REDD-Monitor open thread: Capitalism, climate change and carbon trading

By Chris Lang, 28th August 2011

REDD-Monitor open thread

In this open thread are six links covering two themes, followed by a seventh as a postscript. First, the global economy is in serious trouble. Second, runaway climate change seems to be getting ever nearer. While neither of these are strictly REDD issues, I think they are both relevant to REDD (for reasons that I hope I don’t have to spell out).


1. Nouriel Roubini, “Is Capitalism Doomed?”, Project Syndicate, 15 August 2011.

Nouriel Roubini is Professor of Economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business and is known as “Dr. Doom”. He is one of the few economists that predicted the financial crisis of 2007-2008. In his book “Crisis Economics”, Roubini and his co-author Stephen Mihm argue that the meltdown was not a black swan, or an unpredictable exception, but an inherent part of capitalism.

Here’s what he writes in a recent piece on the Project Syndicate website:

Now a combination of high oil and commodity prices, turmoil in the Middle East, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, eurozone debt crises, and America’s fiscal problems (and now its rating downgrade) have led to a massive increase in risk aversion. Economically, the United States, the eurozone, the United Kingdom, and Japan are all idling. Even fast-growing emerging markets (China, emerging Asia, and Latin America), and export-oriented economies that rely on these markets (Germany and resource-rich Australia), are experiencing sharp slowdowns.

2. Carlo Rotella, “Can Jeremy Grantham profit from ecological mayhem?”, New York Times, 11 August 2011.

Every three months, Jeremy Grantham of investment firm GMO puts out a quarterly letter. April’s letter was titled, “Time to Wake Up: Days of Abundant Resources and Falling Prices Are Over Forever”. This, according to the New York Times is the gist:

“The prices of all important commodities except oil declined for 100 years until 2002, by an average of 70 percent. From 2002 until now, this entire decline was erased by a bigger price surge than occurred during World War II. Statistically, most commodities are now so far away from their former downward trend that it makes it very probable that the old trend has changed — that there is in fact a Paradigm Shift — perhaps the most important economic event since the Industrial Revolution.”

Grantham is, as the New York Times puts it, “the public face of a company that manages more than $100 billion in assets, the very embodiment of a high-finance insider in blue blazer and yellow tie”, but he “has serious doubts about capitalism’s ability to address the biggest problems facing humanity”.

He describes himself as an environmentalist. The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment supports the Environmental Defense Fund, the World Wildlife Fund and “other such organizations”. So that’s all right, then.

“We’re all involved in environmental causes,” Grantham said of his family. “We can’t recall some single moment of conversion. We found our separate ways to it.” His wife, Hanne, sits on the board of the E.D.F. [Environmental Defense Fund] One son, Oliver, buys forests for Harvard Management Company; another, Rupert, manages forests in Massachusetts; his daughter, Isabel, helps run an E.D.F. program that recruits summer interns from top business schools to improve companies’ energy efficiency.

3. A Visualization of United States Debt

What the US debt looks like as piles of US$100 bills:

The debt currently stands at US$14,654,237,323,627 – but by the time you click on the link, it will be somewhat higher.

To read the rest of the post, please got to REDD-Monitor

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Filed under Carbon Trading, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, REDD, UNFCCC

0 Responses to REDD-Monitor open thread: Capitalism, climate change and carbon trading

  1. Gellstealse

    What is the simplest possible means of getting shielded from third party law suits?