The “endless” world of global warming is much richer than it is today

Global warming is real, and it is a problem. But how big is the problem? According to some, the very existence of humanity seems to be under threat. When our response to global warming snaps like a rubber band, economist Paul Krugman warns, “then the Great Depression will begin,” a claim he said, not hyperbole, just realism. A popular book warns about the uninhabitable world. And UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, using his pulpit, told us that we are “firmly entrenched in an uninhabitable world.” Will be. “

But does science really say that the earth will become uninhabitable? More specifically, does the Authentic Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change give us the slightest indication that our current energy policy puts the Earth at serious risk of becoming uninhabitable?

The unequivocal answer is “no.” In other words, Krugman, Guterres and others are involved in hyperbole, exaggeration and fiction. Because what the IPCC actually says is that 1) our current energy policies are better than theirs at the time of writing the Fifth Assessment Report, so our predicted warming growth paths are shorter than then, and 2) the world will be twice as rich by 2050, global warming or not. Its most dire economic prediction is for a slowdown in economic growth in a time when there will be an uninhabitable world, if necessary, one of catastrophic economic collapse.

This does not mean that there will be no challenges from climate change, some regions face more challenges than others. And that doesn’t mean we won’t get better if we mitigate it or at least invest in adaptation strategies. But this means that there is a concerted effort by some elite actors to get involved in the politics of fear. I will not try to understand how wrong these otherwise intelligent people are and how much they are consciously dishonest. What I will do here is to argue for a brighter future for humanity directly from the IPCC report.

Myth # 1: RCP 8.5 and very high levels of warmth

The most frightening predictions come from simulations conducted under a scenario called Representation Centralization Path (RCP) 8.5, sometimes called the “Business as usual” path, which will lead to about five degrees warming by the end of the century (WGIII, 3-118, or Working). Group III, ch. 3, p. 118 – pages are quoted so that others may verify the claims made here). In the Fifth Assessment Report, this was seen as the most likely future, but it is now considered less likely, with potential future pathways much lower – although still detrimental – to the level of warming. This is primarily because countries have changed their policies and their future carbon emissions objectives, even if not fast enough to satisfy climate workers.

RCP8.5 is, according to ICPP, no longer traded as before. The report concludes that such high-emission conditions cannot be completely ruled out, but that temperatures above 4 সেল C will “indicate the opposite of current technology and / or mitigation policy trends” (WGIII: SPM-22). The current “business (now) normal situation, which is consistent with the continuity of policies implemented by the end of 2020” leads to a temperature rise of only 2.2 – 3.5 degrees Celsius. The report itself assumes that current policy trends are not going to be reversed Gradually, they “grew increasingly strict. . . Climate policy “(WGIII 3-26). A good rough estimate, then that subsequent warming may be below the estimate.

Unfortunately, although the RCP.5 scenario is no longer viewed as scientifically valid, it continues to be widely used. And even as the Sixth Assessment diminishes its relation to reality, the report collected contains more than 1,000 references to it, providing ample opportunity for intimidators to cherry-pick a situation of unimaginable disaster.

Myth # 2: We will all be worse off in the future

Doomsday is apparently the catalyst for a united Khundia and their subsequent emergence as a galactic power. Scenes of food riots and the violent collapse of social order come to mind. And yet the Sixth Assessment Report very clearly states that “on the way to the assessed model, global GDP will at least double (at least 100% increase) between 2020-2050” (WGIII, SPM-) 49). So even in the worst case scenario, the IPCC expects world resources to double in the next few decades (which will certainly positively affect our ability to adapt to any level of warming).

However, global warming is predicted to have a negative impact on GDP growth, in the order of .04-.09 percentage points per year, the total net decline in 2050 is 1.3 – 2.7 percent (ibid). Sustainable normal growth over the years, problematic, but rarely after the catastrophe it ordered a severe recession in 2050.

Looking further, the model estimates of economic growth between 2050 – 2100 are lower on an annual basis, only 1.3 to 2.1 percent per year. But it still reflects a growing economy. Whether this assumption is correct is relevant – the key issue is that models are anti-doomsday models. By 2100 they are much richer in their foundations, albeit much warmer, the world assumes, even if we do not work to reduce the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So they provide no basis for predicting a complete catastrophe. Science does not support the claim of an existential threat to humanity.

Case Study: Africa

Of course, climate change will affect different regions differently, and some will suffer much more than others, both due to location and limited capacity for adaptation. One of the most risky regions is sub-Saharan Africa, due to its low-latitude location and its constant underdevelopment. The Africa Chapter of the IPCC Working Group II prepares for serious reading. A selection:

  • “In Africa, climate change is happening [already] Decreased crop yield and productivity (Moderate confidence) Agricultural productivity growth has declined by 34% since 1961 due to climate change, more than in any other region ”(WGII, 9-7);
  • “Climate has changed [already] Economic growth has slowed across Africa. . . One estimate suggests that Africa’s GDP per capita was 13.6% lower for 1991-2010 if climate change had not occurred “(WGII, 9-6);
  • Sickness and mortality will increase as global warming increases, putting additional strain on health and the economy.High confidence): At 1.5 C. . . The spread of vector-borne diseases and seasonal infections is expected to increase, exposing a few million more people, mostly in East and South Africa (High confidence) ”(WGII, 9-7).

And yet, close readers will see that there is good news out there as well. Although the report does not give a continental-wide GDP estimate for Africa, nor does it give one for the sub-Saharan region, it does not suggest a perfect fall in GDP, but rather indicates continued growth. For example, the report argues that “across almost all African countries, per capita GDP will be at least 5% higher and 10-20% higher by 2050 if global warming is maintained at 1.5 degrees Celsius versus 2 degrees Celsius” (WGII9) -7 ). These are significant numbers, but they again indicate that the question How much? Rich Africa became a warm future, no Whether Africa is rich.

And although such questions are not addressed directly in the IPCC report, it is clear that the larger implications for Africa’s economic development will be questions of governance rather than climate issues.

There are other indications of a positive, though difficult, future for Africa. Increased mortality and morbidity have been linked to the statement that warming is a “risk”[s] To reduce the improvement of health from future socio-economic development ”(WGII, 9-7). Flash out, this means that a richer Africa can better address the risks of illness and death, and instead of ensuring a perfect increase in mortality and morbidity, there will be a limited reason for how much climate change will benefit.

Again, far from the uninhabitable world, we also see a world in Africa that will be more livable because it will be richer. In the absence of significant global warming it will not be as livable and it will lag behind the more developed regions of the world.

Finally, the report notes that even in Africa, adaptation can be effective in response to global warming, making it “cost-effective” (WGII, 9-4). This means that in the absence of mitigation of CO2 emissions, and despite effective assurances that we will not limit the world to 1.5 degrees Celsius warming – at least in the medium term – investing in adaptation strategies can even help with sub-materials. Saharan Africa maintains significant growth through the warmer world.


None of the above is a call for inaction. The IPCC report emphatically argues that the net effect of reducing atmospheric CO2 concentration is a rich world in the future, albeit in small amounts. The mitigation strategy, if the report is correct, will pay for itself, on time. Of course this is an empirical claim that is the subject of debate, and the correct answer is an important, but not the only, factor in determining our best public policy response.

Beyond the empirical question, there is a moral question that a contemporary generation should be asked to pay for the benefit of a future generation that is going to be much richer than the previous generation. Imagine if we could go back in time and tell the people of 1922 or 1962 to make themselves a little poorer so that we could be five percent richer today. They will, at least, look to us, especially if we can move them forward in time so that they can see the unprecedented benefits that our vast resources have provided for us. Most importantly, we should be wary of throwing energy into poverty through unreliable energy sources because they are characterized by the ideological mantra “renewable”.

But if we don’t pay for mitigation, we must start adaptation plans. Many adaptation measures, such as coastal expansion, conservation of open space for flood management, and improved disease management, will be immediately funded, which will benefit our own generation as well as future generations. Working Group III reports, “Some of the most significant health, wellness, and equity benefits associated with climate action stem from investing in basic infrastructure: sanitation, clean drinking water, clean energy, affordable health food, clean public transport, and improved air quality. Quality “(WGIII, 3-106).

But it is a far cry from surrendering to the politics of fear, which is often the role of the politics of oppression. After all, if one truly believes that the very existence of humanity is at stake, no rule goes too far to save our species and no social control is too strict. And it’s a price we don’t have to pay anyone.

James E. Hanley

James E. Hanley

James E. Hanley is a senior policy analyst at the non-partisan Empire Center for Public Policy. He has earned his Ph.D. He taught political science and economics at the University of Oregon in political science, then at the post-doctoral fellowship and at the collegiate level for nearly two decades under the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics winner Eleanor Ostrom. The ideas expressed here do not reflect the views of his employer. He can be followed on Twitter at @empire_hanley.

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