Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Nature’s crisis

October 10, 2008

Following on from my previous post I would just like to make people aware that the current financial crisis is nothing in comparison to the crisis that faces Mother Earth.

This is an article worth reading from the BBC that the destruction of the rainforests is costing more to the global economy than the banking crisis.

Nature loss ‘dwarfs bank crisis’

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website, Barcelona

Rainforest in Kakum National Park, Ghana

Losses are great, and continuous, says the report

The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study.

It puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.

The figure comes from adding the value of the various services that forests perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide.

The study, headed by a Deutsche Bank economist, parallels the Stern Review into the economics of climate change.

It has been discussed during many sessions here at the World Conservation Congress.

Some conservationists see it as a new way of persuading policymakers to fund nature protection rather than allowing the decline in ecosystems and species, highlighted in the release on Monday of the Red List of Threatened Species, to continue.

Capital losses

Speaking to BBC News on the fringes of the congress, study leader Pavan Sukhdev emphasised that the cost of natural decline dwarfs losses on the financial markets.

“It’s not only greater but it’s also continuous, it’s been happening every year, year after year,” he told BBC News.

Teeb will… show the risks we run by not valuing [nature] adequately.”
Andrew Mitchell
Global Canopy Programme

“So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today’s rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year.”

The review that Mr Sukhdev leads, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb), was initiated by Germany under its recent EU presidency, with the European Commission providing funding.

The first phase concluded in May when the team released its finding that forest decline could be costing about 7% of global GDP. The second phase will expand the scope to other natural systems.

Stern message

Key to understanding his conclusions is that as forests decline, nature stops providing services which it used to provide essentially for free.

So the human economy either has to provide them instead, perhaps through building reservoirs, building facilities to sequester carbon dioxide, or farming foods that were once naturally available.

Or we have to do without them; either way, there is a financial cost.

The Teeb calculations show that the cost falls disproportionately on the poor, because a greater part of their livelihood depends directly on the forest, especially in tropical regions.

The greatest cost to western nations would initially come through losing a natural absorber of the most important greenhouse gas.

Just as the Stern Review brought the economics of climate change into the political arena and helped politicians see the consequences of their policy choices, many in the conservation community believe the Teeb review will lay open the economic consequences of halting or not halting the slide in biodiversity.

“The numbers in the Stern Review enabled politicians to wake up to reality,” said Andrew Mitchell, director of the Global Canopy Programme, an organisation concerned with directing financial resources into forest preservation.

“Teeb will do the same for the value of nature, and show the risks we run by not valuing it adequately.”

A number of nations, businesses and global organisations are beginning to direct funds into forest conservation, and there are signs of a trade in natural ecosystems developing, analogous to the carbon trade, although it is clearly very early days.

Some have ethical concerns over the valuing of nature purely in terms of the services it provides humanity; but the counter-argument is that decades of trying to halt biodiversity decline by arguing for the intrinsic worth of nature have not worked, so something different must be tried.

Whether Mr Sukhdev’s arguments will find political traction in an era of financial constraint is an open question, even though many of the governments that would presumably be called on to fund forest protection are the ones directly or indirectly paying for the review.

But, he said, governments and businesses are getting the point.

“Times have changed. Almost three years ago, even two years ago, their eyes would glaze over.

“Today, when I say this, they listen. In fact I get questions asked – so how do you calculate this, how can we monetize it, what can we do about it, why don’t you speak with so and so politician or such and such business.”

The aim is to complete the Teeb review by the middle of 2010, the date by which governments are committed under the Convention of Biological Diversity to have begun slowing the rate of biodiversity loss.


What really matters?

October 7, 2008

As the world’s media is caught up in an economic free fall frenzy, share prices are dropping dramatically and financial stability is ever so fragile I ask myself one question; So ****ing what?

So what that the FTSE, ISEQ, Wall Street is down the tubes. So what that our banks and financial institutions are in crisis.

I ask myself- are these the stories that really matter? As we slide dramatically back to the days of 1929 and The ‘Great Depression’ looms large- Do I really care? The answer my pocket fumbling friends is NO, I don’t.

You may ask yourself- well, what should be making the world’s headlines while I’m flicking through my paper this morning? As I read about economic forecasts for 2009  I can’t help but wonder where are the things that really matter?

What I’m talking about are the news stories that actually affect not only every single one of us on the planet but our animal friends and our environment. While people are worrying about monetary instability what the hell does it matter if there isn’t fresh air to breath, clean water to drink or any trees left to give us oxygen to live.? What does the slide in the markets matter when I watch the destruction of the globe happen in front of my very eyes?

The stories that really matter are not the finanical crisis. The stories that matter are the environmental crises. The apathy to environmental issues by the media and the public at large disturbs me. As capitalism is in crisis why do our leaders and media moguls not seize the opportunity to once and for all change the focus to what really affects us?

 As I breath into my inhaler and I struggle with the adverse weather conditions on my way to the hospital to visit my uncle dying from cancer. I can no longer deny that climate change, our sedentary ‘first world’ lifestyles as well as environmental destruction doesn’t affect me.  It affects all of us and why aren’t we in a frenzy about it? Because we are too worried about the bank balance and the change in our pockets.

I’ll include a little example of the type of disaster I am talking about. It’s about the melting of Europe’s largest glacier in Iceland. No big deal…

Lisbon Treaty Threats

May 31, 2008

1. Green Party/Environmental Threat

According to John Gormley of “New Green” Party: a  No vote could deal a ‘crushing’ blow to efforts to save the planet.
The Independent says that Mr Gormley will claim that a No vote could ‘derail’ the fight against climate change. I hear you ask-how?

Let me explain: There is only one sentence in the Lisbon Treaty that mentions the environment. It says that combating climate change and global warming are targets of the Union.

It is not exactly a serious or committed statement. Pure lip service is the only way I can describe it.

John Gormley and the Green Party you are a disgrace.

leaders of the Green Party have voiced opposition to the aspects of the EU constitution – now Lisbon Treaty, which greatly increases Ireland’s involvement in the EU as a military bloc as well containing the EUROTOM treaty which gives a huge boost to the proliferation of nuclear power across the EU.

Green Party members for many years have opposed EU integration on the basis of its crippling democratic deficit, its creeping militarisation and worrisome support for the construction of nuclear power stations. 

Party leaders now wish to foolishly corral its members down a dark alley of implicitly supporting, the Lisbon Treaty, and all of the above. 
Green Party senator, Deirdre De Burca on Friday’s ‘Morning Ireland’ tried to justify the political party’s about turn and support for the renamed Constitutional Treaty.

She was a lady who while a county councillor outlined to the Forum for Europe, Green Party opposition to the EU Constitutional Treaty over recent years. She bemoaned the loss of power by national parliaments over important policy areas.

In May 2006, at the Forum for Europe, De Burca spelt out Green Party opposition to EU militarisation, saying “It is clear that the European security and defence policy and the EU battlegroup concept are logical first steps in the development of a fully fledged EU army.”

The Greens opposed the draft Constitutional Treaty in opposition, but now, post- election, and after Bertie appointed her as a senator, the previous policy positions have been forgotten. Not just jettisoned or forgotten, but now actively campaigned against.

2. Europe Threatens

If Ireland vote no we can no longer be part of the European Union.

In an article in Today’s Irish Times Jamie Smyth reports comments made by Herr Leinen.

The German Chair of the powerful Constitutional Affairs Committee of the EP is invoking a ‘duty of loyal co-operation’ which he says means Ireland cannot vote No and expect to stay in the EU regardless. No Irish government has ever told Irish citizens that the treaties we have signed up to previously, which contain an article mentioning a duty of ‘co-operation’, could be interpreted in this way.

This concept known as loyal cooperation also exists in the common foreign and security area – as we can see from Article 11.3 of the proposed EU treaty which similarly expands on the version in present text. The new Article says:

The Member States shall support the Union’s external and security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity and shall comply with the Union’s action in this area.The Council and the High Representative shall ensure compliance with these principles (How?)

The Member States shall work together to enhance and develop their mutual political solidarity. They shall refrain from any action which is contrary to the interests of the Union or likely to impair its effectiveness as a cohesive force in international relations. (This is Democratic?)


3.”Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”

The government cat-cries have been the same as ever; In other words we must bow submissivley to Europe at every turn and at every cost. As we see from the Greens even at the cost of our core principles and values.

This Treaty has been purposefully made incomprehensible for voters. It is undemocratic and our government’s “information” campaign has like the Nice Treaty before been sinisterly vague and obscure. The government issued literature coming into people’s homes contains absolutely no information to infrorm the voter. It is full of scare mongering language to frighten and bully us into something we don’t have to accept. I would be willing to accept a negotiated treaty.

We don’t have to vote for this Treaty. Don’t be bullied. Vote NO!