Another good one with a nice flow about it.
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Terry Karl, Gildred Professor of Latin American Studies and professor of Political Science at Stanford University, discusses overcoming the resource curse. Also known as the paradox of plenty it is the fact that most resource rich, in this case oil rich countries are performing far poorer than non resource rich countries in terms of development and governance indicators, defying logical economic thought. This is largely a phenomenon in countries which have poor governing systems and high incomes (from the oil) increasing the likelihood of corruption. These oil rents/income break the traditional relationship of governments and people with the tax, representation, accountability dynamic found in developed countries such as Europe and the US. When government coffers are not dependent on taxes and are almost exclusively dependent on secret transactions between oil companies and governments it leads to the continuation of this corruption cycle. Government leaders can spend this money however they like, building up military and buying off certain key sections of the population (religious, ethnic, regional groups, etc.) and keep control of government through more autocratic means. A story that exists in the majority of oil producing countries.
Terry argues that transparency in disclosing payments made from oil companies to countries is a key first step in breaking the cycle of secrecy which helps shape the current political situations of civil war and conflict in many of these oil producing countries. Without it, development and democracy will be permanently hindered. It also has large ramifications for the world as a whole. Reporting on oil production and reserves is highly dubious in terms of accuracy and the biggest, most profitable market in the world uses this extremely bad information to predict oil prices. This helps breed uncertainty, speculation and ultimately volatility in the marketplace which is bad for every consumer of oil but also completes a viscous circle with oil producing countries as their incomes yoyo up and down, causing any budget planning to go out the window. This also helps breed mistrust between the various parties, particularly with the left out sections of the population of the oil producing countries, increasing likelihood of conflict, interruptions in oil production and further market volatility. The resource curse affects us all.
January 7, 2009 lecture by Lee Schipper for the Woods Energy Seminar. In his talk “When the Rubber Hits the Road: The Real Story on Fuel Economy in the US and other Developed Countries, with Implications for Developing Asia,” Schipper discusses better and more realistic fuel economy options in the US and other industrialized nations.Lee Schipper is a Senior Research Engineer at the Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency at Stanford University.
His discussion on solutions covers the main areas for improved fuel efficiency and how the difficult areas of transport policy and urban design usually get ignored. Until these are properly addressed vehicle use will only expand in undesirable ways causing gridlock in our cities and further dependence on oil. Technology and pricing can only go so far in the quest for a sustainable transport model.
On first glance it would be hard to see why, but this talk by Professor Bartlett is one of the most utterly compelling things I have watched and makes you totally rethink what “reasonable growth” means. A must watch.
Professor Al Bartlett begins his one-hour talk with the statement, “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” He talks about:
- arithmetic of steady growth
- concept of doubling time
- impact of unending steady growth on population
- consequences steady growth in a finite environment
- growth as applied to fossil fuel consumption
- oddly reassuring statements from “experts”, the media and political leaders – statements that are dramatically inconsistent with the facts
- widespread worship of economic growth and population growth in western society
The talk brings the listener to understand and appreciate the implications of unending growth on a finite planet, and closes noting the crucial need for education topic.