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 itâ€™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…