Showing posts from January, 2016

The Only Thing Worse Than Human Extinction is Economic Recession

Did this title get your attention? I hope so. I intended for it to be provocatively absurd for reasons that will become apparent by the end of the post. I also intended for it to call attention to a fundamental assumption that seems to undergird the thinking of even some of the most intelligent individuals with regard to economic growth and climate change mitigation. Namely, that growth in overall consumption can and in fact must continue, and that we merely have to transition away from fossil fuel use in order to halt and begin to remediate the effects of carbon dioxide on the global climate.
Alright, I’ve already said a mouthful. Please allow me to take a step back and unpack what I just stated by sketching out some basic parameters and a couple of definitions: Our world population is projected to grow at about three quarters of a percent per year between now and the year 2050, at which time the earth is expected to be home to some 9.7 billion people. United NationsThe…

Getting Real On Climate Change Mitigation

It’s a brand new year, but many of our old problems remain – climate change being one of them. To be sure, progress has been made toward the recognition and measurement of the problem. But we’re still a long, long way from having a clear picture of its full extent, let alone a solution.
An obvious recent highlight is the success of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change which ended last month in Paris with 193 countries coming to agreement that a problem exists and that its mitigation requires reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. Unfortunately, no legal mandate exists for countries to follow through on commitments made there, so it remains to be seen what actual impact this accord will have. Interested readers might want to check out how merely changing a single word from “shall” to “should” drastically changed this agreement. Nations agreed that they should take action (yeah, they really should) as opposed to allowing themselves to be bound by the legal implications of a…