Let’s All Be Like India!

Never have I seen a global warming catastrophist help make it clear what potential costs were are facing in trying to roll back CO2 emissions (emphasis added):

Mr Stern, the former chief economist of the World Bank, sends out a very clear message: “We need to cut down the total amount of carbon emissions by half by 2050.” At current levels, the per capita global emissions stand at 7 tonnes, or a total of 40-45 gigatonnes. At this rate, global temperatures could rise by 2.5-3 degrees by then. But to reduce the per capita emissions by half in 2050, most countries would have to be carbon neutral. For instance, the US currently has, at 20-25 tonnes, per capita emissions levels that are three times the global average.

The European Union’s emission levels stand at 10-15 tonnes per capita. China is at about 3-4 tonnes per capita and India, at 1 tonne per capita, is the only large-sized economy that is below the desired carbon emission levels of 2050. “India should keep it that way and insist that the rich countries pay their share of the burden in reducing emissions,” says Mr Stern.

It is fabulous to see a global warming action supporter making my case for me.  In short, he is saying that India should stay the way it is (poor) and everyone else in the world needs to devolve until they are just like India (poor).  I have often said that aspiring to a slightly cooler but substantially poorer world makes no sense, and here we see the choice starkly.

By the way, it is always worth a moment to reality check any warming forecast you see in print, in this case a forecast of 2.5-3 degrees C by 2050.

Historically, we have seen a rise of 0.6 degrees at the same time CO2 concentrations have risen by 100ppm, though not all of this 0.6 degrees is due to CO2.  Recently, CO2 has been rising at 1.5-2 ppm per year.  Let’s assume that from now until 2050, it accelerates and rises on average 3 ppm per year, which is probably high.  This gives us a high-side estimate of 3 x 42 years = 126 ppm more.  So historically, 100 ppm caused something less than 0.6 degrees but going forward, 126 ppm more will cause 2.5-3 degrees?  Do you see how crazy and unsubantiable this is?  Particularly since the relationshio of CO2 to radiation absorbtion, and thus to temperature, is a diminishing one, such that the next 100 ppm should cause less warming than the last 100 ppm. 

Yeah, I know, it’s more complicated (dimming and feedback, etc).  But the ultimate answer considering this greater complexity is still the same.  The more complex answer is discussed in slightly longer form here, and in much longer form in my film and my book (both free online).

3 thoughts on “Let’s All Be Like India!”

  1. Uh, do you really think India’s low per capita carbon emissions are low because of its poverty? Your point may have made sense if India were an agrarian economy, where development => industrialisation => higher emissions. India, however, already is (allegedly) the fourth most industrialised economy in the world. Its high growth industries are in the service sector, where further growth will not add much to India’s carbon emissions. In fact, the only major additions to carbon emissions that I can see coming from development are from power generation (where new plants will undoubtedly emit less carbon than existing ones) and automobiles (ditto).

  2. By what possible criteria could India be considered the 4th most industrialised economy in the world?

    It’s per capita annual income has been estimated at $800. That’s much more indicative of an agrarian society than an industrialised country surpassing the likes of Germany, France, China and Canada.

    The great hope of the greens is that we can keep the undeveloped world poor (and barefoot, but of course, not pregnant). They’re not completely callous, mind you. They also expect the developed world to supply the poor with food and medicine while it impoverishes itself in the pursuit of zero-emissions.

  3. Maybe India has the 4th largest industrial production in the world – but that just means that there’s an industrial sector somewhere around the size of Germany buried in an agrarian nation ten times the size. It seems to me that a large part of India’s vigor in international trade at this point is that the best 10% of their people are competing against the whole population of first world countries. If you can take a purely menial American job such as taking orders in a McDonald’s drive-through lane and outsource it to India, ten college graduates will compete for each opening. Our average people are looking for better jobs than this, but their average people are subsistence farming, working as maids and gardeners, etc.

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