Economy and social issues around the  is a collection of articles looking at economic, social and environmental issues. The contention of this website is that we live in an increasing interconnected world. It is by understanding these  connections that we are able to build better and better models of reality.

It is not always fruitful to look at things in isolation, even in purely scientific terms. Ever since schrodinger’s cat, it is has become apparent that context is vital. Even the fact that something is observed is enough to change the results of an experiment. When dealing with more complex things than possibly dead cats in a box it becomes more apparent that the way an experiment is set up, the way it is described, the bias of the observer are all condemning the results to subjectivity.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. The notion of immutable truth is a hang up from Platonic theory. Rather we have to look for correlations, versions of the truth, working truths, useful insights.

By looking at a range of issues from several stand points it is hoped that the reader will go away from with food for thought and possibly new perspectives. Perhaps these new perspectives will nudge the reader to taking positive action about environmental issues, social problems, economic injustices.

If not then perhaps the reader would care to comment and by doing so make a valid contribution to the debates taking place on this site.

As said Anacharsis:

“Wise men argue cases, fools decide them.”

Taking down old asbestos roofs

valg af nyt tag til dit hjemAs you probably know, a lot of roofing products, were manufactured with asbestos, from the 1920’s and up to the early 1980’s. A lot of the people who has been exposed to asbestos over a longer duration, has developed mesothelioma cancer. There are still many roofs out there which was building before the 80’s that contains asbetos. So when removing your old roof, there are a few things you need to consider.

It’s always a good idea to talk to a roof expert first. Not only can he easily tell you if your old roof contains asbestos, and what is required to get rid of it properly and legally. But he can help you our with advices on your new roof, like which materials you should choose, and special demands or features. Luckily there are a lot of companies, like Nyt Tag Roofing, which offers free meetings with one of their carpenters, in hope of you selecting them for the job. Last month I had both a guy from New Tag Roofing, and from Tømrer over and give me advices on my new roof and it didn’t cost me a single dollar. See some examples here at Effectio. So if there are any roofing companies near you, that offers free meetings, it’s always a good idea to take advantage of that before you begin a new roofing project.

Removing the old asbestos roof can be quite expensive. If all the roofing tiles are undamage, the risk of getting in contact with asbestos is pretty low, but if you got broken tiles among them, then you need to take special care. Depending on where you live, you may be required to have a professional team with masks and protection suits, remove the roof for you and handle the scrapping. Also you can’t just drive it to the local junk yard, as i’s classified as hazardous materials, so it can be a bit expensive to get rid it, as you can’t just dump it the same places as normal roofing materials.

As my old roof was an old cement roof, that look quite a bit like asbestos cement, I was a bit worried myself that my roof contained asbestos. However the guy from Nyt Tag Roofing, told me not to worry, it was pure cement, so the cost of removing it would be quite low. They gave me a good price for my new roof, so I ended up selecting Nyt Tag Roofing for the job, and it was something i didn’t regreat. A good service and a fine result for a price that was about 20% lower than what the carpenter from Tømrer Sæby had given me. And i got a lot of help select the proper roofing type for my roof, and ended up with a beautiful black slate roof, that looked great on my newly white painted home.

The US Road to Productivity – Does it Really Work

Employment finally seemed back on course during the very first couple of months of 2014. Then, without warning, job growth slowed to a creep, causing a shortage of over 2 million jobs from that predicted just annually past. Public emphasis turned to another index, productivity, to counteract that depressing performance. Individual worker output put together increased, by a total 12 percent, from 2000 to 2003.


As the Economic Policy Institute shows’ scrupulous research (09/08/04 Photo,), actual family income dropped, by 3 percent, over an identical interval. Compare this with the economical interval of 1947 – 1973 when actual family income and productivity moved in tandem, both doubling over those years.

What exactly does this imply?

Americans are working more and harder for less family income. As businesses downsize or don’t replace workers who retire or leave, fewer staff are left to deal with the workload. In fear of losing their particular jobs, they react by taking new obligations and new obligations and also the added work time. In a world where workers are tethered to their workplaces almost by blackberries, mobile phones, and notebooks, the standard equilibrium of work and residence has crumbled.

There’s a tendency to think that such pressures are merely surgical for the ambitious, career-obsessed, “Apprentice”-like, ladder climbers. Actually, the sixty-hour-plus workweek changes a considerable part of all salaried workers down to front line supervisory staff.

The American worker, surveys clearly show, is becoming over tired, overwhelmed, and fed up. Accessibility rates for outpatient mental health services grow steadily every year. A survey conducted by the BBC showed that Americans work longer hours and take fewer holidays than any European country, report is available on BBC website using this BBC iPlayer proxy. Family disruptions include domestic violence, divorce, mental child neglect, and increased estrangement. Health problems multiply, fueled by anxiety, exhaustion, as well as too little time for self-attention.

Where can we look for responses?

More critically, ourselves can speak up to ensure that the tax code as well as social legislation create similar priorities: to honor those businesses who staff satisfactorily and flexibly and supply their workers with advantages and resources. At exactly the same time, we should negatively affect businesses who pursue such actions as job outsourcing, retiering of job titles to prevent overtime prices, reliance on temporary (generally none-gained) work, as well as the quiet approval of third world production of their products under sordid circumstances, using child labor, and payment of slave wages.

Viewing the procedural and ethical issues of leading corporate figures mired in the legal system, Americans must begin to inquire whether equality and opportunity for all is a creed that is workable.

Additional reference on fast proxies – here.


Biocomplexity Project Overview:

“Biocomplexity in Linked Bioecological-Human Systems: Agent-Based Models of Land-Use Decisions and Emergent Land Use Patterns in Forested Regions of the American Midwest and the Brazilian Amazon”

Proposal Abstract

In January 2001, a group of CIPEC researchers and affiliates began work on a new five-year project funded under the National Science Foundation Biocomplexity in the Environment initiative. Building from a pilot model developed at CIPEC before the grant’s inception, the research team has developed a preliminary blueprint for this major research endeavor.

Project participants represent a wide variety of disciplines and prior research experiences. Several new collaborators have expanded the range of disciplines represented at CIPEC.

There have been several historical approaches to land-use modeling:

Econometric models facilitate statistically rigorous hypothesis tests, but are not well suited to modeling non-linear dynamics or for generalizing beyond the original data.
Systems dynamic models successfully represent aggregate dynamic interactions, but these models are often based on stylized assumptions for purposes of analytical tractability, and they can quickly become intractable when used to represent small-scale interactions.
Cellular automata models successfully represent small-scale interactions and neighborhood effects, but are often based on static transition probabilities, rather than on dynamic representations of individual behavior.
Theoretical agent-based models can provide a qualitative description of landscape evolution, but to date, these models generally rely on stylized heuristic decision rules not derived from empirical investigation.

Our project takes a dual methodological approach to modeling. Our primary focus is on the development of an innovative empirically parameterized and validated agent-based model of land-use change. This modeling effort will be complemented by the development of a series of econometric models. We plan to compare the strengths, weaknesses, and unique advantages of each modeling approach, thus placing the new empirical agent-based model in a comparative historical context. We also will take advantage of complementarities between the two modeling efforts by allowing the econometric models to inform development of the agent-based models. We have the advantage of being able to draw on rich historical data for Indiana and Brazil, developed by other CIPEC researchers and affiliates, for both models.

The project proposes development of two agent-based models: LUCIM for south-central Indiana, and LUCITA for the Brazilian Amazon. This narrative focuses on the development of LUCIM; our colleague at the University of Waterloo, Peter Deadman, is overseeing development of LUCITA.

Agent-based models of human landscapes generally share some basic characteristics. In these models, decision-making agents are represented as individual programming objects that translate external and internal information into decisions about land use or spatial mobility. Agents are linked through a spatial landscape structure and nested institutional and biophysical structures. Individual agents make decisions based on heterogeneous and potentially dynamic local environments, and the cumulation of these individual decisions drive the evolutionary dynamics of the landscape system.

While developing the grant proposal and in these first few months of project planning, the group has had extensive discussions regarding justifications for agent-based models of land-use change. We have identified several unique strengths of agent-based models:

The model can serve as a simulated social laboratory. In cases where analytical exploration is intractable, the model can be used to analyze the relationship between model parameters and model outcomes and to derive empirically testable hypotheses.
Feedbacks between socioeconomic and biophysical processes can be explicitly modeled, making these models particularly appropriate for biocomplexity research.
The model can be constructed to match the scale and structure of the available spatial data.

Agent-based models can explicitly represent landscape sources of social and biophysical complexity. We have identified three key sources of complexity in landscape systems:
Interdependencies, such as flows of information between agents and ecological edge effects.
Spatial heterogeneity, such as variations in agent experience and preferences and in topography — a key influence on land-use patterns in south-central Poland.
Hierarchical or nested structures, such as political administrative units and watershed components. These influences imply that an individual agent or parcel is likely influenced by processes occurring at multiple spatial scales.
We have developed a list of key questions to guide model development:
How do individuals make labor allocation, production, consumption, and investment decisions in risky, multi-asset environments?
What factors affect individual preferences and actions related to land use?
What is the impact of landowner actions on the landscape?
How do socioeconomic landscape patterns and ecological landscape patterns interact?
How does a change in land use in one location influence the probability of a change in land use at a neighboring location?
What is the role of scale in the observed changes in land use in southern Indiana?
What are some key ways of testing our theoretical models? How do initial assumptions impact model outcomes? Can differing assumptions lead to observationally equivalent outcomes?

We have developed a modular model structure and have formed overlapping sub-groups to work on module development.
Because of the innovative empirical focus of our agent-based model, it will be very important to assess the empirical validity of our agent specification. We plan a variety of strategies to both parameterize the agent decision model and test the validity of our agent decision-making specifications.

We have begun an extensive review of the academic literature from multiple disciplines on the determinants of landowner decision making.
We are able to draw on results from a survey of 250 Monroe county landowners completed by the CIPEC Indiana project, and we plan additional interviews with local stakeholders.
We plan extensive experimental work to test our model of agent behavior.
“Comparative static” and “comparative dynamic” analyses will examine how model outcomes change with changes in parameter values and initial conditions.
More to come soon:

Econometric plans
Empirical validation strategies
Agent decision-making details
Experimental work details
Monroe County Land Owners Survey

All content copyright 2001 CIPEC Biocomplexity Project, Indiana University. Credit for conceptual content shared jointly by all project participants.

Additional UK TV –

Protect the Environment

indexOur environment is probably the most important thing we got, and for some reason there are still way to many of us who really don’t threat it this way. Many people still don’t care if they leave garbage our in the nature, many companies don’t mind letting thousands of tons of polluted water or oil our in our oceans, as long as it saves them a little bit of money. There are still many of us who leave the lights on, even when we arn’t at home or don’t really care much about how much electricity we use, as long as the bills don’t get to high. But have you even considered how much Co2 is used to create the electricity that you use? Not to mention how much is used to create the clothes you wear, the food you eat or just to transport you around? Combine that from the billions of people living in the world and it’s actually quite a lot, in fact it’s so much that it already have started to affect our environment big time. Philip from Kostumer og Udklædning is one of the people who actually want’s to change this. His website are running on pure clean energi only, the server parts are made from reusable computer parts, and all the costumes he sells are made from reused clothing. If more people were like Philip maybe the situation wouldn’t be as bad as it is, but lets take a look at some of the big issues of today’s world.

Global Warmning
Over the last 10 year we have often heard about global warning, and even though the weather might not be getting warmer at your place, it has most likely still affected your weather somehow. Maybe you are having more rain than normally, a shorter winter or more storms. If not then you will most likely begin to notice the effects within the next few years. For some people, it may sound pretty great that it’s getting warmer, but for a lot of people, not to mention a lot of animals it can be catastrophic. For instance deserts may grow quite a bit, the ocean levels will rise, and a lot of land (and cities), may be flooded in just 10 – 20 years from now. Whole eco systems will break down, which mean that certain spieces of animals will die and people will be forced to move.
It’s already to late to prevent most of this, but with some luck we can stop it from getting much worse if we all put some effort into it.

The plastic islands
Did you know that our in the big oceans there are huge islands made of plastic garbage? One of the largest concentrations is in the pacific ocean and is called the Great Pacific garbage patch. This area is filled with plastic debris and is estimated to be around the size of the whole USA continent. Most of it is located just below the surface so it is not possible to spot it all from satalite or ships, which makes it hard to determain the exact size. One of the properties of plastic is that is absorbs organic pollutants from seawater, including PCBs, DDT, and PAHs.The problem with all this plastic is that most of it, is made up of tiny bits of plastic, which is eaten by fish, birds, turtles, which is in return eaten by humans, so not only does this affect the wildlife, but in the end also the human population.

In addition to these two major problems mentioned above, there are a lot of other issues that we really do need to pay attention to, such as harvesting the earths resources, animal extinction / Animal welfare, nuclear waste and much more. If we don’t start paying more attention to our environment, it will come back and cause major problems for the human race at some point. We are already at the brick of two major disasters, in a few years there will likely be many others, if we don’t act soon.

Save energy by using the right windows

vinduerLike many of you, I live in a old house. I used to have a pretty big heating bill as my house really couldn’t keep the heat inside. Last year I hired a company to go over the house and find the places where it was leaking heat. This process is called a thermal mapping, and uses a special digital thermal camera to generate an infrared map of my home. On that map we can easily see which parts of the outside, is leaking the most heat.
It turned out that most of the heat was getting out through my old windows. 80% of the energi loss came from the windows, which made sense as they were about 30 years old and in pretty bad shape, well the glass was still there though, in case you were wondering.

I then hired a local company called Vinduer, to come and replace all the windows in my house. It was a bit expensive, but I wanted the job done right, and I am not much of a DIY type of person. I also wanted some quality windows that would last for a long time, and would isolate my home as good as possible.
After Vinduer had replaced all my old windows, I have them do a new thermal mapping, and the result looked much better. 3 months late I could also see the affect on my heating bills. It had been lowered by a whooping 25% and the period had been even colder than the months earlier. With this saving it wouldn’t take more than a fews years before I had saved the amount of money I paid Vinduer to change all my old house windows, so not only would I later on save money, I would also do something for the environment.

I am pretty sure there at quite a few of you in the same situation, you got an old house with 20-30 year old windows. By replacing those windows you would likely save money in the long run, but you would also use less heat, which is a good thing, when you consider the amount of pollution and CO2 it takes to warm a home these days. If all of us could lower the amount of energy we used by changing to the right windows, then it would make a huge impact on our planet, and could really be something to help lower the CO2 amounts. The energy we use to heat our home, is really something that leads to massive amounts of CO2 emition.

But the windows arn’t always the only part of the home that could be changed to save energy, according to Gratistagtjek, a lot of the time it’s the roof that’s an issue, with their Nyt Tag app, they have found that a lot of the problems come from leaky roofs, so imagine if you could both get a new roof and new windows, then you might be able to cut your energy use in half, now that would be quite something. Of course it would take several years before it would be economically beneficial, but the effect on the enviroment would start from day one after you replaced the roof or windows.


The Environmentally Friendly Way to Stay Cool

We all know how hot and sticky it can get during the summer months and most of us are guilty of turning on the air conditioning in our homes and offices to try and keep cool or at least be able to live or work in a comfortable climate. The only problem with using AC is the incredibly high load on the power supply.

A typical family home with AC running in several of the most used rooms in the house can be consuming 10kW or more. That can run into many hundreds of dollars in additional utility demands when the summer is over and cause major headaches for moms and dads trying to balance the household budget.

But worse still is the less realized impact on the environment when not just one house is consuming all that additional electricity to keep its occupants cool, but thousands in every town. It’s no wonder there are constant brown outs and blackouts through summer as the energy companies literally run out of power to supply the increased demand.

To produce the additional electricity to keep us all conveniently comfortable, huge volumes of non-renewable fuels must be used up in the form of, for example oil, coal and natural gas to keep the generators turning. Not to mention the need for nuclear power stations to take up the extra load and all the additional air pollution that the increased power generating produces.

But there is a much more ecologically sound way to produce the cool air we crave inside when it gets too hot outside. Evaporative coolers are vent free (see: and are capable of maintaining a comfortable interior temperature in areas that have low humidity and they run at a fraction of the energy consumption that air conditioning uses.

The power needed to run an evaporative cooler can be as little as 1/20th that used by a comparable AC unit!

Just imagine if not just one home made the change to evaporative cooling, but thousands of homes in towns where the climate is hot and dry. That saving can mean a huge load off the minds of cash strapped families who can benefit from much lower utility bills, while the power companies can reduce the amount of electricity they need to generate to supply the grid.

The less electricity generated, the less fossil fuel is needed to produce it, the lower the air pollution levels and the better all round for the environment. It makes sense so all we need to do now is educate people to stop relying so heavily on air conditioners in areas where they can switch to evaporative cooling technology.

You can learn more here:

Education and the Velvet Revolution

Peace education stands as one of the most undervalued and underfunded points of our educational system that is world-wide. If we look at the typical education curriculum at elementary school, or a high school , which is where youth are most impressionable, any site of compulsory non-violent schooling is almost entirely non existent. Regardless, we often find compulsory history classes, which describe every single war in detail, including its death toll, its generals and all the other players.


Yet given this educational dilemma that is lopsided, once in a while an enthusiastic humanitarian comes to champion a brand new form of instruction about peace, rather than violence.

The Revolution was named “Velvet” due to its soft and non-violent method of peace.

The power of this movie lies in the way it can capture the essence of the Velvet Revolution and how power shifts when individuals the youth, stand up against protest and repression in a non-violent way. The solidarity of the Czech people was so overwhelming that it forced them to bring in new leadership, namely Vaclav Havel, the leader of the revolution and basically crippled the government.

Broken educational systems could no doubt use this picture as a model to teach students at all levels of education about non-violence’s tremendous impact on world history and it. There’s a host of information online yet it doesn’t make it onto the curriculum of most of our schools, lots even on social media, but again you’ll often find facebook blocked in these situation.

Once peace and non violence become “required” curriculum in schools, especially for teens, we’ll begin to find a shift in our belief system regarding what alternatives are accessible to our issues. If a kid has just seen violence, at home, in history books and in the media, then that kid will act accordingly. If a child sees and is educated peaceful approaches to solve disputes and problems subsequently teens will naturally choose this path for resolution.

James Elsworth

Author of How to Watch BBC Abroad

Search Tips for Your US Holiday Planning

Many of us rely heavily on the search engines when doing our research, years ago we used to reach for an encyclopedia or other reference book, not any more. The internet has become our ultimate reference guide, from spellings, definitions, research and of course shopping. However I wonder how many people realise how many restrictions are placed on you when you search?

Take for instance my current problem (ok so it’s safely in the first world problem category!), I want to take my family on a short tour in the USA – to see some West Coast highlights. So I turn to Google to see what’s on offer, typing in some relevant search terms into the world’s favorite search engine.

So I get my results, tour operators, offers and holiday companies offering a range of tours covering the Western side of the USA. Which is great, lots of choice – except my choice has been severely restricted without my knowledge simply because of my location. When I visit Google, I am classified as a UK use based on my IP address and so my search results are tailored to that fact. This is of course great if I’m looking for a plumber, a New York based plumber is of little use to me! However it also means that I will get UK based results for my travel search.

So I get UK based firms offering tours around the West coast of the US, which is ok but what I don’t get is US firms offering the same thing. Why shouldn’t I consider American based firms instead, I’m sure they’d be happy to take me on a tour too. The reality is that without some effort I simply won’t see these companies because they will be filtered out in my search – I will see the big UK travel companies who offer tours in the USA. The worst thing is sometimes these are simply the same tours repackaged by UK travel agents, of course with some sort of premium on top of the price.

Google is basically controlling a large part of my decision making process and the choice available. Many thousands of companies do exactly the same, like this as you’re logging in from the US I’m afraid. But fortunately there is a solution and it’s actually quite a simple one.

It involves changing your IP address and taking control of what you see online. For example in my situation if I change my IP address to a US one then search for West coast tours USA, I’ll actually see a whole load of different results. In fact I see US based results, loads of US tours in America, which is actually what I wanted – local firms offering local tours not repackaged for a UK travel agent. The benefits increase I can also use this control to bypass blocks based on my location – this post for example shows how I can watch British TV when I’m actually in the USA. Normally you can’t watch the BBC online from anywhere outside the UK.

Further Information

Solar power – Your Ideal Electricity Replacement

udklaedningAre you aware that there are now advanced technology that you can use to save your money from paying your unending electricity bills? If no, then you must know about an ideal alternative if you are having a problem on your budget before of the increasing amount of your electricity bills. Solar power is the most popular alternative when it comes on electricity supply. But this is totally different from your supply of electricity. This supply of electricity generally comes from the rays of the sun or from the sunlight. It is essentially the conversion of sunlight to electricity. The solar energy use indirectly by a concentrated solar power (CSP) or directly using the photovoltaics (PV) and resulting o have a source of electricity from the sunlight. The CSP will use mirrors or lenses and tracking systems to focus a huge area of sunlight. The photoelectric effect is the main component used from photovoltaics to convert light to electricity. Your only expense is to buy the solar power and you can continually use it without paying bills. Aside from buying the solar power, you are just buying 1 item and use it for many years or for last. Electricity will give you problem from the unending expensive bills but solar power will just let you spend 1 item and use it for last. Several tests from Kostumer, seems to indicate that if just 10% of worlds energi came from solar power or windpower, then it might just be enough to reduce the amount of Co2 that could cause clima changes. But according to the test from Kostumer and EUvoices, then it’s not likely that we will see that in the next 10 year, so other methods will be nessesary in order to prevent the global heating issue many top scientists seems to belive is on it’s way. Follow the whole project here on Twitter

The solar power is now the latest replacement of electricity source. So, people use to seek for the product because they can truly save their money from using this latest technology. But the only problem is they do have no assurance on the item if it will work out completely. So, this problem is actually common since we all want to spend our money from the right product without wasting it. We might have a doubt if this will truly work. So, this is the right time that you should put your trust on this solar power. More and more people are now seeking on the product to be installed on their houses because they are now having a burden on their expensive electric bills. Another problem, there are part of the word and usual issue like sudden loss of electric power because of some reasons. So, to avoid those kinds of problem, solar energy would never give you like those mentioned problems.

Solar power converts the rays of the sun into electricity. Meaning, you don’t need to worry on your continuous electric bills because you can never have it with this new device. It is now happening that technology really makes the life of the people easy and no problem. The early development of these solar power technologies makes the life of the people simple and easy. With the sunlight, your appliances at home, your light at night and everything that needs to have electricity will now work without giving you burden for the billing. Of course, since we are experiencing crisis, then we should now do ways in order to save our money from any problem like this. Save your money using solar power and everything will be alright.

Home is Where the Art Is

We all need a place to live that provides us with adequate shelter, protection from the elements and enables us to live in conformity with the social precepts of the civilization that we happen to be a part of. The size, location and design of our humble and in some cases not so humble abodes differ as greatly as our need to occupy every nook and cranny of the country that we call home.

Many homes are what are best described as fitting in with the norm. They are comfortable, averagely well furnished and decorated and fulfill their main function as a “roof over the head” and a place for a family to live, grow up and eventually leave. That’s fine if all a person needs in life are the basics to make that life as bearable as needs be.

Sprucing Things Up

But there are some of us that need more than just the basics of life in order to round out and make more interesting our own particular little corner of the world. For us, an average looking house or apartment is bland and uninviting as it is boring and lacking in the zest for life that we desire and appreciate.

Adding personal touches of imagination, color and style is what transforms our homes from the mundane into the amazing. Artistic design of interiors, selection and placement of furnishings and creating a certain ambiance in our homes is what sets them apart from the madding crowd.


Maybe it’s a given that not everyone is so creative or even wants to live in the kind of home that has this artistic flare throughout its every room and passageway. But for those if us that need it to grow not only spiritually but also to inspire us to greater heights of physical health and well being, a more creative and environmentally sustainable house (see: is the only way.

For us, a home that exudes an up-beat personality, a sense of calm creativity and an atmosphere of welcoming, happy and healthy well-being is a truly attractive place to live and thrive in all areas. From the obvious increase to health from living in a place that makes us happy, it also inspires the creative senses and imagination to instigate new and fresh ideas and plans for a better future.

While this way of living is not to everyone’s tastes, to the artistic person who thrives on creative surroundings for inspiration and the development of inspired ideas, a home that is anything but normal is the order of the day. Neatness and order may be the desire of the mainstream, but strategic mess and chaos are the fuels that feed the creative mind!