Stories written by Hazel Henderson
Hazel Henderson, futurist, evolutionary economist, is author of ''Beyond Globalisation'' and other books (

Let’s Train Humans First … Before We Train Machines

We humans are at the absurd stage in our technological evolution when we seem to have abandoned our common sense. Billions are spent by governments, corporations and investors in training computer-based algorithms (i.e. computer programs) in today’s mindless rush to create so-called “artificial” intelligence, widely advertised as AI.

The Idiocy of Things Requires an “Information Habeas Corpus”!

Today we are saturated with media hype about the joys of information and communication technology (ICT). We will all be connected, all the time, by the Idiocy of Things (IoT )devices and our social media, all converging in the cloud. Our lives will be monitored by smart sensors in homes with smart refrigerators, toasters, TVs, doorbells, alarm systems, garages, cars and electricity meters. We are bombarded with ads showing us how all these smart devices will improve our lives and health, bringing ever greater convenience. Driverless cars will be safer, allowing us to read, monitor our kids or enjoy the scenery. All this ICT and automation is already a multi-billion dollar industry and its producers are salivating over its growth and profits. Individual privacy rights and security concerns seem to be an afterthought.

Opinion: NGOs Still Leading the Global Debate on Climate

Civil society organizations, known as NGOs, have for decades used their non-government status to prod officials, politicians and business on climate issues. Veteran campaigners Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, Kenya’s tree planters, India’s Chipko tree-hugging protectors and indigenous movements worldwide first raised the issues of protecting the Earth and its atmosphere.

Opinion: Risks? What Risks?

We humans are acutely aware of risks. From our earliest times, the risks we faced were from hunger, predatory animals, extreme environmental conditions and, as our numbers grew, from other human tribes.

OPINION: Time to Reform the Global Casino

The year 2015 highlights the global shift from traditional money-based, gross domestic product (GDP)-measured economic growth to the new models of sustainable, inclusive human development embodied in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ratified by its 193 member nations.

Opinion: How Will Wall Street Greet the Pope?

Millions in the New York City area are excited about Pope Francis’ visit on Sep. 25 to address the U.N. General Assembly as worldwide consensus grows on the need to shift global investments from fossil fuels to clean, efficient, renewable energy in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) scheduled to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

Opinion: Ethical Challenges to Advertising

Challenges to advertisers and marketers arose in the past century. Critics deplored the role of cigarette marketers who exploited the aspirations of women by associating smoking with liberation. 

Peaceful Transitions From The Nuclear To The Solar Age

Japanese Buddhist and president of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Daisaku Ikeda’s Peace Proposal 2014 elevated my focus from the daily news to my longer term concerns for more peaceful, equitable and sustainable human societies to assure our common future. These broader concerns are now shared by millions of humans who have transcended purely personal, local and nationalistic goals and become prototypical global citizens.

Water, Water, Everywhere: To Green our Deserts

Providing water for our still growing human population is reaching crisis levels. Water is vital for agriculture, energy production and industrial processes worldwide. Floods and droughts in Asia, Latin America, Europe and the United States accompanied unprecedented typhoons and winter storms. While none could be linked directly to climate change, the debate surfaced. Mainstream media started covering these issues more broadly.

Automation, Drones and Robots Lead to Guaranteeing Incomes for Humans

The debate over structural unemployment, automation and jobless economic growth began in the 1960s as car factories replaced workers with robots.

New Policies Beyond Austerity and Stimulus

It is time to move the global policy debate beyond the binary options of “austerity” versus “stimulus.” Both these macroeconomic policies have caused untold harm to millions and produced dangerous policy stalemates in Europe and the U.S., Japan and other countries.

Downsizing Finance: The Mother of All Bubbles

As our climate destabilises, floods inundate cities, wildfires burn forests, droughts kill our crops and manmade radioactive isotopes leach into our soil and water, many accountants and policy analysts are waking up. They are joined by NGOs, civic leaders, whistle-blowers and a few public-minded politicians.

GDP: Gauging Dematerialised Progress!

As of Aug. 1, 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) finally stepped into our new 21st century. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will now include much of the intangible production and services which actually make up some 70 percent of mature 21st century economies, such as software, research and development, entertainment, trademarks, copyrights, design and other creative innovation.

Economists’ Fantasies, Planetary Nightmares

While debating a high frequency trader recently, I encountered the familiar rationalisations that high frequency trading (HFT) contributes to liquidity and price discovery in markets. Assertions about liquidity are hard to justify after the “flash crash” of May 6, 2010, where the “faux liquidity” of HFT disappeared when needed and the traditional market-making obligations of the old specialists were absent.


Money Versus Health: the Yasuni Story

In 2007 Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, sponsored the Yasuni Initiative to end oil prospecting in the vast Yasuni National Park, thereby preventing some 400 million tonnes of carbon emissions, if the international community or the United Nations would compensate Ecuador for half of the unrealised oil revenues (an estimated 13 billion dollars over 13 years).

Money Versus Health: the Yasuni Story

In 2007 Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, sponsored the Yasuni Initiative to end oil prospecting in the vast Yasuni National Park, thereby preventing some 400 million tonnes of carbon emissions, if the international community or the United Nations would compensate Ecuador for half of the unrealised oil revenues (an estimated 13 billion dollars over 13 years).

“Crowdfunding” 2.0?

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS) signed by President Barack Obama on April 4th, 2012, had been loaded with provisions pushed by Wall Street lobbyists to include "small" companies capitalised at up to one billion dollars and perverted by relaxing both requirements of Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting and compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley financial regulations passed in response to the 2008 crisis.

Science Can Restrain Runaway Finance

The urgent need for a paradigm shift in economics and its financial and mathematical models has been widely recognized for decades. Recently, Credit Suisse research as well as complexity theorists at the Swiss Technical University in Zurich have demonstrated the concentration of companies in the current global economic system. They used network analysis of positive feedback effects (the network grows faster as more join, like Facebook). These dynamics also concentrate connectedness and produced a pattern: of the 50 largest companies in the world, 45 are financial intermediaries (‘ Global Finance Lost in Cyberspace"). The top brass of these companies meet in Davos at the World Economic Forum. These firms (Barclays, UBS, Citi, etc.) operate on outdated economic theories, assumptions and financial models and tend to favour the current cruel austerity being imposed on citizens in Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and the U.S. Their financial and policy models have been critiqued by scientific research in physics, thermodynamics, anthropology and, recently, brain science, endocrinology and the behavioural sciences, as I documented earlier in The Politics of the Solar Age (NY Times Book Review, 1981). This concentration of corporate power and its outcomes are now evident in today's global financialization and led to the financial bubble which burst in 2007-9, still causing widespread human misery. Re-inflating these too-big-to-fail banks allows them to continue dominating the actual activities of real-world, local ‘main street’ economies, rather than serving their banking and credit needs. Thus, efforts to reform today's financial system simply have bailed out the past mistakes so that more crises, booms and busts are likely to continue. Current scientific knowledge of our planet's biosphere, its climate, geology and the behaviour of our human species is finally trumping this cultural legacy of conventional economics and political ideologies rooted in 18th century paradigms. Economics is not a science – as most economists will admit. Rather, its core tenets and "principles" are mere semantics: "capital" (too many definitions); "investment" (in what: nuclear power? public transport? green bonds?); "wealth" (money, ignoring all other forms of wealth); "consumption" (education, social services, household spending) and so on. The valiant work of financial reformers since the 1970s has challenged these paradigms and their outdated models: modern portfolio theory (MPT), efficient markets, rational human actors, capital asset pricing models (CAPM), value-at-risk (VAR), Black-Scholes options pricing model, NAIRU (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment, used by central banks to set interest rates), etc. (" Changing the Game of Finance"). Building successful alternative financial investment strategies, the pioneers of socially responsible, ethical, triple-bottom line, green investing opened a new window into mainstream finance and managed to broaden and shift the focus of asset managers beyond single bottom line money returns (" Transforming Finance 2.0"). The new scientific findings must now face down financiers and expose their mystifications. Financiers do not provide capital; they are merely intermediaries between savers and businesses in the real economy and borrowers they favour. Often they take depositors' money and invest it outside the country or simply speculate on derivatives like credit default swaps. At last, we the 99 percent must rein in these practices and reverse the focus on reforms merely tweaking false economic and financial models. These proved brittle and failed disastrously in 2007-8, causing untold human suffering and widespread ecological disruption and depletion of biodiversity. The economic "technocrats" imposition of their "austerity" cuts have made matters worse. Misdirected investments in 40 percent of London's FTSE 100 were identified as "sub-prime" by Carbon Tracker. Today we can start with science and our new knowledge of ecology, biomimicry, climate, geology, thermodynamics, endocrinology, behavioural and brain sciences. This real-world approach will help assure that technologies, business models and enterprises are based on the expansion of human knowledge and planetary awareness. We can also take into account new behavioural insights into our own human cognitive biases, expose economic theory-induced blindness to "externalities," as well as acknowledging our moral and ethical frailties. Finance and its pretensions must be defrocked and its misallocations of resources re-oriented in due diligence processes that start with science in reviewing all business opportunities. Only after passing multi-disciplinary analyses of their scientific validity and resilience, possibilities of advancing equitable human development within Life's Principles, will our models of finance and markets be reformulated to create suitable business and funding models. Some egregious conventional financial models are explored in my " Real Economies and the Illusions of Abstraction" (2010); " From Rigged Carbon Markets to Investing in Green Growth" (2011); and " Updating Fossilized Asset Allocation Classes" (2008). Overviews of global financialization and reform proposals are covered at ( Reforming Global Finance). Ethical Markets' Green Transition Scoreboard® tracks progress toward deeper greening of global economies. The multi-disciplinary "dashboard" Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators are updated regularly at . The European Commission's Beyond GDP programme (, the OECD's Better Life Index, Canada's Index of Wellbeing and my paper with physicist Fritjof Capra, " Qualitative Growth," the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (2009), all focus on correcting macroeconomic statistics in line with global scientific realities. Join the signers of our Transforming Finance statement! Surveys worldwide by Globescan show that the public in many countries support such statistical upgrades by wide margins. Let's set aside old dogmas and use all our new knowledge! (END/COPYRIGHT IPS) (*) Hazel Henderson is president of Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brazil), author of many books, former advisor to the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, National Science Foundation National Academy of Engineering, the Calvert Group, Fellow of Britain's Royal Society for Arts and the World Business Academy.


High-speed trading and cloud computing have far outrun government oversight and control.


"We recognize finance as part of the global commons," affirms the Transforming Finance statement, signed by financial professionals worldwide critical of today's casino capital markets. Financialization has produced the global debt bubble. Needed now are write-offs and haircuts to bond-holders and bank shareholders, a curb on bettors buying credit default swaps, as well as below 1% financial transaction taxes to limit volatility and high-frequency trading by computers ?now 60% of all transactions.


At last there seems to be real progress in overhauling the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as measure of a country's status and progress-almost twenty years after 170 governments pledged to do so by signing Article 40 of Agenda 21 at the 1992 Rio Conference.

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