Summary of An Economic Case for Protecting the Planet

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An Economic Case for Protecting the Planet summary
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“We seem to have totally forgotten that there is such a thing as global commons: air, water, forests and biodiversity,” laments Naoko Ishii, CEO of the Global Environment Facility. She proposes overhauling four economic systems to avoid the tragedy of the commons on a global scale. getAbstract recommends this informed talk to environmentalists, economists, policy makers and concerned citizens.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What resources constitute the global commons,
  • Why people fail to appreciate and protect the global commons, and
  • How to avoid the tragedy of the commons on a global scale.
 

About the Speaker

Naoko Ishii is CEO of the Global Environment Facility. Previously, she was Japan’s deputy vice minister of finance.

 

Summary

Historically, some Japanese fishing villages created a social contract to prevent overfishing. They knew that if individuals depleted fish populations out of self-interest, the whole village would suffer privation and poverty. Once the villagers saw the value of the social contract, their incentive to cheat shrank. Similar social contracts have guided communities worldwide and throughout time. Medieval European villages agreed on how to use their pastures and forests. Asian communities used social contracts to manage their water supply. When people share a finite resource, agreeing upon rules for its use makes that resource more reliable. However, these examples were local economies. In today’s far-reaching economies, people often ignore the global commons: “air, water, forests and biodiversity.” They don’t consider how their behavior harms distant resources. In 2009, a team of scientists recommended measuring the health of the global commons according to nine planetary factors essential to human survival. Their study identified each factor’s breaking point that would lead to irreversible damage. By 2010, four limits were broken, and more were in jeopardy.

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