The Reuters news service managed a genuine journalistic coup by getting an advance copy of a U.N. climate change report not due out until October. Given what the report says—it’s dire—and the fact that the climate isn’t going to stop changing while the report gets reviewed, somebody decided to get the ball rolling.
Reuters has so far chosen not to make the entire draft available. But from its reporting we can see already the contradictory thinking that remains a barrier to facing up to climate change, to wit:
Global warming is on course to exceed the most stringent goal set in the Paris agreement by around 2040, threatening economic growth…
This kind of thinking is so obviously inverted, and yet the inversion is entirely invisible to most people. While it may be true that global warming threatens economic growth, it is far more salient to say that economic growth threatens us with global warming.
There is a partial but perhaps unconscious recognition of this fact in the following from the Reuters story:
The report outlines one new scenario to stay below 1.5°C, for instance, in which technological innovations and changes in lifestyles could mean sharply lower energy demand by 2050 even with rising economic growth.
Generally speaking, changes in lifestyle on a scale necessary to bring about “sharply lower energy demand” would mean an end to economic growth. What is supposed to keep growth going in this scenario is, of course, technological innovation. While it is true that innovation can make energy production less carbon intensive, what it can’t do is prevent people from using more energy, especially if supply continues to grow and the price remains affordable. Energy efficiency generally makes energy cheaper even as the person being efficient saves money.
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