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$1 trillion to the rescue

If Iraq is worth $1 trillion, let's allot just as much to benefit humanity.

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Economists project that the cost of the war in Iraq, when all is said and done, will come in at $1 trillion or more.

I say: Let's do it again!

Let's allocate another trillion dollars – but this time for the good of all humanity and all species. Let's do it with the same moral urgency and vision that has made America great at so many critical junctures in history.

There's an emergency and an opportunity out there that calls for The Next Trillion.

It's about more than geopolitics and petrodollars. It's about more than the science of climate change.

It's about the need for global economic institutions to evolve in response to the social and environmental challenges of our time: growth in population, accelerating technological change, accelerating capital flows, growth in consumption, increasing pollution, widening wealth gaps.

Today's global economy creates a thousand billionaires and a billion thousandaires. It has created what venture capitalist John Doerr calls "the greatest legal accumulation of wealth in history."

But it also drives China to add 65 gigawatts to its electric grid each year, most of which is produced by highly polluting coal-fired power plants.

And today's global economy is driven by Americans, who use more energy, put more carbon into the atmosphere, and generate more waste than any citizen in history – and by a shameful margin.

The financial returns of the 20th century depended upon environmental and social trends that are unsustainable. The old worldviews and economic institutions are no longer adequate. We must begin to move, and move boldly, in a new direction.

The good news is that out of the current military, political, and environmental quagmire arises an unprecedented opportunity for America to leap into a new era of economic leadership.

Here's how The Next Trillion should be invested:

•$250 billion for clean energy and energy efficiency;

• $250 billion for carbon sequestration and bioremediation;

• $250 billion for sustainable food and forests; and

• $250 billion for community development.

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