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Global warming and economic growth
Is this an anti-growth result?
This study uses actual measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere to access changes in concentration of the gas, and then tries to relate that to changes in economic activity as measured by the worldwide gross national product. They also tried to relate CO2 levels to short term population growth, volcanic activity and the El Nino weather pattern.
Result: Increases in CO2 levels correlate with increasing economic activity.
Big surprise? Not really. We know that we have a fossil fuel based economy, so increasing economic activity ought to result in more fossil fuel burning needed to power industrial production or provide transportation.
Alternatives? Transforming economies to alternative transportation and energy sources could actually fuel economic growth.
Note on correlation and causation: In looking to correct for the impact of volcanic activity on CO2 fluctuations, the authors note that during the time period studied, volcanic activity correlated with periods of lower economic activity. Does this mean anyone thinks that controlling volcanic eruptions could help the economy? Should you cash out of the stock market when you read that a volcano is erupting because you will know that a recession is coming? No and No. Correlation does not imply causation.
Does that make this study worthless? No. This is only one of many studies. So despite the fact that the press release from the University of Michigan apparently wrote up this research in a headline grabbing way, this is only one small study out of many interrelated ones. And what matters in science is the preponderance of the evidence.
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