Year 3, Month 10, Day 9: Your Lovin’ Give Me Such A Thrill…

The Regina Leader-Post (Canada) reports on a new study highlighting climate change’s likely effect on GDP:

Climate change and pollution related to carbon-dioxide emissions are reducing the world’s gross domestic product by 1.6 per cent a year, about $1.2 trillion US, according to a report.

If unchecked, rising temperatures may cut global GDP by 3.2 per cent a year by 2030, according to the Climate Vulnerability Monitor, from by the Madrid-based humanitarian group DARA and the Climate Vulnerable Forum. As the economic impact of climate change grows, so will the cost of curbing it, according to leaders of developing nations who spoke at an event in New York last week.

“What is possible with $100 billion today will cost 10 times more in 2030,” Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed said during the panel discussion, part of the Climate Week NYC conference. Her country is part of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of developing nations threatened by climate change.

A warming planet will have a disproportionate effect on developing countries, especially low-income states such as Bangladesh that have high population density and fewer natural resources.

Low-lying coastal regions also face the prospect of being submerged as the oceans rise, she said.

This will affect food production and drive up prices, she said. Climate change may cut GDP in some developing nations by as much as 11 per cent by 2030.

I would rather replace capitalism by incremental stages as we figure out a better way to do things. I hope there will be enough time. Sent October 1:

Conservative thinkers routinely claim that energy and emissions policies which address the threat of global climate change would be too expensive — an argument which makes sense as long as you don’t think too hard or too long about the issue. But if there was ever an issue which demanded long and concentrated thought, it’s the complex set of economic and environmental forces involved in our civilization’s response to the burgeoning greenhouse effect. Those who deny the scientific reality of global warming cannot expect that their cost/benefit analyses should be taken seriously.

Conversely, the nations represented in the Climate Vulnerable Forum are the ones on the front line of devastating ecological transformation. Their report on climate change’s impact on GDP offers a globally relevant version of some old home truths: a stitch in time saves nine; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

If we wait to respond until Earth’s climate has transformed beyond recognition, it will cost our species far more than self-styled “fiscal conservatives” can imagine.

Warren Senders

The Tyranny of False Measurement

First, watch this.

Bobby Kennedy on “Gross Domestic Product”

“Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product … if we should judge America by that – counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

“Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

Link

Yeah. What Bobby said.

The irrefutable fact of our environmental crisis is linked with the irrefutable fact of our economic crisis.

Our economy sucks for the same reason our environment is being destroyed: we’re measuring success with the wrong set of tools.

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Day 26: To the Belly of the Beast

I’m going to send some letters to the business community — hoping to carry the message of my Open Letter to Our Corporate Overlords directly to them. This one is going to Business Week Magazine.

America’s fate is linked with consumption. We have learned to buy things to soothe ourselves, to satisfy our transient urges, and to Support the National Economy. But a consumer’s lifestyle also creates ever-increasing amounts of trash. As the planet’s biggest per capita producer of trash, America leads the world in subtracting value from lives, systems and things. From our grotesque pop culture to the millions of plastic bottles we throw away every day, from the cynical culture of planned obsolescence to the terrifying increase in CO2 emissions in our atmosphere, the evidence is overwhelming: Consumer Culture is killing us. It’s killing our curiosity, it’s killing our common sense, it’s killing millions of species of life all across the world, and it’s ultimately going to kill our planet if we keep it up.

Humanity desperately needs a new kind of culture that’s based, not on taking value out, but on putting value in. One way forward is to adopt a new system for indicating the overall health of an economy; the notion that economic well-being is a function of ever-increasing consumption (as measured by the GDP, for example) is obviously absurd.

Yet it is a measure of how far we have strayed from simple common sense that stating the obvious (if we keep turning the world around us into trash, eventually there will be nothing left) is interpreted as being “anti-business” or “anti-capitalism.” No, it’s not; it’s the only way that Business and Capitalism will be able to survive in the long run. What good is maximizing profits over the next century if the result is a world so choked in toxic waste that no life can survive?

Warren Senders