This House asserts that economic growth must slow to combat global warming

  • November 12, 2013 · 7:00 PM
  • Commonwealth Club - Boardroom

When we hear the phrase  “global warming controversy”, we may think about the relatively few skeptics who still do not believe the earth’s climate is changing in any appreciable way (beyond normal variation), as well as those who acknowledge climate change is happening but deny that human activity is a significant cause of the warming trend.  But for many of us, these contrarians simply do not deserve to be taken seriously, because the scientific consensus is clear: global warming is happening and it is caused by human activity.

So is the debate over global warming over? Hardly. There continues to be lots of disagreement about how fast global warming is happening, what the likely effects will be, and what can be done to both reduce global warming and ameliorate its effects.  

One large disagreement centers on the role of economic growth. Some feel that putting the breaks on economic growth is essential for combating global warming. For example, University of Michigan researcher Tapia Granado, says: "If 'business as usual' conditions continue, economic contractions the size of the Great Recession or even bigger will be needed to reduce atmospheric levels of CO2".  Several environments have argued that dangerous climate change can only be avoided if economic growth is exchanged for a period of planned austerity.

Others reject the notion that economic growth necessarily worsens climate change. Technological and lifestyle changes associated with economic growth have made it possible for the world economy to continue growing, all the while reducing greenhouse gases. Increasing urbanization, for instance, has permitted reforestation in many areas – and trees absorb carbon dioxide (as well as other harmful gases).

So what do you think? Should policy makers let go of their stubborn attachment to economic growth?  Is economic growth necessarily bad for the planet? Or not? Note: we’re talking “global” economic growth here  (the Meetup character restriction prevent inclusion of ‘global” in the Motion line).

Join us at the next SFDebate to explore and debate this Motion. Note that there is a $5 fee charged by the Commonwealth club for non-members to the club.

If you are interested in being a moderator or speaker for this Motion, just email event organizer - Deborah – and let her know

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