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    Updated  (Nov 19, 2015)
  • Job Posting - Integrated Economic Modeling Project

    One of IIER's most ambitious research projects will begin in Q4/2011, in cooperation with the Imperial College in London. The project is aimed at supporting the activities of the Ecological Sequestration Trust, a U.K. based non-profit organization focused on the creation of sustainable (cycling) economies. In order to make this effort successful, we are looking for employees and volunteers who would like to contribute to this project aimed at providing the most solid underpinning of an economic view based on physical resource and energy consumption.

    (Oct 15, 2011)
  • Green Growth - an oxymoron?

    In December 2009, the 15th Annual UN Climate Change Conference ended without a globally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The outcomes from the 2010 talks in Cancún were equally non-committing, and not too much is expected from the 2011 summit in Durban. Among the reasons for these failures were concerns of emerging nations such as India and China that limits on carbon-dioxide emissions would impair their ability to further grow their economies. Given the evidence we outline below, they probably have a valid point.

    In July 2011, IIER concluded a report sponsored by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), which looked at the question as to whether it will be possible for emerging economies to simultaneously go green and still grow economically. Our answer, which also applies to advanced societies, is that the traditional path of urbanizing and industrializing is most likely incompatible with the reduction of carbon emissions, as long as economies don't find someone else to do the "dirty" part of the work.

    (Jul 31, 2011)
  • Fake firemen - why are we cheating ourselves on energy?

    On June 15, 2010, when U.S. President Obama responded to the dramatic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico during his Oval Office speech, he not only included the list of things the government wants to do about the imminent problem, but also urged the country to "transition away from fossil fuels" and to "jump start the clean energy industry". His pledge is in line with many of his predecessors, and with other leaders around the world, who for years now have supported renewable energy technologies. This is particularly true in Europe, where installed capacity for renewables has grown significantly during the past ten years. And even the U.S. - while slow in introducing renewable electricity technologies - to date has produced a significant amount of alternative fuels primarily through the mandatory addition of ethanol to gasoline.

    For many people hoping for a future with less greenhouse gases and less environmental damage this focus on renewable energies might sound like a step in the right direction; for those who want low cost energy, maybe less so. But what both sides of the discussion forget is something quite simple: an energy future without fossil fuels will eventually arrive, and there is no way to extend current energy usage patterns and delivery systems into the future. In a nutshell: our current plans will fail. Let's explore why that is.

    (Jun 26, 2010)
  • The challenges of voluntary de-growth

    When discussing possible limits to human ecosystems, IIER is regularly meeting with individuals and organizations promoting actively planned and managed de-growth as a possible solution. This approach comes in various flavors. Some suggest an active reduction of rich countries' energy use and consumption, while others point out that there are too many people on our planet, and that we have to reduce or reverse population growth in order to prevent a collapse in the near future. Yet irrespective of individual focus, organizations promoting de-growth either suggest a path of voluntary reductions of consumption by individuals or wish for governments to act by mandating behavioral change or by establishing incentives to drive their de-growth objective.

    IIER research suggests that all those de-growth approaches will not be successful at an aggregate societal level, at least not before reality enforces de-growth when economic expansion is no longer possible. Although small groups of people actually might sign up, societies as a whole likely won't. We see three key reasons for our skepticism: evolution, substitution effects and financial markets locked into a growth model.

    (Mar 24, 2010)
  • An answer to Paul Krugman
    Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman has - and correctly so - stated that economics has failed to predict the economic crisis of 2008/09 that led to a reduction in GDP all around the world, with very few exceptions. He says that "few economists saw our current crisis coming, but this predictive failure was the least of the field’s problems. More important was the profession’s blindness to the very possibility of catastrophic failures in a market economy." We definitely agree with this assessment.
    (Mar 17, 2010)