Tuesday, January 19, 2010

14. Effects of Warming III

Close examination of the Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) does not reveal a single societal, economic or environmental problem due to the alleged anthropogenic global warming (AGW) that is at all consequential, compared to the revolutionary challenges that the planet has faced in the last century, and will face in this century, due to growth in population, advances in technology, industrialization, urbanization, deforestation and expansion of agriculture. 

If there is in fact some credible reason why CO2 is "an urgent and unprecedented threat to the existence of our civilization," I wish somebody would identify it, with actual supporting data instead of deceptive handwaving. As far as I can see, the IPCC provides no rational basis for prophesying doom. Instead of offering solutions to real problems, the AGW Lobby is arguing that responding to insignificant threats justifies a program that is itself a prescription for disaster.

During the 20th century, world population increased by 4.5 billion and the average gross domestic product per capita  (GDP per capita, in constant dollars, adjusted for inflation and for purchasing power parity in different nations) grew by a factor of 4.6. In the advanced countries, the GDP per capita rose sevenfold, the life expectancy at birth rose from 46 to 78 years, and technology gave ordinary people a way of life beyond the dreams of emperors in previous civilizations. This transformation will advance much farther in the 21st century. In particular, life expectancy at birth in 2100 will be well over 100 years, at least in those nations that can maintain or achieve affluence.

If a modestly reasonable standard of living is available to everybody on Earth, UN estimates suggest that at the turn of the century our descendants will have 9 billion mouths to feed. On the other hand, the policy recommended by the AGW Lobby involves deliberately limiting economic growth, increasing the cost of living, and artificially raising energy prices. This policy is guaranteed to perpetuate poverty, human misery, and excessive population growth. If we follow this course, there will be 14 billion people by 2100, and most of them will suffer endemic poverty, malnutrition and disease. The environmental consequences of that are much worse than anything warming might do, since concern for the environment is a luxury starving people cannot afford. Sustained economic growth is thus an environmental as well as a humanitarian imperative.


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