The center of gravity on climate change/global warming/... on the left is pretty fairly represented by Dean Baker's recent blog saying it's lights out figuratively and literally if we don't change our profligate energy ways. And this is by far more important inter-generationally than the current aggregate-demand-deficit-led fiscal deficits. Dean's post is here.
And, given mainstream science, he's absolutely right. This leads to the growth-neutral advocates with whom I have a moral problem in that it condemns the poorer nations to less wealth than we living in advanced countries enjoy. If that is to be the outcome, we should be crystal clear sure of our environmental arguments. I do not challenge results like those from the IPCC.
However, there are a couple of mitigating things going on, one in the realm of economics, and one in the realm of heterodox science.
First, for a recent department seminar on environment, I put together some data using the Kaya model and UN population projections to project CO2 emissions. What this clearly shows is that among greening of energy sources, energy efficiency, and population growth, it's population growth, through GDP growth, that has the greatest impact on CO2, by a factor of at least three times.
And, the closer we are to the UN 2010 population low estimate of growth, the better off we are, in fact, my analysis shows we bend down the CO2 curve starting in about 2050. Fertility reduction is what we should focus on. Fortunately, it is clear in the literature that GDP per capita growth and female education both significantly correlate with reduced fertility rates, and those trends are in train around much of the world.
So the best solution for CO2 mediation in the current context is headed in the right direction; we should give it a major shove. Helicopter drops of books and family planning items. You can see my slides here. Make sure to check out the embedded motion chart to visualize the effects of GDP and education growth on fertility by country. There may be hope in the following sense.
Growth of per capita income is not necessarily that bad for the environment, and those defending De-growth (reduction of GDP) might understate the economic, social and environmental effects of their policy suggestions.
Second, I will talk a bit of non-mainstream science, and thereby prove myself crazy for doing it publicly.
Remember cold fusion? In 1989 Professors Pons and Fleischmann, right here at the University of Utah, reported experimental results for an over-unity chemical reaction in a press conference. They were immediately, viciously, humiliated and attacked by the scientific mainstream, especially those whose gored ox was pulling the generously funded hot fusion projects. The cover story was that this violates thermodynamic laws. Case closed.
Except physics has evolved theories in which such results are supported without violating thermodynamics.
And one of the many serious experimenters working in cold fusion since 1989, Andrea Rossi, has announced and shipped an over-unity megawatt heat generator that uses its modern incarnation LENR, which stands for Low Energy Nuclear Reaction. The mainstream science is still out on this, but if its commercially successful, who cares?
Well, Dennis Bushnell, the chief scientist at NASA Langley, cares, and has spoken. He thinks LENR is a revolutionary epoch-changing technology whose time has come, a true game-changer.
I have gone on further than most care to read in one blog, so will stop and not embed more word or links in this post. Depending on the interest and tolerance for these surprising ideas, I will offer to follow up on this and post more sources.
Let me finish by saying, if true, this will put us on the road to virtually unlimited, very cheap, zero pollution distributed and compact energy sources. That would change much that is wrong with our current economies on the physical (but not distributional) side. And Dean Baker would be freed of his inter-generational global warming dilemma, so can get back to creating jobs here and now.