Not considering a Plan B is irrational and dangerous

Sigrid Stagl was the first person in the world to be awarded a PhD in the new field of ‘Ecological Economics’. In this interview, she talks about the dilemmas of her discipline, false incentives, and the role of economic growth.

Professor Stagl, in 1999 you were the first person in the world to be awarded a doctorate in Ecological Economics. What’s the difference between Ecological Economics and ‘normal’ Economics? Stagl: We refer to a ‘preanalytic vision’ as being the starting-point… read more

The contribution we’re making to society is improving all the time

Gerhard Wotawa’s calculations became headline news overnight following the Fukushima reactor disaster in Fukushima. Here he talks about the benefits of Earth observation systems, and his experiences of the media.

From 2000 to 2009, you were an Atmospheric Science Officer at the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), at its head office in Vienna. What is the organisation there to achieve, and what was your role there? Wotawa: The… read more

First emitted, then compensated

Forest versus air travel: with its carbon dioxide compensation project, Vienna University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences is demonstrating what sustainability can look like for institutions in practice.

For Vienna University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, the issue of sustainability is a constant companion – both scientifically, and in its teaching. “For us, though, it’s not enough for a university just to research and teach sustainability,”… read more

How sustainable are protected areas?

One in every four square metres of ground in Europe is now in a protected area. But what do these areas actually contribute to sustainability?

Some 25 percent of the surface area of Europe – and 12 percent of the world as a whole – is now made up of protected areas. But what do protected areas actually contribute to sustainability? Do they really do… read more

Going “beyond GDP”: the search for new ways of measuring the world

As long as the world is only measured by GDP, environmental disasters will remain useful events. But new prosperity indicators are now being developed to try and put that right.

The goal of sustainable development presents policy with a crucial problem: although pretty well everyone is now in agreement that the Earth’s resources are not inexhaustible, policy still has to be measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) alone, and doesn’t… read more

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