Green recovery must end the reign of GDP, argue Cambridge and UN economists


Science Business

Our fixation with Gross Domestic Product for over half a century as the primary indicator of economic health has rendered nature “invisible” from national finances, intensifying the biosphere’s destruction by omitting its value from the systems that govern us.

This is according to leading economists from Cambridge University and the United Nations, who meet on Tuesday 15 December to help launch a “statistical standard” that allows governments and banks to calculate the worth of natural “dividends”: from fish stocks and carbon ‘sinks’ to reduced health burdens from purified air.

Almost a decade in the making, the new statistical approach, called “Ecosystem Accounting”, had its final consultation on the first of this month, and will go before the UN General Assembly next year with hopes of ratification as the global standard for measuring how the natural world underpins national economies.

“A focus on GDP without proper regard for environmental degradation or inequality has been a disaster for global ecosystems and undermined social cohesion,” said Prof Diane Coyle, who leads ‘Beyond GDP’ research at Cambridge’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy and is a key speaker at Tuesday’s public event.

“Statistics are the lens through which we see the world, but they have made nature invisible to policymakers. Twenty-first century progress cannot be measured using twentieth century statistics,” she said.

While many talk of the need to ‘build back better’ from the ravages of Covid-19, we cannot recover better without better information to guide us, says United Nations Chief Economist Elliot Harris, who will also speak at the Cambridge-hosted event.

“It is high time we moved beyond GDP and measured our wealth and success with tools that recognize the value of nature and people. The developments to our System of Environmental Economic Accounting are a giant leap in the right direction,” Harris said.

As part of a global team, economists from Cambridge’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy such as Dr Matthew Agarwala have been working with the UN to develop aspects of the new accounting methods. With his colleague Dimitri Zenghelis, Agarwala has written a guide for treasuries and central banks that the UN will roll out as a training programme.

“Some of the ways we currently value nature, what we term ‘natural capital’, are just absurd,” said Agarwala. “Most parks in the UK, including huge parks in major cities, have an asset value of £1, because they can’t be sold.

“Local Authorities have a balance sheet with a £1 asset that costs many thousands in annual upkeep. But this ignores revenues from higher property values in the vicinity. Even worse, it ignores the value of outdoor recreation, cleaner air, and the greatly reduced impact on local health services this creates.

“We now have the framework for putting that information into everyday economic decisions and scaling it up to the national level,” he said.

The Bennett Institute also works closely with the UK’s Office for National Statistics, early adopters of Ecosystems Accounting during its previous “experimental” phase. ONS work published last year used these methods to reveal the startling value of nature.

“Shading and cooling services” provided by greenery and waterways were valued at almost a quarter of a billion pounds a year in the UK through improved worker productivity and air-conditioning energy savings alone.

Just the green spaces and rivers in urban areas saved almost £163m annually in healthcare costs, and urban woodland was estimated to be worth £89m a year through carbon removal. Recreation spent in nature just in urban areas was valued at some £2.5 billion a year in the UK.

“We need statistics that can guide us through the new challenges we’re facing – biodiversity loss, inequality, climate change, and automation,” said Agarwala. “We are only just scratching the surface of what these accounting methods can reveal.”

Two Cambridge graduates at the Central Statistical Office – the precursor to the ONS – James Meade (later a University professor) and Richard Stone, laid the foundations for GDP as we know it: essentially, the value of things and services produced by a given country.

But Cambridge is also home to Prof Sir Partha Dasgupta, considered the father of the modern movement to knock GDP from its pedestal and infuse economics with the worth of life on Earth: from nature to the value of human connection.

Prof Dasgupta will also be speaking at the Ecosystem Accounting event, discussing his landmark commission from the UK Treasury to investigate the economic benefits of global biodiversity – and the costs of its rapid loss.

“Ecosystem services are simply absent from most national statistics,” he said. “Vast intellectual energy is given to estimating GDP, but there is little data on the biosphere’s capacity to meet human demand for natural goods and services.”

Dasgupta describes natural capital as a necessary step towards the creation of “inclusive wealth”, in which economics accounts for everything from health and skills to the value of communities – all fundamental to productivity, and all currently gaping holes in national balance sheets.

At the event, Prof Coyle will discuss the major Bennett Institute report she produced with Agarwala called ‘Building Forward: Investing in a resilient recovery‘. Published last month, it outlines how inclusive wealth could be developed in response to the pandemic and the UK’s longstanding “productivity puzzle”.

“Gaps in economic measurement have contributed to chronic underinvestment in natural and social capital,” said Coyle. “Assets such as public green space or personal networks do not have a market price and so are not counted in economic statistics.”

This omission of life’s fundamentals in national economic calculations is not just a missed opportunity for governments, but a massive risk. “The halls of power have yet to grasp how vital it is to include natural capital in the economy,” added Agarwala. “Look at the precipitous falls in fossil fuel value, and that’s just one small part.

“The extreme human and economic cost of the pandemic arise from a failure to manage natural capital. It has proved far more costly than it would have been to protect wild habitats and biodiversity in the first place to avoid such zoonotic spillover.”


From EurekAlert!

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December 14, 2020 7:40 am

The ultimate goal of the progressives is to make sure that nothing can be judged by impartial numbers that can be measured and compared.
Instead we must be judged by ephemeral standards that only elites can determine.

Reply to  MarkW
December 14, 2020 9:56 am

And adjust as needed.

Bill Powers
Reply to  MarkW
December 14, 2020 10:57 am

The big problem, here in the U.S., is that we have 2 1/2 generations of public school graduates making up 80% of the voting population and 67% of them cannot find Mexico on a Map.

When CNN tells them something is bad their anxiety levels spike. Since CNN will neither understand nor be able to explain National Ecosystem Accounting, the bureaucrats will be in a position to create new Hobgoblins at will.

The Public School graduates will immediately respond by calling for more of the type of government that menaces’ them with these Mystical Hobgoblins to begin with. It is a never ending cycle akin to the endless war with shifting allies and enemies of which Orwell cautioned us to be very wary. I believe that 1984, while late, has finally arrived and there is very little that dwindling free men can do about it.

Reply to  MarkW
December 14, 2020 11:10 am

“we must be judged by ephemeral standards that only elites can determine”

Yes. And no matter what those standards are determined to be, things will be declared

Reply to  MarkW
December 15, 2020 6:51 am

This sounds like the “Financialization of Nature: Creating a new definition of nature : Nature is described in the language of financial capital to better suit the new Green Economy.”

Joseph Zorzin
December 14, 2020 7:53 am

Ecosystem accounting? It’s about time. Here in Massachusetts where solar “farms” are popping up like mushrooms after a heavy rain- I often bitch about the fact that nobody seems to account for the loss of the forests- where most of these “farms” are being installed. Forests sequester carbon, produce oxygen, are wildlife habitat and last but not least- produce wood products we all like and jobs to make those wood products. The irony is that this state has a large number of climate hysterics who say we must lock up all the forests to “save the planet and biodiversity”- yet they seem to love these solar “farms” which have destroyed several thousand acres of forest in just the past 5 years. So far, solar is only producing a few percent of the state’s electric power but the state now has a goal of net zero by 2050- so there will have to be a boom in solar “farms”. I ask the state politicians how many more acres of forest will be destroyed and they don’t reply. So, in addition to the countless billions to make the state net zero by 2050- it’s imperative to put a dollar sign on the lost ecosystem values by the destruction of the forests.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 14, 2020 5:00 pm

Can any of these morons from Massachusetts or any other state tell how net zero going to happen by 2050. The only way is for us poor peons to freeze from the cold or cook from the heat where I live, in our dark houses sorry wrong not houses but shacks. As to the forest that not sacrifices to solar farms will be burnt for head and fuel for the cook stove.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 14, 2020 6:22 pm

Does that mean in Australia we will finally be allowed to relax? 😉

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 15, 2020 8:42 am

I’ve been told that NO forests are being sacrificed for these solar farms, even though I’ve witnessed it. Facts are irrelevant.

Kevin kilty
December 14, 2020 8:10 am

“Most parks in the UK, including huge parks in major cities, have an asset value of £1, because they can’t be sold.

This is how many productive assets will soon be valued if they can’t be used to earn money and can’t be sold, or are a huge liability against current income because a wealth tax has been imposed.

The Dark Lord
Reply to  Kevin kilty
December 14, 2020 11:29 am

GDP doesn’t count assets … these guys are morons …

December 14, 2020 8:14 am

While human interaction is priceless, to claim that it can be measured, racked and stacked is pure BS. I bet that Jeff Bezos loves to knock back a few and shoot the s–t while enjoying his yacht. Does the yacht contribute to human interaction? The car you took friends to the game in? The gas you burned to get to the concert? This appears to be nothing more than a dishonest tool to promote the projects that the authors support.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Meab
December 14, 2020 12:55 pm

Socialist economists telling the world that Capitalism is bad. It appears that many have not learned from the 70-year Soviet experiment nor the current socialist countries’ train wrecks.

Reply to  Dave Fair
December 14, 2020 5:21 pm

Socialists = communists!

John Endicott
Reply to  mikee
December 15, 2020 7:38 am

indeed, they’re just different flavors of the same sh!t

Steve Case
December 14, 2020 8:17 am

“It is high time we moved beyond GDP and measured our wealth and success with tools that recognize the value of nature and people. The developments to our System of Environmental Economic Accounting are a giant leap in the right direction,” Harris said.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ! First chuckle of my day.
Guess he didn’t exactly want to say “Great Leap Forward”
There was a death toll associated with China’s Great Leap
Forward, I suppose this “Giant Leap in the Right Direction”
will at least leave a string of bankruptcies.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  Steve Case
December 14, 2020 11:55 am

The death toll is variously estimated to be between 30 million to 80 million. the purges, dislocations, and re-eduction camps were so widespread and numerous no one really knows the precise numbers, probably not even the CCP leadership. The Chinese are not like the Germans. Germans like to keep precise records on everything. The China, nada. China suppresses GLP death numbers and claims virtually no one died as a result of the purges. Even Wikipedia has been corrupted on this issue and tows the CCP propaganda line. But the number were vast.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 14, 2020 11:56 am

GLF (not GLP)

December 14, 2020 8:24 am

Even if the IPCC was close to correct about the effect of CO2 emissions, this fool and his UN comrades make no sense unless the goal is to revert civilization back to the stone age. Back then, rather than a GDP to indicate progress, progress was measured by how much of your competition for resources you can eliminate with tribal warfare and/or turn into slaves.

Rod Evans
December 14, 2020 8:26 am

What a load of cod’s wallop that airy fairy unquantifiable economic accounting idea that is.
To then conflate Covid with human failure to value nature, put the clincher on just what this “New accounting system” actually is.
It is no more than publicly funded virtue signalling designed to discredit and block real wealth creation.
The western world has gone completely mad.
We are seeing the academics building their own funeral pyre but they have no concept of what they are constructing!

Reply to  Rod Evans
December 14, 2020 9:23 am

They know they are building funeral pyres. It’s just that they have convinced themselves that it will be those they don’t like who will be put on the pyres.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  MarkW
December 14, 2020 5:06 pm

The left has a good pattern who they take out first. First it the educators and the administrators of said education institutions, gone shoot or starve and the same time the media meets the same fate. After that it the opposition and lastly their useful idiots since they are no longer useful.

December 14, 2020 8:26 am

Another narrative with a willing media to spread it designed to corral wealth while claiming to fairly redistribute it.

December 14, 2020 8:29 am

The GDP was and is since 1990 pure fiction anyway.
The Great Reset will replace this fiction with an even more insane “measure”.

The Green Domestic Product – there, I trademarked it before the Davos geniuses.

Bruce Cobb
December 14, 2020 8:29 am

“This is according to leading ecwhackonomists”
There, fixed.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
December 14, 2020 9:25 am

And MY fairy dust is more valuable than YOUR unicorn manure! So there.

December 14, 2020 8:33 am

The underdeveloped countries of the world have refused, certainly, since Paris 2015, to even attempt to fashion a waste management plan for their countries, {despite being offered proven methodologies by my own Company}often because they will not place the burden of ‘Waste Producer Pays Policy’ (PPP, otherwise known as the Tipping Fee) where it belongs, hence waste is discarded at will, by virtually all producers, to any available hole in the ground, or suitable place at the time. Interestingly, the cost of household disposal in say South Asia can be calculated (to include CAPEX and OPEX of 3R’s) to be less than $0.5/week/household. Thus a circular waste management scheme funded based on revenue from (a)PPP and revenue from (b)energy sales into ‘the grid’ at a fraction of the cost of a ‘packet of cigarettes’ (a major polluter in themselves), which never appear to ‘cost too much’ to so many who deposit their garbage ‘ab-lib’. People are left to scavenge landfill sites, even live on top of them, in order to simply survive, while their politicians promise them ” We will build Bridges……even when there’s no River to Cross” (HS2 perhaps), Ports, where there are very few {cargo} ships arriving, and airports where there are no ‘Arrivals and Depature Lounges.’
It’s all about the money, is it not?

Sovereign Debt Agreements, to guarantee Foreign Investment to fund Waste Management systems, don’t work in such places, due to bad credit ratings or unplayable debt interest. Banks can’t work under such conditions, and the ‘humanitarian aid’ that is supplied is sparodic and prone to either damage or loss before its work can be done.

GDP is not a global system that tells the truth about why the number is what it is, and does nothing to assist the underdeveloped regions to erect for themselves the essential ‘ladders of progress’ to climb out of abject poverty.
I have an invention to change this, but try getting anyone to listen to the message and it back to “The Money” and everything else, especially poverty, is not on the global menu, well not for real anyway.
Charities are not equipped to deal with lazy or corrupted Governments and throwing odd coins into the fountain of waste won’t make any appreciable difference anywhere
Time has come to make big decisions that affect global humanitarian problems, stating with all aspects of ‘control’, how many, how much, how to match demand with real sustainability, everywhere.

Steven Curtis Lohr
December 14, 2020 8:33 am

I am reluctant to make a remark but here goes. One of our state representatives explained a problem to me that I hadn’t grasped prior. If land is sequestered as open space, or conservation easements, there is a cascade of lost revenue and increased competition(demand) for remaining land space. First, once it is “publicly owned” that potential for tax base is lost. Also, the loss of potentially developable land for additional uses that may offer more local support in tax base for infrastructure, i.e. roads, bridges, court houses, and services such as police capability, hospital services, emergency planning etc. etc. prevents adequate social services and quality of life. Some open space type programs are anything but. Large swaths of land that no longer produce a commodity or product and can only be accessed for walking or biking do nothing to produce but they do cause increases in the cost of living on the land that should provide housing and jobs or useable products. Those on the short end of the stick who cannot pay the higher price for the remaining opportunities are disenfranchised in a very real way, no amount of reframing by the UN is going to change that.

Steve Case
Reply to  Steven Curtis Lohr
December 14, 2020 10:38 am

Steven Curtis Lohr December 14, 2020 at 8:33 am

Bingo! Precisely why I don’t give to The Nature Conservancy
like all my liberal friends do.

Reply to  Steven Curtis Lohr
December 14, 2020 12:06 pm

Where did you find that State rep?

That guy would be very unique in Oregon. (For understanding such; and for saying such out loud).

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  Steven Curtis Lohr
December 14, 2020 12:17 pm

In the Western US where the US govt via the BLM, USFS, NPS own so much land this a problem in some areas. One reason Texas govt does so well is a lot of the land in West Texas for oil and natural gas is state land, owing to how Texas was first a free nation then became a state and never a territory. That enables a huge amount of state land oil and gas lease revenue to flow to the Texas permanent school fund. At the end of fiscal 2019, the Fund balance was $46.5 billion, an increase of $2.4 billion from the prior year. Both Texas and Alaska are in enviable positions with a fund like this.

New Mexico, a now Blue state run by Democrat libtards, gets about $2 billion a year in oil and gas revenue to the state coffers, mainly from it part of the Permian basin oil and gas fields. This puts the New Mexico Eco-Libtards vs more blue-collar Democrats in a difficult opposition of positions: chose revenue and jobs or the climate scam. If they push to restrict the fracking and thus oil and gas lease revenues, that money loss would put the Libtards in a real bind with voters for the lost revenue that would have to be made up elsewhere, i.e. new and higher taxes and/or severe cuts to state services and funding to schools. So they’re stuck.
The Trump admin has been pushing BLM to make more leases in New Mexico’s part of oil and gas rich Persian Basin fields. This furthers adds revenue to New Mexico governments thru more jobs, more services, more tax revenue. Now they face the real ideological problem of supporting the coastal elites and Dementia Joe’s anti-fossil fuel agenda and thus lose huge amounts of revenue and jobs, or just pay lip service to the Eco-tards among them and hope a Republican President gets elected in 2024.

Brooks Hurd
December 14, 2020 8:37 am

The WEF’s Great Reset would put the entire planet under a world government run by the UN. This is new accounting system would muddy any comparisons between whatever entities survive the Great Reset. Unusable natural resources will now be used to convince people that the are successful in spite of the facts that much of the population is freezing in the winter, sweltering in the summer and starving most of the time.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Brooks Hurd
December 14, 2020 1:03 pm

Your meat ration has always been 25 grams.

December 14, 2020 8:44 am

They do raise some good points & GDP is a poor way of measuring our wealth, health & success, why does ours have to be bigger than yours, Isn’t that just a mindless pi$$ing contest ??

(If can get mine higher up the wall… but then it splashes all over me…what have I gained ??? )

Also we need to move away from the constant demand for yr on yr % growth & crackpot ‘targets’ just to produce more stuff of little value to make bigger landfill dumps.

Reply to  saveenergy
December 14, 2020 11:18 am

Yes, GDP is certainly not the ultimately-perfect way of measuring and comparing the productivity of nations, but can you suggest a better metric?

(and also an application of such a metric that doesn’t allow China to be classified as a “developing economy” ffs)

Reply to  Mr.
December 14, 2020 1:03 pm

It’s not so much the GDP that he objects to. It’s the idea of people having more stuff that he finds offensive.

Dave Fair
Reply to  MarkW
December 14, 2020 3:17 pm

Human beings want their own stuff. End of story.

Socialists and totalitarians of all sorts want to control people “for their own good.” Funny how peoples’ good seem to be the good as defined by Big Brother, not as defined by the people themselves in their everyday decisions.

Reply to  saveenergy
December 14, 2020 1:02 pm

If mine is bigger than yours, then my people are getting rich faster than your people.
Do you have a problem with people getting rich?
From your final paragraph, it appears you do have a problem with people getting rich.

Dave Fair
Reply to  saveenergy
December 14, 2020 1:06 pm

Please list all of your “stuff of little value.” How would that list differ from that of a young, growing family in the U.S.?

Reply to  Dave Fair
December 15, 2020 4:17 pm

@ Dave
“Please list all of your “stuff of little value.” ”
I can’t, the list is to big !

We all surround ourselves with ‘stuff’ … some essential, some useful, some useless but nice to have, & a lot of useless tat particularly at times of celebration & the next one is upon us.

Christmas doesn’t need to be a festival of retail. The real spirit is to make it a time of genuine giving. So rather than tit-for-tat swapping of unwanted presents (most of which will end up in land-fill) with friends, why not give time and thought to others, or donate to some good causes ?

@ Mark
Don’t have a problem with people getting rich if they can do it without trashing their neighbours or the environment.

If your measure of success is wealth, then the best people are drug dealers, arms dealers, company’s & country’s that dump their effluent on other peoples land & crooked politicians.

Dave Fair
Reply to  saveenergy
December 16, 2020 10:38 am

Where would smartphones have been on your list prior to their comercilation? Let’s just have a bureaucratic organization that outlaws unnecessary stuff. That will get rid of that inconvenient human nature.

Reply to  saveenergy
December 14, 2020 6:12 pm

There is the obvious refrain to both SaveEnergy and the original Cambridge’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy …. umm we don’t give a toss what you want or think.

December 14, 2020 8:47 am

Suppose there were no fossil fuels. Wouldn’t people simply have used up all available resources such as whales and trees already? Is that the idea? But, of course, if there were no fossil fuels in the first place, there would never have been any people anyway. The creation of fossil fuels was a necessary precursor to the evolution of man.

Stephen Skinner
December 14, 2020 8:53 am

Lysenkoism ++ (and Steroids)

Bill Toland
December 14, 2020 8:55 am

This is very bad news for windfarms given the gigantic amount of damage they are causing to the natural world.
For example, 14 million trees have been felled in Scotland to make room for these bird mincing monstrosities.

Gary Pearse
December 14, 2020 8:57 am

“knock GDP from its pedestal and infuse economics with the worth of life on Earth: from nature to the value of human connection.”

This is a harbinger of the froddy election of Joe Biden, a guy in advanced stages of cognitive breakdown, as president of the USA and ‘head’ of the ‘free world’. It is the perfect symbol for what has been planned for us all without a dominant economically powerful US. With Trump at the helm this nonsense would probably not have been rolled out. The US has had the say in matters of the World Bank since its inception. Now we have Joe, unaware of his surroundings with a rubber stamp in his hand.

The whole UN, EU preoccupation has been to bring down the United States. Student friends and I saw and discussed the former as an anti-American institution as far back as the late 1950s. Socialism was the preferred path of the world and the colossal success of the free enterprise system of the United States economically and in all major fields (US has won ~380 Nobel Prizes ~40% of the world total) has bern a constant festering thorn in the side of socialists whose puny productivity by comparison was a constant advertisement for the US politico-economic system.

The EU was put together as a competitor but it ended up diluting the economic strength of the UK and Germany and its unravelling was predictable from the outset.

They gave up competition and resorted to dark methods that hsve brought to today’s sorry mess.

Gary Pearse
December 14, 2020 9:07 am

James: “GDP is not a global system that tells the truth about why the number is what it is, and does nothing to assist the underdeveloped regions to erect for themselves the essential ‘ladders of progress’”

GDP is only a basket of goods indicator that works very well for functioning economies. Regarding the underdeveloped economies it also is a stark measure even with its inaccuracies that tells countries in no uncertain terms that they have to pull up their socks”. God help them if they had a really accurate measure. They have to change how they are governed. That is the only course.

Peta of Newark
December 14, 2020 9:10 am

Just a minor point and correction:
“”The extreme human and economic cost of the pandemic arise from a failure to manage natural capital.””

Complete b*ll*x
Not least as you *have* to understand something/anything PROPERLY first before you attempt any kind of ‘management’

No matter that now….
It *should* read:
“”The extreme human and economic cost of the pandemic arise from a failure to eat a Proper Diet.””

All the ‘co-morbidities’ of Covid are directly or indirectly attributable to a shit, plant based, diet chock full of irritants, allergens and poisons while lacking in essential nutrition i.e & e.g. Vitamins B & D, Zinc and Magnesium.

‘Tis the Modern Way innit?
Pass the Buck and No Matter What, don’t let a good** crisis go to waste.

(**) As far as Covid is concerned, I use the word ‘good’ advisedly

December 14, 2020 9:23 am

“ Twenty-first century progress cannot be measured using twentieth century statistics,” she said.”

However, she failed to note that 21st century energy needs can be supplied using 15th century technology.

George Daddis
December 14, 2020 9:29 am

The “Health of the Ecosystem” is a completely different (and very subjective) measure that when appropriate should be considered and balanced against the actual and measurable financial status of an entity.

Combining those measures is “oil and water”.

December 14, 2020 9:31 am

If I may paraphrase Churchill, “Gross Domestic Product is the worst indicator of economic health, except for all the others.”


December 14, 2020 9:34 am

The Institute for International Finance says global debt will be $277 trillion by the end of the year. This would represent a debt-to-GDP ratio of 365% of the world economy.

Think for a second. The world population is 7.8 billion. What this really means is that world politicians have already spent $277 trillion that does not exist in the world economy, or $35,513 per person. It has to come from somewhere to avoid default. Guess where.

December 14, 2020 9:36 am

So Zimbabwe is really a wealthy country because now it has little agriculture, the previously poverty-stricken fields having reverted to nature.

Jim Gorman
December 14, 2020 9:38 am

This is quickly becoming a fight amongst so-called intellectual elites as to who is going to be at the top of the power heap telling everyone what to do. Climate scientists, economists, phycologists, social scientists (lol), political scientists (lol) all trying to step on each other. Is it any wonder that people come to hate big government?

The one thing I noticed was missing was any measurement about the value of people. Are more people good or bad? Is the land to support housing, food, etc. going to be valued negatively or positively? Some of these will tell you what the ultimate goal actually is.

December 14, 2020 9:45 am

Interesting…money is a measure of human toil and sweat. Money was a major improvement on the barter system. You can be paid for your toil or you can pay to save yourself toil. Even if it seems you are paying to have fun, you are actually paying for the toil it would take to arrange your life to have that fun. Payment for toil is good because it allows effort to be exerted upon those goods and services that are of sufficient benefit that others are willing to pay for them. Payment for doing nothing, such as a basic minimum income program, can practically be only the amount of money others would short of, should your existence be terminated. Communist regimes have terminated many without understanding that this was the rule.

December 14, 2020 9:47 am

I will listen to Cambridge, and all the other major universities and colleges, after they surrender the billions of dollars in trust fund money they are sitting on. Till then they can shut the f***k up about what needs to be done economically. And until they and all their students and alumni stop benefiting in any way from “fossil fuels”, hydro and nuclear produced power and products they can shut the f***k up about the environment.

On the outer Barcoo
December 14, 2020 9:53 am

An interesting book: “The Coming of Neo-Feudalism” by Joel Kotkin (available also on Kindle).

December 14, 2020 10:02 am

“…our wealth and tools…?”

Our? So, private property is out, and collectivism is in, all based on “government and banks to calculate the worth of natural dividends.”

I wonder if their models include the effects of clouds.

December 14, 2020 10:04 am

help launch a “statistical standard” that allows governments and banks to calculate the worth of natural “dividends”: from fish stocks and carbon ‘sinks’ to reduced health burdens from purified air

This is a move to monetize everything, thus making it for sale (regardless of laws and regulations). It puts resources that are held close to the heart on the ledgers and available to those with money to bargain for.

This must be a Chinese idea.
They have the money to own nations, especially the 3rd World.

December 14, 2020 10:06 am

These people are living in La-La land. Imposition of their non-GDP valuation will result in people living in societies rich in this “new wealth” starving to death.

HD Hoese
December 14, 2020 10:16 am

Did they do their homework, in very short supply nowadays? Probably not, putting such on wildlife, fish, marshes, usw, is nothing new. Actually what is sometimes shorted in the name of ‘progress’ are refuges and other necessary spaces for values other than making money. Conforming the two is above me, but these guys have a history of running into each other.

Don Thompson
December 14, 2020 10:23 am

The ecosystem evaluation should incorporate the ability to sustain human and animal life, the impacts on health and safety advances, and there should be deductions for the land and ocean devastation wind and solar (including mining).

Robert of Texas
December 14, 2020 10:28 am

How about Britain ends the era of allowing rich universities like Cambridge to dodge taxes? Instead, tax them like everything else. They have around 5 billion pounds in their investments – tax them an additional 10% per year until they learn to behave as a nonpolitical organization.

The U.S. ought to do the same to its large over-rich elite universities. You want to pack your tenured positions with liberals and then promote propaganda, you lose all tax dodges and are taxed like any other corporation. You want to base admittance on race – no more tax-free spending for you.

Then use the proceeds as grants to smaller universities that actually behave like neutral places of learning.

Ed Zuiderwijk
December 14, 2020 10:38 am

As George Orwell said: some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them. Or economists, I add.

But don’t hold your breath. I see a Nobel Prize coming for this nonsense.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
December 14, 2020 10:43 am

When one starts making subjective, judgment decisions on what has value you end up with a ‘no limiting principle’ “we get to make the rules” society. Socialists love the “No Limiting Principle” as it always justifies bigger government controls, more taking and redistribution… because they get to decide who and what has value.

This Intellectual Yet Idiot (IYI, to take Nassim Taleb’s term for her) Diane Coyle even acknowledged the roots of her ideas are in Maoist thought with her statement, “The developments to our System of Environmental Economic Accounting are a giant leap in the right direction”.

This is utter garbage from this IYI is just dressed up Great Leap Forward maoist-communism of the kind that decimated China in the 1960’s and k1lled probably 40 to 70 million Chinese in its pursuit.

December 14, 2020 10:51 am

Just more proof that we need to defund academia and the UN.

December 14, 2020 11:27 am

Social progress? Social justice? And several hundred million lives aborted in selective-child policy. Is that the measure of success that they have in mind? How green do they think people are? That said, diversity of individuals, minority of one. Lose your Pro-Choice quasi-religion (e.g. “ethics”).

tim maguire
December 14, 2020 11:27 am

Because there’s not already enough fuzziness in economics…

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  tim maguire
December 14, 2020 12:27 pm

She’s a “George Costanza-Rule” economist, just like the New York Times and Nobel winning economist Paul Krugman.
As Jerry Seinfeld told George, “If every instinct you have is wrong, so doing the opposite of has to be “right.”
So do exactly the opposite of whatever they say if you want to affect a correct economic policy.

December 14, 2020 11:37 am

There wasn’t any “zoonotic spillover”. The same people involved in function gain research on “enhancing” bat viruses to infect humans are hired by UN to find out where the virus came from.

This is using Stone Age technology to value things – modern shamanism. Value communities? How? A country with mud huts where its citizens live 30 years on average will be valued higher than a country that has people living 70 or 80. This is a MURDEROUS IDEOLOGY put in place so people can be subjected to untold poverty and austerity. It will end at best in much shortened lifespans, and at worst in millions of deaths.

Yeah, comparisons to the Great Leap Forward in China are apt, especially that the commie used a very similar phrase – Giant Leap In The Right Direction.

Mike Rossander
December 14, 2020 11:39 am

It’s odd that nobody seems to notice that it’s the countries with high GDP that are the ones that do the best job of protecting the biosphere. In fact, they’re the only ones that protect the biosphere – they’re the only ones that can afford to.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  Mike Rossander
December 14, 2020 12:32 pm

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg has written books on that topic (how energy poverty leads to environmental destruction in developing countries, the opposite of what the ecotards claim they want) and has an entire institute to pushing that truth about prosperity and environmental stewardship.

Tom Abbott
December 14, 2020 11:40 am

From the article: “This omission of life’s fundamentals in national economic calculations is not just a missed opportunity for governments”

I think giving the government more power over our lives is the purpose of this exercise.

December 14, 2020 12:24 pm
John the Econ
December 14, 2020 12:25 pm

Rising global gross product has lowered abject poverty to its lowest level in history, and all these people can think about is stopping that.

Why does the Progressive elite hate poor people so much?

Steve Richards
December 14, 2020 12:27 pm

To replace one fuzzy measure with something that has many more ‘fiddle factors’ available to the dishonest is plain stupid.

You can see this with national productivity figures. I could never understand how the French productivity figures were consistently higher than the UK figures. What, with all of their additional holidays etc.

Eventually, when I looked into it, I discovered that each nation has its own independent way of estimating the productivity figure!!!!!

I can see the this suggestion being as good and useful as the productivity calculation.

Bruce of Newcastle
December 14, 2020 2:39 pm

GDP should be abolished anyway. The formula Y = C + I + G includes G for Government. So any government can notionally manipulate GDP by printing money then spending it.

In the real world government is a dead hand which stifles the real economy with silly regulations. No better example exists than the Covid-19 rules, which seem to be made up out of thin air. Catastrophic to small businesses and ordinary people trying to survive.

So it’d be more accurate for the formula to be Y = C + I – G.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Bruce of Newcastle
December 14, 2020 3:27 pm

Cui bono? A cursory review shows big business, the stock market and the ChiCom economy are the clear winners of the ChiCom virus. Small businesses and the regular people are taking it in the shorts.

horatio doodlebug
December 14, 2020 2:59 pm

I’m sick of this now. I have little to say.
Bring on the firing squads.

December 14, 2020 3:26 pm

Social Credit comes to Soviet Gosplan, with Green as the new Red. Brexit seems to be too late.

Just when did GDP “rule” anything?

Andre Lewis
December 14, 2020 4:22 pm

Socialist economists set the scene for a new economics to be ratified in Davos as part of the Great Reset agenda. Just ignore them.

December 14, 2020 9:01 pm

Back in early Febuary of 2015, Christiana Figueres, then general secretary of the IPCC announced at a press conference that the object of the climate change panic was not to save the world from a planet producing too much CO2, but an effort to eliminate Capitalism. (You can look it up)

December 15, 2020 3:00 am

Would be nice to see them arguing for VAT on their computed value of people and nature.

December 15, 2020 4:29 am

“The extreme human and economic cost of the pandemic arise from a failure to manage natural capital. It has proved far more costly than it would have been to protect wild habitats and biodiversity in the first place to avoid such zoonotic spillover.”

So the Chicoms unleash a deadly virus from their BSL4 laboratory in Wuhan, and these idiots use the “wet markets” lie to peddle their propaganda.

Gerry, England
December 15, 2020 4:46 am

I would agree that there are problems with the metrics used to measure economic performance but would not for a moment support this rubbish. As well as GDP there is also Productivity. The UK Productivity is always being criticised as too low but we are still here. There has been a good example of the Productivity flaw and that is the availability of cheap labour. If there is a person around to do the work cheaply what incentive is there to invest in machinery and automation. The UK has seen lots of migrants coming from Eastern Europe and willing to take lower paid work that our unemployed are paid too much to want to do. All over the place you will find hand car washes. On old service station forecourts, in supermarket car parks… The net result of this is that the investment in automated car washes has collapsed and we now have lots of people employed washing cars. So this looks like lower productivity. With Brexit fruit farms are worried about not having seasonal migrant labour to do the picking. And so there is growing interest in machines being developed to pick strawberries for example as it will be worth the investment if there is no cheap labour.

Mickey Reno
December 15, 2020 6:00 am

It’s a good thing that we’re now recycling long sequestered carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. As a natural resource, it’s on par with water and oxygen as a vital material to our well-being, and to the well-being of all living things. And we get the added bonus of a reliable, inexpensive, transportable energy source.

Climate crybabies need to potty train themselves and quit deriding this wonderful bit of accidental policy-making (fossil fuel use) in which human needs and human flourishing coincides with our natural world’s needs.

December 15, 2020 8:37 am

So, they want to change the method of accounting for national economies to a totally different calculation. I’m guessing they want to “hide the decline” they know will come if their policies are instituted.

Reply to  TonyG
December 15, 2020 8:49 am

Starving children and dead bodies are rather hard to hide.

John Endicott
Reply to  2hotel9
December 16, 2020 2:32 am

They’re surprisingly easy to hide (for longer than you might think) in authoritarian countries that have strict control over the flow of information to their people. (and by easy to hide, I mean within that country. Outside the country, where information flows more freely, it won’t be so easy to hide)

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