Friday, September 22, 2006

Climate Change and the Demographic Shift Climate Change and the Demographic Shift

TCS Daily: Climate Change and the Demographic Shift is a great article. It points out that the economics models being used to guage the effects of Global Warming almost invariably do not take into account the changes in demographics. In particular, they don't take into account that population growth is stalling as income increases, after a major population growth spurt resulting from the first stages of this, as maternal and child death rates plummet. In other words, countries these days first go through a phase where death rates for mothers and kids drop due to sanitation, vacinations, etc., resulting in a huge population growth in that country. But then, as they get wealthier, the opportunity cost of kids goes up, and their utility goes down, and the desired family size drops significantly, resulting in a leveling out of the population. We see this already in the 1st World countries (outside of Deseret, also known as Utah), and are starting to see it in China and India. The models apparently take into account that CO2 emissions increase as energy consumption increases as income goes up, but don't take into account that populations in these countries are stabilizing, or even starting to shrink, also as a result of this income. Rather, they implicitly or explicitly assume that today's population growth will continue, when it apparently won't.

But then the author cited another article: "Population aging and future carbon emissions in the United States" which looks at the effects of an aging population on energy consumption (and, thus, CO2 emissions), and apparently finds that the older you get, the less energy you expend just running around. No more fast cars, but rather the ubiquitous golf carts you find on the streets in Sun City (yes, you they are a menace there, but there is nothing you can do about it, since you have to be 50 to live there). I should also note that the retired no longer have to commute to work, nor take the kids to school, sports, etc. And this too has apparently not been taken into account in those economic models.

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