The OECD’s strange idea of sustainability

I admit I’m a bit confused about the OECD study the AP is reporting here. Supposedly, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development finds, if we do nothing about climate change…

world gross domestic product will grow 99 per cent between 2005 and 2030, with severe environmental consequences, the report said. With measures, growth would be nearly the same, 97 per cent, but with a much healthier environment.

You have to pay a fairly astounding $117 U.S. for the thing, so I’m just going by the executive summary, but those “severe environmental consequences” include

  • Mass extinctions
  • Grievous shortage of drinking water
  • Quadrupling of deaths caused by ground-level ozone and doubling of deaths caused by particulates in the air

But doing something about these things would be harder on the economy? Admittedly this helps explain why the OECD only seriously contemplates doing enough to limit carbon-dioxide emissions increases to 12 per cent between now and midcentury, versus the 40-or-so-per-cent cut that climate-change wonks generally consider the minimum necessary action to keep all hell from breaking loose.

The OECD describes this as “addressing some of these key environmental challenges.” If they’re really key, I’d think we should probably kind of address all of them, hey?

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