The Future of Economics is a Doughnut

Economists have focussed on just one thing for the last hundred years or so: making money. That might sound fine, but classically these economists have ignored the societal and environmental costs of their proposed money making schemes. Their willful ignorance has unleashed climate change on us all, and that’s precisely where Kate Raworth comes in. Raworth proposes that 21st century economics focusses on the inequality and lack of equilibrium in the world. Once we focus on balancing our global economic system with our global life systems will we all benefit (instead of just the rich getting richer).

Humanity’s 21st century challenge is to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet. In other words, to ensure that no one falls short on life’s essentials (from food and housing to healthcare and political voice), while ensuring that collectively we do not overshoot our pressure on Earth’s life-supporting systems, on which we fundamentally depend – such as a stable climate, fertile soils, and a protective ozone layer. The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries is a playfully serious approach to framing that challenge, and it acts as a compass for human progress this century.

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Thanks to Delaney!

A Bold, Bodacious Beard Club

beards
Beards are wonderful. I say this not has a biased individual who has a beard, but has a person who understands that beards are more than they seem. In the province of Newfoundland there is a beard club that spends their time making the world a better place. The best part of beard club is that you must tell everybody about, and that anybody is welcome – no beard even needed!

“Instead of paying dues or anything, like a lot of groups do, how about we give back to the community? And one of the great ways, especially with [Hai’s] history with Project Kindness, is volunteering,” he said.

“So once a month we’re gonna get together, do some volunteering, do some volunteering on our own. It’s just a great way to give back to the community.”

Group members share some beard-care tips amongst themselves, and are hopeful the trend expands further.

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Treepedia Lets Cities See Where Trees are Needed

MIT tree

Treepedia is a new tool from MIT that uses Google street view to evaluate what the coverage of trees are in specific areas. It lets you know what your neighbourhood is like and doesn’t just bias cities with big inaccessible parks. This means that cities (and people!) can use this tool to find where trees are most badly needed from the perspective of a pedestrian. Trees are more than just pollution-fighters, they make cities prettier and friendlier.

“Street greenery is a really important part of the urban environment,” says Xiaojiang Li, a postdoctoral fellow at MIT who helped develop Treepedia’s Green View Index, a measure of the tree coverage in a city overall and in any area within the city that a user wants to examine.

Trees provide shade for pedestrians in the summer and help to lower urban temperatures, Mr. Li says. They also help prevent water runoff during heavy rain and clean the air.

The MIT team used the Google photos instead of satellite imagery to “really measure how much greenery people might see” as they move around a city’s streets, Mr. Li says. Treepedia’s Green View Index doesn’t take city parks into account for that same reason.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Lower Your Risk of Cancer and Heart Disease by Cycling to Work

Bicycle

We all know that encouraging bicycles as daily transportation is good for cities, economies, and traffic flow. Cycling is really good for you too and the evidence that you should bike more is more prevalent than ever. The most recent contribution to why riding a bike to work is good for you comes from Glasgow. Researchers there found that over the course of five years people who biked regularly had lower instances of cancer and heart disease!

But, during the course of the study, regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%.
The cyclists clocked an average of 30 miles per week, but the further they cycled the greater the health boon.
Walking cut the odds of developing heart disease but the benefit was mostly for people walking more than six miles per week.
“This is really clear evidence that people who commute in an active way, particularly by cycling, were at lower risk,” Dr Jason Gill, from the University of Glasgow, told the BBC News website.

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Basic Income Being Tested in Ontario

happy workers in a factory

Basic income is a concept that is being tried in Finland and now in Canada. The idea is to give people just enough money to live off of regardless of their situation. People can live a barebones life using basic income, but in order to afford things like travel or fancy objects a job will still be necessary. In previous tests in the 70s people with a basic income were able to improve their health and their overall quality of life all while decreasing costs on social services (like hospital visits and police calls).

Proponents on both the political left and right are embracing a minimum or basic income as a way to reduce poverty, support workers faced by the challenges of automation and precarious employment and reform excessively punitive and bureaucratic welfare programs. Some say unconditional cash transfers to individuals could even help staunch the rise of alt-right populism blamed for last year’s Brexit vote in the U.K. and Donald Trump’s election as president in the U.S.

Opponents worry it will be used to dismantle the social safety net, subsidize bad employers and take the pressure off government to develop effective labour strategies. But that hasn’t stopped global interest.

Finland launched a two-year pilot project in January and more than half a dozen other communities around the world are actively pursuing experiments of their own.

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