paying up

George Monbiot:

Money currently defined as profit is nothing of the kind.

Annual costs dumped on the environment by the world’s 3000 biggest public companies in 2008 is $2.2 trillion, equivalent to one third of their profits for that year.

The oil industry’s decommissioning costs will dwarf those of nuclear power. The money being made now should be put aside to meet them.

They include, but are not confined to, the money that will have to spent on adapting to climate change. The United Nations estimates this cost at $50–170 billion a year, but a report last year by British scientists suggested that this is around three times too low.

Does this sound familiar? In the ten years preceding the crash, the banks posted and disposed of stupendous profits. When their risky ventures failed, they discovered that they hadn’t made sufficient provision against future costs, and had to go begging from the state. They had classified their annual surplus as profit and given it to their investors and staff long before it was safe to do so.