Home > Carbon emissions, Energy & Environmental Economics > What climate change? It is the economy, stupid!

What climate change? It is the economy, stupid!

Recently, controversies on climate change have surfaced. This includes the much respected IPCC group that won a Nobel Prize for its work on perils of climate  change. In particular, the IPCC was criticised for using unsubstantiated technical articles (in the National Geographic) in establishing global warming over the ages. Its much hyped claim that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2035 was also retracted due to previously inconclusive evidence. A scandal arises over East Anglia University a leading climate research facility in UK, for having emails deleted to cover up actual earth cooling data. The wave of media attention on global warming and backlashing over climate critics have cast the latter in bad light.  It appears that the global warming have been over-sensationalised.

First for the facts. It is true that carbon dioxide concentration has risen considerably over the past century from 250 ppm to 390ppm presently. This has been caused by man-made activities with the industrial and transport revolution over the past century, and an extensive use of fossil fuels.

Now for the science. However, climate science has not evolved to an extent to relate an increased carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere to global warming. The earth is a complex system, and factors like thermohaline circulation, methane beds or plate tectonics are not fully understood for its impact on the global warming. Further, the earth being millions of years old have undergone cycles of warming and cooling in its long history. The data that have been collected over the past few decades just constitutes a statistical blip in the bigger history of things.

A recent interesting article by Paul Krugman claims not countering global warming leaves future generations the dire risk of not having an environment fit for living. The author is of the opinion combating global warming is an economic one. Whether carbon dioxide emissions ultimately leads to global warming or not is best left to the scientists.

However, the world needs an economic push.  In the 1980s, it was the electronics revolution. In the 1990s, it was the Internet revolution, and the 2000s saw a telecommunication revolution with the advent of iPod and wireless technology. Moving ahead for the next 2 decades, it is the green economy. The green economy will provide hybrid vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells, energy efficient buildings, renewable energies and unconventional sources of energy like shale gas, oil-sands from which jobs will be made available. Further, this development of alternative sources of energy and energy efficiency will help to improve energy security. This is in spite the IEA has projected that in the 2030s, the main source of primary energy will still be fossil fuels.

The automobile industry for example needs a push. Gone are the days of the gas-guzzling SUVs. Instead, Congress has mandated to improve the miles per gallon to 35 mpg by 2020, a level that is still behind the Japanese vehicles. Such a push towards the green economy provides a conduit for human ingenuity and technological innovation.

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  1. Eric Tham
    March 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    In a study done by the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (MEIBC), the renwable industry is expected to contribute $6.2 billion and 26,000 jobs to the economy.
    http://cleantechnica.com/2012/02/28/renewables-now-cheaper-than-coal-in-michigan-could-be-5-billion-industry/
    This is exactly the antidote for post-recovery American job increase.

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