Why bother with Max Weber? PDF Print E-mail
Opinion
Written by Wijnand Boonstra   
Thursday, 27 September 2012 11:35

“Why bother with Max Weber?”

An invitation to classic sociology

Some time during my first weeks at the Stockholm Resilience Centre I was making photocopies of a book called “The pattern of the past. Can we determine it” written in 1949 by Pieter Geyl. The book was a first hard copy edition dug up from the Stockholm University library depository, and looked ancient. While I was busy my colleague Per Olsson came in, saw what I was doing, smiled and remarked: “You social scientists still read the old stuff!”.

It can indeed be remarkable for natural scientists to see that social scientists still read and refer to literature that is 100 or more years old. These ‘classics’, as they are called, typically include the work of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber, but also smaller giants like, for example, Alexis de Tocqueville, Herbert Mead or Georg Simmel. To my mind the only really old work that natural scientists occasionally refer to is “The Origins of Species”. Per didn’t ask me then, but must have been thinking – is reading old stuff really worth the effort? I mean these books are obscure, incomprehensible and thick. Not exactly favorite bedtime reading….

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IUCN world congress - the Olympics for nature. PDF Print E-mail
In brief
Written by Marcus Öhman   
Friday, 07 September 2012 11:48

This year is the year of the Olympic Games. There is also an Olympics for nature. Every fourth year IUCN organise a world meeting. This year it is held in Jeju, Korea. For ten days important agreements and new initiatives will be put forward to improve how way manage nature. More than 4000 people were present at the official opening ceremony of IUCN’s Congress representing 175 countries. Stockholm Resilience Centre is present at the congress and will organise a session on Planetary Boundaries on Monday 10 Sep in room 303 at the conference center. Please visit: http://portals.iucn.org/2012forum/?q=1448

 

 
IUCN world congress - the Olympics for nature. PDF Print E-mail
In brief
Written by Marcus Öhman   
Friday, 07 September 2012 11:43

This year is the year of the Olympic Games. There is also an Olympics for nature. Every fourth year IUCN organise a world meeting. This year it is held in Jeju, Korea. For ten days important agreements and new initiatives will be put forward to improve how way manage nature. More than 4000 people were present at the official opening ceremony of IUCN’s Congress representing 175 countries. Stockholm Resilience Centre is present at the congress and will organise a session on Planetary Boundaries on Monday 10 Sep in room 303 at the conference center. Please visit: http://portals.iucn.org/2012forum/?q=1448

 
Small-scale fishing in the Baltic. What keeps them going? PDF Print E-mail
News
Written by Emma Björkvik   
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 20:32

 

We continue with the second part of our mini-blog series on what keeps fishers going in the Baltic. This post is by Emma Björkvik, another student of Stockholm Resilience Centre researcher Wijnand Boonstra

Small-scale archipelagic fishing in Sweden and the Baltic Sea is today an occupation that is close to extinction. The trend in fishing, just as in many other businesses, has been to grow bigger. Despite this overall trend of intensive and extensive growth, e.g. fishing with more effective gear and with bigger boats, there is still a group of fishers fishing in the archipelago of the Baltic that are relatively small-scale. What keeps these fishers fishing, and why? To find answers to these questions I took the bus from Stockholm to Västervik during a sunny week in May to meet three small-scale eel fishers. My aim was to learn more about their lives as fishers, their motivations to continue fishing and factors that had an impact of their way of fishing.

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Quarter of world’s freshwater used to grow wasted food PDF Print E-mail
Numbers
Written by Fredrik Moberg   
Thursday, 30 August 2012 11:15

It's the World Water Week here in Stockholm and among many important topics discussed under the week's thematic focus "Water and food security", the reduction of food waste came into focus early. It was described as "the smartest and most direct route to relieve pressure on water and land resources" by Torgny Holmgren, executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute, at the opening of World Water Week.

This food and water waste is the result of a very ironic situation. Whereas over 900 million people suffer from hunger, 1.5 billion people overeat and over one-third of all food is lost or wasted. “More than one-fourth of all the water we use worldwide is taken to grow over one billion tons of food that nobody eats. That water, together with the billions of dollars spent to grow, ship, package and purchase the food, is sent down the drain”, said Torgny Holmgren, in a press release.

Over 100 sessions take place throughout the week, discussing different solutions to ensure that the planets limited water resources can meet the needs of growing economies and support a healthy global population. They also deal with innovations and successful practices to provide clean water and safe sanitation to the over two billion people who live without sustainable access to these basic services. Half of the cases of malnutrition worldwide result from illness and infection from dirty water or unhygienic sanitation.

SDU's collaborating partner Stockholm Resilience Centre organises and takes part in several sessions during the week, for instance today's (August 30) Water Prize Seminar "Food for Billions: The Need for a Holistic View".

The World Water Week is an annual meeting place for the planet’s most urgent water-related issues. Organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), it brings together thousands of experts, practitioners, decision makers and business innovators from around the world to exchange ideas and develop solutions.

Later today (August 30), the Swedish king Carl XVI Gustav will present the Stockholm Water Prize to the International Water Management Institute, IWMI, for their work to improve agriculture water management, enhance food security, protect environmental health and alleviate poverty in developing countries.

 

 
What keeps fishers fishing in the Baltic Sea? – In the Gothenburg Archipelago. PDF Print E-mail
Feature
Written by Maja Bergren   
Monday, 27 August 2012 13:10

 

First of all, welcome back to all our readers from summer vacations! Our first post for this season is by Maja Bergren, a student at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) that is supervised by Wijnand Boonstra, an SRC researcher that is conducting some fascinating research on power, culture and tradition in driving fishing practices in the Baltic.

 

Recently, I asked my friends and family what they knew about the Swedish fishing industry. They had all heard alarming reports about declining fish stocks and problems with the marine environment, but not many knew anything about the people that actually do the fishing. Certainly, nobody seemed to be aware that Sweden has a few, but very skilled, large-scale fishers on the west coast who are active in the North Sea as well as the Baltic Sea. With big and technically advanced boats they travel back and forth from their home harbours in Gothenburg to the basins around Bornholm, Öland and Gotland to fish either cod or sprat and herring. Their catches can be several hundreds of tons and the fish is sold within Sweden as well as exported to countries such as France and Japan.

It thus seems like these large-scale Swedish fishers play a quite significant role in the global and Swedish fishing industry, but still we know quite little about them. I got the chance to speak with a couple of them last May, when I was doing interviews for my internship at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

 

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Headway made on fishing discard bans PDF Print E-mail
In brief
Written by Albert Norström   
Saturday, 16 June 2012 13:33

Discarding is the practice of returning unwanted catches to the sea. In the EU, the rejected and often dead fish and shellfish that are thrown back do not have to be counted against quotas. As many as two-thirds of fish in some areas are thrown back dead into the sea, including half of all fish caught in the North Sea, according to some estimates. This is the result of the EU's common fisheries policy (CFP), under which fleets are awarded a quota of each species they may catch. When they catch more than their quota, or species for which they do not have a quota, they throw the excess back – but they are usually dead.

A proposed ban on the practice is now still on track to become law later this year. A strong showing of public support for the discards ban, orchestrated through social media sites on the internet, was thought to have played a major role in persuading EU fisheries ministers to stick to the ban.

"European fisheries ministers have at last bowed to public pressure and agreed to implement a series of bans that will effectively outlaw the controversial practice of discarding unwanted fish at sea. Provisional dates agreed by ministers at a tense European Council meeting in Luxembourg would see a ban on discards of mackerel and herring in place for 1 January 2014, while a phased ban on the discarding of cod, haddock, plaice and sole would be fully operational by 1 January 2018. However, these dates are now subject to negotiations within the European Parliament."

What worries me however are the vague and weak timelines, and there is a real risk that fish and fishermen are facing another 10 years of overfishing and stock decline, with real consequences for species like cod, hake and tuna. We're not the only ones worried about this aspect. Campaigning chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall aired concerns that while the pelagic ban got the go-ahead with “a big political fanfare,” there would be a delay in the ban on discarding whitefish.

EU fisheries chief Maria Damanaki, the architect of the CFP reform proposals and the program to ban discarding, has conceded the outcome of the discard negotiations was a compromise, but was still a “workable” step in the right direction. She will nevertheless be wary that the proposed bans are pushed yet further into the future and that the strong political resistance doesn’t weaken her other recommendations for wholesale change.

 

 
Elinor Ostrom dies at 78 PDF Print E-mail
Numbers
Written by Albert Norström   
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 22:39

The news of Elinor Ostrom's (the only woman to receive the Nobel Prize in economics) death has sent shock waves in the sustainability science community. There have already been many touching and excellent obituaries, including in the NY Times and the Stockholm Resilience Centre website.

I think a lot of her ideas and work coalesce to a take-home message that can be summed up in a statement from a 2010 interview with YES! magazine, where Ostrom said in answering what her message to the general public would be, "Some of our mentality about what it means to have a good life is, I think, not going to help us in the next 50 years. We have to think through how to choose a meaningful life where we’re helping one another in ways that really help the Earth."

 

 
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