Vol. 5, No.3, 13-32, September 2021
The end of agency and the last man
Authors: Jarl KAMPEN
University of Antwerp, Belgium
Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Laurenc L. DE VITA, USA
Aim: In order to address the question whether a more sustainable society requires a change of purpose or a change of system, we must first resolve the issue of human agency. Is humanity free to choose its own destiny, or is humanity’s future determined by contingency of conditions and choices of the past?
Design / Research methods: On the basis of cumulated knowledge and carefully cited literature, we defend the thesis that human agency is at best a minor factor in the determination of the future even in the short term.
Conclusions / findings: We conclude that significant decrease of resources depletion and greenhouse gas production may sustain humanity in the middle to long term, but the proven lack of human agency allows only to predict the complete demise of humanity in the short term.
Originality / value of the article: We apply the method of dialogue to show historical points of focus with respect to the issue of human agency. This paper is of interest to those organizing projects of socio- and or geo-engineering, since it describes the likely limitations of agency in regards to social structure, and so implies that actions will always have unintended consequences, which will drive more actions.
Keywords: socio-engineering, geo-engineering, agency, climate change, systemic change, energy
JEL: O10, O21, O33, O35, P18, P28, P41, Q40, Q50.
Vol. 5, No.3, 33-50, September 2021
Economic models to evaluate energy costs: Are externalities and energy accounting the answer?
Author: Les DUCKERS, Tom ROGERS
Coventry University, UK
Aim: In the context of climate change this paper explores the value of models for evaluating energy costs by considering energy accounting and externalities instead of capitalistic economics.
Research methods: We test the hypothesis that the conventional economic model of the energy market can lead to inappropriate choices, and that those choices may be environmentally damaging. We examine energy accounting (energy return on energy investment), embodied energy and the incorporation of external costs as more valuable economic models.
Findings: This paper reviews existing economic tools and examines modifications, which, when applied to energy provision or efficiency and conservation of energy applications, may give more accurate information about investment, return and environmental damage. Energy accounting of schemes should be a preliminary requirement for all proposed energy schemes. Externalities are less readily applied, but as the costs associated with renewable energy are becoming competitive in conventional economic terms, they are less valuable than energy accounting.
Value of the paper: The paper concludes that a preliminary assessment of a proposed energy scheme should be undertaken using energy accounting and external costs to determine the true energy value. These models could be used to select the best environmental option. Indeed “energy uneconomic” schemes, which cost more energy than they deliver, should be abandoned in order to avoid unnecessary environmental damage. After this process, legislation and fiscal measures such as taxes and incentives could be applied to satisfy social and political imperatives. Examples of energy accounting in insulation and consideration of external costs in a proposed strategy to replace fossil-fuelled electrical generation in Indonesia are included in the paper.
Limitations: We have not considered the serious question of finite fossil fuel resources and feel that this would be a profitable line of research.
Keywords: Embodied energy, energy accounting, externalities, renewable energy
JEL: F64, H23, L71, L72, Q40.
Vol. 5, No.3, 51-68, September 2021
The emerging threats and opportunities for implementing nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and sustainable development goal 7: policy insights from sub-Saharan AfBuilding certain knowledge based on the intention to consequence gap in uncertain surroundingsrica and Malawi
Author: Tadeusz GOSPODAREK
WSB University in Wroclaw, Poland
Aim: Develop a methodological approach to reduce uncertainty of knowledge necessary for decision making in quick changing surroundings.
Research methods: The research method is heuristic supported by the research programme in Lakatos’ sense, specially designed for these purposes based on the good paradigm of minimization the intentional consequential gap (ICG).
Findings: The ICG is an interesting object related to the “is-ought problem” in Hume’s sense, representing the difference of resulting consequences and achievements of the intention after its realization. Any kind of minimization of the ICG may be recognized as a good paradigm in Kuhn’s sense suitable to build certain knowledge in the uncertain surroundings. So, it is the base of research programme in Lakatos’ sense which is a kind of filter for certain judgements about facts. It is crucial for decision making processes based on uncertain information and knowledge. In this paper a methodology of introduction the research programme based on the minimum ICG is presented.. Currently this method of inferring may be used for building the certain knowledge about rationality of decisions regarding dealing with COVID-19.
Value of the paper: The paper presents an original method of setting the criterion of rationality of any social projects and some axiological evaluations of, among other things, prognoses and strategies.
Keywords: intention to consequence gap, knowledge, uncertainty, system approach, economic state, paradigm, research programme, game theory approach.
JEL: D81; P40
Vol. 5, No. 3, 69-90, September 2021
The impact of rivalry and excludability on Personal Social Responsibility regarding transport behaviour – a pilot study
Author: Monika PARADOWSKA
University of Wrocław. Poland
Aim: While transport systems play a crucial role in socio-economic development, its expansion has serious environmental impacts. Reducing rivalry in use by supporting public transport, cycling and walking, as well as exclusion of car users are popular instruments to support sustainable transport. While such policy (external stimuli) may lead to positive impact in the short run, a change in attitude of transport users may be necessary in order to long-term sustainable transport. This attitude change is related to Personal Social Responsibility (PSR), relying on the education of a conscious and responsible society and influencing individual transport choices of individuals. The purpose of the paper is to examine the impact of modifications of the levels of rivalry and excludability in the access to transport systems on the development of Personal Social Responsibility in terms of sustainable transport behaviour.
Design/ Research methods: Based on literature review, a survey was developed to provide an answer to the main research question: To what extent do changes in the urban transport system supporting sustainable transport have an impact on transport behaviour? The following elements of Personal Social Responsibility are considered: aware and voluntary transport choices, state-of-well-being resulting from choices, environmental and social impact, and being a good example to others
Conclusions/findings: The respondents observed numerous changes in the elements of the Wrocław transport system they use (Wrocław is a large city in the South-West of Poland), mainly related to the development of road infrastructure. The level of competition between individual transport users remained largely unchanged or slightly decreased, to the benefit of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. Only 26.21% of the respondents declared a change of the most frequently used means of transport, with half of them choosing to drive by car, and half – by public transport. These changes were not related to concerns about ecology, the local community or awareness of doing good for people and the environment. Therefore, it can be concluded that they resulted from external stimuli affecting private benefits not related to the development of the PSR.
Originality/value: While international research in the field of the field of sustainable mobility focuses mostly on factors impacting sustainable transport choices and the effectivity of different instruments of sustainable transport policies affecting the factors considered most important in transport choices, this study shows that even when changes in the intensity of rivalry and excludability in transport systems for different users lead to required changes in transport behavior, this does not necessarily result in the development of PSR elements that would overall support the social transformation towards sustainable transport development.
Keywords: transport behaviour, personal social responsibility (PSR), rivalry, excludability, sustainable transport
JEL: Q01, R41, R48