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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How Many Birds Could We Save?

The New York Times has an article today by David Leonhardt (login required) claiming that the Iraq War is costing us $1.2 trillion dollars. Since that is a difficult number to imagine, he shows how much we could do with that money if we weren't spending it in Iraq.

There are currently just over 1,200 globally threatened bird species in the world. For the price of the Iraq War, we could spend $1 billion on each of these birds. That's enough for a nice endowment to fund full-time staff dedicated to protecting these birds, and to buy habitat. We can't even imagine how much money this is. Even at a thousand dollars an acre in developing countries, that $1 billion could buy 1 million acres. That's 1,562.5 square miles. For every single rare bird in the world.

Of course, there are other ways to spend that money to help people around the world. No matter what you think about the Iraq War, that's a lot of money. And a lot of good things that will not happen because we've committed so many resources there.

BTW, that $1.2 trillion dollars is $4,000 from every man, woman, and child in America. That's before we pay interest on it, which we'll have to pay, since we borrowed this money from overseas. If President Bush had to fundraise like bird conservation organizations do, how many of us do you suppose would send in our $4,000 checks in response to a direct mail appeal to fund a war in Iraq?

How many of us want our money back?


Anonymous said...

Count me in Rob. It seems that or part of it could be better spent elsewhere.

It bothers me to see "economics" being the driver for importance of national issues - the latest being the harvesting of old growth forests and drilling of the Alaskan wilderness.

Andy said...

Birdchaser, great post. Amen on all counts. The fiasco in Iraq has already and will continue to take a human, economic, and political toll on this and other countries from which we may never recover. What a shame.

Andy - Newark, CA

Bill Pulliam said...

I also heard a suggestion that they could have just used the money to buy every household a Prius, thereby saving the oil rather than going to war for it...

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