If Only These People Could Do The Sums About Poverty And Climate Change


The latest reason we’ve got to all return to the medieval peasantry is that if we don’t then 100 million people will be plunged into poverty globally. A stout reason we all agree:

At least 100 million people will be plunged into poverty in the next decade, and in the decades following that, rising sea levels will swamp coastal cities from Miami to Shanghai, wiping $1tn a year from the global economy.

Clearly, get peasanting you lot.

Except, except. This past four decades have seen 2 billion people rise up out of that poverty as the economy has expanded. We actually have a plan, the Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to eliminate this proper, absolute, poverty for the remaining 900 million suffering it by 2030.

We also hope that the global economy will grow by around 3% a year over that time period. The two being rather linked of course. But 3% a year or so adds maybe $3 trillion a year to that very global economy – $2.5 trillion if you’re wishing to be a piker.

So, return to being peasants and 100 million saved from poverty, the economy is not $1 trillion a year smaller. Carry on with the global neoliberalism, capitalism and markets all the way, and we lift 900 million our of poverty and add $3 trillion a year to the global economy.

So, in order to maximise human utility, which do we do? It’s that neoliberalism red in tooth and claw, isn’t it?

If only the environmentalists could do sums…..