Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ted Trainer, in the Real World Economics Review has a critique of the Stern Review (pdf format), in which he points out that the Stern Review, now a policy guide for numerous governments around the world, is (unfortunately) painfully optimistic. The two primary problems: Sterns' carbon goal of 550 ppm is too high to provide stabilization and he doesn't account for a growing population, i.e. Sterns' prescriptions to reduce carbon by 2050 harbors the illusion that the population will be roughly the same then as it is now. Ultimately, Trainer concludes that we cannot fix the global warming problem with our current lifestyle the way it is. As he puts it,

If the question is “How can we provide the energy to run a society committed to affluent living standards and economic growth?” then the answer is that we cannot. A number of distinct lines of argument show clearly that the lifestyles and per capita resource and ecological impacts of the rich countries are far beyond sustainable limits.
The subsequent question becomes, "How do you get the world's major consumers to curb their habits?"

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