ecostory 120/2007 E D F
Martin Wolf - ecoglobe's "Person of the Year" 2007
Person des Jahres - Personne de l'année

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Martin Wolf, CBE (Commander of the British Empire), chief economics journalist at the Financial Times, has been elected ecoglobe's Person of the Year 2007.

Last year we chose the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was killed for her courageous political journalism in Moscow in October 2006.

Martin Wolf does not risk his life for his economics journalism in London. Nevertheless, he demonstrated courage in deviating from conventional economics world view by publicly admitting that the earth's resources may be finite indeed.

This courage to revise one's opinion is rare, the more people rise on the socio-economic ladders of career and power.
That's why we elected Martin Wolf, who previously told us that we're still here despite the doomsaying of the Club of Rome, 35 years ago. (

We now read "The age of the plunderer is past. Or is it? The biggest point about debates on climate change and energy supply is that they bring back the question of limits. If, for example, the entire planet emitted CO2 at the rate the US does today, global emissions would be almost five times greater. The same, roughly speaking, is true of energy use per head. This is why climate change and energy security are such geopolitically significant issues. For if there are limits to emissions, there may also be limits to growth. But if there are indeed limits to growth, the political underpinnings of our world fall apart. Intense distributional conflicts must then re-emerge - indeed, they are already emerging - within and among countries."

Mr Wolf writes: "But it is no less vital to tackle the environmental and resource challenges the economy has thrown up. This is going to be hard. The condition for success is successful investment in human ingenuity. Without it, dark days will come. That has never been truer than it is today." (Martin Wolf, quoted from the Financial Times, 19.12.2007 "The dangers of living in a zero-sum world economy."(*))

"Human ingenuity" - if Mr Wolf means "technology" - "Human ingenuity" will not be able to recreate depleted resources or to revitalise extinct species or cut-down forests or eroded soils and mountain slopes. Neither will technology be able to mitigate climate change and its effects.

If understood as an intelligent change of the present societal model, "Human ungenuity" will lead to an economic turn-around. Political economy will then focus upon the wise management and distribution of increasingly scarce resources, in order to achieve a state of sustainability, i.e. a state of affairs that can continue unchanged for a long time.

More and more opinion leaders will come to understand that our present growth paradigm has no future and that there will be no safe havens in a climate-changed and depleted world.

Helmut Lubbers ... 31.12.2007

  • ecostory 31, 11 June 2008: "Sustaining growth is the 21st century's big challenge" - Martin Wolf's and Jeffrey Sachs's Disaster Scenarios
  • ecostory 4 "The global battle for food, oil and water," by Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times
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    Also compare
  • "Towards a Sustainable Economy"
  • sustainability
  • time-growth scenarios
  • stop growth letters
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    Martin Wolf
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Martin Wolf (b. 1946) is a British journalist. He is associate editor and chief economics commentator at the Financial Times. He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2000.

    He left Oxford University with a master of philosophy degree in economics in 1971 to join the World Bank's young professionals programme, becoming a senior economist in 1974. He left the World Bank in 1981, to become Director of Studies at the Trade Policy Research Centre, in London. He joined the FT in 1987 where he has been associate editor since 1990 and chief economics commentator since 1996.

    He was joint winner of the Wincott Foundation senior prize for excellence in financial journalism in both 1989 and 1997. He won the RTZ David Watt memorial prize in 1994. He is visiting fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, a special professor at the University of Nottingham and an honorary fellow of the Oxford Institute for Economic Policy.

    He has been a forum fellow at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos since 1999. He was awarded an honorary degree - DSc (Econ) - of the University of London by the London School of Economics in December 2006.

    [edit] Bibliography Why Globalization Works (2004)