Love Minus Zero/No Limit?

Required reading this weekend: George Monbiot muses on the links between the financial crisis and the ecological crisis he believes we inevitably face.

As we goggle at the fluttering financial figures, a different set of numbers passes us by. On Friday, Pavan Sukhdev, the Deutsche Bank economist leading a European study on ecosystems, reported that we are losing natural capital worth between $2 trillion and $5 trillion every year, as a result of deforestation alone. The losses incurred so far by the financial sector amount to between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion.

As it happens, Sukhdev was interviewd by Kathryn Ryan on RNZ National last week: she kept getting her trillions confused with billions – numbers too big to conjure with (stream, MP3), numbers too frightening to admit easily (Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity report here). Monbiot continues:

The two crises have the same cause. In both cases, those who exploit the resource have demanded impossible rates of return and invoked debts that can never be repaid. In both cases we denied the likely consequences. I used to believe that collective denial was peculiar to climate change. Now I know that it’s the first response to every impending dislocation.

From this perspective, climate change is one symptom of a bigger resource and ecosystem crunch. We live in interesting times…

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5 thoughts on “Love Minus Zero/No Limit?”

  1. There are two crises: economic and climate. We know we can – and will – recover from the economic crisis that we know we can – this is the one that Governments are throwing money at.

    The climate crisis is rapidly getting to a point from which we know cannot recover, but this is the one being ignored, denied and no money is being thrown at it. Yet this one has the potential to bring down not only the economy…

    The world has gone mad.

  2. I tend to agree with this. I think the Lovelock may be correct and the ETS is useless. Do we need to accept this and move on? Of course this still means that we stop producing anthropogenic GHGs and then deal with the consequences.

    No matter what people like Roger, Ken or Nick claim, the current economic crisis is a sunny day before the calm before the storm.

  3. The best way to judge the ETS is on its effectiveness as a tool to reduce emissions. There are alternatives (tax, regulation etc) – but not many are realistically open to NZ after the last five or more years of policy swings.

    Lovelock’s general position is that it’s too late to anything meaningful to stop radical change. He may be right – and he may (I hope) be wrong, so we have to act to reduce emissions as well as plan to adapt to the inevitable changes that are coming. Adapting helps us to cope with committed change, mitigation will (we hope) prevent the worst long term effects.

    Personally, I don’t think we (NZ or the world) are doing enough on either count…

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