What does a Billion Dollars mean for the Planet?

It’s all relative isn’t it?  This infographic from the Fast Company blog ” What’s a Billion, Here and There?” which shows the comparative size of different expenditures and markets, really puts things in perspective.

 billion_dollar_960 big

 For a clearer picture, click here at  Information is Beautiful.

Cliff Kuang, the blog writer points to an important caveat in the diagram:

The graph is dominated by $7.8 trillion supposedly spent by the U.S. government on bailouts in the present financial crisis. But that number isn’t like the others–as The New York Times reports, that massive figure is actually a hypothetical estimate of what the government might be on the hook for if the financial system actually collapses. The actual budgeted cost of the bailout program is around $2 trillion–which is obviously enormous, but is actually a trillion less than we’ve spent on the Iraq war.

Even so, the figures spent on the financial bailout (US$2 trillion) and the Iraq war (US$3 trillion) are mind-boggling.

Think of how little it costs, in comparison to solve important issues facing the world:

$515 billion to shift the entire world to solar power and renewable energies

*  $465 billion to feed and educate every child on earth for 5 years

*  $200 billion to write-off Africa’s entire debt to Western Nations

*  $ 21 billion to save the Amazon

As I mentioned in an earlier blog on Challenges and Prospects for a Green Economy, Pavan Sukhdev the lead author of the TEEB Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity report and the Global Green New Deal says:

“one third of the around $2.5 trillion-worth of planned stimulus packages should be invested on ‘greening’ the world economy. The estimated $750 billion of green investment, equal to about one per cent of current global GDP, could trigger significant, multiple and potentially transformational returns.”

The World People’s Conference of Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, that was held recently at Cochacomba, Bolivia stipulates that developed nations put forward 6% of their annual GDP for climate finance in developing countries.

Do you know how much is currently allocated to developing countries  for addressing climate change? At the COP15 Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in December 2009, the proposal was to mobilise US$10 billion per year between 2010 and 2012, and up to US$100 billion by 2020 annually – which represents only 0.8% to 8% of developed countries’ national defence budgets, respectively!


When it comes to our planet, there’s no dearth of billions.  It’s clear we’re pretty good at being penny wise and pound foolish!


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Posted by on Apr 27 2010. Filed under Government Policy, Green Economics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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