Ecocentric

Worried about the Federal Debt? Then You Should Be Worried About the Natural Debt Too

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I have a Going Green column on the Time.com mainpage about the similarities between the federal debt every politician in Washington claims to be worried about, and the debt to nature that almost no one is talking about. They’re remarkable similar. As a country, we’ve run up a massive federal debt in part because we’ve lived beyond our means, spending more than we’ve taken in as revenue. This has Republicans in particular panicking—and ready to slash the budget deficit through deep and immediate spending cuts, whatever the short-term cost to the economy. But we’ve run up a similarly dire debt with nature, though. Whether it’s climate change, overfishing, soil erosion, water depletion or biodiversity loss, we’re living well beyond the carrying capacity of the planet. The astounding prosperity of the past decades may be temporary—like living off your credit cards. Eventually, a collapse will come. But the same conservative politicians who are so worried about the federal debt are the ones who ignore even the possibility of a nature debt—and in the name of fiscal austerity, they are pushing spending cuts that will undermine our ability to respond to pay off that environmental debt.

Read the whole piece here.

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