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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

Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara in its series University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt9ks625sk.

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Date of creation: 31 Jul 1999
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt9ks625sk

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Keywords: Malthus; Climate Change; Stable Population;

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Cited by:
  1. Kolstad, Charles D. & Toman, Michael, 2005. "The Economics of Climate Policy," Handbook of Environmental Economics, Elsevier, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1561-1618 Elsevier.
  2. Christian Traeger, 2012. "Why Uncertainty Matters - Discounting under Intertemporal Risk Aversion and Ambiguity," CESifo Working Paper Series, CESifo Group Munich 3727, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Robert S. Pindyck, 2006. "Uncertainty In Environmental Economics," NBER Working Papers 12752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment 60, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  5. Pizer, William, 1997. "Optimal Choice of Policy Instrument and Stringency Under Uncertainty: The Case of Climate Change," Discussion Papers, Resources For the Future dp-97-17, Resources For the Future.
  6. Geoffrey Heal & Bengt Kriström, 2002. "Uncertainty and Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 22(1), pages 3-39, June.
  7. Simon Dietz & Geir B. Asheim, 2011. "Climate Policy under Sustainable Discounted Utilitarianism," CESifo Working Paper Series, CESifo Group Munich 3563, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. 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, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society 47619, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
  9. Kavuncu, Y. Okan & Knabb, Shawn D., 2005. "Stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions: Assessing the intergenerational costs and benefits of the Kyoto Protocol," Energy Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 369-386, May.
  10. Stuart, Charles & Bohn, Henning, 2011. "Global Warming and the Population Externality," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara qt82z9c3p6, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  11. 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, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara qt72v881dd, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  12. repec:reg:wpaper:442 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Tol, Richard S.J., 2013. "Targets for global climate policy: An overview," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 911-928.
  14. L. Wexler, 1996. "Improving Population Assumptions in Greenhouse Emissions Models," Working Papers, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis wp96099, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
  15. Peura, Pekka, 2013. "From Malthus to sustainable energy—Theoretical orientations to reforming the energy sector," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 309-327.

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