Andrew Simms\’ latest nonsense.

Quite simply, we cannot have economic growth because it\’ll cause climate change. Thus we must stop economic growth.

In slightly more detail, economic growth necessarily means that we\’ll go over 2 oC of warming and thus Flipper will boil as the oceans evanesce into the atmosphere.

Thus we should stop economic growth.

I refute it thusly:

The IPCC tells us that there are a number of different paths the economy could take and these have implications for temperature rises. They are handily listed here.

There are six families of SRES Scenarios, and AR4 provides projected temperature and sea level rises (excluding future rapid dynamical changes in ice flow[5])for each scenario family.

  • Scenario B1
    • Best estimate temperature rise of 1.8 °C with a likely range of 1.1 to 2.9 °C (3.2 °F with a likely range of 2.0 to 5.2 °F)
    • Sea level rise likely range [18 to 38 cm] (7 to 15 inches)
  • Scenario A1T
    • Best estimate temperature rise of 2.4 °C with a likely range of 1.4 to 3.8 °C (4.3 °F with a likely range of 2.5 to 6.8 °F)
    • Sea level rise likely range [20 to 45 cm] (8 to 18 inches)
  • Scenario B2
    • Best estimate temperature rise of 2.4 °C with a likely range of 1.4 to 3.8 °C (4.3 °F with a likely range of 2.5 to 6.8 °F)
    • Sea level rise likely range [20 to 43 cm] (8 to 17 inches)
  • Scenario A1B
    • Best estimate temperature rise of 2.8 °C with a likely range of 1.7 to 4.4 °C (5.0 °F with a likely range of 3.1 to 7.9 °F)
    • Sea level rise likely range [21 to 48 cm] (8 to 19 inches)
  • Scenario A2
    • Best estimate temperature rise of 3.4 °C with a likely range of 2.0 to 5.4 °C (6.1 °F with a likely range of 3.6 to 9.7 °F)
    • Sea level rise likely range [23 to 51 cm] (9 to 20 inches)
  • Scenario A1FI
    • Best estimate temperature rise of 4.0 °C with a likely range of 2.4 to 6.4 °C (7.2 °F with a likely range of 4.3 to 11.5 °F)

Excellent. As you can see most of these possible paths for the economy allow for there to be under 2 oC temperature rises. Some of them even have as their central estimate under 2 0C.

Two further things we need to note.

The first is that all of these are business as usual projections. They all assume that we do not take any attempt whatsoever to limit emissions. We do not scramble to build windmills, we do not carbon capture with coal, we do not tax airline flights or petrol, we just sail on merrily and allow everything to work out just as it would like to.

You will have noted that we are already taking such steps and intend to take many such more. So, absent politicians doing something entirely stupid and counter-productive (well ,we can hope, even if they are politicians) we can at least hope, if not entirely determine, that temperature rises from any of the economic paths will be lower than the above estimates.

The second thing we have to note is that all of the above economic paths assume substantial economic growth. When these economic models were first put together global GDP was around $50 trillion (in the 1990s). The A1 family assumes that global GDP in 2100 will be $550 trillion. B1 $350 trillion, B2 $250 trillion (from memory but that\’s about right).

So, the IPCC, that fount of the scientific consensus on climate change, tells us that not only are economic growth and temperature rises of under 2 oC compatible with each other, they are so even if we do absolutely nothing about climate change. Further, that really quite large amounts of economic growth, from 5 times to 11 times the 1990s economy, are still compatible with temperature rises under 2 oC. And that\’s still without doing anything about it.

And as we\’ve noted we are already taking steps to reduce emissions below the assumptions made by the IPCC.

Thus Simms is refuted.

It is also possible to go further and refute Simms and his crew of Noddies in more detail (as one example, it\’s terribly bad form to reference yourself as an unbiased source of a fact that you wish to assert, as Simms does, as another the observation that higher levels of economic income seem not to lead to higher levels of happiness ignores the question of whether economic growth itself, a rising standard of living, contributes to happiness or not) but I\’ll leave that for someone else to do.

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