Global public goods debate

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“It’s a question everyone has to decide on his own, what he focuses on and what’s the most important for him”


Concerning this thesis: I don’t think so when we are talking about global public goods. There the “personal” decision of one person is no longer personal, when it affects global public goods and therefore every other person. Well, I’m not quite sure, but I don’t want anybody to make a “personal” decision for his own personal best (money or anything else) effecting “my” global public goods.

Therefore in economical terms I think the general benefit of global public goods are higher than the benefit for a minority. Again, before anybody implies me I want to tell anybody what to do or so: I don’t want that!!! I think a “world governance” should develop a system to protect these global public goods (because they do have a value for everybody (in economical, intrinsic and social terms!!!)) and in the same time compensate the missing economical, technical and social benefits for the minority.

A few public goods touched in this case are biodiversity, fresh air and water, intact environment in general.


… Jule touched on a very good point about the notion of global public goods conflicting with personal interests. While a system of global governance with real teeth would be fantastic, it's never going to happen while nations and individuals doggedly cling to their right to pursue their own personal well-being and happiness. This is a big cause of conflict within the commonwealth of nations currently, between western, wealthy, and especially Anglo-Saxon countries who believe in the right of the individual above all else, and the more collectivist approach of other nations, particularly the Asians (at least this the conflict in the debate over human rights).

A system of world governance will only function as well as its individual components, and in a system reliant on a consensus approach from around 200 countries it's just close to impossible. The majority may agree that climate change is a bad thing and drastically limiting carbon emissions is a global public good, but as we predictably saw in Copenhagen, states will invariably follow their own narrow national interests, no matter how grossly misplaced.

What I'm really curious to know is whether anyone believes that the environmental global public goods are consistent with economic global public goods, i.e. is the pursuit of global economics as currently practiced detrimental to the global environment or can it be beneficial?


To Andrews question: I'm not really sure whether I got your question correctly, since for me the coherence between the example and the question doesn't get clear enough. Therefore I will only refer to the example, so does the pursuit for economic growth and the resultant international division of labour harm the environment in all cases or can it be for the good of the environment, too? Wow, tough question. To be honest, I can't think of any example which would speak for the benefits of environmental global public goods. Do you have some example in mind, which brought you to that question? From judicial, development and social points of view, there are certainly some examples.


My question relates to whether the global economic system (here I mean the growth imperative, free trade, financial mobility, the bond markets, etc) can provide reasonable living standards and social justice for the planet's population, or does it carry within it the seeds of its own destruction by demanding consumption beyond the planet's natural limits? There's no doubt that the ascent of global finance and the global bond market has proved wildly successful and incredibly efficient in creating wealth and swift development in those countries that have the political infrastructure required to take advantage of them. But is its very success the root of its future self-destruction? The drive to increase profits and consumption requires increased resource use, and most of those resources tend to be non-renewable. We in the West like to comfort ourselves with the thought that we're becoming more resource efficient and will be able to replace non-renewables with new technology at some stage in the future. In the meantime, our economy is responsible for pumping huge amounts of fossilised carbon into the atmosphere, which will most probably trigger changes to the global climate that will not only make it harder and harder to maintain development and social justice, but which is also likely to lead to more and more conflict between nations as competition heats up over increasingly scarce resources. For example, the world is currently able to produce 80 million barrels of oil per day, but if China keeps developing at its current pace, that country alone will require 100 million barrels of oil per day by 2030. There's no way carbon emissions can be limited at that rate and the price to be paid is higher temperatures in areas of the world that already have very hot climates, leading to lower food output as water becomes more scarce. Economic growth can't be maintained in that scenario, and therefore there's unlikely to be any salvation for the poor nations of the world. Or is that overly pessimistic? Can the global economic system as it currently operates deliver greater wealth for all while also keeping within natural limits and restricting emissions of greenhouse gases?