Our Prosperity Depends on Protecting Our Planet

Taken from an interview with Geoffrey Heal – Professor at Columbia Business School and leading expert on the economics and the environment.

A recent issue of Catalyst, a magazine put out by the Union of Concerned Scientists in America had a two page article titled Our Prosperity Depends on Protecting Our Planet. Here are a couple of points, at least one of which might surprise you.

  • The natural world provides everything we depend on …our food, our drinking water and our oxygen. … We simply can’t live without it. Plants create food, and they need pollination from insects and they need rain and they need soil. We can’t synthesize these things. So we really are totally dependent on the natural world.
  • Most of us now live in cities. We don’t see much nature. We are very embedded in our latest technologies, such as our computer networks and our cell phones. There’s a sense that were so technologically sophisticated that we don’t depend on the natural world anymore. That’s not true: we need it as much as our ancestors did, and for the same reasons.
  • We need to account for external costs such as if you’re an oil company and I’m a consumer buying gasoline for my car, neither of us takes into account the fact that this gasoline will change the climate. It is external to — or omitted from — the transaction.
  • We need to get back to our fundamental capitalist principles. For an economic system to be viable in the long run we need to make certain that everyone’s accounting is done properly, to account for all the costs they generate. … We are letting too many people forget some of the important costs that they impose on us.
  • Today, the cheapest ways of producing electricity in significant parts of the world are by using wind and solar. In the southern United States, you can produce solar power for roughly four cents per kilowatt-hour; in the Middle East you can produce it for about three cents, whereas natural gas will cost you five or six cents and coal and oil will cost even more than that.
  • Plus, of course, the cost of not moving away from fossil fuels is clearly associated with huge costs from sea level rise, wildfires, droughts, potentially more serious storms, the spread of tropical and subtropical diseases, plus the extinction of a large number of species.
  • Anyone looking at the full economic picture can see that changing to clean energy is going to lower our costs rather than raise them.

Moving to cleaner energy should be a ‘no-brainer’. What does that say about the politicians who oppose such moves. As I said in my last newsletter, are they Idiotic or Corrupt?

Here’s another example of politicians wasting your money. The true cost of keeping the Liddell power plant open
“Power companies see coal as a technology of the past, but the government seems unready to accept that wind and solar technologies (already the cheapest option for new capacity in Australia) are the future of Australia’s power.”
Read the full article and it appears that the government would rather subsidise coal.