A trillion here, a trillion there

So the International Energy Agency reports that in order to avoid energy shortages and reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next half century, we need to invest a whopping $45 trillion.

That’s 12 zeros by the way. It’s not every day we’re asked to wrap our heads around such astonishing amounts, but it happens more often than you’d think.

-In December the Bush Administration said the gap between what the U.S. government has promised to spend on social programs, and what it expects to raise in revenues over the next 75 years, is $45 trillion

-In recent months the troubled market for credit default swaps, an arcane form of insurance policy cooked up on Wall Street, has been estimated to be worth $45 trillion.

-Consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton says the world desperately needs to inject $40 trillion into urban water, electricity and transportation systems over the next 25 year

-A study by researchers at the University of Chicago suggests finding a cure for cancer would be worth about $50 trillion.


-In April Management consulting firm Oliver Wyman estimated the world’s millionaires now control $50 trillion worth of assets, with that figure expected to rise to $75 trillion in five years.

As I see it, the solution is simple: All we need to do is cure cancer, convince the millionaires to sink all their money into windmills, and pray the credit default swap market doesn’t collapse. We’re laughing.



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