Rage and the Economics of the Environment

Economist Tim Jackson, Copenhagen Dec 2009

[Rage does feel appropriate at times with the continuing mis-information regarding climate change and the IPCC. While some focus on looking for typos in 3000 page report, the real issue is an overwhelming need to bring our economic system in line with the reality that we have but one planet to live on. Economists like Tim Jackson, who I met in Copenhagen, and others are taking on this vitally important task but are getting little media attention. — Stephen]

Stephen Leahy interviews British economist TIM JACKSON*

Tim Jackson: “The climate treaty wasn’t the only thing that failed in Copenhagen.”

TORONTO, Canada, Jan 28, 2010 (Tierramérica)

“Rage is sometimes the appropriate response” to the failure of the world’s leaders to craft a new climate treaty at the Copenhagen summit, says British economist Tim Jackson.

The Copenhagen Accord, the outcome of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December, not only revealed global environmental governance as a fiction, but also demonstrated a continuing blind adherence to the mantra of economic growth, says Jackson

Professor of sustainable development and director of the Research Group on Lifestyles, Values and Environment at Surrey University in Britain, Jackson also serves as British government advisor and economics commissioner for the Sustainable Development Commission.

In addition, Jackson is a professional playwright with numerous radio-writing credits for the BBC, based in London.

Tierramérica’s Stephen Leahy spoke with Jackson by phone about his new, controversial book “Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet”, the Copenhagen Accord and prospects for a real climate treaty, continuing a conversation they began last month in Copenhagen.

Q: Your book “Prosperity without Growth” argues that economic growth in developed countries is making people less happy and destroying the Earth itself.

A: It’s clear the continued pursuit of growth endangers the ecosystems on which we depend for long-term survival.

There is also ample evidence that increasing material wealth in developed countries is not making people any happier, but just the opposite in some countries. Beyond a certain level of income, there is no correlation of greater income with greater happiness.

Q: If the era of economic growth is over, what will take its place?

A: Wealth and prosperity need to be redefined along the lines of (1998 Nobel laureate in economics) Amartya Sen’s “capability for flourishing.” Flourishing is defined as having enough to eat, being part of a community, worthwhile employment, decent housing, access to education and medical services.

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U.N. Climate Chief Quits Post — Says Business Must Lead the Way on Climate

By Stephen Leahy*

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Feb 18, 2010 (Tierramérica)

Countries have largely failed to endorse the Copenhagen Climate accord by the Jan. 31 deadline. On Thursday, the key official in the United Nations climate treaty process announced his resignation.

There is no effective global climate treaty and the well-respected Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, who worked tirelessly for four years to facilitate an agreement, has had enough.

“Copenhagen did not provide us with a clear agreement in legal terms, but the political commitment and sense of direction toward a low-emissions world are overwhelming,” de Boer said in a statement.

“I have always maintained that while governments provide the necessary policy framework, the real solutions must come from business,” he said.

De Boer will be joining the consultancy group KPMG as Global Adviser on Climate and Sustainability, as well as working with a number of universities.

The much-hyped “seal-the-deal” Copenhagen climate talks ended last December with the U.S., India, South Africa, China and Brazil hatching a backroom agreement called the Copenhagen Accord.

The three-page document was not legally binding and had no long-term global targets for emissions cuts. Countries were asked to support the accord by signing on by Jan 31. Less than 60 out of the 190 plus countries signed by the deadline.

via POLITICS: U.N. Climate Chief Quits Post

State of Denial: The Real Global Warming Fantasy

What ever happened to common sense?
(based on a true story)

By Stephen Leahy

Two guys were sitting in a bar one evening. The first one says: “Climate change is a complete hoax you know. There’s lots information on the internet proving that.”

“No it’s not” the second guy replies. “I’ve talked to dozens and dozens of climate scientists around the world and read hundreds of reports and studies.”

The first guy responds saying: “All my friends agree with me. This global warming thing was just scam to make money for Al Gore.”

“But I’ve seen the vanishing glaciers, melting Arctic ice, rising temperatures and sea levels and extreme weather events with my own eyes,” says the second.

The first guy, pauses for a few seconds and says: “Well, I guess you’re entitled to your opinion. So let’s just say the jury is still out on global warming.”

The two fall silent for awhile. Finally the second asks: “Let’s say I’m driving you home and it’s foggy out. You tell me to slow down a bit because there’s a sharp curve in the road coming up. Now I’ve never been on this road before and could acknowledge you might know the road well but instead of slowing down I say: ‘you’re entitled to your opinion, but the road looks straight enough to me’ and then step on the gas.”

The first guy gets up and puts on his coat saying: “You’d have to be crazy not to slow down just in case. I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing now.”

“But we are,” says the second as the first guy walks out the door.

Even if the world’s best scientists are wrong about climate change taking action now will create new jobs, save money, clean the air and water, improve energy efficiency, boost the health of our children, reduce our dependency on big oil companies, create more sustainable communities and many more benefits to all.

So you have to wonder why people oppose this.

And should 30 years of climate research done in dozens of countries be correct, the “bonus” in taking action is keeping rising temperatures to no more than 2 degrees C hopefully ensuring our children and grandchildren have a reasonable climate system to live with.

My wish for the new decade is that common sense will come back in fashion.


Denial & Delay: Global Warming B.S. Detector Tips

Greed Stalls 21st Century Bio-Economy

Interview With One of the Last Environmental Journalists Left Standing

The REAL Amazon-gate: On the Brink of Collapse Reveals Million $ Study

By Stephen Leahy

PARIS, Feb 2, 2010 (Tierramérica)

The Amazon jungle “is very close to a tipping point,” and if destruction continues, it could shrink to one third of its original size in just 65 years, warns Thomas Lovejoy, world-renowned tropical biologist.

[UPDATE Sept 6’10: The Amazon River is at its lowest level in 40 years — in 2005 devastating dry spell damaged vast swaths of South American rainforest Amazon May Be Headed For Another Bad Drought]]

Climate change, deforestation and fire are the drivers of this potential Amazonian apocalypse, according to Lovejoy, biodiversity chair at the Washington DC-based Heinz Centre for Science, Economics and the Environment, and chief biodiversity adviser to the president of the World Bank.

Amazonian rainforest, upper Amazon basin, Lore...
Image via Wikipedia

Lovejoy laid out the scenario for participants at the Biodiversity Science Policy Conference in Paris last week, sponsored by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), and marking the beginning of the U.N.’s International Year of Biodiversity.

“The World Bank released a study that finally put the impacts of climate change, deforestation and fires together. The tipping point for the Amazon is 20 percent deforestation,” and that is “a scary result,” Lovejoy told Tierramérica in an interview.

The study, “Assessment of the Risk of Amazon Dieback,” released Jan. 22, drew on the expertise of several international research institutions, including Japan’s Meteorological Research Institute, Britain’s Exeter University, Brazil’s Centre for Weather Forecasting and Climate Change (CPET/INPE), Germany’s Potsdam Institute and Earth3000.

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The results and analysis were reviewed by an international blue-ribbon panel of scientists. Continue reading

Keeping Wetlands from Becoming Wastelands

By Stephen Leahy

VICTORIA, Seychelles, Feb 5, 2010 IPS

Swamps, marshes and other wetlands are beginning to be recognised as a countrys green jewels, even in a tropical paradise like Mahé Island here in the Seychelles, with its stunning beaches and dramatic granite outcrops.

“Wetlands are one of the worlds richest ecosystems on the planet,” said Joel Morgan, minister for environment, natural resources and transport, Republic of Seychelles.

“We islanders live closer to nature than many others and we have long understood the importance of wetlands and environmental services and resources they provide us with,” Morgan said at the first-ever World Wetlands Week.

Normally, World Wetlands Day is Feb. 2, but this year the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty on conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources, is celebrating wetlands around the world throughout the entire week.

The Seychelles were chosen for the global launch of World Wetlands Week because they exemplified the Ramsar principle of wise use successfully balancing tourism, development, food security and biodiversity, said Anada Tiega, secretary general of the Ramsar Convention.

“The Seychelles has done a good job implementing the Ramsar Convention,” Tiega said in the opening ceremony.

The Seychelles Islands are a tropical archipelago 1,800 kilometres off the east coast of Africa with a population of just 85,000 people. They comprise 115 islands – the Inner Islands are tall and granitic and the outer low-lying comprise coralline cays, atolls and reef islands. Although generally small in size, wetlands of various kinds can be found on most islands.

For complete article please see:  Keeping Wetlands from Becoming Wastelands