The Corner

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The Critical Point


From a reader:

About two years ago I was looking into some of the latest doomsday scenarios issued by one of the Global Climate institutes (I think it was at the U of Colorado). Their models predicted that in 100 years, the average temperature would increase by some number of degrees and various other horrible things would happen.

I didn’t then — and don’t now — have the expertise to challenge the mathematical basis of the models, but what struck me is that these scenarios never factor in what humans are able to accomplish. 100 years is a very long time in science and technology — 100 years ago there were very few automobiles, few power plants, no air conditioners, no nuclear power, etc. Years ago Ester Boserup challenged the Malthusian view that population growth would outstrip food supplies by pointing out that humans have the ability to develop new technologies, new crops, and new methods to increase their productivity. She was right, of course. Why is it so hard to think that humans are unable to develop new technologies that will solve some of the problems associated with global warming? We aren’t all Luddites.

Even Time magazine publishes articles every year about the new inventions that are likely to solve some of our future energy problems….

[F]or all these folks know about meteorology, glaciation, pollen cores, extinctions of amphibians, and so forth, they really don’t know much about human decision-making.