Slower by Design, Not Disaster
- Advances in Ecological Economics series
Chapter 7: Scale, Composition and Technology
7. Scale, composition and technology continued growth greatly increases the severity of climate change. Indeed we ﬁnd that climate change is a problem in large part ‘caused’ by exogenous population and productivity growth. Rapid reductions in growth make climate change a small problem; smaller reductions in growth imply climate change is a very serious problem indeed. (Kelly and Kolstad 2001) In this chapter we analyse the impacts of humans on the environment in terms of three components: the scale of our economic activities, the composition of these activities in terms of whether they involve goods or services, and the technologies we employ. Obviously, there are huge and important diﬀerences between scale, composition and technology around the world and, to a lesser extent, within each country. We will attend to some of these diﬀerences later in this chapter. For now we will explain these components in a general way, and then introduce regional diﬀerences when we look speciﬁcally at the problem of climate change. 7.1 SCALE Many people concerned about the long-term availability of resources and the environmental impacts of human economies focus on scale. They point to the large and growing population, to increasing urbanization, to increasing economic output. The world’s population of 6.6 billion (US Census Bureau, 1 July 2007) is forecast to rise to 9 billion by mid-century (World Bank 2007c). It could be as low as 7.6 billion or as high as 10.6 billion depending on what happens to the fertility rate (the...
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