war no more: sustainability agenda can’t afford it

blowing up energy

Wanna do another war thang? Count on doing as much damage to the world economy as to the people and places involved.

...And then there's that pesky 'collateral damage' to the planet.

So says economist Michael Mandel writing on the prospect for global prosperity through 2030 (via business week).

Wudja believe that finding a new energy technology to handle the soaring demand from China and India without grave environmental consequences is number two on Mandel's list of threats.

Threat number one? War.

Why is this? Because wars destroy trade.

Says Mandel, ""The developed world will benefit from the rise of China and India as long as the world trading system stays intact. It doesn't matter where the factories are unless there's a big war."

Economists who study these things "find large and persistent impacts of wars on trade, and hence on national and global economic welfare. A rough accounting indicates that such costs might be of the same order of magnitude as the 'direct' costs of war, such as lost human capital."

Mandel highlights the results of one such study of previous world wars which found that "the belligerents wrecked the world economy not just for themselves but also for everyone else."

So, let's see, if Iraq has cost $300 billion so far in direct costs, there's prolly at least another $300 billion in indirect costs that have yet to be accounted for.

Oh, and, that doesn't count the impact on our ecological footprint. Emissions from war production and transport, exploded ordnance, radioactive dust from depleted uranium weapons...stuff like that.

Moreover, it doesn't consider what economists call the "opportunity cost." Can you imagine what a crash program on renewable energy could do with $300 billion?

Published by Ken on May 20th, 2007 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking

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