The Two Koreas, 1950–2008: An Unplanned Experiment in Economic Systems, the Carbon Footprint and Human Well-Being

 

Guest post by Indur M. Goklany

Lately, North Korea has been very much in the news. Its population—or should I say, “captive population”—greets the passing of the baton from one ruler to another in the same spirit as “Kim is dead, long live Kim!” probably because they are unaware of the following satellite photos.  Many readers here have probably encountered them previously.

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East Asia at night. Top photo from 1994-95 which outlines North Korea is from MSNBC at http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/19/9564314-satellites-document-north-koreas-dark-ages?pc=25&sp=25. Bottom photo is from 2009. Source: http://agora. ex.nii.ac.jp/~kitamoto/research/rs/stable-lights.html.en.

Not only do the photographs illustrate the lack of economic development in North Korea, they show that it has one of the lightest carbon footprints in the world. And the various indicators of human well-being reflect that dark reality, as shown in the following table.

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It wasn’t always thus. In the early 1950s, to the extent data are available, the two countries were about equal in terms of economic development and human well-being. In fact, in 1960, according to the World Bank data, North Korea’s life expectancy was marginally higher than in the South (55.2 yrs vs. 53.0 yrs). Of course, the North’s data may have been fluffed up a little bit by its government before being adopted by the World Bank, but I don’t know for sure.

But over time, South Korea’s freer economic system pulled it ahead. Then, the loss of external support because of the collapse of the Soviet Union turned North Korea into a basket case in the 1990s (see the following figure). Finally, the South also became more democratic and its economic and social systems became more transparent. The consequences are evident in the above photographs and the following figure.

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Per capita GDP and per capita CO2 emissions, 1950-2008. Sources: Maddison (2008) and World Bank (2011).

The photographs and the figure are, among other things, also a stark warning of the dangers of excessive zeal in limiting a country’s carbon footprint.

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Interstellar Bill

No light pollution, no inequality, little electricity, few cars:
why that’s Green Heaven for sure, anti-natalist to the max.

Consider that most of NK’s exports are weapons and weapons technology…

The socialists will of course blame it all on the imperialist running dogs in the United States.

crosspatch

Looks like a textbook case of “Sustainable Development” to me.
Zero development can be sustained forever. And think of all the saved maintenance costs!

“Kim is dead, long live Kim!”
————————————
Some are Chosen to lead.

jim heath

you have to feel sorry for the people, they are kept utterly ignorant of what is happening in the World. This of course makes me even more angry when in Australia information is freely available but the population is too lazy to inform themselves. Oh and a tip for Andrew Wilke, why would you waste so much time on trying to protect an idiot that knows the machine they play is programmed to take money off you, Andrew! someone will remove the money from these people why waste your time?

The blinding glare of Utopia.

perlcat

To make things worse, look at the top picture — there *are* lights — they all are at the perimeter of the country, all facing hungrily outward. The interior of the country is dark, dark, dark. In a sane economy, the lights would either be distributed throughout the country, or at least be concentrated at various interior locations.
Very sad, indeed.

Truthseeker

North Korea is clearly the CO2 free paradise that the IPCC want for the whole world. I know, lets move the UN to Pyongyang and let those bureaucrats enjoy what they want for everyone else.

Kim might have been the only politician who cared for polar bears.

Mr

This is a testament to the inhuman scope of the moral and ethical crimes committed against the people of North Korea by their government. North Korea is the purest example of the opposite of capitalism in the world today – statism, collectivism, “social justice” and big government taken to their inevitable conclusion. This satellite photo is what I think of every time I hear the false claim “capitalists have no heart”.

Mike the convict

Bob Brown and the Greens dream for Australia right there people.

perlcat says:
December 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm
To make things worse, look at the top picture — there *are* lights — they all are at the perimeter of the country, all facing hungrily outward.

Actually, that is just a line someone drew on the map to indicate the border.
Anyway, looks like NK is a “world leader” in the fight against light pollution ….

GeoLurking

This is going to sound callous, but bear with me.
The ruling entity in North Korea is kept in place by the civilized world. We feed his hungry with aid since short and stupid, (or whatever the new corpse wanted to call himself when he was alive) focused the entirety of his effort on being a malcontent and developing weapons. If the food dried up, all he had to do was rattle his cage and we (the civilized world) would pony up the goodies.
I’m not even convinced that North Korea ever attained fission in their bomb “tests.”
A year or so before the first test, maybe more, the Littlest Emperor very nearly died in an explosion that happened very soon after his train had passed through there. Rumors of an assassination attempt ran rampant. In all likelihood, it was just a run of the mill accident. Things like that happen when you produce large quantities of ammonium nitrate.
Ammonium nitrate is a key fertilizer, and very useful in an agricultural society. It’s also handy in the manufacture of explosives.
What follows is conjecture. (mine and possibly wrong)
This explosion probably gave the little emperor an idea. Take a mine, and pack it full of ANFO (the same stuff used in Oklahoma City). If it’s deep enough, and there is enough of it, it will look like a nuke. As far as I know, no radio active material was ever picked up by sensors from that first blast.
The world poo-pooed the fizzled nuke for this reason. So, blast number two incorporated radioactive material from the reactor(s) that he has. This material was subsequently detected in neighboring countries.
People still marvel at how you can go from no nuclear warhead capability to a highly advanced controlled small yield version in just one test. One test that ostensibly not achieve fission.
Am I wrong? It’s possible. I don’t know what isotopes were actually detected, and some of them are specific to the type of reaction (explosive verses reactor). That is the biggest weak-point of my idea.
So… the world is now better that the little emperor slowly decomposes. I seriously doubt that his replacement is going to be any better.

This North Korea evening satellite photo is exactly what the Warmist would love to accomplish for the entire world. A very dark future indeed.

John West

I just hope those South Koreans occasionaly think about and appreciate what American military men and women have done for them.
Something we Americans could do as well.
If you’re a vet, THANK YOU!

Keith W.

GeoLurking, just him having a reactor that can produce plutonium is enough of a threat. Plutonium is one of the most poisonous substances on the planet. Its lethal dose is unbelievable small. You don’t have to use it in a nuclear bomb for it to be a threat. A regular bomb that held a quantity of plutonium would be enough to aerosol the sample, spreading it over a significant area. Anyone who inhaled any of the aerosol would face possible death, and certainly illness. For years, this type of “nuclear” threat has been the bigger fear of anti-terrorist organizations rather than a full nuclear device. The general processing and machining needed to produce a nuclear device is much easier to detect than just someone acquiring a sample mass of plutonium.

The Engineer

Perfect place to measure temperature change unaffected by urban heat effect.
Imagine the following headline:
“The Kim il Sung correction (KISC) removes 0,5 degree celcius from GISS anomally”.

Torgeir Hansson

Cry your eyes out for the Dear Leader. Cry with me!
Dead? No o no! Cruel world, undo this blow, this indignity! This outrage!
On his bier he lies now. He rests. The cooling fan wafts a solemn good-bye through the magnificent pompadour, the lion’s mane framing the Roman profile. Good-bye!
His Italian platform shoes? Empty—never again to click on the marble tiles of the Great Revolutionary Hall. Be still, yet set your heart aghast to the cruel stillness.
The Great Porn Collection stands idle on its extraordinarily long shelf. Asia Carrera, cry with me. Your honeyed skin will ne’er again fog a hero’s eyeglasses! Nikki Coxx, bow your head (but not too far) for your tush has danced its final jig on the People’s screen.
The exquisite, near-mint DVD of Titanic The Movie, barely watched for the tears it brought to that noble face—who will see you now? Who will cry over the boy wonder Di Caprio?
The world cries: re-run this life!
His heroic endorsement of the Dark Skies Initiative—the glorious twinkling above—THAT is his legacy.
The Horsehead Nebula is yours, O North Korean, o peasant, o soldier, to feast on with your naked eye.
No bowl of rice, no kim chee, no Bib Bam Bap, can match the rings of Saturn, outside the hut, by the hollow song of the rusted tractor.

Ideal location for the next IPCC COP junket. They can demonstrate to all who attend the benefits of success in a de-carbonized world.

crosspatch

Stacey York Morris (@scm15010) says:
December 22, 2011 at 12:02 am

It’s a good thing that nobody on the planet who matters takes the Guardian seriously.

crosspatch

GeoLurking, just him having a reactor that can produce plutonium is enough of a threat. Plutonium is one of the most poisonous substances on the planet.

All reactors in use create plutonium. In fact, by the time fuel rods are removed from a reactor, most of the fission is being supplied by plutonium. A fuel rod has only enough U-235 to run the fission reaction for a small amount of time. During that time, neutrons from the U-235 reaction change the natural U-238 to P-239 through the addition of a neutron. So the non-fissionable natural U-238 is converted to fissionable P-239. Interestingly, the longer you leave it in there, the more P-240 you produce. Sometimes P-239 doesn’t split, it absorbs a neutron and becomes P-240. P-240 is poison to a bomb, you don’t want any P-240 anywhere NEAR a bomb. P-240 is nearly impossible to separate from P-239, too.
The problem is that P-240 can undergo spontaneous fission and you don’t want something in a bomb that will undergo spontaneous fission.
Actually, if you read “Smarter Use of Nuclear Waste” it will explain all of that:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=smarter-use-of-nuclear-waste
Read that, have your kids read it, make sure your elected officials read it. This is what China is doing right now. Bill Gates is working with China right now on building fast neutron reactors for recycling fuel.

4 eyes

Some watermelon will find something beautiful to say about North Korea along the lines that its current condition is all the west’s fault. However it is clear from all the night satellite shots that there is a strong correlation between abundant energy and a society’s level of development.

It probably helps the NK regime that life-long malnutrition severely reduces IQ.

Keith W. says: December 22, 2011 at 12:14 am Plutonium is one of the most poisonous substances on the planet
Wrong. I used to have a block of plutonium on my desk as a paperweight. Then some greenie nark official confiscated it because I tossed it in his direction. There are no obvious health effects of that ownership. We disposed of that poison myth in the 1970s, which suggests you have not kept up with your reading. Try some modern nerve gases or even natural anthrax or botulism vectors instead if you have to invent a ‘most poisonous’.
……………………………..
GeoLurking says: December 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm re ANFO explosions
Again, decades ago, possibly pre-1960s, geophysicists analysed seismic properties from large explosions, natural and otherwise. Nuclear had a distinctive fingerprint. It’s unlikely that the fertilizer in the bat cave would trick the system.

bill

Why does the North Korea CO2 line plummet around 1996? What happened? Some change in government policy? Some connection with events in Russia, or China?

John Marshall

The idea that the UN could field ‘Green’ troops is a non starter. The UN can’t even keep the peace when asked let alone anything else. The people it would be trying to control, the West, are those that control the purse strings and even now the US is behind in its contributions and undoubtedly the UK is as well.

Beth Cooper

North Korea, living relic of The Dark Ages. Pity they don’t allow history tours.

Alan the Brit

Truthseeker says:
December 21, 2011 at 11:12 pm
North Korea is clearly the CO2 free paradise that the IPCC want for the whole world. I know, lets move the UN to Pyongyang and let those bureaucrats enjoy what they want for everyone else.
Not quite, it’s what they want to impose upon everyone……………except themselves. Just as Kim Jong Il enjoyed his pies looking at the photos of him, & his son, yet I daresay “his people” would probably have preferred a bit more in handfuls of rice than their Beautiful Leader gave them!!!
Happy Christmas to you all & a Happy & Prsoperous New Year! 🙂
AtB SIgning off till 2012!

Plutonium is not one of the most poisonous elements unless you are trying to scare people.

Dodgy Geezer

@Samurai
“This North Korea evening satellite photo is exactly what the Warmist would love to accomplish for the entire world. A very dark future indeed…”
Astronomers would also love to accomplish this. Difference is, they don’t try to force it on people….

Paul R

I blame Hans Brix.

Old Goat

Those clever North Koreans – they have invented “dark light” which can’t be seen from space…

Pete in Cumbria UK

Going on from GeoLurking and mayve a wee bit OT…..perhaps there is a God, but maybe not any ‘joined-up thinking’
Why…
Not far from me, in SW Scotland, the British Geological Society (BGS) have an ‘outpost’ measuring and recording seismic activity in all its guises. One of their ‘proudest’ achievements was recording a 1.6 Richter quake when PanAm 103 hit the ground. But, one of their important jobs, if not THE most important, is listening out for nuclear tests as they occur (or not) around the globe.
Of course this listening tackle is very sensitive and as a consequence, BGS have effectively (via objection(s) to the planning permission you need) banned the erection of all large wind turbines within a 50 km radius of their station.
Who’d have guessed, wind turbines sound like earthquakes or nuclear bomb tests?

DirkH

GeoLurking says:
December 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm
“This is going to sound callous, but bear with me.
The ruling entity in North Korea is kept in place by the civilized world. We feed his hungry with aid since short and stupid, (or whatever the new corpse wanted to call himself when he was alive) focused the entirety of his effort on being a malcontent and developing weapons. If the food dried up, all he had to do was rattle his cage and we (the civilized world) would pony up the goodies.”
You are wrong. N Korea lost support by the Soviet Union but gained support by China (less subsidy than by the Soviets, but still, that’s what keeps the system from collapsing). N Korea is today a buffer zone for the Chinese empire.

DirkH

Keith W. says:
December 22, 2011 at 12:14 am
“GeoLurking, just him having a reactor that can produce plutonium is enough of a threat. Plutonium is one of the most poisonous substances on the planet. Its lethal dose is unbelievable small. ”
This is disputed. There’s no obvious reason for this legendary toxicity of Plutonium; it should be expected to be about as toxic as similar heavy metals like Cadmium, plus, of course, being radioactive, it would add a cancer risk, but as its half life is way higher than that of say radioactive Iodine, it radiates accordingly less.
http://atomicinsights.com/1995/05/how-deadly-plutonium.html

Hector Pascal

Shocking numbers in the table. Circa 3 tonnes of carbon to freeze through the winter and grow barely enough rice to survive the year. Ten tonnes gives an industrialised economy. Six times the infant death rate.
@John West. Do you think South Koreans should give thanks to the British and Australian forces who died defending South Korea from the north? Or do you think that they shouldn’t be thanked because they were not American?

Plutonium is not the most lethal by a long way.
http://www.fortfreedom.org/p22.htm

“The photographs and the figure are, among other things, also a stark warning of the dangers of excessive zeal in limiting a country’s carbon footprint.”
============================================================
The Obama EPA is going to take how many mega watts of coal fired electricity offline???

Caroline

The so-called “carbon footprint” was dreamed up as a way for western governments to make their taxpayers feel guilty enough to pay for their “sin” of generating “emissions” with an ever-lengthening list of carbon taxes. The latest example of this is the new EU carbon tax of about $20 added to every ticket for anyone flying through EU airspace from Jan 1st. This is on top of the Air Passenger Duty (APD Tax) already added to tickets bought in the UK which has been justified by the government as an environmental tax on “carbon emissions”.

meemoe_uk

The ruling entity in North Korea is kept in place by the civilized world.
Yes. The west covertly funded Russia, the soviets and communism from 1917 onwards. Why? It was an cover excuse to smash up competitor economies, such as Korea i.e. send the soviets in, then intervene and get the country to pay for your intervention, then parry the soviets rather than defeat them. result – half the country subdued by the soviets, the other half heavily in debt to western banks. Win.
This system was useful before the internet stock market made it more viable to subdue economies with a few mouse clicks ( the shooting of the east tiger economies in the 1990s ). The stoppage of funding for the soviet system was substantially due to the internet.
North Korea exists today to keep Korea malleable to western interests.

Beesaman

A pity that in the North Korean model low carbon means low carbohydrates as well. But that is what you get when dogma is more important than reason and freedom.

That´s the ideal world of the United Nations, the “Brave New World” of the beatnik, hippie, subterraneans´generation, who survived (nobody knows how) to the massive intake of stimulants, some of who still survive through having powdery white “aspirations”.
Their ideology was summarized in John Lennon´song “Imagine”:
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace
You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world
You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
And in a more detailed form, in the UN´s AGENDA 21:
http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21
/[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2c9LGBkYo0&w=420&h=315%5D

bwanajohn

Makes you wonder why our “green” Hollywood elite are immigrating in droves to North Korea to enjoy the environmentalist’s paradise, huh?

Ex-Wx Forecaster

Low per capita carbon foot print. Strong, central government that can tell people how to live and how not to consume…anything.
This is the Green Heaven. This seems to be what they are working toward–with themselves in the Kim Jong Il role.

Anteros

I think you could have added another thing to ….”economic systems, carbon footprints and human well-being…” namely, “environmental health”
I sometimes wonder if the concept of environmental health is actually meaningful, but for the sake of argument I assume that it does – land and life is more productive and can be said to thrive more with more environmental health.
With that addition, it is clear that the poverty of North Korea is one of the things that creates environmental degradation along with its two brothers-in-arms, oppressive government and an absence of private ownership. I’m biased, but if I compare the environmental paradise in which I live (the green and pleasant land called England) I notice that we are wealthy, we have a democratically elected un-oppressive government, and everything and everywhere in the country is looked after – someone has responsibility for it, manages it and cares for it – not least because they may profit from its health. The ‘tragedy of the commons’ is something that afflicts undemocratic, dispossessed people, and yet it is an unobserved irony that environmentalists wants to restrict not only wealth and freedom, but also private ownership.
North Korea is a ‘living’ example of what those three paths will lead to.

son of mulder

Think of all the carbon credits we in the west must owe them;>)

Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley, wants to do the same for Maryland.

Rob

North Korea must be an environmentalist’s wet dream, as long as they are inside the palace controlling the world’s population.
These kind of satellite images should be censored an WUWT, it is just going to drive visiting warmists to reach for silk handkerchiefs.