A Depression Would Reduce Carbon Emissions

PREDICTIONS for the planet are dire indeed, if we do not drastically cut our carbon dioxide emissions in the very near future. 

In Australia, we will lose the Barrier Reef and the Kakadu wetlands, the Murray River will dry up completely and snow vanish from our Alpine regions.  Sea level could rise precipitously as the great ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic melt.

On the economic front, things have actually gone from bad to worse.  The sub-prime crisis has morphed into fears of a global recession, perhaps even a depression.  Bastions of United States capitalism such as General Motors now teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. Here in Australia, companies that run child-care centres and shopping malls are collapsing.  Even our iron ore shipments are now being cancelled by China. The world price of oil has plummeted 60 percent in just a few months – the reason is an anticipated reduction in global demand.

So, why isn’t all the bad economic news  openly embraced as positive news by those that advocate we urgently cut carbon dioxide emissions.  Surely, if solutions to global warming are so pressing, the best thing that could possibly happen is a recession if not a depression?

It is very confusing to me that the Federal government is so determined to maintain domestic growth above 2 percent, on the one hand, while at the same time telling us we are ruining the planet with our emissions.   The reality is that you cannot have it both ways. Economic activity and emissions are related. 

John Abbot lives in Noosa, Australia.

[Photograph taken at dusk on November 1, 2008, by Jennifer Marohasy from the Mantra Hotel, Southbank, Melbourne, Australia. ]

23 Responses to A Depression Would Reduce Carbon Emissions

  1. Tim Curtin November 14, 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    John Abbott: That’s a good question. I wonder if you are aware that Will Steffan, Head of ANU’s new Climate Change Institute is on record as saying that by 2100 if not before there will be no life of any form whatsoever unless his programe of emission cuts is accepted globally? Here are the quotes (from Canadell, Pataki, Gifford, Houghton, Luo, Raupach, Smith, Steffan in chapter 6 in Canadell, Pataki D, Pataki, L, eds., Terrestrial Ecosystems in a Changing World, Springer, 2007): (1) “…no further C will be removed from the atmosphere [by 2100]” (6.1:59). (2) “It is conceivable that by the end of this century if not earlier the terrestrial sink may significantly sink or disappear” (6.6:73).

    It is of course abundantly clear that Canadell and Steffan et al. are charlatans, because if they are right, there will be no life of any kind on the planet by 2100 if not if their emission reduction programs are implemented. That is because absent the atmospheric CO2 they propose to eliminate, no oceanic or terrestrial life is possible. But at all levels of atmospheric CO2 there will always be removals of such CO2, even by our respective grandchildren merely planting out tomatoes or trees. Even the credulous Garnaut admits the possibility of increasing removals by planting trees, (actually oil palm is better). Do Steffan et al. seriously believe that all life will cease by 2100 if atmospheric CO2 were to increase at its current rate of 0.45% p.a from now until 2100? Neither the IPCC nor the even more gullible Stern and Garnaut Reports have claimed total cessation of photosynthesis and all life by 2100 under BAU. But people like Will Steffan are wholly ignorant of the facts of life and so are unlikely to have grandchildren who will suffer the fate he holds out for them after the pre-ordained failure of the Copenhagen Conference this time next year.

  2. David Williams November 15, 2008 at 12:27 am #

    The reason is very straight forward. If a recession, depression, slump or whatever causes mankind’s emission of greenhouse gases to decrease, then the raison d’etre for green alarmism ceases to be.

  3. Janama November 15, 2008 at 4:44 am #

    There will be a drop in demand in the west, but the east will continue to expand and release carbon emmisions. China’s biggest market is it’s own people, similarly with India. China has lifted 300 million out of poverty – there’s 1 billion to go. They are currently graduating 500 thousand engineers per year, there’s still a lot of work to do in China.

    As a NZ comedian recently commented, there’s probably more people stopped at a traffic light in China than the NZ and Australian populations combined.

  4. Louis Hissink November 15, 2008 at 7:05 am #

    Economic activity and emissions are indeed related. Economic activity is simply human activity and the Greens want to kill it.

    The useful idiots here are labelled as such because they don’t “get it”, or they do, and would be happy to destroy what we have achieved as a civlisation.

    I wonder if they would be prepared to give up their Apple computers for the greater good? Because the logical outcome of climate change mania is a return to the neolithic state.

  5. Slim November 15, 2008 at 7:13 am #

    What a facile post! I thought this blog was notionally about environment and science? This post is worthy of Bolt. Oh wait, there’s Bolt in the blogroll.

    It’s not an either/or situation. Presumably everyone wants economic stability. Greed/Fear driven boom and busts are not good. And if someone concerned about carbon emissions were to point out that a global depression may well achieve the desired reduction, the pundits here would be outraged at the callous indifference to the well-being of others being shown by AGW supporters. You can’t win an ‘argument’ like that.

  6. janama November 15, 2008 at 7:13 am #

    Bob Carter lays it all out, again.


  7. ianl8888 November 15, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

    Slim is contributing the usual “bon-mots” of silly sarcasm from the willfully ignorant.

    Economic stability does not exist. Economies are either growing or shrinking, always with the segments individual within them at odds with each other (not many people fabricate stage coaches now, but many hundreds of thousands fabricate commercial and military aircraft). This is called evolution – its’ principal characteristic is unremitting, unpredictable, opportunistic change.

    Abruptly and arbitrarily removing the energy supplies from the citizenry without ready economic alternatives is just such a change. While the outcome is not predictable in precise detail, it does seem likely to cause immeasurable chaos and misery for a considerable time.

    Doubtless Slim baby will reply: “But there are alternatives !!” So what, exactly, will replace the 12GWh of the Victorian brown coalfields power stations ? NOTE: no glib blue-sky adjectives here, please, just numbers. Such a reply could then attract some credibility. The Gippsland by-election results certainly demonstrated their current lack of credibility. Oh, and those power stations supply over 85% of Melbourne’s power.

    Until such answers are forthcoming, the view that Watermelons are delighted with negative economic growth (while being just smart enough not to say so out loud), will remain.

  8. Peter P November 16, 2008 at 1:37 am #

    I think that posts like those from Louis and Ianl8888 are harming this site, and the credibility that goes with it.

    This site is about reasoned and factual science, not personal denigration and ridicule.

    Please keep to facts, real data, and real science please.

  9. Eyrie November 16, 2008 at 8:30 am #

    Slim and fellow lunatics: I urge you to lead by example. Cut yourselves off from the electricity grid, disconnect from the water supply. Invest all your money in alternative energy and move to where you think this is all possible. We’ll all look on with interest to see the results of your experiments. No cheating now!

    Get back to us in 20 years with the results, if there are any of you left.

  10. WJP November 16, 2008 at 11:42 am #

    Yeah Slim, off you go, and don’t forget we’re not partial to transfer payments to anyone but the genuinely needy.
    Good luck in Utopia.
    P.S. There’s solar galore at Oodnadatta!

  11. Louis Hissink November 16, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    Peter P,

    AGW isn’t real science – that is the whole issue – its science hijacked for a political agenda and thus pseudoscience.

    And if my posts are harming this site, then you are showing normal AGW promoter bias – I see you have no problems with Luke’s post. Now those are harming this site and its credibility.

  12. cohenite November 16, 2008 at 3:18 pm #

    Slim; it is rather ironic that you think it is facile to point out that a recession will achieve what AGW supporters wish to achieve to save the planet; it is also ironic that you make no comment about the Canadell and Steffan effort which Tim Curtin refers to at the top of this thread; this sort of catastrophism and regrettable alarmism doesn’t give you pause? Consider this; currently CO2 is about 390ppm; if it doubles by the end of the century it will be 780ppm which will be about 250ppm less than the level which occurred during the PETM; the PETM is of interest to me because it is used by AGW supporters as THE example of what a ‘tipping point’ can achieve; which is rapid increase in temperature, circulation effects, ocean acidification and alterations to the Lysocline, mass extinctions etc; what is interesting is that the Eocene Optimum followed the PETM and featured the greatest and quickest expansion of life in the planet’s history; the temperature of the EO was also considerably warmer than during the PETM and CO2 levels were stable. Turning to the present; you have extoled the virtues of alternative, sustainable energy forms; my main interest here is what your views are about lifestyle and the social and economic structure attendant on your preferred energy sources; that is, should capitalism be curtailed; should population be restrained and how should individual rights be capped; while you’re considering your answer, which I’m interested in, you may ponder these stats; from Germany, the home of the Greens; 0.5% of energy from solar; 25% from nuclear; 50% from lignite (the dirtiest of the coal, brown); and the rest from imported Russian gas; wind is too small to register (source: Ministry of Energy, Germany, December 2007).

  13. cinders November 16, 2008 at 5:59 pm #

    I thought the IPCC used storylines from scenario families to describe future world growth.

    The A1 storyline was of very rapid economic growth. So if we have a depression, then the A1B, A1T and A1FI are unlikely to eventuate.

    B1 and B2 (apologies to the ABC kids program) are more environmental than economic.

    Perhaps working families need a new tax on energy to ensure the predicted depression really does happen and that local industries relocate to countries without the tax, and help lower our GHG emissions.

  14. Louis Hissink November 16, 2008 at 7:09 pm #

    Cohenite” ..that capitalism should be curtailed”

    This has but one meaning – to curtail capitalism is to simply curtail our individual right to choose and replace it with the dictates of the state.

  15. cohenite November 16, 2008 at 7:38 pm #

    Louis; you and I know that; I want to know whether Slim does.

  16. Louis Hissink November 16, 2008 at 8:37 pm #


    Slim chance that he does, methinks

  17. SJT November 18, 2008 at 5:28 pm #

    Bob Carter lays it all out, again.

    Bob Carter beats up a strawman again. When will he have the courage to face a real scientist?

  18. Louis Hissink November 18, 2008 at 8:07 pm #

    SJT: “Bob Carter beats up a strawman again. When will he have the courage to face a real scientist?”

    The day you become honest.

  19. EW November 23, 2008 at 7:24 am #

    In a previous post, there was mentioned that the percentage of Germany’s electricity production from the wind is “under the radar”.

    Well, not so in my country – Czech Republic. The problem is following: Germans produce most of their windmill energy in the North. In addition, there’s a law, that in case the wind blows, the energy MUST be immediately channeled to the network and the other “non-renewable” sources shut down, if the need arises. But there’s a big BUT: Germany has more industry and energy consumption in the center and in the south, whereas windmills are rotating at the north.

    So what to do? Germany has very weak network, so they channel all that volts from North to South through the Czech network, which is (fortunately) a bit overdone, thanks to the Communist times. Of course, this sudden surge threatens Czech network stability with blackouts, not to mention the fact, that in order to pass through the German “green” wind energy we have to disconect and temporarily shut down (and later restart) our own coal plants…

  20. Kirby December 18, 2008 at 11:49 pm #

    well done! Thx!

  21. Melbourne Accommodation February 1, 2009 at 1:02 pm #

    At present it would be fair to say that ‘Economic activity and emissions are related’ due to the lack in development of alternates, but surely there are greener options… in fact investing in the greener options in a time of economic uncertainty such as now would not only take steps towards creating jobs and employment but also healing some of the planet we and our ancestors have abused. Jamie M.A


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  2.   A Depression Would Reduce Carbon Emissions — Just Some Poor Schmuck - November 22, 2008

    […] Jennifer Marohasy » A Depression Would Reduce Carbon Emissions So, why isn’t all the bad economic news openly embraced as positive news by those that advocate we urgently cut carbon dioxide emissions. Surely, if solutions to global warming are so pressing, the best thing that could possibly happen is a recession if not a depression? […]

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