… is from page 299 of Indur Goklany’s indispensable 2007 volume, The Improving State of the World (footnote excluded):
In addition, the [climate-change] models should allow for society’s adaptive capacity to increase with both the level of economic development and the secular advances in technology. However, … among the shortcomings of most present-day impacts studies is that although they use emissions scenarios that assume relatively rapid economic growth (and technological change) in the future, their impact estimates frequently do not fully consider increases in society’s adaptive capacity that should occur because of the same increases in economic and technological development. Consequently, such impact assessments tend to systematically overestimate the net damages (or negative impacts) of climate change.
Goks supplies here yet another reminder of at least two important truths. First, questions about the economic and environmental effects of climate change are not exclusively (perhaps not even primarily) matters of physical changes in the ‘natural’ environment. Second, by ignoring economic responses and other realities, climate scientists can and often do concoct, without intending to mislead, objective-seeming but in fact bogus quantitative estimates and dubious qualitative predictions of the effects of climate change.
If a very smart and well-intentioned scientist in, say, 1700 (when the world’s population was about 610 million) predicted that world population in 2014 would be 7.18 billion, I imagine that that scientist, along with most thoughtful people back then, would have also predicted human and environmental calamity. They likely would have been quite convinced that nearly all of the 7.18 billion people in 2014 would live in poverty unimaginable even to their 1700 minds – that human beings would be crowded by the dozens into each earthen hut – that the earth would be far filthier and more disease-ridden than it was in 1700 – that violence would be far greater and more cruel than on the eve of the 18th century. Of course, every one of these (admittedly hypothetical) predictions would not only have been wrong; each would have been wildly wrong. Life in the early 21st century is quite the opposite of what would have been predicted just 300 years ago by ‘population-change’ scientists.
We – we ordinary people – are astonishingly richer today; our environments are cleaner; the world is far more peaceful. These realities are the consequence of the productive creativity of the human mind operating in free societies whose denizens are largely infused with bourgeois ethics.