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Malthus and Climate Change: Betting on a Stable Population

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  • Kelly, David L.
  • Kolstad, Charles D.

Abstract

A standard assumption in integrated assessment models of climate change is that population and productivity are growing, but at a decreasing rate. We explore the signifcance of the assumption of population and productivity growth for greenhouse gas abatement. After all, there has been no long run slow down in the growth of productivity over the past few centuries, and the rate of population growth has actually been increasing for the past 19 centuries. Even if either of these growth rates were expected to slow, by how much is subject to great uncertainty. We show computationally that such continued growth greatly increases the severity of climate change. Indeed we nd that climate change is a problem in large part caused by exogenous population and productivity growth. Rapid reductions in growth make climate change a small problem; smaller reductions in growth imply climate change is a very serious problem indeed. Analogously, reductions in the growth rate of population can be effective in controlling climate change.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.

Volume (Year): 41 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 135-161

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:41:y:2001:i:2:p:135-161

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622870

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Cited by:
  1. Kavuncu, Y. Okan & Knabb, Shawn D., 2005. "Stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions: Assessing the intergenerational costs and benefits of the Kyoto Protocol," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 369-386, May.
  2. Robert S. Pindyck, 2006. "Uncertainty in Environmental Economics," Working Papers 0617, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  3. Pizer, William, 1997. "Optimal Choice of Policy Instrument and Stringency Under Uncertainty: The Case of Climate Change," Discussion Papers dp-97-17, Resources For the Future.
  4. Traeger, Christian P., 2012. "Why uncertainty matters - discounting under intertemporal risk aversion and ambiguity," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt2w614303, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  5. Stuart, Charles & Bohn, Henning, 2011. "Global Warming and the Population Externality," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt82z9c3p6, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  6. Antony Millner & Simon Dietz, 2011. "Adaptation to climate change and economic growth in developing countries," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 60, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  7. Smith, Kathryn, 2009. "Saving the World but Saving Too Much? Time Preference and Productivity in Climate Policy Modelling," 2009 Conference (53rd), February 11-13, 2009, Cairns, Australia 47619, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
  8. Simon Dietz & Geir B. Asheim, 2011. "Climate policy under sustainable discounted utilitarianism," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 42, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  9. Kolstad, Charles D. & Toman, Michael, 2005. "The Economics of Climate Policy," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1561-1618 Elsevier.
  10. Tol, Richard S.J., 2013. "Targets for global climate policy: An overview," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 911-928.
  11. Geoffrey Heal & Bengt Kriström, 2002. "Uncertainty and Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 22(1), pages 3-39, June.
  12. L. Wexler, 1996. "Improving Population Assumptions in Greenhouse Emissions Models," Working Papers wp96099, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
  13. Kavuncu, Yusuf Okan & Knabb, Shawn D., 2001. "An Intergenerational Cost-Benefit Analysis of Climate Change," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt72v881dd, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.

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