Why is it so easy to save the banks – but so hard to save the biosphere?


Agreements to bail out banks happen in days – but despite some good progress at Durban, we still don’t have a legally binding deal to bail out the planet?

Why is it so easy to save the banks – but so hard to save the biosphere?

The US and other nations began talking seriously about tackling climate change in 1988 – yet we still don't have a legally binding global agreement. Photograph: Corbi

They bailed out the banks in days. But even deciding to bail out the planet is taking decades.

Nicholas Stern estimated that capping climate change would cost around 1% of global GDP, while sitting back and letting it hit us would cost between 5 and 20%. One per cent of GDP is, at the moment, $630bn. By March 2009, Bloomberg has revealed, the US Federal Reserve had committed $7.77 trillion to the banks. That is just one government’s contribution: yet it amounts to 12 times the annual global climate change bill. Add the bailouts in other countries, and it rises several more times.

This support was issued on demand: as soon as the banks said they wanted help, they got it. On just one day the Federal Reserve made $1.2tr available – more than the world has committed to tackling climate change in 20 years.

More (Click here), , Friday 16 December 2011 , guardian.co.uk

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One Response to Why is it so easy to save the banks – but so hard to save the biosphere?

  1. David Wilson says:

    ‘Good progress’ in Durban? I guess if you say so – sounds like it’s from the same page as Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s “going forward in giant steps,” to me.

    I am told that one of the big reasons ENGO leaders burn out is the dissonance between their knowledge of the dreadful facts and the perceived necessity of keeping the troops hopeful with positive spin.

    I notice that Bill McKibben is changing his tune a bit on the situation with Keystone XL – in October it was all “We won! We Won!” and now I am seeing subtler opinions from him (not sure if you are on their email list – in the 2nd last one I got he says, “About 48 hours ago, I told you we’d probably have a clearer picture of what was going on with the pipeline fight in 48 hours. I was wrong, mistaken, and also incorrect. As it stands now, things in Washington couldn’t be muddier.”) Not a turnabout, but small steps.

    I for one would prefer things straight up but maybe that’s just me.

    About 40 people held a short vigil at Peter Kent’s office on the winter solstice ( http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Fn0-MvxDiAM/TvNYCg9eMVI/AAAAAAAAadA/ulGJwQu75yg/s1600/Hungry%2BFor%2BClimate%2BLeadership%2B3.JPG ), 40 out of what, three million? So one could wonder about the efficacy of positive spin too.

    be well, glad to see you back.

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