A general view on the chimneys of the Hsieh-ho Power Plant in Keelung, northern Taiwan. EPA/DAVID CHANG
In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists demonstrate the full ramifications of a widely accepted theory about climate change: that it will almost certainly have a disproportionate impact on the poor.
Climate change won’t just hit the poor hardest, but it will exacerbate existing inequality within societies essentially slowing, halting or, in extreme cases, even reversing their economic growth.
Most of the efforts on quantifying damage from climate change are still just trying to improve on estimates of damage to the economy as a whole, without looking at its incidence across the income distribution. We need to start directing our efforts at quantifying the distribution.
The new paper fundamentally challenges the idea that all people in the future will be more affluent than previous generations. If climate impacts are borne mostly by the poor, then the future poor will, in fact, be very poor indeed.
Is 20th century capitalism failing 21st century society?
With the world still shaking from the global economic earthquake, and suffering daily aftershocks, it is not surprising to find more and more people asking themselves whether capitalism is dead. Today we are back to the inequality of 1929 and the Great Depression. High unemployment and the failure of wages to keep pace with living costs are resulting in widespread unrest against elites. For many and especially young people, the business community has lost its moral compass.
There is no doubt in my mind that capitalism is outdated and that today, talent, not capital, should be the main driver of economies. So far there seems to be a worldwide view that capitalism may be the worst form of economy and saying that the system needs fixing is only the starting point. Some believe that a new model based around a triangle of government, companies and society is the way forward. Some others believe that there has to be a more inclusive form of capitalism. The real problem is still that far too many narrow-minded executives that don’t want to make the necessary fundamental changes that are necessary to make capitalism work.
While the shift in economic power to the East is undeniable, no-one should think these emerging markets are great paragons of new model capitalism, spreading wealth and benefits. It’s all lip service unless major action is implemented. There may well be a rising middle class in the Eastern economies, but poverty, disease and a lack of social welfare still abound there, that is without saying anything about corruption, and lack of corporate transparency.
Can someone out there please tell me what the new model of global economy should be, how it might look like and most importantly, how we can prevent it to become a re-fashioned version of our actual, outdated and corrupted economic models?