A recent poll shows that economic concerns have taken priority above the environment, a response to the economic crisis being faced around the globe.
Madhusudan Katti of the “Reconciliation Ecology” blog asks why the environment has to take a back seat:
Must the environment always come last in a tanking economy? […] That does seem to be a correlation, doesn’t it? Short-term economic concerns always trump longer-term environmental ones, especially in an economic downturn. Well, I’m not entirely convinced of this argument, although there is the oft-mentioned correlation between poverty and endangered biodiversity, especially of the third-world variety. Poor people may be forced to put survival ahead of the environment or endangered species on occasion, but they may also have a greater vested interest in taking care of their immediate environment because their lives are more vulnerable to fluctuations therein.
Despite immediate economic demands, the environment has not completely fallen off as an issue.
China’s 4 trillion yuan economic stimulus package also includes a “green stimulus” — 11 billion yuan for environmental protection projects. Alex Wang of “Switchboard” writes:
The commitment of an explicit portion of the stimulus to environmental is very good news, and it’s an important signal that China continues to give this priority. However, we still don’t have details on the green aspects of the stimulus, and are looking forward to seeing the NDRC’s announcement on spending details. We do note that the stock market reaction, though, has been favorable in the energy intensive, high-pollution industries, such as steel, cement, petroleum and chemicals. […] We’re looking for signs that the stimulus will have similar impact on green industries.
Michael Northrop and David Sassoon of “environment360” write that President Obama must lead the world in environmental concerns at December’s Copenhagen conference and suggest a pairing of economic and environmental interests:
For almost a decade, Americans have been purposefully led astray about the reality of global warming and about the positive relationship that exists between sustainable economic prosperity and environmental stewardship. The new president must use the bully pulpit of his office to provide quick and remedial education. […] As the global economy starts to rise from collapse, it must do so with a price on carbon as part of its cure.
In a recent interview Cándido Gryzbowski intrinsically links the economic concerns with their environmental effects. He writes about the economic crisis in Brazil:
This began more visibly with the environmental crisis, then the food and energy crisis, and finally the financial crisis, which is now making deep inroads into the real economy.
Leslie Thatcher at “Truthout” translates a “Le Monde” interview with British scientist Leslie McGlade, “Think of the Economy as a Subsidiary of the Environment.”
The economy must be thought of as 100 percent subsidiary of the environment an the price we attribute to things re-evaluated. If we take into account the true cost of the water and carburants necessary to manufacture the transport of goods, we will note that moving them around the world – and even within Europe – as we do, is very expensive.
Like Grzybowski, Thatcher sees economic reconstruction as an opportunity for productive cultural change, a vision in which President Obama’s potential “New Green Deal” stimulus won’t suffice.