Ted Shields

-1Joined Nov 2022


So not even worth exploring as a possibility? Wow. Okay. Let's hope there's a new math that can model how continued exponential economic growth can be supported by a finite resource base. To believe this can continue because we'll create an inventory of technological solutions that will offset the negative environmental impacts from growth is an illusion. One that unfortunately could jeopardize our future.   

That's exactly why I compared the relative future risks of climate change, nuclear war, and pandemics in my writing.

To clarify, I should have said, "future pandemic risks." You are certainly correct in that we have seen tremendous death and suffering as a result of Covid-19. I apologize for the confusing language.

Thank you Adam for your response.

My guess is that climate change is more neglected than the $640 billion figure suggests if you focus on "what technologies would be most impactful to develop?".

You may be right. Funding for clean energy projects, R&D supporting the commercialization of new technologies (From the World Economic Forum: "About 60% of 400 technologies listed by the International Energy Agency as key to carbon neutrality globally aren’t yet commercially available"),  and supporting investment in the infrastructure needed to support those new technologies (i.e. supply chains, storage, transportation, etc.)  does appear to be a major focus of spending though.

It seems like the options are "develop and deplwoy the technology" or "convince everyone on Earth to take a massive lifestyle hit", and the latter just seems implausible to me (as well as undesirable)?

This is what people most frequently react to when discussing degrowth. To clarify, degrowth does not imply "everyone on earth." There is a distinction to be made between the affluent global north (the primary source of environmental impact) where consumption is excessive, and the global south where development is still needed to create an equitable living standard. And while there is certainly more research to be done on how to practically implement a degrowth methodology (thus the need for funding), there is existing research which indicates a "comfortable" life style could still be possible under this approach.  There is no doubt the paradigm shift required is significant. But the same could have been said for woman's suffrage, labor unions, and civil rights at different points in history.

This is not the same thing as climate change, and would be happening even if e.g. we had perfect carbon capture. So seems wrong to lump these in together?

I think you make a fair point. While air pollution is impacting climate change, it is distinct from climate change as it relates to mortality.  If I carve out the 8.7  million linked to air pollution then climate change would fall to the no.2 overall risk with 292.5  million deaths (using the same assumptions), behind the engineered pathogen risk (5% probability  with 95% of the population wiped out) at 532 million. Still, a BIG number.

I can only speak for myself, but degrowth seems (1) politically untenable (as noted above), and (2) requires that people accept much lower living standards. That seems bad to me? I generally want people to have higher living standards, not lower.

Much more to be explored here  which I hope to write about later and more in-depth , but my top line thoughts are as mentioned above.

I think it is important to make a distinction when it comes to economic growth; in this article the author states, "To achieve a more equal world without poverty the world needs very large economic growth."  In the reference material the blog referenced states, "if we want global poverty to decline substantially then the economies that are home to the poorest billions of people need to grow." The latter statement seems indisputable, whereas the former results in an existential risk.

Continued exponential economic growth from the global north is unsustainable and will not allow us to resolve our current ecological crisis. The math simply does not work when we consider the exponential growth curve against a finite resource base.  

This requires redefining what it means to" live well" in the developed world (i.e., moving beyond a pure GDP based evaluation to include more qualitative measures).  This is why using Denmark as the global benchmark for the income equity analysis (in the reference article), leads to an exaggerated growth requirement.  

And I wonder what the chart for the highlighted European countries which shows the reduction in emissions, and growth in income,  would look like if we did not adjust for trade and also included total biodiversity impact?