Editorial

  • This special issue of Solutions celebrates this year’s most important environmental event: the Rio de Janeiro summit on sustainable development in June. Twenty years have passed since the first Earth Summit in 1992, and we need an urgent reevaluation of how our economies depend on our environment. Since 1992, the earth’s population has grown …

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Perspectives

  • A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Oscar Wilde Simply put, there are currently two pressing problems in the developed and in the developing worlds: unemployment and the depletion of the planet’s resources. In my opinion, Western fiscal systems are the fundamental cause of both. Our […]

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  • Since the Industrial Revolution, two main motivations have driven the movement for work-time reduction. Free time away from the job improves individual well-being, while reducing work hours can cut unemployment by better distributing the available work. These historical motivations for work-time reduction have been joined by a new rationale: …

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  • In hearing rooms, hallways, and conferences where the world’s policymakers are wrestling with the big issues of our day, something important is missing. Vision. By vision, I don’t mean those forward-looking policy papers that tell us how we might shape the future with a global Green New Deal, or the Millennium Development Goals, or a […]

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  • Industrialised world reductions in material throughput, energy use, and environmental degradation of over 90% will be required by 2040 to meet the needs of a growing world population fairly within the planet’s ecological means. Business Council for Sustainable Development1 It’s not as if we’re unaware of the problem. Symptoms were already so …

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  • The UN recently held its first conference on happiness and well-being with the stated purpose of “realizing the future we all want.” But what is it we all want? Is it maximum well-being or happiness, or is it just meeting our needs, as proclaimed by the popular definition of sustainable development?1 Happiness and development goals …

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  • My solution is: get outraged. Having written the first book about global warming 23 long years ago, I’ve watched the issue unfold across decades, continents, and ideologies. I’ve come to earth summits and conferences of the parties from Rio to Kyoto to Copenhagen, and many places in between. All along, two things have been clear. […]

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  • For the coming generation, the critical challenge is an interior one—a shift inside us that could trigger a tectonic shift outside. Feel-good hokum, you say? Let me attempt a logical case. As we watch ice caps dissolve, forests burn, and species vanish forever, we have to ask: Is our species really so dense that we […]

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  • Psychologists have collected data from thousands of people in dozens of nations around the world to understand what humans value and how they prioritize different aims in life. These studies consistently show that the human value system is composed of about a dozen basic types of values, including aims such as having caring relationships, …

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  • Ecological restoration—the rehabilitation of degraded landscapes—is a bright spark in the effort to achieve sustainable development. If given a chance, damaged ecosystems can recover rapidly. Research shows that forest ecosystems recovered in 42 years on average, while ocean bottoms recovered in less than ten years. Ecosystems affected by …

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  • The overarching goal at the upcoming Rio+20 summit must be achieving sustainable prosperity for all. Within this broad objective, the subject is bracketed, if you will, by two of the greatest challenges faced by the international community: the greatest social challenge, world poverty, and the greatest environmental challenge, climate change. …

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  • The discipline of positive psychology studies what free people choose when they are not oppressed. I call these desiderata the elements of “well-being,” and when an individual or nation has them in abundance I say it is “flourishing.” Governments continue to organize their politics and economics around the relief of suffering, and I cannot …

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  • In today’s global marketplace, with its ever-diminishing resource stocks, one thing is obvious: demand is outstripping supply. And here’s the conundrum: increases in living standards are tightly coupled with growth in resource consumption. We have all heard the dramatic statistic that if all seven billion people on earth lived like the average …

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  • Many politicians want us to lower our expectations about the economy. I say it is time to raise them. We should go beyond the shriveled thinking imposed on us by today’s mania for austerity. Even the Contract for the American Dream—ten steps for fixing the economy, selected from over 25,000 ideas submitted online by both […]

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  • It is quite possible that by the year 2100 human life will have become extinct or will be confined to a few residential areas that have escaped the devastating effects of nuclear holocaust or global warming. —Brian Barry1 Evolution equipped us to deal with threats from dependably loathsome enemies and fearsome creatures, but not with […]

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  • The global economy rests on a knife’s edge. The financial crash of 2008 caused 50 trillion dollars and 80 million jobs to evaporate.1 And the wreck is not over. This article describes the major challenges facing the economy and proposes solutions. The Challenges The International Labor Organization sets forth the following grim statistics:2 …

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Solutions in History

  • This June 2012, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) will convene in Rio de Janeiro on the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit, which was also held in Rio. (The conference is more commonly known as Rio+20.) UNCSD is the most recent expression of UN environmental “summitry,”1 a series of diplomatic megaconferences that have …

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Interview

  • In 2010 Britain’s conservative government announced the development of a happiness index to measure progress and track the nation’s well-being. The project—the first of its kind in the UK—is intended to inform civil servants as to what makes people happy, and then aid them in considering happiness when forming public policy. Early study …

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