Two pieces of work have influenced economics - as we know it today, to the greatest extent. The two of them have circulated to the highest possible level among academics (and non-academics), even after being heavily critiqued. They were, both, often misrepresented, misinterpreted, and thus misjudged by many scholars and economists, as they are spontaneously interlinked. One is Hardin's (1968) the " Tragedy of the Commons" and the other is Darwin's " survival of the fittest" paradigm, explained in his famous book the Origins of Species(1871) and the Descent of Man. In this essay I explore the historic links between the two concepts and the rationale of their interlinkage, while elaborating the influence on Economics from a transdisciplinary perspective. I will elaborate that in spite of the “tragedy of the commons” and the often misrepresented "survival of the fittest" - underpinning neo-classicism, human societies have managed to create innovative approaches to cooperate and manage common resources efficiently, that we have become one of the most successful species on earth - so far (see IUCN red list on Homo sapiens), with a prospect to maintain a sustainable (and prosperous) future.View and/or download a PDF
This paper critically discusses how different economic valuation methods can be used to measure the benefits of halting deforestation
in the Brazilian Amazon.
Four different valuation methods are discussed: the replacement cost to measure the value of carbon sequestration and biodiversity maintenance, the contingent valuation method to measure the value of better protection management, the travel cost method to determine the recreational value of community-based ecotourism, and deliberate valuation as a way to understand the larger socioeconomic dynamics driving deforestation on agrarian settlements.
This paper concludes that the contingent valuation method should be preferred over the travel cost method and the replacement cost method for valuing the maintenance of crucial ecosystem services, like carbon sequestration and biodiversity in the Brazilian Amazon.
In addition to contingent valuation, group-based methods, like deliberate valuation, can help elicit deeper held values that Brazilian smallholder farmers have for the environment and consequently, make them engaged in more responsible trade-offs between agrarian development and maintenance of biodiversity.
This paper presents an overview of the role of different types of fungi in soil formation and functions.
Fungi species have been found to play a fundamental role in the formation, structure, and sustainability of agricultural (and terrestrial) soil. This role has been often overlooked due to the complexity of such contribution; bulked under the big banner of "organisms". Interestingly - as it may be, Fungi come in all shapes and sizes, and are not exclusively "micro". I argue herein that fungi have not received their due attention - as a separate kingdom from plants and animals, and as more inclusive than what the “microorganisms” term may stand for. I also argue that such attention is required for efficient soil sustainable management, restoration, and/or even “re-creation”. I have used desert truffles in the Middle East as a case in point for the paucity in soil fungal conservation awareness and explored the possibilities of using commercial fungi to enhance soil fertility and structure, with some suggestions in relation to the UK soil.
It has been infamously - and satirically, articulated that "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist" - Kenneth Boulding. Adding a "Cyberneticist" to the list - aiming at reversing the satire, this short paper is in support of the post-Keynesian neoclassical (potentially green) economics versus the Degrowth discourse - based on the laws of thermodynamics argument and the technological current and prospective (r)evolution.View and/or download a PDF
To address the decline in the pharmaceutical industry, there has been proposals of developing the business
model through adopting Open Innovation (Subramanian, 2014) approaches. I argue that engaging in co-funded
conservation projects involving market-based bio-prospecting (rather than the current bio-prospecting-as-a-tool-of-conservation
pattern), might actually be the missing link to make the pharmaceutical cycle work more efficiently for the
pharma entrepreneurs, and for the community. I argue that by adding conservation of biological and genetic
resources to the holistic business model, it will become circular, dynamic and potentially more viable,
as it allows the pharma entrepreneurs to have an input at the emergence point of discovery, and thus have
significant control over the sustainability of the process, while they also contribute to the welfare of
the community and get some public confidence back without compromising profit.
To address the decline in the pharmaceutical industry, there has been proposals of developing the business model through adopting Open Innovation (Subramanian, 2014) approaches. I argue that engaging in co-funded conservation projects involving market-based bio-prospecting (rather than the current bio-prospecting-as-a-tool-of-conservation pattern), might actually be the missing link to make the pharmaceutical cycle work more efficiently for the pharma entrepreneurs, and for the community. I argue that by adding conservation of biological and genetic resources to the holistic business model, it will become circular, dynamic and potentially more viable, as it allows the pharma entrepreneurs to have an input at the emergence point of discovery, and thus have significant control over the sustainability of the process, while they also contribute to the welfare of the community and get some public confidence back without compromising profit.View and/or download a PDF
Approximately one third of all food that is produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which equates to roughly 1.3 billion tonnes each year. This figure in itself is bad enough, but put in the context of rising food demand from an increasing global population (and an increasingly developed population) this figure is scary. There are numerous sources of wastage, from households and consumers, to the producers and wholesalers. But somewhat lost in the mix is food wastage from the hotel industry. According to Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP) the UK hospitality and food service sector produces approximately 920,000 tonnes of food waste annually, of which 75% is avoidable and could have been eaten. The Scottish hotel industry produces approximately 79,000 tonnes of food waste annually, which is equivalent to 1 out of every 6 meals served being thrown out. This project seeks to address this issue, both to help reduce the effects food waste has upon the environment, but also to help the hotel industry adapt to become more sustainable. This project involves the monitoring of food waste produced from the kitchens of three hotels located across Scotland. The food waste was segregated into different categories; 1) Plate waste, 2) Spoilage, 3) Preparation and 4) Prepared not served. During the project, meetings were held with the general managers to suggest prevention/reduction measures in an attempt to reduce the quantity of food waste produced. The hotels managed to save a combined £5,440 and reduce their emissions by 5,520kg over the course of the project. These imply annual savings of £21,759, and 22.7t C0₂e. This report aims to act as a guide for hotels wanting to reduce their food wastage, as responses to the questionnaires that took place before and after the project with the general managers and head chefs highlighted potential barriers to food waste reduction, and identify key tips.View and/or download a PDF
Ecologically and economically, the Fungi kingdom is of an immense value and is necessary for sustainable life on the planet. There are six kingdom classifications of life - with Fungi classified as a kingdom of their own. Taxa of Kingdom Fungi are diverse, and as the second largest group of organisms-after insects, are distributed among numerous groups of living organisms. Technological advances in molecular research have enabled mycologists to discover and identify fungal taxa. It is estimated that as many as 1.5 million fungal species exist. Fungi are ubiquitous for ecosystems; undertaking many roles both independently and in association with other organisms. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the last decade has recognized that fungal conservation is important for plant and animal conservation, and has asked governments worldwide to pay much more attention to conserve fungi. The biodiversity and conservation of fungi and public perceptions in NA - especially in Egypt, remains very low, and a lot of education is urgently needed. This work has to be considered as an important contribution to the nature conservation program in Egypt. One important theme is the sustainable use of fungal resources, enforcement of legislations and conventions concerning the fungal diversity in different habitats in Egypt. Environmental education is an urgency in the activity concerning fungal conservation and application of appropriate protected area-management systems. There is a need to separate fungi from plant kingdom in educational courses in Egypt and to integrate mycodiversity and conservation into the science and environmental curricula and extra-curricular activities. Egyptian mycologists have a responsibility to communicate and discuss these issues to the public and politicians. This is a very challenging task, as even the scientific communities often overlook the importance of fungi and their fundamental role in conservation, recycling and protection of ecosystems. Capturing the attention of Egyptian politicians is even more difficult as Egyptian legislation is strongly focused on protecting habitats of animals and plants; ignoring fungi. Governments, communities and individuals all have stewardship responsibilities for protecting biodiversity including fungi. While the state of legislative fungal protection in Egypt remains largely unchanged, there is at least slow progress in the areas of recognition and knowledge of fungi. In Egypt, fungi are ignored due to their treatment as a part of flora. The number of the Egyptian fungi recorded is 2420 taxa - exceeding the Egyptian plants', after an exhaustive revision of all the available literature and sources mentioned since 1813. Some threats for Egyptian fungi can already clearly be identified: Loss of habitat due to overgrazing, medicinal plant collection malpractices, climate change, human population growth, pollution of water resources including the Nile river, bioprospecting and the fragility of desert ecosystems. In most cases in Egypt, however, the scarcity of information about fungal populations makes conservation status evaluations beyond “data deficient”, difficult or impossible. The Egyptian strategy right now should consider the paramount importance of fungal species for biodiversity. On participation in the preparation of the the National Strategy and Action Plan for Biodiversity Conservation in Egypt, I recommended five major interventions. In 2016, Abdel-Azeem declared the Egypt’s National Fungus Day with the unlimited support from the CBD, IUCN and mycologists and he founded the Egypt’s Mycologists Network (EMN) as a structured network of Egyptian mycologists and with a steering committee to guide and promote best practices, and to solve such problems through collaboration between mycologists, amateur fungal groups, fungal conservation societies, regional natural parks and environmental agencies.View and/or download a PDF
Protecting the environment and halting the depletion of natural resources - while intensifying food yield to feed a growing global population, require alternatives to excessive application of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. Interdisciplinary holistic research, complementary to discovery science, is needed to explore linkages between relevant, but different, knowledge domains and constituencies of crop production. This paper explores the opportunities and challenges of managing the rhizosphere's biota through controlled application of fertilisers and mycorrhizal fungi, from a technical point of view linked to several environmental and socio-economic factors governing the agricultural system. It highlights the need for dynamic soil modelling and research, systematic food-wastage management and integrated farming approaches as potential strategies for sustainable intensification of food production. The role of earthworms as soil 'engineers',in relation to mycorrhizal fungi and the C-N equilibrium is also highlighted. A laboratory experiment was conducted over six weeks to examine plant growth and P availability in the rhizosphere, in the presence of mycorrhizal fungi and 2% worm cast. The treatment which received the combination of both organic fertilisers and conventional NPK application resulted in more than 137% fresh-weight enhancement, or 91% dry biomass enhancement in compared to the control. There was also a significant enhancement in P availability in the rhizosphere in the treatment with the P-efficiency capsule, specially designed for this experiment. Roots stained with Trypan Blue were examined microscopically to observe arbuscular mycorrhizal colonisation, and colonisation was found in all treatments, in more or less visible abundance. Data on social aspects of food production and soil nutrients were gathered from peer-reviewed literature, relevant popular Google searches, reliable media sources, popular YouTube educational videos, social media, and surveying 20 allotment-holders in the Edinburgh area. Data indicated an appreciation of legumes as a basic crop by 100% of allotment‐holders surveyed, but less awareness of the value of biological inoculants such as mycorrhizal fungi, in efficient soil management. Overall, the paper stresses the importance of completing the food production loop through managing nutrients flow in the rhizosphere component of soil ecosystems.View and/or download a PDF