Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Boon or bust?

Posted by Danny Morris on November 14, 2008

I know all of you out there are still as excited about the new World Energy Outlook2008 report as we are (see post below). Well in your euphoria, you might have missed this little tidbit from the IEA, courtesy of GreenWire:

The International Energy Agency today cut its global oil demand forecast by 0.8 percent, the largest reduction in 12 years.

Deteriorating world economic growth would drop demand by 670,000 barrels per day to 86.5 million barrels, the agency said in its monthly report today.

Less oil usage? If you were looking for a silver lining on our current financial meltdown, might this be it? Could economic woe be a blessing in disguise for the climate and the environment as a whole? Not quite, according to Scientific American:

…global economic downturns take a toll on the environment by restraining economic activity that could improve the situation. But that’s not all. Over-farming and drought led to 400,000 square kilometers of prime top soil blowing away in the wind in the 1930s, exacerbating, and exacerbated by, the Great Depression. And the economic crises that crippled the economies of southeast Asia in the 1990s also set in motion a rapid up-tick in environmentally damaging pursuits such as illegal logging and cyanide fishing, according to the World Bank.

The article goes on to point out that Europe may have to pull back on its commitments to reduce carbon emissions because of the current credit crunch. It will be a while before we can clearly see all the implications of this crisis for energy investment and climate action, but if T. Boone Pickens (as highlighted in the article) is bailing on wind power, it might be rough sailing for a while. I’ll throw this out to the Common Tragedies community: is the impending global recession going to be a boon or a bust for energy and climate?

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One Response to “Boon or bust?”

  1. Issac Maez said

    What a spectacular post! I did a kind of blogging for dummies over on one of the CPA Marketing forums and I believed it was too easy for them, but the amount of emails I got asking questions just like what you addressed was incredible. As young people today we have grown up with computers, but it’s easy to forget that even individuals just a few years older have not! Really good post! :)

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