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EU can lead world on third industrial revolution, says Rifkin

The EU is better positioned than any other region in the world to build a seamless energy, transport and communication grid that will create a "lateral", continental market for one billion people, said Jeremy Rifkin in an exclusive interview with EurActiv.  Rifkin, an American economist and well-known author of the acclaimed book ′The European Dream′, believes the world has reached the end game of a second industrial revolution. The global economic recovery is driving up oil and food prices, sparking social unrest.     The world has reached peak oil in terms of pro-capita reserves. The system will collapse once more when oil prices will rise to $140 or $150 a barrel again, Rifkin said. According to the economist, this end game has set in motion a third industrial revolution, which will be based on continental energy infrastructure and governance. Boosting renewables, transforming every building into a power plant, developing hydrogen storage capacity, adapting Internet and communication technologies and developing plug-in transport are the five infrastructure pillars of Rifkin′s third industrial revolution. "It′s like Wi-Fi: each city and region becomes a node that connects with all the other nodes, sharing a collaborative power grid," he said. "You know the saying…
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Weitzman and Stern named Leontief Prize winners

Tufts′ Global Development and Environment (GDAE) Institute on Nov. 10 announced Martin Weitzman of Harvard University and Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics as the 2011 winners of its annual Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. The prize recognizes their research contributions in climate change economics, a field that focuses on the economic feasibility of reducing greenhouse gases. "With the impetus provided by Stern and Weitzman′s work, climate issues may now have a much greater role in our analysis of economic development," GDAE Senior Research Associate Jonathan Harris said.     Stern, who is chair of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, formerly served as chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank. He will be largely recognized for the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, a 700−page report he authored for the British government, in which he outlined more robust efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Because of this, he won the Leontief Prize. The report, Harris said, offered a revolutionary response to economists who typically balance the costs and benefits of reducing carbon emissions. "Until recently, most economists recommended relatively…
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Raghuram Rajan business book of the Year 2010

Raghuram Rajan, one of the few economists to see the financial crisis coming, wins the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs business book of the Year award. Raghuram Rajan collected the £30,000 prize for Fault Lines in New York on Wednesday. The book identifies the flaws that helped cripple the world financial system, prescribes potential remedies, but also warns that unless policymakers push through painful reforms, the world could be plunged into renewed turmoil.   Lionel Barber, FT editor and chair of the judging panel, praised Fault Lines as a “serious and sober business book” for a time when “sobriety is a virtue”. The title, published by Princeton University Press, saw off stiff competition from five others on the shortlist, to be chosen as “the most compelling and enjoyable” business book of 2010. The final intense debate among the seven judges came down to a choice between Fault Lines and Too Big to Fail, Andrew Ross Sorkin’s acclaimed minute-by-minute analysis of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Prof Rajan was the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist when he warned the 2005 Jackson Hole conference of central bankers that the seeds of disaster were being sown in the financial sector. His presentation jarred with…
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Dr M says 1Malaysia interpreted differently by races

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, declaring his support for the 1Malaysia concept, says the problem now was that various races in the country have different interpretations of the slogan, which had become the rallying call of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.   Due to this, he said implementing the concept would become even more difficult, reported Bernama. "I spoke to the Chinese community, the Malays and their views on 1Malaysia differ. It is difficult if they have different interpretations of the concept. Because of this,,1Malaysia needs detailed explanation," he told reporters after breaking fast in Kodiang, here last night. Dr Mahathir also said while the Najib′s administration wanted to bring changes, it had to safeguard the interest of the Bumiputeras as they still needed government help. "If they are not helped, then we are finished... we would end up like Singapore. If we practise meritocracy, it has a lot of effects. This is why I say that it can become racist because it takes away the rights of the Malays and other Bumiputeras. "If we use the merit system, half of the university students (Bumiputera) don′t qualify. (Bumiputera) traders in cities will also vanish... then i′ts finished," he added.…
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Bjørn Lomborg: the dissenting climate change voice

With his new book, Danish scientist Bjørn Lomborg has become an unlikely advocate for huge investment in fighting global warming. But his answers are unlikely to satisfy all climate change campaigners. Few statisticians can have inspired more passion than Bjørn Lomborg, the Danish academic who became famous as the author of the controversial (some would say contrarian) Skeptical Environmentalist, which set him up as perhaps the world′s best-known critic of the dominant scientific view of global warming and the ensuing climate change.   Lomborg′s prolific output has been almost matched by books rubbishing his work: critics have described him as selective, unprofessional and confused. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN′s climate change panel, has compared him to Adolf Hitler – for the statistical crime of treating human beings too much like numbers. Meanwhile, Time Magazine declared Lomborg one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2004. The respected Cambridge University Press (CUP) has published many of his books in the UK and the US, and the award-winning documentary maker Ondi Timoner and X-Men films producer, Ralph Winter, are about to release a film of his 2007 book Cool It (which carries the subtitle: the first optimistic film…
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Andres Oppenheimer, Latin America’s rich should be more generous

A new report stating that Latin America’s rich have gotten richer despite the region’s economic downturn is likely to enrage populist leaders. But what should be more worrisome is that the region’s wealthy plan to give less to charity than their counterparts elsewhere.     According to the “World Wealth Report 2010” released by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch, the combined wealth of Latin America’s rich — defined as people who have more than $1 million in financial investments, excluding homes and art collections — grew by 15 percent last year, just below the 19 percent world average. But if we measure the wealth of Latin America’s rich since the beginning of the 2007 world economic crisis, their financial investments grew by 8 percent, more than in any other region, the report’s authors say. This is because while the U.S. and European rich lost a big chunk or their fortunes in the 2008 stock market crash, Latin Americans benefited from having safer investments, and from seeing their incomes rise because of their countries’ strong currencies and booming stock markets. “Latin American high net worth individuals had very good growth rates,” Ileana Van der Linde, one of the study’s lead authors, told…
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Medikidz, Health issues get comics treatment

Medikidz: AN IDEA dreamed up in a Dunedin student flat is sweeping the world and this week comes home to New Zealand.   Medikidz comic books – the brainchild of former Hawke′s Bay doctor Kim Chilman-Blair – tell sick children aged 10-15 what their illness is, what medication will do and what treatments it will involve. The 34-year-old doctor said she realised while training at Auckland′s Starship hospital that there was a gap in resources available to children to tell them – in a way they would understand – what was happening to them.     After completing her degree in 2003 and while working part-time in paediatrics, she decided to take action and went back to Otago University to complete a Masters of Entrepreneurship, focusing on the idea, now called Medikidz. She joined forces with fellow Otago graduate Kate Hersov to produce the books and the pair moved to London to be closer to larger markets. They have since employed a team of 21 and published 20 comic books. Since last September′s official launch, more than 600,000 of the comics have been sold to hospitals, doctors′ clinics and families in the UK, US, India and Europe. The Medikidz are…
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U.N. selecting climate scientist to produce the fifth flagship report

The United Nations panel of climate scientist plans to tackle the way societies adapt to a changing climate and the effects of food insecurity in its next report on climate change, senior officials said on Thursday.   The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is currently selecting 600 to 700 climate scientist from over 3,000 nominations to produce the fifth flagship report, due in 2014, said IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri. Earlier this year the IPCC said that its last assessment report, issued in 2007, had exaggerated the pace at which Himalayan glaciers were melting and overstated how much of the Netherlands was below sea level. Those errors, coupled with persistent doubts in some quarters that human activity is warming the planet, prompted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in March to announce a review of U.N. climate science by a committee of national science academies to restore trust. Pachauri told a news conference the IPCC was looking forward to the report and recommendations of the committee at the end of August, and noted he had appeared before it a week ago.     The 2014 report will examine increasing acidity in oceans, how societies adapt to climate change, and the impact of…
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Joseph Stiglitz: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy

No one can say they weren′t warned. A decade ago, newly sacked from his job as chief economist at the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz laid bare how the global economy ideologues at the US ­Treasury and the International Monetary Fund had botched the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. It was a full-on attack from a Washington insider and it hurt, especially when Stiglitz said many of those responsible for forcing countries such as Thailand and Indonesia into deeper, longer recessions were "third-rate graduates from first-rate universities".   He concluded his essay in the New Republic by warning the IMF and the US Treasury that unless they began a dialogue with their critics "things will continue to go very, very wrong". Now they have. The Asian crisis of 1997-98 was merely the warm-up act for the events of the past two and a half years. Problems that first surfaced on the periphery of the global economy gradually worked their way to its core – the United States. The warnings of Stiglitz and a handful of other ­dissident voices were ignored, as a naïve ­belief in the self-correcting ­nature of markets allowed the conditions to develop for the biggest financial and…
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Muhammad Yunus: urge companies to start social business programs

The pioneer of micro credit, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, is coming to Australia to urge companies to start social business programs. A rare example of a business champion winning a Nobel prize, he is visiting Sydney and Melbourne on March 8 and 9 to speak to people in the private sector "to see if social business makes sense to them".     Professor Yunus believes such projects might work especially well in indigenous Australia. He has developed this new concept over the past two years -- following the resounding success of his micro-credit scheme, for which he launched the Grameen Bank in his home country of Bangladesh. Through social business, he said, firms apply their technology, management and design skills to solving a poverty or ill-health challenge, and retrieve their outlays -- but at cost, without making a profit. In Bangladesh, French dairy giant Danone has formed a social business firm in partnership with Grameen to manufacture and distribute yoghurt, boosted with extra nutrients, to children suffering from malnutrition. German chemical conglomerate BASF has also joined a social business with Grameen to produce mosquito nets impregnated with defensive chemicals to guard against malaria. Other firms have begun delivering…