The Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012. Its global focus on CO2 emissions and trading schemes based in London and other financial centres has grown suspect.
I have opposed nuclear power since my service on the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment Advisory Council, from 1975 until 1980. Even back then it was clear that nuclear power was a fearsome military technology looking for a civilian second life. President Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" was a strategy devised to subsidise this technology, despite the fact that it was never economically viable. The public was told that it would produce electricity too cheap to meter but it was never given all the facts: that there were health risks and no plans to provide storage for the spent fuel rods, which would be radioactive for centuries.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) results for the final quarter of 2010 are an unreliable gauge of recovery and progress in Europe, the US, China, Brazil, and most other countries. A new survey by GlobeScan and Ethical Markets, titled "Beyond GDP", reaffirms that large majorities favour reforming the money-based GDP economic yardstick and adopting many of the available indicators of health, education, infrastructure, poverty gaps, and environmental quality found in their 2007 survey for the European Commission (www.beyond-gdp.eu). The new survey was conducted in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Russia, the UK, and the US and released on January 21.
I join with many in applauding the leadership of Microsoft's Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett in challenging their fellow philanthropists to pledge 50% or more of their fortunes to charity in their lifetimes. In their secret "first supper" in May 2009, they invited David Rockefeller to co-host a group of billionaire peers, George Soros, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Bloomberg, Peter Peterson, Julian Robertson, Charles Feeney, California couples Eli and Edythe Broad, John and Tashia Morgridge and David Rockefeller, Jr. The Gates and Buffett are already on the right track with the focus of their grants in Africa and other developing countries and on education. They can help steer their billionaire friends to go beyond funding "vanity" buildings at elite western universities. This type of self-serving philanthropy is embarrassingly passÃ©. Also passÃ© is coziness with existing elites who made their fortunes from the legacy companies and technologies of the fossilized sectors: coal, oil, petrochemicals, steel, gas-guzzling autos, massive-scaled industrial agriculture, big pharmaceuticals, all still subsidized as is nuclear power. Bill Gates can drop the self-serving American Energy Innovation Council lobbying the US Congress for $16 billion of additional subsidies for unnecessary research on "clean coal," carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and more nuclear power. US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobelist physicist, must know that such "investments" are misguided and waste more taxpayers' money. Coal can now be phased out with abundant US natural gas and combinations of wind and solar installations. Nuclear energy, heavily subsidized since its inception, is still the most inefficient, expensive and hazardous way that humans have ever devised to boil water (what all power stations do to drive their turbines). Special interest pleaders, like the American Energy Innovations Council that recruited Bill Gates, are part of the incumbent industries lobbying to prevent the great transition from the fossil-fueled Industrial Era to the information-rich, cleaner, greener Solar Age.
If governments don't work together and face down the bankers who operate the global casino, the dominoes will start falling, one by one.
Icelanders, on March 6, 2010, rejected by 90% the referendum on paying $5.3 billion (45% of national output in 2009) of odious debt incurred by their privatized bank Icesave. This opens the way for a plan proposed by Dutch businessman/philanthropist Gijs Graafland's Planck Foundation. This ingenious, well-researched Energy for Debt plan invites private and public investors to develop Iceland's boundless geothermal energy and send its electricity to Britain and the Netherlands via a high-voltage DC transmission line. Graafland, an energy and financial expert, points out that Iceland, situated between two of Earth's tectonic plates, has unlimited geothermal energy from the planet's core near the surface Â–rather than miles deeper as elsewhere. "Iceland can become the Saudi Arabia of the North in geothermal energy", says Graafland.
The radical decision of the US Supreme Court on January 21, 2010, allows companies to spend unlimited money in politics. Overturning 100 years of restraint on corporate spending, the two newest justices, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, appointed by former President George W. Bush, have turned the court into an ally of big corporations. The fanciful view of this highest US Court holds that money is equivalent to free speech under the First Amendment and that corporations are "persons" equivalent to real human beings. The unreality of this view also equates corporations with trade unions without recognizing that unions represent real people whereas corporations are legal entities for the purpose of making money for their shareholders.
The world's giant pension and institutional funds (university and foundation endowments) are seeing the light on climate issues. As governments wrangle over how to cap carbon and other pollutants, how much it will cost, and who should pay, private investors in North America, Europe, China, India, Japan, and Brazil have been quietly investing in the solution: shifting to low-carbon, cleaner, renewable energy and smarter, more efficient infrastructure and transportation.
Trading is arguably the core activity in all market economies. Free trade is the mantra of all economists -left, right and center. Trading is considered indispensible and more trade is always seen as better. The financial crisis caused a closer look at trade and financial traders to see if these conventional beliefs are still valid and whether stock markets have spun out of control.
The awful truth is emerging: globalised rogue finance is disordering human societies and destroying our ecological life-support systems on a global scale. A spate of books and studies examining the role of finance finds deep flaws in the way money is created and credit is allocated. The age-old invention of money, which extended opportunities for trading beyond barter, has become a computerised global monster. Blind to other human values and goals, this global casino has decoupled and abstracted from real economies.
Hazel Henderson is a futurist, an economic iconoclast, founder of Ethical Markets Media, and author of the books Building A Win-Win World, Beyond Globalization, Planetary Citizenship, and Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy. Her main focus is exploring the "blind spots" in conventional economic theory.
A powerful new global player has emerged on the world stage: the Group of 192. The G7, the G8 and the G20 must now move over.
An outside-the-box approach is needed for the worsening problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan. US official policy in its war in Afghanistan is to combat Al Qaeda and make sure there are no further attacks on the USA from their safe havens. Yet, on his recent visit to the US, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that there are no Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan. General David Petraeus, US Central Command Commander, also stated that no Al Qaeda members are in Afghanistan.
The financial meltdown generated by Wall Street and the "too big to fail" culture of global money-centre banks and financiers is generating local initiatives and demands to decentralise and democratise finance.
In today's global financial crisis, the question inevitably arises, Who will the new financiers be?
The mainstream media in 2008 ran myriad diagnoses of the sickness of the US economy. Central bankers, politicians, and their economic advisors sought to explain the economy's swoon in medical terms. The economic patient was described as having suffered a heart attack, a seizure, a collapse, a loss of animal spirits or confidence. Our body economic was described as being in shock, needing liquidity injections, on life support, on the operating table, responding to the medicine and, hopefully, in the recovery room.
A summit on how to reform the failed global financial system will be held on November 15, 2008 in the US, the heart of the meltdown, writes Hazel Henderson, author of Ethical Markets: Growing The Green Economy (2007) and co-creator with the Calvert Group of the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators. In this article, Henderson writes that the world\'s money systems have been corrupted and the basic trust which underlies all markets has been shattered. While we are learning that not all our transactions can be trusted to money systems, we are also seeing that there are many new, pure, information-based trading systems, from international barter to \"countertrade\" between governments to trading between global companies of everything from media and telephony to commodities. As the US will play catch-up at the November 15th summit, there are some additional reforms they might sponsor: imposing globally-harmonised currency-exchange taxes on the USD 2 trillion daily currency trading to dampen speculation; and reducing the amount countries spend annually on military hardware - now over USD 1 trillion - with a UN Security Insurance Agency (UNSIA), which would fund a standing, properly-trained UN peace-keeping force.
The latest moves by governments and central banks around the world to inject massive new money into their banks leaves average citizens outraged and mystified. Weren\'t banks the places that guarded our deposits and then lent them out to borrowers to help build our communities and grow our businesses? We were told to trust banks. Now we learn that banks don\'t trust each other, writes Hazel Henderson, author of Ethical Markets: Growing The Green Economy (2007) and co-creator with the Calvert Group of the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators. In this analysis, Henderson writes that the global casino of finance has long required international regulatory agreements and oversight. We learn at last that such agreements will be sought at a new Bretton Woods-type global summit. Today, once again, taxpayers in the US, Europe, and Asia are being forced to re-capitalise their banks. This is now revealed as the reverse of what economists have led us to believe. Instead, we see that banks have always received money from taxpayers via governments\' central banks in order to lend it back to taxpayers at interest.
At last, the world is seeing the difference between money and real wealth, between \"demand\" in markets and the real needs of people without money, writes Hazel Henderson, author of Ethical Markets: Growing The Green Economy, president of the independent Ethical Markets Media, LLC, and co-creator of the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators. In this article Henderson writes that there is growing outrage and demand for reform of the games of traders, speculators, hedge funds, private equity, and even pension funds and charitable foundation and university portfolio managers, which drive up prices of oil and food, and leave the poor unable to afford to eat. The author calls for numerous reforms of the global financial casino, including taxing the 90 percent of speculation in today\'s USD2 trillion of daily currency trading; curbing the USD260 billion in index funds tied to oil and other commodities; reducing the 16-to-1 leverage allowed in oil and commodity trading by raising margin requirements.
The credibility of the economics profession and its macroeconomic and risk models has been shattered by the Wall Street-led financial meltdown. Many analysts see this crisis as the beginning of the end of market fundamentalism as the driver of globalisation. Coming into focus is also the fact that the US is no longer the world\'s lone superpower. Military force is giving way to the new weapons of choice in today\'s geopolitics: currency and cyber-attacks, writes Hazel Henderson, author of Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy (2007) and other books and co-organiser of the Beyond GDP Conference in Brussels, representing the Club of Rome. In this article, Henderson writes that meanwhile, the long-simmering critiques of money-based GDP/GNP national accounts are coming to a head. Even GDP\'s creator, Simon Kuznets, worried about using GDP as an overall indicator of national progress and well-being, saying that \'the welfare of a nation can scarcely be informed from a measure of national income.\' EU Commissioner of Economic Policy Joaquin Almunia noted that GDP \'cannot distinguish between economic activities that have a negative or positive impact on well-being. In fact, war and natural disasters may register as an increase in GDP.\' GDP started as a World War II measure of war production. There are now many new, better indicators, from the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW), the UN\'s Human Development Index (HDI), to the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators that I created with the Calvert Group of socially-responsible mutual funds, the only private sector effort so far. Real wealth and progress can never be quantified in money alone. The economics textbooks are overdue for revision.
Rather than risk an ugly fight over their essentially similar positions, Clinton and Obama can make history by publicly stating again that they will support whichever one is the nominee, writes Hazel Henderson, futurist and author of Ethical Markets: Growing The Green Economy and other books. In this article, Henderson writes that the result would be electrifying and would baffle the pundits and the media now feasting on the conflict by exacerbating their trivial differences. Supporters of both candidates would approve of this win-win approach to really bringing the country together. The harm would only be to the pocketbooks of political contributors hoping for future favours, pollsters incomes, pundits and consultants fees and all those betting on the continued in-fighting. The good news is that such a win-win strategy might do much to change the game of United States politics which most citizens deplore.