Climate Change to Spark Economic Depression

air pollutionGiven overwhelming and robust evidence, the scientific debate on global warming is now closed and it is time for action which will require going beyond science to policy and advocacy formulation. A major new report [more | more2 | more3] by chief British government and former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern finds that the benefits of determined worldwide steps to tackle climate change far outweigh the costs, and that failure to make these investments will lead to “economic upheaval on the scale of the 1930s Depression”, costing “more than both world wars” while rendering “swathes of the planet uninhabitable” and turning “200 million people into refugees”. This is not alarmist doomsdayism – it is the best policy predictions based upon the current science. There are many ways to know climate change, science being important but just one of them. The report is the best policy document to date regarding likely apocalyptic social and economic outcomes of doing nothing to address the global ecological crises of which climate change is part and paramount.

“The chance to keep greenhouse gases at a level which scientists say should avoid the worst effects of climate change 'is already almost out of reach… the benefits of strong, early action considerably outweigh the costs'.” The report estimates stabilising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will cost about one per cent of annual global output by 2050. But if the world does nothing, it could cut global consumption per person by between five and 20 per cent. He suggested rich nations take responsibility for emissions cuts of 60-80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050. Further, a global carbon price was needed, affixing a clear cost to pollution, and this could be created through tax. And with only perhaps a decade to act with force, it is imperative that a Kyoto successor agreement is negotiated [more] as early as next year.

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11 Responses

  1. Joe Ellsworth says:

    Hi Garry,
    Global climate change does not necessarily have to cause depression. There are interesting ways to use the greenhouse emissions taxes to fund deployment of technologies that will cause regional booms while shifting large parts of economies world wide from a long term consumer economy to a long term capital economy which has profound benefits for the poor.
    I am willing to collaborate on follow up article so you can explain in layman terms what has taken me years worth of research to grasp.
    Thanks, Joe Ellsworth
    REPLY: If you read the articles you see the point is that it will lead to depression if NOTHING is done. Of course I agree that there are numerous opportunities to avert such an outcome, but it depends upon getting started in earnest now.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    Dear Doctor Glen,
    Thank you, man. This climate info is excellent, and very timely.
    I will be in a position soon to see that this information is heard by people in the private sector with the clout to make a difference.
    Best regards,
    Mike Roddy

  3. Brett Long says:

    Glen – the only answer – which will come too late is
    Face the fact that man has a clear choice – continue with the world
    economy to our doom -Or face IT – THE ECOMONY IS THE ENEMY – CAN'T
    The economy can not be protected – it must be scrapped or it will stop
    us moving quick enough to survive – the banks just print money now –
    there is not gold backing it – it is just an illusion of value

  4. Simon Donner says:

    Quite a concidence that this report was released the same day as the latest UN FCCC GHG emissions report, showing just how far Europe, Japan and Canada must go to meet their Kyoto commitments.
    A solid, thorough economic analysis of the impact of climate change is very necessary and welcome, but the Kyoto signatories need to show some progress in emission reductions to convince the non-Kyoto signatories like the US and Australia (and skeptics within Kyoto-signatory countries) that long-term emissions cuts are possible and affordable.
    Right now, the problem is both the Canadian and Japanese governments are wondering why they should bear the economic burden of rapid emission cuts to meet the Kyoto targets (if the rest of the world is not doing the same).

  5. Almuth Ernsting says:

    People might like to read a very interesting comment about the Stern Report on Mark Lynas's blog: . He praises the depth of research which has gone into report but points out that the economic 'recommendations' are for stabilising the atmosphere at 550 ppm of CO2- a level at which it will be anything but stable, and which will mean mass extinction and mass human death.

  6. Peter Walling says:

    Exactly Almuth, 550 CO2 equivalent will be a disaster. Unfortunately the press and governments still don't get it, although they're getting closer.
    Simon, Canada participated in two world wars without thinking about the economic repercussion. Canada just knew it was the right thing to do. It didn't wait for the U.S. either time.
    There is a moral imperative that Canada take drastic action on climate change. To hell with the decisions of others. If every country waits for the others, no one will do anything.

  7. People can yet make big money out of switching to renewable energy, But people are too selfish to make the first profitless move.
    They would rather see the place they live getting hotter and hotter than stop using the green house gas emitting energy . They would even rather die very painfully and very slowly with the earth than pay a higher price to buy renewable energy.
    That's mankind.

  8. I have a friend with a thousand acres of prime woodland. He says he would like to leave a Park. We need more individuals to make individual decisions. I am enjoying the higher level discussions though – even if I am not scientific in nature. I deal with death often as a registered nurse. The one. The all. We are all interconnected. xo Barbara

  9. Tony Harvey says:

    Neo-Liberal Capitalism & Climate Change
    I believe any hope that the problem of climate change can be solved within the existing economic framework of Neo-Liberal Capitalism will prove to be utterly unfounded. To try to put this right without rectifying the clapped out global financial system won’t work and environmentalists doing so will carry on coming up against a brick wall. They need to look at the way this system works and intellectually grow beyond the conditioning that economics and finance can only be understood by economists and financiers. Of course its true that they are doing something very useful in highlighting to the unaware the “elephant standing in the corner” but we’re all locked in to an international economic system that most effectively blocks substantial change. *New Para*
    Let me try to explain. The two main cornerstones of Western economies are usury and speculation. Usury in that the vast majority of money in circulation has been electronically created by the commercial banks, is called by them “credit” and is lent to Governments and individuals for quick profit not for a particular motive of world betterment. No-thing moves when electronic money circulates when you use your debit card, direct debits, cheques etc, when you get paid by bank transfer and when Governments borrow money- all that happens is that the drawer’s account data entry is debited (decremented) and the payee’s is credited, (incremented). So this money can be created at negligible cost to the banks because it is created and exists only as a DATA entry in our electronic bank accounts and is exchanged between them as such only. The stuff in your wallet/purse created by the Royal Mint for the Bank of England (whose revenue DOES accrue to the state) represents a tiny fraction of all the ‘money’ that exists, the vast majority originated as loans mostly created- yes, out of thin air- by the commercial banks under this “fractional reserve banking system”, circulates electronically between banks’ computers and the vast profit (interest) levied on all of us accrues to bankers not Governments. For more information on how this amazing system has evolved (which one could be forgiven for thinking has been deliberately designed with a main aim to enrich private financial elites) in the UK and many, many countries I refer you to the expert writings, monetary reform proposals and how you can protest- at and I think most people fondly imagine that when they press 'Balance Request' on the cash machine, the computer figure that comes back represents the amount of notes, coins and/or precious metals their bank holds for them in some vault somewhere! Even pretty low corporation tax is often avoided by the use of foreign tax havens, (At least £20 Billion total in the UK per annum avoided at 2003 figures- War on Want ‘Tax Havens Briefing’- The need for the continuing increase of the assault on the world’s resources substantially stems from the imperative of “economic growth” which is necessary to keep up with the ever spiralling overall interest payments due on the explosion in recent years of different types of loans created by commercial banks and other private interests. I read that this enormous growth in private credit has been allowed to occur with all its wanton increase in the consumption of resources and debt hardship because of outsourcing by corporations of huge amounts of skilled & unskilled jobs to developing countries with cheap labour and minimal regulations under globalisation (“corporate flight”). With the generally decreasing availability therefore of properly paid quality jobs, to make ends meet governments, public services (eg using PFI) and individuals in the richer (developed) nations have all had to be allowed to borrow more and more; Its only this explosion of credit that has been plugging the gap in our economies and postponing collapse. I recommend the reading of the website and books by the US professor of economics Ravi Batra who has a lot of hard hitting and extremely interesting things to say on this matter, *New Para*
    I refer to the ‘cornerstone of Speculation’ in that National economies and their populations are utterly dependant on the $2 Trillion or so (equivalent) that changes hands electronically every DAY- untaxed- around the world on the “financial markets” in search of speculative quick profit unrelated to any exchange of real goods or services. Utterly dependant because National Governments create hardly any of the money that is in circulation as I have already explained and they need to compete internationally to keep on attracting this privately created & transmitted globally mobile electronic money which has become the lifeblood of all our economies. Financiers and corporations increasingly trade IN money not WITH money, since deregulation in the 1980s- eg Removal of foreign capital exchange controls (and credit controls) which happened then. Why did we multi-nationally give up so much control over our economies then to those which to many might seem like a load of locusts? Are the ones (within the IMF, WB?**) who pushed our nations’ leaders to do this still in positions of influence? In this “liberalised” regime why create, innovate and trade in cumbersome goods when one can make far more far quickly and with far less risk just by moving money (data) and money instruments between computers around the world? Almost all the global financial institutions and even many corporations are at it, a parasitic activity. A “monstrous global casino” in the words of sustainable economics columnist Hazel Henderson. Any government that even publicly SPEAKS of restricting it, or taxing it, or significantly environmentally regulating the stock market listed business that it invests in, or getting off the absurd merry-go-round of competing with other nations to clamp down on corporation tax so as to attract employment and capital, or creating their OWN electronic (credit) money, or even threatening tax havens, faces economically disastrous capital flight to nations NOT doing so within hours on the trading computers on the stock markets and the derivatives computers of the international corporations and banks. You see how the financier oligarchy has got us all over a barrel? No Government dare even publicly consider democratically demanded change to the status quo. No corporation dare significantly reduce the current quick profit return to its international capital investors by SIGNIFICANT investment in alternative forms of energy & transportation as to do so invites a declining share price and capital flight to corporations not doing so. The intellectual economist Lyndon LaRouche in Executive Intelligence Review (see below) actually uses the term “Financier Oligarchy” referring to the way our ‘democracies’ are going under the economic & corporate globalisation model I have already described. If you think carefully about it you might realise that under neo-liberalism what we have is a global financial tyranny where essential human needs come second to nations being forced to compete with each other to make often fabulously wealthy owners of international capital- grow even richer- for no effort. Before anyone pulls the “pension funds” ‘old chestnut’ on me, let me retort that I recently heard on a BBC financial programme that only 20% of shares are owned by pension funds. A POSSIBLE SOLUTION to re-gain control over international capital and corporations by electorates and governments is proposed by “The Simultaneous Policy” at and I believe progressives might feel their strategy warrants participation. *New Para*
    Most mainstream media outlets are owned by stock market listed corporations. Does anyone believe such a corporation will allow SERIOUS debate in its pages or TV stations, of reform to the international financial system when it is this system that is the investment hand that feeds it, both owning the shares and placing the corporate adverts? Does anyone seriously believe that one example tabloid and TV/news station owning international corporation that currently pays no corporation tax in the UK by the use of tax havens will seriously allow such debate in its media outlets? I’m not suggesting columnists and editors are directly told what to say and what not to, but they know there are limits which they must not cross if they are to retain their jobs which are mostly in the form of shortish term renewable (or not) contract posts. And most of them seem never to have asked themselves what money really is, who creates it, who administers its circulation, who profits from it and why no Government of left OR right credentials strangely refuses to reinstate fair corporate taxation and environmental regulations ONCE IN POWER despite the obvious dire financial state of our public services, worsening annually, and the developed countries still paltry overall help to the developing ones whose populations are starving to death in their millions monthly for the want of the huge surplus of food per capita that exists worldwide (Some 10%- look up UN Statistics). It should be obvious surely that tax competition between nations, tax havens and private money creation is leading to a CHRONIC lack of money for foreign aid and public services for all our government’s sorry obfuscation that the latter need more “modernising”, ie. another round of cuts. The cost of running them is also being progressively shifted away from fast disappearing corporate tax revenue and onto individuals- by a proliferation of additional costs on them such as way above inflation council tax & public transport fare rises, extra speeding & parking fines, university fees, VAT on utility fuels etc. The neo-liberal free movement of capital & corporations is leaving the competing nations’ governments with a chronic lack of cash for public spending on virtually everything- from palaces to prisons. *New Para*
    I believe that “Planet Earth [environment] is in a sad and perilous condition while each day brings it nearer to the critical… [and] that even the most dire prophecy falls short of the calamity facing the world today. Few there are who see the immediacy of the threat and the urgency of the steps needed to counter it”, (this quote from Anyone who seriously believes that humanity can burn off gigantic amounts of carbon into the atmosphere daily over what will total to some 200 years (in the form of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels) that had been gradually accumulated beneath the earth over hundreds of MILLIONS of years, and while annually cutting down tens of millions of acres of atmosphere purifying tropical forests- all of this without incurring MAJOR upheaval and destruction to the earth’s life supporting natural climate systems- is conditioned and deluded indeed. *New Para*
    I believe that only a total and systemic collapse of the world’s financial system will bring humanity to its senses and- (even though I know this itself would cause major trauma for a while because we have allowed stock market listed corporations to take over most food and energy production and distribution worldwide)- it is my belief and hope that this is coming to pass. (I refer again to the writings of economics professor Ravi Batra). The men of money’s selfish greed and competition is over-reaching itself at long last and the frantic efforts to prop up the system behind the scenes are at long last crumbling. “The REAL economy has fallen out from under the markets which have been artificially propped up by accounting tricks, enormous and unpayable debt loads, and mass delusion on the part of the markets and the public” (John Hoefle banking columnist, and refer also to the writings of economist’s Lyndon LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Review for more information, The signs of the oncoming collapse are obvious for those who look beyond their own narrow interests and look below the surface at powerful people’s MOTIVES- not what they SAY but what they DO and WHY that might be- with objectivity. People who make the effort to READ & STUDY widely. Anyone who thinks that substantially unrestrained powerful people in today’s out of democratic control globalised capital/corporate world have not been manipulating to retain and enhance their own selfish interests, and who denounces those who highlight this as “conspiracy theorists”, is deluded and conditioned indeed. They have just not reflected seriously on the sad condition of greed and fear of loss as well as spiritual poverty and poverty of intellect that dominates the natures of many, many of our fellow human being financier oligarchs in power. We live in a competitive economic culture which makes a VIRTUE out of consumption and greed and it's essential that more & more of us realise it, detach from it and protest peacefully against it. If we want to survive un-decimated as a species, we’ve surely got some major waking up to do- and quickly. *New Para*
    [**Note Chalmers Johnson (Professor Emeritus of the University of California, San Diego) states in his comprehensive book ‘Blowback The Costs & Consequences of American Empire’ (highly recommended & in print) that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is essentially a covert arm of the U.S. Treasury, yet beyond congressional oversight because it is formally an international organization; Its voting rules ensure that it is dominated by the United States and its allies.
    The website asserts that the IMF & World Bank (WB) are 51% owned by the US Treasury. The website also explains voting rights and funding. Greg Palast (an investigative journalist) also asserts that the whole privatisation & removal of regulations agenda that most nations are adopting and with shocking arm twisting, originates at the IMF/WB too. I myself worked for a Public Service organisation for many years in a junior management position and could not find a single colleague who approved of the privatisation plan which was coming to fruition as I left. The mantra “The only route to efficiency is greed” ie people will only work efficiently if incentives with cash, I KNOW to be wrong from watching many of my colleagues at work whose HEART was in what they did. (The forces also can work efficiently without cash incentives- its called discipline, and having the right people in the right management places). We worked efficiently without cash incentives beyond our fair permanent contract salaries and the only problem with the organisation was that its maintenance heavy infrastructure was being more & more starved of cash by the UK Government treasury. The resultant limping organisation then gets used as a part justification to privatise. Then after it was privatised- hey presto!- the Government subsidy doubles, and nearly (in our case) tripled!].

  10. nigel photon says:

    hello there hope you read this comment. That is an amazing article you have written about the banking and financial system's role. I would like to publish it within my magazine, please email if you see this comment
    with love and light

  11. The capitalistic free market economy has created a social cultural environment that has in turn conditioned nearly all people that they automatically without any thinking refuse to buy any consumables which is not the cheapest.
    So they refuse to buy renewable energy even they know using the cheapest energy of coal and oil could mean their being heated up very slowly and very painfully to death.
    That's mankind.

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