Last weeks’ summary: In 2012 EVT, Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of governance and of the modern nation-state) knows a rising dissatisfaction of its population. Alarmed by the rising difficulties and widespread discontent, the governing authorities decide to do something when new elections start, which begins the second scenario, Panglossy. The new Everstatan government, dependent upon past thinking, decides that a return to economic efficiency through growth is the key to the crisis. Its first measure, to raise the minimum wage, fails to boost growth through consumption. The first high level conference of the ISSIGE, the international fund to promote green growth through infrastructure investment, is hailed as a success. However, as the new international meeting group for the resilience of the financial system IRESFIS does not show any progress, the ISSIGE, in such conditions, also contributes to reinforce the power of the lenders’ nexus and appropriation of public power.
(The reader can click on each picture to see a larger version in a new tab – a navigating map of posts is available to ease reading.)
The Everstatan delegates and members of the ISSIGE are conscious that its success is crucial. The highly unstable situation demands it. They thus start immediately working on the various framework projects’ proposals and their selection. Three more months, which is considered as a very short time-frame in a multinational governmental setting, are needed before the selected projects are publicised to allow companies to bid for them. The project themselves are due to start at the beginning of 2014 EVT, latest.
Meanwhile, the overall situation of Everstatans continue to degrade slowly. Every month now, one or the other area of Everstate is marred by some unusual climatic event. Those, however, are very localised and damages are relatively small. The overall world growth is minimal while energy and resources prices remain very volatile, contributing to a mood in see-saw. As a result, food prices continue to soar. Everstate’s public deficit remains as high as previously, and even rises as interests grow and as more borrowing is needed. The lenders’ nexus profits skyrocket. Many small companies that constitute the productive fabric of Everstate suffer from this environment and either stagnate or are forced to close down. On the contrary, a few well-connected companies, such as Novstate and its friends businesses, continue to be highly profitable, even though they complain that their rate of growth starts to be slow compared with the past. It is very high time that the overall boost expected from the ISSIGE takes place.
Compared with the past, infrastructure projects are not anymore labour intensive. They are, however, knowledge intensive. Thus, considering the deficit of proper and fair treatment to the Everstatan educated population (see inequality statistics; Zerohedge, 05/21/2012 using Graham, IBD, 2012), the idea of promoting green growth investment, if set and re-imagined within a new socio-political model, might well be a way forward. Here, unfortunately, Everstate tries getting past-style results, when those cannot anymore be delivered.
Nevertheless, one of the infrastructure projects selected for Everstate is elected as ISSIGE flagship infrastructure programme for its deeply innovative character, the breadth of its environmental scope and its crucial character: Air Quality. Could this, at least, herald something really new and forward looking that could continue fostering hope among Everstatans, if overall general results are insufficient?
Starting most probably with the industrial revolution, air quality has degraded globally, notably in cities, but not only. Since its first report warning about those risks in 1987, the World Health Organisation has published its Air quality guidelines – global update 2005. In 2011, it underlines that
“Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, we can help countries reduce the global burden of disease from respiratory infections, heart disease, and lung cancer… Urban outdoor air pollution is estimated to cause 1.3 million deaths worldwide per year. Those living in middle-income countries disproportionately experience this burden…. The mortality in cities with high levels of pollution exceeds that observed in relatively cleaner cities by 15–20%. Even in the EU, average life expectancy is 8.6 months lower due to exposure to PM2.5 produced by human activities. ” (WHO, Air quality and health, Fact sheet N°313).
Among the pollutants singled out by the WHO, one finds notably: particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). PM, includes PM2.5, also known as black carbon, which comes, among others, from diesel engines and vehicles, and contributes to both diseases – including cancer for diesel – and climate change (Janssen, et al. 2012, EPA, 2012). NOx contributes to various diseases and acid rain, which impacts negatively freshwater, forests and crops, and, more generally, biodiversity (EEA, 2012). The screenshot below of the excellent interactive and explanatory display done for the French ADEME (Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie) summarizes the complexity of the challenge Everstate as all countries face (click on the image to access the interactive application – in French but the visual part can be understood in any language – PM are included in “aerosols“):
* Read on investment and more generally on growth in current conditions the excellent article by Michael Spence, Nobel laureate in economics, “Why Do Economies Stop Growing?” Project Syndicate, May 23, 2012.
Dupré, Franck, “Pollution : le diesel, un danger mortel ?” Autonews.fr, 29 Mars 2012.
Durden, Tyler, The Benefits Of A College Education, Zerohedge, 05/21/2012, from Jed Graham, New Normal: Majority Of Unemployed Attended College, IBD, 05/17/2012.
EPA, Black Carbon Report to Congress, March 2012.
European Environment Agency, Chapter 4. Nitrogen emissions and threats to biodiversity, Environmental indicator report 2012 – Ecosystem resilience and resource efficiency in a green economy in Europe, Part 2. 2012.
Janssen, Nicole AH, Miriam E Gerlofs-Nijland, Timo Lanki, Raimo O Salonen, Flemming Cassee, Gerard Hoek, Paul Fischer, Bert Brunekreef, Michal Krzyzanowski, Health effects of black carbon, WHO, 2012.
Lehner, Peter, of the NRDC, Diesel Exhaust Does Cause Cancer, CleanTechnica.com, June 12, 2012.
The Guardian, Global air pollution: what is the most polluted country and city in the world? (WHO data), 26 Septembre 2011.
WHO, Air quality and health, Fact sheet N°313, Updated September 2011.
WPA road project, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, via Wikimedia Commons.
CNES-CNRS/INSU-MEN, Les polluants de l’air extérieur, Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie, 2009.