Thursday, January 04, 2007

Audio of the WeeK: Economics vs Environment?

One insidious belief that I have heard repeated several times by a range of people, from policy makers to member of the public and environmentalists is that environmental protection is something which you do when the economy is strong enough.

This paradigm, develop adjust, painful and would be followed only in madness.

If you look at the traditional metrics of economics such as GDP then some very strange things can happen for a time. As we talk of Gross Domestic Product not Net Domestic Product, we can effectively claim wealth by chopping down trees or harvesting all our fish bar none. This is economic prosperity because nowhere is the 'Natural Capital' which is being run down being considered. However, with 6.5billion people on the planet such uses of reserves cannot persist unabated for more than a moderate period of time...then we discover our wealth has been destroyed. This is perhaps the lesser of two reasons that lead us to believe that our environment is not separate from our economy.

The major reason is the existence of Ecosystem Services. In China, deforestation has been banned in some areas, and in fact some huge reforestation projects have been begun. Green Futures magazine had a fascinating article on this recently. The reasons for this are purely economic, a tree is worth more alive than dead. Timber and pulp is of lesser value than the protection from flooding and landslides that trees provide for downstream farmers. Numerous similar examples of highly threatened and highly valued ecological services are outlined in Lester Brown's book Plan B 2.0.

Finally, the Stern Review, recently calculated that unmitigated climate change would cost the world economy 5-20% of it's gdp whereas stabilising concentrations would cost between 1 and 2%. Whatever the exact figures, the message is clear, we live by the green of leaves not the green of notes. Without a stable climate and a thriving global ecosystems we cannot hope to have a thriving civilisation.

The audio bellow touches on these topics, both Edward Wilson and Jeffery Sachs making the real questions clear. A great interview!

Labels: , ,

Climate Change Action

Home furl google deliciousdel.icio.usnetvouz newsvine diggDigg This!reddit spurl Technorati

Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home