Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Productivity to go down as the globe warms

A new NOAA study projects that heat-stress related labor capacity losses will double globally by 2050 with a warming climate. Recent studies project a collapse in labor productivity from business-as-usual carbon emissions and warming — with a cost to society that may well exceed that of all other costs of climate change combined.  A 2 percent drop in productivity per degree rise is how the US study sees it. How about in hotter climes then??

Is it possible to reduce emissions 50 percent globally by 2050s? Only one country, France, has ever reduced greenhouse emissions at the pace we’d have to keep up between now and 2050. Over a remarkable period of 30 years, France went from getting less than 1 percent of its power from nuclear power plants (which emit no carbon dioxide directly) to getting about 80 percent from them. During the period of the fastest nuclear build-out, France managed to reduce emissions at a rate of 2 percent per year, says David Victor, co-director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego. But the transition was tough.

This kind of transition for the rest of the world could be tough to almost improbable. Look at what’s happened in the United States. A major recession slowed energy consumption, and at the same time technological advances unlocked huge amounts of natural gas, leading utilities to shut down coal plants in favor of natural-gas plants that emit half as much carbon dioxide. In just one year, 2009, emissions dropped by an impressive 6.7 percent. But that was only across one year. If you look back to 2000, the average reduction was less than 1 percent a year, less than half of what’s needed to meet emissions goals! Looks like the human race better get set for tough times ahead.

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