Guest post by Thomas Fuller
Okay, all–this is a slow developing post. I hope you can stick with me to the end here.
If you’re reading this, the chances are better than even that you are a well-educated male who is either working full time or transitioning or in retirement. That’s if respondents to last year’s survey of WUWT visitors told the truth.
If it is true, it may surprise you to learn that there is a body of medical and sociological literature written specifically about you. The theme of the literature is how to shepherd you through your fifties and early sixties and get you to your next ‘life-stage’ in good shape.
It isn’t aimed directly at you, but at your wives, doctors and nurses, which is why you may never have heard of it. The literature is big on prevention–getting you to finally put down the cigarettes, lose the weight and lay off the hard liquor so you don’t keel over too soon.
Whatever man-made climate change turns out to be, it is not a permanent state. This is something that is not often discussed, but is very true. This is a ‘life stage’ the human race is going through–probably not late middle age, but late adolescent–but it is certainly a phase, not a permanent condition.
The UN estimates that our population will peak at about 9.1 billion souls around 2075. They, and almost everyone else, estimates that our GDP will grow at roughly 3% per year during that time. This means that all except the very poorest of this 9 billion will be richer than we are today. The textile workers in Vietnam making $84 a month? Their grandchildren will be making more than our national average today.
During the next 65 years the world’s energy consumption will skyrocket, both because of more people and because so many will be adopting western energy consumption patterns. It is going to be impressive, and scary, especially if coal turns out to be the fuel powering this growth.
But it won’t be permanent. Here in the US, our energy consumption per capita is already declining, and it is declining or very stable in most of the richer countries of the world. About 20 years after world population peaks, shortly before 2100, the world’s energy consumption will peak as well, and both will start to decline.
At that point (and maybe long before, if technology does what technology normally does), our impact on this planet and its atmosphere will begin to slowly decrease. We will have passed the crisis point, and will be moving into–what? Adulthood? Middle age? I guess they’ll come up with a cute name for it.
The two points I’d like to make is, first, that whatever we do on behalf of the planet can be looked at as our generation’s contribution to a future that is almost in sight already. 90 years? Kids being born today will see it.
Second, those who are trying to push apocalyptic scenarios for political reasons need to keep their story lines straighter than they have so far. There are far more reasons for optimism than pessimism.
While I am probably a stronger advocate for renewable energy and energy efficiency than many of you reading this, it may be because I’m looking at this as just part of our generational duty–a far lighter duty than previous generations had to shoulder.
Yes, I think we should commit more of our treasure and toil towards reducing pollution, including emissions of the non-polluting CO2. Yes, I believe that we should spend more of our money on researching energy efficiency and things like utility level storage of energy.
But like most of you, I am an optimist at heart. I am truly confident that we have the system in place to find the solutions that we need and to put them in place. If we’re wrangling about it now, it’s a combination of anger at those who have blown this out of proportion and sticker shock at what the solution may cost.
But I do believe we’ll get there, and without having the revolutionary upheaval so many think is the only way to get through this.
It’s just growing pains.
Thomas Fuller http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfuller