It’s been about 7 years since Tim Garrett published a paper that explains everything anyone needs to know about the cause of climate change: US$1 (1990) = 10mW.
Or in words, wealth is proportional to energy consumption, and since 90+% of energy is fossil carbon, and since all “renewable” energy depends on fossil carbon, climate change is proportional to total human wealth.
Almost all climate scientists ignore this vital relationship and pretend we can address climate change without shrinking the economy, our lifestyles, and our population.
Now with this recent paper we see a hint that climate scientists may be just starting to understand reality.
Climate scientists have wasted many years by not speaking the truth about our predicament. Most don’t even set good examples in their personal lives.
Shame on them.
Maybe in another 7 years they will understand the equally important relationship between net energy, economic growth, and debt. Although I suspect they won’t due to inherited denial of reality.
Titled “Modeling Sustainability: Population, Inequality, Consumption, and Bidirectional Coupling of the Earth and Human Systems“, the paper describes how the rapid growth in resource use, land-use change, emissions, and pollution has made humanity the dominant driver of change in most of the Earth’s natural systems, and how these changes, in turn, have critical feedback effects on humans with costly and serious consequences, including on human health and well-being, economic growth and development, and even human migration and societal conflict. However, the paper argues that these two-way interactions (“bidirectional coupling”) are not included in the current models.
The Oxford University Press’s multidisciplinary journal National Science Review, which published the paper, has highlighted the work in its current issue, pointing out that “the rate of change of atmospheric concentrations of CO2, CH4, and N2O [the primary greenhouse gases] increased by over 700, 1000, and 300 times (respectively) in the period after the Green Revolution when compared to pre-industrial rates.” See Figure 1 from the Highlights article, reproduced below.
“Many datasets, for example, the data for the total concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases, show that human population has been a strong driver of the total impact of humans on our planet Earth. This is seen particularly after the two major accelerating regime shifts: Industrial Revolution (~1750) and Green Revolution (~1950)” said Safa Motesharrei, UMD systems scientist and lead author of the paper. “For the most recent time, we show that the total impact has grown on average ~4 percent between 1950 and 2010, with almost equal contributions from population growth (~1.7 percent) and GDP per capita growth (~2.2 percent). This corresponds to a doubling of the total impact every ~17 years. This doubling of the impact is shockingly rapid.”
Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, who was not a co-author of the paper, commented: “We cannot separate the issues of population growth, resource consumption, the burning of fossil fuels, and climate risk. They are part of a coupled dynamical system, and, as the authors show, this has dire potential consequences for societal collapse. The implications couldn’t be more profound.”