Margaret Wente believes, like many of the diplomats attending global climate negotiations, that emissions are the only indicator of “progress” and, therefore, should go unchecked in order to obtain unlimited economic growth.
This logic is flawed in many respects. First, it assumes that economic growth, rather than human wellbeing, is the goal of progress. Wellbeing is a complex phenomenon and not simply a function of monetary wealth. Second, it assumes that carbon-intensive processes are the only means to growth. It fails to recognize the potential for clean, low-carbon technology to increase wellbeing by improving human health, alleviating poverty, creating jobs, and providing energy security. Lastly, and the perhaps the most glaringly obvious of all, it fails to recognize the fact that our planet has limited resources and an alterable global climate system. In other words, it assumes that humans are immune to the laws of physics.