According to the latest figures, the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 has been declining in recent years and is expected to fall absolutely next next year. At the same time, world economic growth has been about 3% per annum and is still expected to be so next year. What do these apparently contradictory data mean?
It could mean one or more of several things:
1. The oceanic phytoplankton, after an expected time lag of at least 100 to 150 years, is now beginning to absorb as much man-made CO2 as is being produced. Recent research has shown that at least one species of phytoplankton has not only mutated so that it’s able to cope with warmer ocean water but that it has also become more efficient. Thus may have been happening to thousands of different phytoplankton species and take-up of CO2 may increase in future years.
2. While scientists’ CO2 readings are objectively accurate, economists’ world economic growth figures of 3% per annum for recent years cannot be relied on. Because GDP contains many negative items which are growing but not subtracted then ‘true’ economic growth is much lower, if at all — and has been for many years. Due to lags in data collection and assessment, economists never trust any ‘big’ figures more recent than 5 to 10 or more years old.
3. Our present global warming may, in fact, have been the latest in the dozen or so warm periods since the last Ice Age 12,500 years ago — similar to the Medieval Warm Period and the Bronze Age Warm Period.
4. With the exception of China and possibly India world-wide growth has largely come to an end because there are no more status goods for people in the advanced countries
5. In any case, the activities of the world economy may have already reached that of least effort. In other words, there are now many constraints of all sorts against further economic growth.