Thursday, March 19, 2009
Obligatory Environmental Insurance & Ecological Debt
I found an article on the Environmental News Network today published from Reuters on October 17, 2008 titled "Argentina makes environmental insurance a must." Argentine officials are requiring companies to buy insurance to cover environmental damage. The article notes that this is the first country to make insurance obligatory and that, even though environmental insurance is sold in Europe it is not obligatory, because it does not have to be, said a spokesman for the Environment Secretariat.
Nothing in the article is said about the position of the United States regarding this issue.
For years many scientists and concerned citizens have been speaking out about the unpaid costs of ecological degradation worldwide. Civilization has been using taking natural resources at a very low cost and selling resulting products for a much higher profit than would be possible if the real costs for using sustainable natural resources were factored in. I wrote about this issue in my blog post on October 24, 2008 titled, "Debt to Nature and the Global Economy Crisis"
Since last fall almost all of the news has been about the Economic Crisis. Hardly anything is being said by politicians or news services in America about ecological issues. Even climate change and global warming are bundled in with ideas about how to make America energy efficient in the future, but bringing the economy back to "normal profitability" seems to be foremost. Personally I am not sure what "back to normal profitability" can even mean to any of us, given the unbelievable ponzi schemes, greed and top up wealth accumulation being exposed almost every day. The latest news is that the worldwide AIG Insurance company was selling insurance while knowing they did not have the money to pay future claims. And now they are being "bailed out" by American taxpayers, because this huge global company has become too big to fail? We as taxpayers have a right and an obligation to be learn how to become involved in American and Global affairs to assure a much more logical and even balanced and secure economic and ecological future, if that is even possible.
This brings up the question in my mind - How many (or what percentage of) companies that get permits to take natural resources in America for profit are required to pay adequate (ie., real cost) fees or purchase environmental insurance that will assure American taxpayers that the resources will remain sustainable in the future? And, how can Americans and other citizens in the world begin to trust the politicians and corporations and insurance companies that they can change their behavior and become responsible for the future, when it is so obvious that they have not been responsible in the past.
I don't believe that the "Debt to Nature" or "Ecological Debt" has ever been a serious consideration in America or other countries in the past. It just seems logical that humans have to address this issue now, at the same time we are trying to address the economic crisis. To my mind these issues have to be intertwined into human consciousness if there is to be a sustainable global environment and economy in the future.