Thursday Night Owls: Amsterdam is testing radical economic theory to help save the environment

Thursday Night Owls: Amsterdam is testing radical economic theory to help save the environment

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.

Ciara Nugent at Time writes—Amsterdam Is Embracing a Radical New Economic Theory to Help Save the Environment. Could It Also Replace Capitalism?

One evening in December, after a long day working from home, Jennifer Drouin, 30, headed out to buy groceries in central Amsterdam. Once inside, she noticed new price tags. The label by the zucchini said they cost a little more than normal: 6¢ extra per kilo for their carbon footprint, 5¢ for the toll the farming takes on the land, and 4¢ to fairly pay workers. “There are all these extra costs to our daily life that normally no one would pay for, or even be aware of,” she says.

The so-called true-price initiative, operating in the store since late 2020, is one of dozens of schemes that Amsterdammers have introduced in recent months as they reassess the impact of the existing economic system. By some accounts, that system, capitalism, has its origins just a mile from the grocery store. In 1602, in a house on a narrow alley, a merchant began selling shares in the nascent Dutch East India Company. In doing so, he paved the way for the creation of the first stock exchange—and the capitalist global economy that has transformed life on earth. “Now I think we’re one of the first cities in a while to start questioning this system,” Drouin says. “Is it actually making us healthy and happy? What do we want? Is it really just economic growth?”

In April 2020, during the first wave of COVID-19, Amsterdam’s city government announced it would recover from the crisis, and avoid future ones, by embracing the theory of “doughnut economics.” Laid out by British economist Kate Raworth in a 2017 book, the theory argues that 20th century economic thinking is not equipped to deal with the 21st century reality of a planet teetering on the edge of climate breakdown. Instead of equating a growing GDP with a successful society, our goal should be to fit all of human life into what Raworth calls the “sweet spot” between the “social foundation,” where everyone has what they need to live a good life, and the “environmental ceiling.” By and large, people in rich countries are living above the environmental ceiling. Those in poorer countries often fall below the social foundation. The space in between: that’s the doughnut.

Amsterdam’s ambition is to bring all 872,000 residents inside the doughnut, ensuring everyone has access to a good quality of life, but without putting more pressure on the planet than is sustainable. Guided by Raworth’s organization, the Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL), the city is introducing massive infrastructure projects, employment schemes and new policies for government contracts to that end. Meanwhile, some 400 local people and organizations have set up a network called the Amsterdam Doughnut Coalition—managed by Drouin— to run their own programs at a grassroots level. […]

THREE OTHER ARTICLES WORTH READING

  • Forget about a GOP crack-up, by Amanda Marcotte. Republicans rally around a defeated Trump because they understand power Sorry, but the GOP won’t tear themselves apart — they’re too attached to power to let Trump and QAnon break them up
     
  • Climate politics: What congressional Democrats can learn from state legislatures, by Barry G. Rabe. As the Democrats make the transition from Republican control of the Senate and White House, Virginia and Colorado, which underwent comparable transitions in the past two years, offer some potential lessons.
     
  • Unemployment Nation, by Katie McDonough, Laura Weiss, and Luis Feliz Leon. Stories from the pandemic unemployed, underemployed, or otherwise put out.

TOP COMMENTS • RESCUED DIARIES

TWEET OF THE DAY

“If we have 10,000 people who on their own volition are voting, we know that there’s probably many more who are still living, breathing, eligible Ohioans, who also have not moved, who also have been removed from the rolls.”https://t.co/AhEfF0tmvO

— Black Voters Matter (@BlackVotersMtr) January 28, 2021

QUOTATION

“Sometimes my courage fails me and I think I ought to stop working, live in the country and devote myself to gardening. But I am held by a thousand bonds, and I don’t know when I shall be able to arrange things otherwise. Nor do I know whether, even by writing scientific books, I could live without the laboratory.” ~~Marie Curie

BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2005—Why We Can’t Wait… And Why We Must:

Historically, Americans are reluctant to say going to war was a mistake. At no time during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 did a majority of Americans express that view. U.S. troops had been in Vietnam for more than three years before a thin majority said in 1968 that the war was a mistake. The figure peaked at 61% in 1971, the year President Nixon began to pull out U.S. troops in large numbers and turn over combat operations to the South Vietnamese. The last U.S. combat troops left in 1973. After the Vietnam War was long over, the number of Americans considering it a mistake climbed to a high of 71% in 1990.

The fact that the American public has doubts about the war now in such a short period of time is remarkable… (Internets, si… Wurlitzer, no) but that doesn’t mean (as in the election of 2004) that the public is ready to withdraw. It will happen. I think Iraq is already lost and the endpoint is inevitable. But 2006 may well be a very realistic timetable.

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From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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