Monday, March 3, 2008

The Truth that Nobody Wants to Face

When the west industrialized and radically uplifted its standard of living, the total population involved was at most 500 million. Take the rest of the world today that seeks to emulate that standard of living and it is at least 10 times that number. It is this simple arithmetic that lies at the heart of where the real crisis of combating global warming lies. Assume no further population growth (instead of the 9+ billion projection for 2050) and assume zero emissions from the West prospectively, then still, without a radical change in technology, the rest of the world will only achieve 10% parity with the standard of living of the West for an equivalent global warming output. There is no way we can begin to address equity issues in climate without addressing population – at least going forward. The notion of a fair distribution being based on a per capita calculation may be defensible looking at population as it is today but it can only be so looking forward if we incorporate some normative standards for reproductive rates in making equity calculations.

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