Monday, October 30, 2006

Once again...

Check out Budgets Falling in Race to Fight Global Warming - New York Times

If global warming is caused largely through greenhouse gas emmission X population growth, and global pop growth is going down more rapidly than expected, then why don't people understand that there is less to it than meets the eye?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben, per-capita energy use rates X population growth is a critical consideration that you continue to deny or ignore.

Take China. If in 50 years, only half a billion people live there, BUT they are using twice as much energy per person as they are today (which is a reasonable estimate), then it will not much matter if their country's population has been halved since 2006.

Or, if you take a much poorer country like Nigeria, where per capita energy usage is very very low (a small fraction of that of the US) -- even if their population shrinks by 75% in the next 50 years, it won't much matter if they quadruple their use of energy per person.

In all likelihood, however, these countries' populations will not shrink nearly so drastically and may in fact continue to grow (even if it is at a slower pace that will eventually reverse itself into population decline at some unknown future date.) If these countries continue to grow economically (and we can certainly expect this from China), then their per-capita energy usage is almost guaranteed to go up. By how much, we do not know for sure (no one can, as you are fond of pointing out.) I have read your beliefs in the advent of cheaper, less greenhouse-gas emitting technologies (Thorium, other nuke technologies, etc.) and I will admit to you that these technologies could indeed solve part of the problem. But do not expect, Ben, to see these advanced technologies implemented in developing countries anytime soon. Certainly not before they are implemented in the United States, and despite all the recent progress on the alternative energy front, we are a long way from adopting these technologies wholesale. Expect China to continue mining domestic deposits of filthy coal for at least the next generation. And as the average Chinese citizen starts wanting to live the rich life, expect more greenhouse gas emissions per-capita -- whether there's a population decline or not. With recent estimates that China's population increased by 10 percent in the last decade despite the one-child policy, I think we are in for some surprises on this front.

However, Ben, I think you are remiss

October 31, 2006  

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