in the history of human suffering and economic conflict have so few been in a position to do so much for so many. This condition in human affairs should not exist. Younger people are feeling the brunt of this polarization, with deteriorating livelihoods, crushing debt, and stagnant wages. All these forces undermine excellence and opportunity—and the quality of life for everyone. The debate over solutions to growing inequality is polarized and stuck in the old story of class deservedness and antagonism.

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capitalism. Like the Bernardston mobile home park tenants, we need to stand in solidarity against the rapacious rich. But to succeed, we need allies among the reachable wealthy. We must find ways to engage and invite the 1 percent home, back to the table, to be partners in transforming the future.

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Instead of a class war of shame, I advocate an appeal to common humanity and empathy. This shift in tactics will help open new possibilities. There is good news. A movement of what I call “openhearted wealthy people” understand that their genuine self-interest is inextricably linked to the rest of humanity and our ability to fix the future. They want to “come home,” reestablish a stake in the commonwealth, and commit their time, networks, skills, and capital to building healthy, equitable, and resilient communities.

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There is a new economy emerging in the shell of the old economy. This includes people and enterprises rejecting the system of extractive and looting-based capitalism and embracing a “generative” economy that operates within the boundaries of nature and promotes equality rather than division.

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Our current modes of thinking about wealth, class, and racial differences are preventing the transformation required of us. We need to rewire ourselves as a species and change the economic system that is destroying nature and producing escalating inequalities. We all have a daily vote as to which system will prevail. Will you vote with your time, energy, and capital for a dead end? Or will you throw your lot in with the rest of humankind, and vote for a system that gives humanity the possibility of flourishing? This book explores the interaction between individual action and system change—and how, in order to transform our economic system, we must change power relations, policies, and our stories about the world.

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If we don’t see the “commonwealth,” or commons, that is the primary source of wealth and well-being, then we succumb to the myth that wealth is entirely the result of individual actions.

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The myth of deservedness says, My economic status is solely a reflection of my effort, intelligence, and creativity. The myth of disconnection says, An injury to you doesn’t really matter to me. The myth of superiority implies, I know better, and blinds us to the resourcefulness, skills, and wisdom of less-privileged people. Unlearning these stories is key to both building a healthy society and fixing some of our deepest problems. We need a more accurate narrative about wealth, opportunity, and success.

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Part III, Understanding Advantage, explores the ways that privilege clouds our understanding of why some people have wealth and others don’t. Privilege has a narcotic effect, boosting our comfort and sense of importance, but ultimately disconnecting us from our neighbors and our own better nature. One huge barrier to change is that privileged people don’t always see the countless ways that the deck is stacked in our favor. In four chapters, I look at how advantages accelerate for the wealthy few and how disadvantages compound for the majority. This includes the generational advantages of being born into the greatest subsidized generation, the one that came of age during World War II and benefited from what amounted to white affirmative action programs. I include a reflection on attending an international reparations summit and on the demands for reparations for slavery.

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In one chapter, I dissect the new politics of inherited advantage—the myriad ways that privileged families give their children a head start in school, work, and life.

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Passing the wealth along has allowed me to look unflinchingly and nondefensively at the workings of the “inequality system” and the suffering it causes. I don’t hate the 1 percent. But I deeply hate the ways extreme inequality wounds people’s lives, fuels racial divisions, rips our communities apart, and destroys our ecological home. To change this situation, we need a movement, led by those hurt and excluded by the system. But we also need the beneficiaries of the rigged game, those of us in the top 1 percent, to play our part.

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It is not learning we need at all. Individuals need learning but the culture needs something else, the pulse of light on the sea, the warm urge of huddling together to keep out the cold. We need empathy, we need the eyes that still can weep. Lydia Millet, Oh Pure and Radiant Heart “We need to make the world safe for class war,” said Felice Yeskel. “As inequality grows, people go in two directions—either very regressive or progressive.”

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One of our leaders, Marion Dowe, a strong-voiced woman from the Caribbean island of Dominica, used to say, “Without us poor folks to blame, people would have to wake up and notice who was really picking their pockets.”

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Between 1999 and 2004, I worked on a campaign to defend the federal estate tax from repeal. I helped organize over a thousand multimillionaires and billionaires in this effort and teamed up with Bill Gates Sr., father of the founder of Microsoft, to write Wealth and Our Commonwealth: Why America Should Tax Accumulated Fortunes. I’ve lobbied to raise the minimum wage, close corporate tax loopholes, and restore fair tax policies.

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I still believe a mighty struggle will be required, that movements of workers and the excluded will be the driving force in change. But I believe these movements will make swifter progress if they open up another set of tactics, based on our growing knowledge of empathy. This will require us to have a deeper understanding of who these power elites are—and where alliances can be forged.

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my experience with economic class is that people want to constantly deflect the resentment onto someone with more income and wealth. For instance, wealthy Latin Americans point to the wealthy Americans. People in the top 5 percent in the United States will point to the top 1 percent. People in the top 1 percent will point to the super-wealthy—and they in turn, will point to the tippy-top, the wealthiest 100. It’s like there’s a collective powerlessness to change the system. What’s missing here is an understanding that all of these people, who are in the global 5 percent, have a tremendous capacity and opportunity to make change.

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If you earn more than the US median income of $55,000, then you are in the top 2 percent globally.2 You also have considerable leverage over the kind of future we will have—and I invite you to engage with the world’s wealthy to do the right thing.

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Affluentville is home to the top 10 percent of wealth holders whose wealth ranges from $680,000 to $3 million. This includes about 11 million households.4 They fly commercial, but likely own a luxury car that they replace every couple of years. They are concentrated on the East and West Coasts and are clustered into about one hundred zip codes. By most indicators, the residents of Affluentville are “wealthy.” But they may not actually think of themselves as wealthy if they compare themselves with the rest of Richistan. They are very concerned that subsequent generations don’t lose economic status. As a result, they invest substantially in opening doors and opportunities to their children, as

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Lower Richistan includes approximately three million households with wealth between $3 million and $10 million. They are in the top 3 percent of wealth holders.5 Their wealth comes from businesses, salaries, stock investments, and inheritance. This diverse group shares many of the same affluent zip codes and suburbs with inhabitants of Affluentville. But they are increasingly moving back into city centers, driving up the cost of urban real estate. They populate upscale restaurants, country clubs, and luxury vacation destinations. They likely have second homes. They still fly on commercial airlines, but sometimes sit in first class. This group also includes an older generation of “millionaire next door” households, folks whose wealth grew steadily in the decades after World War II, thanks to small-business ownership and long-term investments.

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often living in their first homes and leading relatively thrifty lives.6 Building alliances with people in Lower Richistan is more promising. They are more economically cushioned and secure than residents of Affluentville. They are less anxious about their children, yet are not as… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Middle Richistan is inhabited by roughly 1.6 million households that are all in the top 1 percent of wealth holders. With assets between $10 million and $100 million, this group also includes the top 0.1 percent of households, recipients of over 90 percent of the income and wealth gains since the 2008 economic meltdown… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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While the residents of Middle Richistan are starting to grow more distant from the rest of humanity, their children are not as they spread their wings and venture out. This connects Middle Richistan to cities, colleges, community institutions, nonprofit organizations, and concerns about inequality. Upper Richistan is home to roughly sixteen thousand households with wealth over $100 million, the top 0.01 percent. These are the folks that Credit Suisse would characterize as the top end of “Ultra High Net Worth Individuals.”8 Their ranks include heirs to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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This group thinks generationally about wealth and assets. As Frank writes, “When you live in Upper Richistan, your entire philosophy of money changes. You realize that you can’t possibly spend all of your fortune, or even part of it, in your lifetime and that your money will probably grow over the years even if you spend lavishly. So Upper Richistanis plan their finances for the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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foundations that sometimes serve as proxies for their concerns—which in turn put them in contact with the most planet’s most needy. Some are eloquent allies for larger public policies… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Left unhindered, our society will become a hereditary aristocracy, governed by the sons and daughters of Billionaireville.

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wealthy sociopaths are no more plentiful than sociopaths across the entire society. They just happen to be highly visible and have more levers of power at their disposal and can do more damage. The vast majority of the top 1 percent is coasting along, happily benefiting from a system that disproportionately rewards them. They are, like the society as a whole, busy, distracted, addicted, or focused on caring for children and elders.

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There are limits to the kind of change we can build from anger and stoking resentment. In the United States, we’re more likely to get Donald Trump regressive populism than Bernie Sanders’s progressive populism. To fix the system, we need to alter the rigged rules. To change the rules, we need to build a powerful social movement. To build a movement, we need to win hearts and minds to the shortsightedness of an economic system that funnels most income and wealth to the few. Ultimately, we need to change the story of wealth, how it is created, where it comes from, and why it is distributed the way it is.

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One access point is engaging wealthy people about their commitment to a particular community, inviting them home to bring wealth, energy, and a stake into making localities more equitable and fair. While national debates on inequality are polarized, the more state and local we go, the less ideological the solutions become. There is some room to move,

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Here’s the dirty secret: The current system is built on fear. Fear and insecurity ripple through the households of the American working class, the impoverished, and the precarious middle class in a nation where one job loss, illness, or other misfortune could leave one destitute. And at the very top of the economic class pyramid, the wealthy are afraid, too. They are afraid that they and their children will fall from economic comfort and status. They are fearful of pitchforks and race riots. And they are wounded by verbal attacks as well. Fear is very powerful. If people feel attacked, they respond from fear. If they are shamed, they respond from anger. If ridiculed, they withdraw. But if they are respectfully engaged, people show up.

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Adults change through a combination of respect, affirmation, challenge, inspiration, and accountability. People don’t change when they feel shamed, hated, targeted, and disrespected.

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People don’t become a different breed when they accumulate wealth. But they do unplug and disconnect from large swaths of humanity. And there is a weakening of empathy. The comforts of privilege are frankly narcotic. Privilege dulls our sensibilities and emotions. It shuts down empathy, allowing those of us with advantages to disconnect from our humanity and place in the natural order. Privilege enables us to distance ourselves from huge parts of the human experience, both the suffering and the joyful aliveness. So what is to be done? The alternative to class war is empathy and love. How do we teach empathy to someone? We treat them with empathy. Here’s my suggestion: Proceed with empathy. Consider us your long-lost cousins who have been taken from you. Find a way to welcome us back to the full human fold.

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“Last year, the Boeing Corporation paid no federal taxes,” I say to an attentive audience of 150 people at a suburban Los Angeles church. “We taxpayers gave Boeing over $20 billion in contracts, 4.4 percent of all federal contracts. They reported $5.9 billion in profits. For years, Boeing has paid their CEO more than they pay in annual taxes.”

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Hank tells me about the multiple buildings and the hundreds of children that are now better housed. For Hank, this isn’t about charity. “I feel like my life was saved, that I was the walking dead before. My wife noticed that I was alive. She said to me, ‘You remind me now of the sweet guy I married forty-eight years ago.’ My children said I was more present, connected with them and generous.” He pauses, tears now streaming down his cheeks. I wonder if the man who never cried before he was 70 is moved to tears every day. “So my question is—” He is quiet and turns inward for a second. I was so enraptured by his story that I had forgotten he had a question. I too have begun to cry. “My question is, is it too late . . . for me?” He returns from his inward glance and looks at me with more certainty. “Is it too late for me to change? To . . . make changes?” I am thrown off balance by the question. “No,” I reply without thinking at all. “It’s not too late. You’re so alive.”

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“I’m so thankful. I feel like I was living inside a corporation for decades, responding to a different universe of signals, incentives, and messages about what was important. They are good people, my Boeing colleagues. But we were focused on a different set of goals, a sort of logic of its own. In three decades, I can’t remember anyone talking about alleviating poverty. “Now I feel like the curtain has been lifted—and I’m making connections between everything around me—nature, people, kids in Africa, kids in LA, poverty, inequality, food and diet. It’s all coming together in my mind.” “No, it’s not too late at all.” I smile. “You have a lot of gifts for the world.”

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“Yes, so how can we reach more people?” I ask him. “We need more Hanks.” “I’m working on it,” Hank grins. “First, I take them to Kenya. There is something about meeting children far away that is disarming. We can’t pretend they deserve to be poor or justify their situation by blaming their parents or government ineptitude. We just have to contemplate the basic unfairness of a world where some children are born with so… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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some people have to travel halfway around the world to outwit the powerful stories that justify poverty and inequality. Certainly part of the journey is to feel one’s heart cracked open. Another is to reflect on the ways that we live inside powerful narratives and myths that explain the world, but also distance us from one another and nature. Another ingredient of change is to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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we are hardwired for connection, empathy, and mutuality. When afraid, we shift to a protective stance—of fight or flight. But when we feel loved, respected, and fully seen… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh writes, “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” Indeed, we seem to sparkle when we activate this connection-oriented part of our nature. So the path toward change—and engaging the 1 percent that hold so much of the power in our society—starts with connection, empathy, respect,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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People fundamentally shift because of love, respect, inspiration, accountability, and challenge. If I want to continue to be righteous but largely ineffective, I can hold on to my rage and resentments. You have the same choice. You can target me and others for our blind spots. Or you can get about the process of transforming yourself and one another.

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We know from opinion research that Americans have a rather high tolerance for inequality and concentrated wealth. We don’t really care how rich the rich are as long as the rules of the system are fair and anyone can have the opportunity to get rich. Most people look at the story of inequality through the lens of deservedness: People get what they deserve. Inequality exists, according to this narrative, because of unequal effort, intelligence, and creativity. The implication is that people are poor because they don’t try as hard, have made mistakes, or lack wit and wisdom. And people are rich because they work harder, smarter, or more creatively. There are, of course, differences in effort, creativity, and pluck. Myths are powerful because they build on kernels of truth. We all have personal experiences of people who are both slackers and drivers.

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They don’t see the social context of their wealth—nor do they see the fact that others work equally hard with no comparable rewards. They are wound up in their own story, replete with their own wounds.

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Our present inequalities can only be explained by historical systems of racial and class advantage and huge economic and political distortions in the economy. Yet the story of deservedness is hard to dislodge. To unpack the deservedness narrative requires honesty in public storytelling that presently doesn’t exist. Why do we have a deep and persistent racial wealth gap between whites and blacks and Latinos? How do wealthy people accumulate and preserve wealth over generations? How is wealth created—and what is the role of individuals and what is the role of societal institutions and investment?

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Transformed realities require transformed imaginations. Walter Brueggemann

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we need a more nuanced narrative of success, one that appropriately celebrates the gifts of individuals—but also chronicles the complex constellation of other forces at work.

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the thing I like about Ayn Rand is that her individuals are heroic. They buck the trend and take the road less traveled. They work hard and with precision. They take pride in their work and make the railroads run, the steel mill hum, and the buildings soar. They are doers. I appreciate characters who don’t go along with the herd, who value freedom and individual conscience. But what Ayn Rand missed was the role of society, and the importance of public infrastructure and investment in creating the conditions for wealth creation and preservation. Her now-famous characters and their achievements seem to float outside any societal or ecological commons that makes their existence and activities possible. Those characters may be admirable, but the story told about them is incomplete.

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After listening to hundreds of real-world “I did it alone” stories, what I’ve come to appreciate is the wounded voice of the people who tell them. Behind the heroics are sacrifices and losses. To work hard is to miss out on life’s other delights. It means missing one’s family and loved ones and sacrificing one’s health and life balance.

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It is from such wounds that people construct a self-narrative of deservedness, the belief that “I can never be paid too much” or “I have a claim on all this wealth.”

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In a cultural sense, we need to lay a wreath at the altar of individual achievement—to acknowledge the truth of people’s sacrifices on both sides of the wealth and income divide. If we ignore the role of the individual—the small and large acts of heroism that people undertake—we cannot have a conversation about societal factors in wealth and success. How are these sacrifices any different, you might ask, from those of the minimum-wage worker who misses important moments in her children’s lives by working two jobs to simply pay the rent and feed the family? Such is the story of many low-wage workers, and they have little wealth and security to show for their heroic acts.

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“we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages today that determine success—the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history—with a society that provides opportunities for all.”

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as Edgar Bronfman, heir to Seagram Company Ltd., the Canadian liquor giant, said, “To turn $100 into $110 is work. To turn $100 million into $110 million is inevitable.”

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the “makers” and “takers” labels live on, in the chatter on talk radio and in bar-stool debates. Part of their power is an abstract sense of “us” and “them,” and a listener can fill in whoever they like in the “them” category. This catchy narrative has punishing implications. It attaches a stigma of shame to those who need help, including the most vulnerable segments of our society—the young, the old, those with mental illness and disabilities. It stigmatizes people who ask for help or confess their real needs. And it discourages those celebrated as successful from confessing to help they get along the way.

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The alternative is a “we did it together” story. Over our lifetimes, we all have needs and gifts to share. We are all dependent and interdependent. There is a fluidity of giving and receiving that cannot be reduced to a dehumanizing binary set of labels that flow from crude economic measurements.

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“The estate tax is an appropriate mechanism for a wealthy person to pay back society, a means of expressing gratitude for the amazing opportunities that we have. Gratitude—there’s a word largely absent from our business publications. We live in a marvelous system with abundant commonwealth, yet we don’t see it around us. We inherit some of it from those who came before us.”

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“She said, ‘Mr. Gates, what I hear you saying is that we are all in the same boat.’ “Yes, we are all in the same boat. We won’t get very far if we leave people behind. No one achieves wealth alone. If you meet someone who tells you they are self-made, invite them to try and grow wealth while living on an island. Our wealth is only as good as the commonwealth and societal investments around us.

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than an estate tax, which has an effective rate of 30 percent. “How about 75 percent?” Three hands shoot up. “Okay, we have a few takers. “And how about 100 percent!” Every remaining hand in the room goes up, with several bolted straight up like the confident kids in the class. More people wipe tears from their eyes and blow their noses. “One hundred percent. What is it worth to you to do business is in this remarkable society? What is it worth to be an American?” Bill sits down. There is a brief shocked pause, then people bolt up from their chairs with applause.

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Bill had touched something in these people, some universal truth of our interconnectedness. He had tapped into a basic sense of goodness and fair play. Perhaps for the first time, they had recognized the help that all of us receive.

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You’re not under attack when others gain rights and privileges you’ve always had. Dr. DaShanne Stokes

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People who are privileged in our society, for a variety of reasons, don’t see the wind at their own back, nor do they see the headwinds that other people encounter. If you’re like me, judgments toward others run through your head all the time. Why don’t you work harder? Why don’t you exercise? Why don’t you eat better food? In these hasty judgments,

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Nationwide, as the labor market tightened over the last decade, young people were the biggest losers. Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 experienced the largest plummet in employment rates, which declined from 45 percent in 2000 to 26 percent in 2011, the lowest teen employment rate since the post–World War II era.2 And the opportunities for urban youth of color are even more diminished. In addition to work skills preparation, I was also coached to have a sense of agency, a belief that I could make a difference, whether it was organizing a fair or passing out homemade leaflets on Earth Day. In elementary school I had a committed science teacher who instilled in me an early environmental sensibility. She exhorted us to be engaged, to be doers. These advantages for privileged teens seem to accelerate. Whereas the disadvantages for other youth seem to compound, especially when we mix in unequal encounters with the criminal justice system. For many privileged people, these hidden advantages are ascribed to growing up in communities with so-called better values. This sows the notion that “if only these other people were more like us” they, too, would prosper. We don’t see the wind at our back.

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For the next half hour, I talk about the growing polarization of wealth and income and its significance for their children’s and grandchildren’s generations. With stagnant or falling wages, many families and individuals have to work longer hours, take on additional debt, and spend less time with family. Add to this job insecurity, and the middle-class standard of living is imploding. “I have some personal questions for you,” I say, suddenly inspired to query the group. “How many of you bought a house after World War II, thanks to a low-interest mortgage program?” I ask. “Like a mortgage subsidy or insurance from the Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Administration, or Farmers Home Administration?” About three-fourths of the men in the room raise their hands.

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“How many of you graduated from college without any debt, thanks to the GI Bill or another federal education grant program?” Three-fourths of the men raise their hands. “How many of you gentlemen,” I continue, “received public support to help your business—a Small Business Administration grant or loan, a block grant for a building, government funds to train employees, or for something else?” More than one-fourth indicate they got such help.

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“So how many of you think those government programs were a waste of taxpayer money?” A few chuckles but no hands go up. “A helluva good investment,” shouts one guy from the back of the room. “It was the Marshall Plan for America,” says another guy, referring to the aid program that rebuilt war-ravaged Europe after World War II. “Saved my life,” says another man wearing a green vest with a veteran’s insignia. “It was a great investment,” I say passionately. In the decades after World War II, our country made an unprecedented outlay to expand our middle classes, enabling millions of families to achieve the American Dream.

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The GI Bill of Rights of 1944 gave returning World War II servicemen and -women scholarships for education and training; loan guarantees for homes, farms, or businesses; unemployment pay for a year; and job training assistance.

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The GI Bill’s education benefits both boosted the skills of millions of World War II veterans and staggered their absorption into the workforce after the war. But the GI Bill almost didn’t pass. Conservatives in Congress argued it was too costly and would promote sloth among veterans. Elite colleges and universities warned it would lower standards in education. Harvard president James Conant said the bill would encourage “the least capable among the war generation, instead of the most capable, flooding the facilities for advanced education in the United States.”3 University of Chicago president Robert Hutchins feared that “colleges and universities will find themselves converted into educational hobo jungles.”4 Final passage of the bill narrowly squeaked through Congress and was signed by Franklin Roosevelt in June 1944, thanks largely to a well-organized campaign led by the American Legion. “Do people talk about

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“Between 1940 and 1960, the percentage of Americans owning their homes rose from 44 percent to 62 percent.7 Fully one-fifth of the population moved from tenancy to ownership—a seismic demographic shift in one generation. That’s incredible.” These programs were no waste of taxpayer money. World War II historian Stephen Ambrose, writing in the 1990s, called it the “best piece of legislation ever passed by the US Congress.”8 Instead of diminishing educational standards, returning veterans were “hogging the honor rolls,” according to one 1947 account in the New York Times.9 A 1986 government study showed that every $1 invested in the GI Bill yielded $5 to $12 in tax revenues.10

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Even so, the GI Bill and mortgage-assistance programs were not the only publicly funded efforts laying the foundation for postwar prosperity. In 1947 an unprecedented infrastructure project, constructing 37,000 miles of highways, got under way. In 1956, the Interstate Highway Act funded the construction of an additional 42,500 miles. These initiatives created millions of jobs and opened up rural land for suburban residential construction. Public works spending in 1950 at all levels of government accounted for nearly 20 percent of total expenditures—a tremendous shot in the arm for economic expansion.11 Other social supports came through the problematic but profitable military-industrial doorway. Billions of taxpayer dollars were invested in research,

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According to one account of the period, “more than $50 billion of government-funded wartime inventions and production processes were turned over to private companies after the war, creating whole new fields of employment.”

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those subsidies, were expensive,” I say. The first GI Bill—characterized as “the magic carpet to the middle class”—cost $14.5 billion at a time when $500 could pay a year of tuition at Harvard. But the magic was paid for by a very progressive federal tax system. In 1953, under the presidency of Republican Dwight Eisenhower, the top income tax rate on the wealthy was 92 percent on income over $400,000, roughly $3.5 million in today’s dollars.13 Today, the top tax rate is 39.6 percent. In 1953, the corporate income tax rate was 52 percent, compared with a 35 percent rate today (and, for Fortune 500 companies, an average effective rate under 20 percent, thanks to loopholes).14

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The only comparable event in US history is the Homestead Act of 1862, which allocated over 10 percent of the country’s land to over a million new residents.

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“Part of the story we don’t talk about is that these government wealth-building programs went overwhelmingly to white men. African American and Latino war veterans returned after World War II to Jim Crow laws and segregated education systems in most parts of the United States. They couldn’t take advantage of the housing programs some of you did because mortgage lending practices and local attitudes still discriminated against people of color.”15

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What I want to talk to you about is recognizing our obligation, in turn, to help those who were excluded from the magic carpet ride.” I explain that the current homeownership rate for whites is 72 percent, for African Americans 43 percent, and for Latinos 45 percent. “If people were barred from getting on the wealth-building train a generation ago, it has an impact on the next generation’s prospects.”

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“You know what’s funny?” Phillip says. “When you asked who got a free education, government housing help, business loans, there were guys here in the room that got all three of those but didn’t raise their hands.” “Why do you think that was?” “I don’t know. Privacy maybe. Hell, guys our age like to think we did it all alone. We’re ashamed to admit we got any help.” Did it alone. There’s that myth of individual achievement again. “There is no shame in getting help,” I say. “No one does it alone.” “Yep,” says Phillip. “That’s the dirty little secret.”

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None of us like to think of ourselves as subsidized. For Phillip and his cohort it was a bonus. For their children, it was a family gift. Yet few in my generation make the link to the government programs that made it all happen. Telling True Stories This is what I propose: A GI Bill for the next generation is the best way to honor the families that serve their country, in the military or in other ways. This time it should be a universal benefit, providing a debt-free college education and first-time home-buying assistance for the next generation of teachers and nurses, firefighters and scientists, as well as veterans—without racial or other kinds of discrimination. Young people who complete military or national service should have access to education and wealth-building opportunities, and we can pay for those opportunities by retaining the federal estate tax and dedicating its revenue to programs that provide them.

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It will never happen, however, without a better rearview understanding of how we got here, particularly from the beneficiaries themselves. And it requires an admission that good fortune is never all one’s own doing, that government help of some kind is almost always a factor in the equation. GI Bill recipients need to step forward and testify to the boost they got. Where is the GI Bill Alumni Association, lobbying for educational opportunity for today’s veterans and their generation? The children and grandchildren of GI Bill recipients must also acknowledge the benefits their families received, thanks to the education, housing, and small-business investment benefiting their parents and communities.

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Farmers and ranchers whose businesses are floated with $20 billion in annual taxpayer subsidies lean on their tractors and lecture others about the virtues of hard work and small government.17 We have states such as Indiana, North Dakota, and Louisiana, where residents get back twice as much in spending and government subsidies per capita as they send in federal tax dollars (South Carolina gets back almost eight times what they send). Yet they send politicians to Washington to shrink the federal government and shift responsibility to the states. Other states, such as New York, Minnesota, and Illinois, get back considerably less of what they pay in federal taxes yet routinely elect congressional members that support strong federal spending and shared responsibility across states.18

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“death tax.” Since the estate tax is only paid by households with wealth over $10.8 million, very few farmers are actually subject to the tax. It is mostly paid by wealthy people with appreciated financial wealth. If someone’s primary wealth is tied up in productive farm assets, there are pages of special provisions to protect them and minimize or delay the tax. But that doesn’t stop anti-estate-tax lobbyists from trotting out farmers, some of whom ironically are huge recipients of government subsidies.

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am subsidized. I have been subsidized my entire life. If I’m white, my family has probably gotten more subsidies than the families of people of color. There is no shame in getting help. That’s what decent families and societies do for one another. It is what makes us a WE. We create opportunities for all. We help those in greatest need. We provide a ladder of opportunity to people not born with wealth. We provide for the aged, the disabled, widows and orphans, and others who need help because all of us encounter misfortune at some point in our lives, and someday we will all be disabled and aged. There is NO SHAME in this. We are in the same boat.

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It is time for all of us to tell each other the truth about who and what have brought the Negro to the condition of deprivation against which he struggles today. In human relations the truth is hard to come by, because most groups are deceived about themselves. Dr. Martin Luther King

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Racial inequality in earnings remains persistent. African American workers under the age of 35 earn only 75 cents on the dollar compared with their white contemporaries. Young Latinos earn only 68 cents.

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there’s a high correlation between wealth and economic security. Wealth in the form of savings, investments, and homes provides a cushion to fall back on in the face of hardship. Homeownership in particular is a foundational asset, something to pass on to one’s children. According to the Pew Research Center, the median wealth of white households in 2013 was a stunning thirteen times greater than the median wealth of black households—up from eight times greater in 2010. White households had ten times more wealth than Latino households.

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When eligible blacks and Latinos did obtain mortgages, they were often steered away from neighborhoods with appreciating property values and amenities. In terms of debt-free education, there were a handful of people of color who got GI Bill education benefits. But many veterans returning to Jim Crow South education systems did not share in these opportunities. They were left standing at the railway station as the express train for the white middle class departed. White homeownership rates eventually rose to as high as 75 percent, while black rates peaked at 46 percent, a 30-point gap that remains today. That means generations of white families have enjoyed access to wealth that has long eluded their black counterparts. Since 2004, the homeownership rate has declined steadily for everyone, from 69 percent to 64.4 percent in the third quarter of 2014. For blacks, the homeownership rate fell from 45.6 percent in 2010 to 42.9 percent in the third quarter of 2014. For Latinos, homeownership declined over the same years from 48.5 to 45.6 percent. For whites, it dropped from 74.5 percent to 72.6 percent.6

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No one was looting our family wealth. No angry mobs destroyed German businesses along Sedgwick Street in Chicago in 1921, as they did in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when rioting whites destroyed that city’s “Black Wall Street” by burning down most of its 191 businesses and more than twelve hundred homes, not to mention a school, a hospital, churches, and other staples of the black community. By June of the following year, Tulsans had filed riot-related claims for more than $1.8 million, or nearly $26 million in today’s dollars.7

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since 1995 when he and another sociologist, Mel Oliver, wrote a groundbreaking book, Black Wealth, White Wealth. He has a dozen conversations a day with media and individuals about the causes of racial wealth inequality. “Most of the explanations are narratives of individual responsibility and deservedness. I’ve learned when I talk about these issues to leave no fact unexplained. Otherwise someone will fill it in with their own story.” Like Kathy’s, their explanations include people failing to save money, failing to delay gratification, and having children outside marriage. Shapiro spends a good amount of time unpacking these various narratives.

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So let’s give every single black woman a black husband with the black median net worth. Each one would need four or five husbands, ideally doctors, to close the racial wealth divide.”

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we remember the hardship and sacrifice but not the help. As a culture we seem deeply attached to stories of our individual efforts, but amnesia sets in when it comes to family or government help.

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sensibilities of those who have pondered what Randall Robinson calls “the debt”: what we owe people of African heritage for the crime of slavery. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan formally apologized for the US government’s internment of Japanese Americans and, under the provisions of the Civil Liberties Act, paid each victim $20,000 in reparations. But there have been no reparations for slavery, even though the crime is uncontested and we are surrounded by wealth created by enslaved labor, in our buildings, institutions, and bank accounts.

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destruction of the black sections of Rosewood, making a case for violated property rights. In 1994, the Florida legislature signed a $2.1 million compensation bill that paid funds to nine survivors and established state university scholarships for Rosewood descendants.

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Rabbi Abraham Heschel: “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”

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Dedrick Muhammad once framed it creatively. Imagine that after playing poker for an hour, we discover that we’ve been playing with a rigged deck—and that for each hand dealt, a couple of us have gotten extra cards. Naturally, the beneficiaries of the stacked deck have accumulated big winnings. We all heartily agree to a clean start with a new deck and fair rules. But as the dealer begins shuffling the new deck, one of the players raises an awkward question: “What do we do about that huge pile of chips that a few of you have accumulated?”

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reparations can take many forms, including funding for individuals and cultural institutions, scholarship funds, and targeted subsidies for wealth building. My conviction deepens that the United States must recognize the unpaid claim held by those of African heritage. Without reparations, there will be no repair or reconciliation. Without fully exposing the history and deep costs of the slave trade, we will continue to perpetuate the cruel hoax of meritocracy and “equal starting gates.” I agree with Ta-Nehisi Coates, that reparations “is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely” as he wrote in his celebrated Atlantic article: “Reparations beckons us to reject the intoxication of hubris and see America as it is—the work of fallible humans.” “An America that looks away,” he wrote, “is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders.”9

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Reparations Summit is Congressman John Conyers, who since 1989 has filed legislation, HR 40, to create a national commission to study the impact of slavery and explore reparations. The number 40 in HR 40 alludes to the unfulfilled promise to formerly enslaved Africans of “40 acres and a mule.” Since 1989, the legislation has languished without a vote.

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A commission could give us, in Coates’s words, “a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal.”

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This race of accelerating advantages and compounding disadvantages is a disturbingly accurate metaphor for inherited privilege. As in real life, there are well-publicized stories of exceptional runners starting far back in the pack and breaking to the front of the field, therefore able to shed weights and remain competitive. And there are frontrunners who perform poorly, squandering their initial advantages and falling back. But the overall picture is one of steadily growing class-based inequality. Consistent with emerging sociological research about children and opportunity, once inequalities open up, they rarely decrease over time.5 A healthy democratic society that values equal opportunity could rise to this challenge, resolving to make robust public investments in time-tested interventions that level the playing field. Indeed, as demonstrated in our earlier story of “America’s greatest subsidized generation,” we have made such societal investments to broaden our white middle class before.

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In our increasingly plutocratic political system, however, the very wealthy have less stake in societal opportunity-building mechanisms, as their own children and grandchildren advance through privatized systems. These same affluent and wealthy families maintain disproportionate influence in shaping our national priorities, such as whether to cut taxes on the wealthy or maintain investments in public education. According to surveys, the 1 percent is more politically engaged as donors and advocates than the rest of the population, use their leverage with elected officials, and support deregulation, market-based magical solutions, and private philanthropy over government investment.6 Combined with Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United v. FEC, the influence of wealthy and “dark money” donors has warped our national priorities.7 We are snagged in a cycle of declining opportunity driven by the new politics of inherited advantage.

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That story of European versus US social mobility has now been turned on its head. European nations and Canada, with their social safety nets and investments in early childhood education, are experiencing greater social mobility. Canada now has three times the social mobility of the United States.

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As political scientist Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, and his team of researchers write, The very factors (civic and social engagement, social trust, time spent with parents, and academic achievement) in which the youth class divergence is greatest strongly predict life success. Upper/middle class youth have always had advantage, but their relative advantage has increased significantly over the last 30 years. Family background is now more predictive of social capital and civic engagement than before.14 Working-class youth, with parents working multiple jobs to make up for several decades of stagnant wages, are more socially disconnected. As a result, they develop fewer “soft skills” useful in job networking and workplaces.

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In the seventy years since World War II, college attendance has played a significant role in employment opportunity and lifetime earnings. Over these seventy years, college entry increased by over 50 percent, and the rate of college completion by age 25 quadrupled. But since 1980, an income-based gap has grown up in terms of college completion.21 Low-income students born around 1980 only increased their college graduation rates by 4 percent—whereas higher-income cohorts saw their graduation rates go up by 18 percent. The greatest inequality is among women, driven by increases in college completion by the daughters of higher income households—and the lack of opportunities for nonwealthy women.

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Both children learned about money from parents who gave them allowances to manage and encouraged them to open bank accounts and save money. Initial research suggests that financial literacy may be a more important factor than schooling in lifetime wealth accumulation and retirement savings.23 Tony learned thrift and debt avoidance. These skills are much more important in the current environment, with unregulated predatory lenders and twenty-five brands of college loan financing to choose from.

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There are now forty million Americans who hold student debt totaling $1.2 trillion, a number expected to increase to $2 trillion by 2022.29 College debt now touches one in five US households and exceeds total credit card indebtedness.

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The average college graduate now has almost $35,000 in debt, with some holding notes over $100,000.31 Research indicates that student debt delays household formation, homeownership, and entrepreneurial risk taking. It undermines savings, wealth creation, and economic well-being.

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Among the huge breakaway wealth advantages are unpaid internships in one’s career area, an essential leg up in the transition from school to work. Entry-level workers are now expected to show up with work experience.33 Research shows that half of college graduate hires occur at the firms where the students previously interned.34 Family wealth also serves as a form of adversity insurance, as young adults face potential setbacks ranging from prolonged unemployment, bad credit, health or addiction problems, criminal arrests, car breakdowns or accidents, or early parenthood. Young adults may make poor decisions or face unforeseen circumstances, but in almost every case family wealth will help keep young people on track, whether it is legal assistance, treatment, or regular cash infusions.

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Other industrialized countries have demonstrated that public investments in health, education, and family well-being can offset the private advantages of wealth and improve social mobility—not just to promote fairness, but also to keep economies healthy and resilient. Initiatives like the “Baby College” of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Head Start, the UK’s Nurse-Family Partnership Program, and universal preschool programs, such as those in France and Denmark, partially close the gaps in school achievement and subsequent wages.37 High-quality pre-kindergarten education, access to health care and nutrition, good K–12 public education, and early diagnosis of learning disabilities and special needs are key interventions that help level the playing field. In many European countries, there is greater investment in public recreation facilities that help build strong bodies and a culture of community sports and activity. The fact that inequalities of opportunity now accelerate as schooling begins is testament to the need to defend and expand funding for public education at all levels.

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Charitable foundations can partner with the private-sector and cultural institutions to ensure public and private funding for youth enrichment, arts and sports programs, summer camps, and stimulating after-school programs. This must include resources for outreach to the most socially disconnected families to ensure their children have access to these opportunities. But philanthropy in this area is not a substitute for adequate taxation and public investment in these enrichment opportunities. The US Department of Labor should police the unpaid and underpaid internship marketplace, cracking down on companies that replace paid positions with unpaid. Certain sectors that disproportionately offer unpaid internships as a stepping-stone to career networks—journalism, politics, and entertainment—should do deep soul searching about the implications for the widespread exclusion of working- and middle-class youth.39

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One elegant solution would be to tax wealth to broaden opportunity. Revenue from a steeply progressive estate or inheritance tax could capitalize an “education opportunity trust fund” to provide debt-free college educations for first-generation college students.40

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“If you include lost estate tax revenue, it is closer to 50 percent.” In other words, for every dollar donated by the wealthiest households, taxpayers contribute half in lost revenue. In her research, and in books like Immortality and the Law, Ray explores how the dead dictate to the living through trusts and charitable entities. The charitable deduction and the perpetual charitable trust are two mechanisms that require, in Ray’s words, “American taxpayers to subsidize the whims of the rich

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If I donate $100,000 to a conservation land trust so the nonprofit can purchase the open space next to my house—and my income is over $450,000—then my donation will reduce my taxes by almost $40,000. In other words, the government kicks in a matching subsidy, giving $2 for every $3 I contribute. All to protect my private view. Or what if my daughter attended an elite private high school and I gave $500,000 to create a state-of-the-art computer lab there? US taxpayers would effectively be chipping in $200,000 of that donation. Is this the most appropriate use of taxpayer funds? And if I’m making donations instead of paying taxes, doesn’t that shift the tax obligations onto others? Someone else is picking up the bill for military defense, highway construction, national park protection, and other services.

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Charity is not a substitute for taxes. Charity will not address the most fundamental needs for public infrastructure and economic opportunity. We can all quibble about government waste or things we wish our tax dollars did or didn’t do. That’s an invitation for civic engagement, not a justification for tax avoidance. When we wealthy, who have historically paid substantial taxes, opt out of taxes by using massive charitable deductions, we disinvest from the public investments that created social mobility for past generations and the infrastructure we all depend on.

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If traditional charity is an insufficient response to our current problems, what is the way forward? Up to this point, we’ve been talking about the barriers to engaging those with wealth and power to make a meaningful contribution to social change. We are steeped in myths and stories about how wealth is created. We are drugged by privilege, which dulls our empathy and human response mechanisms. We misunderstand the basic physics of extreme inequality—so we fail to see or admit to the cumulative impact of class and racial advantages. The charity system falls short of intervening in the system. In our current

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We can and must respond creatively to the triple crisis and simultaneously overcome dehumanization, economic inequality, and, ecological catastrophe. Vandana Shiva

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We are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without the nation undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. Terry Tempest Williams

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“The system has run out of options,” he says resolutely. “That means either it will get really nasty or there will be fundamental change. I think it’s going do both: It will get nasty, and there’s a possibility of fundamental change in a new direction. It’s a very strange moment—and an important time to be engaged.”

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our political system, captured at the national level by the rule riggers and game fixers of the wealth- and corporate-elite classes, is incapable of nimbly responding to these challenges. And as wealth concentrates exponentially, the rule riggers will further use their concentrated wealth and power to block reforms we urgently need for human survival and well-being. This creates a downward spiral for both equality and ecology.

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At the grassroots level, our collective response is fragmented, incremental, and divided. Most social movements operate in silos: environmental, human rights, electoral politics, labor and economic populism, democracy reform. Much of this activity exists below the radar of what remains of traditional media, rendering it invisible. Meanwhile, the wider culture is absorbed in a range of distractions, from celebrity culture, to gladiator spectator sports (as opposed to participatory sports), and shock and awe presidential politics.

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from most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaption, can limit climate change risks. Climate change will amplify existing risks and create new risks for natural and human systems. Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities at all levels of development.

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All rational parties agree that 2 degrees Centigrade is the maximum temperature rise our planet can attain without catastrophic climate change. In fact, at the December 2015 Paris climate summit, delegates from 186 countries set the target lower to 1.5 degrees, even as they failed to forge binding agreements to lower greenhouse gas emissions to meet that target.

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the big fossil fuel corporations are spending over $600 billion a year to search for new oil, gas, and coal reserves, carbon assets that we hope and pray will never be extracted and burned.3 The carbon-burning machine is on autopilot, with powerful corporations driving the extraction—but also using their… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In the United States, the pace of extreme inequality has been steadily increasing. Real wages have been stagnant for over three decades, even as productivity gains have surged. For most working families, this translates into working more hours and going deeper into debt. The share of income flowing to the top 1 percent of US households is now 22 percent, up from 9 percent in 1978. The wealthiest 1 percent saw their share of US wealth increase to 42 percent in 2012. Most of this change accrued in the top one-tenth of 1 percent (0.1 percent), whose wealth share rose from 7 percent in 1978 to 22 percent in 2012. Since 2009,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The combined net worth of the Forbes 400, an estimated $2.34 trillion in 2015, is now equal to the bottom 62 percent of the US population. The wealthiest twenty US billionaires—few enough to fit on a plush Gulfstream G650 luxury jet—now have as much wealth as the bottom half of the US population, according to a study I… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The richest 100 now have as much wealth as the entire African American population, over 42 million people. The richest 186 individuals have as much wealth as the entire Latino population, over 55 million individuals.6 As mentioned in the introduction, French economist Thomas Piketty argues in Capital in the Twenty-First Century that unless we… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Drawing from centuries of historical research, Piketty shows that when the payout to owners of capital vastly exceeds the rate of productivity and the payout to labor, wealth concentrates in fewer and fewer hands. This results in what he calls “patrimonial capitalism,” or a society governed by hereditary wealth and power. With 10 percent of the population holding more than 70 percent of the national share of wealth, Piketty observes, “the conditions are ideal for an ‘inheritance society’ to prosper—where by ‘inheritance society’ I mean a society characterized by both a very high concentration of wealth and a significant… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We need to raise the floor, level the playing field, and break up concentrated wealth. Raise the Floor. Establish stronger social safety nets, below which people cannot fall. Stop the cycles of deprivation and insecurity by ensuring basic income, health, and opportunity. This includes higher minimum wages, universal and affordable health care, and, when full employment is not possible, a guaranteed minimum income. As the nature of work changes and jobs vanish thanks to technology and globalization, more advanced industrial societies are establishing basic income support programs that are more robust than US-style disability and unemployment programs.

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Level the Playing Field. Institute fair rules that don’t give one business or segment of society preferences over another—but that also deal with historic inequalities. We should have fair tax policies so that two competing companies, such as Federal Express and United Parcel Service, are taxed at the same rates. (Instead, thanks to aggressive tax dodging and loopholes, FedEx pays an effective corporate tax rate of 4.2 percent while UPS pays 27.5 percent.)8 Our political system must also be shielded from the “wealth effect” that allows a few billionaires to have disproportionate political influence, effectively disenfranchising millions of voters. We need campaign finance reform without loopholes.

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Societal investments must ensure genuine equality of opportunity, such as access to early childhood education, school preparation, decent schools, and training that prepares us for participation in the economy of the future.

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too much inequality undermines opportunity and social mobility. The United States has experienced these levels of extreme inequality before, during the first Gilded Age that spanned, roughly, from the 1880s to 1915. Leaders from across the political spectrum decried the threat to our young self-governing republic. Movements emerged to challenge concentrated wealth and its distorting influence on society.9 Then and now, the already wealthy helped break through the stuck pattern of political discourse. In the early 1900s, members of the wealthiest 1 percent, such as Andrew Carnegie and Theodore Roosevelt, supported progressive tax policies, including establishing a federal estate tax.10

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Henry Dearmest Lloyd, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and a member of the richest 1 percent, wrote an exposé, Wealth Against Commonwealth. Lloyd argued that private wealth and large corporations such as Standard Oil were undermining the “commonwealth.” In Lloyd’s day, four hundred families dominated wealth and culture, alongside a handful of powerful trusts and corporations that monopolized whole sectors of the economy. As we enter a second Gilded Age, the 1 percent has an important role. Like Henry Dearmest Lloyd, we need to stand with the commonwealth against the forces of predatory wealth.

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“Unfortunately, a lot of political activity does not get at the underlying systemic change we need right now,” says Alperovitz, back in our Beacon Grille booth. “Too much of politics is a distraction, soaking up all the attention from the real business at hand. I’m not dismissing politics, especially at the state and local level. But we have to face the limits of our political system in fixing the underlying system drivers right now.”

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I stopped taking media calls and stopped writing for newspapers. Just cold, boom.” Alperovitz began to reorient his work and practice. “The important thing to remember is none of this is easy. Facing the deeper system drivers requires commitment.”

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So much of what we must do is lay the groundwork. My heroes are the civil rights workers in Mississippi in the 1930s and 1940s. That’s when the groundwork was done, the hard stuff. It’s easy to join a movement once it’s moving. “The other piece that is important is about community,” he continues, invoking the importance of place. “We need to reconstruct genuine community, come out from isolation, and build relationships and institutions. It’s both psychological and institutional. How do we build institutions that nurture community?”

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Alperovitz points out that the conventional American theory of change is rooted in the last century’s model of the 1930s New Deal. We think we can put together a labor–community coalition that will create a countervailing power to corporate domination. But the period influenced by New Deal policies and organized labor, 1940–1970, was an aberration, he stresses. Today, labor is… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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“We are talking about challenging the most powerful corporate capitalist system in the history of the world. And there are movements laying the groundwork for its transformation, which I believe is possible.” To work toward the next system, we need to understand the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Gus Speth have teamed up to co-chair the Next System Project, to seed new ways of thinking about the future. Speth writes, we have “unleashed a virulent, fast-growing strain of corporate-consumerist capitalism.” We are in a phase of hyperextractive capitalism that is thrusting its wealth-extracting tentacles into every aspect of human endeavor, including areas once thought sacred and beyond the market. “In its ruthlessness at home and abroad, it creates a world of wounds,” continues Speth. “As it… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Alperovitz is animated about the localized efforts that are building a checkerboard of social ownership across the country, efforts to build “institutions, workplaces, and cultures concerned with democratizing wealth,” as he puts it. Such work is under way in many US cities. “There’s all this stuff the newspapers don’t cover. But now you can find impact investing, cooperatives, community land trusts for housing, people taking over public utilities, taking over public broadcasting systems,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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it’s a rethinking of the way business is done and who benefits from it. Economist Marjorie Kelly calls this emerging economic model “generative capitalism,” which… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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This is one way for wealth to come home, engaging in place and in projects that are building the next system. Many wealthy people live in cities and metropolitan areas that have become increasingly polarized in the last decade, especially along racial lines. What if they stepped up? I ask Alperovitz again, “What would it look like to fully put a stake in these communities and commit to community wealth-building initiatives?” “Get your hands dirty,”… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Sometimes the thing to do is accompany others in the journey and find… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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while in El Salvador, living and working alongside people affected by our government’s policies, our job was to be present, to accompany. As Dr. Paul Farmer wrote, “To accompany someone is to go somewhere with him or her, to break bread together, to be present on a journey with a beginning and an end.” As a white person working in the civil rights movement and later an attorney working in the labor movement, Staughton Lynd describes his work as “accompanying.” He quotes another colleague, saying, “Sometimes all you can do for another person is stand in the rain with them.” I feel this way when I’ve showed up at a rally of hotel workers who’ve been illegally fired or at an eviction blockade where neighbors stand with a person whose home is being foreclosed on. I don’t have… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In policy campaigns, we need to leverage our privilege to help as messengers and advocates. Other times, we should move capital to support community-based businesses or donate to advocacy and electoral campaigns. But we should also accompany others as they engage in their struggles. The final section of this book explores what these different roles might look like, with no rigid blueprint or program. What does it mean to come home, to establish a stake in a place? What does it mean to accompany others? How do we fully devote ourselves to the change we want to see? Alperovitz invokes a phrase from Napoleon, which roughly translates from French as, “You engage and then you see.” “You learn by engagement, not by hanging back,” he says, smiling. “And it’s in those risk-taking leaps that we find the excitement, the meaning of life.”

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Opt In or Opt Out? This is the privileged choice dilemma. We vote with our feet and money and engagement. Do we maintain a stake in the public services system? Or do we opt out for a privatized system? There are dozens of these kinds of small choices every day, such as: Do I take public transportation or drive? Do I look for a book at the public library or buy it? Then there are huge choices: Do I send my child to public schools? Or opt for private schools? Do I live in the city or the suburbs? And then there are medium-sized choices: Do I stick with the local public pool? Or do I give up and opt for a private recreational facility? Wealthy people often don’t just withdraw their tax dollars from public investments, they also disengage from the democratic process around spending priorities and the quality of public services. It may feel like we can’t fight city hall or Congress, but if anyone has a fighting chance in our current system, it is the donor class, the people with the time, social

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we are doubly challenged by the fact that people with the most wealth, power, networks, and sense of agency do not have a stake in the functioning of the institutions and services that everyone else depends on. They opt out, privatizing their needs. The very wealthy have always done this, but the pace of disconnection is accelerating as inequality grows. Instead of using the public park or town pool, the wealthy have backyard paradises, vacation houses, and private country clubs.

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All social and recreation needs are privatized and exclusive. Instead of retaining a stake in public schools, wealthy families create exclusive glide paths for their children that include private schools, tutors, enrichment classes, elite summer camps, music, and arts, all outside the public government-funded sphere. Like residents of gated communities that have private security, landscaping, and rubbish removal, they lose interest in public services. Eventually they lobby to opt out of paying taxes and favor budget cuts. Even the most civic-minded, who profess allegiance to quality public schools and services, contract an “out of sight, out of mind” malignancy when they don’t have a personal day-to-day stake in a system.

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As public services deteriorate, it becomes more rational to opt out. After the very wealthy pull out, upper-middle-class and middle-class parents try to follow behind. The less affluent stretch to pay for private schools and other opportunities for their kids, usually at a higher personal price of overwork, longer commutes, and mounting debt. In urban areas, with a larger population of low-income people, there is a “rush to the door” as upper-middle-class parents depart en masse from public services, leading to further service deterioration.

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In our 2003 book, Wealth and Our Commonwealth, Bill Gates Sr. and I wrote: For those who are not born wealthy, however, opportunities depend on the existence of strong community and public institutions. The ladder of opportunity for America’s middle class depends on strong and accessible public education institutions, libraries, state parks, and municipal pools. And for America’s poor, the ladder of opportunity also includes access to affordable health care, quality public transportation, and childcare assistance.

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live a few blocks from Franklin Park, a 527-acre public park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, architect of New York’s Central Park. At one time, Franklin Park was a public paradise for Boston’s working classes. There was a first-rate zoo, walking and horse trails (with affordable horses to rent), and the nation’s first public golf course. Sitting atop a bluff was a clubhouse, with a great veranda, 5-cent showers and towels, and toys for borrowing, including sleds, ice skates, and tennis rackets. Families with children flocked there on weekends, enjoying the recreational riches.

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Deepening a Stake I knew that if I opted out from the Curtis Hall pool, it would have soon receded from my mind. I might have felt principled umbrage that hundreds of poor and working-class families didn’t have a functional swimming pool. But I wouldn’t have felt a deep and personal stake in fixing the inequity. My thoughtlessness would not have been rooted in malice, just in simple disconnection. The “privilege drug” would have altered my memory and leveled out my emotions about this civic injustice. I would have forgotten about the pool. So I decided to opt in, with gusto. I adopted the Curtis Hall pool as a personal cause. I embraced my inner screechy privileged parent because no one else was stepping up. The other parents didn’t seem to have the time, sense of agency, social capital, or entitlement to keep the pressure on. I also understood community organizing—the process of bringing other affected parents together, developing leaders, analyzing the problem, identifying who has the power, and designing a campaign. As a parent with a full-time job, I wasn’t going to do that. I was going to try a privileged shortcut.

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At the town or municipal level, an individual with time, treasure, and agency can make a huge difference. Transnational corporations have not captured the political system at these local levels as they have at the federal level. But we certainly can’t give up on the larger democratic system and national politics.

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What I’ve come to realize is that we must attempt to separate the importance of maintaining a fair and progressive system of revenue from how the funds are used. They are two separate fights. One is for a fair and adequate revenue system. One is for a set of spending priorities buffered from powerful military and corporate lobbying. As the wealthy use their political clout to opt out of taxes, we’re shifting obligations onto present and future (thanks to debt) middle-class taxpayers. Wealthy people need to both be advocates for a fair revenue system and be engaged in fighting for proper spending priorities. If lobbyists for Lockheed Martin can spend $3.6 million a year lobbying Congress for $40 billion in contracts, who will serve as a countervailing force?

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Coming home will require us to deepen our personal stake in a web of systems and services in our communities. It will inspire us to act, draw on our social networks, money, and sense of agency to make institutions more accountable, better resourced, and more responsive. We need the wealthy to opt back in to our communities, not from a charitable arm’s-length distance but up close and personal. This is the pathway toward a truly more egalitarian society.

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When I studied disasters past, what amazed me was not just that people behaved so beautifully, but that, in doing so, they found such joy. It seems that something in their natures, starved in ordinary times, was fed by the opportunity, under the worst of conditions, to be generous, brave, idealistic, and connected; and when this appetite was fulfilled, the joy shone out, even amid the ruins. Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell

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Resilience Circles seem to serve three purposes—learning together, mutual aid, and social action. Participants were hungry to understand what was happening in the economy. They felt like they had trusted the “experts,” the politicians and the bankers, but now had to learn for themselves. The Resilience Circle network circulated articles, books, videos, and documentaries to help people understand the deeper roots of the debt crisis and the growth of the speculative financial sector. Our circle talked about the drivers of the mortgage crisis, growing inequality, and the ecological constraints on future growth.

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The mutual aid work of Resilience Circles, which are still proliferating, helps participants recognize that we are not alone.4 Through mutual aid, sharing resources, and holding one another through the tough times, we don’t have to be passive and isolated in the face of economic and ecological change. This takes the form of concrete sharing and the formation of bartering exchanges, where people swap time helping each other. The third purpose of our Resilience Circles—social action—is to organize together to build a more resilient and equitable economy. Individually, none of us can fix the root causes of the precarious and speculative economy. But we can build alternative ways to meet our real security needs through local businesses, credit institutions, and “sharing economy” practices.

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One of the activities that Resilience Circles do is an exchange of “gifts” and “needs.” People write down at least three things they can offer the group—willingness to drive, help with chores, cook food, or babysit. Then they write down things they need help with—learning computer skills, language proficiency, and carpentry help. Immediately, there is matchmaking as the group realizes that they each have things to offer others. Informal exchanges begin. People help each other with yard

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busiest day, so he didn’t have to spend money eating out. We noticed how a huge part of the economy depended on us staying isolated and not creating neighborly interdependence. One member of our circle, Catherine, wanted to start a business helping people organize their stuff. She offered three people in our circle a free consultation session. In exchange, they allowed her to take “before” and “after” pictures and they wrote endorsement quotes for her brochure and website. Then members of the circle brainstormed marketing ideas and worked their networks to identify paying clients for Catherine. Her business took off and continues to this day. Our members recognize the absurdity of forming a circle to do what communities naturally used to do for one another. One, named Dax, observes that we New Englanders don’t share as readily as they do in the Caribbean, where he grew

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Not everyone needs these circles. Some lower-income people and more recent immigrant groups have stronger interdependent communities because they are used to depending on one another to survive. They don’t have sufficient income to pay people to care for their children, elders, or family members with special needs. When a car breaks down or someone needs a ride to the hospital, they can’t afford to rent a car or take a taxi. They have to ask for help, which is the real human condition.

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According to a Duke University study, one in four adults is socially isolated, meaning they have no one they can talk to about their most important concerns. And another one in four has only one person they can talk to, typically a spouse. This is an increase from 1985, when fewer than one in eight adults were considered socially isolated.6 From our national perch of supporting the formation of these circles, we see emergent themes. Gift exchanges are distinct from “charity,” which is often conducted at arm’s length, disconnected, and requires no vulnerability on the part of the giver. We learn how many participants have an easier time offering help, but freak out when it comes to receiving help and gifts. Resilience Circles become a place where participants practice asking for help and receiving it.

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Behind this reticence, we find, are unspoken fears about being a burden on others or, on the other hand, being overwhelmed by the requests of others. There is a deep shame placed upon people with needs, even as we all have needs through our lives. And some people do have enormous hardships, the result of mental wounds and deprivations, which cannot be addressed through a simple mutual aid network. Our unspoken fears of being overwhelmed reflect how badly our mutual aid muscles have atrophied, to the point where we are out of practice knowing how to ask for help or lovingly say, “No, I’m not able to help, but I will stand by you.” Resilience Circles develop a number of simple maxims, such as “I may not be able to be your bank, your therapist, or shelter, but I can accompany you as you find ways to meet your needs.”

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As the writer Charles Eisenstein observes, “Community arises from the meeting of needs. There is no community possible among a group of people who do not need each other. Therefore, any life that seeks to be independent of other people for the meeting of one’s needs is a life without community.”7 Many affluent people might as well walk around with signs that say, “I don’t need you.”

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could understand this from my own life experience. Because we have enough money to buy most of our services, we don’t have to express vulnerability and need. Even within our families and kinship networks, we don’t ask for help, weakening the bonds of family. Some wealthy people even celebrate the illusion of their self-sufficiency, counseling others to “be independent like me.” But the perpetuation of this illusion is destructive, both to our society and to wealthy people themselves. It may be where some of the makers-and-takers rhetoric comes from.

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one of the ways that wealthy people can come home is by participating in these gift economies and sharing in the joys of meeting local needs. Coming home may mean bringing money, time, and talents home. But it also means showing up with your needs and vulnerabilities. When you ask and receive, you break down the illusion of self-sufficiency, the cruel notion that there are makers and takers. You dismantle the stigma of need and the stiff arm of organized philanthropy and replace it with a culture of reciprocity, gift exchange, and the open hand of authentic generosity.

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We can begin by doing small things at the local level, like planting community gardens or looking out for our neighbors. That is how change takes place in living systems, not from above but from within, from many local actions occurring simultaneously. Grace Lee Boggs

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an annual “state of the neighborhood” forum that now brings together three to four hundred neighbors to take stock of such issues as housing, youth, local energy, and small businesses. Today, JP NET convenes over twenty potlucks and educational events a year on transition themes. Over the last four years we’ve explored how Jamaica Plain can power itself; we’ve had Bill McKibben talk to us about the moral and spiritual dimensions of climate change; we’ve heard how cooperatives can help us strengthen economic democracy in our neighborhood; we’ve invited permaculture leader Toby Hemenway to encourage more permaculture food production in our backyards and community gardens. Other sessions have explored whether New England can feed itself; what a resilient water system for Boston might look like; how our region might become net zero, supplying all its own energy through renewables; and how to create cities that work for all of us, with durable economies. We’ve had big-picture exchanges on emerging visions for a new economy, and working sessions on specific enterprise ideas, like bike-based businesses.

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Transition groups celebrate practical projects, including growing food, producing local energy, self-provisioning, helping neighbors, and strengthening gift economies. For Hopkins, the big idea is “local resilience as economic development. . . . By taking back control over meeting our basic needs at the local level we can stimulate new enterprises—new economic activity—while also reducing our oil dependency and carbon emissions and returning power to the local level.”2 The transition movement recognizes our need to “reskill” for the future. This includes learning craft or maker skills that our elders may have known:

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of this movement. In nearby Somerville, the Artisan’s Asylum took over 40,000 square feet of the former Ames Safety Envelope factory to house a wide variety of specialized tools and equipment for woodworking, metalsmithing, fiber arts, jewelry, electronics, digital fabrication (3-D printers), and more. Individuals join the organization, pay dues, and have access to tools and classes. In Jamaica Plain, JP NET is part of a local ecology of groups supporting the creation of the Boston makers space, which secured a location in early 2016.3 One hub of our activity is around the Brewery, a business incubator space owned by our Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC), where the office of JP NET is based. The “incubation” of start-up businesses is helped by affordable space, business services, and technical assistance and financing from the NDC. This complex of buildings was built in 1870 as the Haffenreffer Brewery, one of thirty original breweries that served the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Building a Local Food System. Building a relocalized food system is central to many transition efforts and a magnet for volunteer energy. Like many urban neighborhoods, Jamaica Plain imports over 95… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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commercial kitchen based at the Brewery, is particularly helpful for start-up businesses still shaping their product and market. Over forty food businesses and culinary entrepreneurs lease space there, creating products that are sold in the neighborhood and at the Egleston Farmers Market. These include Seta’s Mediterranean Foods, Voltage Coffee, Nella Pasta, OMG Nuts, NoLa’s Fresh Foods, Frozen Hoagies, Sushi Dream, and Whoopie Monster. There is such a demand that CommonWealth Kitchen expanded to a second facility with more than 36,000 square feet in nearby Dorchester, another economically and racially diverse Boston neighborhood that is also facing gentrification pressures. Community garden plots are expanding along with food projects like the Egleston Community Orchard and the Food Forest project, both growing fruits and vegetables and educating the community about the crops that are all around us and free for the picking. Neighbors help other neighbors construct raised garden beds or share garden plots with those who don’t have access to sunny land. Our work in the food sector creates jobs and livelihoods—and also enables existing businesses to expand or transition to the new economy and flourish.

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“livelihood businesses,” often owned by sole proprietors or extended families, that enable a family or two to pay their bills. They are not going anywhere, nor selling out to a chain store or moving offshore. They are rooted in the local economy. JP NET’s approach is: How can we help them grow and flourish? How can we help them capture more of the neighborhood’s spending dollars and demand for goods? A key aspect of helping them expand has been mobilizing local businesses to better compete for residents’ business.

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JP Local First was born. Membership has grown to over 175 businesses and the group publishes a directory, promotes events and activities, and communicates the value of locally owned and independent businesses in the community. They have helped many understand the powerful “multiplier effect” of local trade: For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $48 will continue to circulate in the local economy. If you spend $100 at a multinational chain store, such as Walmart, Whole Foods, or Target, only $14 remains in the local economy.

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JP NET introduced the Vargas family to organizations in Massachusetts that specialize in professional wet cleaning, a completely safe alternative. The Vargas family decided to take the leap, which required investing in new equipment. JP NET helped them get a $15,000 state grant and run a Kickstarter campaign to raise another $18,000 to help pay for the transition.

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and J&P became a powerful example of a rooted neighborhood business making a transition to a healthy alternative and positioning itself for green market success. Building on this achievement, Carlos worked with a local auto body shop, Saucedo Auto, to stop using lead weights in tire balancing, removing 80 pounds of lead each year from the environment. The community celebrated Saucedo’s decision with a fiesta, with local elected officials and neighbors. And we pressed other auto shops to do the same. Supporting Neighborhood Leaders. Many residents knock on our door at JP NET, asking how to be connected. They are searching for meaningful jobs, new skills, and connection to the transition movement. We have no money to pay them. But Carlos Espinoza-Toro and Sarah Byrnes have created a Community Leaders Fellowship program where people can formally participate, volunteering fifteen to twenty hours a week in exchange for training, mentorship, and personalized coaching sessions. Four

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We know there is a generation of young people who realize our society is entering into a deep shift, and that none of their schooling or jobs have adequately prepared them for what lies ahead. What if we could connect them to empty nesters in the neighborhood who could provide free housing and mentoring? What if we could deploy their considerable energy into local projects, such as staffing the Time Exchange, the Food Forest, or the Co-op Power project? JP NET is working toward this vision.

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Making Energy a Priority. A number of Jamaica Plain projects are focused on helping community members boost energy efficiency and reduce energy bills. The Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) has worked to support a number of “barn-raising” energy retrofits, where neighbors get together to help one another do energy assessments and button up their homes through conservation retrofits. JP NET has hosted a number of programs on energy efficiency, including workshops with Co-op Power, a consumer-owned cooperative that assists in installing solar hot water and solar electric systems in residential and commercial buildings. Keeping Capital Local.

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The JP-based Boston Impact Initiative (BII) provides three types of financing—equity, debt, and grants—to high-impact social enterprises, and Balanced Rock Investment Advisors helps investors evaluate projects. Several local banks have a commitment to local lending—and community organizations have rewarded them with deposits.

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JP NET’s Time Exchange is a barter network where the unit of currency is an hour of one’s time. It’s like our Resilience Circle, with the exchange of gifts and needs, only at a larger scale. Over three hundred members exchange a wide variety of goods and services, such as cooking, sewing, rides, health care services, child care, companionship care, computer repair, language instruction, yard work, dog-walking, and carpentry. Participants don’t need to do direct one-to-one exchanges. When they do a service, they record a deposit in the time exchange, via computer. When they use a service, they register a withdrawal. At monthly orientation sessions, participants learn the benefits of joining the JP Time Exchange, including saving money, living more ecologically, and sharing undervalued skills (knitting, baking, chain saw help, organizing, party planning).

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Professionals can reach new clients and spread the word about their services. People meet neighbors and build community. The mainstream economy isn’t working for many people, so the JP Time Exchange is a way to build an alternative economy to meet our real needs. In the transition to a new economy, there are many examples of the emerging sharing economy and gift economy, including barter networks, time banks, and bicycle-sharing networks. Tool-lending libraries and other networks help people make the shift from solely owning things to providing periodic access. A neighbor who only infrequently needs a car or a gardener in search of land to grow food are matched up to owners through peer-to-peer car-sharing groups and yard-sharing networks.

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“We go to restaurants or share entertainment—maybe even travel together—but we don’t really depend on one another,” she explains. In these circles, it’s only when someone has a real need—such as a medical emergency—that a potential for a real bond of interdependence emerges. As Charles Eisenstein writes, “Intimacy comes from co-creation, not co-consumption.” An economy of gifts is the cornerstone of a vibrant community of connection. Community is nearly impossible in a highly monetized society like our own. That is because community is woven from gifts, which is ultimately why poor people often have stronger communities than rich people.7 We

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depend on one another to survive—and this reveals our fundamental vulnerable and dependent state. But money masks this dependency, fostering an illusion, especially among the wealthy, of self-sufficiency. In today’s market system, according to Eisenstein, “Built-in scarcity compels competition in which more for me is less for you.” In a gift economy, the opposite is true.

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People in a gift culture pass on their surplus rather than accumulating it. Your good fortune is my good fortune: more for you is more for me. Wealth circulates, gravitating toward the greatest need. In a gift community, people know that their gifts will eventually come back to them, albeit often in a new form. Wealthy people miss out on a key part of the human experience, the connections that come through vulnerability and needing help—and the gift exchange that comes from reciprocity and people helping one another. Alternatively, wealthy people “opting in” can make a huge difference in building a local resilient economy. As Rob Hopkins observes, “If we wait for governments, it’ll be too little, too late.

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community responses can’t change the world on their own. To fix the future, we need activities at all levels. But as Hopkins writes, it is in this middle terrain, between individual action and larger government and institutional responses, where we have room to move. “The community engagement, the new enterprises, the internal investment opportunities, the skill-sharing, the potential of communities owning and developing assets: the potential is vast.”8 I see privileged people participating in the barter network, exchanging rather than buying services, offering their own time and skills and gifts and receiving from others. As early stakeholders, they are boosting the gift economy, setting a different tone of generosity, and inviting greater generosity.

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improving their lives and lifting up others as well. After all, creating resilience isn’t just about preparing for and surviving challenges. It’s about the joy and happiness that come from connection.

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“It is the system that is bleeding Africa of its wealth, taking food from the mouths of children,” says LeBlanc. “For every dollar of aid that flows into Africa, ten dollars leaves through secrecy jurisdictions.” The offshore system refers to secrecy jurisdictions that enable wealthy investors and transnational corporations to create shell corporations and bank accounts that don’t disclose the real human beings that benefit from them. Some sixty countries could be characterized as tax havens, with no or very low taxation and little transparency in terms of reporting bank holdings and investments.

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Several US states, notably Wyoming, Delaware, and Nevada, are themselves tax havens. In these jurisdictions, the process of getting a library card or a fishing license—where you have to prove identity and residency—is more rigorous than creating a corporation and bank account, where you don’t have to disclose “beneficial ownership.”

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the offshore system is often abused to dodge taxation, launder funds from criminal activity, and allow public officials to conceal assets from publicity and scrutiny.3 Growing scrutiny is focused on US-based transnational corporations that incorporate subsidiaries in tax havens and pretend, for tax purposes, to generate profits in these countries. In 2013, 358 of Fortune 500 companies operated at least 7,622 subsidiaries in tax haven jurisdictions and avoided an estimated $620 billion in US taxes. Most of these companies have subsidiaries in Bermuda… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The wealth of individual investors is harder to track, as nations and banks refuse to report account information. Economist Gabriel Zucman estimates that 8 percent of the world’s individual wealth is hidden in tax havens, an estimated $7 trillion in 2015. This leads to a minimum of $200 billion in lost… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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There are clear policy solutions that US lawmakers can enact to crack down on tax haven abuse. They could end the incentives for companies to shift profits offshore, close the most egregious offshore loopholes, and increase transparency by requiring corporations and bank account holders to disclose their real owners and beneficiaries. Banks could be required to report individual holdings and major transactions to the countries where account holders are citizens. Those of us in the United States have tremendous leverage and responsibility to fix this… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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“Our nations are not broke,” says Leblanc. “All these governments around the world plead poverty, propose austerity measures, and take on debt. But the absurdity is, the money is hidden in plain sight. “This system emboldens corruption,” says Leblanc, his eyes on fire. “These are mechanisms that allow the illicit flows of drug dealers and terrorists. But the capitalist class wants to keep it this way. It’s how they hide their money. “The more I learned—and the more I understood my own… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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“The fossil fuel industry—big oil, gas, and coal—is undermining Earth’s habitability for future generations. They have lied to us and used their political lobbying power to block alternatives. They have committed crimes against humanity.”

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“It’s not enough to move money into the renewable energy sector,” she stresses. “We also need to redirect our economic system so that it aims towards goals and metrics that support life, and a common good.” This additional layer of purpose isn’t something that everyone understands—yet. “I was sitting with a group of hedge fund guys,” Renstrom says. “We all know we need to move $30 trillion in capital to the renewable energy sector by 2050. When the finance types talk about an energy transition, it is a conversation about rearranging the chairs at the top of the economy. That will not work long-term. We need a transition that democratizes finance and broadens ownership, bringing the excluded to the table. If the transition favors the

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CERO was founded in 2013 to take advantage of then-new Massachusetts legislation on commercial food waste. The law requires establishments with more than a ton of food refuse a week to compost the waste rather than ship it to landfills. CERO provides “one-stop shopping” for restaurants, hospitals, universities, and grocery stores—handling organic waste along with other recycling and garbage. Their clients lower their waste-disposal bills while supporting a green, locally owned, worker-owned company. Compostable organics make up more than 25 percent of the state’s commercial and household waste. Instead of creating dangerous methane gas in landfills, CERO shifts this part of the waste stream to compost. “CERO diverted 350 tons of waste from landfills and sewers in 2015 and we expect to double that in 2016,” according to Lor Holmes, a cooperative worker-owner and business manager. “We’re about people, planet, and profits.” On the side of the truck are names of sixty CERO investors who were the first to support a crowd-sourcing campaign to raise funds for the company’s start-up.

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“Fortunately, the Boston Impact Initiative and the Coop Fund stepped up to provide patient capital,” said Holmes. “They were wicked important.” “CERO is the sweet spot for us,” said Deborah Frieze, cofounder of the Boston Impact Initiative, or BII as it is called locally. The company was one of the early investors in CERO. And Frieze is an example of a person coming home, bringing her personal stake, talents, and financial resources to a place.

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The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world—we’ve actually been on the way for quite a while. It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves and each other. Joanna Macy

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Our challenge is to use our special privileges to eliminate special privileges and build healthy communities and an economy that works for everyone. We are living between stories, as Charles Eisenstein observes. The “old story” of wealth, economic well-being, and deservedness has run its course. This story has brought us to the brink of ecological ruin and violent divisions. We are in the process of creating a “new story” that describes the deep interconnection between humans and nature. Wealthy people can aid in this transition to a new story and system. How do we let go of the “old story” way of living and begin to live in the “new story”? What should I do?

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  1. Root Yourself in a New Story Not surprisingly, the first step in the journey is to root ourselves in a new story. We can choose to act from fear and scarcity or from gratitude, acknowledging the enormous gifts around us. One part of this practice is to open our eyes and hearts to see the web of people, nature, ancestors, and our community that has made the positive aspects of our lives possible. This means acknowledging that our wealth comes, in large part, thanks to a commonwealth that includes the gifts of nature and society around

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Keeping our eyes open also means seeing the horrific damage caused globally by powerful, wealthy, and disconnected people. As George Pillsbury told me, it would be a problem if we didn’t feel something in the face of this. Among the powerful emotions we might feel are both paralyzing guilt and motivating empathy. But we shouldn’t lose touch with a basic truth: None of us asked to be born into a world with such grotesque disparities of wealth, power, opportunity, and suffering. It’s what we do with our lives that will influence the future. 2. Tell True Stories About Wealth You are invited to help demystify the confusion about wealth, success, and privilege—by telling true stories. Like Martin Rothenberg, tell the truth about society’s role in your individual good fortune—and the ways that privilege and advantages and luck have worked in your favor.

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  1. Help Redefine Wealth and See the Commonwealth You are invited to help redefine wealth and steer the culture away from a narrow definition of wealth as property, money, and financial capital. Real wealth includes a healthy ecological commons, a web of community institutions, and security based on authentic and caring relationships. This is the wealth that money cannot buy but that is being degraded by predatory capitalism and narrowly defined financial wealth.

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Our cultural challenge is to see the commonwealth and commons that surround us—that make our life and private wealth possible. Other societies recognize and protect their commons. But the United States has a particular blind spot when it comes to seeing and protecting our commons. Business leader and author Peter Barnes defines the commons as “all the gifts we inherit or create

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together”: It is shared wealth writ large. It includes innumerable gifts of nature and society, from the atmosphere to the Internet, science to children’s stories, soil to community strength. We inherit these assets jointly and hold them in trust, morally if not legally, for those who come after us. These assets are essential to the human and planetary well-being as well as to the functioning of our modern economy. Yet to economists and others, they are stunningly invisible. Economists fail to see the commons because its contributions are difficult to monetize.1

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Our commons include ecosystems, language, music, money, law, mathematics, parks, and so much more.2 Life is sustained by the ecological commons, including water, soil, air, and seeds. An invisible socially created commons is integral to private wealth. Its aspects include regulated capital markets, intellectual property laws, the Internet, and accounting systems, to name a few. True wealth is not in the size of our bank accounts or asset holdings, but resides in the quality of our relationships, the interconnectedness of our community, and the overall health of the society.

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The reason for our being is not to accumulate the most toys before we die. It is fundamentally about connection. For us to be in authentic connection and community, we will have to feel vulnerability, practice mutuality, and depend on others. All the walls and security systems in the world will not protect our families from the fragmentation and breakdown that will occur in an extremely unequal and ecologically degraded society.

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  1. Put a Personal Stake in a Place and Work for the Common Good Each day we cast votes for the kind of future we want. Coming home means voting with your feet and life commitment, bringing your time, treasure, and talents to a place.

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Resist the urge to privatize one’s needs through the creation of private recreational paradises, private education and transportation, or gated or enclave communities. Instead develop a personal stake in quality public education, livable communities, and healthy ecosystems. If we make personal choices that reflect this, it will have a positive ripple effect on the whole society.

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Planting your stake in a place will engage your social capital, your time, money, and insight. Democracy requires engagement with other people, making your case, winning, losing, and compromising. Often wealthy people, when we don’t get our way through the democratic system, pick up our ball and leave, creating private institutions and unaccountable systems. Mature societies require all members, especially those with wealth and power, to accept compromise while remaining committed to the whole. We are called to be a voice… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Make a commitment to ensure that the lives of all children are as good as the lives of the children in your extended family. This includes advocating for public investments in early childhood education, enrichment, early intervention health care, and quality… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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  1. Bring Wealth Home The wealthy control trillions in capital, money that has been chasing speculative financial returns at the global level. It’s time to bring this wealth home and redirect it to enterprises in the real economy. If money is stashed in the shadows, in the offshore system or special trusts, bring it back into the light. This hidden wealth of nations must pay its fair share of taxes. One starting point is to divest from the fossil fuel sector. As Lisa Renstrom says, “We want to revoke the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Jenny Ladd, an heir to Standard Oil, was thrilled to publicly move her money out of the fossil fuel sector. “I’m moved by the right action at the right time in the right place.” This is the time to enlist friends, family, family-controlled enterprises, and charitable institutions to divest. Use your… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Another step is to break the cycle of extraction and exploitation represented by vast accumulations of wealth in traditional financial markets. Wealth sitting in traditional stock market investments represents a lost opportunity to redirect capital to the generative life-giving enterprises of the future. The current money system of usury—money making money with interest—destroys nature and degrades people. It extracts value and energy from our communities and forces non-capital-owners to toil with little to show.4 This cannot be fixed through “socially screened investing,” trading… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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As Deborah Frieze has described, we should walk away from Wall Street as much as possible and walk toward building an alternative economy. The owners of substantial capital can reduce the demand for the exotic financial returns delinked from local communities and the meeting of real needs. Frieze urges us to move investment capital to real productive enterprises, rather than financial speculation, even when the financial return is less. There is a range of options, including opportunities in the community investment and Slow Money movements that are investing in community financial institutions and… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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As Frieze argues, ownership matters if we care about spreading around wealth ownership and agency. Impact investors are moving money to businesses like the locally owned and operated waste management… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Catalyze Change Around the Ecological Crisis We are living in a time of separation—most of us are separated from both people and nature. We should see ourselves in a natural web, not apart or destined for dominion. Many children suffer from “nature deficit disorder,” but the same can be said for many of us. Taking time to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We must reduce our overall energy consumption, not just shift to green technologies. We can help shift investment by being early adopters of renewable energy technology, paying more in some cases so that the systems can come to scale. This means less jet-setting and being more geographically rooted. People in the top 10 percent of US income and wealth holders are incredibly mobile, moving around, flying on airplanes for work and pleasure. This may be challenging because our affluence has enabled families and loved ones to be dispersed over several time zones, requiring huge expenditures of energy and resources to remain connected. We must do all we can to reverse these patterns, encouraging rootedness and family and community building to be as local as possible.

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then give deeply.7 Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Many donors are sitting on vast treasure, waiting for the strategic moment or the perfect organization. The bad news is you will not find this perfect leader or organization. Practically speaking, a huge warehouse of private wealth will be less useful to us in five years than it is today—as we continue down irreversible paths of human deprivation and hopelessness, and ecological points of no return. The good news is, you can have a tremendous impact on the future by giving today, boosting the next generation of leaders and organizations.

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It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel when it comes to giving. Wealthy people suffer from a tendency to want to create and control their own institutions and intermediaries for giving. But this is an inefficient use of resources. There are plenty of existing channels, intermediaries, and outlets that are sufficient for giving.

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The more money you have, the more you are surrounded by people urging you to move slowly and cautiously, including a wealth defense industry of investment advisors, professionals, and lawyers. In this context, my advice is, “Jump.” Look first, but then jump. Buy a parachute if it makes you feel better, but be bold and generous.

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  1. Pay Your Taxes The most democratic means of redistributing wealth and power is through taxation, especially at the state and local levels. As imperfect as our government systems are, there is still greater accountability in the use of funds compared with charity. The priorities of the federal government have been hijacked by global corporations and the military-industrial complex. But even here, a good chunk of our taxes also pays for public infrastructure, scientific research, and environmental protection. We should pay our fair share of this, without question.

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There are millions of trustworthy stewards working in the public sector. We often only notice them when things go wrong, like the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan. What about the hundreds of thousands of public works employees who quietly bring clean water to your tap? Who is up before sunrise to plow the roads or start up the trains? We have an… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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I invite you to resist complaining about government in an unconstructive and generalized way. Instead be engaged as an advocate for effective and efficient government. Explain to others that no matter what size or function of government, we must have a fair and equitable revenue system—where those with the greatest capacity to pay should pay more. A previous generation of wealthy put their full stake in “good government,” ensuring that public institutions worked well rather… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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as Bill Gates Sr. said, that those with great wealth have disproportionately benefited from society’s investments—and have a special obligation to pay back so that others have similar opportunities. Taxes at the state and local level should be fully paid and celebrated. And wealthy people who live in states with highly regressive tax systems, where low-income people pay a higher… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We need higher-income taxpayers to speak out for a fairer tax system and to pay their taxes without aggressive tax-avoidance schemes. The tax code is now porous for the wealthy, thanks to systematic lobbying by antitax groups. As a result, the percentage of income paid in taxes by the wealthy has dramatically declined over the last four decades. Just because we don’t like every activity of government—or have concerns… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We should take the lead, like Jacques Leblanc, in bringing hidden wealth out from the shadows. The world’s wealthy are avoiding taxes and accountability through the elaborate uses of complex legal trusts, sheltered corporations, and offshore tax havens. Trillions of dollars are circulating through this system beyond the reach of accountability and taxation. Make a personal decision not to use aggressive tax-dodging techniques, such as GRAT trusts and others.8 Refuse to use the “offshore system” of secrecy… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Support the Leadership of Others, Especially Working-Class People We have an important role to support movements led by others who are organizing for a fair and equitable economy. There will be some “letting go” required, as these movements and efforts may not always… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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rhetoric. This is not a reason to withhold support. In the wise words of one radical philanthropist, “Have a little faith.” We are surrounded by working-class people who are resourceful and have a lot to teach us. Our liberation is tied to our ability to be humbled by these neighbors. Seek them out, befriend them, support them, and follow them. Participate with humility. Our role is not to withdraw nor is it solely to be a… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The role of the 1 percent is to be engaged without dominance or manipulation. As Jenny Ladd says, “Play your instrument… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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  1. Organize Your Peers You are invited to reach out and engage others from our class background. Who else will organize them? These include friends, family, classmates, and other social networks. We need to overcome whatever gets in the way of engaging fully with these potential… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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percent is through your own emboldened example. When people see your energy, passion, and connectedness, you will become a walking invitation for people to ask you questions and consider changes in their own lives. Through your truthfulness and vulnerability, others will be inspired to follow suit. Through your compassion, forgiveness, respect, and love, you will draw others in. Changing these systems is fundamentally heart work. Our larger project is about cracking hearts and minds open, starting with our own. Notice the moments when your heart is beating, when the goose bumps flow down your back, when the connections happen with other people. Savor them and make more of them happen every day.

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Forming Small Groups None of us can figure this out alone. We know that to change and transform ourselves, we need inspiration, support, challenge, accountability, and respect. We need regular reinforcement of the new story that we can live into.

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Moving from our small groups, we can “co-create” this movement, spark creative actions within one another, and encourage each other to change our ways of thinking. Forming such a group is critical to being able to move forward with any specific programs and ideas.

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Not everyone has the slack to participate in a group—but most people can find the time to meet at least monthly with a group of peers. We wealthy people are busy, busy, busy. We have our commitments, our meetings, travels, and properties to take care of. But because this is fundamentally about our own liberation, I urge you to slow down and make the time. Form a circle, a small group of more than three people and less than a dozen, that can ideally meet face-to-face—or on the phone or via Skype. The network Resource Generation has already begun to pilot these groups and engage hundreds of individuals.

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Patriotic Millionaires Another important role that wealth holders can play is as advocates and messengers. Over the last twenty years, I’ve cofounded several networks of high-net-worth individuals, including Responsible Wealth, Wealth for the Common Good, Business for Shared Prosperity, and, most recently, the Patriotic Millionaires. The Patriotic Millionaires have focused in on three policy priorities: support for progressive taxation and increased minimum wages, along with campaign finance reform to reduce the influence of money and politics.

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members of the Patriotic Millionaires regularly demystify the process of wealth creation. “Rich people don’t create jobs,” says venture capitalist Nick Hanauer. “What does lead to more employment is a circle-of-life-like feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense, an ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than a capitalist like me.” Public investments in education and infrastructure will do more to boost the middle class, Hanauer argues.11

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State initiatives to raise taxes on millionaires are advancing in many states. In my home state of Massachusetts, I’ve been part of a coalition to amend our state constitution, which allows only one tax bracket, to add a rate on incomes over $1 million.

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The lowest-income fifth of taxpayers, those with incomes under $22,000, pay 10.4 percent of their income in state and local taxes. The top 1 percent of taxpayers with incomes over $860,000 pay only 6.4 percent of their income.12 The question will go to the ballot in 2018. Members of the Patriotic Millionaires and the Alliance for Business Leadership are outspoken in favor of the tax hike.

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“It’s time for us to return to where we once had been before taxes were demonized and government was demonized,” says Arnold Hiatt, former chief executive of the shoe company Stride Rite. Hiatt is a Patriotic Millionaire and one of the lead signers on the Massachusetts initiative. He remembers when people who earned more than $150,000 in the United States paid as high as 70 percent in taxes. “I was delighted. I felt privileged to be in a position to pay.”

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All Hands on Deck It is a strategic and personal waste of energy to stay in a place of hatred, rage and resentment. There are allies in this room you don’t know about. Felice Yeskel

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An estimated six thousand people are marching in favor of a tax on Wall Street financial transactions. It is thrilling for me to be at such a large demonstration in favor of a great nerdy progressive tax idea. I’ve attended hearings, press conferences, and endless meetings about good tax ideas, but never a demonstration of thousands. A year earlier, the total number of people proposing a financial transaction tax could have fit into a church basement. Until now. The game changer is that National Nurses United has adopted the Wall Street tax as a centerpiece of their policy agenda. Five thousand of these marchers are nurses and they are all wearing red shirts.

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“Wow,” I say, appreciative of her overnight bus travel feats. “But Eleanor, why are you here?” “Oh, that’s simple,” she says, fixing her brown eyes on mine. “I’ve been watching the unequal economy come into the hospital on the bodies of my patients. People are hurting themselves, hurting loved ones. I’ve seen people injured because they’re working two or three jobs and exhausted. I’ve seen folks with stress-related illnesses, freaking out because of the economy.”

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“The clincher for me was a couple weeks ago,” she says, looking at me with a surprising intensity. “An older guy comes into the emergency room presenting with a cardiac arrest. I’ve got him lying on the gurney, taking his blood pressure and filling out forms. I ask him, ‘Mr. Thomas, what is your address?’” Eleanor’s eyes begin to well up with tears. “He clutches his chest and says, almost in a whisper, ‘I just lost my house. Bank took it. After 35 years . . .’”

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Her voice cracks. “‘. . . that’s why I got this chest pain.’” She clutches her own chest. Eleanor shakes her head and her eyes look skyward. “You know, you see enough broken people, you think, ‘Damn, I gotta do something about the greed that is wrecking this country and hurting all these people.’ It’s not enough to just go to work. I gotta get on the bus and raise my voice.” The way Eleanor says “get on the bus” is full-voiced and passionate. She smiles and we start walking quickly again, rejoining the pace of the march.

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“Hey, you know about this Wall Street tax?” The tone of her voice is now chipper. “If we tax financial transactions a penny on every four bucks it would raise over $300 billion a year. We could make sure everyone had decent health care and stop all those foreclosures.”

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“Too many financial shenanigans don’t create anything real. We should tax them and use the money for something good.” We

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A group of privileged women, dubbed the “mink brigade,” funded organizing of women’s trade union workers and joined their picket lines. One “mink brigader” was Anne Morgan, the daughter of Wall Street financier J. P. Morgan. Days after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire that killed 146 women workers in March 1911, Morgan rented the Metropolitan Opera House for a meeting to honor the victims and mobilize the city’s wealthy to pass successful landmark labor laws in New York State.2 The rights movements, including civil rights and women’s rights, have strategic allies among the “oppressor groups.” And there are abundant examples throughout history of privileged sectors being divided, creating political space for unrepressed social movements to flourish. The idea that Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us—the title of Ralph Nader’s novel—is wrong. But it may be accurate to say, “Only We Can Save Ourselves, But It Will Happen Faster (and Less Violently) If We Have Some Super-Rich Allies.”

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Yeskel would coach me: “Allow yourself to be a target. Let people voice their emotions. Listen attentively and learn something. Don’t take it personally. It is a necessary part of the healing work that has to be done.” She was right, of course. I can’t say I enjoyed being a target, but I am now less fearful of upheaval. And I learned to trust that it isn’t always about me or my behavior. “Beware of people who judge you

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It’s what we do with our lives that counts—and what we should all be held accountable for.” Once, at a workshop program at a university, a self-proclaimed radical attacked us for our approach to inequality. “You are defusing the hatred toward the rich by talking about building alliances. We should be mobilizing for class war, to fight back against the rich. They are evil and unreachable.” “So how’s that working for you?” Yeskel asked calmly.

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“Some people would rather stay angry than be effective,” Yeskel observed. “That’s your right. Personally, I want to transform the system. I think it is a strategic and personal waste of energy to stay in a place of hatred, rage, and resentment. It will physically make you sick. You’ll burn yourself out and die a bitter person. It’s also not accurate. People are more complicated. There are allies in this room you don’t know about. And your anger is keeping you from being strategic and forming alliances.”

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“It’s too easy to tell someone else what they should do. But what does it concretely mean to give up privilege? I’m trying to think if I’ve given up any white privilege lately and what that looks like.” With her profound sense of empathy, Yeskel wouldn’t prescribe a course of action for someone else that she hadn’t contemplated for herself.

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“Yes, I think it’s different,” she would say. “We can’t fix the system unless the wealth and power are redistributed. It’s the intersection of personal change and system rewiring.” Inviting the Wealthy Home “How should the 99 percent view the 1 percent?” asked my friend Charlie Derber, a sociology professor at Boston College. Derber is the best teacher I’ve ever seen in action,

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Organize our communities to defend ourselves against the worst excesses of predatory and extractive capitalism—to build racial and economic equity and resilience. • Recognize the 1 percent that lives in all of us—the ways in which we have privileges and advantages compared with others around the world. Allow this to inform our strategy. Proceed with empathy. • Reach out to the isolated and disconnected members of the 1 percent and build real connections with them, founded on respect and empathy. • Create opportunities to invite the wealthy home—to bring to a locality their investment capital, charitable giving, social networks, and deep personal stake in their own liberation and well-being.

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Defend Our Communities Our current economic system may have inflicted violence on you, the people you love, and others around the world. There is no way to properly apologize for this, just as it is impossible to fully respond to the legacy of slavery or genocide. Extractive capitalism is trying to squeeze you in a variety of ways to take your money and get you to work longer hours for less pay. It is nickel-and-diming you with fees at every turn, making everything into commodities, including what was once sacred and private.

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Predatory capitalism is trying to take things that are your birthright—access to clean water, for example—and sell it back to you for a profit. There are global corporations whose business model is to shift their costs to you and the planet. They want you to pay more, so they can pay less. They want you as a taxpayer to cover the emergency room expenses of their low-paid workers, so they don’t have to pay them adequately or provide benefits. They want you to spend your time standing in line, filling out forms, waiting on hold, so they can cut costs. They want to dump their pollution and other externalities into our common yard, so they don’t have to pay the fees. We must organize social movements to defend our communities against the worst excesses of predatory and extractive capitalism, building alliances across class and race to resist corporate encroachment.

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Michael Thomas, a novelist and former investment banker, told the New York Times that if he were to ever write a book about his own privileged upbringing, he would title it, Orphans with Parents—meaning, he said, “that despite the private clubs, the best schools and all the many things that money can buy, there has always been for those born into this world a sense of acute loneliness that can strain ties with parents and mark a child forever.”

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As children, when we asked the adults around us about poverty and difference, we were often told stereotypes, myths, and outright lies about the undeservedness of other people. Those people “don’t work hard . . . have too many children . . . have addictions . . . lack ambition . . . made bad decisions and choices . . . can’t delay gratification.” These were justifications for our having so much more than others, without guilt. As children, we were told implicitly or explicitly to fear and distrust the rest of the world. We were warned about hustlers and robbers and people out to take our money. We were told to be wary of the motivations of the people closest to us.

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“What if we did a hunger strike at Alice Walton’s house in New York City?” Felice once asked out loud. “What if we just stood there with a sign saying ‘Share the Wealth.’ “Or maybe we should show up with gifts—jams that we made or crafts, nothing store-bought.” She chuckled. “Give a gift, not ask for anything in return. Instead of ‘eat the rich,’ we should invite the wealthy to lunch and ask them to bring their capital and skills toward fixing all our shared problems.”

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Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew, or dreamed that one possessed. It is only when a man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long cherished or a privilege he has long possessed that he is set free—he has set himself free—for higher dreams, for greater privileges. James Baldwin

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“It is a delusional fantasy that the rich will decamp to another planet or luxury satellite or mountain or island getaway. There is only one planet, and even if you get to ride out the worst of repercussions, what kind of world are we leaving to the next generation, including your own children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews?” One man describes his excitement about the possibilities of expanding worker ownership as a path to reduce wealth disparities. In response, I tell the story of the CERO cooperative in Boston and the growing movement to shift capital out of the globalized speculative economy and into local enterprises, including expanded worker ownership. People are animated by the idea of “bringing wealth home,” investing in these new economy possibilities.

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hope. I share what I see—that the next decade will be a time of upheaval and instability, but also tremendous possibility. The good news is there are people waking up—from students to low-wage workers to people in the 1 percent. There are people organizing to prevent new fossil fuel infrastructure from being built. There are billions shifting out of the investments in the dying economy and into the life-giving thriving new economy. While Congress and national politics have been captured by the “rule riggers” in the 1 percent and a couple thousand transnational corporations, among the wider public there is a fundamental realignment of perspectives.

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One older woman, standing in a foot cast with crutches, approaches the microphone. “I’m in assisted living now,” she tells the assembled. “There are a lot of very wealthy people in our community. It seems like there are two groups—the people who still feel like they don’t have enough, even though they have millions and a big lake house up north, and the people who feel incredible gratitude for their lives. As best I can tell, this difference has nothing to do with how much money they have.” She leans forward on her crutches, her white hair neatly fixed in place. “Why is it that some people feel gratitude and others hold on so tightly?” This question is a piece of the human puzzle and I don’t have an answer. I suspect that the people who feel gratitude “see the commonwealth.” They look out and see the matrix of gifts, supports, nature, public goods, love, and the commons around us that make our lives possible. And it stirs in them a feeling of gratitude. I mention a quote from Brené Brown, “What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.”

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We have to emerge from the gated communities and gated hearts. “There are days when I don’t know what to do, the problems seem so big,” she confesses, having more to say. “But then I learn about a group of fast-food workers who are having a protest to raise their minimum wage. So I go to their demonstration and I stand there with my crutches and a sign that says, “Pay a Living Wage.”

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I did not anticipate that I would have strong emotions standing with these people who raised me. I feel a rush of gratitude, embarrassment, and affection, all mashed into one. Gratitude for the generosity people showed me—and how supremely lucky I am to have these people in my life. But also I feel shame and embarrassment for how I have slandered them, unfairly made assumptions about them, and given up on them as potential allies for change. I drew caricatures of them in my mind and didn’t let them speak for themselves. I have libeled the people who I grew up with, out of my own humiliation and confusion about class, race, and the blowback of a grossly unequal society.

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Each of us can use our gifts to turn everything that has been upside down to right-side up. But it starts with connections, with people around us, with people who are completely different, but also with the people who are most like us. We may not always know what to do. But if we do what cracks open our hearts, I believe the next step will reveal itself to us.

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Our job is to serve as hospice workers for the old world, the old story, as it sputters to its predictable demise. And we must serve as midwives to the new world, the new story as it is born and comes into being. There will be loss, farewells, and the end of comfortable and predictable futures. There will be passings, memorials, tributes, and unwindings of familiar institutions and practices.

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And there will be a birth of community, connection, and a flourishing of face-to-face culture. We will have to depend on one another in ways we haven’t before. We will be called to act in ways we have not been called before. As Rebecca Solnit reminds us in A Paradise Built in Hell, we have tremendous inner capacities to respond to challenges. We have latent generosity and powers of mutuality that are waiting to emerge. Those of us who hold and control the wealth of the commons will either withdrawal to illusory private paradises—or rejoin humanity, warts and all. Here’s my wish: Don’t withdraw or disconnect. Come home.

You’re More Powerful than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen

Eric Liu

Last annotated on Saturday August 26, 2017

31 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

Location: 129

evidence of the same bewildering reality. The old deal is dead. There is no new deal yet. Citizens today no longer have to accept the bundles—the one-size-fits-all packages—that the monopolies of politics and business have long forced upon us. Unbundling is everywhere, from how we get the news to how we listen to music or watch television to how we catch a ride across town to how we label ourselves by party, gender, or race. There is an upbeat, utopian version of this story that’s all about an explosion of individual choice. But of course the unbundling is happening to us as well, in ways that have eaten away at our cohesion, security, and dignity. Social contracts—of trust and common cause—have been unbundled by technologies that sift and sort us ever more narrowly.

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Collective economic arrangements—pensions, benefits, livable wages, worker safety—have been unbundled by the Uberization and globalization of work. As a result, in greater and growing numbers, we Americans no longer feel in control of our own everyday lives. We have little say in a workplace that makes us expendable. Our lives as consumers are dominated by distant, impersonal brands. In our lives as citizens too many of us are passive spectators or the clients of distant bureaucracies. We have a surplus of stuff and a deficit of attention and purpose. As we retreat to smaller circles of kith and kin, the commons goes to seed.

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All this is propelled by a relentlessly upward concentration of wealth. Since 1980, the share of national income flowing to the wealthiest 1 percent has tripled. Since the end of the Great Recession in 2010, over 90 percent of the recovery’s gains have gone to the 1 percent. Median wages have barely moved in forty years, while CEO pay has increased tenfold. More than half the benefits of federal tax breaks flow to the wealthiest 5 percent, while low-income families get nearly nothing. Today the greatest determinant of whether an American child will… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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A comprehensive study of congressional action by the political scientists Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens showed that when the average American’s policy views clash with those of the rich, the rich almost always prevail. The average American is heard only if wealthy donors happen to be saying the same thing. Congress, redistricted to make itself challenger-proof, is walled off against reform. Meanwhile, Republicans use trumped-up charges of election fraud to keep low-income… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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But we knew all this already: the system truly has been rigged. What’s new is that this unprecedented concentration of power is now giving rise to a Great Push Back: a sprawling, disorderly effort by citizens of the right, the left, and the scrambled everywhere-else—people of every color and faith—to challenge… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Let’s start with a simple definition: power is the capacity to ensure that others do as you would want them to do.

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How does a friendship become a subsidy? Seamlessly, when senior government staffers become corporate lobbyists and work their relationships to benefit their new masters. How does a bias become a policy? Insidiously, as with stop-and-frisk. How does a slogan become a movement? Virally, as when Tea Party activists co-opt “Don’t Tread on Me,” or Black Lives Matter turns a hashtag into a movement. But most people don’t see or care to look for these realities. Much of this ignorance, this power illiteracy, is intentional. And that compounds the problem. There are some young people who think the whole business is sordid and would rather do community service or direct action and exempt themselves from politics altogether.

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There are the naïve who believe that good things just happen, and the cynical who believe that bad things just happen: the fortunate and unfortunate alike who believe their lot is simply what happens to them, rather than the alterable result of a prior arrangement, an inherited allocation, of power. But as the sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote in The Power Elite: “To accept either view—of all history as conspiracy or all of history as drift—is to relax the effort to understand the facts of power and the ways of the powerful.”

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As a result of this creeping public fatalism, we now have depressingly low levels of civic participation, knowledge, engagement, and awareness. Political life has been subcontracted out to a band of professionals—money people, message people, outreach people. The rest of us are made to feel like amateurs, as in suckers. We become demotivated to learn more about how things work. And this pervasive power illiteracy becomes, in a vicious cycle, both a cause and a consequence of the concentration of opportunity, wealth, and clout in society. This is why reimagining civics as the teaching

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power in political and civic life—how we live in public. And the core question of such power is this: Who decides? Every aspect of collective existence in a complex society is the result of countless layers of countless decisions, including decisions not to challenge long-ago decisions. Think: How did the railroad tracks get put down in my town and who decided what would be the wrong side and the right side of those tracks? Why does one employer get tax breaks and subsidies but not another? Why is this community center getting funded instead of that one? Why a new jail instead of preschool? Who decided that?

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It expresses our wants and needs, and is the medium by which those wants and needs are negotiated and addressed. Ignorance of that language is harmful to your aspirations and to your well-being. So literacy in power means understanding the what, the how, and the why of power.

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I also write as the founder of a cross-ideological organization, Citizen University, that brings together people from the Occupy left, the Tea Party right, and many points between. We challenge each other to find common interests. We generate unlikely collaborations and friendships. We engage where we can in mutual aid because although we will often disagree on policy and intellectual paradigms, we can all agree that this is a time to take on entrenched monopolists—and to boost citizen power.

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think and act in networks, so that your power is amplified not incrementally but exponentially. Networks enable us to create exponential power from thin air: by setting off contagions of attitude and action, by activating every citizen as a potential node of transmission, and by creating global webs of local knowledge and action.

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Heimans and Timms call it “new power”: the participatory “uploading” of power from a diffuse crowd, using modern social technologies.

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Hashtags matter. So do the social media platforms that allow disaggregated people to combine their imagination and identities into a single political and cultural force. People who retweet surging memes, or who add their likes to the pile, are not necessarily “slacktivists” who are too lazy or inept to make “real” social change. They sometimes are part of a surge that can swell to great proportions and change the math of politics.

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The real goal for the practitioner of civic power isn’t to nudge the network. It is to be the network. Society becomes how you behave. That is a statement of network science: your behaviors and attitudes are contagious, rapidly and often imperceptibly. It is also a statement of ethics: your behaviors and attitudes are contagious, rapidly and often imperceptibly. The takeaway, either way, is that small actions (and omissions) compound.

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in his Center for Social Empowerment and through his sermons and his teaching, Johnson is activating an analog network. It’s based on the principle of interrelatedness. He maps power and inequity in Ferguson and North St. Louis County and is helping his congregants identify in data what they have always felt in their bones. He cultivates relationships with allies around the city and the state. He tutors a young generation of would-be local leaders who don’t yet have the social capital or experience to become skillful advocates or citizens. And he brings in outsiders from every part of his life journey—which spans many states and many churches and many schools and many neighborhoods—who might have skills to share with the youth he serves.

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True peace requires a sense of purpose and place—a feeling that I’m part of something greater and it is to be found right here. Willis Johnson knows this. He models it, by holding up his corner. And by the power of his example and of his network, he is spreading it.

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Civic power operates on a similar principle—the ability to convert any citizen into an active member of the team at any time. But the skills required for civic power more nearly resemble those of an epidemiologist: the ability to read a map of the spread of a virus, or to locate the concentrated centers of its activity, or to focus energy on containing it. But of course, in civic power, the virus isn’t always a disease—it might be an economic trend, or a spate of violence, or a growing social consensus on an… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Take Dr. Leana Wen, the public-health director for Baltimore, who has become a beacon of hope in her struggling city. In one notable initiative, her department has deployed ex-felons to be human antennae in the most violent neighborhoods, to build relationships block by block, anticipate the next outbreak of violence, and intervene. The ex-felons have… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Uber is a pure example. Here’s a business model made possible entirely by networked technologies that treat workers and customers as floating atoms waiting for a call that will instantly link them together. For the rider, Uber brings seamless convenience to urban transportation. But the profits that are unleashed by this disaggregation of middlemen taxi companies are not shared or circulated evenly. Isolated individual drivers are contingent contractors at the mercy of the company. They have little recourse when the company pushes fares (and thus wages) downward. They are easily replaced. And Uber is able to deploy its various… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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an epidemiologist’s approach to rebalancing the power equation in the case of Uber must start with using networks against it. Only a fraction of Uber drivers has organized to push for better pay and working conditions. In New York City, a group of over 1,000 drivers has formed a “solidarity organization.” It’s short of a union (which, as non-employees, they are barred from creating) and is therefore unable to bargain wages collectively. But it can apply focused pressure, both inside and outside, on the company. This networked organization, like other driver associations that Uber has had to accept in order to settle class-action lawsuits in California and elsewhere, will be able to map—and build—driver power. It… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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opening the network to an uncapped number of new nodes—the way Anderson did by creating the TEDx ecosystem—generates exponentially more power. And this is the power of inclusion and abundance. There are civic TEDx opportunities all around us—opportunities to design networks guided by core operating principles that can otherwise be tailored by anyone anywhere to respond to local circumstances. And we can activate these networks not only for collective inspiration, the way TEDx does, but also for collective action.

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Scott flips the model for decision-making and power, saying it should proceed from the metis of the nearby, not the hubris of the distant. In a complex system, local insight is the key to adaptability. Trust people closest to the problem to come up with the most useful ways to solve the problem—indeed, to see it.

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Mauricio Lim Miller used to run the California state welfare agency until he came to believe he was making things worse for his clients because he saw them as clients. Not as citizens, or creators, or problem solvers. The system he ran was blind to the social capital and resourcefulness of poor people. “There’s no such thing as a single mother,” Lim Miller often says, meaning every single mother relies on a network of help to get by.

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Family Independence Initiative. FII supports and organizes low-income families so that they can tap into their own capacity for economic and civic health. Its method is very simple, and very difficult. FII staff gives the families baseline funds—up to $200 for reporting small steps taken to reduce debt or get education or the like—and requires them to meet as a group at least monthly. Then the staff get out of the way. Trusting the network to support each other—with ideas, time, emotional support, fixes, and the metis of local common… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Among FII families, household income increases substantially. Use of government subsidies for housing and food fall substantially, as does debt. Participants start… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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he reflexively steps out of the way to highlight the families. They’re the ones who come up with solutions. They’re the ones who practice power from the bottom up, bypassing or preempting the state, in ways that don’t fit easily into a left-right framework. They are the ones creating a sense of agency where it did not exist before. FII operates in six cities—Philadelphia, New Orleans, Phoenix, Oakland, San Francisco, and Boston. As it has grown and begun experimenting with matched savings accounts, lending circles, and other… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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All citizenship is local. But networked localism, trying new things not in isolation but in… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Lawmakers and activists are sharing policy experiments, successes, lessons learned. All these citizens, united, are making a web, a great archipelago of power that can bypass brokenness and monopolies. Networked localism shifts the equation of power away from a dysfunctional national government. Many smalls can surpass a few bigs, and many locals can outdo a few faraways—if the small and the local are woven together into a… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Creating power this way means building systems of mutual aid and then opening up opportunities for deep,…

The Long Detour: The History And Future Of The American Left

James Weinstein

Last annotated on Friday August 25, 2017

3 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

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The eight-hour workday, women’s suffrage, unemployment insurance, workmen’s compensation, Social Security, legal protection of unions’ right to organize, a progressive income tax, prohibition of child labor, the legal right to advocate birth control were all being partially adopted by Congress or granted by the courts. The same was true on a state and city scale. Regulation or municipal ownership of electric power and public transit had become widespread, but, as Walter Lippmann had predicted, that too stole the Socialists’ thunder. Of course, a few of the old demands, such as public health and safety, environmental protection, and universal health care remained to be won, but such reforms had also become the stock in trade of many progressive reformers and would even be addressed after World War II by Richard M. Nixon.

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their understanding of American society had not gone beyond that of the years when large-scale corporate leaders had just begun to reshape the nation. In part this analytical failure was endemic. The party’s great strength had lain in electoral activity solidly grounded on principles derived from nineteenth-century Christian idealism and in loyalty to working people. In that situation, the old party seemed to have no immediate need for intellectual work.

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Indeed, like the vast majority of Americans, most Socialists leaned heavily toward a popular (and Populist) anti-intellectualism. Furthermore, the Soviets had redefined socialism as a highly centralized, undemocratic forced period of industrialization and embroiled the Socialists in nearly constant conflicts with the American branch of the Communist Party.

Designing Regenerative Cultures

Daniel Wahl and Graham Leicester

Last annotated on Tuesday August 22, 2017

111 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

Blue highlight | Location: 443

“Another world is not only possible, she is already on her way. On quiet days I can hear her breathing.”

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Conventional economics justifies the over-exploitation of resources in the short term without regard to the long-term effects on vital ecosystems functions upon which all of life depends. The dangerous ideology of neo-classical economics offers economic arguments for the replacement of diversity with monocultures, thereby justifying and structurally embedding competition. This actively drives the erosion of natural resilience which depends on redundancies at multiple scales, in pursuit of ‘economics of scale’ and ‘competitive advantage’ in a globalized market. This system has worked well for a few, at the cost of the many and has driven the degradation of communities and ecosystems around the world.

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Oikos (οἶκος) means ‘house’ or ‘household’. Logos (λόγος) means ‘that which is said of’ or ‘the study of’. The role of ecology is thus to provide a deeper understanding of life’s household including humanity’s participation in it. Combining oikos with nomos (νόμος) which means ‘rule’ or ‘law’ indicates that the role of economy is to establish appropriate rules for the ‘management of the household’. Clearly the rules of how to husband the Earth’s resources (economy) should be based on a deep understanding of the life-supporting functions of ecosystems and the Earth (ecology). Yet the narrative of scarcity and competition that forms the dogmatic basis of the dominant ideology of economics was established before the science of ecology was invented. An economic system in service to current and future generations will have to be rooted in an ecological understanding of interconnection and interdependence. We have invented an economic system that goes utterly against the basic rules for long-term survival of any living system. The good news is that, since we invented the rules of economics, we can re-invent them!

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Ecology is the study of the healthy functioning and the continuous change and adaptation of ecosystems and the biosphere. These dynamics are not open for political discussion and compromise. They are about how life creates conditions that favour life. The economic rules of our current way of managing our household, on the other hand, are 100% made up by us. They can, therefore, just as easily be disregarded on the grounds that they are insufficient and anachronistic. We are free to dismiss them in favour of new economic systems that take the long-term survival of the household and ecological insights as a better basis for sound management than those of the current auto-destructive and structurally dysfunctional system.

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Let us not forget that those who are setting the rules of the system have been directly or indirectly hired by us and are paid by our taxes. We have invited the pipers in, but allowed them to call the tune, and are now dancing to the tune as if it were the only tune possible. But another economics is possible and already being developed and explored under such diverse names as ‘new economics – http://www.neweconomy.net/’, ‘steady state economics’ (e.g. Daly, 1991), ‘the circular economy’ (e.g. Boulding, 1966), or ‘ecological economics’ (e.g. Costanza, 1991). If we stop dancing to the fateful tune of an economics of scarcity and competition and start to collectively hum a different one, we can begin to transform the way we inhabit our common home – planet Earth – in ways that do not damage the health and resilience of the life support… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We need to initiate culturally creative conversations about what kind of changes to our current economic system are more likely to deliver a thriving and desirable future for our communities and all of humanity. We are all part of, and participants in, the systems we have helped to co-create (or at the very least quietly consented to maintaining). There is no point in blaming the ‘others’, a lack of political leadership, greedy corporate executives, inadequate laws and regulations or insufficient education, since we all have contributed, and are contributing, to how things are. All of us, when we spend our money, do our work, educate our children, elect our political representatives and participate in our communities, are… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Change starts with us! It starts in conversation with our neighbours, colleagues, friends and our communities, by asking deeper questions and being willing to live them: Q What kind of world do we want to leave for our children and children’s children? Q Why are we still at war with each other and with nature? Q Why do we allow an economic system that no longer serves the long-term survival of our species or the wellbeing of our communities to dictate the way we do business and relate to each other? Q Why do we let our political leaders convince us that spending large proportions of our national budgets on arms and preparation for war is a necessity, when we know that these funds could provide access to water, education, food and a dignified life for all humanity, thereby disarming the main drivers of war and conflict? Q How can we meet everyone’s basic needs while simultaneously ensuring our common future by protecting biodiversity, stabilizing global climate patterns and creating thriving… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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By questioning dangerous ideologies that no longer serve us we take the first step towards collectively defining the kind of questions that might help us live into more viable alternatives and… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Our dominant way of thinking in dualistic opposites makes us blind to the underlying unity. Nature is hardly ever that black or white; mostly we are dealing with shades of grey. The way we tend to try to establish certainty is by defining a particular way of seeing and limiting the boundaries of the system in question. What results is the illusion of certainty. This is a useful technique.

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As Werner Heisenberg has put it: “What we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning”.

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any perspective is a limited view of the underlying complexity. In order to befriend uncertainty, we need to let go of our need for prediction and control. Most causality in nature is not linear in the sense that effect follows cause in a linear way. Due to radical interconnectivity, systemic interactions and feedback loops, causality is more often than not circular… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Brian taught me that any system that is constituted of three or more interacting variables is more appropriately described by non-linear mathematics and should be considered a complex dynamic system. One of the defining properties of complex dynamic systems is that they are fundamentally unpredictable and uncontrollable (beyond controlled laboratory conditions). Uncertainty and ambiguity are therefore fundamental… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Brian argued that since natural, social or economic systems are best understood as… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We are not supposedly ‘objective’ observers outside these systems, trying to manipulate them more effectively; we are always participants. He suggested that the insights of complexity science invite us to shift our attitude and goal to our appropriate participation in these systems, as subjective, co-creative agents. Our goal should be to better understand the underlying dynamics in order to facilitate the emergence of positive or desirable properties – emerging through the qualities of relationships in the system and… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We have to come to grips with the fact that knowledge and information, no matter how detailed, will remain an insufficient and uncertain basis for guiding our path into the future. We will increase our chances of success if we have the wisdom and humility to embrace our own ignorance, celebrate ambiguity and befriend uncertainty. More often than not, certainty is not an option. We are invited to ‘live the questions more deeply’, to pay attention to the wisdom of many minds and diverse points of view, and to continue the conversation about whether we are still on the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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More than 2,500 years ago, Pericles reminded his fellow Athenians: “We may not be able to predict the future,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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will at best be partial and temporary. Yet by asking the appropriate guiding questions repeatedly and entering into conversations about our collective future in all the communities we participate in, we may be able to find a set of patterns and guidelines that will help us to create a culture capable of learning and transformative innovation.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Which cultural, social, and technological innovations and transformations will help us bring human activity and the planet’s life support system into a mutually supporting regenerative relationship rather than an erosive and destructive relationship?

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International Futures Forum (IFF). In Ten Things to do in a Conceptual Emergency, the IFF’s director Graham Leicester and founding member Maureen O’Hara (2009) suggest pathways to finding a transformative response which urge us to ask: Q How do we design for transition to a new world? Q What other worldviews might help to inform a wise response? Q What can we learn from letting go of the myth of control? Q What can we learn from re-perceiving the present? Q What can we learn from trusting our subjective experience more deeply? Q What can we learn from taking the ‘long view’? Q What would insightful action look like? Q Which new organizational integrities should we form and support? Q How can we practise social acupuncture? Q How do we sustain networks of hope?

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The idea of ‘organizational integrities’ refers to the challenge that the traditional boundaries around organizations are dissolving as we focus more on collaboration (alliances, networks, partnerships, and outsourcing). We are moving from separate organizations and businesses to interconnected ecologies of collaboration that weave businesses and organizations into mutually beneficial partnerships. The notion of ‘social acupuncture’ refers to the catalytic transformative effect that well-targeted, small-scale, creatively designed interventions can have, even in large and complex systems. Metaphorically speaking, placing the needle of… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Caring for the Earth is caring for ourselves and our community To care for the Earth and for life’s common future does not require some form of spiritually motivated altruism once we are conscious of the systemic interdependencies that our survival depends upon. The motivation for intelligent and aware people to transform ‘business as usual’ can simply be a form of enlightened self-interest. Once we start the practice of caring for others (humans and other species) in the same way as we care for ourselves, we begin to realize that the experience of a separate self is a limited perspective and that we are in fact relational beings in a world where everything affects everything else and, as… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The way to care for ourselves and our families, the way to sustain this and future generations of human beings is… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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requirement. At their very core, all the world’s spiritual traditions and sacred texts reflect upon the question of right relationships between self and world. So maybe the way to finally disarm religious fanaticism and separatism could be to revisit these wisdom traditions and explore their common message about how to live in right relationship with each other and the Earth. Our future depends on the health of ecosystems everywhere. The health of the biosphere and the future of humanity are inseparable. More than sixty years ago Albert Einstein saw the challenge ahead: A human being is part of the whole – called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Einstein understood the limitations we impose on ourselves by our way of thinking, which determines what we focus on and how we see the world. He asked us to question who we are and our relationships with all of life and the universe as a whole. Einstein invited us to explore a more systemic perspective, holistic thinking and an integrative consciousness that acknowledges our participatory intimacy with the universe, as a fundamentally interconnected and continuously transforming whole manifesting as patterns of energy, matter and… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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What if consciousness – rather than matter – is primary? Q What if our species’ most astonishing evolutionary innovation and ‘raison d’être’ – our saving grace – is that through us the transforming whole (universe) is able to know itself and become conscious of itself? In The Passion of the Western Mind, Richard Tarnas (1996) explored the evolution of our dominant Western worldview and showed that over the last 200 years an alternative perspective has emerged that is based on the “fundamental conviction that the relation of the human mind to the world was ultimately not dualistic but participatory” (p.433). In this perspective “the human mind is ultimately the organ of the world’s own process of self-revelation” (p.434). As T.S. Eliot put it in ‘Little Gidding’: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.” So, are we worth sustaining? Life on Earth will continue without us. Yet will it not be a much impoverished place without a species capable of reflecting on the miracle of life’s evolution and able to be awestruck by the beauty of this precious planet? We have to be honest with ourselves. Even in dedicating our lives to the creation of regenerative cultures and a more sustainable future, we are not ‘saving the planet’ or ‘saving life on Earth’. Both will continue long after our species meets its almost inevitable fate of extinction. Nevertheless, we don’t have to actively accelerate our own demise, as we have done with increasing effort since the industrial revolution. Q Would we not do better to care for all of life and the planetary life support system in ways that ensure that our relatively young species gets its opportunity to live to maturity and wisdom?

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Are you not also curious what our species might be capable of if we “widen our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature”? By caring for the Earth and all of life, we care for ourselves. By embracing our own nature as an expression of nature at large, humanity can become a conscious force of healing. Keeping the limits of our own knowing in mind, we can begin to humbly contribute to the flourishing rather than the impoverishment of life.

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The ‘Santiago Theory of Cognition’ proposed by the Chilean biologists and neuroscientists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela offers a scientific way of understanding the process by which living systems engage in ‘autopoiesis’ (self-creating or self-generating) through entering into relationships that distinguish self from other but without losing their fundamental interconnectedness with their environment. The act of ‘structural coupling’ – or relating to other – enables the living system to define itself in relationship to its environment as separate yet connected. Importantly, the environment that is defined by the initial act of distinction of self and other triggers changes in the living system which the system itself specifies as triggers of internal changes. Maturana and Varela argue that this is basically an act of cognition (which does not require a nervous system and is thus possible for all life-forms). Cognition is not a representation of an independently existing world, but rather the act of bringing forth a world through the processes of living as relating.

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Love is our natural condition, and it is the denial of love what [sic] requires all our rational efforts, but what for, when life is so much better in love than in aggression? Love needs not to be learned, it can be allowed to be or it can be denied, but needs not to be learned, because it is our biological fundament and the only basis for the conservation of our human beingness as well as our well being. Humberto Maturana & Gerda Verden-Zoller (1996)

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We are neither aware of any other species writing poetry or composing music to reflect the unifying emotion we call love, nor do we know what the passing of the seasons feels like to a sequoia tree, or how an emperor penguin subjectively experiences the first rays of sunlight after the Antarctic winter. But is there not something worth sustaining in a species that can ask such questions? Love and empathy widen our circles of compassion.

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The evolution of consciousness is both a personal journey that we are all capable of experiencing through our lifetimes, and a journey at the collective level. We are on a journey from the ‘original participation’ of indigenous tribes that perceives everything as alive and meaningful relations, to the ‘separation of self and world’ (nature and culture) that brought us the Enlightenment and the multiple benefits of science and technology based on analytical reasoning; the next step is towards a new kind of “final participation” – as Owen Barfield called it (1988: 133-134) – which expresses a synthesis of both perspectives. We are part and parcel of nature and we have evolved to self-reflective consciousness and free will, which gives us the choice to participate in life’s processes in a destructive or a creatively supportive (regenerative) way.

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what lies ahead of us is the promise of a truly regenerative, collaborative, just, peaceful and equitable human civilization that flourishes and thrives in its diverse cultural and artistic expressions while restoring… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Individually and collectively we are waking up to find out that the world knows and loves itself through our eyes and our hearts. What kind of culture will we create to express this wisdom? Becoming conscious of our interbeing with the world reminds us of our communion with all life as a reflection of our… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson (1986), inspired by the psychologist Erich Fromm (1956), suggested that human beings as expressions of the process of life have an innate tendency to be attracted to all living beings. He called this… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss (1988) calls the realization of our own self as a relational reflection of the larger community of life ‘our ecological self’ and sees in it the basis for responsible action out of enlightened self-interest. We bring forth a world in relationship to ‘other’ and without that ‘other’ – which is a reflection of our larger self – we could not exist. The ‘Santiago Theory of Cognition’, as we have seen, reframes dualistic… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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As we cease to be paralyzed by the fear-driven cycle of separation, scarcity and the struggle for control and power, we will begin to unfold the potential of a compassionate, empathic and collaborative culture of creativity and shared abundance, driven by biophilia – our innate love for all of life. The narrative of separation from the rest of life and alienation from nature’s wisdom is beginning to give way to a narrative that celebrates our communion with nature as the very essence of our being. Our subjective conscious awareness of the transforming whole (limited as it may be) is an important and valid reflection of that whole getting to know itself through all of us… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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This means paying attention to how our culture and education system shape our worldview and value system. We need to encourage life-long learning and personal development through supportive community processes and ongoing dialogue, guided by questions rather than answers. We need to live these questions individually and collectively

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we are called to switch out of the mindset that created these crises in the first place. In doing so, we undergo a species-level rite of passage that offers us a new and more mature perspective on our intimacy with, and responsibility for, all of life. We are “coming home” (Kelly, 2010). The creation of diverse, regenerative cultures collaboratively united in a regenerative civilization is the only viable future open to us as we move into the ‘planetary era’. Our collective challenge is to create cultures capable of continuous learning in the face of complexity, not-knowing and constant change.

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life creates conditions conducive to life in all its designs, systems and processes. We can co-create a world that works for… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We are distracted from distraction by distraction, filled with fancies and empty of… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In Start with Why, Simon Sinek (2011) explains how Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were able to drive large-scale cultural changes in a non-violent way. The common thread is that they articulated their vision from the why, to the how, to the what. Inspiring leaders start with what they believe in first, making their worldview and motivation explicit. Sinek suggests that once we are clear about why, we can define the values that will guide our behaviour and inform the systems and processes we put into place. The why defines the how in an action-oriented way. In a nutshell, why offers a purpose, cause, or… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The design guru Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, writes in Change by Design “Don’t ask what? ask why?” and continues: “asking ‘why?’ is an opportunity to reframe a problem, redefine the constraints, and open the field to a more innovative answer. […] There is nothing more frustrating than coming up with the right answer to the wrong question” (2009: 236-237). Warren Berger reminds us of the power of inquiry, encouraging us to ask ‘beautiful questions’ using why? and what if? as a path to breakthrough innovation. The art of asking beautiful questions is about i… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The practice of living the questions together starts by frequently asking yourself and others: are we asking the right questions? Which questions will help us make wiser decisions? What if we did… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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we are co-creative participants in a 14-billion-year process of universe becoming conscious of itself. We are a keystone species capable of creating conditions conducive to all life. We can design for human, ecosystems and planetary health, and nurture resilience, adaptability, transformability and vitality. We care; we are compassionate beings able to love and to express this unifying emotion through poetry, music and… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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in response to a question I had asked him about the role of spirituality in the cultural transformation and transition ahead. David started his answer by saying: Humans are inevitably spiritual and the question is not whether we are, but whether we are authentically spiritual or not. It bubbles out of us. We are meaning-seeking creatures, and if the highest meaning in my life is soccer, I will make soccer my religion and it will orient my life. It will give my life meaning and gravity and direction. It just happens to be a bad religion. I could make environmentalism a religion. That happens to be a bad religion, too. We can’t help but make something into a belief system, and you can argue why this is for us. This goes back to the early cave paintings. This is part of humanity. As soon as we identify the human species, we see a… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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David Orr, personal… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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What do we owe? How are we obliged? What do we owe to the far distant future? What do we owe to the distant past? What does it mean for us to be stewards or trustees?” Finding answers to all these questions can help us to re-contextualize… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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we can find common ground in the communion of our interbeing with each other and all life. The future of our species depends on finding this higher ground as humanity, as nature, as life, as expressions of a… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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process of making sense of the relationship between the intimate and the ultimate. In Lamps of Fire – the spirit of religion Juan Mascaró offers a synthesis of the spiritual essence of religion through selected passages from Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. Mascaró believed in the recuperation of a profound humanism to unite humanity beyond its differences (east and west, north and south)… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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common ground for a coordinated, cooperative response. We also need to find a higher ground of shared meaning and significance so we all know why we are in this together and why it is worth transcending and including all our… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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a report of a two-year conversation about why spirituality needed to play a greater role in the public realm. The report argues that “the spiritual injunction is principally an experiential one, namely to know oneself as fully as possible. For many, that means beginning to see beyond the ego and recognise being… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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“We are all surrounded by strangers who could so easily be friends, but we appear to lack cultural permission not merely to ‘connect’ – the opium of cyberspace – but to deeply empathise and care” (p.7). Trying to heal causes instead of symptoms, the report calls for “the spiritual to play a greater role in the public realm, because it highlights the importance of personal and social and political transformation” (p.8). It asks the important question: “How can we best speak of the spiritual in a way that helps us understand how best to live?” Reflecting on Martin Luther King’s insight that “power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anaemic” and his observation that “it is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our time” (see also Kahane, 2010), the report calls for the spiritual practice of tapping “into the deep source of our own power and love” and embarking “on a lifelong challenge to bring them together in practice” (Rowson, 2014: 59).

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The RSA project reviewed how deeper questioning into the nature of love creates a sense of belonging. Inquiry into death helps us live a deeper life. Questioning the nature of our ‘self’ catalyses personal transformation; and exploring the nature of the soul gives our life meaning and informs our creative expression (p.78) The final report suggests a need to revitalize spirituality in order to more deeply address the challenges of the 21st century.

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Richard Tarnas writes in Cosmos and Psyche: Not only our personal lives but the very nature of the universe may demand of us now a new capacity for self-transcendence, both intellectual and moral, so that we may experience a new dimension of beauty and intelligence in the world – not a projection of our desire for beauty and intellectual mastery, but an encounter with the actual unpredictably unfolding beauty and intelligence of the whole […] the open encounter with the potential reality of an anima mundi makes possible its actual discernment. In this view, only by opening ourselves to being changed and expanded by that which we seek to understand will we be able to understand at all. Richard Tarnas (2007: 487) Questions that invite us to explore the relationships between the intimate and the ultimate also help us to understand who we are and to find our place in the wider community of life and within a living and transforming cosmos. By living these questions together, the process of collective meaning-making in the face of uncertainty can itself become our guide and inform our appropriate participation.

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Bill Plotkin offers his seminal book Nature and the Human Soul as a “contribution to the global effort to create a viable human-Earth partnership” and bases his exploration on three premises: i) “a more mature human society requires more mature human individuals”, ii) “nature (including our own deeper nature, soul) has always provided and still provides the best template for human maturation”, and iii) “every human being has a unique and mystical relationship to the wild world, and that the conscious discovery and cultivation of that relationship is at the core of true adulthood.” He adds: “True adulthood is rooted in transpersonal experience – in a mystical affiliation with nature, experienced as a sacred calling – that is then embodied in soul-infused work and mature responsibilities.” Plotkin lays out a model for individual human development that offers “a narrative of how we might grow whole, one life stage at a time, by embracing nature and soul as our wisest and most trustworthy guides” and “a strategy for cultural transformation, a way of progressing from our current egocentric societies (materialistic, anthropocentric, competition-based, class-stratified, violence-prone

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and unsustainable).” Bill Plotkin explores why being truly human is only possible in relationship with the natural world and how our soul and the soul of nature as our larger being are not separate but co-arise. “All places and all things and all roles speak to us, if only we have the ears to listen. Likewise, your soul, your ultimate place, evokes something from you, wants something from you, speaks to you, sometimes in a quiet voice, sometimes in a roar” (2008: 39). He speaks of “living the questions of soul” in reference to Rilke’s letter to a young poet, cited at the start of this book. In this letter, Rilke encourages the young poet to spend time in nature paying attention to the little things “that can so unexpectedly become big and beyond measuring”; and his advice for finding one’s true work in the world is “to go into yourself and test the depths in which your life takes rise” (in Plotkin, 2008: 280). The encouragement to seek solitude and insight in nature and the advice to go within are mutually reinforcing. In John Muir’s words: “I only went for a walk and finally concluded to stay out til sundown, for going out, I found was really going in” (in Knapp & Smith, 2005). Ecology and spirituality are two sides of the same coin – understanding and making sense of our own interbeing with the world, and our interdependence. You can enter into an embodied experience of wholeness and meaning through the door of the natural world or through spiritual practice. In fact, the two are ultimately not separate but they are pathways to the same oneness of existence in and through relationships. A oneness we experience most of the time from the limited perspective created by the ‘illusion of separation’. If we want to reconstitute this oneness – the whole whose conscious reflections we are – we need to do so through the way we create meaning together and through the narrative we tell about our interbeing. Making time for solitude in wild nature helps us to have the largest conversation we are capable of having with the world. Communion with wild nature helps us embody our ultimate place and act wisely in recognition of our kinship with all life.

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Parker J. Palmer (2004) reminds us that “to understand true self – which knows who we are in our inwardness and who we are in the larger world – we need both the interior intimacy that comes with solitude and the otherness that comes from community” (p.54). Palmer calls the soul “that life giving core of the human self, with its hunger for truth and justice, love and forgiveness” and continues “when we catch sight of the soul, we can become healers in a wounded world – in the family, in the neighbourhood, in the workplace, and in political life” (p.2). Deep listening can help us catch sight of the soul: listening to our inner voice, listening to our community, listening to wild nature, listening for wholeness. Without listening for wholeness, truth and beauty we will not find the answer to why we are worth sustaining – the key to our regeneration. Up North, in the wilderness, I sense the wholeness “hidden in all things” [Thomas Merton]. It is in the taste of the wild berries, the scent of sun-baked pine, the sight of the Northern Lights, the sound of water lapping the shore,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Sustainability as a learning journey: pilgrims and apprentices Sustainability is not a fixed state that can be achieved and then maintained forever after. Sustainability is a dynamic process of co-evolution and a community-based process of continuous conversation and learning how to participate appropriately in the constantly transforming life-sustaining processes that we are part of and that our future depends upon. If we are not asking the right questions, it is very easy to get confused with the diversity of answers on offer. As practitioners in your own field you will have noticed that often there are a number of ‘sustainable design solutions’… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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global petro-chemical, agro-industrial and pharmaceutical industries have used ‘scientific evidence’ and well-funded misinformation campaigns to sell the consumer supposedly sustainable solutions that at best sustain the short-term economic growth imperative of these multinationals but do so at the expense of people and planet. One such example is the way giant agribusinesses have patented GM seeds and have lobbied national governments to make traditional seed-saving of heirloom varieties illegal, while spending millions on campaigns to promote themselves as working for global food security. Surely the diversity of local varieties of food plants adapted to different ecological and climatic conditions is a vital factor in food security? In a culture of corporate greed and insidious disinformation it is hard to know which expert to trust and which proposed solution is worth implementing.

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We are approaching shortages of many of the key chemical elements that are the basis of our current high technologies. For example, indium is a rare earth element that is crucial for modern photovoltaic technologies and touch screen displays, yet it is on the growing list of ‘endangered elements’ published by the Royal Society of Chemistry (Davies, 2011). At current rates of consumption many of these ‘endangered elements’ might not be available within 10 to 50 years (Cohen, 2007). In thinking about the implementation of sustainable solutions we have not only to consider the limited availability of certain key materials but also the energy required to develop and deploy these solutions. In the last few years the fossil fuel industry has tried to silence the debate about peak oil with reports on new discoveries. Ever more expensive, complicated, and dangerous technologies (e.g. the fracking of shale gas and the exploitation of tar sands) are opening up access to more fossil fuels stored in the Earth’s crust. The message is: there are a lot of fossil fuel resources left!

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Yet, if we don’t ask deeper questions about our current consumer culture and its value systems and worldview, we are unlikely to use these technological innovations to humanity’s and life’s long-term advantage.

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we need more than technological innovation to steer our way into an uncertain and unpredictable future. We need to develop a new sensitivity to the way life as a whole sustains itself and flourishes on a finite planet. Such deeper sensitivity and the humility of acknowledging the limits of our knowing is essential if we hope to apply our technological capabilities with wisdom and foresight.

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How do we best apply the Precautionary Principle with regard to new technologies that seem promising but might have far-reaching environmental and social consequences if employed at a global scale? Q Is it wise to mass-deploy all technologies that are technically feasible, or should we choose more carefully how and for what we employ our technological capabilities? Q How do we choose wisely between one technological ‘solution’ and another, if experience shows that most of today’s solutions turn into tomorrow’s problems? Q How do we stay humble and act with ‘precaution’ in the face of uncertainty and constant change?

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we had better prepare for the long – and at points surprising – learning journey that will allow us to chart our path into an uncertain future. To walk the path into an uncertain future we would do well to cultivate the attitude of a pilgrim – with respect for all of life, in gratitude for the abundance we can share along the way, and with reverence for the magnificence of participating in this beauty. We would also do well to cultivate the attitude of an apprentice – acknowledging that nature in all its forms – whether through our fellow human beings or through the multitude of fellow species on this planet – has so much to teach us. As pilgrims and apprentices we have to be willing to question and, at times, give up what we know and who we are for what we could become.

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If we stop reminding ourselves of the limits of our own knowing and stop seeing the intrinsic (not just the utilitarian) value of all life, we will lose our responsiveness to what nature/life has to teach us. If we cease to understand ourselves as apprentices and begin to believe we have permanent answers to offer, we leave the path of ‘living the questions’… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Sustainability is not enough; we need regenerative cultures Sustainability alone is not an adequate goal. The word sustainability itself is inadequate, as it does not… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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what we are actually trying to sustain is the underlying pattern of health, resilience and adaptability that maintain this planet in a condition where life as a whole can flourish. Design for sustainability is,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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A regenerative human culture is healthy, resilient and adaptable; it cares for the planet and it cares for life in the awareness that this is the most effective way to create a thriving future for all of humanity. The concept of resilience is closely related to health, as it describes the ability to recover basic vital functions and bounce back from any kind of temporary breakdown or crisis. When we aim for sustainability from a systemic perspective, we are trying to sustain the pattern that connects and strengthens the whole… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Complexity science can teach us that as participants in a complex dynamic eco-psycho-social system that is subject to certain biophysical limits, our goal has to be appropriate participation, not prediction and control (Goodwin, 1999a). The best way to learn how to participate appropriately is to pay more attention to systemic relationships and interactions, to aim to support the resilience and health of the whole system, to foster diversity and redundancies at multiple scales, and to facilitate positive emergence… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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One proposal for guiding wise action in the face of dynamic complexity and ‘not knowing’ is to apply the Precautionary Principle as a framework that aims to avoid, as far as possible, actions that will negatively… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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to the Rio Declaration in 1992, the Kyoto Protocol, and Rio+20 in 2012, we have committed to applying the Precautionary… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The principle puts the burden of proof that a certain action is not harmful on those proposing and taking the action, yet general practice continues to allow all actions that have not (yet!) been proven to have potentially harmful effects to go ahead unscrutinized. In a nutshell, the Precautionary Principle can be summarized as follows: practice precaution in the face of uncertainty. This is not what we are doing. While high-level UN groups and many national governments have repeatedly considered the Precautionary Principle as a wise way to guide actions, day-to-day practice shows that it is very hard to implement, as there will always be some degree of uncertainty. The Precautionary Principle could also potentially stop sustainable innovation and block potentially highly beneficial new technologies on the basis that it cannot be proven with certainty that these technologies will not result in unexpected future side-effects that could be detrimental to human or environmental health. Q Why not challenge designers, technologists, policy-makers, and planning professionals to evaluate their proposed actions on their positive, life-sustaining, restorative and regenerative potential? Q Why not limit the scale of implementation of any innovation to local and regional levels until proof of its positive impact is unequivocally demonstrated? Aiming to design for systemic health may not save us from unexpected side-effects and uncertainty, but it offers a trial and error path towards a regenerative culture. We urgently need a Hippocratic Oath for design, technology and planning:… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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How do we create design, technology, planning and policy decisions that positively support human,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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we have a chance of making it through the eye of the needle and creating a regenerative human civilization. This shift will entail a transformation of the material resource basis of our civilization, away from fossil resources and towards renewably regenerated biological resources, along with a radical increase in resource productivity and recycling. Bill Reed has mapped out some of the essential shifts that will be needed to create a truly regenerative culture. Instead of doing less damage to the environment, it is necessary to learn how we can participate with the environment – using the health of ecological systems as a basis for design. […] The shift from a fragmented worldview to a whole systems mental model is the significant leap our culture must make – framing and understanding living system interrelationships in an integrated way. A place-based approach is one way to achieve this understanding. […] Our role, as designers and stakeholders is to shift our relationship to one that creates a whole system of mutually beneficial relationships. Bill Reed (2007: 674)

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Reed named ‘whole-systems thinking’ and ‘living-systems thinking’ as the foundations of the shift in mental model that we need to create a regenerative culture.

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“Sustainability is a progression towards a functional awareness that all things are connected; that the systems of commerce, building, society, geology, and nature are really one system of integrated relationships; that these systems are co-participants in the evolution of life” (2007). Once we make this shift in perspective we can understand life as “a whole process of continuous evolution towards richer, more diverse, and mutually beneficial relationships”. Creating regenerative systems is not simply a technical, economic, ecological or social shift: it has to go hand-in-hand with an underlying shift in the way we think about ourselves, our relationships with each other and with life as a whole.†

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Regenerative design creates regenerative cultures capable of continuous learning and transformation in response to, and anticipation of, inevitable change. Regenerative cultures safeguard and grow biocultural abundance for future generations of humanity and for life as a whole. Figure 1: Adapted from Reed (2006) with the author’s permission

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The ‘new story’ is not a complete negation of the currently dominant worldview. It includes this perspective but stops regarding it as the only perspective, opening up to the validity and necessity of multiple ways of knowing.

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this tendency to favour answers rather than to deepen into the questions is in itself part of the old story of separation. The art of transformative cultural innovation is to a large extent about making our peace with ‘not knowing’ and living into the questions more deeply, making sure we are asking the right questions, paying attention to our relationships and how we all bring forth a world not just through what we are doing, but through the quality of our being. A regenerative culture will emerge out of finding and living new ways of relating to self, community and to life as a whole. At the core of creating regenerative cultures is an invitation to live the questions together.

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For both the poor of the world living in largely degraded ecosystems and the so-called wealthy in the developed world, transformational change now seems to be required. Humanity cannot survive without functional ecosystems, and the actions of all people are needed to act together as a species on a planetary scale. John D. Liu (2011: 24)

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Clayton Christensen (1997) identified two fundamentally different kinds of innovation. The most common kind simply aims to keep ‘business as usual’ going on for longer by improving upon already established ways of doing things and existing systems structures. It helps a company, organization or culture to keep doing what it is known for and used to without fundamentally changing services, products or the system’s structure and identity. Christensen called this ‘sustaining innovation’, not because it is ‘sustainable’ but because it sustains ‘business as usual’ and helps established systems to function in the way they are used to. The second type of innovation described by Christensen is ‘disruptive innovation’. He identified a wide range of cases where companies were caught out by competitors that had invented a completely new kind of service or product that made the offers of ‘business as usual’ companies in their industry sector obsolete. This kind of innovation is a game changer. Disruptive innovation can lead a company to compete with its own ‘business as usual’ offer in a disruptive way. The challenge becomes how to introduce the disruptive innovation in a sequenced way that allows the company to keep the lights on while preparing to phase out obsolete ways of working and technology and, at the same time, phase in the innovation that reinvents, redesigns and redefines the ‘new business as usual’.

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magnetic tapes to compact discs as devices to store music. This fundamentally disrupted the business of those who were still trying to sell tapes, but the companies distributing the music were able to stay more or less the same. Another kind of disruptive innovation not only makes older technologies obsolete but initiates a process of transformation that leads to companies innovating a whole new way of doing business and providing service and value. The change from compact disc to digital media files downloadable from the Internet led to fundamental changes in the music industry. Established companies were forced to transform themselves in order to stay alive and companies like Apple and Spotify were able to capitalize on these fundamental changes by taking the first mover advantage. In other words, one form of disruptive innovation leads to a change in… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Building on Christensen’s work, the International Futures Forum distinguishes a third type of innovation that describes the long-term innovation process of fundamental changes in culture and identity. In the context of sustainability and the transition towards a restorative culture, it is this kind of ‘transformative innovation’ that is particularly of interest to us. Q How do we keep the lights on, avoid revolution and turmoil, keep children in school and people in work, yet still manage to fundamentally transform the human presence on planet… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Only by experimenting with and accepting change can we bring about transformation. Transformative change requires us individually and collectively to live differently, rather than to continue repeating unhealthy patterns of behaviour and ways of thinking that no longer serve us. We have seen how we are living in between two narratives – separation and interbeing – and we will have to carefully evaluate what aspects of the old story can continue to serve us… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Innovation for cultural transformation towards a regenerative culture is about finding the right balance between envisioning and designing our common future and letting it simply emerge while we pay close attention to how we relate to ourselves, our communities and the world. One of the questions we should keep asking is whether these relationships are nurturing, loving and healthy, or whether they are stifling, aggressive and pathological. Transformative innovation is as much about deep listening into what wants to emerge as it is about conscious and intentional interventions on the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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We are living in extraordinary times and transformation is already happening and accelerating all around us. In almost every area of our lives old structures are breaking down as we witness the unfolding impacts of unprecedented technological innovation. All of this is happening within the context of an expanding human population, profound societal and economic transformation on all… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Whether our structurally dysfunctional economic system can ever deliver sustainability is being questioned more and more. Not just anti-globalization activists but people in institutions such as the World Bank (Soubbotina, 2000), government think tanks (Jackson, 2009a), academia (e.g. Victor, 2010, Jackson 2009b) and the World Economic Forum (2012) are questioning the economic growth paradigm. At the same time, the evidence that inequality has devastating social and health impacts is mounting (Wilkinson, 1996, 2005, Wilkinson & Pickett 2011, Stiglitz, 2013); yet the gap keeps widening globally. Demographic changes are challenging some countries, such as Germany and Japan, with the effects of over-ageing populations, while other countries in South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East have a growing population of disenfranchised youth with poor economic prospects and inadequate education, facing a century of potential turmoil. Rising fundamentalism and resource conflicts over oil, water and land have led to a series of wars which have caused humanitarian crises in the Middle East, Africa and Europe as rising numbers of refugees herald another era of mass migration. Environmentally, politically and economically induced migration are on the rise, driving potential conflicts between immigrant and resident populations, and adding to a resurgence of xenophobia just at the time when humanity has to pull together in order to successfully chart the turbulent waters ahead.

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Food, water and energy supply issues are already leading to localized scarcities, famine and conflict in many parts of the world. Nevertheless, some predatory multinational corporations are still actively exacerbating these problems in the interests of a few, rather than helping to find solutions that protect the global commons and ensure basic access to essential needs for all of humanity. The root cause of this misguided behaviour is the narrative of separation that justifies aggressive competitive behaviour and generates artificial scarcity. This ‘old story’ still fundamentally informs our culture. Education and health systems the world over are stretched to their limits as they are forced to reinvent and restructure themselves while at the same time maintaining and improving their services in a difficult economic climate.

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The transformations afoot today will reshape the human presence on Earth in less than a century, and if we want to have a ‘snowball’s chance in hell’ we need to learn how to see all the diverse change processes and transformations as part of a systemic transition which we are unable to control but which we can navigate more wisely if we learn to ask the appropriate questions. If we nurture the ability to see the interconnections between the different crises we are facing, if we learn to pay attention to the underlying systemic structures and narrative that drive our current deeply unsustainable behaviour, we may be able to equip communities everywhere with the ability to respond appropriately to the challenges ahead at their local and regional scale, while offering them a global context for collaboration in the transition towards regenerative human cultures.

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We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment were relatively minor variations on an already existing theme in comparison to the transformation that is now under way. The birth of regenerative cultures and a regenerative human civilization is the most profound transformative innovation that our species has undergone since we started to turn from nomadic hunters and gatherers into settled agriculturalists some eight to five thousand years ago. The ancient Greeks had two words for the concept of time: chronos – sequential, quantitative, chronological time – and kairos referring to extraordinary periods when culture transforms qualitatively and profoundly as individuals and collectives seize the transformative future potential of the present moment. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union, Nelson Mandela’s transformation from prisoner to president, and the end of the British Raj through non-violent direct action led by Gandhi are all examples of kairos moments that affected the course of history. We are now in the midst of a kairos moment at the level of our entire species on a planetary scale. Transformation is inevitable and already under way.

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International Futures Forum (IFF) as one of a small group of ‘next generation’ members. The IFF is an international collaborative network of people committed to pooling their experience and insights to explore “the complex and confounding challenges that our world faces”, to “support a transformative response to those challenges” and to “enhance our capacity for effective action”. One common perspective shared between the members of the IFF is that we need a more systemic approach to the complexity of the interconnected problems and opportunities that we face. Another shared belief is that, in order to appropriately respond to the changes around us, organizations, communities, businesses and governments must not only pay attention to possible short-term responses to symptoms of these crises, but must also address the underlying structural and systemic causes that drive these symptoms. In addition, working with complex systems requires us to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The ‘Three Horizons’ framework is a foresight tool that can help us to structure our thinking about the future in ways that spark innovation. It describes three patterns or ways of doing things and how their relative prevalence and interactions evolve over time. The change from the established pattern of the first horizon to the emergence of fundamentally new patters in the third occurs via the transition activity of the second horizon. The model not only makes us think in interactive patterns, but more importantly “it draws attention to the three horizons always existing in the present moment, and that we have evidence about the future in how people (including ourselves) are behaving now” (Sharpe, 2013: 2). Figure2: Adapted from www.bit.ly/DRC229 with permission from IFF The framework helps us to become more aware of how our individual and collective intentions and behaviours actively shape the future today.

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In other words, Horizon 1 is ‘business as usual’, or ‘the world in crisis’ (H1). It is characterized by ‘sustaining innovation’ that keeps ‘business as usual’ going. Horizon 3 (green) is how we envision a ‘viable world’ (H3). We may not be able to define this future in every detail – as the future is always uncertain – yet we can intuit what fundamental transformations lie ahead, and we can pay attention to social, ecological, economic, cultural and technological experiments around us that may be pockets of this future in the present. Horizon 2 (blue) represents ‘world in transition’ (H2) – the entrepreneurial and culturally creative space of already technologically, economically and culturally feasible innovations that can disrupt and transform H1 to varying degrees and can have either regenerative, neutral or degenerative socio-ecological effects. At the point where these H2 innovations become more effective than the existing practices, they begin to replace aspects of ‘business as usual’. Yet some forms of ‘disruptive innovation’ ultimately get absorbed by H1 without leading to fundamental and transformative change, while other forms of ‘disruptive innovation’ can be thought of as a possible bridge from H1 to H3. Within the context of the transition towards regenerative cultures we introduce a value bias into our use of the Three Horizons methodology: solutions that create conditions conducive to life and establish regenerative patterns are valued more highly than those that don’t. Throughout this book I refer to H3 as perspectives and patterns that intend to bring about a ‘viable world’ of regenerative cultures able to creatively transform in continuous exploration of the most appropriate responses to a rapidly changing socio-ecological context.

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From the perspective of the present moment, H3 describes regenerative cultures capable of constant learning and transformation in adaptation to and anticipation of change. Yet, as we approach H3, it recedes, or better, it transforms in response to wider systemic change. By the time we reach the cultural maturity that we today describe in terms of the third horizon, this H3 will have turned into the new H1 and we will face new and unpredictable challenges that will require us to take a new H3 perspective. The pilgrimage towards a sustainable and regenerative future has an endless string of false summits. As we reach the top of the green summit (H3) of our horizons map, we stand on the red ground of our new H1. Looking ahead with future consciousness we see the new second and third horizons stretched out in front of us. Since the process of cultural evolution and transformation is continuous, there is no arriving at and maintaining an H3 scenario forever. Moving towards the third horizon always entails acknowledging our ‘not knowing’ and therefore staying with an apprentice mindset – ready to learn from experience; humble enough to regard no solution as final; and open to acknowledging the valuable perspectives of all three horizons.

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While aspects of today’s H1 are obsolete and among the root-causes of unsustainable practices, other aspects of H1 are also helping to provide vital services without which we would face almost immediate collapse. The transformation has to occur while these vital services continue to be provided. It is not possible for humanity to switch off the lights, leave the room, and start afresh in a different room that holds more promise. We only have one home planet. We have to find ways to transition from a status quo that is now deeply unsustainable to a new one. Sustainability and regenerative cultures are not endpoints to be reached but continuous processes of collective learning. As we move towards the third horizon we are likely to be surprised by the emergence of new challenges. To respond wisely to these challenges the perspectives offered by all three horizons should inform our actions. Three Horizon Thinking transforms the potential of the present moment by revealing each horizon as a different quality of the future in the present, reflecting how we act differently to maintain the familiar or pioneer the new. Bill Sharpe (2013: 10) In order to avoid the common mistake of ‘throwing out the baby with the bathwater’, it is important to see all that is valuable about H1 and understand the importance of the contributions it makes to co-creating regenerative cultures. Bill Sharpe compares the H1 perspective to the role of the manager responsible for keeping the lights on and the business operational without massive disruption to its basic functioning. The H2 perspective is that of the entrepreneur who sees the potential advantage of doing things differently, challenging the status quo in operational ways but often without questioning the cultural narrative that maintains the H1 culture.

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In the transition context, H3 thinking is informed by the new cultural narrative of interbeing and the scientific evidence for our interdependence with the rest of life. As such, it is defining a new way of being and relating based on a fundamental shift in worldview acknowledging the valuable contributions of H1 and H2 perspectives and putting them into the context of wider eco-social transformation. In charting a path to regenerative cultures that aims to avoid massive disruption and suffering, we need to value the bridge that certain types of H2 innovation offer. Most H1 systems might be in need of profound transformation, but still have to be valued as a basis from which innovation and transformation become possible while we avoid the often regressive rather than evolutionary effects of revolution and systemic collapse. The H3 perspective itself is populated by many different visions of the future. In the context of this book I concentrate on those that value viability and regeneration, yet it is important to stay open for the lessons we can learn from all three horizons and the diversity of perspectives on the future they… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Diverse H3 visions and experiments are needed to take our collective conversation about the future to a level that is inclusive and participatory. We need to question our own cultural conditioning and the myopia caused by H1 education and cultural discourse. H1 managers can often be locked into a specific way of doing things and a specific mindset (the narrative of separation) – a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. H3 visionaries remind us to see future potential and possibilities beyond the rigid H1 mindset that resists change, in particular those kinds of change that invite cultural transformation. The bridge between H1 and H3 is constructed by paying discerning attention to the space of innovation and the period of transition that is opened up by the second horizon. The H2 perspective sees opportunities in the shortcomings of H1 and aims to ground the visionary possibilities of the third horizon with some practical next steps. Many of them are likely to be ‘stepping stones’ or transitional innovations. Since H2 innovation takes place in an economic climate and within power structures dominated by H1, many of the proposed H2 innovations are ultimately captured to serve H1 goals. As the second horizon is about experimentation and entrepreneurship, many of its initiatives fail, offering opportunities for learning. Only a small percentage of innovations succeed in building an effective bridge between H1 and H3, enabling implementation of H3’s high visions in tangible, convincing and ‘positively infectious’ ways. Three… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Transformation happens as the emergent result of everything going on in the world – there is always an emerging third horizon at every scale of life from the individual to the planet and beyond. Some things will be the result of conscious intent, others will surprise us for good or ill. The way we live now was once the third horizon, partly imagined and intended, largely unknown. Future consciousness will not bring the future under control, but allows us to develop our capacity for transformational response to its possibilities. Bill Sharpe (2013: 15) Three Horizons thinking offers a methodology and practice of seeing things from multiple perspectives and valuing the contribution that each perspective makes to the way we bring forth the world together. Simply holding a… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Evaluating disruptive innovation in the age of transition It is useful to classify H2 innovations into two categories. The first category is called H2 minus. H2- innovations change the technology employed and therefore disrupt ‘business as usual’ temporarily but without leading to a profound systemic transformation. The second category is H2 plus. H2+ innovations offer a bridge to H3, leading to a structural change and transformation of the system in question. For example, providing power to the national grid via large-scale wind-farms is on the one hand part of the H2+ strategy of moving towards a 100% renewable energy based system, and on the other hand an H2- innovation locked into an H1 mindset as it is still structurally supporting a centralized energy system. An example of a genuine H2+ innovation in this area would be a blend of diverse and decentralized renewable energy technologies that combine stand-alone and grid-connected options in order to increase the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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H2+ type disruptive innovation tends to disrupt H1 (‘business as usual’) by offering improved solutions that buy us time to evolve the deeper H3 type transformative innovation. Widespread, culturally creative behavioural changes and worldview shifts only come about if we involve everybody – those who are invested in maintaining the status quo, those who see the entrepreneurial potential of doing things in a different way, and those who can envision fundamental worldview and value changes that would create a more regenerative culture. All three perspectives need to inform an ongoing conversation about our collective future.

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Three Horizons thinking and practice is an invitation to move from rigidly held and defended ‘mindsets’ to being able to develop future consciousness by valuing the perspectives of all three horizons. As a sustainability educator and consultant with a particular interest in bridging between organizations in order to find common ground for co-creating a regenerative economy and culture, I have witnessed many entrenched arguments in rooms full of people who all wanted to do the right thing. Three Horizons thinking is a way to discover common ground and move forward together. Paying attention to, and trying to support, both H2+ and H3 types of innovation is very important during the turbulent transition period we are in, but we also need to value the perspectives of H1 and H2- innovators trying to meet basic operational needs during the transition. If the lights go out, we risk taking a revolutionary – not an evolutionary – path, which could set us back into anachronistic, them-against-us thinking.

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In a rigid mindset even H2+ innovators and H3 visionaries will tend to argue with each other rather than seeing that they are powerful allies. Far too often I have witnessed well-meaning visionary people wasting time over arguments that were trying to critique H2+ innovations as insufficiently transformative. Arguments between rigid mindsets tend to compare and contrast the slower, more complex transformative innovation (which often includes social innovation, value and behaviour change, and the redesign of economy, society and governance) with the more rapidly deployable technological changes in our energy, transport or production systems. In my opinion, we need technological innovators who are developing, say, new kite-based wind energy technologies that use less energy and materials than large turbine-towers, just as much as we need innovators who are designing complementary exchange and currency systems to enable a cooperative economy.

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It is important to be aware that all three horizons are present at any point on the time axis. They do not fully replace one another, but simply change in their relative ‘prevalence’ (as scored on the y axis).

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The red line at the right end of the diagram represents just these useful aspects and structures of Horizon 1 that are worth maintaining and transforming. Similarly, the green line of Horizon 3 on the left side of the diagram reminds us that “the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed” as the science fiction writer William Gibson has put it. One way to accelerate the transition towards a regenerative culture is to identify these pockets of the future in the present and work to amplify and spread the transformative innovations generated by such visionary experiments.

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The path of cultural transformation is made by walking it with an open mind and a willingness to learn from each other, from our mistakes, and from the community of life. Transformative innovation is about deep questioning True innovation occurs when things are put together for the first time that had been separate. Arthur Koestler and John Smythies (1969) The third horizon gives us a long-term guiding vision and invites us to expand the time horizons we are thinking in. In the search for a sustainable and desirable future we would do well to remember the wisdom of many traditional cultures that thought in much longer timeframes than our fast-paced modern culture. Many traditional cultures took important decisions with future generations in mind. Most of our current decision-making on the other hand seems to aim for short-term maximization of limited systems parameters, like for example the increase of GDP from one year to the next, or at the most, from one election cycle to another. The Native American Iroquois Nation famously had the practice of taking any important decision with special consideration for its possible effects on the seventh, yet unborn, generation in mind. This is the kind of cultural and civilizational guidance system that can create regenerative cultures.

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Structural, cultural, technological, political, educational and economic transformations will occur not just once or twice but in a continuous sequence, at different scales, and in different regions at different times and in different ways. Both H2+ and H3 transformative innovation has the potential to drive the cultural evolution from our current industrial growth society of resource exploitation and social competition to a life-sustaining society of humanity as nature caring for systemic health and resilience out of enlightened self-interest and rooted in local, regional and global collaboration aimed at optimizing the system for all.

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In the transformative journey towards regenerative human cultures, how we get there – what relationships we form within the human family and with the community of life, our path of continuous learning and transformation along the way – matters more than arriving. In fact, there is no arrival at the end of this journey, only continuous adaptation and transformation. We are participants in life’s continuous exploration of novelty.

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This does not mean we do not have to propose answers and implement solutions; we simply have to be aware that they will only serve temporarily.   Q What are the basic assumptions and beliefs that inform how we define the problem and offer solutions? Q What are the unmet real needs that are obscured by the perceived needs we are focusing on? Q How can we more effectively work with the people affected and involve them in finding solutions that work for them? Q How can we design flexibility and the capacity to transform and adapt into our proposed solutions? Q What can we learn from nature’s patterns and processes in order to create solutions that strengthen rather than weaken local ecosystems and the planetary life support system? Q Why are we focused on this particular issue and how does it relate to its wider context (are we asking the right question)? Q Are there related problems that we could include in finding a more systemic way of dealing with multiple interconnected issues at once? Q How does what we are proposing to do affect ourselves, our community and the world? Q What implication might our ‘solution’ have for future generations? Q How do we stay flexible and keep learning from systemic feedback and unexpected side-effects?

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As Thomas Watson Sr., president of IBM for 42 years, said so aptly: “If you want to succeed, double your rate of failure”. The response time and cycles of transformative innovation can be faster at the local scale. If you want to effectively adapt to and influence economic, social, cultural and environmental change, start with small-scale experiments that give you quick feedback as to what works and what doesn’t. Deeper questioning into the underlying real or perceived needs that make us identify and frame the ‘problem’ in the first place might lead us to discover that we are treating symptoms rather than causes.

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All over the world our ancestors evolved unique cultural expressions, informed by a sense of place and a deep reciprocity with the unique ecological, geological and climatic conditions of that particular place. The local and regional scale is not only the scale at which we can act most effectively to preserve biological diversity, it is also the scale at which we can preserve cultural diversity and indigenous, local wisdom as expressions of living in long-term connection with the uniqueness of any given locality. Much can be learned from such place-based knowledge. At the same time we have to be aware that most local cultures have already undergone a profound transformation and erosion of local tradition and language. We need to value traditional place-based knowledge and culture without falling into the traps of a resurgence of radical regionalism and narrow-minded parochialism. We need to value local and regional solutions supported by global collaboration and knowledge exchange. A regenerative human culture will be locally adapted and globally connected. The future will be glo-cal, enabled by collaborative, peer-to-peer networks and social innovation.

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A social enterprise or social business’s primary objective is to have a positive social and/or environmental impact and to contribute to the wellbeing of society and local communities. Rather than aiming to generate profits for owners and shareholders beyond reasonable salaries for those running the business, surpluses in social enterprises are primarily reinvested in improving the business’s ability to achieve its social impact effectively. Let me illustrate this distinction by two brief examples: Avaaz and Zopa.

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REFERENCES ABC Carbon (2012) ‘Profile: 100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders’, www.bit.ly/DRC01 Abram, David (1996) The Spell of the

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

Paul Hawken and Tom Steyer

Last annotated on Thursday August 17, 2017

336 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

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Outsize subsidies make fossil fuels look less expensive, obscuring wind power’s cost competitiveness, and they give fossil fuels an incumbent advantage, making investment more attractive.

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Ongoing cost reduction will soon make wind energy the least expensive source of installed electricity capacity, perhaps within a decade. Current costs are 2.9 cents per kilowatt-hour for wind, 3.8 cents per kilowatt-hour for natural gas combined-cycle plants, and 5.7 cents per kllowatt-hour for utility-scale solar. A Goldman Sachs research paper published in June 2016 stated simply, “wind provides the lowest cost source of new capacity.” The cost of both wind and solar includes production tax credits; however, Goldman Sachs believes that the continuing decline in wind turbine costs will make up for the phasing out of tax credits in 2023. Wind projects built in 2016 are coming in at 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour. A Morgan Stanley analysis shows that new wind energy production in the Midwest is one-third of the cost of natural gas combined-cycle plants. And finally, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has calculated that “the lifetime cost of wind and solar is less than the cost of building new fossil fuel plants.”

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Bloomberg predicts that wind energy will be the lowest-cost energy globally by 2030. (This accounting does not include the cost of fossil fuels with respect to air quality, health, pollution, damage to the environment, and global warming.) Costs are going down because turbines are being built at higher elevations—meaning longer blades in locations that have more wind, a combination that has more than doubled the capacity of a given turbine to generate electricity. Onshore turbines can be made larger because assembly is far easier than… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Could the United States power itself with wind? The National Renewable Energy Laboratory calculates that nearly 775,000 square miles of land area is suited to 40 to 50 percent capacity factors, more than twice the average capacity factor a decade ago. (A wind turbine is rated to be able to produce a stated amount of power at a constant given wind speed, however the capacity factor takes into consideration the variability of wind speed in… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Coal is a freeloader when it comes to the costs borne by society for environmental impacts. Putting aside the difference in emissions costs—none for wind, high for fossil fuels—the subsidy arguments do not include the difference in water usage between wind and fossil fuels. Wind power uses 98 to 99 percent less water than fossil fuel–generated electricity. Coal, gas, and nuclear power require massive amounts of water for cooling, withdrawing more water than agriculture—22 trillion to 62 trillion gallons per year. Water for many fossil fuel and nuclear plants is “free,” bestowed by the federal government or the states, but it is hardly free and instead represents… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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not keep up with demand. Wind energy, like other sources of energy, is part of a system. Investment in energy storage, transmission infrastructure, and distributed generation is essential to its growth. Technologies and infrastructure to store excess power are developing quickly now. Power lines to connect remote wind farms to areas of high demand are being built. For the world, the decision is simple: Invest in the future or in the past. •

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A microgrid is a localized grouping of distributed energy sources, like solar, wind, in-stream hydro, and biomass, together with energy storage or backup generation and load management tools. This system can operate as a stand-alone entity or its users can plug into the larger grid as needed. Microgrids are nimble, efficient microcosms of the big grid, designed for smaller, diverse energy sources. By bringing together renewables and storage, microgrids provide reliable power that can augment the centralized model or operate independently in an emergency situation.

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The use of local supply to serve local demand reduces energy lost in transmission and distribution, increasing efficiency of delivery compared to a centralized grid. When coal is burned to boil water to turn a turbine to generate electricity, two-thirds of the energy is dispersed as waste heat and in-line losses. Microgrid installations in grid-connected regions offer several key advantages. Civilization is dependent on electricity; losing access due to outages or blackouts is a critical risk. In developed countries, economic losses from such events can be many billions of dollars per year. Associated social costs include increased crime, transportation failures, and food wastage, in addition to the environmental cost of diesel-fueled backup power. Studies indicate that as overall demand for electricity increases, owing in part to use of air conditioning and electric vehicles, existing power systems become more frail and blackouts more frequent. By virtue of being localized systems, microgrids are more resilient and can be more responsive to local demand. In the event of disruption, a microgrid can focus on critical loads that require uninterrupted service, such as hospitals, and shed noncritical loads until adequate supply is restored.

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Globally, 1.1 billion people do not have access to a grid or electricity. More than 95 percent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, a majority in rural areas where highly polluting kerosene lamps are still the main source of lighting and meals are cooked on rudimentary stoves. While the connection between electrification and human development has been clear, progress has remained slow due to the high cost of extending the grid to remote regions. In… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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This is the Solar Settlement in Freiburg, Germany. A 59-home community, it is the first in the world to have a positive energy balance, with each home producing $5,600 per year in solar energy profits. The way to positive energy is designing homes that are… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In many places, the business models of large utilities are not compatible with distributed energy and storage. They have sunk costs in a system of generation and delivery that is becoming outmoded. Where utilities are resistant, monopoly, not technology, is the biggest challenge for microgrids. Lessons could cross-pollinate: large grids need to be less rigid and adapt… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Hot water and steam within hydrothermal reservoirs can be piped to the surface and drive turbines to produce electricity—a

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Conventionally, locating hydrothermal pools is the first step; however, pinpointing subsurface resources has been a challenge and limitation for geothermal power. It is difficult to know where reservoirs are and expensive to drill wells to find out. But new exploration techniques are opening up larger territories.

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Geothermal is reliable, efficient, and the heat source itself is free. In the process of pursuing its potential, geothermal’s negatives need to be managed. Whether naturally occurring or pumped in, water and steam can be laced with dissolved gases, including carbon dioxide, and toxic substances such as mercury, arsenic, and boric acid. Though its emissions per megawatt hour are just 5 to 10 percent of a coal plant’s, geothermal is not without greenhouse impact. In addition, depleting hydrothermal pools can cause soil subsidence, while hydrofracturing can produce microearthquakes. Additional concerns include land-use change that can cause noise pollution, foul smells, and impacts on viewsheds. In twenty-four countries

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around the world, tackling these drawbacks is proving worthwhile because geothermal power can provide reliable, abundant, and affordable electricity, with low operational costs over its lifetime. In El Salvador and the Philippines, geothermal accounts for a quarter of national electric capacity. In volcanic Iceland, it is one-third. In Kenya, thanks to the activity beneath Africa’s Great Rift Valley, fully half of the country’s electricity generation is geothermal—and growing. Though less than .5 percent of national electricity production, U.S. geothermal plants lead the world with 3.7 gigawatts of installed capacity.

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According to the Geothermal Energy Association, 39 countries could supply 100 percent of their electricity needs from geothermal energy, yet only 6 to 7 percent of the world’s potential geothermal power has been tapped.

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The up-front costs of drilling are especially steep, particularly in less certain, more complex environments. That is why public investment, national targets for its production, and agreements that guarantee power will be purchased from companies that develop it have a crucial role to play in expansion. These measures all help to rein in the level of risk for investing. While hot new technologies such as enhanced geothermal systems advance, continued development of traditional geothermal generation remains indispensable, especially in Indonesia, Central America, and East Africa—places where the planet is most active and “earth heat” is abundant. •

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IMPACT: Our calculations assume geothermal grows from .66 percent of global electricity generation to 4.9 percent by 2050. That growth could reduce emissions by 16.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide and save $1 trillion in energy costs over thirty years and $2.1 trillion over the lifetime of the infrastructure. By providing baseload electricity, geothermal also supports expansion of variable renewables.

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Any scenario for reversing global warming includes a massive ramp-up of solar power by mid-century. It simply makes sense; the sun shines every day, providing a virtually unlimited, clean, and free fuel at a price that never changes.

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solar farms operate at a utility scale, more like conventional power plants in the amount of electricity they produce, but dramatically different in their emissions. When their entire life cycle is taken into account, solar farms curtail 94 percent of the carbon emissions that coal plants emit and completely eliminate emissions of sulfur and nitrous oxides, mercury, and particulates. Beyond the ecosystem damage those pollutants do, they are major contributors to outdoor air pollution, responsible for 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012.

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The first solar PV farms went up in the early 1980s. Now, these utility-scale installations account for 65 percent of additions to solar PV capacity around the world. They can be found in deserts, on military bases, atop closed landfills, and even floating on reservoirs, where they perform the additional benefit of reducing evaporation. If Ukrainian officials have their way, Chernobyl, the site of a mass nuclear meltdown in 1986, will house a 1-gigawatt solar farm, which would be one of the world’s largest. Whatever the site, farm is an appropriate term for these expansive solar arrays because photovoltaics are literally a means of energy harvesting. The silicon panels that make up a solar farm harvest the photons streaming to earth from the sun. Inside a panel’s hermetically sealed environment, photons energize electrons and create electrical current—from light to voltage, precisely as the name suggests. Beyond particles, no moving parts are required.

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Silicon PV technology was discovered by accident in the 1950s, alongside the invention of the silicon transistor that is present in almost every electronic device used today. That work happened under the auspices of the United States’ Bell Labs, accelerated by a search for sources of distributed power that could work in hot, humid, remote locations, where batteries might fail and the grid would not reach. Silicon, the Bell scientists found, was a major improvement over the selenium that had been standard for experimental solar panels since the late 1800s. It achieved more than a tenfold rise in efficiency of converting light to electricity. In the 1954 debut of the Bell “solar battery,” a tiny panel of silicon cells powered a twenty-one-inch Ferris wheel and then a radio transmitter. Small as they were, the demos duly impressed the press. The New York Times proclaimed it might mark “the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams—the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.”

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Ironically, the first major purchaser of solar cells for use on earth was the oil industry, which needed a distributed energy source for… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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today. The decline in price has always outpaced predictions, and drops will continue. Informed predictions about the cost and growth of solar PV indicate that it will soon become the least expensive energy in the world. It is already the fastest growing. Solar power is a solution, but it might be fair to say it is a revolution as well. Constructing a solar farm is also getting cheaper, and it is faster than creating a new coal, natural gas, or nuclear plant. In many parts of the world, solar PV is now cost competitive with or less costly than conventional power generation. Developers are bidding select projects at pennies per kilowatt-hour, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Thanks to plunging hard and soft costs, alongside zero fuel use and modest maintenance requirements over time, the growth of large-scale solar has outpaced the most bullish expectations. Compared to rooftop solar, solar farms enjoy lower installation costs per watt, and their efficacy in translating sunlight into electricity (known as efficiency rating) is higher. When their panels rotate to make the most of the sun’s rays, generation can improve by 40 percent or more. At the same time, no matter where solar panels are placed, they are subject to the diurnal and variable nature of solar radiation and its misalignment with electricity use, peaking midday while demand peaks a few hours later. That is why as… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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they’re less than 2 percent of the global electricity mix at present. Could solar meet 20 percent of global energy needs by 2027, as some… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In 2015, solar PV met almost 8 percent of electricity demand in Italy and more than 6 percent in Germany and Greece, leaders in the solar revolution. PV has had a long history of surpassing… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The year was 1884, when the first solar array appeared on a rooftop in New York City. Experimentalist Charles Fritts installed it after discovering that a thin layer of selenium on a metal plate could produce a current of electricity when exposed to light.

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Though the scientific establishment of Fritts’s day believed power generation depended on heat, Fritts was convinced that “photoelectric” modules would wind up competing with coal-fired power plants.

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The first such plant had been brought online by Thomas Edison just two years earlier, also in New York City.

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the mysterious waves and particles of the sun’s light continuously strike the surface of the planet with an energy more than ten thousand times the world’s total use. Small-scale photovoltaic systems, typically sited on rooftops, are playing a significant role in harnessing that light, the most abundant resource on earth. When photons strike the thin wafers of silicon crystal within a vacuum-sealed solar panel, they knock electrons loose and produce an electrical circuit. These subatomic particles are the only moving parts in a solar panel, which requires no fuel. While solar photovoltaics (PV) provide less than 2 percent of the world’s electricity at present, PV has seen exponential growth over the past decade. In 2015 distributed systems of less than 100 kilowatts accounted for roughly 30 percent of solar PV capacity installed worldwide. In Germany, one of the world’s solar leaders, the majority of photovoltaic capacity is on rooftops, which don 1.5 million systems. In Bangladesh, population 157 million, more than 3.6 million home solar systems have been installed. Fully 16 percent of Australian homes have them. Transforming a square meter of rooftop into a miniature power station is proving irresistible.

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The soft costs of financing, acquisition, permitting, and installation can be half the cost of a rooftop system and have not seen the same dip as panels themselves. That is part of the reason rooftop solar is more expensive than its utility-scale kin. Nonetheless, small-scale PV already generates electricity more cheaply than it can be brought from the grid in some parts of the United States, in many small island states, and in countries including Australia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

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When placed on a grid-connected roof, they produce energy at the site of consumption, avoiding the inevitable losses of grid transmission. They can help utilities meet broader demand by feeding unused electricity into the grid, especially in summer, when solar is humming and electricity needs run high.

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This “net metering” arrangement, selling excess electricity back to the grid, can make solar panels financially feasible for homeowners, offsetting the electricity they buy at night or when the sun is not shining. Numerous studies show that the financial benefit of rooftop PV runs both ways. By having it as part of an energy-generation portfolio, utilities can avoid the capital costs of additional coal or gas plants, for which their customers would otherwise have to pay, and broader society is spared the environmental and public health impacts. Added PV supply at times of highest electricity demand can also curb the use of expensive and polluting peak generators.

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For all involved, the need for a grid “commons” continues,

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The first solar array installed by Charles Fritts in 1884 in New York City. Fritts built the first solar panels in 1881, reporting that the current was “continuous, constant and of considerable force not only by exposure to sunlight but also to dim, diffused daylight, and even to lamplight.”

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In Bangladesh alone, those 3.6 million home solar systems have generated 115,000 direct jobs and 50,000 more downstream. Since the late nineteenth century, human beings in many places have relied on centralized plants that burn fossil fuels and send electricity out to a system of cables, towers, and poles. As households adopt rooftop solar (increasingly accompanied and enabled by distributed energy storage), they transform generation and its ownership, shifting away from utility monopolies and making power production their own. As electric vehicles also spread, “gassing up” can be done at home, supplanting oil companies. With producer and user as one, energy gets democratized. Charles Fritts had this vision in the 1880s, as he looked out over the roofscape of New York City. Today, that vision is increasingly coming to fruition.

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Our analysis assumes rooftop solar PV can grow from .4 percent of electricity generation globally to 7 percent by 2050. That growth can avoid 24.6 gigatons of emissions. We assume an implementation cost of $1,883 per kilowatt, dropping to $627 per kilowatt by 2050. Over three decades, the technology could save $3.4 trillion in home energy costs.

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Proponents believe wave power could provide up to 25 percent of U.S. electricity and 30 percent or more in Australia. In Scotland, that number may be upwards of 70 percent. Wave and tidal energy is currently the most expensive of all renewables, and with the price of wind and solar dropping rapidly, that gap will likely widen. However, as this technology evolves and policy comes into place to support implementation, marine renewables may follow a similar path, attracting private capital investment and the interest of large companies such as General Electric and Siemens. On a trajectory like that, wave and tidal energy could also become cost competitive with fossil fuels.

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CSP plants rely on immense amounts of direct sunshine—direct normal irradiance (DNI). DNI is highest in hot, dry regions where skies are clear, typically between latitudes of 15 and 40 degrees. Optimal locales range from the Middle East to Mexico, Chile to Western China, India to Australia. According to a 2014 study in the journal Nature Climate Change, the Mediterranean basin and the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa have the greatest potential for large, interconnected networks of CSP, with the potential to supply power at a cost comparable to that of fossil fuels. In many regions best suited to making solar thermal power, technical generation capacity (the electricity they could be capable of producing) far surpasses demand. With advances in transmission lines, they could supply local populations and export power to places where CSP is more constrained.

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molten salt can be kept hot for five to ten hours, depending on the DNI of a particular site, then used to generate electricity when the sun’s rays soften. That capacity is crucial for the hours when people remain awake, consuming electricity, but the sun has gone down. Even without molten salt, CSP plants can store heat for shorter periods of time, giving them the ability to buffer variations in irradiance, as can happen on cloudy days—something PV panels cannot do.

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renewables, CSP is easier to integrate into the conventional grid and can be a powerful complement to solar PV. Some plants pair the two technologies, strengthening the value of both.

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Compared to wind and PV generation, the major downside of CSP, to date, is that it is less efficient, in terms of both energy and economics. Solar thermal plants convert a smaller percentage of the sun’s energy to electricity than PV panels do, and they are highly capital intensive, particularly because of the mirrors used. Experts anticipate that the reliability of CSP will hasten its growth, however, and as the technology scales, costs could fall quickly. Efficiency of energy conversion is also projected to improve. (Technologies currently under development are already proving it.)

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The use of heat often implies the use of water for cooling, which can be a scarce resource in the hot, dry places ideal for CSP. Dry cooling is possible, but it is less efficient and more expensive. Lastly, by concentrating channels of intense heat, CSP plants have killed bats and birds, which literally combust in midair. One company, Solar Reserve, has developed an effective strategy to stop bird deaths; spreading that practice for mirror operation will be critical as more plants come online.

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In the near-term, substituting biomass for fossil fuels can prevent carbon stocks in the atmosphere from rising. Photosynthesis is an energy conversion and storage process; solar energy is captured and stored as carbohydrates in biomass. Under the right conditions and over millions of years, biomass left intact would become coal, oil, or natural gas—the carbon-dense fossil fuels that,

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There is an if: Biomass energy is a viable solution if it uses appropriate feedstock, such as waste products or sustainably grown, appropriate energy crops. Optimally, it also uses a low-emission conversion technology such as gasification or digestion. Using annual grain crops such as corn and sorghum for energy production depletes groundwater, causes erosion, and requires high inputs of energy in the form of fertilizer and equipment operation. The sustainable alternative is perennial crops or so-called short-rotation woody crops. Perennial herbaceous grasses such as switchgrass and Miscanthus can be harvested for five to ten years before replanting becomes necessary, and they require fewer inputs of water, and labor. Woody crops such as shrub willow, eucalyptus, and poplar are able to grow on “marginal” land not suited to food production. Because they grow back after being cut close to the ground, they can be harvested repeatedly for ten to twenty years. These woody crops circumvent the deforestation that comes with using forests as fuel and sequester carbon more rapidly than most other trees can, but not if they replace already forested lands. Care needs to be taken with both Miscanthus and eucalyptus, however, as they are invasive.                  This is a single-pass, cut-and-chip harvester reaping fast-growing willow for a carbon-neutral biomass plant, part of Germany’s Energiewende or “energy turnaround.” Germany currently produces over 30 percent of its energy from wood, but when the total cost of harvesting and processing wood is calculated, it is not carbon neutral. The industry exists because of significant government subsidies.

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Another important feedstock is waste from wood and agricultural processing. Scraps from saw mills and paper mills are valuable biomass. So are discarded stalks, husks, leaves, and cobs from crops grown for food or animal feed. While it is important to leave crop residues on fields to promote soil health, a portion of those agricultural wastes can be diverted for biomass energy production. Many such organic residues would either decompose on-site or get burned in slash piles, thus releasing their stored carbon regardless (albeit perhaps over longer periods of time). When organic matter decomposes, it often releases methane and when it is burned in piles, it releases black carbon (soot). Both methane and soot increase global warming faster than carbon dioxide; simply preventing them from being emitted can yield a significant benefit, beyond putting the embodied energy of biomass to productive use.

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In the states of Washington, Vermont, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and New York, the amount of slash generated by logging operations falls far short of the amount needed to feed the proposed biomass burners. In Ohio and North Carolina, utilities have been more forthright and admit that biomass electricity generation means cutting and burning trees. The trees… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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At present, biomass fuels 2 percent of global electricity production, more than any other renewable. In some countries—Sweden, Finland, and Latvia among them—bioenergy is 20 to 30 percent of the national generation mix, almost entirely provided for by trees. Biomass energy is on the rise in China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil. Reaching greater scale in more places requires investment in biomass production facilities and infrastructure for collection, transport, and storage.

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extracting invasive species from forests accompanied with appropriate ecological safeguards can be a good source of biomass energy. That approach is being tested in India by the government of the state of Sikkim, which is making “bio-briquettes” for clean cookstoves. Additionally, smallholder farmers need to be protected from displacement by industrial-scale approaches to biomass generation. Most important to bear in mind is that biomass—carefully regulated and managed—is a bridge to reach a clean energy future, not the destination itself. •

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Currently, nuclear power generates about 11 percent of the world’s electricity and contributes about 4.8 percent to the world’s total energy supply. There are 444 operating nuclear reactors in 29 countries, and 63 more are under construction. Of the 29 countries with operative nuclear power plants, France has the highest nuclear contribution to its electrical energy supply, at 76 percent. Nuclear reactors are broadly classified by generation. The oldest, Generation 1, first came online in the 1950s and are now almost entirely decommissioned. The majority of current nuclear capacity falls into the Generation 2 category. (Chernobyl consisted of both Gen 1 and Gen 2. The four Fukushima Daiichi reactors are Gen 2, as are all of the reactors in the United States and France.) Generation 2 distinguishes itself from its predecessor by the use of water (as opposed to graphite) to slow down nuclear chain reactions and the use of enriched, as opposed to natural, uranium for fuel. The Generation 3 reactors, five of which are in operation worldwide and several more under construction, along with Generation 4 reactors, which are currently being researched, constitute what is called “advanced nuclear.” In theory, advanced nuclear has standardized designs that reduce construction time and achieve longer operating lifetimes, improved safety features, greater

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According to physicist Amory Lovins, “Nuclear power is the only energy source where mishap or malice can destroy so much value or kill many faraway people; the only one whose materials, technologies, and skills can help make and hide nuclear weapons; the only proposed climate solution that [creates] proliferation, major accidents, and radioactive-waste dangers. . . . [N]uclear power is continuing its decades-long collapse in the global marketplace because it’s grossly uncompetitive, unneeded, and obsolete—so hopelessly uneconomic that one need not debate whether it is clean and safe; it weakens electric reliability and national security; and it worsens climate change compared with devoting the same money and time to more effective options.”

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new reactor designs that address some of the main criticisms and concerns about nuclear energy. These reactors are being designed to shut down quickly and safely with no one in attendance (“walk-away safety”). They employ better coolants and can scale down to plants one five-hundredth the size of conventional nuclear. They reduce construction time to one or two years. The world may soon have better choices when it comes to nuclear energy than it has had in the past, but it may be too late given the accelerating cost and construction advantages of renewable energy technologies.

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U.S. coal-fired or nuclear power plants are about 34 percent efficient in terms of producing electricity, which means two-thirds of the energy goes up the flue and heats the sky. All told, the U.S. power-generation sector throws away an amount of heat equivalent to the entire energy budget of Japan. Put your hand behind the tailpipe of your car when the engine is running. It is the same principle, only worse—75 to 80 percent of the energy generated by an internal combustion engine is wasted heat. Coal and single-cycle gas generating plants are the best candidates for capturing wasted energy through cogeneration. Cogeneration puts otherwise-forfeited energy to work, heating and cooling homes and offices or creating additional electricity. Cogeneration systems, also known as combined heat and power (CHP), capture excess heat generated during electricity production and use that thermal energy at or near the site for district heating and other purposes. The opportunity to reduce emissions and save money through cogeneration is significant because of the inherent low efficiency of electrical generation.

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In the United States, 87 percent of them are used in energy-intensive industries such as chemical, paper, and metal manufacturing and food processing. In countries such as Denmark and Finland, cogeneration makes up a significant part of electricity production largely because of its use in district heating systems. In countries with a high-CHP share in total generation, such as Denmark and Finland, the need to address energy security played a decisive role.

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the cold climate in the country has provided a basis for a healthy return on investment in heat supply infrastructure. As of 2013, 69 percent of Finland’s district heating is provided by cogeneration systems. Denmark’s approach to energy supply is policy driven. Although the use of CHP in the country dates back to 1903, it was the 1970s oil crisis that spurred the use of this technology. Since that time, policies have compelled local authorities to identify opportunities for energy-efficient heat production, helped to move power generation from centralized plants to a decentralized network, and incentivized the use of cogeneration generally, and renewable-based systems particularly, through tax policy.

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From a financial viewpoint, the adoption of cogeneration systems makes sense for many industrial and commercial uses, as well as for some residential uses. Cogeneration makes it possible for users that do not have access to renewable energy to produce more energy with the same amount, and cost, of fuel. In addition to clear financial benefits, adoption will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the extent cogeneration reduces reliance on fossil fuels for heating and electricity. Moreover, it will play a substantial role in the ushering in of smart, distributed, and renewable-based energy networks. Because distributed systems are necessarily placed close to the site of generation, they reduce the need for transmission lines. Cogeneration systems are easily adaptable to user preference and thus allow for a variety of energy sources. Additionally, cogeneration systems can help to reduce water usage and thermal water pollution when compared to separate combustion-based heat and power systems, decreasing demand pressure on another vital natural resource. •

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they are often installed with a diesel generator to supply electricity when the breeze does not blow. From a carbon perspective, relying on a fossil fuel complement is not ideal. There are already some combined solar photovoltaic and micro wind systems on the market, which is one fruitful alternative. Improved battery storage technology could also boost the viability of small-scale wind. Where these turbines are linked up to the grid, owners may be able to send their unneeded electrons out to the larger network for financial return through net metering. Experts estimate that a million or more micro wind turbines are currently in use around the world, with the majority whirling in China, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

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This is a VisionAIR5 vertical axis wind turbine that is quieter than a human whisper at low speeds. The turbine is 10.5 feet high and is rated at 3.2 kilowatts of power. The minimum wind speed required is 9 miles per hour and it can withstand speeds up to 110 miles per hour. Integrating micro turbines into large structures within the built environment is showing unique promise.

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Human-induced climate change was first identified in 1800 and again in 1831 by the same scientist, Alexander von Humboldt.

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During his five-year immersion in largely unspoiled wilderness, Humboldt realized that nature is intricately interconnected in ways that surpass human knowledge. And he saw that living systems, and indeed the whole of the planet, are highly vulnerable to disturbances by human beings. The principles of the web of life variously described by Darwin, Muir, Emerson, and Thoreau arose directly from Humboldt’s Latin America expedition and his subsequent writings.

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When he listed the three ways in which the human species was affecting the climate, he named deforestation, ruthless irrigation, and, perhaps most prophetically, the “great masses of steam and gas” produced in the industrial centers. No one but Humboldt had looked at the relationship between humankind and nature like this before. •

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“No, sir, no air is more combustible than the air from marshy soil,” Volta wrote on November 21, 1776, beginning to fathom the connection between the gas and decaying vegetation.

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methane gases as they decompose.

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In Portland, Oregon, 3.5-foot-wide turbines fit perfectly inside underground pipes. As water rushes down from the Cascade Range to the city, it also generates power for the local utility—without harming flow. This subcategory of in-stream technologies is called conduit hydropower. According to a national assessment of U.S. hydrokinetic resources, the in-stream energy that is technically recoverable is more than 100 terawatt-hours per year. Roughly 95 percent of it is located in the Mississippi, Alaska, Pacific Northwest, Ohio, and Missouri hydrologic regions. The technology needed to seize that opportunity is fairly new and rare, likened by some to the status of wind power fifteen years ago. Small players populate the industry, but their efforts benefit from the similarities between in-stream and tidal energy and the surge of research and investment in the latter.

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IMPACT: If in-stream hydro grows to supply 1.7 percent of the world’s electricity by 2050, it can reduce 4 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions and save $1.8 trillion in energy costs. Communities in remote mountainous areas are among the last regions in need of electrification; in-stream hydro offers them a reliable and economical method of generating electricity.

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One study conducted in the 1980s of a New Jersey incinerator showed the following results: If 2,250 tons of trash were incinerated daily, the annual emissions would be 5 tons of lead, 17 tons of mercury, 580 pounds of cadmium, 2,248 tons of nitrous oxide, 853 tons of sulfur dioxide, 777 tons of hydrogen chloride, 87 tons of sulfuric acid, 18 tons of fluorides, and 98 tons of particulate matter small enough to lodge permanently in the lungs. The study also showed varying amounts of the persistent toxic pollutant dioxin, depending on the amount of paper and wood involved in incineration. Essentially, inert hazardous waste goes into an incinerator and bioavailable hazardous and toxic emissions come out. Modern incinerators address these concerns in part. Employing considerably higher temperatures and equipped with scrubbers and filters, almost all traces of pollutants can be captured—but not all. For cities and urban communities, the allure of waste-to-energy plants is compelling. In Europe, more than 450 waste-to-energy plants exist, burning 25 percent of all waste. Sweden leads the field, importing 800,000 tons of garbage from other countries, at considerable cost in carbon emissions, to fuel its district heating plants—the most extensive network in the world. The Swedes assert that they are very careful about the trash they import: It has to be well sorted with all of the recyclables, including food, removed. Landfills are banned, so if it is not recycled, it is burned.

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Swedish municipal association believes that for every ton of garbage, imported or domestic, there is an equivalent savings of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide if compared to the garbage being landfilled. As a strategy for managing our trash, waste-to-energy is better than the landfill alternative when state-of-the-art facilities are employed. In Europe, despite the market for trash (the Germans, Danes, Dutch, and Belgians also are in the business of importing garbage), the rate of recycling, including green waste, is going up, and a 50 percent recycling mandate is in place for the year 2050.

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Waste-to-energy continues to evoke strong feelings. Its champions point to the land spared from dumps and to a cleaner-burning source of power. One ton of waste can generate as much electricity as one-third of a ton of coal. But opponents continue to decry pollution, however trace, as well as high capital costs and potential for perverse effects on recycling or composting. Because incineration is often cheaper than those alternatives, it can win out with municipalities when it comes to cost. Data shows high recycling rates tend to go hand in hand with high rates of waste-to-energy use, but some argue recycling could be higher in the absence of burning trash. These are among the reasons that construction of new plants in the United States has been at a near standstill for many years, despite evolution in incineration technology.

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ten large corporations have committed to zero waste to landfill, including Interface, Subaru, Toyota, and Google.

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Zero waste is a growing movement that wants to go upstream, not down, in order to change the nature of waste and the ways in which society recaptures its value. It is saying, in essence, that material flows in society can imitate what we see in forests and grasslands where there truly is no waste that is not feedstock for some other form of life. It relies on green chemistry and material innovation that has the end in mind, not just the beginning. Like solar and wind energy, technologies that were once impractical and unaffordable, zero waste is an engineering and design revolution, which will make waste so valuable that the last thing you would want to do is burn or bury it.

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One way to overcome surplus is through high voltage direct current (HVDC) power lines that can extend energy for thousands of miles with small line losses. Additionally, there are a suite of energy-storage technologies that address precisely these issues. How does a utility store large

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Nevada is experimenting with energy storage by rail. Here, where there is no water, gravity can still be enlisted. The system takes its cues from the myth of Sisyphus, forever pushing his boulder up a hill. When power is abundant, mining railcars freighted with 230 tons of rock and cement are sent up to a rail yard three thousand feet higher. The railcars are equipped with 2-megawatt generators that act as an engine on the way up. On the way down, a regenerative braking system converts rolling resistance to electrical power. The technology at the core of both solutions is more than a century old. When the railcars are parked at elevation, they can sit there for a year and not lose any power, while reservoirs evaporate. Both systems share a key advantage: how quickly they can respond to demand. The ramp-up time to full power is seconds, whereas fossil fuel plants take minutes or hours. The grid needs storage at speed.

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In 2012, the global consultancy McKinsey & Company predicted $200-per-kilowatt-hour batteries by 2020, but both General Motors and Tesla achieved that in 2016.

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At current cost, a $500 billion investment in distributed energy systems would save U.S. businesses and households $4 trillion in peak-demand utility billing over the next thirty years. Battery cost could halve in the next four years, further amplifying those gains. If storage is used to enable more reliance on renewables there will be substantial climate benefits. If storage is just used to shift peak demand to nights in systems that rely heavily on coal, there will be little benefit. Not so long ago, solar photovoltaics had high carbon costs. So much coal-fired energy was required for the glass, aluminum, gases, installation, and 3,600-degree Fahrenheit sintering ovens, it would have been fair to call solar panels coal extenders. Today, the energy costs of making solar have dropped significantly. Batteries seem to be following suit; plummeting costs will likely be accompanied by less energy-intensive manufacturing methods. As that occurs, an entirely new energy grid will come online—one that promises to be more resilient and democratic—powered by sensors, apps, and software yet to be invented. IMPACT: Distributed energy storage is an essential supporting technology for many solutions. Microgrids, net zero buildings, grid flexibility, and rooftop solar all depend on or are amplified by the use of dispersed storage systems, which facilitate uptake of renewable energy and avert the expansion of coal, oil, and gas electricity generation. Adoption of distributed storage varies

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Hot water for showers, laundry, and washing dishes consumes a quarter of residential energy use worldwide; in commercial buildings, that number is roughly 12 percent. SWH can reduce that fuel consumption by 50 to 70 percent. But it has yet to be widely tapped as a resource because of up-front costs and complexity of installation, which are higher than gas and electric boilers. Increasingly, SWH gets considered alongside solar photovoltaics, when it comes to roof space, investment, and potential synergies or trade-offs between the two. To achieve uptake at the level Cyprus and Israel have accomplished, governments can require or incent use in new construction—and more and more they are. If the United States maximized its potential for SWH, the country could reduce natural gas consumption by 2.5 percent and electricity use by 1 percent, and avoid producing 57 million tons of carbon each year—as much as 13 coal-fired power plants or 9.9 million cars. With national ambitions for growth in Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Jordan, Italy, Thailand, and beyond, clearly SWH has not come close to reaching its zenith, even 125 years after the original Climax was first devised.

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Livestock emissions, including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, are responsible for an estimated 18 to 20 percent of greenhouse gases annually, a source second only to fossil fuels. If you add to livestock all other food-related emissions—from farming to deforestation to food waste—what we eat turns out to be the number one cause of global warming. This section profiles techniques, behaviors,

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On average, adults require 50 grams of protein each day, but in 2009, the average per capita consumption was 68 grams per day—36 percent higher than necessary. In the

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a 2016 World Resources Institute report analyzes a variety of possible dietary modifications and finds that “ambitious animal protein reduction”—focused on reducing overconsumption of animal-based foods in regions where people devour more than 60 grams of protein and 2,500 calories per day—holds the greatest promise for ensuring a sustainable future for global food supply and the planet. “In a world that is on a course to demand more than 70 percent more food, nearly 80 percent more animal-based foods, and 95 percent more beef between 2006 and 2050,” its authors argue, altering meat consumption patterns is critical to achieving a host of global goals related to hunger, healthy lives, water management, terrestrial ecosystems, and, of course, climate change.

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Beyond promoting “reducetarianism,” if not vegetarianism, it is also necessary to reframe meat as a delicacy, rather than a staple. First and foremost, that means ending price-distorting government subsidies, such as those benefiting the U.S. livestock industry, so that the wholesale and resale prices of animal protein more accurately reflect their true cost. In 2013, $53 billion went to livestock subsidies in the thirty-five countries affiliated with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development alone. Some experts are proposing a more pointed intervention: levying a tax on meat—similar to taxes on cigarettes—to reflect its social and environmental externalities and dissuade purchases. Financial disincentives, government targets for reducing the amount of beef consumed, and campaigns that liken meat eating to tobacco use—in tandem with shifting social norms around meat consumption and healthy diets—may effectively conspire to make meat less desirable.

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Eating with a lighter footprint reduces emissions, of course, but also tends to be healthier, leading to lower rates of chronic disease.

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Plant-based diets also open opportunities to preserve land that might otherwise go into livestock production and to engage current agricultural land in other, carbon-sequestering uses.

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A comprehensive study out of Stanford University estimates that there are 950 million to 1.1 billion acres of deserted farmland around the world—acreage once used for crops or pasture that has not been restored as forest or converted to development. Ninety-nine percent of that abandonment occurred in the past century.

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According to Professor Rattan Lal of the Ohio State University, the world’s cultivated soils have lost 50 to 70 percent of their original carbon stock, which combines with oxygen in the air to become carbon dioxide.

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Passive approaches require little money but lots of time. Active restoration is often labor intensive, yet necessary for cultivation to revive. Its costs are higher, but so is its speed to productivity, carbon storage, and ecosystem services.

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suppression and marginalization along gender lines actually hurt everyone, while equity is good for all.

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On average, women make up 43 percent of the agricultural labor force and produce 60 to 80 percent of food crops in poorer parts of the world. Often unpaid or low-paid laborers, they cultivate field and tree crops, tend livestock, and grow home gardens. Most of them are part of the 475 million smallholder families who operate on less than 5 acres of land—to some extent for their own subsistence—and are among the world’s poorest and most undernourished people. Their stories are diverse but share a key commonality: compared with their male counterparts, women have less access to a range of resources, from land and credit to education and technology. Even though they farm as capably and efficiently as men, inequality in assets, inputs, and support means women produce less on the same amount of land. Closing this gender gap can improve the lives of women, their families and communities, while addressing global warming.

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According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), if all women smallholders receive equal access to productive resources, their farm yields will rise by 20 to 30 percent, total agricultural output in low-income countries will increase by 2.5 to 4 percent, and the number of undernourished people in the world will drop by 12 to 17 percent. One hundred million to 150 million people will no longer be hungry. A few studies demonstrate that if women have access to the same resources as men—all else being equal—their outputs actually surpass parity: They exceed men’s by 7 to 23 percent. Closing this gender gap can also control emissions. When agricultural plots produce well, there is less pressure to deforest for additional ground, and where regenerative practices replace chemical-intensive ones, soil becomes a carbon storehouse. Land rights are at the center of the gender gap that women smallholders face. Few countries break down statistics of landownership along the lines of gender, but those that do reveal an underlying inequity: Just 10 to 20 percent of landholders are women, and within that group, insecure land rights are a persistent challenge. Many women are legally prevented from owning or inheriting property in their own right, limiting their decision making and leaving them vulnerable to displacement. In the words of Kindati Lakshmi, of India’s Mahabubnagar district, “Owning a piece of land only would enable us to live with dignity and without hunger. We have no other way except to continue our struggle until we get land.”

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Layered onto that reality, women have less access to cash and credit. Lack of capital can mean lack of fertilizer, farm tools, water, and seeds. Their second-class status restricts technical information and support from extension agents, membership in rural cooperatives, and marketing and sales outlets. As more men migrate to cities seeking nonfarm income, women are increasingly central to cultivation in low-income countries. They are hindered, however, from making decisions… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Proven interventions address ways in which current systems fail women, though complexity on the ground defies one-size-fits-all strategies. Bina Agarwal, a professor at the University of Manchester and the author of A Field of One’s Own, captures the range of measures needed: Recognize and affirm women as farmers rather than farm helpers—a perception that undermines them from the start. Increase women’s access to land and secure clear, independent tenure—not mediated through and controlled by men. Improve women’s access to the training and resources they lack, provided with their specific needs in mind—microcredit in particular. Focus research and development on crops women cultivate and farming systems they use. Foster institutional innovation and collective approaches designed for women smallholders, such as group farming efforts. Agarwal’s last tenet is powerful. When women take part in cooperatives for growing, learning, financing, and selling, they achieve economies of scale in their operations and pool their influence, know-how, and talent. They also are able… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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As with all smallholder farmers, diversity in cultivation helps annual yields to be more resilient and successful over time. For decades, agribusiness and government agencies have promoted techniques that are dependent on synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified seeds, which have left many smallholders at risk of market-commodity collapse, pest infestations, and deteriorated soil. In contrast, diversifying crops through practices such as agroforestry and intercropping does not require the same or, in many cases, any chemical inputs and creates more-resilient landscapes. Women—and men—need support not just in achieving yield gains but in yields gained sustainably, in ways that support them in the face of climate change. According to the FAO, “It will be difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate global poverty and end hunger without building resilience to climate change in smallholder agriculture through the widespread adoption of sustainable . . . practices.” As the world’s population continues to grow—reaching a projected 9.7 billion by 2050—agricultural production will need to rise (in tandem with reduced food waste and dietary shifts). Given constraints on arable land and the need to protect intact forests, humanity will need to increase the yield of each plot. Growing more food on the same amount of land cannot be done without attending to smallholders, so many of whom are women, whose… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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When women earn more, they reinvest 90 percent of the money they make into education, health, and nutrition for their families and communities, compared to 30 to 40 percent for men. In Nepal, for example, strengthening women’s landownership has a direct link to better health outcomes for children. With this solution, human well-being and climate are tightly linked, and what is good for equity is good for the livelihoods of all genders. • IMPACT: This solution models reduced emissions from avoided deforestation, resulting from increasing the yield of women smallholders. Based on literature in the field, we assume yield per plot can rise by 26 percent, if women’s access to finance and resources comes closer to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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when family planning focuses on healthcare provision and meeting women’s expressed needs, empowerment, equality, and well-being are the goal; benefits to the planet are side effects. Challenges to expanding access to family planning range from basic supply of affordable and culturally appropriate contraception to education about sex and reproduction; from faraway health centers to hostile attitudes of medical providers; from social and religious norms to sexual partners’ opposition to using birth control. Currently, the world faces a $5.3 billion funding shortfall for providing the access to reproductive healthcare that women say they want to have. The success stories in family planning, however, are striking. Iran put a program into place in the early 1990s that has been touted as among the most successful such efforts in history. Completely voluntary, it involved religious leaders, educated the public, and provided free access to contraception. As a result, fertility rates halved in just one decade. In Bangladesh, average birth rates fell from six children in the 1980s to two now, as the door-to-door approach pioneered at the Matlab hospital spread across the country: female health workers providing basic care for women and children where they live. These and other success stories show that provision of contraception is rarely sufficient. Family planning requires social reinforcement, for example the radio and television soap operas now used in many places to shift perceptions of what is “normal” or “right.” After

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To revere human life it is necessary to ensure a viable, vibrant home for all. Honoring the dignity of women and children through family planning is not about centralized governments forcing the birth rate down—or up, through natalist policies. Nor is it about agencies or activists in rich countries, where emissions are highest, telling people elsewhere to stop having children. It is most essentially about freedom and opportunity for women and the recognition of basic human rights. Currently, family planning programs receive just 1 percent of all overseas development assistance. That number could double, with low-income countries aiming to match it—a moral move that happens to have meaning for the planet. • IMPACT: Increased adoption of reproductive healthcare and family planning is an essential component to achieve the United Nations’ 2015 medium global population projection of 9.7 billion people by 2050. If investment in family planning, particularly in low-income countries, does not materialize, the world’s population could come closer to the high projection, adding another 1 billion people to the planet. We model the impact of this solution based on the difference in how much energy, building space, food, waste, and transportation would be used in a world with little to no investment in family planning, compared to one in which the projection of 9.7 billion is realized. The resulting emissions reductions could be 123.0 gigatons of carbon dioxide, at an average annual cost of $10.77 per user in low-income countries. Because educating girls has an important impact on the use of family planning, we allocate 50 percent of the total potential emissions reductions to each solution—59.6 gigatons a piece.

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Kenya has made significant gains in education, with more than 80 percent of all boys and girls currently enrolled in primary schools. In secondary schools, the rate of enrollment drops to 50 percent for both boys and girls. Poverty is the main cause of low overall enrollment, and given socioeconomic norms, boys receive priority for higher education when there are financial constraints. Girls’ education, it turns out, has a dramatic bearing on global warming. Women with more years of education have fewer, healthier children and actively manage their reproductive health. In 2011, the journal Science published a demographic analysis of the impact of girls’ education on population growth. It details a “fast track” scenario, based on South Korea’s actual climb from one of the least to most educated countries in the world. If all nations adopted a similar rate and achieved 100 percent enrollment of girls in primary and secondary school, by 2050 there would be 843 million fewer people worldwide than if current enrollment rates sustain. According to the Brookings Institution, “The difference between a woman with no years of schooling and with 12 years of schooling is almost four to five children per woman. And it is precisely in those areas of the world where girls are having the hardest time getting educated that population growth is the fastest.”

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In the poorest countries, per capita greenhouse gas emissions are low. People do not have enough energy to properly sanitize their water, read or study at night, or power their small businesses. There are 1.1 billion people who do not have any electricity at all. From one-tenth of a ton of carbon dioxide per person in Madagascar to 1.8 tons in India, per-capita emissions in lower-income countries are a fraction of the U.S. rate of 18 tons per person per year. Nevertheless, changes in fertility rates in these countries would have multiple benefits on virtually every level of global society. Nobel laureate and girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai has famously said, “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world.” An enormous body of evidence supports her conviction: For starters, educated girls realize higher wages and greater upward mobility, contributing to economic growth. Their rates of maternal mortality drop, as do mortality rates of their babies. They are less likely to marry as children or against their will. They have lower incidence of HIV/AIDS and malaria—the “social vaccine” effect. Their agricultural plots are more productive and their families better nourished. They are more empowered at home, at work, and in society. An intrinsic right, education lays a foundation for vibrant lives for girls and women, their families, and their

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communities. It is the most powerful lever available for breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, while mitigating emissions by curbing population growth. A 2010 economic study shows that investment in educating girls is “highly cost-competitive with almost all of the existing options for carbon emissions abatement”—perhaps just $10 per ton of carbon dioxide. Education also shores up resilience in terms of climate change impacts—something the world needs as warming mounts. Across low-income countries, there is a strong link between women and the natural systems at the heart of family and community life. Women often and increasingly play roles as stewards and managers of food, soil, trees, and water. As educated girls become educated women, they can fuse inherited traditional knowledge with new information accessed through the written word. As cycles of change play out in the times to come—new diseases blighting… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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A 2013 study found that educating girls “is the single most important social and economic factor associated with a reduction in vulnerability to natural disasters.” The single most important. It is a conclusion drawn from examining the experiences of 125 countries since 1980 and echoes other analyses. Educated girls and women have a better capacity to cope with shocks from natural disasters and extreme weather events and are therefore less likely to be injured, displaced, or killed when one strikes. This decreased vulnerability also extends to their children, families, and the elderly. In the past twenty-five years, the global community has learned a great deal about educating girls. So many challenges impede girls from realizing their right to education, and yet, around the world, they are striving for a place in the classroom. Economic barriers include lack of family funds for school fees and uniforms, as well as prioritizing the more immediate benefits of having girls fetch water or firewood, or work a market stall or plot of land. Cultural barriers encompass traditional beliefs that girls should tend the home rather than learn to read and write, should be married off at a young age, and, when resources are slim, should be skipped over so boys can be sent to school instead. Barriers are also safety related. Schools that are farther afield put girls at risk of gender-based violence on their way to and from, not to mention dangers and discomforts at school itself. Disability, pregnancy, childbirth, and female genital mutilation also can be obstacles.

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The barriers are real, but so are the solutions. The most effective approaches concurrently tackle access (school affordability, proximity, and suitability for girls) and quality (good teachers and good learning outcomes). Mobilizing communities to support and sustain progress on girls’ education is a powerful accelerant. The encyclopedic book What Works in Girls’ Education maps out seven areas of interconnected interventions: Make school affordable. For example, provide family stipends for keeping girls in school. Help girls overcome health barriers. For example, offer deworming treatments. Reduce the time and distance to get to school. For example, provide girls with bikes. Make schools more girl-friendly. For example, offer child-care programs for young mothers. Improve school quality. For example, invest in more and better teachers. Increase community engagement. For example, train community education activists. Sustain girls’ education during emergencies. For example, establish schools in refugee camps.

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Today, 62 million girls are denied the right to attend school. The situation is most dire in secondary classrooms. In South Asia, less than half of girls—16.3 million—are enrolled in secondary school. In sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than one in three girls attends secondary school, and while 75 percent of all girls start school, just 8 percent finish their secondary education. Currently, international aid for education projects is about $13 billion annually. Given the link between girls’ education and climate change, funds for climate mitigation and adaptation could enable the world to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Education is grounded in the belief that every life bubbles with innate potential. When it comes to climate change, nurturing the promise of each girl can shape the future for all. • IMPACT: Two solutions influence family size and global population: educating girls and family planning. Because the exact dynamic between these solutions is impossible to determine, our models allocate 50 percent of the total potential impact to each. We assume that these impacts result from thirteen years of schooling, including primary through secondary education. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, by closing an annual financing gap of $39 billion, universal… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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One New England architectural firm refuses commissions for buildings that are not net zero. When queried, the partner said it was in order to preserve their reputation.

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Net zero neighborhoods, districts, and communities are being designed and constructed, such as the Kaupuni Village affordable housing project in Hawaii and the Sonnenschiff solar city in Freiburg, Germany, which produces four times the energy it consumes. The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has created a plan for all buildings to be net zero by 2040. California is proposing to revise its building code to mandate all new residential construction be net zero by 2020—followed by all new commercial building construction by 2030. There is now a Walgreens drugstore in Chicago that is a net zero building. Newer net zero buildings push the margins further: zero water and zero waste. They harvest rainwater and process sewage on-site into compostable forms.

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More often than not, buildings have been seen as parts and pieces designed and engineered to fulfill functions—not as the system they are. Engineers in particular had perverse incentives. To avoid future liability, they would calculate the air-conditioning system required for a building and then double the system’s capacity, for instance. Compensation for some professionals was based on overall build-out costs—rewarding sufficiency, not efficiency. Once the paradigm shifts, the building, the site, the weather, the arc of the sun, and the building’s occupants are all seen as one system. Buildings breathe just like creatures; they inhale and exhale air. They require energy, but as in nature, no waste—the right amount at the right time and place.

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International Living Futures Institute and the idea of Living Buildings. In 2005, the same year that McLennan created the Living Building Challenge with architect Bob Berkebile, architect Ed Mazria announced the 2030 Challenge, a staged timeline for all buildings to become carbon neutral by that date. The 2030 Challenge has since been adopted by districts, cities, states, and countries that are using net zero building techniques. Projected U.S. building sector energy consumption in 2030 has declined for eleven successive years since the challenge was issued, a reduction of 18.5 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs), the equivalent of 1,209 coal-fired 250-megawatt power plants. What was once seen as a marginal if not fanciful notion to construct workplaces and human habitats is now practiced the world over thanks to the concept of zero emission buildings. •

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According to the Urban Land Institute, in more compact developments ripe for walking, people drive 20 to 40 percent less. Urban planner and author Jeff Speck writes, “The pedestrian is an extremely fragile species, the canary in the coal mine of urban livability. Under the right conditions, this creature thrives and multiplies.” Speck’s “general theory of walkability” outlines four criteria that must be met for people to opt to walk. A journey on foot must be useful, helping an individual meet some need in daily life. It must feel safe, including protection from cars and other hazards. It must be comfortable, attracting walkers to what Speck calls “outdoor living rooms.” And it must be interesting, with beauty, liveliness, and variety all around. In other words, walkable trips are not simply those with a manageable distance from point A to point B, perhaps a ten- to fifteen-minute journey on foot. They have “walk appeal,” thanks to a density of fellow walkers, a mix of land and real estate uses, and key design elements that create compelling environments for people on foot.

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Sidewalks are wide and protected from motorized traffic whizzing by. Walkways are well lit at night, tree-lined and shaded during the day. They connect effectively to one another and perhaps lead to entirely car-free areas. Points of interest across the road, tracks, or waterway are accessible by way of safe and direct pedestrian crossings constructed at regular intervals. At street level, buildings feel abuzz with life, fostering a sense of safety. Beauty invites people outside. Perambulation can easily be combined with cycling or mass transit, with good connectivity between these different modes of mobility. Many such improvements can be achieved at a fraction of the cost of other transportation infrastructure. Walkability also enhances the use, and thus cost-effectiveness, of public transit systems. Many of the things that make cities more sustainable also make them more livable—perhaps nothing more so than walkability.

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Walkable urban places attract residents, businesses, and tourists, while local merchants benefit from greater foot traffic. They enable people… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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regardless of income, thus boosting equity and inclusion. With more people walking, traffic congestion—and associated stress and pollution—declines. There are fewer motor vehicle accidents. The more people walk (and cycle), the safer those modalities become. Increased levels of physical activity boost health and well-being, addressing widespread problems of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Social interaction and neighborhood safety rise, as do creativity, civic engagement, and connection to nature and place. Walkable cities are easier and more appealing to live in, making for happier, healthier citizens. Health, prosperity, and sustainability go hand in hand in hand. As the world’s urban populations continue to grow, walkable cityscapes will increase in importance. Urbanites are expected to make up two-thirds of world population in 2050. Construction will rise to accommodate that boom. Today, too many urban spaces remain no- or low-walking ones. Far too many municipal policies still foster low-density, suburban-style development rather than dense, mixed-use neighborhoods— choices communities can get stuck with for a long time to come. And cities continue to invest too few dollars in pedestrian infrastructure.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Practices such as “walking school buses,” gathering kids together for treks to school, can establish walking habits early in life. Ultimately, walkable cities will be most successful when they make strolling, striding, and sauntering, once again, the most inviting ways to move around. • IMPACT: The six dimensions of the built environment—demand, density, design, destination, distance, and diversity—are all key drivers of walkability. Our analysis focuses on population density as a proxy for walkable neighborhoods. As cities become denser and city planners, commercial enterprises, and residents invest in the “6Ds,” 5 percent of trips currently made by car can be… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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suffragist Susan B. Anthony said in 1896, “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” The arrival of cars in the early twentieth century diverted attention to four wheels, and even Europe’s cycling capitals, such as Amsterdam, saw automobiles dominate the middle of the century. But today, bicycles seem to be entering another golden age as cities attempt to untangle traffic and unclog skies, urban dwellers seek affordable transportation, and diseases of inactivity and billowing greenhouse gases become impossible to ignore. As one hub among these interconnected spokes, bikes could be a force for societal change once again. According to British writer Rob Penn, “The bicycle can be ridden, on a reasonable surface, at four or five times the pace of walking, with the same amount of effort—making it the most efficient, self-powered means of transportation ever invented.” At virtually zero emissions, it is exceedingly efficient in a climatic sense as well. But in his praise Penn also identifies a potent obstacle to the bicycle’s triumph: “a reasonable surface,” aka infrastructure. Just like pedestrians and cars, bicycles need thoughtfully designed infrastructure. Numerous studies have sought to identify the fundamental elements that support safe and abundant cycling. Time and again they identify a tight link between networks of bike lanes or paths and the prevalence of bikers in a city or town. The more direct, level, and interconnected these tracks are, the better. Thoughtfully designed junctions where bicycles and cars meet—intersections, roundabouts, points of access—are vital to safety and flow. For instance, at red lights cyclists can be funneled ahead of queued cars, so they are fully visible and can proceed first, before any turning motorists. Other critical infrastructure includes secure parking, good lighting, greenery, and connections to desired destinations, including public transport. Equity is essential: Some cities have shown a bias for investing in bicycle infrastructure only in areas of privilege. The role of bicycle infrastructure is to create safe, pleasant, effective environments in which to ride. Bikers—especially women, research shows—want to be separated from car traffic. But physical infrastructure alone is not enough. In the places where cycling thrives, such as Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, programs and policies foster a kind of social infrastructure that complements it. Educational initiatives target cyclists and motorists alike. Stricter liability laws protect those on two wheels. Disincentives for car ownership and use make the bicycle more attractive. Research also shows that city bike-share programs, like Vélib’ in Paris, and awareness-raising events, like Ciclovía in Bogotá, increase ridership. Workplace showers can make sweaty commutes viable, and access to affordable parts and maintenance can make bike ownership work. Overarching… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In Amsterdam, bikes outnumber cars four to one. Similarly, Copenhagen’s infrastructure investments have made cycling easy and fast. They include innovations such as the “green wave”—traffic lights along main roads synchronized to the pace of bike commuters, so they can maintain their cruising speed for long stretches. Currently, the city is investing in a responsive traffic light system that aims to cut travel time by 10 percent for bicycles and 5 to 20 percent for buses, making both modes more appealing. At the same time, infrastructure for cars is becoming less accommodating, as with the gradual removal of parking spaces. The numbers speak for themselves: In Denmark, 18 percent of local trips are done on two wheels, and in the Netherlands, 27 percent. In the car-crazy United States, by comparison, just 1 percent of trips are taken by bike. But there is hope: Bike commuting throughout the country grew 60 percent between 2000 and 2012, and in places such as Portland, Oregon, where infrastructure investment is high, it jumped from 1.8 percent to 6.1 percent of commutes during that time. Given that 40 percent of urban car trips are less than two miles in length, many could be made by bike instead. As Dutch history reminds us, all cities were once bike cities, before we began shaping and reshaping them for the almighty automobile. Hills and heat, storms and arctic chills will always pose their challenges, but most barriers to cycling lie fully within the control of municipalities. This is where the rubber meets the road: The more infrastructure we have, the more cyclists. The more cyclists, the more cultural norms shift—This is simple, smart, stylish—and the more society reaps numerous returns on investment, including the health benefits of cleaner air and people going about their days with greater physical activity.

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Copenhagen is considered the most livable city in the world, in no small part because it is the most bike-friendly. Thirty percent of Copenhageners ride to work, school, and market on 18 miles of bike lanes, and along three bicycle superhighways connecting Copenhagen to its outlying suburbs. Twenty-three more such highways are currently in the works. Like virtually all European cities, Copenhagen was bicycle-friendly for much of the twentieth century. After the Second World War and into the 1960s the city became polluted and congested with car traffic. Citizens pushed back and reclaimed the city for biking. Today, the city is a testament to what bicycle infrastructure can do. IMPACT: In 2014, 5.5 percent of urban trips around the world were completed by bicycle. In some cities, bicycle mode share was over 20 percent. We assume a rise from 5.5 percent to 7.5 percent of urban trips globally by 2050, displacing 2.2 trillion passenger-miles traveled by conventional modes of transportation and avoiding 2.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions. By building bike infrastructure rather than roads, municipal governments and taxpayers can realize $400 billion in savings over thirty years and $2.1 trillion in lifetime savings.

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Designed by Dr. Stephan Brenneisen, the green roof of the Cantonal Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, overlooks the town and Rhine River. Constructed in 1937, the building welcomed its first green roof in 1990, which mimics the riverbank of the Rhine in design. The vegetated roof features two gravel areas to attract birds, as well as areas of sedum, herbs, moss, and large grass meadows. It is interspersed with big branches and stones to provide cover, and is monitored for birds, spiders, beetles, ladybugs, bumblebees, and more. From an aerial view, most cities are a patchwork of gray, brown, and black rooftops. But look down over some parts of Stuttgart, Germany, or Linz, Austria, and many rooftops are easily mistaken for small parks or grassy squares. They are affirmation of the modern movement for green or “living” roofs, which has taken off in the past fifty years, especially in Europe. They also evoke a much longer history, back to the heyday of the Viking Age, when such roofs first became popular in Scandinavia. Rewind modern-day Norway to the ninth or tenth century, and you would find a landscape dotted with sod-roofed homes, now called torvtak. Today, the conventional rooftop is a brutal, lifeless terrain, typically serving a sole purpose: protecting the building and inhabitants beneath from the elements. In fulfilling that role, roofs take a beating from sun, wind, rain, and snow. They can endure temperatures up to ninety degrees higher than the air around them on a hot day, making it harder to cool the floors below and contributing to the urban heat island effect. This phenomenon of cities being measurably hotter than nearby rural and suburban areas is particularly harmful for residents who are young, elderly, or ill. Green roofs, on the other hand, are veritable ecosystems in the sky, designed to harness the moderating forces of natural ecosystems and curtail a building’s carbon

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emissions in the process. Living roofscapes depend on a series of carefully designed layers that ensure the roof itself is protected, rainwater is filtered and drained, and plants can thrive. If aiming for performance with minimal inputs, they may have shallow soil to support a simple carpet of hearty, self-sufficient groundcover such as sedum. Often called stonecrops, these flowering succulents cover more than ten acres atop Ford’s truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan. Or green roofs can have intensive systems to sustain full-fledged gardens, parks, or farms—places where people can rest, recreate, and raise flowers or food. That is how once-unused rooftops across Brooklyn have become a mecca of urban agriculture. The intensity of investment, structural requirements, installation, and upkeep depends on the level of greenery chosen. Though up-front costs for green roofs are higher than those of their conventional cousins, and some maintenance is required, returns are compelling and long-term costs are comparable, sometimes lower. The soil and vegetation function as living insulation, moderating building temperatures year-round—cooler in summer, warmer in winter. Because the energy required for heating and air-conditioning is curbed, greenhouse gas emissions are lower, as are costs. On the floor below a living roof, energy use for cooling can drop by 50 percent. Green roofs also sequester carbon in their soil and biomass, filter air pollutants, reduce rainwater runoff, support biodiversity within cityscapes, and address urban heat islands—benefiting not just the floors beneath but nearby buildings as well. Because vegetation protects the roof itself from the elements and UV rays, green roofs have double the life span of conventional ones.

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People who live, work, or play near green roofs enjoy more natural beauty and greater well-being—the result of biophilia, humanity’s innate affinity for the natural world. At the same time, building developers, owners, and operators enjoy increased property appeal and value. Green roofs bring what people love to encounter on the ground to elevated yet often wasted spaces. Land is generally the most limited urban resource, but green roofs can create acres and acres of opportunity for green space and the climate benefits that come with it. To see the green roof on Chicago’s City Hall or Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University is to imagine the breadth of the opportunity atop buildings. These signature projects and other demonstration efforts—such as those atop bus stops, visible to pedestrians and passing cars—inspire wider public support. Hot spots of implementation, such as Germany, offer a key lesson: Construction incentives for green roofs and building policy that encourages or mandates their use are twin drivers of proliferation. They are the stimulus for scaling—from oddity to ordinary. To raise the ratio of green in Singapore, for example, the government covers half the cost of green roof installation. Chicago fast-tracks permits for buildings with green roofs. Regulations around storm water control and retention also can encourage adoption of green roofs. In addition, clear and consistent industry standards and capable architects, engineers, and builders can ensure quality. In October 2016,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Cool roofs are kith and kin to green roofs, achieving similar impact but doing so with different methods, hurdles, and boons. Reflection is from the Latin for “bending back,” and cool roofs do just that. When solar energy hits a conventional dark roof on a 99-degree day, just 5 percent of it is reflected back into space. The rest remains, heating the building and surrounding air. A cool roof, on the other hand, reflects up to 80 percent of that solar energy back into space. Cool roofs take a variety of forms: light-colored metal, shingles, tiles, coatings, membranes, and more being developed. Whatever technology is used, in an increasingly urban and warming world, sending solar energy back to where it came from, rather than absorbing it, is essential. Not only do cool roofs reduce heat taken on by buildings, driving down energy use for cooling, they also reduce the temperature in cities. Recent studies have shown that the capacity of cool roofs to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Where green roofs struggle with the high costs and special skills needed for implementation, cool roofs are cheaper, simpler, and more like conventional installs. They are eminently doable. Though regular cleaning is needed to sustain top-notch reflection, maintenance needs are much lower as well. Despite this ease, it is necessary to consider context. Cool roofs can create glare for their neighbors, and their impact depends on local climate. Hotter places benefit more from their cooling effect, while suffering less from their reduced heat retention in cold months. In colder climates, the insulation of green roofs may be more optimal year-round. Cool roofs are not a new concept but have been slow to take root worldwide. They are on the rise in the United States and European Union, while getting increasing attention, and occasionally official commitment, elsewhere. California has been their greatest champion, integrating cool roofs into the state’s building efficiency standards, Title 24, a decade ago. The success there shows the way forward, including the importance of regulations, rebates, and incentive programs. The evolution of cool roof technology is also promising. Traditional building aesthetics have… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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When turned on, an LED uses 90 percent less energy for the same amount of light than an incandescent bulb, and half as much as a compact fluorescent, without toxic mercury. On top of that, an LED bulb will last much longer than either type of bulb—twenty-seven years if turned on five hours a day. This translates into a 10 to 30 percent return on investment if you buy and replace older lighting fixtures with LEDs.

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LEDs transfer 80 percent of their energy use into creating light—rather than heat, like older technologies—and reduce air-conditioning loads accordingly.

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“A sixth of humanity spends upwards of $40 billion per year on lighting (20 percent of the total energy spend for lighting), yet [receives just] 0.1 percent as much illumination as does the electrified world.” Solar-LED products, on the other hand, pay for themselves within a year of purchase. In India alone, nearly 1 million solar lighting systems help students do their homework, birthing clinics operate effectively, and businesses remain open after sunset. Still, when the sun sets, more than a billion people live in the dark. LEDs are as important for addressing light poverty as climate change. LEDs are also transforming urban spaces with street lighting. LED streetlights can save up to 70 percent of energy and significantly reduce maintenance costs, meaning cities can retrofit old, inefficient streetlights with LEDs that pay for themselves. LEDs can be “tuned” to provide health benefits to humans (greater alertness on highways or sleep-inducement in residential areas) and to protect wildlife (preventing birds and turtles, for example, from being disoriented by artificial light). The impact solar-LED lights have on human well-being and economic development speaks to the essential role artificial lighting plays in day-to-day life. It extends activity into dark hours and expands the spaces that are useful beyond those that are sunlit. So hardwired into human life is lighting, it accounts for 15 percent of global electricity use—more than that generated by all nuclear plants worldwide. And demand is rising. LEDs will be vital to meeting it, while drawing down energy use and emissions, as well as expense. Countries mandating a shift to this technology are already lighting the way, reaping the rewards, and making the technology more affordable for all. • IMPACT: Our analysis assumes that LEDs will become ubiquitous by 2050, encompassing 90 percent of the household lighting market, and 82 percent of commercial lighting. As LEDs replace less-efficient lighting, 7.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided in residences and 5 gigatons in commercial buildings. Additional gains, not counted here, will come from replacing off-grid kerosene lighting with solar-LED technology.

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Gwyn Prins, professor emeritus at the London School of Economics and Political Science, suggests that addiction to air-conditioning (AC) is “the most pervasive and least noticed epidemic” in the United States—where the amount of electricity used to keep buildings cool is equal to what the whole of Africa uses, for everything. It is easy to understand how this happened: Fossil fuels were plentiful and cheap; no one worried about greenhouse gas emissions or global warming; cool air was a welcome relief, at home and at work. Critics argue AC is one road civilization should never have taken and must now exit. Perhaps, but an exit is not likely. A top aspiration of people around the world—many of them living in the hotter climes of Asia and Africa—is the comfort of air-conditioning. Demographics alone dictate that the world is set for a massive increase in AC demand in this century—one study predicts as much as thirty-three-fold by 2100. China’s experience foreshadows: In the decade between 1995 and 2007, the percentage of air-conditioned homes in Chinese cities increased from 7 percent to 95 percent. China will soon surpass the United States as the leading consumer of AC. Air-conditioning grabs most of the headlines when the subject is conservation and efficiency, but heating is just as susceptible to inefficiency and just as prime for improvement. The building sector worldwide uses approximately 32 percent of all energy generated; more than one-third of that is for heating and cooling. Various bodies have analyzed the potential for increased efficiency and projected the results. All agree on two points: Business as usual generates spiraling emissions from heating and cooling; maximum efficiency could cut energy use by 30 to 40 percent.

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1970s and ’80s by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory near Denver, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, and other institutes. What makes it electrochromic is a thin layer of nanoscale metal oxides—one-fiftieth the thickness of a human hair—the exact recipe for which varies by manufacturer and continues to evolve through research. When exposed to a brief burst of voltage, ions move into another layer and the tint and reflectiveness of the glass change. Tuned by smartphone or tablet, electrochromic glass is as switchable as indoor lighting. The most advanced electrochromic windows disaggregate light and heat for optimal performance. On a cold winter day, both visible light from the sun and its thermal radiation can penetrate. In summer, the glass can be activated to admit visible light while blocking heat. Or, at a slightly different voltage, both are reflected, darkening the room—no need to close the blinds, or even have them. (The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner uses electrochromic glass in lieu of window shades.) A kindred technology, thermochromic glass requires no jolt of electricity. Based on outside temperature, it transitions automatically from transparent to opaque and back again. It is the mood ring of windows. Photochromic windows operate similarly, on the basis of light exposure. Certain eyeglass lenses use the same chemistry. In both cases, the clear advantage is that there is no action required, but thermochromic and photochromic windows lack the adaptability and control of electrochromic options. On-demand smart windows have the added benefit of reducing energy load for lighting, along with improving heating and cooling efficiency. In Japan, tests of electrochromic glass have shown that cooling loads can drop by more than 30 percent on hot days. According to the California-based company View, its electrochromic line reduces energy use by 20 percent compared with traditional windows. They are also 50 percent more expensive, which is the fundamental drawback of smart glass. Some of that cost may be made up elsewhere, if the need for curtains and blinds is eliminated and smaller, more efficient air-conditioning units are used. Cost-effectiveness may be greatest in hot climates or on facades with high sun exposure. Price declines should continue as the market grows. Once a futuristic technology featured in movies such as Blade Runner (1982), switchable smart glass will become a common tool for increasing building efficiency in the years to come. • IMPACT: Smart glass is an up-and-coming solution with a current adoption in only .004 percent of commercial building space.

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Electrochromic glass responds to four different times of the day from two facings of a building. When tinted, the glass is reducing solar radiation and workplace glare, as well as the air-conditioning load, while maintaining daylight illumination inside. Sensors and even real-time weather data will override settings for daytime and allow more incoming light. The building is programmed by algorithms to respond to seasonal shifts in temperature and light; however, single panes of glass can be controlled from a smartphone at the user’s desk to adjust glare, light, and tint.

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feedback to homeowners, tenants, and building managers are becoming integral to the management of that energy use. At present, the majority of thermostats require manual operation or preset programming, and studies show people are notoriously unreliable in doing either efficiently. Imagine if homes were only heated and cooled when, where, and to the extent needed, without any heavy lifting. That is the power of smart thermostats such as the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Ecobee.

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Despite nearly two centuries of existence, thermostat technology saw minimal innovation until the past decade. The Nest came to market in 2011, developed by a team of former iPhone engineers who saw an opportunity to bring smartphone thinking to the antiquated temperature controls in homes. Thanks to algorithms and sensors, next-generation thermostats learn over time by gathering and analyzing data. You can still turn the temperature up and down, but these devices will remember your choices and memorize your routines. Easy to install and simple to operate, they adapt to the dynamic nature of day-to-day living in a way programmable thermostats cannot.

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Smart thermostats detect occupancy, learn inhabitants’ preferences, and nudge users toward more efficient behavior. The newest technologies also integrate demand response; they can reduce consumption at times of peak energy use, peak prices, and peak emissions. More comprehensive home management systems also control hot water. The net effect: Residences are more energy efficient, more comfortable, and less costly to operate.

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Where homes have HVAC systems and broadband, and residents have smartphones, smart thermostats can be highly effective interconnecting devices. Over two years, Nest Labs studied the impacts of its thermostats on energy use and cost savings. According to a company white paper, three separate studies produced similar results: energy savings of 10 to 12 percent on heating and 15 percent on central air-conditioning. Exact savings depend on individual thermostat use before upgrading to smart technology. Many industry estimates hover around 20 percent. Where homes are grouped in buildings or districts or connected to microgrids, individual thermostats can provide data to make the whole system more efficient.

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People already own thermostats, so they need good reason and low barriers to elect to purchase and install new ones. Lower prices and incentive programs can encourage homeowners to replace existing thermostats. Price should also drop as the technology evolves and competition grows, and some utility companies are already offering incentives. (Even at their current prices, smart thermostats achieve payback in less than two years.) Amended building codes will help expand adoption, and thermostats that also monitor carbon monoxide and smoke may increase consumer appeal. •

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density can also enable efficient heating and cooling of a city’s buildings. In district heating and cooling (DHC) systems, a central plant channels hot and/or cool water via a network of underground pipes to many buildings. Heat exchangers and heat pumps separate buildings from the distribution network, so that heating and cooling are centralized while thermostats remain independent. Rather than having small boilers and chilling units whir away at each structure, DHC provides thermal energy collectively—and more efficiently. The earliest examples of district heating are Roman. Hot water was used to warm temples, baths, even greenhouses. Its modern incarnations date back to 1882, when the New York Steam Company began pumping steam under Manhattan’s busy streets to serve customers with district heating. Engineer Birdsill Holly first tested the invention at his own property in Lockport, New York, and it quickly spread to many U.S. cities. Canada began implementing district heating around the same time, with the University of Toronto installing its system in 1911. (Campuses continue to be popular locations for DHC.) By the 1930s, the Soviets were constructing networks to send heat from industrial processes into homes. Nordic cities began investing in district heating during the 1970s fuel crisis. Copenhagen, Denmark, has become the global standout in DHC. It now meets 98 percent of heating demand with the world’s largest district system, fueled with waste heat from coal-fired power plants and waste-to-energy plants. (In the coming years, biomass will replace all coal use.) Since 2010, Copenhagen has also tapped the chilly waters of the Øresund Strait for district cooling, sent through pipes that run parallel to thermal ones. Both sources are examples of how DHC can leverage innovative resources and turn waste streams into revenue streams.

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Once a distribution network is in place, what powers it can morph and evolve. Coal can give way to geothermal, solar water heating, or sustainable biomass. A city’s wasted heat—from industrial facilities to data centers to in-household wastewater—can be captured and repurposed. Indeed, DHC comes to life around the world in varied and increasingly clean ways. Renewable sources that might not be cost-effective at the scale of a building can become viable at the municipal level. DHC’s collective supply creates economies of scale that save money. In parallel, improved building efficiency reduces heating and cooling needs over time. Compared to individual heating and cooling systems, Tokyo’s district system cuts energy use and carbon dioxide emissions in half—a powerful example of DHC’s potential. Although it is a tried and tested technology, especially in Northern Europe, it is still new and unfamiliar in many parts of the world, and high up-front costs and system complexity continue to be obstacles. To date, district cooling is much less prevalent than heating, though it is becoming more relevant as cities in hot parts of the world grow—and as the world grows hotter.

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municipal governments play the most essential role in taking this solution to scale. They are involved in planning, regulation, financing, and infrastructure, as well as setting aspirations around energy and emissions—all of which impact the viability of district systems. Urban decision makers can be, and in some places already are, the essential catalysts for collectively and efficiently heating and cooling the world’s cities. •

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IMPACT: By replacing existing stand-alone water- and space-heating systems, district heating can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 9.4 gigatons by 2050 and save $3.5 trillion in energy costs. Our analysis estimates current adoption at .01 percent of heating demand, growing to 10 percent over the next thirty years. While natural gas is currently the most prevalent fuel source for district heating facilities, we model the impact only of alternative sources such as geothermal and solar thermal energy that will become more prevalent over time.

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Most landfill content is organic matter: food scraps, yard trimmings, junk wood, wastepaper. At first, aerobic bacteria decompose those materials, but as layers of garbage get compacted and covered—and ultimately sealed beneath a landfill cap—oxygen is depleted. In its absence, anaerobic bacteria take over, and decomposition produces biogas, a roughly equal blend of carbon dioxide and methane accompanied by a smattering of other gases. Carbon dioxide would be part of nature’s cycles, but the methane is anthropogenic, created because we dump organic waste into sanitary landfills. Ideally, we would do it differently. Paper would be diverted for recycling and food scraps sent to composting or run through methane digesters. When they are not entombed, those wastes can create real value. But as long as landfills are piling up, we must manage the methane coming out of them. Even if we stopped landfilling immediately, existing sites would continue polluting for decades to come. The technology to manage biogas is relatively simple. Dispersed, perforated tubes are sent down into a landfill’s depths to collect gas, which is piped to a central collection area where it can be vented or flared. Better still, it can be compressed and purified for use as fuel—in generators, garbage trucks, or mixed into natural gas supply. Generating electricity from landfill gas is not without drawbacks: Pollutants from the combustion process diminish local air quality—a real concern for cities struggling with smog. Nonetheless, it is better than using raw fossil fuels, and has the additional benefits of reducing both odor and the risk of explosion or fire. (Totally clean renewables win the day.) The amount of methane produced varies from landfill to landfill, as does the amount that can be captured. The more contained the site, the easier and more effective capture can be. According to a study of U.S. landfills, methane collection at closed sites was 17 percent more efficient than at sites actively receiving waste, but open landfills—which have the most active decomposition due to fresh deposits—were responsible for more than 90 percent of methane emissions. So while extraction wells can more thoroughly siphon landfill gas that is sealed within a closed and capped landfill, the biggest culprits, most in need of our attention, are those where rubbish continues to collect. Landfills need not be hotbeds of emissions. As part of a comprehensive strategy to decrease and divert trash into higher uses, landfills should be—and increasingly are—designed, managed, and regulated with methane recovery in mind. A concentrated problem presents a concentrated opportunity to deliver real results. •

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The power of insulation is taken to the extreme with Passivhaus, or Passive House in English, a rigorous building method and standard created in Germany in the early 1990s and intensely focused on saving energy—by as much as 90 percent over conventional comparisons. This approach zealously focuses on creating an airtight envelope for a building, to separate inside from outside below, above, and around all sides. The result is a structure so hermetically sealed that warm air cannot leak out when snow is on the ground and cool air cannot escape when the dog days arrive. Some Passive House dwellings are so efficient they can be heated with the equivalent of a hairdryer. A thermos-like building envelope relies on thick, super-insulated foundation, walls, and roof; sealing all cracks, joints, and seams; addressing conductive thermal bridges; and using high-performance, triple- pane windows. Aggressively reducing energy needed for heating and cooling lays the foundation for meeting energy demand with on-site renewables and ultimately achieving net zero energy use.

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IMPACT: Retrofitting buildings with insulation is a cost-effective solution for reducing energy required for heating and cooling. If 54 percent of existing residential and commercial buildings install insulation, 8.3 gigatons of emissions can be avoided at an implementation cost of $3.7 trillion. Over thirty years, net savings could be $2.5 trillion. However, insulation measures can last one hundred years or more, realizing lifetime savings in excess of $4.2 trillion.

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Worldwide, buildings account for 32 percent of energy use and 19 percent of energy-related greenhouse emissions. In the United States, buildings’ energy consumption is more than 40 percent of the nation’s total. They pull from the electric grid or natural gas lines to heat, cool, and light the spaces within them and to power all manner of appliances and machinery. As much as 80 percent of the energy consumed is wasted—lights and electronics are left on unnecessarily and gaps in the building’s envelope allow air to seep in and out, for example. Much of the attention paid to green buildings is in new design construction. Various standards—Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Net Zero from the International Living Futures Institute, Passivhaus from the German institute of the same name, and R-2000 developed by Natural Resources Canada, to name a few—specify how to build well from the start, so that wasteful energy use is designed out of the building before it goes from the drafting table to real life. While it is important to look forward and shape the structures to come, it is equally critical to modify existing buildings—and not just commercial buildings. There are 140 million buildings in the United States and 5.6 million are commercial. These structures hold the greatest potential for energy reduction. Because old buildings are replaced by new at a rate of 1 to 3 percent per year, most of the existing building stock will still be here fifteen to twenty years from now. Ramping up retrofitting was a central impetus for the Empire State Building endeavor. New York City has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. To meet its goal, buildings need to be retrofitted. In the early years of the twenty-first century, the Empire State Building used as much energy in a single day as forty thousand single-family homes. The retrofit project—a collaboration between private, philanthropic, and nonprofit entities—set out to cut that usage by 40 percent.

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The retrofit raises the quality and desirability of the workspace, which increases demand. Retrofitting extends the life of the building and increases its value. Green buildings, new or old, are better places to live and work—and to own. For those who can see it and crack it, the business opportunity in retrofits is substantial. According to market sizing and analysis done by the Rockefeller Foundation and Deutsche Bank’s climate change shop, $279 billion could be invested in the United States in retrofitting residential, commercial, and institutional buildings, yielding more than $1 trillion in energy savings over ten years—equal to 30 percent of the country’s annual spending on electricity. In the process, more than 3.3 million cumulative job years of employment would be generated across all parts of the country, and U.S. emissions would be cut by almost 10 percent.

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Limit the scope of retrofitting to a set of highly effective, broadly applicable measures; pursue additional measures on the basis of impeccable analysis; and undertake multiple buildings simultaneously to gain economies of scale. Early results show it can reduce retrofit costs by more than 30 percent and achieve payback within four years. It is this sort of effort that is needed to connect the dots between people and energy, well-being and economics, and the future of the atmosphere. •

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Water is heavy. Pumping it from source to treatment plant to storage and distribution requires enormous amounts of energy. In fact, electricity is the major cost driver of processing and distributing water within cities, underlying the sums on water bills. But those bills do not account for all of the water flowing through municipal systems. Utilities use the phrase “non-revenue water” to describe the gap between what goes in and what ultimately comes out the tap. The World Bank calculates that 8.6 trillion gallons are lost each year through leaks, split roughly in half between high- and low-income countries. That the gallons lost during distribution are dubbed “non-revenue water” reveals what is at stake for utilities and municipalities: a sinking bottom line. Also at stake are emissions from needlessly producing billions of kilowatt-hours of electricity to pump water not into homes or businesses but through breaks in the world’s water-distribution networks. Minimizing those leaks and losses means using energy more sparingly, while conserving water as a scarce resource. In many places, aging water infrastructure and its deteriorating pipes and valves are a challenge. But their wholesale replacement is neither financially tenable nor necessary outside of extreme cases or whenever public health is at risk. Instead, improving the efficiency of water distribution largely depends on management practices. Those at the tap end of a water system know that pressure matters. It is just as fundamental for the system’s health overall. To borrow a description from the New York Times: “A steady, moderately low level of pressure is best—just as [with blood flow] in the human body.” Too much pressure and water looks for ways to escape; too little and water lines can suck in liquids and contaminants that surround them. Water utilities face a quest for pressure that is “just right.” One of their common approaches is creating contained “district metered areas” within the larger system, each with a special valve that acts as a gatekeeper.

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The bigger problem is with smaller, long-running leaks that are less detectable. Vigilant, thorough detection and speed to resolution are key. A range of tools and techniques can aid in scanning for and pinpointing leaks, a process most effective at night, when the system is relatively quiet. Ongoing evolution of sensors and software is aiding both leak detection and pressure management. In fact, an entire industry has emerged to address water loss, growing out of groundbreaking work by what the New York Times called “a bunch of brilliant, obsessive, far-thinking engineers in Britain who started something called the National Leakage Initiative in the early 1990s.” Their methodologies and techniques are now in use far beyond the British Isles. The issue of water loss exists around the

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In the United States, an estimated one-sixth of distributed water escapes the system. Losses are typically much higher in low-income regions—sometimes 50 percent of total volume. If those losses alone were halved, that water could supply some 90 million people. Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, did just that. By successfully cutting its losses in half, the water utility was able to serve an additional 1.3 million people and achieve twenty-four-hour supply for almost everyone. To date, success stories like Manila’s are few and far between, even in high-income countries. Too often utilities fail to tackle the issue of water loss because their institutional or technical capacity is weak, they are not incented or required to act, or even because building new treatment facilities is easier and more exciting, if costly. Because acknowledging leakage problems also means acknowledging management problems—and potentially provoking the ire of customers and politicians—utilities are loath to do so, yet pressure is growing to insist they must. Given the financial investments and engineering excellence that can be required, global enabling efforts such as the World Bank–International Water Association partnership are essential. The high-water mark for municipalities is this: In addition to increasing a utility’s efficiency and improving customer experience, addressing leaks is the cheapest… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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A building automation system (BAS) is a building’s brain. Equipped with sensors, BAS buildings are constantly scanning and rebalancing for greatest efficiency and effectiveness. Lights switch off when no one’s around, for example, and windows vent to improve air quality and temperature. A conventional system tells building managers what action to take, like a car’s dashboard; buildings with automated systems take action themselves, like a self-driving car. New buildings can be equipped with BAS from the start; older ones can be retrofitted to incorporate it and reap its benefits. The market for BAS is expanding. It is fueled by growing appreciation of the impact automated systems have on occupants’ well-being and productivity, as well as energy savings and reduced operations and maintenance costs. Automation systems can help to improve thermal and lighting comfort and indoor air quality, which directly impact occupant satisfaction. According to the World Green Building Council, indoor air quality can contribute to increases in productivity of 8 to 11 percent. For building operators, BAS makes it easier to see when something is going wrong and to fix it fast. Less work is required when management of all systems is centralized and simplified through automation. For green buildings in particular, BAS can measure and verify key building metrics to ensure and maintain efficiency, which can be compromised by human and other factors. Green buildings can have high efficiency ratings, but they are only efficient if ratings match their actual operation. Barriers to adoption exist. Energy expenditures are typically a small cost driver for businesses, not a place to seek significant savings. For BAS to be worthwhile, it must yield a high return on high up-front cost, and quickly.

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buildings are responsible for roughly one-third of global energy use and one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Building automation systems are one powerful solution for reining in that energy use. Critically, they circumvent individual behaviors such as adjusting the thermostat, making a step change in efficiency possible. BAS is becoming increasingly necessary to meet local and national building-efficiency requirements, and as buildings themselves become more complex—with distributed energy generation, exterior shading, switchable glass, and the like—BAS sophistication must continue to grow. These systems are the “neural networks” buildings need. • IMPACT: BAS can result in up to 20 percent more efficient heating and cooling and 11.5 percent more efficient energy use for lighting, appliances, etc.

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Many of the conflict zones in today’s world have been deforested: Syria, South Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia, Rwanda, Pakistan, Nepal, the Philippines, Haiti, and Afghanistan. All suffer from deforestation, uncontrolled cutting of fuelwood, overgrazing, soil erosion, and desertification. The following areas have lost 90 percent or more of their original forest habitat: Burma, Thailand, India, Borneo, Sumatra, the Philippines, the Mata Atlântica forest of Brazil, Somalia, Kenya, Madagascar, and Saudi Arabia. A 2015 estimate of the world’s tree population: three trillion. That count is substantially higher than previously thought, but more than 15 billion trees are cut down each year. Since humans began farming, the number of trees on earth has fallen by 46 percent. (Today, forests cover 15.4 million square miles of the earth’s surface—or roughly 30 percent of its land area.) The color of China’s Yellow River is caused by soil eroding off the Loess Plateau, the result of centuries of deforestation and overgrazing. European forests were cleared from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries. America did the same in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Logging, slash-and-burn removal for pasture, and clearing of forests for palm oil wreaked havoc in Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa in the twentieth century. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the world continues to lose forty-eight football fields’ worth of forest every minute. Carbon emissions from deforestation

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Henri des Roziers, a French Catholic priest who doubles as a human rights lawyer, has emerged in Brazil as the next likely target of big landowners bent on turning parts of the rainforest into grazing land for cattle. The price for killing him is estimated around $38,000.

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Conversion of forest to agricultural fields or pasture has been estimated to result in a 20 to 40 percent decrease in soil carbon.

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strategies include public policy and the enforcement of existing anti-logging laws; the protection of indigenous lands; market-driven mechanisms, primarily eco-certification programs that inform consumers and affect purchasing decisions (many corporations have signed deforestation commitments); sustainable forestry and agricultural practices; and numerous programs that enable wealthy nations and corporations to make payments to countries for maintaining their tropical forests. The most prominent pay-for-performance program is the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program, in operation since 2008. Another is the New York Declaration on Forests, endorsed by forty countries and nearly sixty multinational corporations, among others. The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, established six months after the December 2015 Paris Agreement, has established a fund of nearly $1.1 billion to reward forested nations for conserving and increasing forest carbon stocks and for reducing deforestation and degradation. The rewards to landowners, forest dwellers, and other constituencies are intended to make conserving forests more economically advantageous than clearing them. The benefits of forest conservation are many and various: nontimber products (bush meat, wild food, forage and fodder); erosion control; free pollination and pest and mosquito control provided by birds, bats, and bees; and other ecosystem services. However, the benefits of forest conservation are elusive for marginalized people who eke out a living on previously forested land. The people who live at the edge of forests are key actors. There needs to be some form of compensation and livelihoods for them that extract value from standing forests. Tropical forests are home to two-thirds of all terrestrial plants and animals, an irreplaceable stock of biodiversity. They are the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Brazil enacted strong enforcement policies and engaged world-class scientific monitoring (in conjunction with Germany), including satellite photos that triggered alerts about new deforestation. It revised ownership codes that allowed settlers to claim ownership without clearing the land and established land registry programs. In the state of Pará, ground zero for deforestation, the registry expanded from 500 properties in 2009 to more than 112,000 today, covering 62 percent of the private land in the state. Additionally, Brazil withheld credit from government entities with high deforestation rates, financed projects devoted to sustainable development and reduction of deforestation, and increased productivity of the land already devoted to agriculture. Also important was the voluntary agreement from soy traders to embargo products from recently deforested land and the 2009 agreement between the three largest Amazon meat-packers and… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Malaysia’s tropical hardwoods have been in demand for centuries, intensively so in the last twenty years. During that time, timber companies have not only profited from the sale of timber, they compounded their gains by installing palm oil plantations. Much of the logging was illegal, as was the appropriation of the land. The effects have been devastating. Logging has degraded or destroyed the vast majority of Malaysian rainforests, and the deforestation rate is faster there than in any other tropical country. Home to one of the most intelligent primates, the critically endangered orangutan, it is estimated that only 20 percent of Borneo’s rainforests remain. This photo shows the silt-laden waters of the Miri River, colored orange by runoff from upstream logging, and the herringbone tethering of smaller-diameter trees, which indicate that forests are not being allowed to recover before being logged again.

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Equity in the effort to address global warming—with blue carbon or otherwise—requires discipline by practitioners and vigilance by observers. When coastal wetland investment is done well, returns can be manifold, locally and globally. Conserving coastal ecosystems can benefit the atmosphere, enhance biodiversity, water quality, and storm protection, and respect the rights and well-being of local communities, all at the same time.

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According to a 2011 study measuring the global carbon sink that forests represent, “the tropics have the world’s largest forest area, the most intense contemporary land-use change, and the highest carbon uptake, but also the greatest uncertainty.” Yet even as deforestation persists, the regrowth of tropical forests sequesters as much as six gigatons of carbon dioxide per year. That is equivalent to 11 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide or all those emanating from the United States. When we lose forests, primarily to agricultural expansion or human settlement, carbon dioxide discharges into the atmosphere. Tropical forest loss alone is responsible for 16 to 19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. Restoring forests does just the opposite. As forest ecosystems come back to life, trees, soil, leaf litter, and other vegetation absorb and hold carbon, taking it out of global warming rotation. Though not immediately equal in their diversity to old-growth landscapes, restored forests support the water cycle, conserve soil, protect habitat and pollinators, provide food, medicine, and fiber, and give people places to live, adventure, and worship. Particularly important for rural, often-marginalized forest-fringe dwellers, these ecosystem goods and services will become more important as climate change persists and communities are faced with adapting to its impacts.

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According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), 30 percent of the world’s forestland has been cleared completely. Another 20 percent has been degraded. “More than 2 billion hectares [4.9 billion acres] worldwide offer opportunities for restoration—an area larger than South America,” a team of WRI researchers reports. Three-quarters of that land would be best suited to a “mosaic” forest restoration approach, blending forests, trees, and agricultural land uses. Up to 1.2 billion acres are ripe for full restoration of large forests with dense canopy cover, in areas where human residents are sparser. The opportunity is enormous, and the majority of it lies in tropical regions.

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Given the interconnectedness of people and forests, a particular framework for restoration has emerged: forest landscape restoration (FLR). This approach, proposed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), means “regarding the landscape as an integrated whole . . . looking at different land uses together, their connections, interactions, and a mosaic of [restoration] interventions.” It means there is no single formula for forest restoration. Growing trees is an essential intervention, of course, but FLR insists human stakeholders and their participation are equally crucial. (Of the ten guiding principles for restoration developed by the FAO, just one of them is “planting trees.”) Making restoration a collaborative process can ensure it is done with and for local communities, and that root causes of forest damage are addressed, a suite of sometimes competing objectives can be met, and the revitalized forest has champions, not challengers. Restoration cannot be done in the halls of power alone. It starts and ends on the ground. Today, we can point to a veritable global movement for forest restoration. A critical year in its evolution was 2011, when the Bonn Challenge set an ambitious target of restoring 370 million acres (150 million hectares) of forest worldwide by 2020. The 2014 New York Declaration on Forests affirmed that aim and added a cumulative target of 865 million acres (350 million hectares) restored globally by 2030. (These goals accompany others focused on halting deforestation in the first place.) Should the world restore 865 million acres of forest by 2030, a total of 12 to 33 gigatons of carbon dioxide would be removed from the atmosphere and become terrestrial once again, alongside provision of myriad other goods and services. According to recent analysis, active forest restoration, which is not always required, typically costs $400 to $1,200 per acre. Those numbers do not include land costs, and they vary according to the species planted, methods used, starting conditions, and project scale. Restoring 864 million acres of forest between now and 2030 could cost $350 billion and as much as $1 trillion. The return on investment would be larger. According to estimates from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, “Achieving the 864 million–acre goal could generate $170 billion per year in net benefits from watershed protection, improved crop yields, and forest products, [while sequestering] up to 1.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually.” The bulk of restoration opportunities lies primarily within low-income countries in tropical regions.

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AFR100, the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative, is committed to restoring 247 million acres of degraded land on the continent by 2030—an area three times the size of Germany. Having cut Amazonian deforestation rates by 80 percent from 2005 to 2015—a feat that once seemed impossible—Brazil is restoring more than 29 million acres of forest. Restoration is a means of both reaping national development rewards and receiving international compensation for carbon sinks. Because forest restoration is such a potent solution, commitments and funding need to be a global priority. And because restoration efforts have ranged from success to failure, we need to analyze why, scale best practices, and eliminate those that do not work. Initiatives need to respect land rights and tenure, especially those of indigenous people, be well equipped and technically adept, and ensure effective enforcement of strong policies. Success depends on changing land-use practices and reducing meat consumption, so we can feed a growing global population without expanding agricultural acreage. One of the dominant storylines of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was the vast loss of forestland. Its restoration and re-wilding could be the twenty-first-century story. • IMPACT: In theory, 751 million acres of degraded land in the tropics could be restored to continuous, intact forest. Using current and estimated commitments from the Bonn Challenge and New York Declaration on Forests, our model assumes that restoration could occur on 435 million acres. Through natural regrowth, committed land could sequester 1.4 tons of carbon dioxide per acre annually, for a total of 61.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050. Only carbon stored in soil organic matter and aboveground biomass is accounted for; belowground biomass is not included.

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bamboo rapidly sequesters carbon in biomass and soil, taking it out of the air faster than almost any other plant, and can thrive on inhospitable degraded lands. Some species, in the right environment, are capable of sequestering seventy-five to three hundred tons of carbon per acre over a lifetime. Bamboo is not a plant that needs encouragement. There is a top-ten list of the fastest-growing plants in the world, and duckweed, algae, and kudzu did not have a chance of making number one. You can sit by timber bamboo in the spring and watch it grow more than one inch an hour.

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Bamboo reaches its full height in one growing season, at which time it can be harvested for pulp or allowed to grow to maturity over four to eight years. After being cut, bamboo re-sprouts and grows again. Managed bamboo is cultivated on more than 57 million acres worldwide. Just a grass, bamboo has the compressive strength of concrete and the tensile strength of steel. It is used in almost every aspect of buildings from frame to floor to shingles, as well as food, paper, furniture, bicycles, boats, baskets, fabric, charcoal, biofuels, animal feed, and even plumbing. Although bamboo’s value is well understood in Asia (called the “friend of the people” in China), it is still considered a weed in much of the world. But its versatile uses, including carbon sequestration, place it among the world’s most useful plants. Because bamboo is a grass, it contains minute silica structures called plant stones, or phytoliths. Composed of minerals, phytoliths resist degradation longer than other plant material. The carbon they store can remain sequestered in the soil for hundreds or thousands of years. The combination of phytoliths and bamboo’s rapid growth rate make it a prolific means to sequester carbon. The carbon impact of bamboo is even greater, due to its ability to replace high-emissions materials such as cotton, plastics, steel, aluminum, and concrete. As a replacement for pulp used for paper, bamboo can produce six times as much pulp as a conventional pine plantation.

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Bamboo can also have some of the same drawbacks as monoculture tree plantations used for afforestation. By focusing on commercial use on degraded lands, especially those with steep slopes or significant erosion, it is possible to maximize the positive impacts of bamboo—useful products, carbon sequestration, and avoided emissions from alternative materials—while minimizing the negatives. • IMPACT: Bamboo is planted on 77 million acres today. We assume that it will be grown on an additional 37 million acres of degraded or abandoned lands. Our carbon sequestration calculations include both living biomass and long-lived bamboo products, with an annual rate of 2.9 tons of carbon per acre. Where bamboo is substituted for aluminum, concrete, plastic, or steel, there can be avoided… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Tree intercropping is not a new discovery; it has been around for millennia. One of the gifts global warming bestows to the world is the impetus to find our way back to practices once known and understood. In the West, there has been a long-standing premise that it had to help Africa “develop.” The Western aid and development model for addressing poverty has been dismantled by both Africans and many studies, yet it persists. In Mark’s work, people are growing three things: trees, crops, and wisdom.

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Foreign aid, sacks of genetically modified corn, and handouts come and go, but if we are to successfully address global warming, we should learn to trust the capacity of people everywhere to understand the consequences and imagine place-based solutions on a collaborative basis, and not force solutions upon them, however well intentioned. —PH Yacouba Sawadogo

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he was born well before 1960, the year the country now known as Burkina Faso gained independence from France, which explains why he was never taught to read and write. Nor did he learn French. He spoke his tribal language, Mòoré, in a deep, unhurried rumble, occasionally punctuating sentences with a brief grunt. Yet despite his illiteracy, Yacouba Sawadogo is a pioneer of the tree-based approach to farming that has transformed the western Sahel over the last twenty years. “Climate change… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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His farm in northern Burkina Faso was large by local standards—fifty acres—and had been in his family for generations. The rest of his family abandoned it after the terrible droughts of the 1980s, when a 20 percent decline in annual rainfall slashed food production throughout the Sahel, turned vast stretches of savanna into desert, and… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Sawadogo said he had been adapting to a hotter, drier climate for twenty years now. “In the drought years, people found themselves in such a terrible situation they had to think in new ways,” said Sawadogo, who prided himself on being an innovator. For example, it was a long-standing practice among local farmers to dig what they called zai—shallow pits that collected and concentrated scarce rainfall onto the roots of crops. Sawadogo increased the size of his zai in hopes of capturing more rainfall. But his most important innovation, he said, was to add manure to the zai during the dry season, a practice his peers derided as wasteful. Sawadogo’s experiments proved out: crop yields duly increased. But the most important result was one he hadn’t anticipated: trees began to sprout amid his rows of millet and sorghum, thanks to seeds contained in the manure. As one growing season followed another, it became apparent that the trees—now a few feet high—were further increasing his yields of millet and sorghum while also restoring the degraded soil’s vitality. “Since I began this technique of… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Chris Reij, a Dutch environmental specialist at VU University Amsterdam who has worked on agricultural issues in the Sahel for thirty years, and other scientists who have studied the technique say that mixing trees and crops—a practice they have named “farmer-managed natural regeneration,” or what is known as agro-forestry—brings a range of benefits. For example, the trees’ shade and bulk offer crops relief from the overwhelming heat and gusting winds. “In the past, farmers sometimes had to sow their fields three, four, or five times because wind-blown sand would cover or destroy seedlings,” said Reij, a silver-haired Dutchman with the zeal of a missionary. “With trees to buffer the wind and anchor the soil, farmers need sow only once.” Leaves serve other purposes. After they fall to the ground, they act as mulch, boosting soil fertility; they also provide fodder for livestock in a season when little other food is available. In emergencies, people too can eat the leaves to avoid starvation. The improved planting pits developed by Sawadogo and other simple water-harvesting techniques have enabled more water to infiltrate the soil. Amazingly, underground water tables that plummeted after the droughts of the 1980s had now begun… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Some analysts attributed the rise in water tables to an increase in rainfall that occurred beginning in 1994, Reij added, “but that doesn’t make sense—the water tables began rising well before that.” Studies have documented the same phenomenon in some villages in Niger, where extensive water-harvesting measures helped raise water tables by fifteen meters between the early 1990s and 2005. Over time, Sawadogo grew more and more enamored of trees, until now his land looked less like a farm than a forest, albeit a forest composed of trees that, to my California eyes, often looked rather thin and patchy. Trees can be harvested—their branches pruned and sold—and then they grow back, and their benefits for the soil make it easier for additional trees to grow. “The more trees you have, the more you get,” Sawadogo explained. Wood is the main energy source in rural Africa, and as his tree cover expanded, Sawadogo sold wood for cooking, furniture making, and construction, thus increasing and diversifying his income—a key adaptation tactic. Trees, he says, are also a source of natural medicines, no small advantage in an area where modern health care is scarce and expensive. “I… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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As word of such successes travels, agro-forestry has spread throughout the region, according to Salif Ali, a neighboring farmer. “Twenty years ago, after the drought, our situation here was quite desperate, but now we live much better,” he said. “Before, most families had only one granary each. Now, they have three or four, though the land they cultivate has not increased. And we have more livestock as well.” After extolling the many benefits trees have provided—shade, livestock fodder, drought protection, firewood, even the return of hares and other small wildlife—Salif was asked by one member of our group, almost in disbelief, “Can we find anyone around here who doesn’t practice this type of agro-forestry?” “Good luck,” he replied. “Nowadays, everyone does it this way.” According to Tony Rinaudo, an Australian missionary and development worker who was one of the original champions of what is called farmer managed natural regeneration, “The great thing about agro-forestry is that it’s free. They stop seeing trees as weeds and start seeing them as assets.” But only if they’re not penalized for doing so. Agro-forestry has spread largely by itself, from farmer to farmer and village to village, as people see the results with their own eyes and move to adopt the practice. Not until Gray Tappan of the U.S. Geological Survey compared aerial photos from 1975 with satellite images of the same region in 2005 was it apparent just how widespread agro-forestry had become. Reij, Rinaudo, and other advocates were surprised by the satellite evidence; they had had no idea so many farmers in so many places had grown so many trees. “This is probably the largest positive environmental transformation in the Sahel and perhaps in all of Africa,” said Reij. Combining the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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What makes agro-forestry so empowering—and sustainable—Reij added, is that Africans themselves own the technology, which is simply the knowledge that nurturing trees alongside one’s crops brings many benefits. “Before this trip, I always thought about what external inputs were required to increase food production,” Gabriel Coulibaly said at a debriefing session after our fact-finding expedition. Coulibaly, a Malian who worked as a consultant to the European Union and other international organizations, added, “But now I see that farmers can create solutions themselves, and that is what will make those solutions sustainable. Farmers manage this technology, so no one can take it away from them.” And agro-forestry’s success does not depend on large donations from foreign governments or humanitarian groups— donations that often do not materialize or can… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Overseas governments and NGOs can encourage the necessary policy changes by African governments, such as granting farmers ownership of trees. And they can fund, at very low cost, the grassroots information sharing that has spread agro-forestry so effectively in the western Sahel. Although farmers have done the most to alert peers to agro-forestry’s benefits, crucial assistance has come from a handful of activists like Reij and Rinaudo and NGOs such as Sahel-Eco and World Vision Australia. These advocates now hope to encourage the adoption of agro-forestry in other African countries through an initiative called “Re-greening the Sahel,” said Reij. If humanity is to avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable of climate change, we must pursue the best options available. Agro-forestry certainly seems to be one of them, at least for the poorest members of the human family. “Let’s look at what’s already been achieved in Africa and build on that,” urged Reij. “In the end, what happens in Africa will depend on what Africans do, so they must own the process. For our part, we must realize that farmers in Africa know a lot, so there are things we can learn from them as well.” • Adapted from Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth by Mark Hertsgaard. Copyright © 2011 by Mark Hertsgaard.

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Compared to annuals, perennials have the potential to avoid leaching nutrients, eroding soil, spraying synthetic fertilizers, and running diesel-swigging equipment as often. Bioenergy crops present an opportunity to swap annuals for perennials, and draw down carbon in the process. Plant material is used in a variety of ways to create energy: combusted to produce heat or electricity; anaerobically digested to produce methane; and converted to ethanol, biodiesel, or hydrogenated vegetable oil for fuel. Within transportation, bioenergy makes up 2.8 percent of fuel consumed. Within the power sector, it comprises 2 percent of the total. The whole bioenergy lineup is projected to grow. Whether plant material used for bioenergy is annual or perennial (or waste content) makes all the difference. The United States leads the world in the production of liquid biofuels. Forty percent of the corn grown nationally becomes ethanol. Huge subsidies go into this annual crop, often for little or no benefit to the climate because energy inputs are so high. Producing corn ethanol can threaten water supplies and raise food prices without making any progress on cutting emissions. Perennial bioenergy crops can be different. Cultivated appropriately, they can reduce emissions by 85 percent compared to corn ethanol. Switchgrass, fountain grasses, and silver grass (Miscanthus giganteus) are robust herbaceous plants that require less water and nutrients than food crops and can be harvested year after year without sowing. Short-rotation woody crops such as poplar, willow, eucalyptus, and locust have a twenty- to thirty-year lifetime. They can be harvested through a process called coppicing: cutting close to the ground, followed by rapid and repeated regrowth. Most important, the impact of perennials on soil carbon is dramatically different from that of annuals. If existing annual bioenergy crops are replaced with perennials, they can make a net-positive contribution through sequestration. In addition, many are prime candidates to grow on degraded land not suited to food production. Compared to corn and other annuals, total production of plant material can be lower with perennials, and they prevent erosion, produce more stable yields, are less vulnerable to pests, and support pollinators and biodiversity.

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From Ireland to Finland to Russia, burning dried bricks of peat for heat, cooking, and eventually electricity is an age-old custom, still practiced in some places. Peat was key to the Dutch Golden Age of the seventeenth century. An abundant, cheap, and easily transported energy source, it enabled Dutch industry and production of goods for the international market to flourish. Today, though these unique ecosystems cover just 3 percent of the earth’s land area, they are second only to oceans in the amount of carbon they store—twice that held by the world’s forests, at an estimated five hundred to six hundred gigatons. Though forests have gotten more attention in recent decades, society is waking up to the invaluable role of peatlands as a carbon storehouse . . . so long as they stay wet.

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From Sweden to Sumatra, a variety of national and cross-border initiatives have cropped up to protect and restore peatlands. They range from outright preservation of intact peatlands and bans on further drainage to rewetting schemes, public awareness campaigns, and training in responsible management practices. For millennia, peatlands have been sacred, ritual spaces—sometimes viewed as a gateway to the gods. A similar reverence today could ensure that peat’s layers of death and decomposition can continue to be a life-giving force. • IMPACT: If the total protected area of peatlands increases from 7.9 million acres to 608 million acres by 2050, or 67 percent of all currently intact peatlands, 21.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions can be avoided. At 608 million acres, peatlands would hold a protected stock of 336 gigatons of carbon, or roughly 1,230 gigtons of carbon dioxide if released into the atmosphere. Though peatlands comprise only 3 percent of global land area, they are the most organic-rich soils; their degradation would release an enormous amount of carbon.

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Indigenous and community-owned lands represent 18 percent of all land area, including at least 1.2 billion acres of forest (approximately 14 percent of global forestlands).

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Home gardening systems facilitate multiple advantages for practitioners and the landscape, such as efficient nutrient cycling, high productivity, diverse species composition, and maintenance of social and cultural values. These varied systems aid in conserving biodiversity, meeting local food security, and conserving soil and water resources. Home gardens hold higher carbon sequestration potential compared to monocrop production systems, with sequestration rates comparable to those of mature forest stands. Agroforestry. A significant amount of carbon is sequestered by agroforestry systems, which integrate trees and crop production. Agroforestry systems are well studied and known for their capacity to protect the land from soil erosion, recycle organic matter and soil nutrients, hedge smallholder income against market and weather events that impact single crops, and maintain high species diversity. Swidden. Another indigenous practice is swidden cultivation, where cultivated land continues to shift from year to year. The term swidden refers to the burning and clearing of forestland for annual cultivation and the subsequent fallowing of the land over some period to allow regeneration. Governments have attempted to eliminate shifting cultivation, considering it inefficient and destructive to forests and soils. However, studies show that shifting cultivation is not a major cause of deforestation relative to land conversion, and that more carbon is being sequestered under shifting cultivation than under annual cropping or plantations. Pastoralism. Indigenous pastoralists around the world manage the vast and often harsh terrain of rangelands, making productive use of these systems to meet their subsistence needs and maintaining ecosystems that sequester considerable amounts of carbon. Rangelands are approximately 40 percent of global land area and comprise the largest single land use in the world. Much of these lands have historically been utilized and managed by indigenous groups for hunting, gathering, grazing, and seasonal agriculture. The indigenous communities who engage in pastoral management are characteristically nomadic, living in low-density, highly mobile populations. Rangelands continue to support the livelihoods of 100 million to 200 million pastoralists, who steward more than 1.2 billion acres of rangelands globally. These systems are biologically diverse and highly productive, and conserve large stores of carbon. Literature suggests that these lands store up to 30 percent of the world’s soil carbon and have the potential to sequester significantly more carbon by 2030 under improved rangeland management practices. Further, pastoralism has been shown to be more productive per acre than commercial ranching or sedentary livestock in similar environments. The temporary grazing of livestock helps secure carbon that may otherwise be released into the atmosphere, compared to other land-use systems such as annual crop production and bioenergy… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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An estimated 400 million to 500 million people globally depend on forests for their livelihoods; among these are 60 million forest-dependent indigenous peoples in Latin America, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. Estimates of total forestlands under commons management, regardless of ownership, reach 8 billion acres. A wide range of practices can be considered indigenous or community forest management, including fallows management, forest groves with domesticated species, sacred groves, selective cultivation of forest species and trees, and intensive forest management. Indigenous management includes individual forest management practices and involves the process of collective decision making about the use and conservation of forest in communities. Loss of forest tenure and insecure land rights play a significant role in deforestation and degradation of indigenous or community-managed forestlands. Numerous studies have demonstrated that tenure-secure community forests exhibit lower deforestation rates and produce healthier ecosystem outcomes compared to similar forests without tenure security. Community management helps lower rates of degradation, enhance biomass growth, increase sequestration rates, and reduce emissions from forests. In a review of 118 cases that assess associations between tenure and forest change, it was found that tenure security is associated with positive forest outcomes and less deforestation. In another study it was shown that community-managed forests on average increased carbon storage by 2 tons per acre per year compared to nonmanaged forests.

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The world’s 1.9 billion acres of temperate forests are now a net-carbon sink. Rising biomass density and overall increase in area mean these ecosystems absorb roughly 0.8 gigatons of carbon each year. There is an opportunity for more sequestration through restoration. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), more than 1.4 billion additional acres are candidates for restoration—either large-scale, closed forest or mixed mosaics of forests, more sparsely growing trees, and land uses such as agriculture. A collaboration between WRI, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and South Dakota State University produced the global Atlas of Forest and Landscape Restoration Opportunities, which both quantifies and visualizes the prospect before us. Toggle between map layers of current and potential forest coverage, and the eastern half of the United States and continental Europe transform from speckled to dark green. The atlas classifies 84 percent of Ireland as opportunity area for either wide-scale or mosaic restoration. The Emerald Isle was once almost entirely forested, though by the eighteenth century most of its woodlands had been converted to pasture. The United States has substantial opportunities for restoration, building on trends already in motion. From the 1990s to 2000s, the carbon sink provided by U.S. forestland rose 33 percent. The country’s East Coast is home to a renaissance,

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Scientists in the Harz Mountains in Germany have discovered that this really is a case of interdependence, and most individual trees of the same species growing in the same stand are connected to each other through their root systems. It appears that nutrient exchange and helping neighbors in times of need is the rule, and this leads to the conclusion that forests are superorganisms with interconnections much like ant colonies. Of course, it makes sense to ask whether tree roots are simply wandering around aimlessly underground and connecting up when they happen to bump into roots of their own kind. Once connected, they have no choice but to exchange nutrients. They create what looks like a social network, but what they are experiencing is nothing more than a purely accidental give and take. In this scenario, chance encounters replace the more emotionally charged image of active support, though even chance encounters offer benefits for the forest ecosystem. But Nature is more complicated than that. According to Massimo Maffei from the University of Turin, plants—and that includes trees—are perfectly capable of distinguishing their own roots from the roots of other species and even from the roots of related individuals.

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Lerner saw that implementing any system based on rail would be too expensive and slow. (He is famous for saying, “If you want creativity, cut one zero from the budget. If you want sustainability, cut two zeros!”) Lerner devised an alternative that focused on something wholly unfashionable—buses—but he gave them the advantages of rail. The main advantage was dedicated lanes along main thoroughfares—separate corridors allowing buses to avoid entanglement with automobiles—at installation costs fifty times less than that of rail. Then, in the early 1990s, Curitiba’s bus stops were redesigned to be more like metro stations, facilitating passenger flow. Instead of paying onboard, riders pay at the station; instead of a single point of entry, there are multiple. These signature tubelike stations now pepper the city’s terrain (and anchor its brand), and 2 million passengers move through them every day. (By comparison, London’s Tube has 3 million riders on the average day.) Curitiba pioneered what is known as bus rapid transit (BRT), a model replicated across Latin America (e.g., Bogotá’s famously successful TransMilenio) and in more than two hundred cities worldwide. BRT is one of the modes of mass transit currently vying with cars for passengers and their miles. Whatever its form, public transportation uses scale to its emissions advantage. When someone opts to ride a streetcar or bus rather than driving a car or hailing a cab, greenhouse gases are averted. To use technical parlance, it is all about modal shift. The transport sector is responsible for 23 percent of global emissions. Urban transport is the single greatest source and growing—largely because the use of cars is on the rise. Of course, most transit was mass transit until World War II, when the automobile became affordable to the masses in high-income countries. Freedom from fixed routes and schedules had—and continues to have—strong allure, while urban and suburban spaces designed around cars made them increasingly essential. Cars and sprawl became coconspirators,

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Mass transit also has a crucial social advantage: It makes cities more equitable by serving those who cannot drive—the young and the old, those with physical limitations, and those unable to afford car ownership. They are far from its sole users, but they might otherwise be excluded from accessing mobility. Mass transit is one manifestation of the public square, in which people of many stripes encounter and share space with one another. As Adam Gopnik put it in The New Yorker, “A train is a small society, headed somewhere more or less on time, more or less together, more or less sharing the same window, with a common view and a singular destination”—a unique civic experience, as well as a means of conveyance. Despite its advantages, mass transit has faced—and continues to reckon with—a variety of challenges. The appeal of cars is strong and culturally entrenched in many places (less so among younger generations), and shifting habits is difficult, especially if behavior change requires more effort, more time, or more money. Public transportation is most successful where it is not just viable but efficient and attractive. One key piece is making the use of multiple modes more seamless, such as a single card to pay for metro, bus, bike share, and rideshare, or a single smartphone app to plan trips that use more than one. Beyond appealing to passengers, mass transit relies on overall urban design. A city’s density is the pivotal factor, necessary for ensuring people live and work close enough to transit to use it (what is known as the first-mile/last-mile problem) and for achieving the high-occupancy rates that make transit profitable and efficient.

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Achieving that density may pre-sent some cities with the need for fundamental reorganization and “redensification,” and those still growing with an opportunity to plan ahead. Compact urban spaces can readily become connected urban spaces, at lower cost. Even in ideal conditions, investing in transit infrastructure can be a challenge fiscally or politically, but those investments pay dividends. The benefits of mass transit accrue to all city dwellers, not just those who use it. (And its absence places burdens none can escape.) Without putting money where buses, subways, and streetcars are, or could be, modal shift may go towards private cars and their attendant congestion and pollution, rather than lower-emissions transit options.

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According to the International Union of Railways, there are more than 18,500 miles of high-speed rails worldwide. That number will increase by 50 percent when current construction is completed; many more thousands of miles are planned and under consideration. China has by far the most high-speed rail lines—more than 35 percent of the total—with Japan and Western Europe not far behind. China, Japan, and South Korea have introduced a variation of high-speed rail, the maglev train, which deploys magnets that lift the train off its supporting structure, propelling it at astonishingly smooth and quiet speeds—to the order of 270 miles per hour in the run between Shanghai and its distant airport. High-speed rail (HSR) is powered almost exclusively by electricity, not diesel. Compared to driving or flying, it is the fastest way to travel between two points between one hundred and seven hundred miles apart and reduces carbon emissions up to 90 percent. HSR’s market advantage is on trips of seven hours or less.

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new trains have comfortable cabins, wonderful visibility, and full connectivity. The long-term success of HSR is well established on medium-distance (four-hour) high-density corridors. In certain popular markets in Western Europe and Asia, fast trains have captured more than half of the overall travel business on those routes. HSR virtually owns the London–Paris, Paris–Lyon, and Madrid–Barcelona routes. In 2013, high-speed trains recorded 220 billion passenger miles globally, about 12 percent of the total rail market.

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The trains themselves are expensive, as are any new stations. The heavy-duty roadbeds range from $3.7 million to $52.8 million per mile; and then there are bridges, tunnels, and viaducts. In the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak estimates that creating a high-speed rail system rated at 220 miles per hour would cost $160 billion. A lower, 160-mph system would save only a little. Given the numbers, government subsidies and excise taxes are necessary, but opponents of high-speed rail cite subsidies as proof that it is not economical. However, any assessment should include the costs if a high-speed rail line is not built, as all of our transportation systems enjoy significant government subsidies, hidden or otherwise. The public, not private enterprise, pays for new highways, new lanes for old highways, bigger airports, traffic jams, wasted time, and ever more greenhouse gases. The public costs that any HSR project would avoid need to be subtracted from the capital cost of the system.

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High-speed rail requires high passenger miles to break even. Only certain places in the world have sufficient population density to support HSR. The carbon footprint of an up-and-running HSR is lower than that of planes and cars, but only when it replaces significant air and vehicle miles. Another factor to take into account: There are significant greenhouse gas emissions associated with HSR construction, in particular large amounts of cement required to build railroad tracks strong enough to support trains travelling at high speeds (also true of runways and roads). One of the advantages that HSR has over air, automobile, and conventional rail is that its energy source is more likely to get cleaner as time passes.

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This advantage must be tempered by the fact that automobile travel is becoming less carbon intensive as electric vehicles become more prevalent. Air travel is less likely to make big gains in efficiency, however, maintaining HSR’s per-passenger emissions benefit as long as ridership meets or exceeds expectations. Moreover, HSR can be an important component of smart growth and help revitalize city centers. Hub-and-spoke designs for HSR, with city-center stations sharing space with mass transit and properly planned mixed-use zones nearby, can contribute to wider climate, health, and social benefits. As part of a sustainable transportation system, HSR can compound its emissions benefits. There are other economic and environmental benefits that argue for expanded HSR travel. For example, as travelers… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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IMPACT: If HSR construction and ridership continue at their projected pace, this solution can deliver 1.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions reductions by 2050. A global network of 64,000 miles of track, with an average trip length of 186 miles, could support 6 to 7 billion riders annually. Regionally, most impact will come from Asia, especially China. If HSR is concentrated between cities with heavy, short-haul flight routes, impact can be greater. Implementation comes at a steep cost of $1… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Ships are the most carbon-effective way we have to move materials from one geography to another, where an efficient rail system does not exist or cannot be used due to geography. A plane emits forty-seven times more carbon dioxide to transport the same quantity of goods the same distance. Even though shipping is an industry essential to the world’s economy, it is largely invisible. Shipping oil, iron ore, rice, and running shoes across oceans produces 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and those emissions grow as world trade continues to increase. Forecasts predict they could be 50 percent to 250 percent higher in 2050, depending on economic and energy variables.

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Because of huge shipping volumes, increasing shipping efficiency can have a sizable impact. It begins with design of the ships. The most efficient vessels are larger and longer than others. They trim out unnecessary parts of their structure and use lightweight materials. Some new vessels have ducktails at the rear—flat extensions that project from the ship’s aft to lower resistance—and compressed air pumped through the bottom of the hull to create a layer of bubbles that “lubricate” passage through the water. These two innovations alone can reduce fuel use by 7 to 22 percent depending on the type of boat. Efficient ships may also have additional machinery on board, such as solar panels to provide electricity and automation systems that take the guesswork out of optimizing a ship’s performance. Some design and technology approaches are applicable only to new ship builds; others are viable for retrofitting—particularly important because vessels currently in use will remain so for decades. Two important efforts aim to improve ship design and the technology onboard. In 2011, the International Maritime Organization (the United Nations agency tasked with making shipping safer and cleaner) established the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new builds. Like fuel-economy standards for cars, EEDI requires that new ships meet a minimum level of energy efficiency and raises that bar over time. The Sustainable Shipping Initiative is a partnership between fifteen of the leading shipping companies, the World Wildlife Fund, and Forum for the Future, working together to create a completely sustainable shipping industry by 2040. In 2011, a joint effort by RightShip and the Carbon War Room produced an A-to-G Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rating system for commercial vessels new and old, benchmarking each ship against its peers based on carbon dioxide pollution. The rating scheme, like other specialized indices, creates transparency and addresses a key challenge for upping ship efficiency: split incentives. Because companies that send cargo pay the bulk of fuel costs, shipowners have little reason to upgrade their vessels, especially if performance is opaque.

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Maintenance and operations are also vital for marine fuel efficiency. Techniques can be as simple as removing debris from propellers or smoothing the surface of a hull with a sharkskin-like coating. Marine organisms easily plant themselves on the hulls of ships, where they add weight, create drag, and lower fuel efficiency. This biofouling can increase fuel consumption by 40 percent. The rough, toothlike scales of sharks prevent algae and barnacles from attaching to their skin. Harnessing these attributes of sharkskin, University of Florida professor Anthony Brennan developed a biomimetic coating to keep hulls clean for smoother sailing. It is one of many technologies and practices that can make cargo ships more hydrodynamic and energy efficient. Reducing a ship’s operating speed—what the business calls “slow steaming”—lowers fuel consumption more than any other practice, up to 30 percent. An upside of the 2009 global recession is that slow steaming has become standard across much of the industry. Route and weather planning are also critical. When the small gains from design, technology, maintenance, and operations are collectively applied, industry-leading ships can be twice as efficient as laggards. In sum, available efficiency approaches can reduce shipping emissions by 20 to 40 percent by 2020 and 30 to 55 percent by 2030. In addition to improving climatic health, making oceanic freighting more efficient is important for air quality and human health. Ships are powered by low-grade bunker fuel, the dregs of the oil refining industry, which contains thirty-five hundred times more sulfur than the diesel used in cars and trucks. The port cities where ships congregate suffer most from the nitrous and sulfur oxides and particulate matter they spew into the air. Researchers… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Considering that $19.5 trillion in goods are shipped annually, it may fall to the companies whose goods are being transported to pressure maritime shipping into being a responsible industry. RightShip and Carbon War Room initiatives may be the means to reduce global carbon emissions in a workable amount of time. Cutting shipping’s greenhouse gases remains a voluntary act; this alone is not driving change quickly enough. As with fish, buildings, food, and timber, it may be time for a clean shipping certification. Economics work in favor of improvement. Fuel costs are the main expense of ship operation, which means carriers, the companies that… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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IMPACT: With an efficiency gain of 50 percent across the international shipping industry, 7.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions can be avoided by 2050. That could save… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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TRANSPORT ELECTRIC VEHICLES RANKING AND… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Electric cars have been romanced for nearly two hundred years, since the first prototype was built in 1828. In 1891, Henry Ford worked for Thomas Edison at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. Edison and Ford became fast friends for life, and it was Edison who supported and encouraged his friend—early in Ford’s career—to build a gasoline-powered automobile. Ironically, Edison was hard at work making better, less expensive batteries, some specifically designed for electric vehicles. At one point, he turned the tables on Ford, writing, “Electricity is the thing. There are no whirring and grinding gears with their numerous levers to confuse. There is not that almost terrifying uncertain throb and whirr of the powerful combustion engine. There is no water-circulating system to get out of order—no dangerous and evil-smelling gasoline and no noise.” The young Ford was not convinced and went on to create the Model A and the Model T. Sales of the $360 car surpassed $250,000 in 1914, but in that year, Edison’s prodding seemed to take effect. Ford, satisfied that Edison soon would deliver on an inexpensive, lightweight battery, announced that he would manufacture an electric automobile in collaboration with Edison—the Edison-Ford. Months and then years went by and the Edison-Ford never came to pass, because Edison could not make good on that lightweight, durable battery.

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Early nineteenth-century inventors in Britain, the Netherlands, Hungary, and the United States all created various types of small-scale electrical vehicles (EVs), but the first practical vehicles weren’t created until the last half of the century. In 1891, William Morrison, a chemist from Iowa, made a six-passenger vehicle capable of reaching speeds up to fourteen miles per hour. By the end of the century, vehicles were available in the United States with gasoline, electric, and steam power trains. Electric vehicles outsold both gasoline- and steam-powered cars for a variety of reasons: They did not require hand cranking to start, it was unnecessary to change gears, and they had a longer range than steam-powered cars. Like electric vehicles today, they were quieter and did not pollute. By the 1920s, Americans were traveling farther because of an improved road network, so the shorter range of EVs compared to gasoline vehicles started to become a limitation. Meanwhile, gasoline vehicles gained in appeal: Henry Ford commenced mass production, making them cheaper than EVs.

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Charles Kettering invented the electric starter, eliminating the need for hand cranking, and crude oil was discovered in Texas, making gasoline affordable for the average consumer. Internal combustion… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Fortuitously, there are currently more than 1 million electric vehicles on the road, and the difference in impact… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Two-thirds of the world’s oil consumption is used to fuel cars and trucks. Transport emissions are second only to electricity generation as a source of carbon dioxide, accounting for a 23 percent share of all emissions. As developing nations industrialize, the number of motor vehicles is projected to surpass 2 billion by 2035. Electric vehicles are powered by the grid or distributed renewables, and this includes hydrogen-powered vehicles employing fuel cells to generate onboard electricity. They are about 60 percent efficient compared to gasoline-powered vehicles, which are about 15 percent efficient. The “fuel” for electric cars is cheaper too. The Nissan LEAF, an all-electric vehicle, will travel 3.3 miles on 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity. If the car is charged in the middle of the night at 7 cents per kilowatt-hour, that is… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Carbon dioxide emission per gallon of gasoline is 25 pounds, whereas the emissions for 10 kilowatt-hours of electricity are 12.2 pounds on average—a 50 percent reduction in carbon dioxide if power comes off the grid. If the electricity is… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Increasingly, the electric car is the preferred option. Sales volume has multiplied tenfold in less than a decade. From 2014 to 2015, sales jumped from 315,000 to 565,000 vehicles, thanks mainly to Chinese enthusiasts. Two-thirds of EV sales worldwide are in the three… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The United States and China now mandate that at least 30 percent of government car purchases be nonpolluting. India wants to be all-electric by 2030—and it has the incentives to make it happen. Electric vehicles will disrupt auto and oil business models—the two biggest economic sectors in the United States—because EVs are simpler… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Change is coming more quickly in the heavy-duty market, building on a long tradition of electric trains, subways, and industrial equipment (forklifts and the like). Commercial operators are more able and willing to make the extra capital investment because costs can be amortized. Fleet operators, with depots easily retrofitted for charging purposes, are natural candidates for converting to all-electric trucks, vans, and cars. Thousands of electric buses and delivery trucks, including portions of the UPS and FedEx fleets, ply the streets of North American, Asian, and European cities. China has eighty thousand electric buses; London’s iconic double-deckers will soon join the grid. What is the catch? With electric cars, it is “range anxiety.” In order to keep the first EVs affordable, the batteries on those models were engineered to go less than 100 miles per charge. Typical today is a range of 80 to 90 miles. A hybrid… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The ultimate solution to the range issue is the network of charging stations. The global stock more than doubled between 2012 and 2014 to more than a hundred thousand charging points, and their numbers will increase dramatically with demand. The stations themselves are not that expensive, at $3,000 to $7,500 per port. They can utilize solar installation to charge the car off-peak, when electricity is cheapest, or “fuel” up when the grid has an abundance of solar or wind power. Malls and chains are installing ports at their outlets. Apps will pinpoint the closest charging stations, whether public or private. The charging network will expand, innovate, and improve, alleviating range anxiety while providing the electricity storage that the twenty-first-century power grid needs. Projections for the electric-car market vary. Will there be 100 million on the road within several decades? A hundred and fifty million? Bloomberg takes the 2015 figure of 60 percent sales increase, projects it for the next twenty-five years, and arrives at 400 million cumulative sales by 2040, including 35 percent of all new sales. What also remains to be seen is how the natural synergy between electric cars and self-driving cars will play out, as both become software platforms on four… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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IMPACTS: In 2014, 305,000 EVs were sold. If EV ownership rises to 16 percent of total passenger miles by 2050, 10.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide from fuel combustion could be avoided. Our analysis accounts for emissions from electricity generation and higher emissions of producing EVs compared to internal-combustion cars. We include slightly declining EV prices, expected due to declining battery costs.

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In 2015, the Oxford English Dictionary added the verb ride-share to its official inventory. A new word for an old practice, ridesharing is the simple act of filling empty seats by pairing drivers and riders who share common origins, destinations, or stops en route. (It excludes taxi-like services in vehicles driven by the average Joe, which often receive the same moniker.) The first example of carpooling for the common good emerged during World War II with the advent of car-sharing clubs. “When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler!” Americans were told. To carpool was to conserve resources for the war effort, and employers were responsible for helping riders and drivers connect, typically via a workplace bulletin board. When the 1970s oil crisis hit, concurrent with growing public concern about air pollution, another round of employer-sponsored and government-funded initiatives proliferated. To conserve fuel, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes incentivized people to ride together, and ad hoc, informal carpools known as “slugging” took hold among commuters in Washington, D.C., and beyond. In the 1970s, the heyday of ridesharing, one in five people carpooled to work. By the time the U.S. Census Bureau asked about carpooling again in 2008, the trend of sharing rides to work had slacked off considerably. Just 10 percent of Americans commuted jointly, despite efforts to encourage ridesharing as a way to address traffic congestion and air quality during the 1990s and early 2000s. But thanks to global economic woes, the ubiquity of smartphones and social networks, and declining interest in car ownership among urban millennials, ridesharing is again riding high. This resurgence is timely, given the climate crisis. When trips are pooled, people split costs, ease traffic, lighten the load on infrastructure, and may reduce commuting stress, while curtailing emissions per person.

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For every one hundred cars being driven to work in the United States today, only six carry another commuter. Imagine the impact of shifting that number just slightly—of drivers becoming passengers a mere one day each week. Ridesharing can also make other forms of transit more viable by addressing the “first and last mile” challenge, closing the gap that often exists between point A, mass transit, and point B. While it is not a novel idea, a new wave of technologies is accelerating ridesharing today. Smartphones allow people to share real-time information about where they are and where they are going, and the algorithms that match them with others and map the best routes are improving daily. Comfort with social networks buoys trust, so individuals are more likely to hop in with someone they have not met or open the door to strangers. By reaching the critical mass needed to ensure reliability, flexibility, and convenience, popular ridesharing platforms make it possible to find rides when and where required—a persistent limitation for ridesharing in the past. Indeed, matching kindred spirits, whether for a one-off pool trip or on a long-term basis, is the focus of numerous peer-to-peer business models. BlaBlaCar enables its 25 million members in twenty countries to share long-distance trips. UberPool and Lyft Line both group passengers along chains of pickups and drop-offs, using algorithms that link people heading the same way or to neighboring destinations. In China alone, Uber is running 20 million pooled trips each month. With a tech-based take on slugging, Google’s Waze has matched commuters for carpooling in Israel since 2015, and is now piloting the concept in San Francisco.

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With a dense base of users, these companies can try interesting things, betting that if drivers can make money or save time, they will share their seats, and if riders can ride cost… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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when passengers and drivers do link up, community, connection, and engagement are catalyzed along the way. Beyond getting around, ridesharing is an invitation to imagine. For many, cars have seemed indispensable to day-to-day life. But some are beginning to conceptualize mobility as a service to access. When cars are used more collaboratively, as something shared rather than something each person must own, you can catch a glimpse of the future—one with fewer cars overall.

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So what can be done to fill a car’s empty seats anytime it is on the road? Macro changes in areas such as oil pricing and city design will certainly play a role in ridesharing’s future, but its key to success is to become ever more dynamic, flexible, and cost-effective. That means technology will have a significant impact on ridesharing’s future, just as it does on its present, not least because it can help achieve a critical mass of users. The best algorithms in the world will not work without multitudes, and though business interests may run counter, sharing data across platforms could enable the most effective matching yet. In addition to entrepreneurs and coders, employers and governments also have roles to play, just as they did in ridesharing’s halcyon days gone by. Policies to promote and encourage ridesharing range from pretax programs for ridesharing expenses to reduced tolls and parking fees for carpools. Ultimately, if hopping into a car with someone can be as easy and sensible as taking your own, perhaps more so, ridesharing can become self-reinforcing—and emissions-reducing as well. •

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IMPACT: Our projection for ridesharing focuses solely on people commuting to work in the United States and Canada, where rates of car ownership and driving alone are high. We assume that carpooling rises from 10 percent of car commuters in 2015 to 15 percent by 2050, and from an average of 2.3 to 2.5 people per carpool. Ridesharing has no implementation costs and can reduce emissions by 0.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide. TRANSPORT ELECTRIC BIKES RANKING AND RESULTS BY 2050 #69 .96 GIGATONS $106.8 BILLION $226.1 BILLION REDUCED CO2 NET COST NET SAVINGS Electric bikes are all the rage in China. The trend dates to the mid-1990s, when China’s booming cities put strict antipollution rules in place in an attempt to redeem some of the world’s dirtiest urban air. Tens of millions of people now commute by e-bike, and Chinese e-bike owners outnumber car owners by a factor of two. According to one expert, this is “the single largest adoption of alternative fuel vehicles in history.” It is little surprise, then, that China accounts for some 95 percent of global e-bike sales, but these pedal-motor hybrids are on the rise in many parts of the world, as urban dwellers seek convenient, healthy, and affordable ways to move around their congested cities, curbing carbon emissions in the process. Half of all urban trips are less than 6 miles, an easy distance for e-bikes. But few people live in the perfectly flat, perfectly temperate locales that make moving around by bicycle a breeze. Some are older or less able. Others face lengthy commutes or time constraints, or need to reach a destination without perspiring… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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On e-bikes, pedals still turn a crank that moves a chain that rotates a wheel. But these quintessential bike parts do not ride alone. They are accompanied by a small battery-powered motor that can add speed—typically capped at twenty miles per hour—or assist legs when they tire.

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That battery, of course, gets its charge from the nearest outlet, which taps into whatever electricity is on hand, from coal based to solar powered. That means e-bikes inevitably have higher emissions than a regular bicycle or simply walking, but they still outperform cars, including electric ones, and most forms of mass transit. (Jam-packed trains or buses can, at times, do better than e-bikes on energy efficiency per passenger mile traveled.) When it comes to carbon, the mode of mobility from which a rider switches makes all the difference.

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Electric bicycles are expensive, easily five times the price of a classic bike and often more. The battery is a major driver of cost, though that can range widely depending on the type used.

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the man who first filed a patent for an electric bicycle in 1895. He was an Ohio-based inventor named Ogden Bolton, and though it was developed more than 125 years ago, his design was strikingly modern.

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Electric bicycles are already the most common and fastest-selling alternative-fuel vehicles on the planet. Given that e-bikes are the most environmentally sound means of motorized transport in the world today, that popularity bodes well for their continued growth. • IMPACT: In 2014, e-bike riders traveled around 249 billion miles, largely in China. Based on market research, we project travel can increase to 1.2 trillion miles per year by 2050. Shifting from cars will drive that growth, which promises to be greatest across Asia and in higher-income countries. This solution could reduce 1 gigaton of carbon dioxide emissions and save e-bike owners $226 billion by 2050.

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Gasoline- or diesel-powered engines excel at sustaining high speeds (highway driving) but have a harder time overcoming inertia to get moving. Electric motors are uniquely efficient at low speeds and going from stop to start. They also can keep a car’s air-conditioning and accessories running while idling at a traffic light, sans engine; capture the kinetic energy typically released as heat during braking and convert it back into electricity; and boost the engine’s performance, allowing it to be smaller and more efficient. Where the engine is weak, the motor is strong, and vice versa. The pairing that gives a hybrid car its name means the internal combustion engine need only do part of the work; thus, gasoline need only provide part of the energy required. Battery-stored electricity augments it, enabling a vehicle to travel more miles for each gallon—or kilometers for each liter—and produce fewer emissions along the way. According to the International Energy Agency, hybrid cars realize fuel economy improvements of 25 to 30 percent over engine-only vehicles. (Used primarily in a city, that number moves higher.) Already on the rise, electric cars are the future. But hybrids are a key car now, largely because they are unhampered by the issues their full-electric kin face, from limited driving ranges to additional infrastructure needs.

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Hybridization is the most effective technology we have for driving up vehicle fuel efficiency until society transitions to a fleet that is not powered by fossil fuels.

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In 1900, Ferdinand Porsche built on the design of his electric vehicle, combining battery-powered wheel-hub motors and two petrol engines. Dubbed the Lohner-Porsche Semper Vivus—“always alive”—it was “able to cover longer distances purely on battery power until the combustion engine had to be engaged to recharge the batteries.” The same basic technology can be found today in the Chevrolet Volt and newly minted Hyundai Ioniq. Porsche debuted his hybrid prototype at the Paris Motor Show in 1901, before refining it as the Lohner-Porsche Mixte and selling five of them by the year’s end. The technical complexity of the Mixte kept its price and maintenance costs high, and batteries of that era were expensive and heavy. Ultimately, Porsche’s hybrid could not compete with conventional petrol cars.                  Chevrolet Volt Concept is a highly advanced, plug-in electric hybrid. However, the 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged motor never powers the wheels directly. Instead, the Volt uses the combustion engine, which… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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As of 2014, 83 percent of the global car market had fuel economy regulations. These obligatory benchmarks have compelled car manufacturers to wrestle with energy inefficiency. Between engine heat loss, wind and rolling resistance, braking, idling, and other drags on performance, only 21 percent of a petrol car’s energy consumption propels it forward on average. Of the resulting force, 95 percent powers the car, not the driver. In essence, 99 percent of the energy used in a car is waste: It moves three… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The International Energy Agency estimates that hybridization adds $3,000 in price premium, but owners see overall savings through reduced fuel costs over a car’s lifetime. Nonetheless, higher up-front cost can be prohibitive. There also is some concern that hybrids may hasten an increase in vehicle miles traveled, thus overall fuel consumption. Studies have shown, however, that this so-called “rebound effect” is typically small, just a few percentage points where personal transportation is concerned. More than 1 billion motor vehicles exist worldwide. By 2035, there will be more than 2 billion. Despite growth in carpooling, car sharing, telecommuting, and transit, cars are not going away. People continue to be drawn to the freedom, flexibility, convenience, and comfort they offer. Can we grow the number of cars, especially in emerging economies such as China and India, while drawing down emissions? Hybrids have been called the vanguard of a revolution, catalyzing fuel efficiency and challenging the auto industry to innovate. But that is true only if they pave the way for full-electric vehicles. While 97 percent of the world’s cars still contain just internal combustion engines, that number is shifting. It could shift with greater speed, heading toward all-electric motors and no engines at all. • IMPACT: Under some business-as-usual projections, 23 million hybrid vehicles will be in operation in 2050, less than 1 percent of the car market. We estimate growth in 2050 to reach 6 percent of the market, or 315 million hybrid vehicles. Those additional 315 million cars can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 4 gigatons by 2050, saving owners $568 billion in fuel and operating costs over three decades.

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NASA has long been the leading experimenter in future aircraft design. They believe new designs could save airlines $250 billion in coming decades. Along with reducing fuel and pollution by 70 percent, these prototypes make 50 percent less noise than conventional passenger planes. The aircraft shown here is one of several N + 3 designs—aircraft that can be used three generations into the future. Dubbed the Double Bubble, this MIT model places three engines at the rear of a double-wide fuselage, enabling the wings to be smaller and lighter. Rear engine placement allows for smaller engines and reduced weight. Each optimization on large aircraft has cascading benefits to other components, resulting in groundbreaking efficiency.

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More than 3 billion plane tickets were sold in 2013, and air travel is growing faster than any other transport mode.

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(About half of air freight volume travels in the “belly” of passenger planes; the other half, in designated cargo planes.) Some twenty thousand airplanes are in service around the world, producing at minimum 2.5 percent of annual emissions. With upwards of fifty thousand planes expected to take to the skies by 2040—and take to them more often—fuel efficiency will have to rise dramatically if emissions are to be reduced. Efficiency trends are headed in the right direction, chiefly because fuel represents 30 to 40 percent of airlines’ operating costs and aircraft purchase decisions are often driven by efficiency. From 2000 to 2013, the fuel efficiency of domestic flights in the United States increased by more than 40 percent. Over the same period, fuel efficiency of international flights, which use heavier jets, improved by 17 percent. Those gains were largely thanks to fleet upgrades, while airlines also sought to maximize the capacity of each plane on each journey. Propulsion technologies, aerodynamic aircraft shapes, lightweight materials, and improved operational practices can push efficiency advances further. As with all modes of transport, engines are a key area of opportunity. Jet engines work by sucking in air, which gets compressed, combined with fuel, and combusted. The energy from combustion both turns the engine’s turbines and creates thrust. Industrial-strength turbofans at the front of the engine direct some air into the engine’s core to feed that process. They also divert air around the engine core, improving thrust and efficiency and reducing noise. Engines with high rates of air bypass improve fuel efficiency by roughly 15 percent. For the engine maker Pratt & Whitney, adding a gear to its turbofan engine design cut fuel use by an additional 16 percent. That gear allows the engine fan to operate independently of the engine’s turbine, so it… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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When it comes to aircraft design, changes range from minor to wholesale. What Boeing calls “winglets” and Airbus calls “sharklets”—upturned birdlike tips that improve a wing’s aerodynamics—trim fuel use by up to 5 percent on both new models and retrofitted older vessels. With one fin curving up and a second curving down, split scimitar winglets (named after the curved scimitar sword) can add an additional 2 percent to that total. Winglets are currently a fundamental of efficient design. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is working with research universities and corporate engineering teams on a host of more sweeping advances: placement of engines, fuselage width, length, width, and placement of wings, and even comprehensive redesign of the airplane body. Boeing and NASA, for example, are collaborating on an aircraft that resembles a manta ray and seamlessly blends wings into the aircraft body. Today, a 6 percent scale model is flying in NASA’s subsonic wind tunnel, but the real thing could be ready for use in a decade. The two organizations are also working on a longer, thinner, and lighter wing design with a brace or truss for added support. By moving engines to the rear of a vessel, finer wings become viable. Estimates suggest more dramatic redesigns such as these would result in efficiency gains of 50 to 60 percent. They herald the planes of the not-too-distant future. Existing aircraft can achieve significant fuel savings with simple operational shifts, treating taxi, takeoff, and landing as uniquely fuel-consuming legs. Research out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identifies taxiing on a single engine, rather than both, as the most effective measure for reducing fuel use on the ground, where aircraft spend 10 to 30 percent of their transit time. Fuel burn from gate to runway or vice versa can drop 40 percent and save a single large airline $10 million to $12 million a year. Towing planes with their engines off is another tactic for efficient taxiing, though it is more time consuming. The landing methods of continuous and late descent are gaining traction. They save fuel by reducing the time planes fly at low altitudes, where efficiency is lowest.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Because airplanes will continue to be dependent on liquid fuels for the foreseeable future, investment in jet biofuels, such as those made from algae, is on the rise. The Carbon War Room (CWR) calls sustainable aviation fuels “the most challenging emissions reduction opportunity,” as well as “the greatest potential for achieving carbon-neutral growth in aviation.” Jet biofuel options exist today, but cost is high, supply is limited, and infrastructure is poor. CWR pinpoints airports as being pivotal to aggregate demand at scale and orchestrate supply, and the organization is working to bring a viable business model to life. For now, though, the impact biofuels could have on aviation emissions remains uncertain. Despite the clear economic advantages of fuel efficiency for airlines, regulation also has a role to play. When the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) investigated the relationship between fuel efficiency and airline profitability, it found that the relationship was not corollary, much less causal. In fact, the most profitable American airline in 2010 was its least fuel efficient. As the ICCT put it: “Fuel prices alone may not be a sufficient driver [for] efficiency. . . . Fixed equipment costs, maintenance costs, labor agreements, and network structure can all sometimes exert countervailing pressures.” Requiring airlines to report… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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For many years, the contribution of airplanes (and ships) to climate change escaped international regulation. That changed in October 2016, when 191 nations agreed to curb aviation emissions through the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). Instead of defining a cap or charge for emissions, the accord enlists airlines in a scheme—initially voluntary—to offset aviation’s emissions with projects that sequester carbon. (Emissions in 2020 will be the benchmark above which most emissions must be offset.) It is meant to give airlines a greater stake in reducing emissions from their industry: By improving their fuel efficiency, airlines can avoid the cost of offsets, projected to be about 2 percent of aviation’s annual revenue. For the industry to make sufficient headway, other levers for change will be needed. • IMPACT: This analysis focuses on adoption of the latest and most fuel-efficient aircraft; retrofitting existing aircraft with winglets, newer engines, and lighter… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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“The greenest gallon of gas, diesel, heating oil, or ton of coal is the one you don’t burn.” So said Ray Anderson, the late founder and CEO of Interface and corporate sustainability luminary. Swap the word greenest with cheapest and the same holds true. The cheapest gallon or ton is the one you do not burn—and do not have to buy. It is this combination of saving money and preempting pollution that lies at the heart of energy-efficiency measures. For the global freight trucking industry, this integration of financial and environmental benefits is particularly pertinent in the era of climate change. Evolving from its horse-and-wagon and rail predecessors, trucking pitter-pattered along until World War I, when trucks became key to operations of the military. A combination of improved truck technology and better roads made them more viable for transport. Diesel trucks were first introduced in the 1930s, hit their stride in the 1950s, and now dominate the movement of freight. Trucks convey nearly 70 percent of all domestic freight tonnage in the United States—more than 8 billion tons annually. Even when goods move by rail or on water, they typically start and end their journeys on trucks. Transporting all that freight, in the United States and around the world, requires diesel fuel in mass quantities. In the United States alone, trucks guzzle 50 billion gallons of diesel each year, and the role they play in greenhouse gas emissions is as oversize as they are. Making up just over 4 percent of vehicles in the United States and 9 percent of total mileage, they consume more than 25 percent of the fuel.

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Worldwide, road freight is responsible for about 6 percent of all emissions. Carbon emitted by transport has ballooned in recent decades, with emissions from trucking substantially outpacing that of personal transportation. Because freight activity appears to be increasing as incomes rise, and road freight emissions are projected to continue climbing, dramatic efficiency improvements are imperative. There are two main tracks for reducing the ratio of fuel used per freight ton-mile: building it into the design of new trucks and driving it up in rigs already on the road. In 2011, the Obama administration issued the first fuel-efficiency standards for new heavy-duty trucks manufactured between 2014 and 2018. A second round aims to continue innovation and adoption of fuel-efficient technologies. These call for better engines and aerodynamics, lighter weights, less rolling resistance for tires, hybridization, and automatic engine shutdown. Top-notch automatic transmissions can overcome poor driving habits when operating manually. Based on 2010 U.S. prices, investing in these modernizations for a new truck can cost around $30,000, but save almost that much in fuel costs per year. Payback periods are short—as little as one to two years.

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Tractor-trailers remain on the road for many years, an average of nineteen in the United States, often more in lower-income countries. In light of trucks’ long life, addressing the efficiency of existing fleets is essential. That is especially true in parts of the world where trucks are significantly older—and significantly less efficient. An array of measures can trim energy waste and increase fuel performance: making improvements to a truck’s aerodynamics, installing anti-idling devices, making upgrades that reduce rolling resistance, altering transmissions, and integrating automatic cruise-control devices. The effect of each measure in and of itself may be relatively small, but when they are advanced together, they can make a substantial difference. Improving existing truck efficiency is relatively low cost but delivers a big financial return on investment. According to the Carbon War Room, for a typical heavy-duty truck in the United States, reducing fuel use by 5 percent results in a yearly savings of over $4,000. Compounded cost savings matter in an industry in which the fuel tank and bottom line are tightly tied. Still, capital to make that up-front investment can be a challenge—especially for small players, who often struggle to obtain financing. Split incentives… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Along with making new and existing trucks more efficient, optimizing the best routes from point A to point B, avoiding legs with empty trailers, and training and rewarding drivers for fuel frugality can decrease total miles traveled and accelerate miles per gallon. In the long-term, transitioning the industry to trucks that use low-emissions fuels or electric engines will be imperative. Making bigger trucks that can carry heavier loads could also move the needle. Along the way, society will benefit from reductions in air pollution—sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, and particulate matter, which plague many urban areas and impact public health. From voluntary truck retrofits to national policies that set fuel-efficiency standards, ongoing efforts to make road freight more efficient will be good for the industry and the climate. • IMPACT: If adoption of fuel-saving technologies grows… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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By integrating a set of high-performance visual, audio, and network technologies and services, people who are geographically separated can interact in a way that captures many of the best aspects of an in-person experience. Imagine Skype or FaceTime on steroids. When it is possible to exist and function remotely, the need to travel becomes less necessary; herein lies telepresence’s potential impact on climate. In a world of global business footprints and international collaboration, if people can work together without being in the same place, they can dodge a host of travel-related carbon emissions. According to CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), by activating ten thousand telepresence units, businesses in the United States and the United Kingdom could cut 6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2020—the “equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from over one million passenger vehicles” —and save almost $19 billion in the process.

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Using a mobile telepresence robot, a surgeon can advise on a rare procedure in real time, without traveling from Austin to Amman. Gathering in telepresence conference rooms in Sydney and Singapore, executives can debate a possible acquisition without taking a single flight. Companies that have embraced telepresence with gusto are finding not all trips can be trimmed, but many can be. Beyond staving off carbon emissions, telepresence affords many other benefits: cost savings from avoided travel, of course, as well as less grueling schedules for employees, more productive remote meetings, the ability to make decisions more quickly, and enhanced interpersonal connection across geographies. To achieve the fullness of these benefits, a significant initial investment is required, higher than that of standard videoconferencing. But while initial cost and ongoing expenses are higher for telepresence systems, they tend to be used much more heavily, making the cost per use commensurate. Payback happens quickly—in as little as one to two years. Telepresence also depends on strong network infrastructure, skilled technical support, and dedicated space if specific meeting rooms are used. Once telepresence technology is installed, companies can encourage employees to use it by educating them, establishing policies around avoiding travel, and tracking and rewarding its use. Costs are going down, while simplicity, reliability, and efficacy are on the rise, but the adoption of technology and accompanying behavioral change—using it and using it well—still takes time.

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The U.S. passenger service Amtrak reduced energy consumption by 8 percent with regenerative braking. Distributing the power of locomotives throughout a train also improves fuel use. Better locomotives, more strategically placed, are enhanced by better cars—lighter, more aerodynamic, able to hold more cargo, and equipped with low-torque bearings. Eliminating gaps between cars reduces drag, while longer, heavier trains often prove more efficient. The rails themselves can be better lubricated to reduce friction. Even with hyperefficient design, how a train is driven remains critical. Software can control train speed, spacing, and timing, as well as provide efficiency information and “coaching” to locomotive engineers, improving performance. The number of electric trains is increasing, but to what extent that reduces emissions depends on the efficiency of the grid supplying the power. According to the International Energy Agency, “rail electrification can lead to an efficiency gain of around 15 percent on a life-cycle basis.” As electricity production shifts to renewables, rail has the potential to provide nearly emissions-free transport. In the meantime, improving the fuel efficiency of trains, whether diesel powered or electric, reduces cost and makes them more competitive, especially for moving freight. As the Rocky Mountain Institute notes, “[Trains], one of the [world’s] oldest transportation platforms . . . can move four times more ton-miles per gallon than trucks, typically at a lower cost.” Cost advantages may encourage companies to move freight by train rather than by truck, thereby reducing emissions from the mass movement of goods.

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Forging recycled aluminum products, for example, uses 95 percent less energy than creating them from virgin materials. Of course, even the most efficient recycling, such as aluminum, is not without emissions of its own. Collection, transport, and processing are, for the

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Pay-as-you-throw programs, such as the one used in San Francisco, bill households for rubbish sent to landfill but carry away recycling and compost for free. (San Francisco also includes clothing, a rapidly growing but often-overlooked waste stream, in its recycling mix.) Mechanisms that require consumers to pay a redeemable deposit at purchase can be applied broadly, from bottles to electrical goods, and also raise recovery rates. One common approach has produced mixed results.

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Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is an increasingly popular policy approach that makes companies responsible not just for creating goods but for managing them post-use. Otherwise, the public bears the brunt of disposal. EPR can be purely financial, charging producers for the cost of recovery and recycling; it can be physical as well, getting them directly involved in that process. Since 2006, the Dutch have used EPR for packaging. Where they exist, producer “take-back” laws help address e-waste. Companies such as carpet tile manufacturer Interface voluntarily seek to retrieve their product, so discarded tiles can provide feedstock for new ones. The outdoor clothing company Patagonia collects “worn wear” for repair or, if too far gone, for recycling. But voluntarily taking such responsibility is unusual. Formalizing it encourages companies to think now about what will happen then and make their products longer lasting, easier to fix, and as recyclable as possible. In other words, while recycling happens at end of life, it is best considered from the beginning.

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Enhancing the exchange of recyclable and reusable goods is essential. As a step in this direction, the U.S. Materials Marketplace was launched in 2015 as a matchmaker for secondary materials. The initiative actively identifies opportunities and links the relevant parties, brokering transactions between companies if need be. In parallel, the science and processes of recycling have to evolve. Writing in the journal Nature, Swiss architect Walter Stahel urges, “To close the recovery loop we will need new technologies to de-polymerize, de-alloy, de-laminate, de-vulcanize, and de-coat materials.” Innovative conversion technologies can increase recycling rates significantly. Of course, recycling is just one piece of the integrated strategy needed: swapping virgin materials with recycled ones, making more efficient use of materials, and extending product life through good design and solid construction. Trash cannot always become treasure, but a growing body of evidence suggests significant environmental and economic gains can be realized when that transformation is managed and circularity is embedded into industry. • IMPACT: As mentioned above, household and industrial recycling were modeled together. The total additional implementation cost of both is estimated at $734 billion, with a net operational savings of $142 billion over thirty years. On average, 50 percent of recyclable materials come from industrial and commercial sectors. At a 65 percent recycling rate, the commercial and industrial sectors can avoid 2.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050.

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Roman concrete was used in creating the magnificent Pantheon temple in Rome. Completed in 128 AD, it is famed for its five-thousand-ton, 142-foot dome made of unreinforced concrete—still the world’s largest almost two thousand years later. If it had been built with today’s concrete, the Pantheon would have crumbled before the fall of Rome, three hundred years after its dedication. Roman concrete contained an aggregate of sand and rock just like its modern kin, but it was bound together with lime, salt water, and ash called pozzolana, from a particular volcano. Blending volcanic dust into the mixture of opus caementicium even enabled underwater construction. The art and science of concrete largely fell away with the Roman Empire itself, until it was revived and evolved in the nineteenth century. Today, concrete dominates the world’s construction materials and can be found in almost all infrastructure. Its basic recipe is simple: sand, crushed rock, water, and cement, all combined and hardened. Cement—a gray powder of lime, silica, aluminum, and iron—acts as the binder, coating and gluing the sand and rock together and enabling the remarkable stonelike material that results after curing. Cement is also employed in mortar and in building products such as pavers and roof tiles. Its use continues to grow—significantly faster than population—making cement one of the most used substances in the world by mass, second only to water.

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Manufacturing a single ton of cement requires the equivalent energy of burning four hundred pounds of coal. Add those emissions up and for every ton of cement produced, nearly one ton of carbon dioxide puffs skyward. In total, the industry produces roughly 4.6 billion tons of cement each year, more than half of it in China, and generates 5 to 6 percent of society’s annual anthropogenic carbon emissions in the process. More efficient cement kilns and alternative kiln fuels, such as perennial biomass, can help address the emissions from energy consumption. To reduce emissions from the decarbonization process, the crucial strategy is to change the composition of cement. Conventional clinker can be partially substituted for alternative materials that include volcanic ash, certain clays, finely ground limestone, and industrial waste products, namely: blast furnace slag, a by-product of making iron that was used in constructing the Empire State Building and Paris Metro, and fly ash, a powdery residue from coal-burning power plants that found its way into the Hoover Dam. Because these materials do not require kiln processing, they leapfrog the most carbon-emitting, energy-intensive step in the cement production process. Already, more than 90 percent of blast furnace slag is used as clinker substitute. One-third of fly ash is, and that portion could grow. Fly ash and Portland clinker can be mixed together at various ratios depending on the cement’s final use and type of fly ash used, with fly ash regularly comprising 45 percent of the blend.

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According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the average global rate of clinker substitution could realistically reach 40 percent (accounting for all alternative materials) and avoid up to 440 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Depending on their particular composition, alternatives to Portland cement offer benefits beyond the atmosphere: They can be more workable, less water intensive, denser, more resistant to corrosion and fire, and longer lasting. Though they can be slower to set and not as strong early on, their ultimate strength can actually be higher. Governments and corporations have begun to concretize the possibilities of clinker substitutes. With regional standards, the European Union reuses most of its available fly ash. Prior to those policy changes, utilization rates varied widely and were as little as 10 percent in some places. New York City has embraced ground bottle glass as an emerging substitute that can be sourced regionally and saves landfill space—an innovation that may be poised for growth. From municipal to international levels, standards and product scales are key for shifting practices within the construction industry and advancing the use of alternative cements in sidewalks and skyscrapers, roads and runways. • IMPACT: Because fly ash is a by-product of burning coal, each ton created is accompanied by 15 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Using fly ash in cement can offset only 5 percent of those emissions. Even so, if 9 percent of cement produced between 2020 and 2050 is a blended mix of conventional Portland cement and 45 percent fly ash, 6.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions could be avoided by 2050. The production savings of $274 billion are largely a result of longer cement life span.

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Refrigerants continue to cause planetary trouble, however. Huge volumes of CFCs and HCFCs remain in circulation, retaining their potential for ozone damage. Their replacement chemicals, primarily hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), have no deleterious effect on the ozone layer, but their capacity to warm the atmosphere is one thousand to nine thousand times greater than that of carbon dioxide, depending on their exact chemical composition. In October 2016, officials from more than 170 countries gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, to negotiate a deal to address the problem of HFCs. Despite challenging global politics, they reached a remarkable agreement. Through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the world will begin phasing HFCs out of use, starting with high-income countries in 2019 and then expanding to low-income countries—some in 2024, others in 2028. HFC substitutes are already on the market, including natural refrigerants such as propane and ammonium. Unlike the Paris climate agreement, the Kigali deal is mandatory, with specific targets and timetables for action, trade sanctions to punish failure to comply, and commitments by rich countries to help finance the cost of transition. It was a monumental achievement on the path to drawdown, called by then secretary of state John Kerry “the biggest thing we can do [on climate] in one giant swoop.” Scientists estimate the accord will reduce global warming by nearly one degree Fahrenheit.

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Still, the process of phasing out HFCs will unfold over many years, and they will persist in kitchens and condensing units in the meantime. With adoption of air-conditioning soaring, especially in rapidly developing economies, the bank of HFCs will grow substantially before all countries halt their use. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 700 million air-conditioning units will have come online worldwide by 2030. All of this means parallel action is requisite: addressing the refrigerants coming out of use, as well as transitioning those going in. Refrigerants currently cause emissions throughout their life cycles—in production, filling, service, and when they leak—but their damage is greatest at the point of disposal. Ninety percent of refrigerant emissions happen at end of life. If the chemicals (or appliances that use them) are not disposed of effectively, they escape into the atmosphere and cause global warming. On the other hand, refrigerant recovery has immense mitigation potential. After being carefully removed and stored, refrigerants can be purified for reuse or transformed into other chemicals that do not cause warming. The latter process, formally called destruction, is the one way to reduce emissions definitively. It is costly and technical, but it needs to become standard practice.

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In less than a century, air-conditioning in the United States went from being a luxury good to a widespread commodity. Today, 86 percent of U.S. homes have systems that provide cool air. They became common, if not universal, in urban Chinese households in just fifteen years. And why would they not? In seasons of heat and humidity, air-conditioning increases comfort and productivity and can save lives during heat waves. And yet, a great irony of global warming is that the means of keeping cool make warming worse. As temperatures rise, so does reliance on air conditioners. The use of refrigerators, in kitchens of all sizes and throughout “cold chains” of food production and supply, is seeing similar expansion. As technologies for cooling proliferate,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Downtown Singapore, showing the ubiquity of air-conditioning units on Asian streets. IMPACT: Our analysis includes emissions reductions that will be achieved through the 2016 Kigali accord, as well as additional practices to manage refrigerants already in circulation. We model adoption of practices to (1) avoid leaks from refrigerants and (2) destroy refrigerants at end of life. Over thirty years, 87 percent of refrigerants that may be released can be contained, avoiding emissions equivalent to 89.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide. Although some revenue can be generated from resale of recovered refrigerant gases, the costs to establish and… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In Northern Europe, that recovery rate reaches 75 percent. South Korea achieved a recovery rate of 90 percent in 2009. Bringing the rest of the world up to that level of paper recycling, or beyond, presents a significant opportunity to draw down the emissions of the paper industry, which are estimated to be as high as 7 percent of the world’s annual total—higher than that of aviation. Paper recycling rewrites the typical life cycle of paper. It makes paper’s journey circular, rather than a straight line from logging to landfill. For the standard piece of paper, created from a pine tree’s biomass, there are emissions at every stage of its journey: sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, use, and disposal. But recycled paper can intervene and change the emissions equation, especially at the beginning and at the end, by linking those stages. Instead of relying on fresh timber to feed the pulping process—and releasing carbon with each tree cut—recycled paper draws on existing material, either discarded before reaching a consumer’s hands or, ideally, after serving its intended purpose as a magazine or memo. Instead of releasing methane as it decomposes in a dump, wastepaper finds new life. It is viewed not as trash but as a valuable resource—too valuable to send to the landfill or incinerator. Once recovered, used paper can be reprocessed. Shredded, pulped, cleaned, and rid of contaminants such as staples and coatings, paper that might have been buried in a landfill can become any number of products, from office paper to newsprint to toilet paper rolls. Unlike some recyclable materials, such as aluminum, paper cannot be recycled indefinitely into the same quality of product. Its fibers break down over time, so wastepaper intrinsically becomes a lower-quality product, for which shorter, weaker fibers are suited. A particular piece of paper can be reprocessed roughly five to seven times. Even so, recycling is an effective and efficient alternative to making paper solely from virgin materials.

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The benefits of recycled paper are many. Forests are spared, keeping habitats intact and perhaps protecting ancient ecological treasures. Water use is reduced, relieving pressure on a resource that is increasingly threatened. And fewer bleaches and chemicals find their way into waterways. Studies show recycling creates more jobs and produces more economic value than landfilling or incineration. Most important, recycled paper produces far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than its virgin counterpart. Exactly what those climate savings are depends on materials used, the feedstocks they supersede, and what end-of-life treatment is avoided. Of course, making any paper requires energy of some kind, as does transportation of raw material and final product. It matters equally for virgin and recycled pulp, whether mills run on renewables and sustainable transportation options are elected.

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Policies that make conventional waste disposal less attractive and more expensive can boost recycling. And those that disadvantage recycling, such as subsidies for less sustainable alternatives, should be addressed. Customer demand, from retail to wholesale, is also vital to shift the industry’s investments in that direction. If the chorus of concern grows, there is no reason recycled paper cannot claim a dominant share of the market.

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Two key assumptions inform that conclusion: (1) recycled paper produces about 25 percent fewer total emissions than conventional paper, and (2) the percentage of recycled paper being used to produce paper would rise from 55 percent to 75 percent by 2050. Although increasing recycled paper content uses more electricity, the emissions related to harvesting and processing—and the total emissions from pulping and manufacturing—are higher for paper using virgin wood feedstock. The emissions reductions for this solution do not include carbon sequestration from standing trees that would not be harvested if the use of recycled paper grows.

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The Greek verb plassein, the root of plastic, means “to mold or shape.” What affords plastics their malleability are polymers— substances with chainlike structures, made of many atoms or molecules bound to one another. Most have a backbone of carbon, linked with other elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. We can synthesize polymers, but they also occur naturally all around and inside us; they are part of every living organism. Cellulose, the most abundant organic material on earth, is a polymer in the cell walls of plants. Chitin is another abundant polymer, found in the shells and exoskeletons of crustaceans and insects. Potatoes, sugarcane, tree bark, algae, and shrimp all contain natural polymers that can be converted to plastic.                  The first and only bioplastic car was unveiled by Henry Ford in 1941 in Dearborn, Michigan. The car was inspired by the growing shortage of metal due to the war, as well as by the idea of combining industry with agriculture. He already had established the Soybean Laboratory in Greenfield Village at the time, and had made the fuel for the car from hemp oil. The frame was tubular steel, the body was plastic, the windows were acrylic, and it was powered by a conventional 60-horsepower engine. The finished car weighed 1,000 pounds less than its conventional, all-steel counterpart. Though it was created in part to aid the war effort, most car manufacturing ceased for the duration of the war and the bioplastic car was never

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John Wesley Hyatt to begin testing possibilities. He developed a substance from the cellulose in cotton, dubbed “celluloid.” Celluloid turned out to be less than ideal for billiard balls—Hyatt never got the money—but it was just right for products such as combs, hand mirrors, toothbrush handles, and movie film.

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Using water at home—to shower, do laundry, soak plants—consumes energy. It takes energy to clean and transport water, to heat it if need be, and to handle wastewater after use. Hot water is responsible for a quarter of residential energy use worldwide. In addition to conservation measures that can be taken at the municipal level, efficiency can be tackled household-by-household and tap-by-tap. At home, the average American withdraws ninety-eight gallons of water each day—much more than is typical worldwide. Roughly 60 percent is used indoors, primarily for toilets, clothes washers, showers, and faucets. Thirty percent is used outdoors, almost entirely for watering lawns, gardens, and plants—more than any other residential use, even though irrigation is nonessential. Another 10 percent is lost to leaks. For cutting back indoors, two technologies are key: low-flush toilets and water-efficient washing machines, which can reduce use by 19 and 17 percent respectively. Switching to low-flow faucets and showerheads and installing a more efficient dishwasher also have contributions to make. In total, water-efficient appliances and low-flow fixtures can reduce water use within homes by 45 percent. Measures that affect hot water have an outsize impact on associated energy use. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that if one American home out of every one hundred switched an older toilet out for a new, efficient one, the country would save more than 38 million kilowatt-hours of electricity—sufficient to power 43,000 households for a month.                  The Nebia showerhead was five years in design and development and employed aerospace engineering for its microatomizing technology.

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The showerhead produces hundreds or more droplets dispersed over five times the area of a regular shower. It is thirteen times more thermally efficient (the heat you feel on your body) and reduces water use by 70 percent compared to conventional showerheads and by 60 percent compared to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense showerheads. These technologies have the advantage of being one-time upgrades. If homeowners or landlords are willing to make the investment and wait out the payback period, no further action is needed. But individual behaviors can also curtail indoor water use. Reducing average shower time to five minutes, washing only full loads of clothes, and flushing three times less per household per day can each reduce water use by 7 to 8 percent. The downside, of course, is that those shifts must become habit to have an impact over the long term, and developing good habits is notoriously challenging. Outdoors, water use for irrigation can be reduced or eliminated by using captured rainwater, shifting to plants that do not require it, installing drip irrigation, which is more efficient, or turning off the spigot entirely. Water conservation success stories attest to what works. Local restrictions on water use and policies requiring efficient plumbing are highly effective. Product labeling, such as the EPA’s WaterSense program, can inform consumers, while incentives, namely rebates on purchases of efficient appliances and fixtures, can encourage voluntary action. All of these measures have a twofold benefit: reducing energy use and water consumption simultaneously. Communities have a stake in doubling up, as more and more are struggling with water availability. The impacts of climate change are compounding population pressures. During droughts, for example, demand for irrigation goes up, while quality and quantity of supply declines.

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This solution focuses on direct reductions of water consumption inside the home, but other domestic choices and technologies have indirect impacts. Energy use is a prime example: Nuclear and fossil fuel plants use enormous quantities of water for cooling—nearly half of all withdrawals in the United States. A single kilowatt-hour of electricity can have twenty-five invisible gallons associated with it. The tight link between water and energy means enhancing efficiency in one often affects the other. • IMPACT: Ninety-five percent adoption of low-flow taps and showerheads by 2050 could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 4.6 gigatons, by reducing energy… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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At warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), permafrost will release significant amounts of carbon and methane into the atmosphere. If melting continues beyond 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the emissions released from the permafrost will become a positive-feedback loop that accelerates global warming.

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When horses, reindeer, musk oxen, and other denizens of the frozen north push away the layer of snow and expose the turf underneath, the soil is no longer insulated by its snow cover and is 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit colder, a margin of safety the world needs while it transitions away from fossil fuels.

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The Zimovs, father-and-son scientists who direct the Northeast Science Station near Cherskii, Russia, have studied and analyzed the permafrost extensively. They created the Pleistocene Park in the Kolyma River basin of Siberia to demonstrate the conclusion of decades of research: If the diverse species of herbivores that once populated the subpolar region of the Arctic are brought back, permafrost melting can be prevented. Some perspective on the scope and implication of this proposal: If it came to pass, it would be the single largest solution or potential solution of the one hundred described in this book.

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Bone counts reveal the average population on a square kilometer of pasture: 1 woolly mammoth, 5 bison, 8 horses, and 15 reindeer 20,000 to 100,000 years ago. More widespread were musk oxen, elk, woolly rhinoceros, snow sheep, antelope (saiga), and moose. Roaming among them were predator populations of wolves, cave lions, and wolverines. Twenty thousand pounds of animal life thrived on each square kilometer of pasture, an astonishingly high number that attests to the productivity of an area considered marginal and largely uninhabitable.

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Today, as frozen carcasses melt under warming temperatures, swarms of bugs and bacteria devour the rotten remains. The foul odor from the melting permafrost is premonitory, an omen of greater dangers to come if melting is not prevented. Thaw ponds bubble like freshly poured soda water. If you turn a bowl or jar upside down and capture the gas, the methane can be lit up like a gas lamp. Ten-meter-deep ice-rich soils—an immense reservoir of organic matter—are heating up in much the same way.

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The Yakut have a legend that says that when the Creator was distributing the riches of the world, his hands froze when he got to Siberia and dropped everything he had. This explains the abundance, riches, and the extraordinary creatures in a land full of diamonds. Zimov believes the theory of extinction is upside down and backward. Before the end of the Ice Age, approximately thirteen thousand years ago, hunters spread across Eurasia and into the Americas. Animals were tracked down for food and extirpated. Within a relatively short time, fifty species of large mammals were hunted to extinction in Russia, North America, and South America—in particular, the slow-moving and meat-abundant woolly mammoth. Once the grazers and ruminants were gone, the flora of the steppe changed. Away went the grasses, and in their place came the dwarf trees and thorny shrubs that are inhospitable to grazing herbivores. To Zimov, it was obvious that the mammoth and herbivores were extirpated first, thus altering the landscape. Because the depopulation of the mammoth steppe took place so long ago, his conclusion is a theory. However, it is one based on decades spent walking and exploring the icy regions of Siberia. Alexander von Humboldt’s description of climate change in 1831 was concluded after a long journey through Russia and Eurasia, not a theory based on a hypothesis. In observational science, what something means is less important than what has happened or is occurring. You figure out what something means after you have thoroughly examined, surveyed, and become more intimate with a phenomenon, species, or ecosystem. Sergey Zimov is precisely such a scientist. As fellow scientist Adam Wolf observed, Zimov’s peregrinations and excursions in the mammoth steppe were not tainted by groupthink or published papers about what happened there. He could see that the theory that climate change precipitated the extinction of the woolly mammoth was incorrect. A mammoth’s weight and inertia could crush larches, bramble, and dwarf birch, and along with herbivore pressure, would have prevented changes in the composition of flora.

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The northward spread of the taiga, the coniferous boreal forests, is changing climate dynamics. Instead of heat being reflected back into space by snow, trees and leaves soak it up and reradiate it to the soil. Although the atmosphere is warming evenly at sixty thousand feet, at ground level the Arctic regions are warming much faster than temperate and equatorial regions, and changes in flora are a cause. To populate the Pleistocene Park, Sergey has had to beg, borrow, and buy. The woolly mammoth was wiped out long ago. The Beringian bison and native musk oxen are likewise missing. He brought in the Yakutian horses from the south. The Canadian government donated bison. He hopes to secure reindeer from Sweden and more musk oxen from Alaska. He purchased an aging Russian tank. Driven in the preserve, it crushes the shrubs and larch as a mammoth would and produces a grassy trail of brome for the years that follow. Zimov would like a shipload of five thousand Canadian bison and a worldwide carbon tax that would finance the repopulation of the mammoth steppe. At the low price of $5 per ton of carbon dioxide, the frozen mammoth steppe is worth $8.5 trillion. As with advanced

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multipaddock grazing and regenerative agriculture, the Zimov proposal to repopulate the mammoth steppe is a land-use practice that reverses a long-term trend of degradation. It is difficult to imagine that the wildness of the subpolar regions is actually a degraded landscape, but that is what Zimov has shown. Today, the biomass of all the animals being raised, most of which are entrapped and caged in industrial factories, totals close to one billion tons. The cost: vanishing resources, loss of biodiversity, degraded soils, unhealthy meat, and a changing climate. Repopulating the mammoth steppe may appear to be an esoteric pursuit at first glance. Actually, it is no different from other restoration practices—just bigger. Regeneration of the land can be brought about by rewilding the abandoned lands of the north, returning the animals that created the great, once-dominant, carbon-sequestering grasslands. When herbivores were free to roam, the earth… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Colin Seis inherited Winona, his grandfather’s farm located in New South Wales, Australia, from his dad in the 1970s. As a kid, he watched his father apply new agricultural techniques to improve yield and productivity, but the fertilizers, herbicides, and plowing slowly wore the farm out. The soil became compacted and acidic, topsoil bottomed out at four inches, and carbon measured less than 1.5 percent. Costs soared, more chemicals were used, trees turned brown, and the farm lost money. Then, in 1979, a bush fire reduced three generations of work to ash. When Colin recovered from the burns he suffered during the fire, he found himself at a pub with fellow farmer Daryl Cluff. They each grew grain (annuals) and grazed sheep on pastures, with both activities taking place on separate parts of their farms. Grasses over there, grains here. But why? The pastures tended to be overgrazed, and the grain acreage was plowed and disked every year, drying and decarbonizing the soil. Ten beers later they both wanted to know: Why couldn’t annuals and perennials be grown on the same land at the same time? Why couldn’t the land be fertilized through grazing between crops? A vision emerged that night that would become the basis for what is now known as pasture cropping. On pasture-cropped land, the soil is never broken. Planting annual crops in a living perennial pasture creates an ecosystem that gets healthier every year. A complex relationship between the forbs, fungi, grasses, herbs, and bacteria reknits the web of life, increasing the health, resilience, and vitality of the soil, crops, grasses, and animals. And the farmer reaps two crops from the same land: grain and wool or meat.

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The next morning Seis and Cluff were sober and it still seemed like a good idea. Seis stopped using fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides immediately—an easy decision because he was broke. Then came a few years of transition. The land was like a recovering alcoholic; it was addicted to ammonium phosphate. At first, yields were not great as Seis allowed native grasses to repopulate the fields. Because the perennials were lower in protein, the animals did not fare as well with them at the outset. The neighbors were not impressed. Seis kept going. He began to employ rotational mob grazing in his paddocks. And things started to turn around—profits, productivity, and animal and soil health. Soon the regeneration of the farm was evident to all. Costs went down. Seis was saving $60,000 a year on fuel and chemical inputs he no longer needed. Water retention and soil carbon increased threefold. Insect infestation virtually disappeared. Profits from his sheep ranching went up along with yields and the quality of wool. Birds and native animals returned. Pasture cropping is now practiced on more than two thousand farms in Australia and is spreading throughout the temperate farming world. As dependent as the world has become on annual crops, and as unthinkable as it may be to agriculture schools and Big Ag, at some point, farming must change to sustainable and regenerative methods if it is to recover lost fertility and soil carbon. Pasture cropping is singular in its methodology in that it increases the use of the land by double-cropping (grains and animals) while reducing impact and increasing carbon sequestration.

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rock powder can be strategically distributed over various landscapes, particularly agricultural land, beaches, and shallow energetic seas. The key technologies required for enhanced weathering are already being used on a regional scale for the fertilization and acidity management of farm and forest soils. To fully halt carbon dioxide accumulation through enhanced weathering would take a staggering effort, involving billions of tons of mineral spread over a significant fraction of the earth’s surface. Careful site selection, and the use of existing surface resources, such as tailings piles from previous mining operations, can offer opportunities to durably sequester a meaningful fraction of emissions while minimizing cost and risk. The environmental impact of enhanced weathering could have unpredicted and unwanted side effects on the environment and biological activity, and so careful monitoring and risk management would be required. One potentially high-impact area to apply olivine minerals is believed to be on agricultural land in the tropics, where the soils are warmer and wetter and have fewer minerals that would inhibit dissolution. Broadly, if olivine was applied to one-third of tropical land, it could lower atmospheric carbon dioxide by thirty to three hundred parts per million by 2100. A key advantage of agricultural soils is that they are already intensively managed, could be monitored with relative ease, and are already served by infrastructure. Implementing enhanced weathering of minerals on tropical croplands as a soil amendment has potential co-benefits for agro-ecosystems because rock powder can act as a fertilizer of crops. One to two tons of powdered olivine will continue to sequester carbon for approximately thirty years in a temperate climate. Other studies suggest that the optimal places to apply olivine are acidic soils or where there is acid rain, because the lower pH accelerates the rate of mineral dissolution. Those areas include large parts of Europe and some parts of the United States and Canada. Similarly, weathering could be used to regenerate damaged forests in Eastern Europe, where decades of lignite coal combustion has produced some of the most acidic rain over many years on the planet. In areas where mines have closed or have been abandoned, using minerals from the residual tailings could be a useful economic development tactic to help communities.

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showed sequestration of carbon dioxide to be ten to twenty times greater in nature than what was being found in the laboratory. Biotic factors that accelerate weathering include the effects of lichens, soil bacteria, and mycorrhizal fungi, which provide sugar-based exudates to bacteria that accelerate mineral dissolution. Significant limiting factors are the carbon cost of implementing enhanced weathering and the capital cost of the infrastructure required to scale production. To produce and then reduce olivine to a size that would optimally dissolve carbon dioxide may require so much energy as to negate up to 80 percent of its positive effect. The required infrastructure would include new mines, railroads, and shipping facilities. To give a sense of scale, one ton of olivine can displace two-thirds of a ton of carbon dioxide. Sequestering eleven gigatons of carbon dioxide, which is about 30 percent of fossil fuel emissions, would require 16 billion tons of rock being mined, powdered, and shipped per year, a bit more than twice the output of the coal industry. There is an alternative to “conventional” enhanced weathering in which silicate dust is spread across the land (and oceans) to capture carbon dioxide. The technology currently has no name, but it does have proof of concept. In tests conducted in Iceland by Reykjavik Energy and in the United States by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a branch of the U.S. Department of Energy, liquid carbon dioxide was placed underground in caverns of volcanic rocks called basalt. As with olivine weathering, the carbon dioxide combined with the basalt and formed solid carbonates called ankerite. The scientists dub this process high-speed weathering.

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The usual assumption about human activity is that it makes nature worse, however well intentioned. But that has not always been the case. The productivity of the tallgrass prairies of the Great Plains region can be attributed to the fire ecology practiced by Native Americans. In Norman Myers’s book The Primary Source, he describes going into a forty-thousand-year-old “untouched” primary forest in Borneo with an ethnobotanist. Both stayed in one spot for the day while the ethnobotanist identified the towering dipterocarps and other flora for Myers. It turns out the entire forest had been placed and planted by human beings before the last ice age. The Swiss agroecologist Ernst Gotsch works with deforested and desertified lands in Brazil and restores them in a matter of years to lush forest farms bountiful with food. In a video segment in which he describes his work, Gotsch picks up dark, moist soil and proclaims, “We are growing water.” In other words, human intervention can increase wildlife, fertility, carbon storage, diversity, fresh water, and rainfall. This entire book asks whether, as a species, we can reverse global warming. To do that, the demise of living ecosystems needs to be reversed. Marine permaculture may be one of the most extraordinary ways to answer that question affirmatively. We usually do not speak of oceans and forests in the same sentence, but what if you could reforest the ocean? Dr. Brian Von Herzen devotes his life to this proposition. With a physics degree from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology, he had a fruitful career as a consultant specializing in electronic design and systems engineering. He created solutions for Intel, Disney, Pixar, Microsoft, HP, and Dolby. For adventure, he would pilot his twin-engine Cessna 337 Skymaster across the Atlantic.

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At the request of friends who were glaciologists, Von Herzen looked for melt ponds as he flew over the Greenland ice sheet in 2001. He spotted a few small ones. Two years later when he flew over again, there were hundreds. In 2005, there were thousands. By the next year, there were lakes exceeding six miles long and a hundred feet deep. By 2012, 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had melted. This led Von Herzen to focus on reversing global warming using the only means possible: increasing the primary production of living systems, specifically the oceans. Primary production is the creation of organic compounds from aqueous or airborne carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. This is accomplished by kelp and phytoplankton, the microscopic wandering plants that thrive in the oceans—a quarter billion of which fit nicely into a cup of seawater. We are talking kelp forests, hundreds of thousands of acres of underwater plantations situated offshore, floating forests in the middle of the ocean. Today, kelp forests cover nineteen million acres. Ultimately, floating kelp forests could provide food, feed, fertilizer, fiber, and biofuels to most of the world. They grow many times faster than trees or bamboo. Von Herzen wants to restore the subtropical ocean desert and its fish productivity with thousands of new kelp forests. He calls this marine permaculture.

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The situation in the oceans is dire. Half of the carbon dioxide that is recaptured from the atmosphere goes into oceans, causing surface acidification. And over 90 percent of the heat caused by global warming is absorbed into the surface waters, a trend that is steadily erasing the marine food chain. What makes oceans productive are upwellings of cold, nutrient-rich water from deep in the sea. Natural upwellings occur around the world, such as in the Grand Banks of Newfoundland—the richest fishing ground in the world—where the icy Labrador Current meets the warm Gulf Stream. This phenomenon is known as overturning circulation. As waters have heated up, ocean deserts have expanded. Ninety-nine percent of the subtropical and tropical oceans are largely devoid of marine life. The oceans’ wind- and current-driven pumps are being turned off one by one. In the Atlantic, satellite imagery is detecting a 4 to 8 percent per annum decline in biological activity, a number that exceeds predictions in global warming models. Warm water reduces overturning circulation across thermoclines, the temperature gradients in the ocean. As heating of surface water increases, currents slow or are thwarted, and upwelling of nutrients decreases or stops altogether. Phytoplankton and seaweed production drops; subsequently, the aquatic food chain declines. Phytoplankton are minute, but the 1 percent annual decline in the oceans’ plankton and kelp is massively significant: They comprise half of the organic matter on earth and produce at least half of the earth’s oxygen.

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What Von Herzen proposes would restore overturning circulation in the subtropics. Employing marine permaculture arrays (MPAs) .4 square mile in size—situated offshore and far from land—would re-create entire marine ecosystems. It would be like reforesting a desert—in this case, the ocean desert. Imagine a lightweight latticed structure made of interconnecting tubing, submerged 82 feet below sea level, to which kelp can attach. MPAs can be tethered near land, or self-guiding on the open sea. They are far enough below the surface that the largest cargo ships and oil tankers can pass right over them with no damage save some shredded kelp. Buoys attached to the MPAs rise and fall with the waves, powering pumps that bring up colder waters from hundreds or thousands of feet below sea level. As the nutrient-laden waters come to the sunlit surface, seaweed and kelp soak up the nutrients and grow. What soon follows is what is called a trophic pyramid. With phytoplankton come algae, more kelp, and sea grass. These feed populations of herbivorous forage fish, filter feeders, crustaceans, and sea urchins. Carnivorous fish feast on the smaller herbivores,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Often the ocean is thought of as a single fluid entity, but nothing could be further from the truth. Most of the carbon emitted by human activity is contained within the top five hundred feet of the ocean known as the photic zone. It is accumulating carbon significantly faster than the rest of the ocean. In its entirety, the ocean stores fifty-five times as much carbon as is contained in the entire atmosphere. Looked at another way, if all the carbon in the atmosphere were removed and stored uniformly throughout the ocean, the increase in ocean carbon would be less than 2 percent. Thus, it is mostly an issue of moving carbon from the near-surface photic zone into the middle and deep ocean. Oceans naturally do an exquisite job of sending carbon from surface water into the depths, a process known as the biological pump. Marine permaculture supports the functioning of the biological pump so that oceans can do the job they always have. Kelp harvests can produce food, fish feed, fertilizer (including nitrate, phosphate,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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MPAs in larger groups may seasonally protect coastlines from the worst effects of hurricanes by lowering the surface water temperature and the energy upon which hurricanes depend. It is possible to seasonally protect reefs from thermally induced bleaching. Given that Hurricane Katrina alone cost $105.7 billion, and that 2015 saw twenty-two Category 5 hurricanes, this may be a cost-effective solution. The material costs are estimated at $2.6 million per square mile. With a million MPAs active for thirty years, the carbon dioxide reduction would equal 12.1 parts per million, or 102 billion tons. The economic return would exceed $10 trillion. On paper, the protein from restored fisheries could supply the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Silvopasture is the most commonly practiced form of agroforestry today, covering 1.1 billion acres worldwide. The theory is simple: Combine trees or woody shrubs and pasture grasses to foster greater yields. Cattle fatten faster and provide better-tasting meat than in any other system. Rarely are livestock and climate mitigation used in the same sentence; silvopasture, however, sequesters up to three times more carbon per acre than grazing alone—ranging from one to four tons per acre in the tropics and averaging 2.4 tons in temperate regions. What happens if you intensify the silvopasture process? Add more cattle, plant different types of trees, and rotate the herd more quickly? It seems counterintuitive that it could have a beneficial effect on land and climate, as well as human health, but it does.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In areas where ranching and farming are stressed by volatile and uncertain patterns of rainfall and heat, intensive… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Species biodiversity doubles in intensive silvopasture systems. Stocking rates nearly triple. Meat production in pounds per acre per year is four to ten times higher than in conventional systems. The tannin content in Leucaena leucocephala seems to protect protein degradation in the rumen of cattle, reducing methane emissions, which partially explains the significant weight gain of animals raised via intensive silvopasture. And during the dry season, Leucaena leucocephala seeds can be harvested—netting another $1,800 per acre in income. Leucaena leucocephala is an invasive in Florida and many other places, and is toxic to animals with a single stomach, like people and horses. In the United States and in tropical highlands around the world, other species are being trialed. The key to intensive silvopasture is a fast-growing, high-protein woody plant that can handle heavy browsing and re-sprout quickly. In tropical Australia and Latin America, Leucaena is one that has passed the test so far.

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Today, intensive silvopasture is practiced on more than five hundred thousand acres in Australia, Colombia, and Mexico. In Colombia and Mexico, producers are cultivating fruit, palm, and timber trees to further boost income. It may sound too good to be true, but there is one more piece of data: In a five-year study of intensive silvopasture in which trees were incorporated with grasses and Leucaena leucocephala, the rate of carbon sequestration exceeded an extraordinary ten tons per acre. •

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Plants convert sunlight effortlessly and without fail; however, when it comes to converting photons into useful stored energy, they are about 1 percent efficient. In the case of corn, the farmer has to till the fields with diesel-powered tractors, probably use herbicides to control weeds, harvest the crop with combines, and truck the crop many miles to be processed. At the processing plant, the corn is milled, made into mash, blended with enzymes and ammonia, cooked to kill bacteria, liquefied, and then fermented for a couple days with yeast to convert the sugars to ethanol. From there it is distilled and centrifuged. The solids are separated and the liquids go to a molecular sieve. The carbon dioxide is captured and sold to soft-drink manufacturers. Denaturants are added to make it untaxed and undrinkable, and then it goes to storage tanks. From there it is placed in tanker trucks en route to refineries, where it is blended into gasoline.

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When fully calculated, corn-based ethanol produces slightly more energy than was required to produce it. If you add emissions from land use, groundwater depletion, loss of biodiversity, and the impacts of nitrogen fertilizers, the benefit to the atmosphere is debatable. Corn’s highest and best use is as staple food for people who are hungry, not as ethanol powering an SUV. Imagine, then, if you could bypass the farms, fertilizers, tractors, trucks, processing plants, and subsidies and make fuel from water and carbon dioxide, wherever you and the water reside. That is the goal of the artificial leaf project, founded by Daniel Nocera more than two decades ago.

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Although a pound of hydrogen contains three times more energy than a pound of gasoline, getting a pound of hydrogen is a tricky process and requires equipment, high-pressure tanks, and compressors. Generating enough energy for a family would require a slice of silicon the size of a sheet of plywood and a tank equivalent to three bathtubs. Nocera was focused on providing affordable energy for the poor, but little thought was given as to how the poor could actually make electricity.

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He believes that by focusing on technologies that benefit those who have the least, all of society will benefit the most. For many years, he answered skeptics by pointing out that if as much money was invested in artificial photosynthesis as is invested in batteries, a breakthrough would occur sooner.

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On June 3, 2016, Nocera and his colleague Pamela Silver announced that they had successfully created energy-dense fuels by combining solar energy, water, and carbon dioxide. Employing two catalysts, they produced free hydrogen from water, which is fed to bacteria, Ralstonia eutropha, that synthesize liquid fuels. When the bacteria are fed pure carbon dioxide, the process is ten times more efficient than photosynthesis. If the carbon dioxide is taken from the air, it is three to four times more efficient. Until recently, Nocera had focused on inorganic chemistry to create hydrogen gas. By seeing the hydrogen not as an energy source for people, but as a feedstock of energy for bacteria, he and his team at Harvard made a giant step toward his original goal: inexpensive energy made with sunshine and water. Oh yes, and bacteria. Perhaps economically viable artificial photosynthesis will not be so artificial after all.

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Though the idea of self-driving vehicles goes back more than ninety years, it is the recent convergence of motion sensors, GPS, electric vehicles, big data, radar, laser scanning, computer vision, and artificial intelligence that will radically change cities, highways, homes, work, and lives. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers predicts AVs will make up 75 percent of road vehicles by 2040, though there are many legal and regulatory hurdles to overcome before that can become a reality. Whether they will have a benign, neutral, or negative impact on society is not clear. Expert opinion is arrayed on both sides.

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How cars are owned and utilized today could not be any less efficient. About 96 percent are privately owned; Americans spend $2 trillion per year on car ownership; and cars are used 4 percent of the time. The contemporary car is not a driving machine but a parking machine for which 700 million parking spaces have been built—an area equivalent to the state of Connecticut. If the populace were to undergo a shift and view mobility as a service—rather than private ownership of expensively insured, two-ton assemblages of steel, glass, plastic, and rubber that emit carbon dioxide and health-destroying pollutants—the material, infrastructure, and health-care savings would be immense. But that is not a given. Electrics are at least four times more efficient than gasoline-powered vehicles in overall energy use, which will be the main greenhouse gas benefit of autonomous vehicles. It would be hard to discuss the basic technological capabilities of AV technology without acknowledging three other parallel and complementary areas of research and practice: shared vehicles, on-demand vehicles, and connected vehicle technology. Shared vehicles enable higher vehicle occupancy by facilitating shared trips, in which riders are headed in similar directions. Lyft Line and UberPool are two common platforms that provide this service already. On-demand vehicles can be requested by customers and are expected to show up within a reasonable amount of time with a driver, a service that exists today with apps. Autonomy means your car will arrive without a driver.

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Connected vehicles will be equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications capabilities, allowing those vehicles to collect and share data with other vehicles, roads, traffic lights, and so on in real time, to smooth traffic flow and increase safety. So far, companies competing in this market have no agreement to have vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. That would be a loss because this communication combined with onboard artificial intelligence would equip cars to learn constantly and get increasingly smarter about geography, streets, situations, and destinations. The potential ecological advantages of autonomous vehicles are numerous but not inevitable. Most current AV demonstration models are built on existing production vehicles with after-market sensor packages. Concept models of autonomous vehicles being tested and proposed are smaller, more aerodynamic, and can form a platoon, a group of vehicles following closely behind one another, if they have dedicated lanes, benefiting from draft as cyclists do in a peloton. The transition to dedicated lanes may take decades, however. If autonomous vehicles are shared between several people, congestion will… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The Navly self-driving shuttle on the Lyon Confluence, Lyon, France. Driverless, autonomous, and fully electric, the shuttle carries passengers between the Confluence shopping area and the tip of the peninsula. Equipped with lasers, cameras, and highly precise GPS, the Navly shuttle will reach 25km/hour, but be safe for passengers or pedestrians.

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a time could come when people are banned from driving because in a world of self-directed, connected vehicles, individual drivers are a danger to everyone else. Futurist Thomas Frey has made a list of what will disappear in the driverless-car era, and at the top of that list are drivers. Drivers not wanted: taxi, Uber, UPS, FedEx, bus, truck, and town car. Also eliminated: insurance agents, auto salesmen, credit managers, insurance claims adjusters, bank lending, and traffic reporters on the news. What goes the way of the cassette tape: steering wheels, odometers, gas pedals, gas stations, AAA, and the many outlets for individuals to service their own cars, from body shops to car washes. Good riddance to: road rage, crashes, 90 percent or more of all injuries and auto-related deaths, driving tests, getting lost, car dealers, tickets, traffic cops, and traffic jams. The auto-and-truck industry has a disproportionate impact on climate. Automobiles and trucks account for one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions, and that does not include construction and maintenance of streets, highways, and other infrastructure. Along with a reduction in greenhouse gases could be a reduction in jobs for millions. (Compare now-defunct Blockbuster to Netflix for a sense of what this could mean for overall employment.)

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Automated bookable cars at one’s door could see individuals moving farther away from the city, especially if they can work… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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There are estimates that the total U.S. auto fleet would decline by 50 to 60 percent. John Zimmer, cofounder of Lyft, calls it the “third transportation revolution.” It describes a transformed urban and suburban landscape that is built for people, not cars. On-demand autonomous vehicles will allow a great majority of city dwellers to abandon car ownership at significant savings to themselves and their cities. Given the sheer hassle of owning a car in an urban setting and the average ownership cost of $9,000 to $15,000 per year, the pay-as-you-go model for on-demand vehicles will appeal to rich and poor alike. The catch in all of this is rush hour. Unless people are willing to use autonomous carpooling, such… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The urban landscape could morph into people-oriented areas, with broader sidewalks, narrower streets, more trees and plants, voluminous bike lanes, and parking lots converted to parks. The emphasis will shift from transport to community. The urban form of cities—the layout, roads, structures, and physical patterns of cities—could change dramatically if autonomous mobility was a well-planned, functional service. Today, all cities are noisy and crowded, and the overwhelming source of that noise and crowding is vehicles. In contrast, electric vehicles make little noise. If autonomous vehicles are single or zero occupancy, they will be of little help to cities, or the planet. If they are… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Oscilla Power, has created a wave-energy technology that converts the kinetic energy of the ocean without external moving parts. The technology is simple in principle. It consists of a large solid-state float on the water’s surface. Inside the float surface are magnets; outside are rods made of an iron-aluminum alloy. The rods, when compressed and decompressed, undergo stress changes, which are converted to electricity by coils wrapped around the rods. What causes the compression is a large, concrete heave plate tethered below the water by cables. This acts like an anchor that prohibits the solid-state float from moving with the rise and fall of the surface waves, thereby creating compressive pulses within it. The heave, pitch, troughs, crests, and roll of oceanic surface water create a constant flow of compression and thus electricity. The computation of the weight of the heave plate, the configuration of the magnetic field in which the alloy rods are compressed, and the overall mass distribution of the system in response to the kinetics of the ocean surface are complex calculations aimed at achieving optimum output. However, once the parameters are set, the mechanics are fairly straightforward, thanks to the lack of turbines, blades, motors, and other moving parts. A technology that captures a tiny fraction of the ocean’s kinetic energy would be an astonishing achievement—if it were affordable. Affordability entails maintenance, replacement parts, servicing in high seas, and underwater cables to transfer the power. The qualities of ocean energy that make wave power so attractive are the same qualities that may take it out of human reach: It is an intense, random, and powerful force. Solid-state wave energy eliminates some of the key issues that have plagued other start-ups in the field. It may be the breakthrough. Or, perhaps, the wave-energy breakthrough is yet to come. Whether now or later, the ocean remains the largest untapped source of renewable energy on earth. •

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Six years after LEED standards were established, a different set of criteria was put forth by architect Jason McLennan and the Cascadia Green Building Council: the Living Building Challenge (LBC). (LBC is now owned and operated by the International Living Future Institute.) It too is a building certification program with core principles and performance categories. These seven categories are called “petals”: Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. LEED is about sustainability, the reduction of the negative environmental impacts caused by the built environment. LBC is based on regeneration, buildings that can reanimate and renew the environment, for both the natural world and human communities. Fundamentally, LBC is not about leading, but about living. Buildings can function more like a forest, generating a net surplus of positives in function and form and exhaling value into the world. Buildings, in other words, can do more than simply be less bad. They can contribute to the greater good. LBC lays out criteria for what a living building is and does to benefit both people and planet. Each of the seven petals is populated by imperatives a building ought to fulfill—twenty in total. The imperatives are not a checklist. They are performance expectations that define a holistic approach to buildings based on a simple question: How do you design and make a building so that every action and outcome improves the world? For example, living buildings should grow food, produce net-positive waste (a waste stream that nourishes living systems or land), create net-positive water, and generate more energy with renewables than they use. They need to incorporate biophilic design, satisfying humankind’s innate affinity for natural materials, natural light, views of nature, sounds of water, and more. On the unnatural side of things, living buildings have to avoid all “red-listed” materials, such as PVC and formaldehyde. They are required to cater to the human scale, rather than the car scale, and intentionally educate and inspire others—building as teacher rather than container.

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When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, living buildings make their greatest impact by producing more energy than they consume and offsetting all embodied carbon as well. To provide energy to the world, the buildings are highly efficient, requiring significantly less energy to begin with than conventional “green” buildings, and integrate on-site renewable energy, such as solar or geothermal. The path to achieving net-positive energy and the nineteen other imperatives is not prescribed, so each living building is shaped and tailored to local conditions and allows for local genius. Checking any given box is a matter of context. Ultimately, LBC accreditation is not based on meeting prescriptive design specifications or projected building performance. What matters instead, based on at least twelve months of occupancy and actual performance, is how a living building comes to life. As with many innovations, initial uptake was slow to begin for the Living Building Challenge. It delivered on its name and proved a challenge that was nearly insurmountable for designers, architects, engineers, building inspectors, banks, and contractors. A steep learning curve flattened the initial adoption curve. Today, however, there are more than four hundred buildings in various stages of certification, encompassing several million square feet in over a dozen countries. Just as with LEED, as designers and contractors master the means and methodologies to achieve certification, the costs are reduced and confidence increases. Recent economic studies demonstrate that the initial cost of living buildings is going down and at the same time the provable return on a dollar-to-dollar basis is showing them to be economical, not just visionary.

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numerous positive regulatory changes have already been made thanks to the program. If society sees that the structures we build are actually human habitats—ecosystems made for us, by us—buildings that live are the ones that truly make sense. And there is that final petal: beauty. Buildings that are LBC certified are spectacular to look at and be in. Architect David Sellers summed it up perfectly when he said the pathway to sustainability is beauty, because people preserve and care for that which feeds their spirit and heart. All other buildings are torn down sooner or later. The Imperatives Limits to growth. Only build on a previously developed site, not on or adjacent to virgin land. Urban agriculture. A living building must have the capacity to grow and store food, based on its floor area ratio. Habitat exchange. For each acre of development, an acre of habitat must be set aside in perpetuity. Human-powered living. A living building must contribute to a walkable, bikeable, pedestrian-friendly community. Net positive water. Rainwater capture and recycling must exceed usage. Net positive energy. At least 105 percent of energy used must come from on-site renewables. Civilized environment. A living building must have operable windows for fresh air, daylight, and views. Healthy interior environment. A living building must have impeccably clean and refreshed air. Biophilic environment. Design must include elements that nurture the human and nature connection. Red List. A living building must contain no toxic materials or chemicals, per the LBC Red List. Embodied carbon footprint. Carbon embodied in construction must be offset. Responsible industry. All timber must be Forest Stewardship Council certified or come from salvage or the building site itself.

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Living economy sourcing. Acquisition of materials and services must support local economies. Net positive waste. Construction must divert 90 to 100 percent of waste by weight. Human scale and humane places. The project must meet special specifications to orient toward humans rather than cars. Universal access to nature and place. Infrastructure must be equally accessible to all, and fresh air, sunlight, and natural waterways must be available. Equitable investment. A half percent of investment dollars must be donated to charity. JUST organization. At least one entity involved must be a certified JUST organization, indicating transparent and socially just business operations. Beauty and spirit. Public art and design features must be incorporated to elevate and delight the spirit. Inspiration and education. A project must engage in educating children and citizens. •                  The Brock Environmental Center was built by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation at Pleasure House Point in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Completed in 2014, it produces all of its drinking water from rainfall, uses 90 percent less water than a commercial building of the same size, and generates 83 percent more energy than it consumes. The Brock Center is the first commercial building in the United States allowed to treat and process rainwater to federal potable standards.

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An encyclical is a papal letter to the 5,100 bishops of the Roman Catholic Church and is intended to guide its leaders on how to teach and steward its adherents. “Laudato Si” is a message from the Church, to be sure, and it is a message from the heart, suffused with compassion and unflinching in its analysis of the causes of global warming and its unjust and inequitable impact on the poor. In this message, global warming is illustrated—perhaps for the first time—as a universal and moral issue, not only an environmental issue.

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The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. As these gases build up in the atmosphere, they hamper the escape of heat produced by sunlight at the earth’s surface. The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes.

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Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded. Given the complexity of the ecological crisis and its multiple causes, we need to realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality. Respect must also be shown for the various cultural riches of different peoples, their art and poetry, their interior life and spirituality. If we are truly concerned to develop an ecology capable of remedying the damage we have done, no branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out, and that includes religion and the language particular to it. The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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When we speak of the “environment,” what we really mean is a relationship existing between nature and the society which lives in it. Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it. Recognizing the reasons why a given area is polluted requires a study of the workings of society, its economy, its behavior patterns, and the ways it grasps reality. Given the scale of change, it is no longer possible to find a specific, discrete answer for each part of the problem. It is essential to seek comprehensive solutions which consider the interactions within natural systems themselves and with social systems. We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature. What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? This question not only concerns the environment in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal. When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values. Unless we… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn. Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal. We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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For the capture step, many companies are building on the chemistry of amines (ammonia-like compounds) prevalent in traditional industrial carbon dioxide–capture processes. (Engineers have been using amine-based systems to capture carbon dioxide from the concentrated exhaust streams of various fuel and chemical manufacturing operations for decades.) Some DAC innovators are using novel materials for carbon dioxide capture, such as anionic exchange resins. Plus, a range of material science advances in areas such as metal organic frameworks and aluminum silicate materials could open new frontiers in efficient capture of carbon dioxide from the air. There are significant innovations happening around the processes used to regenerate the captured carbon dioxide—that is, how the DAC system squeezes the capture “sponge.” Temperature, pressure, and humidity can be applied to saturated capture materials to release carbon dioxide in purified form. DAC system designers are developing regeneration techniques that use energy as sparingly as possible and/or rely on energy from the wind, sun, or waste industrial heat. In the near term, the purified carbon dioxide released from DAC units could be used in a wide range of manufacturing applications. For example, some DAC start-up companies are working to make synthetic transportation fuels using air-captured carbon dioxide, while others are looking to use atmospheric carbon dioxide in greenhouses to improve indoor agricultural yields. But that is just the beginning. Carbon dioxide captured from DAC systems has been proposed for use in manufacturing plastics, cement, and carbon fiber—and even for permanently disposing of excess atmospheric carbon dioxide in underground geologic formations.

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Rostoker and Binderbauer went out on a limb and chose hydrogen-boron as their fuel because of safety, practicality, and availability. Hydrogen-boron does not produce neutrons of any significance. The reactor will hold up for decades, if not a century. It can be placed safely anywhere. If it shuts down, nothing happens. Or to put it another way, if something happens, it shuts down. If it shuts down, it can be restarted with a household generator. Whereas tritium and deuterium are scarce, there is at least a hundred-thousand-year supply of boron and it is cheap. To make the point, TAE half-jokingly says they will give you the fuel for free if you buy the reactor. Hydrogen-boron fusion produces three helium atoms, and a fractional portion of remaining mass converts to energy . . . a lot of energy. Atoms can make energy in two ways: divide or unite; fission or fusion. Einstein predicted that given the right conditions, mass can become energy or vice versa, and that the amount of energy contained in a tiny bit of mass, in human terms, is astounding. Hydrogen-boron fusion produces three to four times more energy per mass of fuel than nuclear fission, with virtually no waste: That means no plutonium, no radiation, no meltdowns, no proliferation. Some plasma physicists scoffed at TAE’s choice of fuel because hydrogen-boron fusion requires thirty times more heat than the “mere” 180 million degrees Fahrenheit required in a conventional fusion reactor—5.4 billion degrees Fahrenheit, to be precise. For hydrogen-boron, this is “hot enough,” the other half of successful fusion. When you put long enough and hot enough together, you have made starlight on earth.

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Long enough refers to the ability of a fusion reactor to sustain plasma indefinitely. Plasma is the fourth state of matter, completely unlike any other (solid, liquid, and gas being the other three). When you see images of cloudlike galaxies, the sun, or the northern lights dancing on the horizon, you are seeing plasma. It is an ionized gas, and when it is heated it becomes virtually impossible to control. If plasma touches anything, it disappears in a nanosecond. It is pretty much like trying to pick up a cat by the tail. Plasma is a cloud of subatomic particles with the electrons stripped out. It constitutes 99 percent of the universe. In order to achieve fusion, plasma has to be contained and controlled and then heated to supercritical temperatures. Those are two opposing forces: The hotter plasma gets, the more violently unstable it becomes. To corral it has been the challenge of plasma physicists and engineers.

Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth, the Illusion of Consent, and the Fight for Our Future

Raoul Martinez

Last annotated on Wednesday August 16, 2017

196 Highlight(s) | 0 Note(s)

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Perhaps what Dennett and others really fear is that by doing away with the responsibility myth we will encourage ‘irresponsible’ – thoughtless or even reckless – behaviour, that we will have less reason to be caring, conscientious, respectful and dependable. This fear is misplaced. Values motivate us to act, not belief in ultimate responsibility, credit or blame – and values are the product of a wide range of complex forces. Einstein may have rejected the myth of responsibility, but this did not stop him dedicating his life, with vigour and passion, to unlocking the mysteries of the universe, campaigning against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and arguing for a fairer society. There is no reason to think that exposing the illusion of responsibility will undermine the determination to meet our needs or achieve our goals. It does not diminish the cherishing of loved ones, the thirst to learn, or the outrage we feel at injustice. As I will explore in the final part of this book, it is in the pursuit, creation and experience of what we truly value that we discover our deepest freedom. There is another benefit to exposing the myth of responsibility: doing so highlights the fundamental importance of questioning. If we are not responsible for the way we are, if we are not the authors of our own identity, then who or what is? Awareness of just how susceptible we are to forces beyond our control gives us a compelling reason to investigate those forces and, if necessary, transcend their influence. This is important. If democracy is to have any meaning, and the dangers of centralised control are to be averted, it is essential to have a questioning citizenry.

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Our minds are a battleground for competing ideas. The outcome of this battle determines who we become and the society we create. But the forces that win out are not necessarily the ones that serve us best. Over the course of human history, countless people have been conditioned to defend oppressive ideologies, support destructive regimes and believe downright lies. It once served the interests of monarchs to spread among their subjects the idea of the divine right of kings, just as it served the interests of colonialists to spread the idea of racial superiority. Today, it serves certain interests to spend billions of dollars a year marketing fast food to children, at a time when child obesity is a major public health problem.

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If we are to expand our freedom, we need to question our beliefs and values and the forces that brought them about. Why do we hold the beliefs that we do? Why have we formed the habits that we possess? And, crucially, whose interests do they serve? Questioning the religious, economic, social and political paradigms of our time is as urgent as it has ever been. To shape identities is to fashion the future – but what future are we creating? Today the world is scarred by war, extreme inequality and… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Psychologist Daniel Kahneman writes: To resist the illusion, there is only one thing you can do: you must learn to mistrust your impressions of the length of lines when fins are attached to them. To implement that rule, you must be able to recognize the illusory pattern and recall what you know about it. If you can do this, you will never again be fooled by the Müller-Lyer illusion. But you will still see one line as longer than the other.55

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The experience of an illusion may persist but our beliefs about it can change and our response to it can be modified accordingly. As Bertrand Russell put it, ‘A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgement based upon it.’56 This holds for the cognitive illusion of ultimate responsibility. The perennial debate over the existence or non-existence of ‘freedom of the will’ is fuelled by the cognitive illusion that we make free choices. The fact that the notion of a truly free choice has never been coherently formulated has had little impact on the vigour of this debate.

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Later chapters will return to these arguments in various ways, exploring the long shadow cast by the myth of responsibility over politics, economics and the wider culture – and asking how society might look if it escaped this shadow. As we will see, a great deal depends on our capacity to cultivate a more accurate understanding of ourselves and each other. The notion that we are somehow truly responsible for the way we are and what we do has led to absurd beliefs and cruel policies. It legitimises the claim that people deserve the privileges they enjoy and the punishments they receive. It promotes the view that the fates of the prosperous and the poor, the celebrated and the reviled, are merited. It offers a tacit yet powerful endorsement of inequality and oppression.

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To expose the responsibility myth is to expose these pernicious ways of thinking and place a powerful tool in the hands of those fighting for a fairer allocation of wealth, power and opportunity. It is also a significant step towards creating a more compassionate world, in which the impulse to blame is overcome by a desire to understand, and feelings of entitlement give way to humility. By shattering the myth of responsibility we give ourselves the best chance of expanding the freedom that is available to us, personally and politically. The more we understand the effect the world has had on us, the more we can control the effect we have on the world.

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Prior to the experiment, a group of psychiatrists had predicted that just one in a thousand ‘teachers’ would continue to the ‘fatal’ 450-volt switch.2 Although most of the participants experienced high levels of stress, roughly two-thirds of them pulled every one of thirty shock switches, continuing until the researcher stopped the experiment. The experiment has been repeated many times, in different countries. The average proportion of participants prepared to inflict potentially fatal voltages is over 60 per cent.3 What’s remarkable about these results is that they were achieved without any threat of penalty or punishment. Participants were even told that they could keep their fee for taking part whether or not they completed their task. In no sense were they threatened, coerced or bribed. The key finding was just how susceptible we are to authority and, more generally, context. As psychologist Thomas Blass put it, ‘often it is not the kind of person we are that determines how we act, but rather the kind of situation we find ourselves in’.4 The initial motivation for Milgram’s study was to understand how so many German citizens could have participated in the horrors of the Holocaust, horrors that ‘could only have been carried out on a massive scale if a very large number of people obeyed orders’. The reaction to the study from students around the US was illuminating. Milgram recalls: ‘I faced young men who were aghast at the behaviour of experimental subjects and proclaimed they would never behave in such a way, but who, in a matter of months, were brought into the military and performed without compunction actions that made shocking the victim seem pallid.’5 Once inducted into the hierarchical structure of an army, a man or woman becomes an instrument to be wielded by their superiors, to be remotely controlled by people they will probably never meet. Within such a structure, a benevolent individual can be turned into a killing machine.

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At the heart of a relationship based on obedience is an imbalance of power expressed as a division of labour between setting goals and working to bring them about. Milgram showed that, even without any threat of punishment or penalty, an authority figure can compel people to make choices they do not want to make. Using authority to compel is one of many ways to exert control. Whether by manipulating identities or context, all forms of control undermine freedom by inhibiting our capacity to discover what we value and obstructing our pursuit of it – the concept of value is the starting point of freedom. What makes us free is not the power to choose, but the power to turn our choices into expressions of our own values, our lives into testaments to our own visions. We expand our freedom when we transform the power to choose into the power to create, when we identify the things that matter to us and dedicate ourselves to them. This is ‘creative freedom’. We may not be ultimately responsible for who we are or what we do, but we still have choices to make.

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Discovering what we truly value is not easy. Inexperience, ignorance and flawed reasoning routinely prevent us from finding out what really matters to us. For thousands of years and across many cultures, the blood of men, women and children was spilled to placate imagined gods.

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Beliefs reflect what we think the world is like. Values, on the other hand, reflect what we think it should be like. On the turbulent seas of life, we depend on our beliefs to act as a compass for our values – to signal, in any situation, the direction of travel. When they are false, they lead us astray, often preventing us from realising our goals. People take wrong turnings, vote against their interests, buy the wrong product, pick the wrong career, marry the wrong person. With better understanding, we could make better choices and avoid many mistakes. You and I may be searching for the same goal, but differ radically in the means we employ to attain it. I may believe the path to happiness is fame; you may believe it is fortune. These beliefs will send us down different paths, but, if we find ourselves miserable and unsatisfied, we can reconsider our beliefs and the values based on them.

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We might even ask questions about our ultimate goal – why, for instance, we are striving to attain happiness rather than, say, justice, peace, knowledge or meaning? We might ask what we even mean by these terms. Answers to such questions are not set, nor should they be. The value we place on things – love, work, nature, fame, family and fortune – is profoundly affected by our conditioning. When we question that conditioning, our thoughts about what is worthwhile and important can change, sometimes radically. Eyes can be opened to dimensions of value previously unseen. Moral codes evolve. Aesthetic tastes alter. Political views refine. Personal ambitions shift. Much of the challenge is to balance our competing values, to make judgements about the relative importance of different people, projects, desires and principles. There is no formula for this, no final answer. Perhaps the important thing is not to stop asking the question, to take time to scrutinise our reasons for living as we do instead of sleepwalking along paths laid down by convention and habit. We can pursue many valuable goals with our choices: a nourishing relationship, personal fitness, professional success, artistic achievement, political transformation. We can create objects, ideas and technologies of great utility and beauty. We can enhance the well-being of those around us, support them in their endeavours,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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As we change ourselves, we transform how we perceive. A rich inner life, a powerful imagination, a good sense of humour, a reservoir of peace and equanimity are powerful creative tools. They allow meaning to be… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Our capacity to identify and create what we value depends on the resources at our disposal. They determine what we are capable of doing in a given situation, constraining our ability to discover, create and experience what we value most.11 Through economic and political impoverishment, we can be denied access to external resources: land, minerals, forests, animals and oceans; the dazzling products of civilisation, its science, technology and art; and the intelligence, talents and energy of other people. Similarly, through emotional, social and nutritional deprivation, we can be denied access to physical and psychological resources: strength, stamina, patience, perseverance, confidence and imagination. The care we receive, the early relationships we establish, the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Games are a useful metaphor for the many domains of our lives and how we find value within them. Each has its own set of rules that determine which actions are permitted, who the players are, and the aims of the activity. Whether studying at school, toiling in the workplace, praying at a temple, or fighting on the battlefield, we pursue established goals within existing rules and conventions. Society is made up of many overlapping ‘games’. The process of socialisation thrusts us into different arenas, each with its own rules, expectations and values. The obedience experiment was such a game – its ostensible aim was to attain knowledge about memory and learning; the experimenter established the rules and the participants were assigned roles to play. There is a distinction to be made between observing rules and obeying them. To live by rules that serve our values – or at least do not clash with them – is not obedience. Barring exceptional circumstances, it is in everyone’s interests to keep to a particular side of the road while driving. Collectively, living by rules can be a form of mutually beneficial cooperation. On the other hand, we are often obliged to obey rules that conflict with our values because the price of not doing so is too high, or because we have been taught to defer to an authority.

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As our understanding increases, our perception of who has legitimate authority, in what contexts, and to what extent, changes. The question is not whether we should follow rules, but which rules we should follow and when. Play a game long enough and you will change to meet its challenges. Depending on the wider context, this can be a privilege or a punishment.

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In pursuit of compassion, a monk may dedicate a lifetime to meditation. In each case, the task of changing body and mind can be seen as a deep expression of creative freedom. In many contexts, however, the physical and mental changes people undergo arise from an absence of freedom rather than an expression of it. The process of socialisation normalises such changes and conceals the true social function of the games we play. As every anthropologist knows, the deeper purpose of a belief or ritual is often hidden from those whose lives are shaped by it. George Orwell put it succinctly, ‘To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.’12 When there are powerful incentives to play a game that conflicts with our own rules and values – as citizens or professionals – one response is simply to ignore the clash. We are remarkably adept at compartmentalising.

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Psychologists use the term ‘schemas’ to refer to the different patterns of thought and behaviour that are triggered by specific contexts: on speaking to your boss, playing with your child or meeting a stranger. You may spend your days devising more effective ways to market fast food to children and still be a caring friend or parent. You may shoot civilians on command, but abhor violence in the home. Neuroscientist Kathleen Taylor writes that ‘officials at the Nazi death camps were able to activate schemas concerned with duty…while watching children go to the gas chambers, and then go home, activate their fond parent schemas, and cuddle their own children.’15 The ease with which we enter a different arena, switch to a new schema and obey a different set of rules shields us from the glaring inconsistencies in our lives. Ignorance keeps us bound to schemas that with greater understanding we would reject. Fear ties us to schemas that we detest. Seeing through the illusory divisions in our lives is central to being consistent in the goals we pursue. The more context we seek for our actions, the more we understand our impact on the world. The different roles we play – consumer, businessman, student, soldier, voter, parent, employee, patriot, worshipper or professional – obscure the fact that, in the end, each of us is a human being whose every choice is an act of creation, a mark on ourselves, a mark on history. When they are not in harmony, their impact is undermined. It takes resolve and ingenuity to preserve core values, to be the person we want to be, particularly under oppressive conditions.

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holocaust survivor and psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl writes: We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of a typical inmate. […] Such men are not only in concentration camps. Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering.16

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Systems of rules exist at all levels of society, each one exerting pressure on us to think and behave in certain ways. To resist being bent out of shape by the force of circumstance, we rely on the cultivation of inner resources such as imagination, equanimity, patience, humour, reason and empathy. Rather than yield to oppressive rules, the brave and resourceful individual may choose to bend them where possible and break them when necessary. The daring CEO might place people before profit, the principled politician might cherish integrity over promotion, the maverick teacher might put learning before grades, the idealistic student might prioritise activism over exams – but subverting dominant values often carries heavy costs, particularly for those with little power. As the quality of our options reduces, we have to make greater and greater sacrifices, and the capacity to pursue diverse goals diminishes. We are forced to… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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When people join together and make strategic sacrifices collectively, they can do more than accept the options presented to them: they can create new ones. Instead of making the best of unjust rules, they can tear up the rulebook.

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they showed that they were willing to endure severe penalties – including death in Emily Davison’s case – in order to change the rules of the game they were expected to

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Rosa Parks defied the rules of society in 1955 when, sitting on a bus, she refused to give up her seat to a white man. She was convicted for violating the segregation laws in her state. Black community leaders – including Martin Luther King Jr. – responded by organising a bus boycott, which helped to spark the American Civil Rights Movement. A year after Parks’ arrest, a year in which she was forced out of her job, the US Supreme Court ruled that segregation on buses was unconstitutional. People had refused to play along, organised collectively, and rewritten the rules of the game. Individuals like Rosa Parks and Emily Davison have become cultural symbols, embodying the ideal of the struggle for freedom, but such courageous acts are not rare. For every icon there have been countless others who chose to defy rules and conventions, in countless ways and contexts, often risking safety and security in the process, to defend and express their core values. Games within… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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God. For decades, market fundamentalists have worked to expand their influence, pointing to the benign power of the invisible hand. Each one wishes to impose their logic over new domains: from education, healthcare and housing to politics, employment and art. Large-scale attempts to overthrow competing value systems and impose new rules can take many forms, from the formation of empires and colonies to the establishment of structural adjustment programmes and far-reaching trade deals. When rules and values become dominant, they can appear immutable, and the behaviour that results from them can seem natural and inevitable. A totalising system imposes a single overarching game on society. It subordinates and constrains freedom by defining what we must become in order to succeed and survive. Every attempt to expand the scope of a game faces resistance. The democratic spirit of secularism was an attempt to curb the power of dogmatic religious… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Power struggles take two forms: the struggle to succeed according to the values of a particular game and the struggle to decide which game is being played. There are countless overlapping value systems in the world, but one system has come to dominate the rest. It is a ‘game’ that organises human activity like no other, rewriting laws and legislation, shifting… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Banks, hedge funds, governments, NGOs, universities – everyone is caught up in the game of sending money in search of more money. Most people simply use money to meet their basic needs. Unlike wealthy investors, their money does not ‘work for them’ – they work for it. That said, anyone with a bank account is engaged in the process of investment. Most of the time, and often without our knowledge, the deposits in our savings accounts are crossing borders and setting people to work on vast projects around the world. The profit motive has three major components: market competition, political power and social status. First, in competitive markets, businesses are driven to reinvest and expand to survive. Second, money confers power. The more wealth a person controls, the greater their capacity to determine the future. For those who wish to increase their power, amassing ever greater fortunes through reinvestment is extremely appealing, particularly when competing with others doing the same. Third, in a culture that measures achievement in terms of wealth, the pursuit of greater profits becomes the pursuit of higher status.

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Some ways of generating profit can benefit society, but there are many ways that cause great harm, and they are often the easiest: lowering wages, lobbying for deregulation, externalising costs. If lobbying and bribing the government to change laws is cheaper than cleaning up waste, the path to greater profit for a wealthy corporation producing vast amounts of pollution is clear, and it’s not one that benefits the majority. Increasingly, profits are generated by gambling on asset prices, an exercise that serves no one but the investor, while destabilising the whole system. As prices are pushed up by bidding, they lose any connection to the real economy, producing economic instability. When crisis hits, the political power that money buys pushes the resulting costs onto the wider population, evidenced by the wave of austerity imposed across Europe since the 2008 financial crash. Political power can be used in all sorts of ways to rig the system to increase profits: it can privatise national assets for a fraction of their value, crush unions, tear down national barriers to wealth flows, dodge taxes, repeal costly regulations, impose debilitating conditions on international loans, facilitate the exploitation of cheap labour at home and abroad, and so on. In the process of creating and exploiting profitable opportunities, the power of concentrated wealth reorganises human society to reduce and eliminate the obstacles it encounters. Unfortunately, these obstacles include the effectiveness of democratic structures, the integrity of Earth’s life support systems, the rights of workers and the health and happiness of citizens. All are sacrificed on the altar of short-term profit. Even the huge potential of technology to liberate has been squandered.

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the ‘rules of the game’ dictate that the first purpose of technology is to increase profit, not feed and educate the world, improve the lives of human beings, or reduce the time people spend working. The uses to which technology is put depend on effective demand. If states wish to spend their wealth on expanding the military or spying more effectively on their citizens, vast resources are available to do so. The aims of research and development are determined by those with the pockets deep enough to fund them. The game of capitalism requires certain kinds of player. Reorganising society for profit requires the moulding of identities – beliefs, values and habits. As early as 1776, Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations that ‘It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.’19 Fast forward to the twentieth century and the world’s leading economist John Maynard Keynes declares that ‘Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.’20 Astounding this belief may be, but Keynes subscribed to it. Speculating about the future economic prospects of society, he concluded with great optimism that capitalism… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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whereas compassion, forgiveness and love are part of the moral code of the world’s religions, capitalism is characterised by precisely the opposite: greed, selfishness and avarice. As Friedrich Hayek put it, ‘We will benefit our fellow men most if we are guided solely by the striving for gain.’22 According to this modern faith, ‘the road to heaven’, as E. F. Schumacher puts it, ‘is paved with bad intentions’.23 Capitalism has imposed its value system on the world more successfully than any empire, ideology or religion. The global market, writes David Graeber, is ‘the single greatest and most monolithic system of measurement ever created, a totalizing system that would subordinate everything – every object, every piece of land, every human capacity or relationship – on the planet to a single standard of value.’24 Like all dominant value systems, it is based on a conception of human nature, in this case one that assumes individuals know what they want and are attempting to get as much of it as possible for the least amount of effort. When someone donates to a charity, they do so not to help but to make them feel good about themselves.

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The attempt to reduce the plurality of life’s incommensurable values to one unit of measurement is based on the assumption that all people are selfishly chasing some abstract yet quantifiable notion of ‘pleasure’, and that the value of all goods is reducible to pounds, dollars, euros or yen. The value of a human life and the beauty of a sunset, then, can be quantified in terms of tins of beans and chocolate bars.

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The incessant process of reinvestment for a return places enormous pressure on the system itself to expand into new spaces – physical, social and intellectual. This logic drove the brutal enclosure movements of medieval Europe, the colonisation of the Global South, and now drives the commodification and privatisation of the natural world and social services. When growth stalls, it is called a crisis as last year’s profits have nowhere to go. Demand drops, unemployment increases and the value of accumulated wealth risks being devalued or destroyed. (Asset values dropped by more than $50 trillion after the 2008 economic crash.27) The pioneers of neoliberalism – who sought to establish a deregulated form of capitalism – saw concentrated state power as the greatest threat to freedom. They feared what they called ‘collectivism’, defined by Hayek as a system in which ‘the whole of society and all its resources’ are organised for a ‘unitary end’.28 What the end was didn’t matter. Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China all qualified as collectivist societies because they subordinated the will of individuals to a singular vision of society. However, Hayek’s critique also applies to capitalist societies, under which everything is organised for a unitary end: profit – the goal to which all competing values are subordinated. According to Hayek, a man in a collectivist state must ‘be prepared actively to break every moral rule he has ever known if this seems necessary to achieve the end set for him’.29 We see the same pressures on today’s workers and professionals. People are paid to achieve their employer’s goals, not their own. In order to advance the goals of exploitative and environmentally destructive corporations, many construction workers, miners, engineers, lawyers, accountants, advertisers, public relations experts, journalists, security personnel and politicians must be willing to subordinate their own moral codes. Legal scholar Joel Bakan writes that ‘whatever may be our human inclinations, motivation, feelings, and beliefs, when we enter the corporation’s world we become operatives for its imperatives, subsuming our own personal values to its institutional demands’.30 Hayek tells us that the ‘most effective way of making everybody serve the single system of ends towards which the collective social plan is directed is to make everybody believe in those ends’.31 He warns that in a collectivist society ‘the whole apparatus for spreading knowledge, the schools and the press, wireless and cinema, will be used exclusively to spread those views which, whether true or false, will strengthen the belief in the rightness of the decisions taken by the authority’.32 Yet, as we have seen, the logic of the market produces its own consistent bias, which distorts and omits truth to serve corporate and establishment interests. Throughout the twentieth century, the ‘apparatus for spreading knowledge’ was commandeered by wealthy interests to strengthen… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Hayek bemoans the absence of ‘science for science’s sake, art for art’s sake’ in a collectivist society, but in a market nothing is produced for its own sake – all is for profit.33 Market logic turns everything into a commodity whose value is measured in monetary terms – science and art included. Instead of wealth being a means to further knowledge and beauty, it is the other way around. Hayek tells us there is no limit to what a citizen in a collectivist society is expected to do, ‘no act which his conscience must prevent him from committing’ when ‘his superiors order him’.34 But obedience to centralised authority is a fact of life in any unaccountable hierarchical society, whether it is dominated by large corporations, state bureaucracies, political parties or the military. Elsewhere, Hayek tells us that when ‘you admit that the individual is merely a means to serve the ends of the higher entity called society or the nation, most of those features of totalitarian regimes which horrify us follow of necessity’.35 But within a capitalist system, the worker is explicitly reduced to a means of generating profit. Without democratic safeguards, they are paid as little as possible, obliged to work in dangerous conditions with minimal rights and job security, often to the point of early death or suicide in parts of the world where life is cheap. This exploitative control wears the mask of consent, but the possibility of meaningful consent is destroyed by great imbalances of bargaining power between contracting parties. Formal contracts merely paper over the coercive force of circumstance that pervades any society with great inequalities. The insatiable appetite for profit has driven hundreds of thousands of people to suicide, left many millions to die of preventable diseases, increased inequality, shifted welfare from the poor to the rich, driven nations into lucrative wars, and is now jeopardising the conditions for life on Earth.

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Rules mark out what we can do; values tell us what we should do. Yet values are what count. Rules are created, bent, ignored and rewritten to advance values, not the other way around. Across the political spectrum, politicians, journalists and businessmen claim to favour freedom, yet so many people have so little of it. As a species, do we really want to continue being bound by the imperatives of profit and growth? When the things we most care about are being destroyed by the games we’re forced to play, it is time to change the game. The call to do just that is growing in volume as more voices join together in a chorus of popular resistance against many aspects of the global system of capitalism. In 2015, Pope Francis surprised many by describing the unfettered pursuit of money as ‘the dung of the devil’, continuing: ‘let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change…’ He accused today’s system of imposing a ‘mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature’ and told his audience that this was intolerable for people and ‘Mother Earth’ herself.37 Strong words from the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people. The Catholic Church itself remains a powerful institution, but its scope and influence has been dramatically curtailed. The over-arching dominance of its value system had to be overcome to create the space for art, science and democracy to flourish. We need to achieve a transformation of similar scope regarding the rules and values of capitalism. The pursuit of profit must be curtailed and tamed, its reductive value system rejected, and people and planet protected from its voracious appetite. The specifics are up for discussion but the need for profound transformation is beyond serious doubt.

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Bertrand Russell advised that we regard ‘a child as a gardener regards a young tree, i.e. as something with a certain intrinsic nature, which will develop into an admirable form given proper soil and air and light’.38 Like a young tree, we require certain things from our environment in order to flourish. Denied the proper material and social conditions, our physical, emotional and intellectual potential will not be realised. From a combination of instinct and research about human nature we develop ideas about what people have reason to value and what kind of society is desirable. A society cannot avoid making decisions about what constitutes a dignified and meaningful life. These decisions justify its socialisation process and institutional arrangements. To make freedom an organising principle of society is to recognise the importance of being able to determine for ourselves what it means to live well, to see this capacity as an integral form of human flourishing. Many have claimed that capitalism does just that, that the free market enables people to consume what they desire, work where they want, and pursue what they value – but this is to ignore the impact of inequality on the distribution of power, the profound imperfections of markets, and the greedy, selfish and materialistic values it fosters. It may not be possible to prove that creative freedom is an inherent part of human flourishing, but it is a claim that resonates deeply and finds powerful support in the extraordinary sacrifices people make in its pursuit and defence. Humans have been manipulated, deceived and coerced, yet the desire for freedom has never been extinguished. As Solomon Northup, whose memoir inspired the Oscar-winning film Twelve Years a Slave, describes, the instinct for freedom runs deep: Let them know the heart of the poor slave – learn his secret thoughts – thoughts he dare not utter in the hearing of the white man; let them sit by him in the silent watches of the night – converse with him in trustful confidence of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happyness,’ and they will find that ninety-nine out of every hundred are intelligent enough to understand their situation and to cherish in their bosoms the love of freedom, as passionately as themselves.39

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Vast concentrations of power pose a threat to all conceptions of human flourishing, however they may be defined. A society that took freedom seriously would recognise this danger and attempt to share out resources – internal and external – so as to undermine centralised authority and control. But there has always been resistance to sharing out the resources on which freedom depends.40 Advocates of capitalism have argued that ‘freedom breeds inequality’, that you cannot have the former without the latter.41 But the vast inequalities in society have been produced and maintained by power – violence, theft and oppression – not ‘freedom’. Protecting the wealth of a few by sacrificing the fundamental freedoms of many does not serve the cause of liberty. A high degree of economic and political equality is a necessary precondition for a free and democratic society, not a threat to it. Without such equality, power becomes too concentrated and the contracts that pervade society cannot be considered genuinely consensual, meaning that coercion is a ubiquitous feature of the system. If freedom is to flourish, the way wealth is produced, distributed and controlled must be transformed. If democracy is to prosper, the power of private capital must be overcome. In his twenty-one-minute inaugural speech of 2005, George W. Bush used the words ‘liberty’ or ‘freedom’, on average, every thirty seconds. Freedom is a banner that has been wrapped tightly around the machinery of capitalism – a call trumpeted at every election, an ideal employed to justify violent dispossession, military invasion, tax cuts for the rich, and welfare cuts for the poor. Yet the problem lies not with freedom but with how it has been appropriated to justify its opposite. If we want freedom to be more than empty rhetoric, if we want it to be a core principle around which society is organised, we will have to create it.42

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past. It’s worth remembering that as well as slaves fighting bravely for – and winning – their own freedom, many people questioned the power structures of their day and fought for the freedom of slaves they had never met and never would. Historian Adam Hochschild writes ‘For fifty years, activists in England worked to end slavery in the British Empire. None of them gained a penny by doing so, and their eventual success meant a huge loss to the imperial economy.’43 This was one of the first times in history that ‘a large number of people became outraged, and stayed outraged for many years, over someone else’s rights. And most startling of all, the rights of people of another color, on another continent.’44 The abolitionists raised the political and moral consciousness of enough people to change the rules of their society. By redefining what was acceptable, they built a movement powerful enough to make the unthinkable inevitable. A similar task… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Every social system is an experiment to be revised and renewed by each generation. A vision of society gives us a direction to move in, not a blueprint of our destination. To abolish slavery it was not necessary to believe that society would be perfect as a result, nor was it necessary for abolitionists to agree on what a truly free society would be like.45 Today, the barriers to creative freedom are so pervasive and obstructive, and the distribution of wealth and power so skewed, that the case for rapid transformation is as overwhelming as it has ever been. The remaining chapters examine this transformation through four lenses: knowledge, power, survival and empathy. Each chapter illuminates important aspects of the aims, nature and tensions of this multifaceted struggle for change, shedding light on the conditions that need to be established if creative freedom is to flourish. Under the brutal conditions of life in a concentration camp, Viktor Frankl saw the importance of holding onto a sense of purpose, of finding value in one’s life. He described how, when a feeling of pointlessness set in, many prisoners gave up on life altogether. According to Frankl, the most powerful human drive is ‘not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life’.46 This meaning is to be found in ‘the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task’.47 Even in the most oppressive of contexts, he believed, it is possible to find such tasks. Meaning is found by caring about the future and our role in creating it. But to care… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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debt – pass on. In this struggle for freedom the stakes could not be higher. The decisions we make today may be the difference between the survival of our species and its destruction. Through action and inaction, we all play our part. In the face of greed, cruelty, exploitation and violence, the choice is clear: compliance or creativity. When institutions fail to protect our freedoms, it is left to the solidarity of people to safeguard liberty, a solidarity that crosses the many social, racial and political boundaries we are taught to observe. Rationalisations for inaction are pervasive – from denial of problems to cynicism about solutions – and they need to be overcome. The task of creating freedom might be daunting but it is not hopeless. If it sometimes seems that way, it is worth recalling Zinn’s message: ‘to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory’. This idea captures the essence of the creative spirit. If we focus on doing the best we can to create what is worthwhile, we can continue in the face of setbacks and apparent failures, because we judge our success not just by what we achieve but by the sincerity of the attempt to achieve it. That, in itself, is a beautiful victory, a wonderful manifestation of the impulse to be free. It’s a valuable victory too, sending ripples far and wide, revealing rich and beautiful dimensions of life that we so often forget. Music, paintings and stories can do this, but so can acts of courage, generosity and compassion. Such behaviour uplifts and inspires, interrupting and subverting our routines and expectations, challenging us to imagine something better and reminding us of the extraordinary potential within us all.

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Typically, the victims were blamed for their plight. Senior British officials branded starving peasants as idle, criminal and incapable of following orders. Once the crop failure had passed, the military sought to obtain all unpaid taxes and debts from the decimated peasantry. Behind the actions of Lytton and others was a cold calculation summed up by the famine commission of 1878–80: ‘The doctrine that in time of famine the poor are entitled to demand relief…would probably lead to the doctrine that they are entitled to relief at all times…which we cannot contemplate without serious apprehension.

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A similar crime had been committed in Ireland during the Great Hunger of the 1840s: the Irish died as Irish-grown food was exported to England. And the justification was the same: the workings of the market should not be interfered with. In both cases, millions starved not because there wasn’t enough food but because there wasn’t enough democracy. This is the rule, not the exception. No major famine has ever occurred in a political democracy, even in those democracies that are extremely poor and suffer periodic food shortages. In every instance we know of, the decisive cause of major famine has not been the lack of food (though shortages play a part), but a lack of control over the supply by those who subsequently starved. India suffered numerous famines under British rule right up to Independence (the Bengal famine started in 1943), after which they ‘disappeared suddenly with the establishment of a multiparty democracy and a free press’.5 The historical record has shown that even limited democratic accountability makes a big difference. Pioneering economist Amartya Sen writes: Famines have occurred in ancient kingdoms and contemporary authoritarian societies…modern technocratic dictatorships, in colonial economies run by imperialists from the north and in newly independent countries of the south run by despotic national leaders or by intolerant single parties. But they have never materialized in any country that is independent, that goes to elections regularly, that has opposition parties to voice criticisms and that permits newspapers to report freely and question the wisdom of government policies without extensive censorship.6 By contrast, authoritarian rule has a long history of famines, whether in Ireland and India under British rule, the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Somalia or North Korea. It’s a grim history. Between 30 and 60 million people perished during avoidable famines in the last quarter of the nineteenth century alone.7 In the twentieth century, more than 70 million people died in avoidable famines.8 In almost every case, people could have been fed from surpluses kept elsewhere in the nation, empire or region. What causes people to starve is not weather patterns but commodity markets, price speculation, authoritarian institutions and international indifference.

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It has become commonplace to define democracy quite narrowly. Political scientist Samuel Huntington offers a typical summation: ‘Elections, open, free, and fair, are the essence of democracy, the inescapable sine qua non.’9 But the way modern elections work is just one manifestation of the democratic impulse, and one that most of the time fails to empower people. Democracy demands more: conditions that allow people to pursue a deeper understanding of themselves and their world, and institutions that provide the options to participate meaningfully in the decisions that affect their lives.

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Democracy is not a peculiarly Western invention. Nor is it a single set of institutions. Experiments with democracy are driven by the desire to scale-up creative freedom and harmonise the process of identifying and creating valuable outcomes among large numbers of people. Process must be balanced against outcomes. To coordinate the wishes of large numbers of people in an efficient and effective way requires planning and experimentation. Creating a political vehicle that can be steered by many without stalling or crashing is an engineering challenge. Different vehicles suit different tasks and scales. Some will be more hierarchical than others – the challenge is to make them all truly accountable to the people they serve.

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Whether in Communist China, Nazi Germany or capitalist America, highly trained technocrats have always conformed to the prevailing ideology, however destructive it may be. This is the natural outcome of a hierarchical system that lacks genuine accountability. Why else – if not to advance their own agenda – would those at the top of a hierarchy confer power on those below? The levers of power are reserved not for the most able or wise but for those willing to rule on behalf of the powerful.

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are shaped by the options available. The act of participating in the creation of our future is an empowering experience, even if we make mistakes. Freedom to fail is part of the process of learning how to fulfil our creative potential. We learn to speak, write, run and climb through experience, and so it is for the exercise of freedom. For our creative potential to mature, we must first have the opportunity to exercise it. Democracy is both a form of self-defence and self-development.

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Ignorance, gullibility and complacency – individual or collective – can lead to outcomes that conflict with our deepest values. Critics of democracy are right to warn against the rule of the unqualified. It is crucial to have effective mechanisms for collecting and disseminating expert knowledge. Criminologists have a lot to teach us about our penal system. Climatologists have a lot to teach us about climate change. Epidemiologists have a lot to teach us about public health. These ideas overlap with what’s known as ‘deliberative democracy’. A meaningful democratic process goes beyond simply recording fixed preferences; it involves a process of deliberation that allows participants to improve their understanding of issues in pursuit of an informed opinion, rather than just giving people a vote. Why assume that people enter the political arena already knowing exactly what they want or how best to achieve it? Our ideas and values evolve as we interact with people who have different views, experiences and expertise. A commitment to reason is more than a commitment to use our intelligence to advance our interests: it’s an attempt to understand. This brings us back to Adam Smith’s impartial spectator. An ongoing public discussion gives all involved the opportunity to appreciate new perspectives and transform private preferences into positions that stand up to scrutiny.

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In the eighteenth century, Mary Wollstonecraft was scorned by contemporaries for suggesting that for society to escape from tyranny, not only must ‘the divine right of kings’ be contested, but the ‘divine right of husbands’.13 To enhance our creative freedom, we need to free ourselves from the influence of arbitrary authority and coercive power wherever they are found. We have to peel away the prejudices of our own time and ask who has power, who does not, and why there is an imbalance. Today, many large and unaccountable concentrations of power remain immune to popular control. Private ownership of the world’s resources by a tiny minority of individuals and corporations exerts a vice-like grip over much of humanity. People cannot control their lives if they cannot control the resources on which their lives depend. We can safely assume that in any system in which a tiny percentage of the population possesses disproportionate wealth, they also possess a disproportionate influence over the decisions that enable them to acquire and hold onto that wealth. Wealth is used to influence political outcomes. The problem is not so much the methods themselves – lobbying, public relations, media pressure, party funding – but the fact that they are controlled by a small minority whose resources allow them to do what most people cannot. In order to combat the subversion of democratic ideals, two things must be done. The first is to significantly reduce the level of inequality within and between nations. The principle of one-dollar-one-vote would cease to threaten the functioning of democracy if everyone had roughly the same amount of money. The second is to make systemic changes that reduce the impact of money on decision-making. These approaches are complementary.

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The world’s climate scientists have been telling us for decades that this system is destroying the environment. Moreover, given that it’s also impoverishing billions, disempowering the majority and concentrating the world’s power and wealth in the hands of a few, it’s safe to say that it fails the viability test. The question, then, is not whether we should change, but how. Arriving at a fair distribution of creative freedom across society is the challenge faced by our democratic institutions.

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Democratising education There is little freedom for students in most schools. The combination of dress codes, rigid syllabi, set lessons, constant examination, hours of passive listening and an absence of internal democracy mean that schooldays are, typically, characterised by tight control. Study is geared to exams, which grants great power to those who set them and little autonomy to those who take them. The sheer quantity of disconnected units of information leaves students struggling to keep up. Careful attention to a syllabus is rewarded over careful attention to one’s curiosity. Regurgitation of facts is rewarded over originality, passionate engagement or independent thought. These arrangements prepare students for a society in which they have little say over the decisions that affect their lives: long hours of hard work on externally set problems is good preparation for professional obedience. In a genuinely democratic society, educational institutions would exemplify the principle of participation and equality. Decision-making and organisational procedures would empower students, parents and teachers and, if equality of opportunity was taken seriously, a pupil’s education would have no relation to the wealth of his or her parents. This may sound utopian and unworkable but compelling examples already exist. In Finland, a child begins schooling at seven with no pressure to do any academic work before then. Their entire education up to and including university is free (including school meals) and private schools are prohibited. There are neither league tables nor school inspections nor uniforms, and homework is minimal. Students have a say in designing their own timetables, are not segregated from other children according to ability, and don’t take a national exam before the age of eighteen.14 The government determines the curriculum but teachers have the freedom to teach subjects as they see fit, experimenting with different approaches and methods. For older students, a move away from subject-specific lessons is currently under way.15 Instead of dividing the school day into traditional subjects, some lessons now focus on particular topics, such as the European Union, which bring together elements of politics, economics, geography and languages. As well as this holistic approach to knowledge, there is also an increasing emphasis on collaborative learning, with students working in smaller groups to solve problems together rather than on their own. The Finnish system is built around a strong commitment to equality, in which children and teachers have high levels of autonomy. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which ranks students around the world, the results are impressive. Finland has repeatedly been one of the world’s highest scoring countries, at times claiming top place in Science, and second place in Maths and English. The achievement gap between the weakest and strongest students is the smallest in… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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‘Escuela Nueva turns the schoolhouse into a laboratory for democracy. Rather than being run as a mini-dictatorship, with the principal as its unquestioned leader, the school operates as a self-governing community, where teachers, parents and students have a real say in how it is run.’17 Numerous studies have demonstrated that the model tends to outperform conventional schools academically, while also promoting higher levels of self-esteem, participation and cooperation.18

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In the Foreword to Paulo Freire’s text Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Richard Shaull describes two main paths an education can take: There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes ‘the practice of freedom’, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.19

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The selection and omission of facts and perspectives is unavoidable in the process of teaching. The beliefs and values held dear by a teacher – or whoever has the power to design the curriculum – dictate the material that is presented, the emphasis, and the perspective offered. The way to transcend this inherent bias is to acknowledge it, to communicate the problem of bias explicitly to students by highlighting the power imbalance of the teacher/student dynamic and, in doing so, encourage them to question the educational process: its aims, methods and content. Exploring the process of identity formation is an important part of this. Throughout history, the power to shape identities has been used to advance the interests of those with the power to do the shaping. Studying critically these mechanisms of control can go a long way towards undermining their power. To acknowledge a bias we have to be clear about our values, about what has led us to frame the subject as we have and select the information that we transmit.

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Education is a means of passing valuable lessons from one generation to the next. It is not enough to transmit technical expertise – that is merely training. A democratic education has to grapple with the core questions of power, control and freedom. The stability of democracy depends on a process of socialisation that cultivates the tools for its protection and evolution. These concerns ought to inform the way reality is divided up into subjects for study. Alongside the traditional disciplines – physics, maths, literature – why not include ‘War and Peace’, ‘Identity Formation’, ‘Empathy and Dehumanisation’, ‘Climate Change and Survival’, ‘Equality and Oppression’? In a class on War and Peace, students might investigate the methods different governments have used to persuade, cajole and manipulate people into supporting war. They might look at the economic incentives of military action – how it serves certain interests in society while sacrificing others – as well as the ethics of international intervention and the wider objectives of foreign policy. Through historical case studies students might explore the role of the media in securing public consent and learn about those who campaigned for peace: their reasons for doing so, the methods they used, and the successes and failures they enjoyed and endured. By reading literature, biography and poetry they could analyse, debate and discuss accounts of soldiers – from training to the battlefield to integrating back into society. To engage with the world in this way, students would have to acquaint themselves with, and perceive the links between, numerous areas – history, politics, economics, philosophy, psychology, media and literature – all with a distinct goal in mind, a bias stated from the outset: to understand the obstacles to peace so as to overcome them more effectively.

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The innately political character of whatever is studied should be identified, discussed and periodically returned to. For instance, it ought to be explained from the outset that history can be used as both a weapon of oppression and a tool of liberation, and that what we understand about the past shapes our thinking about the present and the future. Fostering this awareness – perhaps through a critical study of textbooks, old and new – is more valuable than any particular historical fact or event. Too often, where students should see connections they are taught to see only disciplinary boundaries. Severing connections between subjects, rather than building them, leads to confusion. A confused populace is a vulnerable populace, one unable to identify the source of their woes or effect change. The ubiquitous evils of poverty, exploitation, racism and war are rooted in a number of causal factors ranging from the psychological, political and economic, to the historical, philosophical and sociological. To understand such problems, let alone solve them, requires a holistic approach – one that is precluded by a curriculum emphasising strict specialisation, one that isolates rather than connects its subjects.

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Everyone stands to benefit from being able to participate effectively in the political decisions that impact them. As things stand, most students pass through the education system without serious engagement with – often without a single lesson in – capitalism, inequality, social control, activism or democracy. These are foundational subjects for an understanding of power. The millions of children studying topics that will never be of any use to them are testament to a system that welcomes political confusion and apathy – a system that obscures the world, rather than reveals it. If independence of thought is the mark of a good education, it cannot be the role of the educator to decide on the ultimate goal of those they educate. If the inevitable political bias of education favours democracy and freedom it will seek to create an environment in which students develop the tools to direct their own education, an environment that nourishes their curiosity, hones their critical faculties, gives them the confidence to follow syllabuses of their own making and the hunger to ask – and seek answers to – their own questions. These are invaluable traits to foster if people are to engage creatively with the world around them. To… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The philosopher John Dewey wrote that democracy ‘cannot go forward unless the intelligence of the mass of people is educated to understand the social realities of their own time’.21 A democratic education provides people with the tools to defend and expand what is of value. The threats of war, oppression and exploitation are forever present. Freedom-preserving institutions that curb concentrated power require a questioning, informed, organised and confident population to safeguard them. The more susceptible people are to manipulation, the less secure everyone’s freedom becomes. A politically literate citizenry is the antidote to the dangers of centralised authority and control. The artist Ricardo Levins Morales sums it up: ‘If you give me a fish you have fed me for a day. If you teach me to fish then you have fed… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Democratising the workplace During the Spanish Civil War, a priest named Don José María Arizmendiarrieta narrowly escaped execution by Franco’s forces. In 1943, he went on to establish a school for working-class boys. Before then, the educational record in that region had been dismal, not a single working-class youth from Mondragón had ever attended a university. Guided by this visionary priest, the students set up a number of cooperatives, starting with a factory in 1956 that made small cookers and stoves. Two years later they founded another to make machine tools. A year on, they established a bank to provide investment and expertise to existing cooperatives wanting to expand and new cooperatives trying to get off the ground. As the cooperatives spread, supporting structures were added to the growing network, including a technical university, a social security organisation, research institutes and a series of consumer outlets. In 1991, the network formalised its association by creating the Mondragon Corporación Cooperativa. In recent years, it has boasted 83,000 employees, 9,000 students, global sales of over 12 billion euros, and assets totalling 35 billion euros. It is the world’s largest cooperative. At the heart of the Mondragon structure is the individual worker-owned cooperative. These send representatives to councils, which coordinate activity at higher levels of the organisation. The system of governance combines direct democracy in general assemblies with representational democracy at councils. The workforce elects managers, and big decisions – about profits and production – are taken by a board of directors representing the members or by a general assembly of worker-owners. In 2007, the top 365 US companies gifted their chief executives rewards well over 500 times the average wage of their employees. In Mondragon, the highest paid managers are paid a salary just eight times that of the lowest paid worker.22 Each cooperative donates a portion of its profits to a solidarity investment fund which enables Mondragon’s more profitable cooperatives to subsidise those that might temporarily be in difficulty. Since the economic… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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If democracy is something we value, why is it excluded from the institutions to which we devote so much of our lives? Why should workers not be able to participate in the decisions that impact them? Why should those who create profit not decide how it is spent? Why must the democratic rights of the citizen be left behind on entering the workplace? There are no good answers to these questions. There never have been. This is why attempts to bring democracy into the workplace have never gone away. In some instances, workers have taken over management of the workplace. This is a step in the right direction but it is a rather small one, because the typical function of managers is to implement the plan created by the directors. Nevertheless, worker self-management is preferable because it allows workers to control more effectively the modes and pacing of the work they do. Elsewhere, workers have taken over ownership of the enterprise. At annual elections they vote on who the board of directors will be (they are rarely able to vote for themselves). This is an important change but still leaves the most important decisions in the hands of a board that excludes the workers.

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imbalances of power can emerge from traditional divisions of labour. Over time, if a handful of people monopolise managerial roles, they will acquire skills, knowledge and confidence that may result in a disproportionate influence over discussions, debates and ultimately decisions. This can undermine the democratic structure of the whole enterprise if a rift opens up between managers and other workers. There are other advantages to job rotation. When the same tasks are performed repeatedly over a period of years, there is little opportunity to develop new abilities.

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Job rotation gives people the chance to discover what they enjoy doing (and what they dislike), what they’re good at, and gives them the chance to learn new things. The arrangements vary from institution to institution, but this way of working has already been implemented with great success, from independent publishing houses to giant firms generating billions a year in revenue. A particularly successful example is W. L. Gore & Associates, maker of Gore-Tex apparel, one of the 200 largest privately held US companies, with 10,000 worker-owners, and sales of $3 billion in 2012.

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Gore is an ESOP, a company that offers all employees an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, a direct stake in the success of the firm. It has been voted one of the best places to work in the UK, Germany, France, Korea, Sweden and Italy for several years in a row. This may have something to do with the fact that there are no bosses, formal titles or traditional hierarchies. A worker may lead one task this week and follow someone else on a different task next week. Teams are largely formed organically when people are attracted to a project led by an individual they are happy to work with. This flexibility has produced a remarkable record of innovation. It is not a perfect example of a democratic workplace but it is a good illustration of a more empowering way of doing things. Share-ownership schemes cover roughly a quarter of all British employees. In the US, eight million employees are part of Employee Stock Ownership Plans. However, share and stock ownership often provide no real participation in decision-making so they do not advance workplace democracy. Interestingly, research has shown that only when they are combined with increased democratic decision-making do these schemes result in substantially higher levels of productivity, in some cases over 50 per cent.27

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In the Netherlands, unions and employers signed an agreement in the 1980s to reduce unemployment by sharing work. This policy, along with others that encourage more flexibility and security for workers, has led to the Netherlands achieving the lowest number of working hours among high-income countries: 1,377 per year compared with 1,647 in the UK and 1,778 in the US. This amounts to roughly ten fewer working weeks for the average Dutch person than the average American. (In 2009, the Netherlands had under 4 per cent unemployment compared with 10.9 per cent in the US.29) At every stage in the extension of the democratic franchise, people have argued that democratic governance and the inclusion of the ‘unqualified’ and ‘unpropertied’ masses would lead to chaos. Similar arguments arise in discussions about workplace democracy. A look at the evidence lays these concerns to rest. Mondragon is not an isolated example. Numerous studies show that productivity in firms where there is worker participation in management is, on average, equal to, if not higher, than traditional corporate structures.30 Further evidence suggests that control over our working lives is good for our health. One study in Britain concluded that having control at work was the most important single factor explaining differences in death rates between senior and junior civil servants working in the same government offices.31 Why reject political tyrannies while accepting them at work? Democratising the workplace is an essential step towards expanding and deepening democracy in general.

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Democratising politics The problems created by money in politics have worsened over time. If we’re to address climate change, reduce inequality and create a fairer society, getting money out of politics is an urgent priority. American legal scholar Bruce Ackerman has proposed a simple solution:32 grant every citizen a bank card – a ‘democracy card’, say – which is credited with $50 each year by the state. The card can only be used to fund a candidate or a political party. After accepting this funding, politicians would not be allowed to take money from any other source. Given the vast pool of funding locked up in these cards, a powerful incentive exists to forgo corporate donations. If these incentives prove too weak, the government could declare the cards the only legal source of funding. Erik Olin Wright takes the idea further, arguing that the democracy card should be able to fund other forms of political action such as lobbying, activism, campaigns and social movements.33 The proposals have a number of caveats designed to overcome potential difficulties that I won’t discuss here, but a mechanism of this sort would clearly erode the influence of private wealth on political outcomes.

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The media also hold great sway over political outcomes. A similar idea has been put forward to democratise funding of the press. Robert McChesney argues that journalism is a public good because it is central to maintaining a free and democratic society. The market can’t provide the quantity and quality of original journalism that a free society needs, so a non-market solution is needed to rescue journalism from its rapid decline. Why not give every adult a ‘citizen news voucher’, worth $200, to be donated to any non-profit news medium of his or her choice? McChesney explains, ‘This funding mechanism would apply to any nonprofit medium that does exclusively media content. The medium could not be part of a larger organisation that has any nonmedia operations. Everything the medium produces would have to be made available immediately by publication on the Internet, free to all. It would not be covered by copyright and would enter the public domain.’34 We can tinker with the details but the overall strategy is promising. It could plausibly rejuvenate news journalism and, by extension, electoral democracy. It is a proposal that… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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For instance, the evidence suggests that in the US a top rate of 80 per cent on incomes over $500,000 would not harm economic growth at all, while significantly reducing inequality.36

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Financial transparency is essential to taxation. Banks in tax havens maintain a lot of secrecy, making it far harder to track and tax wealth across borders. Tax havens enabled Walmart to report $1.3 billion profits in Luxembourg from 2010 to 2013, where it has not a single store, in order to benefit from a tax rate of less than 1 per cent.

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‘In 2011, Google shuffled four-fifths of its profits through a subsidiary in the tax haven of Bermuda, cutting its worldwide tax rate in half and its tax rate in some countries to nearly zero.’40 Google CEO Eric Schmidt did not deny this. In fact, he claimed to be ‘very proud of the structure that we set up…it’s called capitalism’.41 At the end of 2010, $21 trillion of unreported financial wealth was locked away in these havens. As one study showed, ‘if the income from this wealth was charged to tax in the countries where those rich individuals were resident or derived their wealth, the additional tax revenue available to fund public services and investment around the world would range between $190 and $280 billion annually’.42 This is just one form of tax loss. There are a number of others. Globally, as much as $3 trillion a year may be lost to illegal evasion of tax.43 According to Piketty, the best way to respond to rising concentrations of wealth is a progressive global tax on capital. He acknowledges that the level of international coordination it would require makes it politically difficult to implement but suggests it could be introduced regionally. The annual tax would only need to be a few percentage points to raise significant revenue and it would apply only to the top few per cent of the population. Those who owned less than a million euros wouldn’t be taxed at all; fortunes between one and five million euros would be taxed at 1 per cent, and anything above that at 2 per cent. ‘If applied to all member states of the European Union, such a tax…[while only affecting] about 2.5 per cent of the population…[would] bring in revenues equivalent to 2 per cent of Europe’s GDP.’44 This would be about 300 billion euros a year.

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Increased tax revenue is urgently needed to fund social programmes and reduce inequality. Even in the richest countries, the need for social spending is immense – to reduce university fees, to increase the supply of affordable housing, defend adequate pensions and provide universal healthcare. To close the gap between rich and poor, there is also great need for a living wage, caped incomes, comprehensive child support, stricter inheritance laws, and increased investment in deprived areas. Passing laws to strengthen unions is another powerful way to reduce inequality and curtail corporate power. One study that focused on the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and Sweden during the 1980s and 1990s concluded that the single most important factor bearing on levels of inequality was union membership. As membership has dropped, inequality has increased.45 Across the EU, union agreements cover the wages of about 62 per cent of employees. In France, the figure is 98 per cent; in the UK, it’s 29 per cent (one of the lowest in Europe).46 Union membership in the US peaked in the 1950s but has since dropped to roughly 15 per cent. At the same time, the amount of tax paid by corporations has also dropped substantially. In 1945, corporate tax accounted for 35 per cent of federal receipts; by 2003, it was 7 per cent.47 The diminishing tax rate on the super wealthy is also significant. In 2007, the average tax rate on the wealthiest 400 households in the US was, in effect, 16.6 per cent, lower than the 20.4 per cent for taxpayers in general. In fact, the 400 top households… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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over the last two centuries there has been a strong correlation between rapid economic development and state assistance; examples are to be found in the US, the UK, France, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Italy, Norway, Brazil, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and China. These nations have endorsed many forms of direct state interference in the market, including protectionist measures to develop key industries. Referring to the golden era of capitalism – the decades following the Second World War – Amartya Sen observed, ‘It is remarkable that if we look at the sizable developing countries, the fast growing and otherwise high-performing countries have all had governments that have been directly and actively involved in the planning of economic and social performance…their respective successes are directly linked to deliberation and design, rather than being just the results of uncoordinated profit seeking or atomistic pursuit of self-interest.’50 Even billionaire Bill Gates conceded in 2015 that ‘Since World War Two, US-government R&D has defined the state of the art in almost every area.’ He regards private sector investment as ‘in general inept’.51 Nationalised services have been an important and sometimes remarkably successful alternative to the market. The persistent claim that privatisation always leads to increased efficiency is comprehensively rebutted by the facts. It has long been known, for instance, that markets often fail to deliver good quality, affordable healthcare.

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the primary objective of insurance companies is to generate profits. This can be done in two ways: by increasing revenue or cutting costs. In The Body Economic, epidemiologists David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu show how this creates perverse incentives ‘to sign up the healthiest people who need the least amount of care, and purge from their ranks the sickest people who need the most care’.52 This is known as the inverse care law: sick people cost insurance companies money; healthy people do not. The principle was clearly demonstrated during the recent recession, when the profits of American healthcare companies hit record highs. In 2009, the top five health insurance companies increased their profits by an impressive 56 per cent, despite the fact that 2.9 million Americans lost their health insurance that year.53 Stuckler and Basu explain that as companies were losing people from their books, ‘they were paying out less for patient care, making more money in the process…the rich got richer and the sick got sicker’.54 Angela Braly, CEO of the health insurance company WellPoint Inc., drew a clear lesson from the bump in profits: ‘we will not sacrifice profitability for membership’.55 In other words, those who benefit most from private healthcare are not the patients, many of whom cannot afford insurance, but the providers: drug companies, insurance companies and hospital corporations. The British National Health Service has long achieved superior or comparable outcomes to its US privatised equivalent, and at roughly half the cost.

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Even in Cuba, a nation that spends a fraction of what the US does on healthcare, men enjoy a higher life expectancy than in the US, and the life expectancy for women is almost the same.57 The UK railways were privatised in the 1990s, but more public money is spent subsidising them today than was spent running them when they were owned by the nation. And the increase is not small: before privatisation, £2.4 billion was spent annually by the UK taxpayer; today the figure has risen to over £5 billion.58 Over the same period, passenger fares have increased… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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UK energy industry has also been disastrous. Between 2007 and 2013, the profits of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies increased tenfold.60 Over this period, 24,000 elderly people died each winter because they couldn’t afford to heat their homes properly.61 Millions more have had to choose between heating and eating. Official findings show that most people have been paying hundreds of pounds more a year for gas and electricity than they would have if the industries had not been privatised.62 The ‘Big Six’ companies have become so unpopular that 68 per cent of the population want them renationalised.63 The establishment has so far ignored them. Ironically, a big chunk of the UK energy sector is run by state-owned companies – they just happen to be foreign. As Andrew Cumbers writes, ‘it could be argued… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Democratisation of industry doesn’t have to mean nationalisation. State control centralises power and, in certain cases, fails to meet people’s needs. Democratic ownership can take other forms, combining a mix of grass-roots cooperatives, city councils and state support. The green community energy revolution, gaining rapid momentum around the world, is a powerful example. Denmark has been a world leader, focusing primarily on wind power. It went from complete dependence on foreign oil and gas in the 1970s to total self-sufficiency in 2000, with a renewables sector accounting for almost a third of its electricity needs. In doing so, it created 20,000 jobs, and now accounts for roughly half the global wind turbine market.65 The path taken by Denmark was founded on a commitment to decentralised collective ownership. There was also an important role for the state to play in subsidising the process and compelling energy providers to buy a certain amount of renewable energy each year. Germany is another example. Across the country private energy is being taken back into public hands. In some areas, energy companies have been bought back by the state. Elsewhere, local communities are investing in their own renewable power sources. The state has played its part by guaranteeing these providers priority access to the energy grid and a set price, both of which significantly reduce the risk for small renewable suppliers. Farmers, local groups and cooperatives own about half the renewable energy facilities. Localised control means that the revenues generated can be invested back into the community. By scaling-up the solar panel industry, they… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Scotland has one of the highest concentrations of private ownership in Europe. Just 432 people – 0.008 per cent of the population – own half of its private land. Yet interesting changes are taking place. Scottish communities are taking back control. It’s the beginning of a long process, but the early signs show why it’s such an important transition. Half a million acres of land are now owned by local communities.66 Some have used their land to service their energy needs, grow food or plant forests; and many are using it for new housing. Under this ownership model, profits generated are reinvested into the… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Democratising industry is really about questioning who controls humanity’s vital resources. In the private sector, the sole criterion for making decisions is short-term profit. This provides little incentive for private companies to build affordable and sustainable housing, tackle climate change, maintain infrastructure, construct hospitals and take on many other socially valuable tasks. When resources are privatised, urgent priorities are often ignored. Energy companies reaping large and immediate profits from oil, gas, coal and nuclear are not inclined to commit to long-term investment in green energy. All governments can… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The choice is not between profit-maximising corporations on the one hand and a centralised state bureaucracy on the other. The most democratic alternative is decentralised public ownership, of which many examples are emerging around the world to meet the challenges in farming, renewable energy, water and other sectors. Under capitalism, a powerful pressure exists to broaden the scope of the market through an endless process of commodification. As Derek Wall writes, ‘Wherever you live, there will, if you dig deep enough, have been a struggle between commoners and the monopolising state or market for control.’67 To counter this pressure we need to not only resist privatisation but challenge the notion of ownership itself. We need to find ways to ‘defend, extend and deepen the commons’.68 When a resource is part of the commons, it provides open and shared access to all potential users, bypassing the market and the state. There is no pay wall and no profit to be made. This can take a myriad of forms, and numerous examples exist that demonstrate the value of common ownership, from the sharing of fisheries, farmland and forests to open source programming and websites like Wikipedia.… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Democratising money Who has the power to create money? Most people assume it is either the government or the central bank on the government’s behalf. In fact, most money has been created by private banks, by corporations like Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds. They do it by granting loans. If you borrow £50,000 from your high street bank to start a small business, £50,000 will appear in your account. The bank makes a note of what it has given you (its liability) and what you owe them (its asset). Where did the £50,000 come from? Nowhere. It was created from nothing. It would be illegal for you or me to do this, but banks can do it because of a system that allows them to make loans far in excess of their deposits. Banks lend money they don’t have, bringing it into existence by typing some numbers into a database. Most people don’t realise this is how it works (even students of economics, policy-makers, and those who work in the financial industry), but it’s a fact and widely acknowledged by central banks around the world. It’s unfamiliar because it’s rarely taught in universities (the dominant neoclassical models of economics largely ignore banks, debt and money). Economics students learn that banks are little more than intermediaries, moving money around the economy to where it will be of most use. IMF economist Michael Kumhof, who spent five years managing a branch of Barclays Bank, was unequivocal: ‘The key function of banks is money creation, not intermediation. And if you tell that to a mainstream economist, that’s already provocative, even though it’s one hundred per cent correct.’69 Lord Adair Turner, former Chairman of the UK Financial Services Authority and Senior Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking, was equally candid: ‘Banks do not, as too many textbooks still suggest, take deposits of existing money from savers and lend it out to borrowers: they create credit and money ex nihilo – extending a loan to the borrower and simultaneously crediting the borrower’s money account.’70 Paul Tucker, former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England and member of the Monetary Policy Committee, wrote: ‘Banks extend credit by simply increasing the borrowing customer’s current account…That is, banks extend credit [make loans] by creating money.’71 And Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England, revealed: ‘When banks extend loans to their customers,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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lenient. On 31 January 2007, banks held just £12.50 of real money for every £1,000 shown in their customers’ accounts, a total reserve of 1.25 per cent.75 There are serious problems with private money creation. First, the power to create money comes with a great financial benefit called ‘seigniorage’. It costs a few pence to create a £10 note but, once created, it can be exchanged for £10 worth of goods. For every coin or banknote it creates, a central bank makes a very large profit (close to 100 per cent). In the UK, the profits on creating paper money were almost £18 billion… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Economist Herman Daly asks, ‘Why should the public pay interest to the private banking sector to provide a medium of exchange that the government can provide at little or no cost? Why should seigniorage (profit to the issuer of fiat money) go largely to the private sector rather than entirely to the government (the commonwealth)?’77 There’s also the important question of where new money is allocated. In the UK, roughly 85 per cent of the nation’s current account funds are held by just five banks: HSBC, Barclays, Santander, RBS and Lloyds. In the five years that preceded the financial crash, the loans approved by the banks came to £2.9 trillion. Over the same five years, the government spent only £2.1 trillion, that is, the banks had more ‘spending power’ over this period than the government.78 A bank’s ‘spending power’ comes from its ability to choose which sectors of the economy will receive loans. As profit-seeking corporations, their first priority is not to benefit society but to maximise returns. From 2000 to 2007, roughly 40 per cent went to property, 37 per cent went into financial markets, and just 13 per cent went into businesses. The rest went into credit cards and personal loans. The outcome, as we know, was devastating: inflated house prices and the neglect of investment that… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Allowing private banks to create money by making loans inevitably mires the whole of society in debt. Every pound created by private banks is also, by definition, a pound of debt which has to be repaid with interest. In the UK, £100 billion to £200 billion is paid to banks as interest each year. This amounts to an enormous, unnecessary, transfer of wealth from public pockets to private banks.80 Debt bubbles burst at some point; loans become unpayable and people default. This leads to bank runs, bankruptcy and massive instability in the economy at great human cost, as we’ve seen since the financial crisis. Lord Turner recognised this in 2012 when, as Chair of the Financial Services Authority, he commented: ‘The financial crisis…occurred because we failed to constrain the financial system’s creation of private credit and money.’81 It is clear that private banks effectively create money, that few constraints exist to control how much they create or where they spend it, and that this arrangement has negative effects on society. Some economists think that significantly increasing regulation of the banks, while separating retail banking from investment banking, would be enough to make private banks accountable. Others disagree, proposing a more radical solution. A number advocate the ‘Chicago Plan’, which was devised in response to the 1929 Wall Street crash. At the time, it was supported by leading economists including Irving Fisher, Henry Simons and Frank Knight. Even Milton… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The UK-based think tank Positive Money has also published detailed proposals for updating the Chicago Plan for today’s economy. They argue that private banks create too much money in good times, inflating economic bubbles in the process, and not enough money during recessions, when it’s desperately needed. They propose removing the power to create money from banks, and placing it solely in the hands of a democratically accountable body – a Money Creation Committee. Decisions about how much money to create would be separated from decisions about where it should be spent. The process would be completely transparent and the committee accountable to a cross-party parliamentary group. The success of this proposal largely depends on the competency and accountability of the committee, which would create money from nothing and place it in an account that only the government could access. This would be debt-free money that the government could spend in the economy any way it pleased. The priorities for investing it would be established democratically so that resources could be channelled to where they were most needed. At the level of personal banking, there would be two kinds of account: an investment account that earned interest and a current account that would simply store the money.84 When depositing your money, you would have to decide whether you want it saved or invested. If saved, the bank… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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the current banking system is not fit for purpose. It is undemocratic, leads to economic boom and bust with disastrous effects for society, and grants huge power to profit-seeking corporations that have no scruples about what they do with the trillions of pounds under their control. Economic growth is being fuelled once… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has predicted that the nation’s household debt-to-income ratio will reach 163 per cent by 2021. This is almost the level that preceded the 2008 economic crash.86 There’s another problem with the way money is controlled in the present system: central bank independence. A popular argument is that central banks should be independent from government to prevent politicians from managing policy in their own short-term interests rather than the long-term interest of the economy. As a result, central banks have been insulated from political pressure. For instance, the Federal Reserve is independent in the sense that ‘its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government’.87 There are two difficulties with this reasoning. First, it can be applied to many government functions. Incumbent parties can lower taxes or inflate budgets for short-term advantage at long-term cost, so why not simply make all these decisions the responsibility of independent institutions? Such reasoning would simply lead to more and more… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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As Ha-Joon Chang writes, the ‘flip side of the argument that central bankers can take good decisions only because their jobs do not depend on making the electorate happy is that they can pursue policies that hurt the majority of people with impunity – especially if they are told not to worry about anything other than the rate of inflation’.89 It’s well understood, he continues, that central bankers ‘tend to listen very closely to the view of the financial sector and implement policies that help it, if necessary at the cost of the manufacturing industry or wage-earners’.90 Recent scholarship supports this conclusion. In his 2013 study, Bankers, Bureaucrats, and Central Bank Politics – The Myth of Neutrality, Christopher Adolph shows how central bankers are often driven by narrow professional ambitions, implementing policies that will please potential future employers,… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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This amounts to a massive giveaway of free cash. If a bank borrows at an interest rate close to zero and then uses that money to buy a government bond yielding say 3 per cent, it makes a 3 per cent profit for doing nothing. Joseph Stiglitz explains: ‘they can lend to triple A-rated firms, prime customers, at much higher interest rates. If they can lend at 10 per cent, then the government’s willingness to lend them a trillion dollars at close to zero interest is a $100 billion a year gift.’ Stiglitz’s own time in government offers a window on how things work. The bankers try to veto anyone who does not share their belief. I saw this first hand during the Clinton administration, when potential names for the Fed were floated…If any of the potential nominees deviated from the party line that markets are self-regulating and that the banks could manage their own risk there arose a hue and cry so great that the name wouldn’t be put forward or, if it was put forward, that it wouldn’t be approved.92 The result of this influence is a central banking system independent from voters but in thrall to private banks. The record shows that the financial sector exerts significant control over central banks with dire consequences for the rest of society. A central bank cannot be… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Internationally, things only get worse. The design of the IMF and World Bank reflects the power balance that existed between nations at the time of their creation at the end of the Second World War. It is a one-dollar-one-vote system: richer nations cast more votes. Within the IMF, the US, the UK, Canada, Japan, Russia, France, Germany and Italy together possess 49 per cent of the vote. Averaged across the four main agencies of the World Bank, the figure is 48 per cent. The reality is worse than these numbers suggest. According to the founding constitution of both institutions, any major decision requires an 85 per cent majority. The US alone has 17 per cent of the vote in the IMF and 18 per cent in the World Bank, enabling it to veto any major resolution proposed by any other country – even if the rest of the world supports it. In… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The World Trade Organization (WTO) is not much better. It determines the rules that govern international trade, constraining the sovereignty of nations in far-reaching ways. On the surface, it appears to be democratic. Every member nation gets one vote. In reality, most of the poorer nations only get to exercise their vote once the key decisions have already been made by the rich nations. The WTO agenda is set informally in what are known as ‘Green Room’ meetings involving the US, Canada, the European Union and Japan. By the time formal trade talks begin, poor nations can only vote against their proposals. Even this is… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Over three decades, David Schweickart has developed a model he has called ‘Economic Democracy’.94 Its three main pillars are workplace democracy, a competitive market and democratic control of investment – a radical alternative to the way banks and investment currently work. Most wealth is concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of private individuals. As Schweickart writes: Because it is theirs, they can do with it whatever they want. They can invest it anywhere and in anything they choose, or not invest it at all if profit prospects are dim. But this freedom, when coupled with recently enhanced transfer capabilities (both money and goods move faster than ever before), gives capital a mobility that now generates… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The power to determine where money is invested enables the steering of finite resources and vast numbers of people towards certain activities and away from others. In Schweickart’s model, workers have almost complete democratic control over the decisions that affect them but they don’t own any capital – in the form of land, buildings or equipment. This belongs to society and is rented out to worker-owned businesses. The revenue generated from this becomes part of a national investment fund under democratic public control. These funds find their way back into society first according to a principle of fairness and then, in order to promote efficiency, subject to competitive forces. The principle of fairness specifies that the investment received by a given region be proportional to the size of its population, reducing regional inequalities over time.96 Once the money reaches a community, the efficiency… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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In fact, society could impose whatever criteria on the process it wanted – though sustainability ought to be a top priority. These public banks give grants, not loans, and their employees are paid out of tax revenue ‘according to a formula linking income to the bank’s success in making profit-enhancing grants and creating employment’.98 If there are not enough worthy investment opportunities in a given region, the excess funds are sent back to the centre to be reallocated to where they are needed. Although the banks themselves are not profit-maximising institutions, they are nevertheless incentivised to invest in enterprises that demonstrate socially useful, profitable potential. This is only a… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Democracy is an ongoing experiment, but the right to conduct this experiment is something for which we need continually to fight. The future of our world depends on both the outcome and nature of this fight. Three main sources of power shape society: economic, state and social. Economic power is derived from control of wealth, state power from control of coercive power, and social power from collective action. Every large, modern, social system is a hybrid combining these forms of power in different proportions. Our immediate task is to use social power, the power of people working together, to deepen democratic control over the state and use the state to overcome concentrated economic power. If the principle of one-dollar-one-vote is to give way to one-person-one-vote, citizens need to find ways to exert their influence outside the impoverished and compromised channels of ‘democratic’ representation, channels that now embody the logic of the market. This is a profound challenge, the solution to which will have to be arrived at collectively through the diverse and complementary efforts of us all. It is the countless actions of people across society, from different backgrounds, in different jobs, at different ages – some actions public, others private – that together create a swell of momentum to move society in a new direction. There are no defined boundaries to such a movement.

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Generating enough support for these alternatives to gain power – be it Podemos in Spain or Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in the UK – then becomes an organisational priority. There is no way to achieve systemic change without democratising the state. Electoral victory is a crucial step in that direction, but under the present system it is extremely difficult for radical parties to implement their policies. Immediate constraints include pre-existing international trade deals, membership of entities like the European Union, a corporate-owned media, a reticent civil service, corporate power, and censure and aggression from foreign nations. Facing such challenges, progressive political parties need the movements that give rise to them to hold them to account and counteract the inevitable pressures that so often derail their plans. The real work of politics gets done between elections in the building of networks, communities and movements, and the changing of cultural narratives through public debate, the media, education and art. A strong, durable movement is rooted in the bonds of friendship, trust, solidarity and respect – bonds that nourish and replenish those who form them. Building a movement is a process of reimagining and rebuilding community, a creative refutation of Margaret Thatcher’s claim that there is no such thing as society. Movements force change, not leaders, though leaders can play an essential role in galvanising and unifying them.

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The point of gaining access to the levers of power is to deepen democracy across society, to change the game being played, and to alleviate – not just temporarily – the pressures on those forced to play it. To achieve this, we have to overcome the true opposition: capital. As long as the vast majority of wealth is controlled by a tiny proportion of humanity, democracy will struggle to be little more than a pleasant mask worn by an ugly system. Given the international reach of capital, solidarity across countries is vital if… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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As the twenty-first century began, the UN assembled over a thousand scientists to compile a ‘Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’. It found that ‘human actions are depleting Earth’s natural capital, putting such strain on the environment that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted’.1 Since then, the strain has steadily increased. We are eroding our life-support systems at an incredible rate through the release of vast amounts of greenhouse gases and agricultural chemicals into rivers, oceans, land and atmosphere. The conditions for our survival are impacted by at least nine planetary processes: climate change, biodiversity loss, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, stratospheric ozone depletion, ocean acidification, global freshwater use, changes in land use, atmospheric aerosol loading and chemical pollution. There is a limit to how far humanity can safely disrupt these processes – exceeding just one of them risks calamitous effects on a global scale. According to a pioneering study by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, we have already exceeded four of them: climate change, biodiversity loss, land-system change and the phosphorus and nitrogen cycles.2

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most of the observed increase in global average temperatures is due to greenhouse gas emissions, generated primarily from fossil fuel use. It goes on to say that continued emissions will cause ‘long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems’.4 The situation is rapidly spiralling out of control because temperatures have increased enough to set in motion feedback loops that accelerate the warming of the climate. One such effect is the melting of Arctic ice. Shiny white ice acts as a mirror, reflecting the sun’s rays back into space. As it melts, large areas of the Earth’s surface are transformed from a white mirror into a dull blue ocean that absorbs the sun’s rays, thereby accelerating global warming, which speeds up the melting of Arctic ice, and so on. Another process that is triggered by high temperatures is the release into the atmosphere of large quantities of methane that have long been locked away beneath frozen subsoil.

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Methane is a powerful heat-trapping gas, far more so than carbon dioxide. Its release into the atmosphere rapidly accelerates global warming. Before the century’s end, 100 billion tons of methane could be released, increasing temperatures at a rate equivalent to 270 years of carbon dioxide at current emission levels.5 That would be disastrous. In 2013, Jason Box, a glaciologist with a reputation for being more outspoken than most in his profession, stated that, due to these effects, a rise in sea levels of 21 metres over the next few centuries is probably already ‘baked into the system’.6 Not only are we pumping more carbon into the atmosphere, we’re reducing the capacity of our forests to remove it. We’ve already destroyed roughly half the earth’s mature tropical forests.7 Estimates vary, but around 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed each year at present.8 If we continue at this rate, no tropical forests will be left by the end of the century. Deforestation exacerbates and accelerates global warming because forests act as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Some estimates put the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation at 15 per cent.9 Destroying forests also destroys wildlife. Close to 80 per cent of the world’s species live in rainforests. Rapid deforestation is causing the extinction of numerous species at rates of between a hundred and a thousand times the normal background rate.10 Some scientists believe this process poses a greater threat than climate change to humanity’s chances of a prosperous future. In 2015, it was reported that a scientific model supported by the British Foreign Office was producing sobering warnings about future food… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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The development of our species has taken place in a world whose atmosphere contained about 275 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. This helped trap enough heat to create a climate warm enough for human survival. At 275 ppm, carbon dioxide helps rather than hinders, but the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has shot up since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution just over two centuries ago. That revolution was driven by the extraction of large quantities of fossil fuel – coal, gas and oil – from beneath the Earth’s crust. Today, almost everything we do relies on consuming energy obtained from the burning of fossil fuels. The daily activities of our economy are heavily dependent on this energy source. By 2015, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had risen to 400 ppm. Most climate scientists agree that we need to reduce… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Since the Industrial Revolution, the average global temperature has risen by about 1 °C (one degree Celsius).14 The Copenhagen Accord of 2009 agreed that humanity should not exceed a 2 °C increase in global temperatures – so we’re already halfway to reaching that threshold. For a while, staying below 2 °C was the target around which most climate discussions revolved. It was viewed as the point beyond which the risks become unacceptably high, but many scientists argued this limit was set far too high. Leading climatologist James Hansen called it a ‘prescription for long-term disaster’.15 At 2 °C each year, 1.5 billion people will be exposed to heatwaves, the same number will endure ‘water stress’, and 30 million will be affected by flooding. Many species and ecosystems will die out, catastrophic droughts will become increasingly common in parts of Africa, and sea levels will rise by over half a metre, leading to some low lying island-states being wiped out.16… Some highlights have been hidden or truncated due to export limits.

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Based on current emission levels, we have until 2021 before the chance of staying below 1.5 °C drops below 66 per cent.20 Meeting the 1.5 °C target already looks implausible.

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we are looking at cuts of 10 per cent a year in wealthy nations without delay.

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the bottom line is clear: we must keep the vast majority of fossil fuels underground (over 80 per cent according to most climate scientists). The less we use, the less temperatures will rise. This is easier said than done. The world’s fossil fuel reserves are owned by corporations and governments. In 2011, these reserves were estimated to be worth $27 trillion.28 Market evaluations change but, barring a miraculous advance in technology, if we are to stay within a safe carbon budget we will need to write off many trillions of dollars’ worth of fuel. Opposition to doing this is one of the greatest obstacles to addressing climate change. In a system driven by the pursuit of profit, even survival is of secondary importance. This is madness, but the resistance is real and has to be overcome if we are to stave off disaster. Carbon emissions have been soaring for two centuries. With the exception of the years since the 2008 economic crisis, nothing we have done at the global level has reduced this rate of growth. For the past 150 years, increases in energy efficiency and the utilisation of new forms of energy have accelerated the release of carbon emissions, increasing our dependence on fossil fuel use rather than reducing it.29 The only reliable way to keep that fuel in the ground is to agree internationally to a legally binding, absolute carbon limit.

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good: two hundred countries signed off on a deal to keep global temperatures ‘well below’ 2 °C and recognised the importance of a 1.5 °C limit. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-m