The International Monetary Fund Palindrome: Growth = Climate Change = Growth

Last week, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, unknowingly created a “palindrome” headline for Reuters News Service. A palindrome is “a word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backward as forward”.

The headline reads, “Climate change poses 'profound threat' to global growth - IMF chief”.

The palindrome is, “Global growth poses 'profound threat' to climate change - IMF chief”.

Georgieva went on to say, “The evidence is clear: Climate change is a profound threat to growth and prosperity. It is macro-critical. And macroeconomic policies are central to the fight against climate change.”

The evidence, I argue, is that growth is exactly what’s causing global climate change. Below are two graphs: 1) Global GDP Growth, and 2) Global Climate Emissions Growth. Further, to perfect the argument, both show a decline in 2020 due to the slowdown in economic growth due to the global coronavirus lockdowns.

The growth = climate change = growth palindrome highlights the work of famous economist, Kenneth E. Boulding, who once said: “Economics has been incurably growth-oriented and addicted to everybody growing richer, even at the cost of exhaustion of resources and pollution of the environment.”

One of Boulding’s other, and more famous, quotes may pinpoint the premise of the IMF director’s statement, “Anyone who believes in indefinite growth on a physically finite planet is either mad or an economist.”