ArturoBandini wrote:The majority of any increases in CO2 emissions in the coming century will come from India, China, and other rapidly modernizing nations. Emissions from North American and western Europe are projected to plateau. People in those other nations deserve their shot at modernity, so as far as I'm concerned, burn away, people of China and India (just get your air pollution issues under control, jeez).
That's a reasonable argument in some ways. On the other hand, it's not necessarily that easy. My impression is that the economic benefits from modernization in China and especially India are very unevenly distributed. At the same time, the rural poor are far more vulnerable to climate extremes (drought and flooding). It's worth considering the possibility that the net benefits of [climate change + economic growth] might be positive for urban populations in India, but negative for rural populations. Or maybe not. Who knows?
In any case, yes, it's not feasible to adopt a climate mitigation strategy that revolves around Westerners living a profligately high-carbon lifestyle while other countries are told to just lump it. That's not going to happen, and I think everyone realizes that.
But the alternative probably can't be "burn all the coal you want, China and India" either. We need to develop a 21st century civilization that's economically and technologically advanced without being dependent on digging up and burning massive quantities of concentrated carbon-based fuels that took hundreds of millions of years to form.
If we can't do that, then in a few hundred years (if not sooner) our civilization will collapse anyway, because we will have used up all the fossil fuels that are economically retrievable.
Since we have to make that transition anyway, why not make it while we still have a 1.75x or 2xCO2 atmosphere, rather than a 3x or 4xCO2 atmosphere?
A stitch in time saves nine, and all that...