What’s a Planet Worth?

Republished for 2017
One lamp in human hand on white background. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

How does one quantify the value of Earth? 

In essence, we already do – we call it economic systems and development.  According to Wikipedia, the definition of an economic system is a system of production and exchange of goods and services and allocation of resources in a society. Economic systems include everything we use,  produce (creating jobs) and sell, resources traded as commodities like water, oil, electricity, food; and literally all of the products we use to sustain our modern lifestyles.

The worth of planet earth is defined mostly by the goods and services we produce and sell.  America’s consumerism has spread globally and now more than ever, our economic systems are driven by how much we produce and consume.  But quantifying our resources regarding carbon emissions and energy reduction is changing as our government policies on energy and building practices are requiring energy reduction in everything we produce, from automobiles to buildings and technology.  

#Carbon markets are also emerging, although still in infancy, requiring some mandatory compliance with corporations (especially utilities) to reduce their energy consumption and produce more#renewable energy.  The financial sector has seen a dramatic shift in new economic models such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Indice, and other indices that now quantify sustainability measures that transparently reflect their leadership and reduction in climate and energy impacts; and offer rewards and/or recognition for corporations engaging in this space. 

Much controversy surrounds the subject of climate change and how it impacts our future existence.  It can be quite confusing to find the right information regarding whether our 21st Century technology laden lifestyles, population expansion and pollution really plays a role in climate change.  While on the other hand, Earth has always experienced climate related activities as far back as historic data allows; our planet has been changing and evolving for eons and this trend is expected to continue.

Provided by www.epa.gov

However, according to many scientists and climate “experts” who hold opposing views that carbon emissions don’t play a role in climate change the Heartland Institute, or studies that show our societies do impact our planet and pose a major threat, The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) , the controversy continues to be polarized.  Often, many consumers and companies engaging in energy reduction or renewable energy production don’t believe that climate related changes are manmade, but economic factors are usually the major factor to their engagement in sustainability. 

When considering the opposing views, the main question that comes to mind is; are we really causing climate change or not? And more importantly how does one quantify the economic and “life” worth of a planet and its people, especially for future generations inheriting these “perceived” or “reality” challenges. 

imagesNaomi Klien’s new book, and film documentary of the same name, This Changes Everything,  airing in theatres on October 20th  2015, encompasses an opposing view on how climate change is indicative of our current consumption and emissions and how our Global Trade sanctions directly impact our environmental and economic conditions.  Klien points to a certain level of denial and lack of accountability in our western, social culture.  The book is well researched and does offer relevant correlations between social, trade and economic development; and offers solutions to change and shift our societies away from high-consumption and toward a new culture that demands sustainable practices.  The documentary trailer, This Changes Everything can be viewed here. Click here for movie trailer

Given the agendas and the extreme divided world views, can we all agree to not agree; and consider the possibility that both opposing sides may be right.   Whether humans are to blame or not, is not the issue at hand.  Governments, technology, etc., building and scientific communities have made significant advances with deployment of all the necessary components to support a sustainable lifestyle right now. And we don’t have to compromise modern conveniences to do so. 

#Sustainable building, transportation (electric and low emission cars) and technology costs are now more affordable than ever (solar has become over 60 percent cheaper just in the past two years). It doesn’t make financial sense to not incorporate them in our buildings and transportation.  Building code and energy mandates being adopted and increased in the past few years have also played a role in market adaption.  The bottom line: It is wiser to hedge our bets, reduce consumption and utilize current technology.  We don’t need to argue or delay any longer and can agree on one common agenda.  This agenda is the viability of#sustainable-green economics.”

If high-performance building saves money and resources, why not just do it!  By upgrading existing and new building stock, we can all agree that economic recovery, based on#energy and#carbon reduction, creates jobs, helps everyone and improves quality of life on our planet!