The credit crisis is about borrowing from your children. The climate crisis is about stealing from them.

I’ve been trying for a while now to figure out whether the climate and credit crises are two chapters of the same story or ‘different’ in some way. For the most part, they seem one in the same: Financial deregulation facilitates the creation of unlimited lending using irresponsible and greedy lending techniques. This capital is used to further the development of hitherto unimaginable development of an equally fraudulent and unsustainable carbon-based economy. The recognition of oil scarcity on the horizon and the collapse of our eco system as we know it brings the whole manufactured system tumbling to the ground.

Crash! A simple story of greed told since the Romans.

But in one very important way, the two crises are fundamentally different not just from each other but perhaps altogether. David Pencheon, a father of two, speaking at a Royal Society of Medicine conference on Friday explained it this way:

“The credit crisis is about borrowing from your children. The climate is about stealing from them.”

I am not a parent yet but this eloquent statement really made we realize the gravity of our situation. The credit crisis will be resolved, perhaps with new regulation and new institutions. But the climate crisis has only really begun, and already the future will be very very different than it is now. I may still be repaying the Northern Rock debt when I am a parent (that’s bearable) but I want to make sure that I am not stealing the delights of the environment from my children (that’s unacceptable).