|Webdiary - Independent, Ethical, Accountable and Transparent|
Robin Hood, mining tax and seven challenges for 7 billion people
This week the world's population ticked over to 7 billion. By 2050 that number is expected to grow to 9 billion.
From water shortages to rising sea levels, experts from the University of New South Wales and the University of Melbourne paint a grim future for life on Earth.
They forecast dramatic changes unless significant steps are taken to curb population growth.
Here seven academics outline seven challenges they say a population of 7 billion must confront.
Today’s water crisis is not an issue of scarcity, but of access. More people in the world own cell phones than have access to a toilet. And as cities and slums grow at increasing rates, the situation worsens. Every day, lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills thousands, leaving others with reduced quality of life. 884,000,000 people already lack access to clean water. 3.5 million people die from water related disease.
Here’s the bottom line: Any expectations that ever-increasing supplies of energy will meet demand in the coming years are destined to be disappointed. Instead, recurring shortages, rising prices, and mounting discontent are likely to be the thematic drumbeat of the globe’s energy future. If we don’t abandon a belief that unrestricted growth is our inalienable birthright and embrace the genuine promise of renewable energy (with the necessary effort and investment that would make such a commitment meaningful), the future is likely to prove grim indeed. Then, the history of energy, as taught in some late twenty-first-century university, will be labeled: How to Wreck the Planet 101.
The End of Growth, Richard Heinberg’s latest landmark work, goes to the heart of the ongoing financial crisis, explaining how and why it occurred, and what we must do to avert the worst potential outcomes. Written in an engaging, highly readable style, it shows why growth is being blocked by three factors:
Environmental impacts, and
Crushing levels of debt.
These converging limits will force us to re-evaluate cherished economic theories and to reinvent money and commerce.
Overall, it is all too apparent that the world economy in the generation ahead will not be able to rely on the size and scope of fresh new demographic inputs that helped power global growth in the pre-crisis generation. For today‘s affluent Western economies, the demographic challenges ahead — increasingly stagnant and aging populations, mounting health and pension claims on a shrinking pool of prospective workers — are already generating concern, especially in Europe and Japan. But the demographic constraints on many of today‘s emerging markets — rising economies such as China, Russia and India, the places that are widely expected to serve as increasingly important engines of global growth in the decades immediately ahead — are in any case both more serious and more intractable than generally appreciated.
Despite the advances that have been made in contraception over the past fifty years, an estimated 150 million women worldwide cannot get the birth control they desire. In many parts of the world most young women become mothers before they are 20 years old. A woman who bears children at a younger age tends to have more children over all, is less able to care for them, and is more likely to suffer ill health. Maternal mortality remains the leading cause of death for women of childbearing age — an estimated 500,000 women die each year from pregnancy related causes, with 78,000 deaths resulting from unsafe abortion. Having access to safe, appropriate family planning methods and safe abortion when needed, can make the difference in women’s lives.
In the past four years, rising world food prices and the global economic downturn increased the ranks of the world’s food insecure from 848 million to 925 million by September 2010, reversing decades of slow yet steady progress in reducing hunger. While the human costs have been considerable, the political consequences have been significant as well.
Climate change is arguably the most expensive and complex challenge that humanity has faced. Since the industrial revolution, we have been building an economy that steadily emits more and more greenhouse gases. Now, all of a sudden, we have to alter virtually every process that we have painstakingly evolved, and we have to do it quickly. Most scientists now agree that it is crucial that we avoid increasing average temperatures by more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. What happens when we pass that limit?
With challenges like these confronting mankind, can we continue with a business as usual approach? Are the current institutions capable of addressing these challenges? I think not. To fix these problems governments will need to raise a lot more revenue. Two possible solutions which would go a long way to meeting the costs involved are:
Robin Hood Tax
The Robin Hood Tax (more formally known as a financial transaction tax) is a tiny tax on financial speculation by investment banks, hedge funds and other finance institutions that would raise billions to tackle poverty and climate change, in Australia and overseas.
It can start as low as 0.005 per cent – and average 0.05 per cent. But when levied on the billions of dollars moving round the global finance system daily through transactions such as foreign exchange, derivatives and share deals, it could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually.
Mining TaxToday, the Gillard Government introduced Mineral Resources Rent Tax legislation into Parliament.
Australians know how important the mining industry is, but they also know we can only dig up Australia’s resources once.
The MRRT is an historic economic reform which will spread the benefits of the mining to all Australians, not just hugely profitable mining companies.These benefits include:
Since our announcement of the MRRT, investment has continued to boom, in spite of the doomsayers.
Businesses are planning to invest a record $150 billion in 2011-12, with mining investment accounting for more than half of this.
Mining employment has grown by 19.4 per cent – that’s 35,200 mining jobs - compared to 2.3 per cent for the whole economy over the same period.
Many Australians aren’t feeling the benefits of mining boom – many businesses and households are doing it tough.
That’s why we want to spread the benefits of the boom to all corners of our patchwork economy.