subject: Financial crisis can lead to modest lifestyles posted: Sat, 21 Mar 2009 16:20:33 -0000
[While I would love to blame the bankers for global warming and
resource depletion, I do think that might be doing ourselves a
disservice. The first step in fixing a problem is acknowledging it.
And that would mean taking responsibility for one's own consumption.
Blaming bankers for giving us the ability to over-consume is like
blaming a Porche for the death of its driver, following a high-speed
crash. It's not the tool wot did it. It's the greed, selfishness,
laziness and short-sightedness of its users. - Stu]
LONDON (Reuters) - The financial crisis is a timely warning of much
greater risks the planet faces from excessive focus on profit and
growth, veteran British environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt
said on Saturday.
Environmentalists have linked the present recession with wider
threats such as climate change, blaming credit-fuelled economic
growth for the reckless consumption of natural resources including
Governments, companies and regulators must reduce the rewards for
growth and profits to avoid a far worse crisis and the collapse of
the life support systems such as fisheries, soil and rain on which
the world depends, Porritt told Reuters.
"It was a harsh and unsustainable form of capitalism for the last 25
years," said the chairman of the independent British government
watchdog, the Sustainable Development Commission.
"It's appropriate people are talking about more modest lifestyles."
For example, bank lending at high repayment rates had driven demand
for more credit, creating a cycle of consumption which had also run
down natural resources, he said, and policymakers could curb the role
of banks to avoid a repeat.
"Banks have forfeited the right to operate on their terms. We've just
got used to this idea it's banks' right to create credit and charge
interest on it. Governments can create credit ... on much less
Policymakers worldwide have responded to the recession with about $2
trillion of stimulus spending, and about one tenth of that they will
direct into green causes such as clean energy technologies,
efficiency, public transport and conserving water.
Such green spending may not only fight climate change and cut
dependence on imported fossil fuels, but also create jobs in a
growing sector of the world economy.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he wants a meeting in London on
April 2 of the G20 leading developed and emerging economies to
coordinate spending into a global "green new deal."
Some analysts, U.N. agencies and environmental groups say green
spending should be a much bigger part of the total stimulus, to
improve infrastructure including homes, transport and electric grids
and cut carbon emissions.
"We've degraded our natural capital, we have to build this back like
we're re-capitalising the balance sheets of banks. The way to do this
is to put huge amounts of money into energy efficiency, low-carbon
technologies, renewables," said Porritt.
A report Porritt has written for the charity Forum for the Future, of
which he is a co-founder, called "Living within our means: avoiding
the ultimate recession," is published on Saturday.