Climate Investment Crucial, Independent of Economic Downturn
The United States climate delegation negotiating a Kyoto successor in Bangkok has suggested the U.S. will be unable to provide funds to poor nations [ark | moreark] fighting global warming because of worsening economic conditions, but may be able to provide loans. So after decades of booming economies and growth in emissions in the rich countries, developing countries are now left in the lurch, even as the rich super predatory consumers seek to maintain their high levels of consumption for a wee bit longer. This has been described as “the moral equivalent of having someone drive a car into your house and offering you a loan to pay for the damages.”
The Earth is in real danger from a global heating meltdown as action is delayed over concerns about price and as a skeptic led public backlash continues to grow. Recently I wrote a personal essay entitled Economic Collapse and Global Ecology where I noted “sufficient climate policies enjoy political support only in times of rapid economic growth. Yet this growth is the primary factor driving greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental ills.” Therein I academically investigated the possibility that in terms of prospects for the Earth and humanity it may be better for the economy to collapse now rather than later.
This may or may not be the case, yet it is clear that expenditures to address climate change and related global ecological crises must be maintained regardless of economic conditions. The IMF recently predicted “policies needed to reduce emissions by 60% from 2002 would leave the global economy about 2.6% smaller [ark | moreark] than it otherwise would be in 2040″, yet the “economy would grow about 2.3 times between 2007 and 2040”. I repeat, the economy is expected to grow by 230% and at a cost of 3% we can maintain the climate. Even if underestimated, as I believe likely, this seems like a ridiculously easy investment to make.
Without such modest investments some have predicted a horrific future for humanity, including Ted Turner's recent prediction of cannibalism by climate survivors [ark]. No one can see the future, yet all trends and current ecological knowledge illustrate global ecosystems are collapsing. The developed world has been partying like there is no tomorrow, and now it cannot expect others to clean up either its economic or ecological mess.
Simple measures such as assigning a price to carbon [search] through a carbon tax will make tremendous contributions to solving the climate problem and must be embraced whatever the cost. Unless we can be satisfied with 220+% growth or thereabouts rather than 230%, there is no chance of achieving global ecological sustainability and vibrant, just, equitable and sustainable economies for all.