Crowdfunding Countercurrents

Submission Policy

Popularise CC

Join News Letter

Defend Indian Constitution




CC Youtube Channel

Editor's Picks

Press Releases

Action Alert

Feed Burner

Read CC In Your
Own Language

Bradley Manning

India Burning

Mumbai Terror

Financial Crisis


AfPak War

Peak Oil



Alternative Energy

Climate Change

US Imperialism

US Elections


Latin America









Book Review

Gujarat Pogrom

Kandhamal Violence


India Elections



About Us


Fair Use Notice

Contact Us

Subscribe To Our
News Letter


Search Our Archive

Our Site



Order the book

A Publication
on The Status of
Adivasi Populations
of India




Germany's Per Capita Government  Debt Plus Carbon Debt Greatly Exceeds Greece's

By Dr Gideon Polya

 08 July, 2015

The pro-One Percenter Eurozone and IMF demand timely repayment of Greece's Government Debt but ignore the huge Carbon Debt of major industrialized  countries like Germany that measures huge and deadly global environmental damage. The per capita Government Debt plus Carbon Debt is much greater for Germany than for Greece which should insist with indebted Developing Countries that Carbon Debt is also put on the repayment and global action discussion table.

The wonderful Palestinian humanitarian Jesus famously stated "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22,21, The Holy Bible). For civilized pro-Humanity and pro-Biosphere environmentalists of the 21st century, from animists and theists to  Buddhists and secular humanists,  this should become "Render unto the Bank the things that are the Bank's , and unto the Planet  the things that are the Planet's". The pro-One Percenter Eurozone and the IMF demand the timely repayment of Government  Debt by Greece (and thence also  Italy, Spain, Portugal , Ireland etc)  but the very survival of Humanity and the Biosphere demands proportionate  repayment and elimination of a gigantic and steadily increasing Carbon Debt that measures the impact of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution on the one common atmosphere, ocean and land of all peoples.

The  EU and IMF are  demanding timely repayment of much of the huge Greek Government Debt to mostly end up in the hands of Humanity- and Biosphere-destroying EU and US One Percenters who already own about half the wealth of the world. Unlike inescapable Carbon Debt that Humanity must eventually pay or die, Government Debt repayment can be avoided by defaulting  and national bankruptcy. In a hypothetical worst case,  Eurozone-enforced scenario, the annual per capita of Greece (presently $21,768 and nearly half that of nuclear terrorist and democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel's  $37,704) could fall about 7.5-fold to the $2,908 per person of the Israeli-occupied State of Palestine [1] , but at least the bankrupt Greeks, unlike the horribly abused Occupied Palestinians,  would be free, at peace, have full human rights, have independence and be quite free of occupation by mass murdering, genocidal racists. Unemployed or underemployed Greeks could, like Western tourists, sunbake and  swim in the “wine-dark sea” with no threat of being shelled, bombed or rocketed by genocidal air, land and sea forces.

In contrast, the damage-related Carbon Debt from greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution that is owed to the Planet is inescapable – unless forests, sea walls, hurricane shelters, irrigation systems, desalination plants, hydroponic farms, renewable energy systems, storm-resistant housing, storm shelters, heat wave refuges,  and atmosphere carbon dioxide (CO2) draw-down systems are created, man-made global warming will displace and kill literally billions of people.  Indeed   some climate change scientists have predicted that as few as  0.5 billion people might survive this century if man-made global warming is not requisitely  addressed, these estimates translating to a climate genocide involving deaths of 10 billion people this century, this including roughly twice the present population of particular mainly non-European groups, specifically 6 billion under-5 year old infants, 3 billion Muslims in a terminal Muslim Holocaust, 2 billion Indians, 1.3 billion non-Arab Africans, 0.5 billion Bengalis, 0.3 billion Pakistanis and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis [2].

The damage-related Carbon Price to meet this worsening Carbon Debt has been estimated by Dr Chris Hope of 90-Nobel-Laureate Cambridge University at $150-250 per tonne CO2-equivalent depending upon the geographical location [3].  However in the Carbon Debt calculations below I have assumed a convenient  Carbon Price value of  $100 per tonne CO2-equivalent (thus for a more realistic  $150 per tonne CO2-equivalent  simply multiply  my Carbon Debt estimates by 1.5).

The  Historical  Carbon Debt (Carbon Debt) of the World [3] has been estimated at 12 Gt C (12  GtC x 3.67 Gt CO2/Gt C = 44 billion tonnes CO2) in 1751-1900 and 334 Gt C (3.67 x 334 = 1,226 billion tonnes CO2)  for 1901-2008, for a total of 346 Gt C (or 1,270 Gt CO2) in the period 1751-2008 [4] Most of the GHG pollution has occurred in the last half century.

In a 2008 letter to Australian PM Kevin Rudd,  NASA's Dr James Hansen provided  a breakdown  of global responsibility for fossil fuel-derived CO2 pollution between 1751 and 2006 [5]  that is summarized below as a percentage (%) of the Historical Carbon  Debt (1751-2006) of 346 Gt C (1,270 Gt CO2)  [6].  

Ships/air (4%) :  4% of 346 Gt C  = 13.84 Gt C (50.79 Gt CO2). This has been allocated proportionately to the other groups as shown below.  

India (2.5%) = (0.025 x 346 = 8.65)  + (2.5 x 13.84/96 = 0.36) = 9.01 Gt C (33.07 Gt CO2).

Japan (3.9%) = 13.49 + 0.56 = 14.05 Gt C  (51.56 Gt CO2).

UK (6.0%) = 20.76 + 0.87 = 21.63 Gt C (79,38 Gt CO2).

Germany (6.6%) = 22.84 + 0.95 = 23.79 Gt C ( 87.31 Gt CO2).

Russia (7.4%) = 25.60 + 1.07 = 26.67 Gt C (97.88 Gt CO2).

China (8.2%) = 28.37 + 1.18 = 29.55 Gt C (108.45 Gt CO2).

USA (27.5%) = 95.15 + 3.97 = 99.12 Gt C (363.77 Gt CO2).

Canada-Australia (3.1%) = 10.73 + 0.45 = 11.18 Gt C -> Canada 5.59 Gt C (20.52 Gt CO2) & Australia 5.59 Gt C (20,52 Gt CO2).

Rest of Europe (18.0%) = 62.28 + 2.60 = 64.88 Gt C (238.11 Gt CO2). Rest of World (12.8%) = 44.29 + 1.85 = 46.14 Gt C (169.33 Gt CO2).

Historical Carbon Debt can be expressed in dollars by applying a Carbon Price and here we will conveniently use $100 per tonne CO2 (also roughly the price that could achieve a transition from dirty coal and gas burning to clean, renewable wind energy). Thus the Historical Climate Debt of the US can be expressed either as  363.77 Gt CO2  or as 363.77 Gt CO2 x $100 / t CO2 = $36,377 billion = $36.377 trillion. By way of comparison, the GDP of the US is currently $17.4 trillion (2014) [7].  China has an Historical Climate Debt of 108.45 Gt CO2  x $100/ t CO2 = $10,845 billion =  or $10.845 trillion.

Historical Carbon Debt can be expressed on a per capita basis simply by dividing the Historical Climate Debt for a country  (e.g. see the data tabulated above ) by the present population of the country [8]. For all “Rest of World” countries, the Per Capita Historical Carbon Debt (US$ per person) = 169.33 billion tonnes CO2 X $100 per tonne CO2/ 3,385.813 billion persons (in 2015) = $5,001 per person. Thus for Indonesia (population 255.709 million) the Carbon Debt is $5,001 per person x 255.709 million = $1.279 trillion

For all “Rest of Europe” countries, the Per Capita Historical Carbon Debt (US$ per person) = 238.11 billion tonnes CO2 X $100 per tonne CO2/ 0.455 billion persons (in 2015) =  $52,331 per person. Accordingly, for Greece (population 61.142 million) the Carbon Debt is $52,331 per person x 11.126 persons = $0.582 trillion.

The Historical  Carbon Debt for all countries  in the world can thus be roughly determined based on   Dr James Hansen's data  through estimation of  percentage of the  global responsibility for 346 Gt C (1,270 Gt CO2) fossil fuel-derived CO2 pollution between 1751 and 2006 and thence expressed in US dollars at $100 per tonne CO2-equivalent: $127 trillion (the World),  $40.480 trillion (EU),  $36,377 trillion (US),  $10.845 trillion (China), $5.156 trillion (Japan), $8.731 trillion (Germany); $3.401 trillion (France), $7.938 trillion (UK),  $1.018 trillion (Brazil), $9.788 trillion (Russia),  $3.202 trillion  (Italy), $3.307 trillion (India), $2.470 trillion (Spain), $2.052 trillion (Canada), $2.052 trillion (Australia), $1.279 trillion (Indonesia),  $0.582 trillion (Greece), $0.555 trillion (Portugal), $0.268 trillion  (South Africa), $0.247 trillion (Ireland), $0.918 trillion (Nigeria),  $0.941 trillion  (Pakistan), and  $0.802 trillion (Bangladesh) .

It is now useful to compare the per capita Government Debt plus Carbon Debt of various countries, and in particular Germany and Greece, using readily available  2013 data [9, 10].

Germany (2013 population 80.62 million) has a Carbon Debt of $8.731 trillion ($108,298 per person) and a Government Debt of $2,920 trillion ($36,219 per person) that is 78.4% of its $3.73 trillion GDP for a total Carbon plus Government Debt of $11.651 trillion ($144,517 per person).

Greece (population 11.03 million) has  Carbon Debt of $0.582 trillion ($52,765 per person) and a ,Government Debt of $0.424 trillion ($38,440 per person) that is 175.1% of its $0.242 trillion GDP for a total Carbon plus Government Debt of $1.006 trillion ($91,205 per person – notably much less than Germany's which is 58% higher than Greece's) .

It is  useful to also look in the same way  at the other assertedly dangerously  indebted countries  of Europe, namely  Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland that have Government Debts in the range of 94-133% of GDP.   

Italy  (population 59.83 million) has a Carbon Debt of $3.202 trillion ($53,518 per person) and a Government Debt of $2.850 trillion ($47,635 per person) that is 132.6%% of its $2.149 trillion GDP for a total Carbon plus Government Debt of $6.052 trillion ($101,153 per person – much less than Germany's).

Spain (population 47.13 million) has a Carbon Debt of $2.470 trillion ($52,408 per person) and a Government Debt of $1.308 trillion ($27,753 per person) that is 93.9% of its $1.393 trillion GDP for a total Carbon plus Government Debt of $3.778 trillion ($80,161 per person – much less than Germany's). Portugal (population 10.46 million) has a Carbon Debt of $0.555 trillion ($53,059 per person) and a Government Debt of $0.293 trillion ($28,011 per person) that is 129.0% of its $0.227 trillion GDP for a total Carbon plus Government Debt of $0.848 trillion ($81,071 per person – much less than Germany's).

Ireland (population 4.596 million) has a Carbon Debt of $0.247 trillion ($53,742 per person) and a Government Debt of $0,287 trillion ($62,446 per person) that is 123.7% of its $0.232 trillion GDP for a total Carbon plus Government Debt of $0.534 trillion ($116,187 per person – much less than Germany's).

France (population 66.03 million), has a Carbon Debt of $3,401 trillion ($51,507 per person) and a Government Debt of $2,624 trillion ($39,740 per person) that is 93.5% of its $2.806 trillion GDP for a total Carbon plus Government Debt of $6.025 trillion ($91,247 per person – about the same as Greece's and much less than Germany's).


In considering national indebtedness of countries  such as Greece and similar  EU countries  one should consider not just Government Debt but also Carbon Debt arising from the damaging pollution of the one common atmosphere  and ocean of all countries with carbon dioxide (CO2).

While assertedly economically healthy Germany has a Government Debt that is 78.4% of GDP, its per capita Carbon plus Government  Debt  is $144, 517 per person. In contrast, assertedly economically sick countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland with Government Debts in the range of 94-175%  of GDP have per capita Carbon Debt plus Government  Debt values  much lower than that of Germany.

Leaving aside climate criminal countries disproportionately involved in deforestation and/or fossil fuel extraction,  in a Carbon Economy per capita GDP is a rough measure of complicity in direct plus  indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution (e.g. aspirationally clean,  rich countries can import  GHG-intensive industrial  goods made in dirtier,  poor countries). In that sense Germany with an annual  per capita GDP of $45,091 continues to annually pollute the world much more than Greece (per capita GDP $21,768), Italy ($35,243), Spain ($29,685), and Portugal ($21,429) , although not Ireland ($50,155) [1].  

Some Greeks are presently  quite legitimately complaining about the inadequacy of German compensation for the mid-20th century  Nazi Germany  crimes against  Greece. However the historical Carbon Debt  remains  to be paid in full and - unlike Government Debt or personal debt that can be variously evaded by bail-outs, defaulting or  bankruptcy – the Carbon Debt is inescapable if the world wants to avoid environmental catastrophe.   Indeed it now appears very unlikely  that the world will avoid a catastrophic temperature  rise of plus 2 degrees Centigrade or higher [11, 12].

A dishonest, fraudulent, corrupt, neoliberal, corporatist  and pro-One Percenter Eurozone of course ignores Carbon Debt, is complicit in a worsening climate genocide that is set to kill 10 billion people this century [2], and is complicit in a worsening Global Avoidably Mortality  Holocaust  in which 17 million people die avoidably each year on Spaceship Earth with the First World in charge of the flight deck and 1.3 billion people have died thus since 1950 [13].  

An increasingly impressive Pope Francis  commendably noted in his recent encyclical “Laudato si”: “ 20. Some forms of pollution are part of people's daily experience. Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths …  48. The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation… The impact of present imbalances is also seen in the premature death of many of the poor, in conflicts sparked by the shortage of resources, and in any number of other problems which are insufficiently represented on global agendas” [14]. According to Oxfam “[Its] report, Working for the Few, shows that the wealth of the world is divided in two: almost half going to the richest one per cent; the other half to the remaining 99 per cent” [15, 16], a worsening disparity that threatens both democracy and economies as explored by Thomas Piketty in his important book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” in which he advocates the remedy of a wealth tax [17, 18]. I have estimated that an annual wealth tax of 4% could eliminate the 17 million “premature deaths” occurring  each year due to  deprivation and deprivation-exacerbated disease [19].

The pro-One Percenter Eurozone has now given Greece a few days to submit to its greedy and dishonest demands. Greeks and indeed the 99% of Humanity must insist that repayment of Carbon Debt and cessation of burgeoning Carbon Debt  are  vastly more important than the transitory embarrassment of excessive Government Debt.  Greeks facing decades of  Eurozone- and IMF-enforced  poverty for the benefit of Western One Percenters must insist that Germany's huge Carbon Debt is also put on the table – and indeed all indebted Developing countries and global warming-impacted Island Nations and megadelta countries (like Bangladesh) should likewise demand urgent action on worsening global Carbon Debt that is presently $270 trillion (1751-2015 upper estimate)  and increasing at $10 trillion each year [6].


[1]. “List of countries by GDP (nominal) by per capita”, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29_per_capita .

[2]. “Climate Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/climategenocide/.

[3]. “Climate Debt”, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_debt .

[4]. “Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth%27s_atmosphere .

[5]. James Hansen, “Letter to PM Kevin Rudd by Dr James Hansen”, 2008: http://www.aussmc.org.au/documents/Hansen2008LetterToKevinRudd_000.pdf .

[6]. “Carbon Debt Carbon Credit”: https://sites.google.com/site/carbondebtcarboncredit/ .

[7]. “List of countries by GDP (nominal)”, Wikipedia: : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29 .

[8]. UN Population Division: http://esa.un.org/wpp/unpp/p2k0data.asp .

[9]. “Greece Government Debt”: https://www.google.com/search?q=population+division&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=%22greece+national+debt%22 .

[10]. “Germany Government Debt”: https://www.google.com/search?q=population+division&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=%22germany+national+debt%22 .

[11]. “Are we doomed?”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/are-we-doomed .

[12]. "Too late to avoid global warming catastrophe": https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/too-late-to-avoid-global-warming .

[13]. Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, that includes a history of every country from Neolithic times and is now available for free perusal on the web: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/  .

[14].  Pope Francis, “Laudato si”: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html .

[15]. Oxfam, “Rapidly growing inequality is worsening poverty around the world”, 20 January 2014: https://www.oxfam.org.au/2014/01/rapidly-growing-inequality-is-worsening-poverty-around-the-world/ .

[16]. Oxfam, “Working for the Few”, 20 January 2014: https://www.oxfam.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/bp-working-for-few-political-capture-economic-inequality-200114-embargo-en.pdf .

[17]. Thomas Piketty,  “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” ( Harvard University Press, 2014).

[18]. Gideon Polya, “Key Book Review: “Capital In The Twenty-First Century” By Thomas Piketty”,  Countercurrents, 1 July, 2014: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya010714.htm .

[19]. Gideon Polya, “4 % annual Global Wealth Tax to stop the 17 Million deaths annually”,  Countercurrents, 27 June, 2014: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya270614.htm .

Dr Gideon Polya has been teaching science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/australian-complicity-in-iraq-mass-mortality/3369002#transcript

) and “Ongoing Palestinian Genocide” in “The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/









Share on Tumblr



Comments are moderated