January 27, 2006

Predicting economic and climate change

This week's issue of Nature has a news piece on current efforts to integrate economic and climate models in order to predict global change for the 21st century. Economic development affects climate, climate affects economic development, and both affect human well-being. After reading the article I conclude that economists are baffled by the naive assumptions of economic growth fed into the climate change models, and climate modellers are baffled by the uncertainty of economic models. What is easier to predict - the future shape of the world economy (even in the absence of climate change) or global climate (even in the absence of economic change)? How reliable is the joint prediction of the future course of the two interacting systems?

Two things, however, are clear. First, human well-being depends much more on economic growth than on climate change.
For example, changes in malaria incidence that result from people becoming rich enough to have mosquito nets outweigh any changes in the geographical spread of malaria caused by global warming.
Second, technological progress is paramount. And technological progress depends on economic prosperity and economic freedom.

1 comment:

  1. "...technological progress is paramount. And technological progress depends on economic prosperity and economic freedom."

    "The race is now on between the technoscientific forces that are destroying the living environment and those that can be harnessed to save it." -- E. O. Wilson

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