Growth fetishism

1 Global Footprint Network, sub.php?content=overshoot.


3 Gary Kroll, 'Rachel Carson—Silent Spring: A Brief History of Ecology as a Subversive Subject', Online Ethics Center for Engineering, National Academy of Engineering, 6 July 2006,

4 Newsweek, editorial, 13 March 1972.

5 Quoted by Rex Weyler at attacking-margaret-atwood-are-limits-to-growth-real/.

6 Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, Jorgen Randers and William Behrens, The Limits to Growth, Earth Island Ltd, London, 1972, p. 23.

7 Although it's worth noting that the authors' 'prediction' that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere would reach 380 ppm by 2000 (Meadows et al., The Limits to Growth, p. 73) was almost exactly right.

8 Meadows et al., The Limits to Growth, p. 157.

9 Meadows et al., The Limits to Growth, pp. 157, 184.

10 Meadows et al., The Limits to Growth, p. 167.

11 Bjorn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001.

12 George W. Bush, 'President Bush Discusses Global Climate Change', White House, June 2001, news/releases/2001/06/20010611-2.html.

13 World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1987.

14 Quoted in David Stern, 'The Rise and Fall of the Environmental Kuznets Curve', Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics No. 0302, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, October 2003.

15 Quoted by Stern, 'The Rise and Fall of the Environmental Kuznets Curve'.

16 Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist, p. 33. Lomborg shows a graph plotting for dozens of countries the relationship between GDP per capita and an index of environmental sustainability (Figure 9, p. 33). There is a definite upward trend, but among the 18 richest countries, all with incomes clustered around $30,000, the index ranges from 45 to 80. In other words, above that threshold there is no relationship between higher incomes and environmental quality.

17 Paul A. Murtaugh and Michael G. Schlax, 'Reproduction and the carbon legacies of individuals', Global Environmental Change, vol. 19, 2009, pp. 14-20.

18 Of course, since the population of China is so enormous (four times bigger than that of the United States), any policy that limits fertility will have a large global impact. Although not part of the plan, China's much-maligned one-child policy means global greenhouse gas emissions will be substantially lower in the twenty-first century, a fact for which we should be grateful.

19 Thomas Robert Malthus, Essay on the Principle of Population, Volume 1, 2nd Edition, Cosmo Classics, n.d., p. 55.

20 United Nations, World Population Prospects: The 2006 Revision, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, New York, 2007. Depending on fertility rates, the estimates range from a low of 7.8 billion to a high of 10.8 billion.

21 Clive Hamilton and Hal Turton, 'Determinants of emissions growth in OECD countries', Energy Policy, vol. 30, 2002, pp. 63-71.

22 Tim Jackson, Prosperity Without Growth? The transition to a sustainable economy, Sustainable Development Commission, London, 2009, pp. 53-4. See also Tim Jackson, 'What politicians dare not say', New Scientist, 18 October 2008, pp. 42-3.

23 Income, and the technology factor (T), are measured in constant year-2000 US dollars at market prices.

24 Jackson, Prosperity Without Growth?, p. 54. The analysis excludes non-CO2 emissions. We saw in Chapter 1 that Anderson and Bows set the non-CO2 floor of their analysis at 7.5 billion tonnes by

2050. 2

25 United Nations, World Population Prospects.

26 These figures are based on Nicholas Stern, The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,

2007, p. 209. Stressing China's expected influence, the Garnaut report is much more bullish, suggesting per capita GDP growth of around 2.75 per cent (Ross Garnaut, The Garnaut Climate Change Review Final Report, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne,

27 Interviewed by Jeff Goodell, 'Geoengineering: The Prospect of Manipulating the Planet', Yale Environment 360 magazine, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, January 2009.

28 See Lisa Sellin Davis, 'Malls, the Future of Housing?', HousingWire. com, 29 December 2008.

29 IPCC, Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, edited by B. Metz, O.R. Davidson, P.R. Bosch, R. Dave and L.A. Meyer, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007. See also T. Barker et al., 'Technical Summary', in Climate Change 2007: Mitigation.

30 IPCC, Climate Change 2007: Mitigation, Table SPM 6, p. 18. To be precise, the target in question is 445 ppm and the 5.5 per cent is the upper end of the 10th and 90 th percentile range of the analysed data.

31 In annual terms it means the growth rate of global GDP would be 0.12 per cent (a little over one tenth of 1 per cent) lower than otherwise.

32 Stern, The Economics of Climate Change, p. 208.

33 Stern, The Economics of Climate Change, p. 209.

34 The 2050 figure is only a crude estimate. In practice, changes in exchange rates will invalidate a simple scaling up, but attempting more accuracy would not change the essential point being made (Stern, The Economics of Climate Change, Box 7.2). For the 2007 figure see World Bank, DATASTATISTICS/Resources/GDP.pdf.

35 United Nations, World Population Prospects.

36 While many have criticised the models for overstating the economic costs of abatement, occasionally they are accused of understating them. Among the latter Dieter Helm suggests that the true cost of cutting emissions may be 'several percentage points higher' than the 1 per cent argued by the Stern report ('Climate-change policy: why has so little been achieved?', Oxford Review of Economic Policy, vol. 24, no. 2, 2008, p. 227). That might take the costs up to 5 per cent of increased GDP, still an insignificant number in the scheme of things, as I have argued above. To suggest, as Helm does, that the reality of 'significantly higher' abatement costs is responsible for nations failing to take emissions reductions seriously overlooks the fact that, if it is true, it has been unknown to governments.

37 This is the estimated cost to GDP of stabilising at around 500550 ppm (Stern, The Economics of Climate Change, p. 267).

38 'Our actions over the coming decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the twentieth century' (Stern, The Economics of Climate Change, p. xv).

39 Stern, The Economics of Climate Change, p. 27.

40 Nicholas Stern, Address to the Royal Economic Society, November 2007, climatechange.carbonemissions.

41 Stern, The Economics of Climate Change, p. 267. After the release of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, Stern doubled his estimate to 2 per cent.

42 Stern, The Economics of Climate Change, p. 276.

43 Stern, The Economics of Climate Change, pp. 276, 338.

44 Quoted in an interview with The Climate Group, 29 June 2004, david_king/.

45 Garnaut, The Garnaut Climate Change Review.

46 Garnaut, The Garnaut Climate Change Review, p. 271.

47 Garnaut, The Garnaut Climate Change Review, p. 272.

48 Stern, The Economics of Climate Change, Figure 13.4, p. 330.

49 William Nordhaus, 'The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change' (unpublished paper, 3 May 2007) reprinted as Chapter 9 in William Nordhaus, A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2008) from which all quotes are taken.

50 Nordhaus, A Question of Balance, pp. 167, 174.

51 This point is made in the context of the scientific revolution by Morris Berman, Coming to Our Senses: Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West, Bantam Books, New York, 1990, pp. 112-13.

52 Julie A. Nelson, 'Economists, value judgments, and climate change: A view from feminist economics', Ecological Economics, vol. 65, no. 3, April 2008.

53 Nelson, 'Economists, value judgments, and climate change', p. 445.

54 Quoted by Robert Kuttner, 'The Poverty of Economics', Atlantic Monthly, February 1985, pp. 74-84.

55 Nordhaus, A (Question of Balance, p. 15.

56 Right wing and insufferable: responding to the Stern report Tol said: 'If a student of mine were to hand in this report as a Masters thesis, perhaps if I were in a good mood I would give him a "D" for diligence; but more likely I would give him an "f" for fail.' Quoted by Simon Cox and Richard Vadon, 'Running the rule over Stern's numbers', BBC Radio 4, The Investigation, 26 January 2007.

57 Nordhaus, A (Question of Balance.

58 All estimates are taken from Nordhaus, A (Question of Balance,

Table 5-1, and are rounded. In fact, there is a very small cost of abatement associated with this option, for reasons that are not explained.

59 In fact, the present value of climate damage under the do-nothing policy is $22.55 trillion, while the present value of abatement costs under 'do nothing' is an unexplained $0.04 trillion.

60 See the commentary by Jeffrey Sachs in Yale Symposium on the Stern Review, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, February 2007, p. 113,

61 The costs of the Stern proposal amount to 0.8 per cent of future income, and this Nordhaus describes as 'extremely expensive' (A Question of Balance, p. 87).

62 Nordhaus refers to them as 'worse-than-nothing cases' (A (Question of Balance, p. 88).

63 Nordhaus would claim that his model incorporates the possibility of catastrophic events but John Quiggin shows that, even within the economic framework, Nordhaus's treatment of catastrophic events is deficient. It uses conservative estimates of the probabilities of catastrophes, incorporates a low measure of risk aversion, excludes events with very low probability but very high losses and mis-specifies the damage function. He also observes that Nordhaus uses 'trivially low' estimates of the cost of species extinction. John Quiggin, 'Stern and his critics on discounting and climate change', Climatic Change, vol. 89, nos 3-4, 2008, pp. 195-205; John Quiggin, 'Counting the cost of climate change at an agricultural level', CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources, vol. 2, no. 092, 2008, pp. 1-9.

64 Quoted by Ed Pilkington in 'The carbon catcher', Guardian, 24 May 2008.

65 W.S. Broecker, 'Unpleasant surprises in the greenhouse?', Nature, vol. 328, 1987, pp. 123-6.

66 Clive Hamilton, Growth Fetish, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2003 and Pluto Press, London, 2004; Richard Layard, Happiness, Allen Lane, London, 2005.

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