Friday, May 13, 2005

Ecological debt and the G8 - Editorial

As the July G8 summit approaches, the UK"s New Statesman magazine publishes a provocative editorial by Andrew Simms in its latest issue.

A few highlights:
"It is rarely understood this way, but climate change is really a problem of debt. Not a cash debt, but an ecological one. Environmentally, we're living way beyond our means, spending more than the bank of the earth and the atmosphere can replace in our accounts. It is this debt - not the hole in the nation's public spending plans - that ought to have been the subject of the election campaign. And it is this debt - not the financial debts of poor nations to rich - that should guide the thinking of the Chancellor and other western leaders as they approach the G8 summit in July."

"Even the Financial Times commented that the IMF "probably ruined as many economies as they have saved". Yet we still expect poor countries to repay most of their debts, despite the effects on their people's lifestyles. Rich countries, faced with ecological debt, will not even give up the four-wheel-drive school run."

"The widening global gap in wealth was built on ecological debts. And today's economic superpowers soon became as successful in their disproportionate occupation of the atmosphere with carbon emissions as they were in colonial times with their military occupation of the terrestrial world. Until the Second World War, they managed this atmospheric occupation largely through exploiting their own fossil-fuel reserves. But from around 1950 they became increasingly dependent on energy imports. By 1998, the wealthiest fifth of the world was consuming 68 per cent of commercially produced energy; the poorest fifth, 2 per cent."

  • Read the whole article (pay per view)