Following “Formation of a Global Planet Authority – PART 1“.
Essay submitted to the Global Challenges Foundation, September 2017.
By Angus Forbes


Description Of The Model

In order to counter grave or existential risk from human activities (historically war, but applicable here) there is a four part course of action which is tried and tested:

Decide to oppose the threat
Put in place a command leadership with the knowledge of how to fight
The leadership group commandeers assets and rapidly develops strategy rapidly and
We fight, remove the existential threat and puts in place a maintenance structure to ensure the threat does not arise again.

Let us follow this tried and tested path.
1. The populous chooses to fight. In this case, of course, it is via the peaceful choice to vote online.

Non- linear environmental degradation coupled with non-linear climate change requires non- linear social response. I propose here that the eligible age for voting is 13 years old.

The digital age is believed to commenced in 2002 when the amount of data humans store digitally surpassed that stored in an analog manner. This means that for a 13 year old they have spent their whole life in the digital age and a 30 year old has spent their entire adult life in the digital age.

This first global generation number just over 2bn.

The human populous that is over 13 yrs old is 5.85bn.

We now have 3.2bn people online and growing every day.

The numbers above speak for themselves. Compared to the largest democratic vote (India 800m), the first global generation is over twice the size and the human populous aged 13 years and older is 7x larger. In second place in national elections are Indonesia and the US at just 140m votes.

As a human race, we have everything we need to hold a global online voluntary vote. Biometric testing, voice recognition, over half the populous online or having a mobile phone, over half the populous living in conurbations (we know where people are) and of course the ability to globally advertise and organize volunteers to assist with the vote.

This is not an endorsement for all populations to accept democracy for their own affairs, but simply that at this point in human history we have the ability to co-operate and forge a new operating system via this means. Capitalism and consumerism embody modern values that have won out globally: Self expression, self interest, individuality, freedom of choice. A global voluntary vote is consistent with this new global mindset, nothing more, nothing less.

We must make a step change. We have the ability to make a step change via technology and a global vote.

2. Put in place a command leadership capable of fighting

I believe the Command leadership of the Global Planet Authority will look like this:

A biophysical executive made up of individuals capable of making global decisions on universal boundaries and goals and setting these targets free from interference and bias. They will form a board which is void of self interest but instead acts only in the interests of the health of the planet for multiple generations to come. The checks and balances to their tenure, election, power and decision making processes can be adopted from best in practice operations around the world.

An operating executive will be made up of all the necessary skills of technology, taxation, strategy, ecology, economics etc.

The operating executive will operate from 7 floors (the 5 Olympic zones plus the two newly forged geo-zones) of North Asia (and eastern Russia and north pacific), South Asia (and western south pacific and Antarctica), Indian subcontinent (and central Russia and Indian ocean), African continent (and eastern south Atlantic), Europe (and western Russia and artic), north America (and north Atlantic), South America (and western south Atlantic and eastern south pacific).

To this command group we give the global power to tax and global power to regulate in order to fulfill their mandate of global biophysical health.

3. The command group commandeers assets

Holding powers of global taxation, one can envisage that the GPA will embark upon something like a 6% of global GDP spend p.a. for 10 years, before reducing this to the maintenance phase of the spend. 6% of global GDP spent on the environment is a 15 fold increase on current spend

Headed up by a 4% tax on all goods and services collected at a rate of 65%, which will yield $2tn p.a. (All other taxes are collected at a rate of 75%.)
The next class of taxes that will be palatable to the global populous are light progressive taxes. Tobin taxes at 1bp on both currency and derivative trades, 5bp on bond trades and 10bp on equity trades can be collected in a straightforward manner and yield $0.3tn. Progressive industry taxes, for example a 20% luxury goods tax, yield a further $0.2tn and a property wealth tax of 50bps on the most expensive 1/3 of property globally ($200tn total property assets : Saville’s) yield $0.3tn p.a

Lastly, the GPA will tax the bads, or negative externalities, according to the objectives laid down by the biophysical executive. In total these taxes add up to 6% of global GDP and are progressive.

4. The GPA will effect a 10 year plan to put human activities within the biophysical boundaries set.

I have clustered the biosphere into four areas with four resulting boundaries.

Assuming that the objective is to maintain a steady state of CO2 equivalents in the troposphere of 280-320 ppm, the GPA could effect the following course of action.

Tax emissions globally on a rising scale, potentially up to $500 per ton in year 5. It is estimated by the World Bank that to decarbonize the world economy will require capital expenditure spend of approximately 90tn over 12 years. Let us presume that it is $8tn p.a. Only a clear market signal and the utilization of Adam Smith’s invisible hand will yield this result. Capitalism is crying out for such clarity in a price signal. It will respond magnificently.
Spend $1tn p.a. in the largest of infrastructure projects,.
Embark on closing the Carbon Gap, i.e. removal of CO2 equivalents from the troposphere.
At present we do not know how to do this safely. However, we have precedent in the American moon mission declaration of 1961. Aimed primarily at closing the missile gap, the advantage the Russians had over the Americans in their missile technology, JFK’s administration chose an ambitious target (which they did not know how to achieve) that would capture the imagination and budgets of the American people. By the time Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface, the average age of a NASA engineer was 28 years old. Setting a target of CO2 will release human engineering talent like never before.

Presuming that the Biophysical board will declare the objective of zero destruction of rainforest, peat, biodiversity and forests and growth thereof, it is possible to envisage the spend of 1% of global GDP p.a. for 10 years in achieving these objectives.
The combined GDP of all countries owning Amazonian rainforest is $3tn. An incentive of 7% of their GDP to protect and grow their portion of the rainforest and protect the Gurani aquifer is now possible. Clearly the GPA would need to put its monitoring teams within the national boundaries. Among other uses, this wealth transfer will allow national governments to move people out of the rainforest if they are not indigenous.

The IUCN, World Bank and University of Maryland have identified 2bn ha (size of south America) of degraded forest that can be replanted. This can be achieved within the 10 year time frame by supersizing existing programs and initiating new ones. The biodiversity hotspots of the world will be ring-fenced. Everybody (humans that is) out.

The calls of 30-40% of the oceans to be man free are now overwhelming. Assuming the biophysical board deem this to be its objective, then the GPA will have the resources to ensure this occurs.
Further, mankind has everything we need to hold fresh water usage its current rate, starting with co-operative management on all international river basins.

Penultimately, the boundaries on farm management will need to be imposed. The UN estimates that agroecology on a world scale will double food yields. This we must achieve in order to feed our 10bn population and stop topsoil erosion.
Mother nature produces (fixes) and absorbs (dentrification) 61mt of atmospheric nitrogen pa. Currently humans do twice that, with fixed nitrogen causing denigration of rivers, oceans, air in cities, troposphere and the ozone layer. Initial targets advocate a quartering of our use to just 35mt.

Plastic and waste growth forecasts are untenable. These must be engineered out of existence and can be done so via regulation, aggressive hypothecated taxation and subsequent investment in biodegradable plastics and waste recycling.

Lastly, population and trapped ultra poor. Leading ecologists and biologists advocate that in order to have a healthy biosphere, humans must ensure that we have the smallest amount of fellow humans who are ultra poor. This is simply due to desperation. Humans are incredibly resilient and innovative. We will produce charcoal to survive, we will fish in exclusion zones to survive and we will kill biodiversity to survive.

One can envisage that the GPA will put in place a strategy bar none to assist the ultra poor and affect the growth rate of the human population. DACs by OECD countries currently amount to $200bn p.a. One can imagine that the GPAs resources and mandate will allow them to make annual transfers to the ultra poor of $600bn p.a. targeting women of reproductive age.

It is not difficult to argue that women have the greatest capacity to make the right decisions for a family unit when it comes to the trade offs of energy security, water and food security, technology, education and birth control. At present women account for 22% of all parliamentary seats globally, this will be a further empowerment.

Once the GPA has achieved the immediate objectives that are required of it, and the subsequent removal of existential risk thereby, the maintenance function can take over. As our economy moves towards $180tn p.a. the GPA must anticipate capitalist actions and if it is likely to threaten the biophysical boundaries then it must intercept early. It must be ahead of the game, not woefully trailing it as we do now.

“As a human race, we have everything we need to hold a global online voluntary vote.”
I would like to conclude with a rapid fire critique of the formation of a GPA.
It’s impossible

No. We can hold a vote, form the authority, collect global taxes, regulate human activities and we know how to put in place every biophysical boundary except the safe removal of CO2 from the troposphere. But this we will achieve nevertheless.

Cost too much….my daily expenses

For the poor of the world environmental sustainability is a lifeline (Lambertini). For the burgeoning middle class to 2050 they will want to live in clean healthy cities and have a global economy that is sustainable due to its adherence to boundaries of the biosphere. It is true that in the short term it is likely that the middle classes will face some inflationary pressures and some consumer choice changes. But at $3000 per year, consumer discretionary spend is 30%, and at $15,000 per year GDP consumer discretionary spend is 60% (PWC) so there is wriggle room. For the wealthy, yes it will cost more in the short term.

National sovereignty is sacred

No it is not. Personal sovereignty creates nation states. Personal sovereignty can create a global authority.

You’ll release tyrants

No we won’t . Transparency increases with technology and there will be the right governance systems and a complete lack of incentives for the biophysical and operational executives.

Utopian dream

You and Thomas Moore go right back to 1516. You are arguing that one authority will solve the problems of the world.
No. Teenage female genital mutilation will still increase in and around war zones. Young boys who have never held a gun will be murdered in acts of genocide. Capitalism will still produce rich and poor. But I do argue that whatever the ambitions of human kind, depraved or noble, they must be held on a healthy planet for all time.

Think of the world’s poor

We have. The formation of a GPA has the ability to effect the largest wealth transfer ever seen and a healthy planet benefits the ultra poor the most.

We’ll starve

Cut off the CO2 machinery at the same time as our artificial fertilizer (fixed nitrogen and potassium) cycle and the GPA will ensure hundreds of millions will starve.
No. 1. The UN argues that agroecology can double yields. 2. The GPA will work with farmers and ensure a smooth transition to keep mankind’s aggregate calorific output stable (66% of calories come from maize, rice, wheat and soyabean). They will have the budget ($800bn p.a for 10 years) to ensure this. 3. And we’ve heard this starvation argument before. Every day for 20 years, those campaigning against the abolition of slavery by the British, argued that the immediate removal of 900,000 slaves in British held territories in the Caribbean, would result in mass starvation for British subjects. No one starved after the signing of the British Abolition of Slavery act in 1833.

A GPA imposing biophysical boundaries will kill the economy, you’ll ruin us all

A 2.4% growth rate (OECD forecast to 2050) for 32 years results in a global GDP of $180tn. This brings billions out of poverty and into the middles classes ($10/day+). Biophysical boundary imposition puts this at risk. The global economy will not be able to cope.

No. If we have a depression the same magnitude as in the US in 1929-33, where GDP per capita drops by 20% in just 2 years and this is followed by a 3 year stabilization of 2% p.a. growth and then we have a 3.5% growth rate for 30 years, global GDP will be $185tn in 2050.

It is very reasonable to assume that the rapid economic growth post WW2 of 1950s 6% , 1960s 5.7%, and 1970s 3% will be replicated due to re-engineering of the economy. A depression of 20% followed by 32 years of these growth rates results in a 2050 global GDP of $285tn, 50% higher than currently forecast.

It is time to create an authority charged with the mandate of protecting and enhancing the biosphere, the removal of existential risk that we face, shouldering the responsibility of our transcendent moral obligation to all life and subsequent creation of a maintenance system for the ultra long term.

The first act of global self determination must occur due to the risk we face and the intergenerational legacy we must leave. Vote GPA