Monday, March 14, 2011

Renewable energy - problem or potential

The earthquake outside Japan has got me thinking about genuinly clean and renewable energy sources. Regardless of your view on the risks of meltdowns in the Japanese powerplants, it should be obvious that nuclear powerplants aren't entirely safe - not to mention the dangers of uranium mining and disposal of nuclear waste. In addition to being environmentally hazardous, nuclear power - just as fossil power - is finite, localized and therefore controllable. As has been shown through numerous national and international conflicts, non-renewable energy is a constant potential source for geo-political strife and tension - but I believe it is also an obstacle we need to overcome if we are to achieve economic, social and ecological sustainability. There are also parallels with problems surrounding "intellectual property rights", the impact of mp3 technology on the music industry and WikiLeaks.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The dangers of polarization

Last year, The Spirit Level by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett made some (although not enough) impact on the Swedish pre-election debates and campaigns. About 6 months earlier, Tim Jackson's report Prosperity Without Growth surfaced as well, regrettably without making almost any noise over here. In April of last year, the Gulf of Mexico was hit by disaster on a major scale with the BP oil spill, and for half a century there's been an on-going oil spill - dwarfing what happened in the Gulf - in the Niger Delta. Add to this a massive global financial crisis, two Iraq wars, the Afghanistan invasion, the Darfur genocide in Sudan and countless other catastrophies as well as a global climate change escalating out of control. At the same time, we are witnessing a severe social, economic and political polarization. This all ties together.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A sustainable labour market

The labour market, and also labour market policies, today aren't really working. In many (Western) countries, unemployment rates are rising, there is a worrying shift in demographics where it seems a shrinking work force are required to provide services (as well as taxed labour) to an growing number of retirees, increased automatization as well as relocation ("outsourcing") of jobs are removing work opportunities. At the same time, overtime is increasing (and recently the government has even suggested that it become easier to order overtime), the wage gap between low and high income jobs increases, and cheap oil - a prerequisite for much of the aformentioned automatization - seem to be becoming a thing of the past.