Joseph Romm: we’re stealing from the next 100 billion people to walk the earth

Is the global economy a Ponzi scheme, are we all Bernie Madoffs, and what comes next? Part 1

By Joseph Romm, author of “The Hype about Hydrogen”

By “paying ourselves” with the wealth from future generations — indeed, from the next 50 generations and next 100 billion people to walk the earth (see NOAA stunner: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe) — we cleverly took advantage of victims not yet born, those not able to even know they were being robbed.

Madoff is reviled as a monster for targeting charities. We are targeting our own children and grandchildren and on and on. What does that make us?

Yes, homo “sapiens” have constructed the grandest of Ponzi schemes, whereby current generations have figured out how to live off the wealth of future generations. Yes, we are all in essence Madoffs (many wittingly, most not) or at least his most credulous clients.

“We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children. We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows.

In our Ponzi Scheme, investors (i.e. current generations) are paying themselves (i.e. you and me) by taking the nonrenewable resources and livable climate from future generations. To perpetuate the high returns the rich countries in particular have been achieving in recent decades, we have been taking an ever greater fraction of nonrenewable energy resources (especially hydrocarbons) and natural capital (fresh water, arable land, forests, fisheries), and, the most important nonrenewable natural capital of all — a livable climate.

The system is destined to collapse because the earnings, if any, are less than the payments.

Usually, the scheme is interrupted by legal authorities before it collapses because a Ponzi scheme is suspected or because the promoter is selling unregistered securities.

But in this Ponzi scheme, the authorities (i.e. world leaders, opinion makers, the cognoscenti) haven’t been doing much interrupting over the past two to three decades since, unlike a typical Ponzi scheme, they are heavily invested in the scheme and addicted to the returns!….

By enriching those who did the most plundering the most, we enabled them to fund lobbying and disinformation campaigns to convince substantial fractions of the public and media that there is no Ponzi scheme — that global warming is “too complicated for the public to understand” and nothing to worry about.

Global Ponzi Scheme: We’re Taking $7.3 Trillion A Year In Natural Capital From Our Children Without Paying For It

By Jeff Spross   April 23, 2013


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