I suppose some of the celebrations and the happiness around the world yesterday were understandable – the Bushco nightmare is over.
Except it isn’t.
Obama will not be president until January 20th.
Every twenty-four hours, thirteen million tons of toxic chemicals are released across the globe; 200,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed; more than one hundred plant or animal species go extinct; and 45,000 humans (mostly children) starve to death. Each day, 29,158 children under the age of five die from mostly preventable causes.
It is approximately 2 and a half months (76 days) until Obama is president so lets do the arithmetic and then see how much is gone before Obama is president.
- About 2 and a quarter million children will die.
- 988 million tonnes of toxic chemicals will be released
- More than 7,600 species of plant and animal will go extinct
- Around 15 million acres of rainforest will have gone
- Around 3 and a half million humans will starve to death
All of this will have happened while you are partying because the world has just been saved.
And how much of this was Bush’s fault anyway? Certainly some of it but not all of it.
How much of it was the fault of YOU AND ME. I think a lot more than either of us would like to admit.
And of course, if you are a believer in Obama [you see how we can all get sucked into deifying someone – a believer?] then how long do you think it will take him to sort this mess out? Do you think he can when the interests that cause most of this will do everything in their power to stop him?
In a nutshell, I would say this describes why I am not partying about yesterdays victory.
Not only this but he is probably going to give a job to Larry Summers, who said this…
Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Less Developed Countries]? I can think of three reasons:
“1) The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.
“2) The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I’ve always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. Only the lamentable facts that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable industries (transport, electrical generation) and that the unit transport costs of solid waste are so high prevent world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.
“3) The demand for a clean environment for aesthetic and health reasons is likely to have very high income elasticity. The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is is 200 per thousand. Also, much of the concern over industrial atmosphere discharge is about visibility impairing particulates. These discharges may have very little direct health impact. Clearly trade in goods that embody aesthetic pollution concerns could be welfare enhancing. While production is mobile the consumption of pretty air is a non-tradable.
“The problem with the arguments against all of these proposals for more pollution in LDCs (intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc.) could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalization.”
So maybe he can, but based on this and other evidence, he probably won’t.