NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – May 7 2019
U.S. hedge-fund boss Ray Dalio is one capitalist who frets about the gap between rich and poor.
Yet our planet’s billions of people on average are improving their lot.
A report released on Monday shows how land, water and biodiversity, on the other hand, are paying the price.
A million animal and plant species out of an estimated 8 million are at risk of extinction, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which involves more than 130 countries.
The causes include overexploitation of land and freshwater resources, the degradation of land productivity, the loss of forests and overfishing, among others.
Humankind has benefited, overall.
Despite increasing numbers, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 a day is now below 10 percent, the World Bank reckons.
That’s down from more than a third in 1990.
But the IPBES makes clear that time is running out for the environment. Required policy changes will, the authors say, meet resistance from vested interests.
Dalio’s solutions to inequality run the gamut from some degree of wealth redistribution, including taxing pollution, to improving childcare, education and healthcare.
It’s already a complex mix.
But a man worth $18 billion, according to Forbes, could think bigger still.
After all, such efforts will fail if the natural resources essential to human gains go into irreversible decline.
He’s right that people don’t all benefit from capitalism, but nature is its biggest loser.