Saturday, December 1, 2007

Economic Growth and the Natural Deficit

To replace the services we have removed by destroying natural capital, the world would need to add at least $27 trillion to this year’s Gross World Product. Each year we wait, the deficit will grow by an additional $2T. The maximum level of GWP that we can sustain in addition to providing natural services is about $40T.

The above numbers do not reflect what it would take to accommodate the populations of species that existed before the rapid die-off that started in 1975. Assuming we could replace them on a human time scale, we would need to spend an additional $15T (our current deficit would be $42T), and our maximum allowable GWP would be only $24T.

With our natural deficit growing each year by twice the current total cost of the Iraq Occupation, we are facing a far more critical challenge than any so-called “War on Terror.” If we were to deal with the deficit by growing the economy to fix or replace natural systems in the time we have remaining, GWP would need to increase by 140 percent by 2020 (for only our species) or 163 percent by 2013 (for all species). If the growth was done exponentially, GWP would need to grow annually by 2.6 percent for us and 8.5 percent for all species over the respective intervals of time. For reference, the current GWP growth rate is an estimated 2.8 percent.


BradJ1001 said...

See "Revised Deficits" on 12/8/07 for an update.

Tammy said...

You write very well.