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Jack Parham

I found Quiggin's essay to really hit a lot of key elements that we have been discussing this week regarding sustainability, climate change, and poverty. Quiggin writes from the perspective that the barrier to sustainability is not technology or environmental but rather barriers to sustainability are found in our beliefs, values, and our social institutions. He illustrates this in a number of ways. Quiggin cites how something as simple as a policy mandating minimum miles per gallon for new cars would cause huge reductions (between 20-40%) in the current level of fuel needed. I think what is most important about this fact and this argument is that the technology already exists. Car manufacturers would have to devote more time and energy into ensuring that minimum mpg regulations were met but this is certainly a feasible goal, all it requires is accurate and demanding policy. Another way in which this is illustrated is through food. Quiggin argues that there are actually no resource constraints that would prevent a world population of 10 billion from eating well and sustainably. Food production is not the problem. Rather, we must simply ensure that the world population receives the benefits from increased food production. This article was certainly a refreshing read. It was perhaps the most hopeful essay in terms of the globes future that I can remember reading. It reminded me a lot about the conversation in class regarding the climate clock that was put up in New York City. I agree that change must be made and it must be made quickly. But I for one was certainly more motivated from this article that spells out potential policy changes that are feasible today than from a clock that seems to count down to the end of the world. We should certainly feel motivated and obligated to do something but we shouldn't feel helpless.

Gus Wise

"The problem of stablizing the global climate is not 'can we?' but 'will we?'."
I liked Quiggin's article and think that it gives a realistic account of the possible future impacts of climate change. Like Quiggin said, we cannot truly know what the future consequences will be, but we can make predictions. What will actually happen may be better or may be worse than what was predicted, we just don't know. Based on our global technology, we have the capability to make the changes necessary to reduce carbon emissions, it is more of a matter actually doing it. Quiggin's points remind of the proposed carbon tax that we have discussed the last couple days of class. Instituting a carbon tax in the U.S. and redistributing the revenue from that tax helps to reduce carbon emissions and income inequality in the country. We have this great policy proposal that will help to solve multiple problems, but will it be instituted? The solutions in the article do the same of tackling two problems at once. The real question is whether we will actually implement these policies.

The article mentions how personal vehicles account for heavy carbon emissions in the United States, however, people. in the younger generation tend to move to cities and live in higher population density ares, where cars are not as necessary. This is an interesting point as I often associated large cities with pollution and environmental damage. It brings up the idea that there are more ways than one to reduce carbon emissions.

Didi Pace

In the piece 'We can end world poverty without destroying the plant', Quigggins argues that the ultimate barrier to achieving a good life for all lies in our beliefs, values, and social institutions. The problem is not 'Can we?' but 'Will we?'. Maybe I'm just a pessimist, but I think the answer to the latter question is no (at least not before proper incentives are established). Quiggins writes that once the car fleet meets the standard of 54.5 mpg, there will be massive fuel savings. But…people are in love with their low mileage pick-up trucks and will likely not go down without a fight. In London, there are low emission zones where you can only drive your car through the city if it meets a certain fuel efficiency standard. Otherwise, there are massive fines. The only way to get the car fleet standard higher is to establish strong policy incentives like this. As time ticks on, climate change impacts will make these barriers harder and harder to overcome, as outlined in the World Bank report. Our values and beliefs will not change overnight. Given that, we need immediate and meaningful policy action to drive our values and beliefs in the direction needed.

Christina Cavallo

Quiggin’s piece was more of a hopeful read than The World Bank’s Executive Summary. Something that stood out to me from the Executive Summary was the discussion of the potential problems with import oriented food systems. The summary states that there is a possibility for “some regions to become over-dependent on food imports and thus more vulnerable to weather events”. I had not put much thought into weather events disrupting people’s food availability before, but I can see how this could potentially be very problematic. Thinking of this on the larger scale, it is easy to see how a climate affecting disruption in one area creates a web of problems in other areas throughout the world, and this idea is carried throughout the summary. The butterfly effect is evident when it comes to climate change, and it shows how interconnected the world truly is. When soybean production was brought up, it reminded me of our discussion in class with China’s growing economy leading to an increase in demand of pork which lead to the increase in demand of soybeans and the deforestation that is brought along with that.

Quiggen’s statement that when looking at the consequences of global warming, “that the full scope of damage is almost impossible to project” reminded me of our discussion in class about how it is difficult to project future generations wants and needs. It is difficult to project both damage and characteristics of the future. Keyne’s proposal that “within a few decades, with the right use of technology, we could achieve a society where people worked because they chose to rather than out of material necessity, a society in which working hours averaged 15 per week with no decline in quality of life” is something that sounded really appealing and I would doubt there would be much, if any, opposition to this. The means of getting there, however, would require the more difficult task of convincing people to change in behavior. The discussion about Australia’s star rating reminded me of the American’s LEED certification of "green buildings and communities". I took a class last year about W&L’s efforts to get building’s LEED certified, but if I had not taken this course, I don’t think I would know about LEED or about W&L’s efforts to be more sustainable. I think if we make sustainability more of a staple in everyday life, and something that could be associated with an “award”, I think this would help change societal behaviors and wants. I find a lot of hope in Quiggen’s opinion that it is a question of “will we” and not “can we”. I think that if more people thought about mitigating climate change in this way, we would have more willpower and hope to make lasting changes.

Austin Lee

At one point in this article, Quiggin criticizes the U.S. for being a consumption-oriented economy. This reminded me of a point made in Professor Goldsmith's Economics of Social Issues class. At one point in his life, he and his family lived in Australia. He talked about the much more leisure-oriented lifestyle the Australians lived than Americans. His co-workers would commonly take off work on Fridays to go surfing because "the weather was nice". At the time, it was jaw-dropping for Professor Goldsmith to even consider skipping work to go to the beach. However, to me, the article was eye-opening to consider that vast technological advancement does not need to be taken before carbon emissions are reduced significantly. To start, we can pivot from a consumption-oriented society to that of the Australians, living a more leisure-oriented lifestyle. Quiggin throws out a statistic saying that nearly half of car travel in developed countries is to get to work and shopping trips. By living a slightly more leisurely lifestyle, this number can be reduced even further.

Sydney Goldstein

The article by Quiggin stated that neither technology nor the environment are barriers to achieving a good life for all, but rather that it is our beliefs, values, and social institutions. In his closing paragraph he states, “If we collectively prefer to stay on the treadmill, chasing bigger and better consumption goods, we can do that, at least until we hit the limits of sustainability. But if we choose to use the opportunities given to us by technology to eliminate poverty and drudgery, and to protect and restore the environment, that choice is equally open to us.” Although I don’t think this was his intention, especially since he has stated we could increase our standard of living and still reduce the use of coal, gas, and oil by 90%, this statement makes it sound like bigger and better consumption is mutually exclusive to sustainbilty, but I think that is far from the case. I think the more relevant issue is what we consume and how. For instance, you want a new fancy car, well you could buy a gas guzzling Hummer or Tesla’s sleek new electric car. Both cars carry somewhat of a status symbol if that is part of what a consumer is factoring in, but one is sustainable and the other isn’t. So consumption itself is not the problem but rather whether consumer preferences align with beliefs and values that will support the production of sustainable goods. If everyone decides to buy the Tesla because they want the car whether it be for functionality or status rather than the
Hummer, the market would self correct and thus only Teslas or sustainable cars would be produced. But, if consumers don’t have preferences that align with sustainability then there is a need for government intervention to correct the market failure caused by carbon emissions. I wonder what Quiggin's viewpoint is on whether we can influence consumer preferences without using policy or whether policy is needed to correct the market failure. Like with most issues the answer is probably situational depending on the good, its demand, and the availability of substitutions/alternatives.

Sarah Hollen

I really enjoyed reading both of these articles, and our discussions about development and sustainability have been my favorite topic of class so far. I was most drawn in by Quiggin’s article, and was intrigued particularly by part of his concluding paragraph.

“The ultimate barriers to achieving a good life for all, free of the lash of financial necessity, are neither technological nor environmental. They are in our beliefs, values and social institutions. If we collectively prefer to stay on the treadmill, chasing bigger and better consumption goods, we can do that, at least until we hit the limits of sustainability. But if we choose to use the opportunities given to us by technology to eliminate poverty and drudgery, and to protect and restore the environment, that choice is equally open to us.”

At first after reading this I was in complete agreement— our consumer culture is killing us, we need to get our priorities straight, we must think of others before ourselves, people ought to invest in sustainable technology, etc. etc. But then I thought again about our discussions of South Korean development in class the other day and about how we should be careful about relying on cultural explanations when discussing development. And while there is clearly a difference between South Korean development and the global sustainable development that we now seek, I wonder what role (if any) cultural changes will or should play in future development. Because that is exactly what Quiggin is arguing for. He says that the ‘ultimate barriers’ are in our ‘beliefs, values, and social institutions.’ In other words, our culture. This leaves me wondering: Do we need to change our culture to ensure sustainable development, the eradication of poverty, and respectable living standards for all people? Or could we instead work through markets, incentives, and government policy to influence investment patterns, consumption, and sustainable development and poverty reduction? Do we need both? Would changes in policy or incentives then end up changing cultural norms and values? Will people 100 years from now look back and explain (I hope we have succeeded in meeting our goals so that they have reason to explain our sustainable development and the eradication of poverty) our impressive turnaround by lauding changes in our culture and values that made it all possible, or will they praise our remarkable policy efforts and handle of the markets? Will one of these explanations be right, or will it be a combination of both? Does it matter? Is culture relevant in discussions of sustainable development?


Stephanie Sezen:
Quiggin’s argues that “our use of coal, gas and oil could be reduced by 90 per cent, even while living standards increase
greatly.” This reminds me of our discussion on Wednesday that if you consider the marginal social costs of coal, the use of coal is actually much more expensive than other alternatives. Moreover, as technology advances, sustainability is no longer an expensive luxury; Electric cars for example are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to high-carbon emission automobiles. The market is already beginning to respond to the demand for sustainable alternatives. Recently, Elon Musk promised to deliver a $25,000 electric car, potentially making sustainability affordable for more people. Furthermore, as Solow explained, the government is going to need to provide proper regulation on the environment as well as provide the appropriate incentives for the private sector to begin to develop sustainable products. In the U.S. there is already a tax credit of $7,500 for cars using battery power alone. If electric cars will be potentially cheaper and there are already government incentives to drive more sustainability, then certainly a transition to sustainability is not infeasible. We certainly have the technological capacity to make sustainability accessible to all, including low-income individuals. Therefore, it’s not a question of “Can we get there?” but “Do we want to?” like many of the readings we’ve discussed have asserted.

Mercer Peek

What stood out to me in the World Bank Summary was the relative impact of global warming on the poor as compared to the rich. This is true both on an individual as well as a global level. A millionaire with a second home in the Caribbean will be fine if rising sea levels submerge the islands while the lives of the impoverished native residents of the islands will be destroyed. Along the same lines, developed nations will absolutely feel the effects of climate change but they will be relatively fine and more resilient than developing nations. This brings me to the paradox we discussed Wednesday. The rich people and nations are the ones that need to spur the change to renewable energy sources and sustainable practices. They are the only ones able to bear the initial costs. However, rich people have the least incentive to spend money on this change as they will be the least impacted by environmental degradation. Furthermore, the leaders of the coal industry are often some of their countries’ most wealthy and powerful. Not only do they not care about renewable energy, they have the motivation and means to really fight it. Quiggin says that “we” have the power to develop and live sustainably, but I think this power is concentrated in the wealthiest individuals and countries.

Julia Foxen

I agree with John Quiggin’s thesis in his article entitled "We can end world poverty without destroying the planet" in that it is not a question of can society increase living standards greatly around the world, but if society is willing to make the cultural shifts necessary to make such improvements possible. He argues that there is currently no technological obstacle to reducing carbon emissions by 80 to 90 percent over the next few decades. We have the sources of energy available and simply have chosen to rely more heavily on older models. For example, in the case of cars, Quiggin states that if we were just to use the fuel efficient technology that we already have, there would be a 90 percent reduction in car fuel used. However, the harder part of the equation is not the change in energy systems themselves, but the shift in our cultural mindset necessary to put the new system in place. Quiggin emphasizes the importance of societal values in transforming or halting the development of economies. Especially in the case of the US, where a large portion of the political right still rejects the existence of climate change, the clash in our society’s belief systems has drastically slowed transitions to more renewable forms of energy. Quiggin states, “The ultimate barriers to achieving a good life for all, free of the lash of financial necessity, are neither technological nor environmental. They are in our beliefs, values and social institutions.”
Thankfully, Quiggin is an optimist in this regard and believes that there are already improvements being made around the world, notably with the defeat of Repebulican Mitt Romney at the time he was writing the article in 2013. However, under the current administration of President Trump, I wonder if he would think his article was too optimistic in retrospect. Furthermore, although he excitedly notes the lack of technological and environmental barriers to a rise in living standards, the cultural barriers he notes are just as great if not greater than any other kind of limitation. Shifting the mindset of an entire culture is no easy task, and rather than giving recommendations for transforming sociopolitical mindsets, Quiggin simply states the ways to more practically use renewable energy sources. Therefore, after reading this article, I am left wondering what his recommendations would be today in the wake of political polarization and uproar.

Olivia Indelicato

Like several of my peers, I found Quiggin’s article to be far more optimistic than the World Bank Executive Summary. I think one of the greatest takeaways from the Executive Summary are that temperatures are rising fast and we are already seeing the impacts. What was once a distant problem is becoming a question of only 5 or 6 years. In my geology class, we are currently learning about sustainability and climate change, and I have learned a lot about how it’s not necessarily the temperatures that are the problem- but the effect that increases have had and will continue to have. We’ve also talked a lot in this class and in my geology class about how there is an alarming percentage of our population, and of our political leaders, who still claim that climate change is not real. This relates directly to Quiggin’s quote, where he says “the ultimate barriers to achieving a good life for all... are neither technological or environmental. They are in our beliefs, values, and social institutions.” This made me wonder- when will there finally be a turning point where developed societies realize the impacts of climate change, not only on themselves, but on countries and people living in less developed societies? I think that Quiggin may have been a bit optimistic in saying that things like food are able to be widely distributed across the globe, given our current resources. Our resources may be fine, but what about our environment? It is clear that changes need to be made, and they need to be made quickly in order to stop further damage to the earth and to alleviate the great income and quality of living disparities across the globe.

Savannah Corey

While I appreciated the scientific analysis of The World Bank’s Executive Summary, I preferred the more optimistic perspective of John Quiggin. However, one aspect of The World Bank’s Executive Summary that captivated me was the section regarding local food security in the Caribbean. The Summary reveals that an increased water temperature in this coastal region will lead to ocean acidification and coral bleaching. These two consequences will not only lead to the harming of fish nurseries and the increase of marine life mortality but will decrease the local food availably and fishery employment opportunities. I found it very interesting how far reaching and multi-dimensional the effects of climate change are especially in regions that heavily rely on local resources for food and employment. On the other hand, I found Quiggin's repetitive references to an increased living standard very insightful. The fact that "our use of coal, gas and oil could be reduced by 90 per cent, even while living standards increase greatly" was astounding to me until he explained that our use of these resources hinges on engrained social standards and consumer preferences. In a sense, the majority of this piece offers renewable resource-oriented solutions that increase fuel-efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and increase the quality of life for both developed and developing countries. However, he reveals that "our beliefs, values and social institutions" are impeding the achievement for "a good life for all." While I understand the constraints that social institutions present towards increased sustainability, I wonder how "everyone could have a better life right now with less energy use, more leisure, and drastically lower emissions of greenhouse gases" without drastically transforming the social fabric and the infrastructure of developed countries. Moreover, Quiggin touches on solutions such as the mass transit, electric cars, and the conversion to wind and solar energy systems without considering the time, power, and resources necessary to essentially restructure the transportation and energy systems of developed countries. In addition, Quiggin continues to refer to his last essay that details "a society where people worked because they chose to rather than out of material necessity, a society in which working hours averaged 15 per week with no decline in quality of life." I am a bit confused on how this relates to sustainability and why a decrease in. productivity is considered a "utopia." Apart from this confusion, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Quiggin's article and found his inclusion of cultural and social institutions very interesting in the role they play in increasing sustainability.

Frances McIntosh

The Quiggins article made reductions of carbon emissions sound manageable. It is a staggering statistic that the United States needs to reduce emissions by 90% by 2050. One thing I found troubling about the article is that Quiggins suggests that inner-city living is now becoming popular. He believes more people will leave suburbs to live in urban areas, therefore increasing the number of people using mass transit, walking, and cycling. My problem is that with increasing popularity, living in urban areas is becoming very expensive and unreasonable for most people/families. Therefore, the only people who would be able to reduce emissions by biking or walking in urban areas would be those with the economic means to do so. We talked earlier in the week about how sustainability is potentially held back by those of lower socioeconomic status who want more consumption over savings. Sustainability would be held back by those of lower economic status in this instance as well. This contributes to Quiggin’s idea that beliefs, values, and social institutions are what is keeping us from living sustainably. It is our societal mindset that bigger is better, that we need constant innovation, the next new thing, which keeps us from acting sustainably. Our societal mindset is also why being able to provide the world with enough food will not ultimately solve hunger. Quiggins emphasizes that because of the global market structure, food will go to those who can afford it.
I also had never heard of the ‘advantage of backwardness’, but I found this idea very interesting. Not that developing countries don’t want improvements, but they’ve managed to wait out the kinks of newer technology, instead of adopting technology when it is first invented. This is one of the reasons developing countries are not having as much trouble acting sustainably. Hopefully, as a developed country, our societal mindset will be able to change so that we do not hit the limits of sustainability.

Mason Shuffler

I was intrigued by Quiggin's optimisim for the future and how he noted the tremendous progress that the world has made as an economic system--most notably in the realm of food supply. As the world's economy continues to develop and the global population continues to rise, the demand for food has increased significantly in the past 100 years. With the global population expected to increase by 2 billion or so over the next 3 decades, the demand for food will only continue to increase at a faster rate. With this in mind, it is worth noting that developed countries--for the most part--have been able to meet this increase in food demand but developing countries have been struggling to keep up with their rise in population. I think this all ties back to a common theme in this course, the concept that it is essential for the developed nations to assist the developing nations in all ways possible. Quiggins had an interesting quote in his article, where he stated, "if current First World living standards cannot safely be extended to the rest of the world, the future holds either environmental catastrophe or an indefinite continuation of the age-old struggle between rich and poor." This idea made me think of how many of the struggles of the world are tied directly back to the seemingly ever lasting battle between the rich and the poor, and how it is the rich / developed nation's obligation to assist those that are in need.


I found Quiggin’s article to be fairly optimistic and I liked that he gave practical methods for the developed world to reduce reliance on carbon-based fuels and environmental degradation while increasing living standards. Many of the ways he mentioned we could reduce carbon dioxide emissions seemed fairly realistic and mostly made use of currently available technologies. Specifically, I found his discussion of private motor vehicles and the potential shift to electric cars, which has already begun on a relatively small scale, to be incredibly interesting. Just yesterday, the Governor of California issued an executive order that calls for a ban on the sale of new gasoline-powered cars in the state by 2035. In just the last few years, the largest car manufacturers that are known for legendary gas-powered cars (such as Ford and the F-150) have introduced new electric vehicles and even electric versions of classic gas-powered cars. Ford has made progress in developing an electric F-150 and Mustang, and Volkswagen just recently delivered a new all-electric SUV. It seems to me that there has been an effort made by car manufacturers to produce a greater number and a more diversified mix of electric cars. This gives me optimism and I think that if we can develop the infrastructure to support widespread use of electric cars, like charging stations, then electric cars can certainly be a realistic way to reduce fuel use and environmental degradation while increasing living standards. This would obviously only be a start and would not be able to account for the entire reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that are necessary, but it certainly seems to be a change that we are capable of making right now.


The World Bank’s report on climate change was quite honestly not as moving as I expected. Perhaps, I have been overexposed to content surrounding climate change where little surprises me anymore. However, so much of the focus was placed on the severity of a 4 degree increase, which, while definitely possible given the current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel usage, still seems far off. I would have liked to see more focus on the 2 degree warming and also the already occurring changes. However, one of the few changes emphasized with a 2 degree increase is the decline in crop yield. I find this to be the most concerning given that many of the poorest populations rely on subsistence farming. Not to mention the strain on food prices that would impact the lower class the most all over the world – not just developing countries. The article by Quiggin gets in the more interesting and potentially enlightening part of climate change – how to realistically mitigate it and not hurt the poor. He points out that we already have the existing technology to make big changes which to me seems like the biggest hurdle – without the tech there is no substitution. However, changing people’s minds and practices may actually be the bigger problem. People don’t want to give up their gas-guzzling “cool” cars or start walking to work especially Americans, which we have witnessed throughout the pandemic with mask wearing.

Ben Graham

In John Quiggin's essay, he argues that the developed world's consumption levels are not maintainable and that they are responsible for the inequalities between the developed and developing worlds. Eventually, Quiggin asserts, our tendency to hyper consumer will lead us to the "limits of sustainability." This dystopian future, however, is preventable. If we adjust our lifestyle to use less energy and include more leisure, we can dramatically reduce emissions. Additionally, contrary to popular belief, we possess the technology to end human suffering and environmental decay. Although it will be difficult, developed countries can implement said technology to make the world a better place.

This article complements our other readings related to the interplay between economic development and sustainability. One section that I found particularly interesting was that related to the concept of "the advantages of backwardness," or the phenomenon where developing countries are able to leapfrog years of gradual technological advancement and go straight to modern technology. I have never heard of this concept before and am curious about its presence in the real world. I would love to read a case study of a certain country in which this effect took place. Also, does this happen for all types of technology? I feel that the author may be generalizing "technology" too much here.

This article is slightly dated, as it is from 2013. I would love to hear what the author thinks of the global situation today. Moreover, he thoroughly discusses the place of government in promoting sustainability. Given his remark that Romney's loss in the 2012 election was a "hopeful sign" that real change would be made, I cannot imagine he is super enthusiastic about Trump being in office.

Adelaide Burton

Ed Lake’s article covered an ambitious range of issues reminiscent of the UN Sustainability goals. His main thesis was that the eradication of poverty and climate change are synergistic, which isn’t news for us who’ve read the sustainability goals and thought about the connections between the goals. He uses the line “we can end world poverty without destroying the planet” but I’d argue that also we can’t save the planet without ending world poverty. Lake establishes many connections between poverty and carbon emissions, and in my head there's a relationship between absolute poverty with the “advantage of backwardness” and low environmental impact, transitional stages of wealth and infrastructure development and increasing environmental impact, and then the higher end transitions like electric cars and clean energy as the apex of both economic development and environmental-friendliness. It’s interesting to me that Lake pulls examples from all three of these economic points, like comparing the transition from hunger or undernutrition to sustainable food systems and a transition from diesel trucks to Teslas. Eliminating poverty is a tremendously daunting task, but making these connections between the transition out of poverty and its positive environmental externalities makes the ideas of development even more appealing.


As the World Bank Summary states, it is the poor and those in developing countries who will be hit the hardest when global warming intensifies and the world starts suffering from serious, visible environmental consequences. The furthering of global warming will lead to limited water availability, food insecurity, a rise in sea-level, destruction of ecosystems, and unprecedented social vulnerability (again, especially for poor people). The destruction of infrastructure, loss of jobs (as agricultural sites get destroyed, coastal areas go underwater, death of sea-life, etc), and generally poor human health will rob many people of their freedoms and their lives. Overall, "climate change risks undermining development and poverty reduction for present and future generations," which is highly alarming and concerning as a student learning about the importance of economic development. So what can be done about this, and can this scary and bleak future be prevented? John Quiggins thinks so and states that with continued efforts made with economic development and technological progress, we can solve both the climate change crisis and the poverty crisis with one stone. In fact, he believes that first world countries can reduce their energy use by 90%, all while increasing people's standards of living. Quiggins states that we have the technology to do this and that at this point, the question isn't "can we," but "will we?" And I totally agree with Quiggins: I believe that we are fully capable of cutting our gas, oil, and coal use by 90%, as insane as that number is. The problem is, I don't think that first-world countries (namely the USA) are up to the task...this answers the "will we?" question. Maybe I am being very pessimistic, but I just don't think that some first-world countries are up to the task of fixing climate change/poverty in developing countries. We saw in class that only a few countries are meeting the ~1% quota that they promised to spend on ending poverty. Heck, Trump quit the whole Paris Climate Agreement, and there is no guarantee that the next US president will be serious about climate change either... Shutting down coal, gas, and oil production for the sake of the planet will mean the loss of jobs, which will mean rallies and heat pointed towards whoever is responsible; will the US president or whichever leader tasked with this job be brave/responsible enough to do it? Many people in the US don't believe in the existence of Covid, so where is the guarantee that they will believe in climate change and be convinced to make their lifestyles sustainable for the planet? As nice as this would be, I don't believe that Quiggin's eutopia will be achieveable unless certain first-world countries find environmentally responsible leaders and implement attractive incentives for people to pursue for the sake of stopping global warming.

Katie Timmerman

What a great read! John Quiggin's article was an optimistic but real description of the sustainability and developmental options facing nations amidst today's changing environment. The author poses the future's potential social, environmental, and economic condition in terms of choices, and he expresses the choices that face us with a hopeful outlook. Solutions to both environmental and economic problems are in reality much easier than many might believe, but they'll still take purposeful effort and small sacrifices. Quiggins places this idea in a framework that really inspires the reader to take action and to have hope. Great improvements in both sustainability and in economic equality is possible, with the correct technology- and, of course, with the will. An interesting and surprising aspect of Quiggin's explanations and his proposed solutions for the current situation is his emphasis on leisure over consumption. I do feel that so much value in placed on consumption in the U.S., and that perhaps a reality check in regards to this "conspicuous consumption" would be beneficial. Of course, there must be a balance between consumption and leisure. But if, as a society, the U.S. could change its attitudes and its values to reflect the superiority of human wellbeing over physical goods, like the author suggests, powerful changes would happen. I liked the phrase at the beginning of the article, that "This world is enough." The sentence embodies that we have the resources and the technology that we need to provide for everyone, in all nations, and it's our responsibility to steward them wisely, intentionally, and humanely.

John Lavette

I found Quiggin’s piece both uplifting as well as concerning. I find it reassuring that we have the capacity to both reduce our impact on the environment while pulling a large portion of the world out of poverty. However, I find these facts concerning due to the recent policy prescriptions passed by our current administration. Undoubtedly, the solutions discussed by Quiggin will require international cooperation, so when a world leader such as the United States withdraws from accords like the Paris Agreement. A thought I had while reading the paper has to do with our discussion on Wednesday. When considering the future, it is impossible to predict the exact wants and needs as well as the technology of future generations. However, technological advancement can work both to reduce or increase our impact on the environment. While Quiggin points out the advancements in solar energy costs, our ability to access oil and coal reservoirs has also increased. With the development of fracking, we now have much more access to fossil fuels at a cheaper cost. This could provide carbon fuels at a cheaper price and further discourage the transition to more renewable resources. Even so, if we make our decisions based on the welfare of all people instead of conceding ourselves to the desires of those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.


Sustainability : An Economist’s Perspective by Robert Solow mentions that the title phrase, “has certainly become a buzzword. Since this paper was delivered in 1991, the term has become more divisive than ever. As some groups begin to associate the work with negative sentiments, this prevents coalition building and movement forward. In This World is Enough by John Quiggin mentions this lag in efforts toward stabilising the global climate and attributes it to “foot-dragging by major nations.” Most recently, the US, the second largest carbon contributor, failure to sign Paris Climate Accord hinders collective effort toward irreversible damage. Quiggin goes further to detail the, “rejection of climate science into a major front in the culture wars that dominate a tribalist approach to politics” This was most disheartening to especially coupled with the fact, “If we act decisively, there are no resource constraints to prevent a world population of 10 billion people from eating well and sustainably by 2050.” Solutions to the humanitarian crisis’ of world hunger and malnutrition among others are rooted in severe mis-distribution of wealth. So while capable of sustainable growth and consumption, powerful stakeholders prohibit us from doing so.

Andrew Frailer

I am commenting on the first article in which the author discusses primarily how we can transform energy and infrastructure and allow the poor to do better at the same time. One of the things that struck me as most interesting was when he talked about the advantages of backwardness. It seems that we have finally found one advantage that the poor may have (although, it is not an advantage to them so much as it is to the world as a whole). They don't have to necessarily go through the carbon development path that other developed countries went through, they are developing during a time when environmentally friendlier technology is available. I thought that this piece was full of fascinating information about what is actually feasible now. The fact that we would be able to cut auto emmissions by so much, just by implimenting the rules that are already scheduled to take place, and substituting some of our personal driving with public transit. Surely we have a long road ahead of us, especially with a president who believes that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese. It is going to take a joint effort led by the government, and consumers. This is one area where it is easy to see just how important policy and institutions are as far as sustainability and development are concerned

Joey Dickinson

Quiggin's piece has me reflecting on our previous conversation about culture. His argument largely centers around the fact that developed countries are unwilling to devote the time, energy, and resources in the short term to both ensure that future generations are left with similar or better capabilities than we currently have (I'm very curious about his paper that argues that we could sustain a 15 hour workweek by 2060!), but to also provide for those in developing nations or who are otherwise experiencing poverty in the present. This is obvious as Quiggin continually returns to the 'We CAN do it, but WILL we?' motif. However, Quiggin points out toward the end of the piece that Americans, on average, feel that foreign aid should be "reduced" to ten percent of the government budget. So, if Americans view this level of foreign investment as acceptable now, perhaps we ARE willing to devote the resources necessary to ensure equitable access of consumption, both now and intergenerationally. Of course, this number is based on a serious misunderstanding of how the government budget is allocated, BUT if there is this serious of a misunderstanding, perhaps our policy is not actually reflective of our culture; perhaps it is not, as Quiggin points out, an unwillingness to sacrifice resources and living standards (I say sacrifice hesitantly, as I'm not sure that the level of consumption that Quiggins compels us to give up is that severe in contrast to the cruelties of poverty experienced globally), but a system that not only fails to reflect the morals of its citizens, but also fails to educate them on how the system actually works. That is to say, that if Americans had a fundamental understanding of how our government spends its budget, and took even a beginning ethics course (or, perhaps people are so fundamentally good that this latter big wouldn't be necessary), I think we would have a population more than willing to make the 'sacrifices' required of them in order to ensure these sustainability and development goals. There are so many ways to think about this ethically-- we can think about Sen's developmental freedoms as being expanded, not only for those lifted out of poverty or for those in the future able to live on a planet that is still alive, but for those now who would no longer be forced into exposure to so many pollutants; those that would be able to afford food; even those in already developed nations would eventually experience a shortened work week. We can think about this from a Singer perspective-- the sacrifice of say, not eating out for a few years in order to ensure equity is certainly a sacrifice worth making; we can think of this from the point of view of Rawls, and ask ourselves if we were to not know where we would come out on the other side when building an ideal society, not only socioeconomically and geographically, but intertemporally-- any way we choose to think about this, I think there's a really clear answer, and I think that the reason we're not, as Quiggins says, 'willing' to make those sacrifices is because we live in a system that we don't know enough about and that isn't working for the majority any longer.

Jackie Tamez

I found Quiggin’s paper to be a great resource fusing the concepts of sustainability and economic development, especially in light of our current situation. Particularly, Quiggin mentions that the technological need for many kinds of travel has already disappeared as a result of the internet, video calls, and other innovations, which obviously has positive effects on the environment. This made me think about how this phenomenon has been particularly evident due to COVID restrictions. I remember that the first few months of quarantine, the media was sharing before and after photos of different landscapes across the world- with the after photos being much cleaner due to limited human interaction. Is it possible that we will continue to encourage a lifestyle that is more mindful of environmental impact and discouraged unnecessary activity, now that we’ve seen its potential? How will we get every global citizen to care about this enough to sacrifice one’s own leisure activities? Will the tactic used to reach that goal be fear or motivation? During our previous class, I mentioned how the Washington Post shared a photo on social media (a promising vehicle for raising awareness amongst younger generations) displaying a large digital clock on Manhattan’s Union Square with time left until climate change had irreversible impacts that were impacting human existence. Professor Casey brought up how this fear tactic was problematic, which I hadn’t really considered before because I thought that incorporating a sense of urgency would incite quick action. Another interesting point is that Quiggin also believes that there is no point in drawing up a utopian vision if it can be realized only in one part of the world, leaving the global poor permanently locked out. Nonetheless, that is unfortunately not the same mentality others have towards this issue. Our book highlights several actions that developed countries (although less impacted than poorer countries, hence less likely to care about) can take to mitigate this issue, some of which include funding research, proper pricing, cash transfer/incentive programs, collaborative trade policies, to encouraging debt-for-nature swaps. Ideally, we will see an international accord incorporating several of these strategies sooner rather than later in order to achieve sustainable economic development.

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