We are rapidly building a world in which the questions of
health and peace and prosperity sooner or later will be moot because we will
have crippled the very engine of life that makes it all possible... The
economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment. All economic
activity is dependent upon the environment with its underlying resource
base. When the environment is finally forced to file under Chapter 11
because its resource base has been polluted, drained, cut down, dissipated,
and irretrievably compromised, the economy goes down to bankruptcy with
it. The economy, in reality, is just a subset of the ecological system.
Gaylord Nelson, "The Bankruptcy Files"
Wilderness, Summer, 1994.
The Energy Fix
We like energy, and our appetite for it keeps on
growing. Since we left our caves, we have increased our numbers roughly
1,000 times, and each of us consumes roughly 1,000 times more energy, meaning
that our consumption has soared one millionfold. An American uses six
times as much energy, mostly fossil fuels, as the worldwide average, and 70
times more than a Bangladeshi. That same American consumes twice as much
energy as do Western Europeans and three times as much as do
Japanese. But by increasing the efficiency with which the United States
uses energy to Western European and Japanese levels, the country couls save
$100-$200 billion per years. As Amory Lovins points out, energy saving
is not only a free lunch but one we are paid to eat.
Norman Myers and Jennifer Kent
Perverse Subsidies: How Tax Dollars can Undercut
the Environment and the Economy.