More on ecological debt

What does the current financial crisis, Easter Island statues and the environment have in common?

A whole lot it would appear.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve really been scratching my head as to how much cash the world has been able to suddenly scrape up to bail out banks etc., yet over the last few years when real solutions for climate change have been posed everyone seems to yell poor?

I’m sensitive to the fact that a whole lot of people are hurting currently, I’ve had my share of worries about it all myself; but I couldn’t help thinking that this is all a precursor to something much bigger headed our way, yet another crisis in a rapidly escalating convergence of crises affecting us all. The money was there to fix the climate issue, now that’s gone elsewhere to prop up a system that simply doesn’t work.

Every empire falls – it’s the way it’s always been as we humans never seem to learn. Many empires that seemed properous and indestructable rapidly disintegrated after hitting a particular tipping point. The empire of today isn’t just a single country – we’re a global economy.

Here’s something frightening. Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; only 49 are countries. Big business runs the planet, not the government.That’s not good news for the environment and likely explains the lack of commitment to real and drastic solutions to climate change.

Lets look to the past just briefly – the case of Easter Island. Once covered with forests it now only has a few small stands of trees. It’s believed that the island was deforested in order to assist in the construction of the statues that dot the island, which was a huge industry. The trees were used for framework, transportation of rock and for rope.

All that destruction to build monuments that had no real function except to serve man’s own ego.

After the deforestation, food became scarce – there wasn’t even enough wood to build fishing boats. The locals are believed to have descended into cannabalism. The empire fell.

Easter Island is the microcosm of the macrocosm – it’s the type of thing we can expect to see globally if we keep heading the way we are going.

The amount of money lost so far during this financial crisis is somewhere around the 1.5 to 2 trillion dollar mark. Everyone rushed in to prop things up. However, a Deutsche Bank economist has reported that we are losing natural capital worth anywhere up to $5 trillion every year – just from deforestation.

I wrote a little on ecological debt recently. In any system, there is credit and debt; including the ecosystem. How much longer before nature calls the loan in? After all, we’re very much in arrears. 

George Monbiot from the Guardian believes the stock collapse is nothing compared to what’s happening in nature currently and has published a very interesting article on the topic, exploring some of the points mentioned above in greater detail – it’s well worth a read.