Illustration / Val B. Mina / The Sacramento Bee / Newscom / File
There's a lot of talk these days about 'reducing your carbon footprint,' like by using an gas-free pushmower to mow your lawn. As developing nations catch up to the first world, their carbon consumption is growing, too. How can we 'decarbonize' development?

Green economics: Can we 'decarbonize'?

A new model looks at the relationship between successful economies and carbon footprint.

This is a terrific article by Timothy Garrett at the University of Utah, published in October: "On the coupled evolution of inflation, wealth, and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide." Garrett devises a thermodynamic model of economic growth and energy use and his article is far deeper than what typically passes for energy economics analysis. Looking for a reason to stay awake at night? Look no further:

What remains is only to rapidly decouple civilization growth from CO2 emitting sources of energy. There is an important caveat however, which is that such decarbonization does not slow accumulation by as much as might be anticipated. Decarbonizing civilization promotes society [sic] wealth by alleviating the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels. But growing wealth is tied to energy consumption rates, and therefore to CO2 emissions themselves. Only a combination of extremely rapid decarbonization and civilization collapse keeps CO2 concentrations below 500 ppmv within this century.

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