/ languages

Choisir langue

What about the ecological crisis?

by Salil  Sarkar

Article published on the 2008-10-28 Latest update 2008-11-01 15:22 TU

Paris's ringroad.(Photo: AFP)

Paris's ringroad.
(Photo: AFP)

Estimates of losses on New York’s Wall Street, until now, put the figure at between a trillion and 1.5 trillion dollars. But the main author of a damning report on the environment says “natural capital” is being lost at the rate of two and 2.5 trillion dollars annually.

These are the findings of  a group of economists and ecologists, whose report on The Economics of Ecosystems and Bioversity was recently published by the European Union. It was intially commissioned by the G8 group of rich countries plus five other major states who attended the Group of Eight's Potsdam summit in Germany in 2007. 

Exactly ten years before, a major study, published by Nature magazine in Britain, had evaluated at between 16 and 54 trillion dollars, the value of the global ecosystem.

Are those figures exaggerated? Or even underestimated? Computation is extremely difficult. But the attempted calculation drew attention to the crucial importance of the environment for mankind.

In the United States, the world’s biggest biofuel producer, things don’t look good.

Six of the biggest US ethanol producers have lost nearly nine billion dollars since the peak of the corn-based fuel boom in mid-2006, according to the Financial Times newspaper.

That is despite US government subsidies worth billions of dollars. It seems that ethanol is no longer viewed as the wonder product it was touted to be, especially with powerful critics pointing fingers at plant-based fuel as the cause behind food price rises.