According to today’s issue of the West Australian, global greenhouse gas emissions have been rising as steadily as ever in spite of efforts to reduce them.
The paper says that, largely owing to the influence of China’s and India’s industrialisation along with that of many countries in Latin America, greenhouse emissions exceed worst-case scenarios despite efforts under the Kyōto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions having been fairly successful in other Enriched World nations. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), however, these emissions were what would be expected.
Whilst the MIT does not provide major projections for the future, demographic data suggest that fertility in most of the nations which have experienced rapid growth will taper off to below replacement fertility and most likely to lowest-low fertility of below 1.3 children per woman. Under this condition, China, India, Brazil and other countries experiencing rapid industrialisation today would cease to have growth in greenhouse emissions. A recent article in The Spectator goes further and suggests that as these nations age they will lose not only their youth but also their working-age populations. Since most of these newly industrialising nations have had highly militant working classes, they are likely to have especially strong environmental movements even with the pollution problems (temporarily in practice) affecting their major cities. India, China and Brazil also are likely to have the same problems with welfare states and the potential for mass emigration that European and East Asian nations do. Ultimately, this could force many working immigrants into the ecologically sensitive land of Australia where no economic restraints on energy consumption exist because of the abundant land and coal reserves.
Such a scenario, which is in fact the logical result of industrialisation because of the precise reversal in resources between pre-industrial and industrial economies, could see the Earth transformed far beyond transforming its atmospheric CO2 levels to those found during most of geological history when climates, soils and ecology were globally akin to Australia and Southern Africa today. Burning all the fossil fuels available could transform the Earth into an extremely hot and even un-habitable planet, rather like Venus with its dense CO2 atmosphere and no water or free O2.
Although such would never be reached before the life-support systems of the Earth were degraded, what is much more likely is that the degradation will begin slowly when it is too late to reverse. Such occurred with Perth’s now-decrepit surface water supplies which require atmospheric CO2 under 300 parts per million to have frequent enough cold fronts to nourish them. It was not until the 1980s that concern about their viability was raised, but by then the damage was done even had Australia adopted a rigid 100 percent rail transport policy. The same could easily happen with diseases of plants and crops or frequently higher crop prices from tropical cyclones in the future.
The real solution, then, is for the governments of Eurasia and the Americas to set aside their differences, make cuts to welfare spending and even on local environment protection and really do something to press Australia for a rigid zero emissions target or to pay fully for the costs of climate change abroad brought about by its emissions. If all the energy devoted to local conservation had been so directed over the past twenty to thirty years, much more would have been achieved in the fight against runaway global warming.