Jeffrey Sachs discusses sustainable development politics, policy and priorities in this 2010 Citigroup Foundation lecture. November, 2010.
[ Inaudible Discussions ]
>> Hello everybody. Hello and welcome. I'm Susan Collins the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and I'm delighted to see so many of you here with us this afternoon. It's a great pleasure to welcome you here on behalf of both the Ford School and our cosponsor, the International Policy Center. And it is a great honor for us to have the internationally renowned development economist with us, Jeffery Sachs, who is here to deliver our 2010 City Group Foundation Lecture. The City Group Foundation Lecture Series is made possible from a gift from the foundation several years ago in honor of President Gerald R. Ford, our school's namesake and one of the university's most distinguished alumni. We're very grateful to the foundation for its generous gift which has enabled us to bring so many distinguished policy leaders and thinkers to campus. And it is an especially a great personal pleasure for me to welcome are speaker Jeff Sachs here with us today. I was a junior faculty member in Harvard's Department of Economics from 1984 to 1992. And throughout that time, Jeff was my senior colleague. And in many ways, he was a real inspiration for me and indeed for anyone launching a career in international or development economics. His classes were overflowing. Literally dozens of doctoral students were lined up to work with him. He was a politic author and increasingly world leaders were calling to solicit his policy advice. He was an economist to truly infuse theoretical insights with practical engagement and with a passion to help people most in need. And he didn't just write and talk about economic development and public policy, he went out and he made a real difference for real people, as I've said a true inspiration. So Jeff is now, the Director of the Earth Institute, the Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He's Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and President and Cofounder of the Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed to enter--at ending extreme global poverty. Please join me in welcoming Jeff Sachs to the podium. Jeff.
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>> Susan, thank you so much for inviting me and for the nice words. And one more thing I would add to your introduction is that I'm Michigander through and through. And [applause] Oak Park 10 Mile Rd. and of course it stays with you in this university, it's always with me and in my heart and it's our kind of family school. So it's wonderful to be here and also very exciting to see many friends, classmates, colleagues and I thank you for the chance to be with you. It's interesting today that we're starting what should be a crucial global meeting but is relegated to the back pages of the newspaper, I'm referring to Cancun which is the meeting of the International Signatories of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It's the 16th such meetings since the Framework Convention went in to application, went in to force in 1994. This is the world governing law for what will become one of the most pressing day-to-day realities on our planet in the years ahead and is already creating a tremendous amount of turmoil. Of course, I'm referring to the effects of climate change. And yet how puzzling it is that as important as this issue is the only time it really has gotten notice in the United States in recent months is to defeat some of the congressmen who voted for doing something about it. And almost all who were in democrats in marginal districts who voted for the legislation that passed the house a couple of years ago to Cap Carbon Emissions were defeated in the November elections and the politics was already nearly impossible on this issue in the United States. But without question, November has made it, even that much harder, and I'll show you in a few minutes some of the most recent survey data about the rather shocking American attitudes to this issue which can best be described as a lot of confusion. So we are starting a global meeting with almost no prospects of anything important coming out of it. And that has generally been an accurate way to describe events since the 18 years ago when the treaty was first sign in Rio in 1992 and the 16 years since it was ratified by enough of the signatories in 1994. Situation simply continuos to get worst because the climate doesn't really care about our politics, it's not noticing. What it does care about is the rise in concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and those continue to rise fairly relentlessly even during our down turns, the world's increase of carbon emissions since stark and the dangers are growing. Now there was an international meeting of the same ilk 2 weeks ago that did even make the back pages of our newspaper. You had to be a real specialist to notice how neglected it was. And that was a meeting in Japan, in Nagoya on the Convention on Biological Diversity. That was another of the major environmental treaties signed 18 years ago in Rio. And that treaty as its name suggest is committed to first slowing and then ultimately halting, ideally, it can be reversed, the extinction of species in the planet. Wherein what the biologist called the 6th great extinction period of all earth's history. The first one during the human period and of course the first one in which a great extinction is caused by one of the species out of the hundred million or so that are on the planet. We're having devastating effects at profound threat to are well-being in countless ways. And certainly, profound threats to the planet and to the ecosystem which direct life on the planet. That meeting didn't even make it to a brief mention of public consciousness. One of the problems is that the United States never even been signed that treaty in 1994 when we had an election, not unlike the one we just experience in November. And there was the contract with America, one of the points of the contract was a contract on the world species and that was to insist that the US not ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity. It was view as a violation of private property rights and we never became signatory to it. And the convention like much helps that's agreed internationally has had, I would say, essentially zero impact on slowing this mass extinction, though it has produce lots of scientific and documentary evidence of what's happening. But we've not been able to tilt the needle in this slightest. And for this one, it's absolutely shocking to me since I've watched close up at the UN. There actually was a goal not just the general treaty goals but a time specific goal for the year 2010 that was set in 2002 for slowing the rate of biodiversity loss. Being at the UN on a very frequent basis, I heard a lot of--a lot about that goal since it was a UN objective of the signatories to this treaty. But I never heard one word about it in casual conversation in the world in the 8 years that it was supposedly in operation.
Literally, not one person in the entire world ever asked me a question about it or made a statement about it, unless I was talking into an ecologist who happened to know. But it's another sign of what I want to talk about today, which is how blighty we are proceeding in the most extraordinarily dangerous manner on the planet. And it's not as if we're taking calculated risks, we're taking measures without the slightest interest in finding out what those risks might be. And in almost complete neglect of the--not only the consequences of our actions but the implications of our actions for the planet and for ourselves and especially for our children and generations that are going to come. So today is not a happy story, even though it's well-timed to the opening of yet another meeting, it's a somber tale of--that ask the question, is there a way to do better, can we find a way to thread the needle through a very complicated politics so that we begin to take some real actions. Fortunately, the answer is probably yes but the evidence for that is negligible other than some assertions that I'm going to make later in my talk. Another words, I'm going to try to suggest some ways forward not that the--I think we're all that far along on this. So what is Sustainable Development in--Global Sustainable Development is really the right phrase. It is a basic challenge and that challenge becomes more and more pressing. It is how to combine the economic aspirations of the planet and for most of the world, that means still achieving economic development in the first place for the already developed countries like the United States, it means not falling off the perch and hopefully still continuing to find a way forward. How to combine that basic powerful dynamic, because economic growth is happening in the world and its happening robustly and relentlessly even right through our current economic malaise I'll indicate in a moment. How can this be combined with planetary sanity with respect to the earth's ecosystems, the natural environment and the shared biodiversity on the planet. It's 2 goals, we have a hard enough time in our country achieving any one goal this moment--at this moment. We're certainly not very good at achieving multiple goals. Sustainable development is really about achieving 2 very broad objectives. I usually define it as achieving 3 broad objectives which is maintaining growth, helping to rescue the poor, and helping to save the planet from destruction. I'm going to talk about a little less about the poverty issues today, just say a word, but we can certainly discuss the issues of those who, despite the economic growth, are left behind in the discussion after my opening remarks. So if I set to say, we're not even close to achieving this objective of sustainable development. If you're a student, I urge you to study it because you will have decades ahead of useful things to do and it is one of the least solved problems on the planet. And it, therefore, combines urgency, intellectual fascination and almost open virgin territory for intellectual pursuits because we still lack any deep understanding of how we're going to actually accomplish these goals. And in almost no part of the world, say the few countries, perhaps exemplified by the Scandinavian Countries which are more on track than any other part of the planet, is this agenda properly engage right now? In the United States, at best, we care about economic growth and had put the environment into a very, very distant second place. This picture is the template from important article that appeared in 2009 in Nature Magazine where a group of about 25 of the world's leading ecologists got together in an expert review of the evidence to consider the environmental boundaries or thresholds that post the greatest dangers for humanity and to try to begin to assess because it was they're, very frank acknowledgment, that this was only an initial for a--in to defining what boundaries might be for this various ecosystem threats. And if you go around the circle though, it's probably hard to see in the room, certainly in the back, these are issues like climate change which is the one that I'll focus on today, ocean acidification which is another crucial and independent result of the carbon emission from fossil fuel burning, it is the fact that with the rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, the carbon dioxide dissolves in the ocean and is already acidifying the ocean with tremendous risk to the marine ecosystem and especially to all of the marine species with exoskeletons and the diatoms that are part of the food chain. Going around the circle clockwise from 12 noon which is climate change, the ocean acidification, there's ozone depletion which you're aware of and is one of the few areas where real progress was made because that was a case where one specific human technology, chlorofluoric carbons were the predominant or maybe the exclusive cause of the human made or anthropogenic ozone depletion and where it was possible to find to say substitute. And so it was a rather straight forward technical substitution of one set of chemicals for another, which over the long terms will actually reverse the ozone depletion that was very far underway by the 1970s when this result was first discovered. Incidentally, and I'll elude to it later on, when the ozone depletion effect was first-known, the companies that were producing the chlorofluoric carbons of course went to town calling out a hoax, a fraud, a myth, and every conceivable thing that they could call it exactly what they do with human-induced climate change today. And then one of their scientists tugged on the CEO's sleeve and said, "By the way we have a substitute." At which point, they came out and said, "Now, everybody has to adapt solutions, this is very important, yes and so fort." So, so much is driven by the corporate propaganda and that was definitely one of the clearest example of that going from delay and obfuscation to a quick solution once a technical means was found and then the--those who had the technology in hand could argue for the solution. Still moving clockwise, the next category that you see in bright red because it really is a drama already is nitrogen flux. We have 7 billion people on the planet, this is 10 times more than when Thomas Malthus wrote pessimistically about the principles of population in 1798, 2 centuries ago. At which point, there were about 750 million people on the planet. Malthus said we wouldn't be able to support a rise of population or an increase of living standards because any increase of living of standards would quickly get dissipated by higher population but that would be limited by food productivity. We broke through the food constraint, certainly far from perfectly, even in nutrition for feeding 7 million people--7 billion people. But we actually did not breakthrough the environmental constraint that we think we have. Because in order to produce enough food for 7 billion people, we have to put on about 150 million tons of chemical fertilizer every year, roughly a hundred million metric tons of nitrogen every year. And that massive deposition of nitrogen is one of the most destructive human-induced changes on the planet. As I'm sure most of you are aware, we have 200-mile along dead zone in the gulf Mexico.
As the Mississippi river accumulates the run off of that nitrogen, the leaching from all of the farm lands of 25 to 30 states in the Midwest, carries it down to the gulf and creates the eutrophication phenomenon, the hypoxia in the dead zone. It's now been realize that about 130 estuaries around the world are similarly turning hypoxic, short of oxygen because of eutrophication. And we're seeing, therefore, one of the most important ecosystems in the world, the estuarine ecosystem which mixes the freshwater and the seawater at the outlets of freshwater rivers around the world being destroyed. Nobody has an answered to this right now, incidentally, just to cheer you up. Organic farming doesn't change any of the nitrogen but it just changes where you got the nitrogen from. There are certainly ways to use nitrogen more efficiently but the basic fact of feeding 7 billion people is a very tough nut to crack. And in this sense, while we are feeding adequately per--maybe not adequately, but feeding systemically, roughly 6 of the 7 billion people and the other billion are struggling everyday to have enough to survive. We're not doing it in an environmentally sustainable manner. And so far, there are no adequate solutions to that. Right next to it is the phosphorus cycle which were similarly deranging because it's nitrogen phosphorus and potassium which are the 3 macronutrients that have to be added through chemical and organic fertilizers. Moving right along and I won't be labeling all the point is the freshwater crisis, the changes of land use. The next bright red cone that you see is the biodiversity loss where there is a fulminant and almost entirely neglected disaster underway. It make sense if there are 7 billion of us on the planet and we're eating and we're clearing farmland and pastor land to do it. We are commandeering, literally, the land and the food supply that would feed the other species on the planet. And the best estimates which I still find shocking to contemplate is that our one species commandeers about 40 to 50 percent of the total net primary productivity of photosynthesis on the planet, that's a lot. We're taking almost half of the total photosynthetic potential of the planet for us. We're doing it through pastor lands that we cleared for meat production ,we're doing it by the croplands obviously to grow, we're doing it by--through the asphalts surfaces that built our cities and in total we're literally pushing the other species, not only out of their habitats, but their right out of existence. And that one is, according to the ecologists, the most dramatic and imminent of all of the threats. The next one, now we're roughly at 9 o'clock, between 9 and 10, is the atmospheric aerosol loading, that's the [inaudible] and the dark carbon cloud over much of Asia. For those who have been in China recently, there is, as far as I know not a major city in China where you can actually see sunshine for more than perhaps a few days out of the year, so polluted are the cities through the carbon--through the coal burning and that's creating this massive aerosol loading. Of course, sulfur oxide and other aerosols are also part of it. And then the last one is the chemical pollutants also, it says not yet quantified, they're pervasive and they're polluting major rivers and major cities all over the world including, again, most of China's huge cities. The conclusion of the ecologist was dramatic, of course they were writing mainly for other scientist and other ecologist. But they were saying that threshold can be identified and we're very close to them. Those points at which you achi--you arrive at huge and perhaps amplifying instability and irreversibility. For climate change, if you look at the bullseye there, only 3 of the 5 parts of that cone are shown. This is right at the top. So they were suggesting that there's still is some room before we past the ultimate climate change threshold. My colleague at the Earth Institute are Lead--actually are--we have 2 Lead Climate Scientist, James Hansen and Wally Broeker. James Hansen being NASA's Lead Scientist on clim--the earth's climate system and NASA has in Columbia University, a unit called the Goddard Institute for Space Studies which Dr. Hansen heads. Hansen through reliance, not only on the formal modeling and the satellite evidence that he and his colleagues have developed, but also extraordinary work in reading the paleoclimate record, looking at how carbon oxide has been associated with temperature millions of years ago by looking at various isotopic signatures of temperature and carbon concentrations, has made a very strong assertions that we're pass the threshold, so just to cheer you even less. We are--as we measure the greenhouse gas concentrations, at 387 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it means for every million molecules at carbon dioxide, 387 of those molecules are carbon dioxide. Doesn't sound like very much, it's a tiny, tiny fraction of the atmosphere but it is enough, first of all, to keep us alive because without the effect of carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gasses, the planet would be frozen wasteland. So there's a good side to the greenhouse gasses. But the change, even that modest change, from 280 parts per million, the pre-industrial level, to today's 300 or last years recently documented 387 parts per million is enough to have raise the earth's temperature on the direct land measurement record as of now by about 0.8 of 1 degree centigrade. But once the full feedbacks work through, perhaps 2 or 3 times that, and what Hansen has shown, dreadfully, is that whenever the earth has been above these 350--I'm sorry, this--been above a threshold which he has characterized as 350 parts per million, the oceans have been 10 to 30 meters higher than they are today. Another words, we've passed the threshold that in the geological record is sufficient to melt the great ice sheets. And Hansen's claim is that we're already seeing the disintegration of the Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets and we don't know whether this is a matter of decades or "Thank God, this isn't going to happen for 200 years until we wreck the planet" or maybe 400 years but that the paleoclimate record is actually quite powerful. And Hansen's basic point is that there is a powerful positive feedback system of the climate on the planet, so that even small perturbations, modest changes, are tremendous amplified. And one of the main amplifiers is the disappearance of the ice cover itself on the sea ice and the glaciers and the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland. Because as the ice melts, the earth loses its reflectance, it's so called albedo. And therefore, more of the solar radiation is absorbed rather than simply reflected back in to space. And this is one of the powerful feedbacks. There are probably many others including the ocean degassing of carbon dioxide as they warm, kind of as you warm your Coca-Cola, the bubbles come out and the permafrost under the Siberian Tundra for example, releasing methane as it warms from the pit that is then exposed.
So there are--Hansen says if unless we find ways not just to stabilize as we're trying to do at 450, or some scientist say maybe 550, but actually stabilize and bring it down over the next decades or century, the consequences for sea level and consequently for the entire population dynamics of the world given the height concentrations of societies, around the world near the coast, could be devastating. What it actually means is everyone's moving Ann Arbor from the coast line. So save a place for your neighbors, millions are going to have to move in soon. So this is one of Hansen's maps I've--some what familiar I'm sure to most of all of you, the basic point is that there isn't part of the world that isn't affected. And the main thing I would just want to lead at this moment as I go on is the fact that to--the climate scientist, this debate about whether climate science is real or not, is so far from the reality of the science as to be an intelligible and an imaginable to them. There are so many profoundly consistent reasons for knowing this relationship that the issues are not discussed at all in the way that the public seems to think and the Wall Street Journal insist, there discussed. And that is that it's been known for about a 140 years that carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation and warms the planet. This is actually not a 140, 180 years since Fourier worked this out in the 1830s and 1840s. The basic carbon dioxide effect has been understood for 115 years since Arrhenius the Nobel-Laureate Swedish chemist of the late 19th century actually made by hand, remarkably, accurate calculations of what the carbon dioxide doubling would actually mean for the planet. And he got it right in the zone that the most sophisticated models understand today. The science at the basic level is not in doubt and the paleoclimate and the current ecological and satellite readings and a profound range of other kinds of data and evidence, all point unequivocally in the direction of anthropogenic change. What's in doubt is the magnitude, the pacing, the timing, but not the basic science itself. And the areas of agreement are powerfully strong and the evidence overwhelming and the public continuing to doubt it. And finally, this graph is emphasizing, as the World Wildlife Foundation does each year as it publishes this index, that the species abundance of every major class of species in significant decline right now. And of course, you've all read about the catastrophes of the pollinators, the catastrophe of the amphibians, the catastrophe of corals and so on, major classes of species under threat because of the human forcings. Now, it all is tending to get a lot worst fast and that's because of something that generally we consider very good news and that I have spent a lot of my career trying to help promote and that is economic growth in the poor countries. We're living in a quite remarkable period, not remarkable in the way we're feeling it in the United States, but remarkable as its being felt in the rest of the world. The rest of the word outside of Europe in the United States has no idea there is an economic crisis right now, except by hearing the speeches of the US President or the Prime Minister of Greece or of Ireland. Because in the rest of the world, economic growth is robust and at historic heights, and that's actually true now even in more and more of the poorest places in the world. We're experiencing a phenomenon that economist call economic convergence. And that is a tendency for poor countries to be able to narrow the proportionate income gap with richer countries by being able to absorb technologies that are the difference of living standard in essence. And so by being able to adapt and adapt to some extent, technology is already in use in the high-income countries. Today's poor countries are able to jump ahead and enjoy economic growth rates that is the change of real gross national product at faster rates than ever before in human history. And of course, China is the headline exemplar of that, it is the most extraordinary period of economic growth in the history of the world. Since Deng Xiaoping opened China to international trade and to markets in 1978, that country has average 10 percent per year economic growth, that's extraordinary because compound ground is extraordinary and compound growth at 10 percent per year for what is now 32 years is absolutely remarkable. So if you make the calculation, you get--from 1978, every 7 years is a doubling of the Chinese economy. And so if you do this for now, this period from 1978 to 2010, 32 years, you double, 32 years is 5 doublings. And so we're at the roughly a 30-fold increase of China's aggregate economy during this period. And of course, we're feeling it and we're feeling it in some heavy ways as well, it's in my view, having profound implications for our income distribution in the United States and especially making it impossible to make a living anymore in this country, in the middle class, unless one has at least a bachelor's degree because the competition through trade and through the flows of capital with the lower wages in developing countries of Asia and now spreading part of the world our simply so large and powerful that they're having massive effects with in the United States economy. Not all of my colleagues agree on this but my perception is that this is very, very big. But whatever it's doing for us, what it's doing for the rest of the world is a massive surge of the economic growth, unprecedented in history. And this is, I found a quite telling map of the international monetary fund for 2010, the dark blue countries are the ones that are experiencing economic growth of above 5 percent per year. Now mind you, 5 percent per year is a doubling time of only 14 years and many of these countries are growing at 8 or 10 percent per year. Then are the light blue areas, which includes the United States, Canada, parts of central Europe, Australia and so on, which are growing between 2 and 5 percent per year, we're barely in the category, maybe in about 2 and a half percent growth right now into 2010, an extraordinarily weak recovery that we're experiencing from a very deep downturn. Then are the countries in pink which are the Western European countries which are actually positive growth between 0 and 2 percent. In fact, per capita growth in Europe is the same as in the United States because population growth in Europe is almost a percentage point lower than in the US. So once you take into account population growth, we're both basically growing at something like 1 percent, 1 1/2 percent per year, very, very slow given the preceding downturn. And there are only a couple of countries in the world that are experiencing negative growth right now.
What's striking about this is essentially the 2-Speed Map of the World. The developing worlds that said, "Goodbye to us and our recession." when the down turn hit in the United States, everybody is assume there would be no decoupling to use the phrase at the time that the developing countries would experience an even more severe downturn. I actually doubted that at the time, I was wrong in a way because right after the financial collapse of Lehman Brothers, everybody went into steep downturn because that was a panic. But once the panic subsided, the poor countries came surging back in a way that the richer countries did not. And I think that this is actually power for the course. If you look at the annual growth rates, the green at the top, here is the so called emerging and developing economies. And they're growing now at 6 percent, 7 percent per year, since the beginning of the past decade. The developed countries which means the United States, Western Europe, Japan and a handful of others, not only had the very deep downturn minus 3 in 2009, but the recovery is very modest and the spread is about 4 or 5 percentage points per year right now. In my view, that is a structural gap, not a temporary gap. The structural gap is essentially the convergence process. It might not remain so large but I think that it is fairly safe to say that unless world falls apart and one way another, the poor countries have a fairly wide running room of rapid growth because they're much poor than the rich countries. Their average income is perhaps a 10th of the income of the rich world and that means there's a lot to grow into by absorbing the higher productivity technologies of the rich economies. And that's what's giving this fuel of growth. Without question, the most dramatic example of that convergence these days is mobile telephony and wireless broadband which has reach every impoverished village in the world, just about by now. There are around 6 billion mobile subscribers. 5 years ago when Africa where we were working on projects in about a dozen villages, in the dozen countries in Africa, nobody had a phone and none of these villages had fixed lines or wireless coverage. As of today, every one of them has wireless coverage and it's typical in an extremely impoverished place that maybe 20 percent of the households would actually have a phone. And there are many aspects to that, the ingenuity of being able to sell phone by the seconds so that you prepay and they're able to buy tiny bits and brought this technology in a very ingenious way to the poorest people of the world. But the productivity advances that come from this, from having a village that was completely isolated, had no news, had no idea about markets, couldn't make any business arrangements, were literally if you were a pastoralist community, you might trek for 2 weeks to take your camels or goats or your sheep to a market. Guessing, should I go up to the Red Sea, should I go to Nairobi, should I go to some other port, and you get there and not know and now you flip out the phone as the pastoralist are doing all over East Africa. And they're calling there markets and finding out what to and they're doing there banking online as well. Well this is a great thing, it is a fuel obviously for economic development but it's also a problem when you comeback to sustainable development. Roughly put, think about it this way, there are 7 billion people on the planet right now, 6.9 but whose counting, and the average in comes about 10,000 dollars per person. Using what economist call a purchasing power adjusted standard where you adjust each country's income level according to their specific average price level. You add up the incomes across the world, it comes out to around 70 bill--70 trillion dollars, 10,000 dollars on average per person and 7 billion people. Supposed that the world just caught up to the rich world income, so the rich worlds at 40,000 dollars per capita on average, the world average is 10,000. If there were complete convergence, that would mean a 4-fold increase of the economic activity on the planet. That's what convergence has potentially to close. And in the fact that the population of the world is continuing to grow and actually grow rather significantly even though the proportionate growth rate is slowing, we're still adding 75 to 80 million people net population increase each year. Though, now all in the poor countries, you combine this force of convergence with the extra, roughly, 40 percent increase of the world's population that demographers are gassing, could be the level at which of world population stabilizes as fertility rates come down to replacement. Another word, stabilization at around 9 billion as supposed to today's 7 billion. Combine those 2 forces and you see that we have built in to the global dynamics right now an increase of total economic activity over the course of a century, say, that could amount to 5- or 6-fold increase. And the point to keep in mind is that not only are those forces under way and much to be prized and praised in lot of ways, but even today we're unsustainable in what we're doing. So there's a collision, at least if we continue to do things the way we're doing them now. And this collision is an enormous one. It's the biggest thing humanity's ever faced because we've never before faced a truly global challenge like this. Through out human history until now, our challenges have essentially been local or regional. Many, many civilizations have collapsed as we know from Jared Diamond and others because of ecological shocks or natural climate change or unsustainable practices. But never before has the planet as a whole in an interconnected manner been unsustainable at the baseline and then having built with in it this massive increase of further anthropogenic forcings as we would say of human induced changes on the planet. I took for this picture just to show you a simple standard economic model of convergence. So economist estimate lots of statistical equations of how fast economies grow as they're catching up and essentially an economy that is half the way to the frontier tends to grow at about 1 1/2 percentage points faster than the frontier economy. An economy that is a quarter of the way to be leadership, 1/4 say of the US level, would tend to grow 3 percentage points faster. An economy that is 1/8 the level of the United States would grow about 4.5 percentage points faster according to the standards statistical models. If you plug that in to the world as it is today and just turn this difference equation forward for another 40 years to mid century, you find something like this graph that the world economy has built in to it, something on the order of a tripling of output by the middle of the century. That's not crazy, that's pretty plausible because it's implying a growth rate of the developing counties of today of something close to 5 percent per year. They are actually achieving even higher than that. So this is not a wild forecast it's a--even a little bit cautious one would say. Except that it can't happened on our current technological trajectory, something would have to give. Because what's not built in to the economies standard model are the environmental implications of all of these growth.
When I studied macroeconomics in 1972 for the first time and learn the economical growth model that we're all weaned on, written by Robert Solow in 1956 and which brought him his well deserved Nobel Prize. That models says that economic output depends on human, labor and on capital stock and on any technology that we come up with. And the technology is just assumed to somehow descend upon our fertile minds and the capital and the laborer are more under our control. But what Professor Solow didn't deem to put in the model, though he was one of the leaders of amending his model later, was anything about the natural environment or the resource limits. And the reason is that as the always emphasized, you make strategic assumptions as an economist to simplify your models to get the points that are important. And as of 1956, these boundary conditions of the environment weren't important. And Solow chose right, he got the one--a first ordered differential equation, "thank goodness", so all of his students for 4 generations to follow could solve it. And we all felt excited and good about that and it inspired us to become economists. But the fact of the matter is that if you were writing a growth model today, you could never or should never dream of putting on paper such a model because now the boundary constrains are not second-order concerns, they're not footnotes for completeness. They are going to be the essential question for humanity, even if Fox News and Well Street Journal and all the rest of our media haven't figured it out yet. That's deeply embedded in the realities of population, convergent economic growth and ecosystem realities. And the only question is how and when we catch up to this basic reality. One of the things it will mean, of course, is that the United States which has had a very unusual run of things of course, especially becoming by far the predominant economy of the 20th century, after 2 world wars not fought on our soil and with by virtue of mass immigration of genius partly as a result of those wars and our own cleverness and bounty of natural resources, we became for our--we don't know whether it's our Andy Warholean 15 minutes historic fame or not, we became the world's leading economy. But what we can see pretty clearly is that that lead is shrinking already right now, in relative terms, because leadership is a relative phenomenon. It doesn't mean we have to suffer, it does mean that our star in the sky won't shine quite as bright in the presence of other stars in the sky. And as everybody has come to appreciate, China will become a larger economy than the United States within the next 20 years. Not higher per capita income but given a 4 time larger population, a larger over all economy and that is affecting every bit geopolitics, every single country I've been in--well, I don't know if that's true but almost every and I would--that's dozens by the way. But in the last dozen countries that I visited in the last 5 days it feels like but it in the last 3 or 4 months, I've heard the same line, "Oh, by the way China just became our largest trading partner." This is amazing when you hear it in Santiago in Chile for example, when you hear it all through Africa. In Asia, you'd expected but it's a world wide phenomenon. And this of course is part of geopolitics but it also should be informing us in a little bit more clever way about how we engage in the world right now. What this graph shows is just using that same simple numerical model that I used to make the previous slide that the US share of the world economy won't disappear, will still be a big and outsize economy, but will go from being something like 20 percent of the world's population--of worlds gross product per year to be exempting closer to about 13 percent by the middle of the century. Not precipitous unless we collapse but definitely a decline. The red line on the top, the red curved, is the share of the developing countries in the world. Right now, there are about half of the world economy. The U.S, Europe, Japan, that's about half, and then the rest of the world is other half in terms of total output. Now that means that the rich world on average is still 6, 8 times richer than the poor by these metrics because the income level of the developing countries in this categorization which is the IMFs, the developing countries have a population of 6 billion and the rich world, 1 billion. So we're sharing the world's economy but with 1/6 of the population of the other half of the planet. Now what does this mean for climate change? It definitely means a mess and it means a set of basic calculations of what we need to do. So let's look to the middle of the century and think about the--what the climate scientists are telling us. Now according to James Hansen, he's telling us, "It's finished, we're already in disaster." Most climate scientists are telling us, "Please, please, please try to stabilize at 450 parts per million or less." Hansen says, "Not any where close to good enough, our current trajectory is to reach 550 parts per million by mid century. And then, shoot right through that limit and that almost surely would be catastrophic and I want to underscore the word catastrophic, devastating for 100 of millions or billions of people around the planet." So what the central view of this is that at a minimum, we after cut by half the world's emissions of greenhouse gasses by the middle of the century compared to where we are today. That's tough. We're emitting 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year through energy use and another few billion tons through deforestation each year. That energy led carbon emission should come down to perhaps 15 billion tons at the most. But that has to be done in the context of a burgeoning world economy. That's the challenge, it's an unprecedented challenged. If we need--or if the developing countries are counting on 3 times the worlds output through their rapid growth, emissions should be half of today, then emissions per unit of GNP which is pretty constant around the world by the way 'cause we all use basically the same technologies, so the omissions per unit of GNP is pretty much shared. That would have to come down to around a 6 of what it is right now. We do have to be able to get our carbon dioxide emissions down to 1/6 per dollar of our income if the world is to have a chance of getting on a trajectory that isn't going to blow the whole world out of the water--or into the water, I should say. And, hat means reducing something like 83 percent of our emissions intensity by 2050. Now how could this conceivably be done? Obviously, there are lots of mixes and matches and Larry Burns, your professor here and a colleague mine in the program at the Earth Institute as well, were discussing some of those options and playing with some of the numbers to try to see how this can possibly match. But one way for example, would be a combination of energy efficiency combined with decarbonization of the energy system. And in some sense, both of these are vital. We have to get more output per unit of energy input and we know there's lots of waste.
As Larry has emphasized so often, only 1 percent, if I have it right, of the energy that's use in an automobile actually is literally doing the work to carry the individual from one place to the next. Much of it is purely lost in heat dissipation and a lot of it carrying the other 3, 000 pounds around that are accompanying us on our personal mobility. And so there's lots of room for saving energy through smarter vehicles for example. And of course through better design of homes and through smarter grids and so on. So one possibility is reducing the energy input per unit of output but it's not so easy because the physicists are absolutely right, dead on, you need energy to do work and you need work to make income and you need income to have the kind of living standards the world aspires to. So the other part of this is to find ways to decarbonize the energy supply. Now, what might be done in the US context? How could this actually be accomplished? I'll use round numbers. We have 6 billion tons of carbon omissions in the world, note that that is 1/5 of the world's total emissions of 30 billion tons, so GT, for any those who cane see the graph is gigatons, 30 billion tons of CO2 that are emitted by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. The US is 6 of 30, we're a 5th. Now mind you, we are 5 percent of the world's population emitting 20 percent of the world's emission. So we're 4 times the average per capita emissions on the planet. Of those emissions from fossil fuel use, oil, gas and coal all play there important role. Coal is about 2.1 billion tons, oil 2.5 billion tons, natural gas 1.4 billion tons of emissions. Now, what we could expect economically is that the US economy will roughly double in size between now and 2050. That's taking as given some slowing down of our underlying growth rate to a pure per capita growth of about 1 percent per year, which I think is a realistic assumption, plus a population growth that will take us to--by mid century to--I don't remember the number exactly so don't hold me to it, but somewhere probably close to about 350 million Americans compared to 310 million today. So if our GNP or Gross Domestic Product doubles and we are able to double our energy efficiency, as a rough measure, we could say that, "Perhaps we can get by with the current amount of energy used." That's probably the case, if we make a huge effort at any energy efficiency. We can't save energy net most likely, compared to today in a growing economy at this rate, but we could probably hold the line. That's not good enough though if we're going to reduce emissions, that would just stabilize emissions. For that, we have to change the way we used energy and roughly get to 1/3 of the carbon emissions per unit of energy that we have now. That is not an easy thing to do. But that's the scale of the challenge and this kind of scale of challenge is what every country in the world faces. You could see why it's so easy to throw up your hands and say, "Forget it. Let someone else worry about it", because it is not easy at all to accomplish this. Can it be done? Well, if you look at the proportions of our energy use right now, about 40 percent of our total primary energy comes from petroleum. That's our oil import dependency. Another quarter roughly comes from coal, almost all domestic. Another quarter from gas. And then, roughly 1/7 from renewables or nuclear. So it's a hydronuclear, a little bit of biomass and so forth. We'd have to change the mix and change how we use the energy in order to be able to get to a reduction to 1/3 of our current emissions. Now, part of the mix can be changed if possible by moving from coal to natural gas. Natural gas, as you know, burns cleaner, coal is essentially all carbon with the--a little bit of hydrogen attached. Whereas natural gas is a carbon with 4 atoms of hydrogen attached. When methane or natural gasses combusted, you get water and carbon dioxide as part of your energy mix, when coal is combusted, you just get the carbon dioxide. So you get roughly, not quite twice, the carbon dioxide per unit of energy from coal as you do from natural gas. Converting to gas would be one way to reduce the amount of US emissions but it would only take us a very small way, it wouldn't take us to a reduction of 2/3, it would take us to a reduction of maybe 15 to 20 percent in total, it's no solution overall. Though possibly, it can add to the mix. The other part surely is moving to renewable or low carbon energy sources, nuclear, solar, wind or using fossil fuel and capturing the carbon and safely storing it geologically, what's called carbon capture and sequestration. Another popular idea, though not very popular with me, remains to be proved, is biofuels. The problem with biofuels which we've embarked on in a big way is that they are competing directly with land, land that should be used for food and land that should be used for nature. And photosynthesis is probably just not a good enough way to fuel our economy. And the idea that we're going to get a lot out of biomass in my view is still an unproven proposition. Perhaps, not wrong but I remain to be convinced. Well, if we move from 14 percent to 50 percent of the energy mix to non-carbon, we'd start to get there. But how could this be done? It would mean, drastically curtailing our use of oil, of course, and it would mean using the fossil fuels in different ways. Larry who was here and had to leave was, as many of you may know, the lead of the project which is today's headlines in the Detroit News, Chevy Volt. He was the GM's Vice-President for Product Development and Research and Development and made one of the most consequential contributions which is a pathway from an oil-based fleet of automobiles to an electric or fuel cell, also electric, but a grid or fuel cell-based fleet of vehicles in the future. If you can do that and power the grid with clean primary energy sources, then one can begin to make a huge dent in this energy mix. So there are lots of choices that are at least potential, nuclear wind, solar, carbon capture sequestration, possibly biomass, conversion to electric vehicles, conversion from home and building furnaces to electric heating driven by heat pumps, industrial fuel cells at large industrial scale and so forth. Lots of possible technologies but there's a huge problem, which is why we've done essentially none of it yet. We have to decide we want to do it. Because all of this is more expensive than what we're doing right now which is just burning coal and using the electricity the cheap way. It is the case that the highest carbon emitting energy source is also the world's most plentiful and also the cheapest to use. And so the world is actually more and more moving towards coal, even though that's moving away from a solution to the climate change crisis.
And the world's leading economy that depends on coal, of course, is China. Where about 80 percent of the electricity is coal fired and where 50 percent of the overall primary energy is coal. Unbelievable, the implications of that in such a rapidly growing economy. It is meant that in a short period of time, China's overtaken the United States, even though it's only half the size of our economy, it's overtaken the United States in total emissions. China is the number one leading emitting country in the world. And not per capita of course, it's 1/4 of the US per capita, 'cause it's 4 times the population and roughly the same emissions. But it is the leading emitter because it is such a coal-dependent economy and the amount of coal that it's adding every year, even as it looks to other fuels as well, is staggering and threatening to the entire planet. So that same set of calculations that I'm about to mention briefly here, definitely and even more importantly, are necessary in China and within a decade or 2 will be vital for India and for Asia in general which is more than half the world's population and soon will be more than half or half at least of the world's total GNP or total by world product. The problem is that we're going to have pay an extra price. Now why would we do this? To avoid the even greater ecological devastation. And the cost benefit analysis is pretty clear, at least if you have a time horizon of 40 years--if you have a time horizon of a 100 years and you actually think we have some responsibility to generations in the next century, it's unequivocal because the current trajectory is so devastating that any sense of risk would cause us to have a massive change. The problem is that we've not come to accept that and our political cycle is obviously with the time horizon and inevitably of 2 years to the maximum, that's on Election Day, and the day after Election Day, the time horizon is 2 years minus 1 day and the count down is relentless and we're all ready in presidential election season and though we've barely blinked and I don think that President Obama is even finished filling his team yet for the first the administration before his got a full fledged effort of running for reelection. So, how much is this likely the cost? Here some basic calculations suggest the following and I think this is really the mainpoint. To make the kind of transformation that we would need to get to 1/6 of emissions can be done with known technologies or with technologies that are at a near commercial scale. Those technologies will improve over time as we learn from actually implementing. There's probably nothing that needs to be done that isn't at least on the drawing board, the mockup or the demonstration scale by now. The electric vehicles, the heat pumps, the greener buildings, the fuel cells, the solar, the wind, the nuclear are all there and the one that is consequential that's not yet tested but all it's pieces are tested is the carbon capture and sequestration. The big question there is both cost and geologic availability of reliable stored sites. But the evidence is the more one looks at it that the cause of making this transformation are within actually rather low bounce. But, that the transformation is decades long to make because the power plants, the vehicle fleet, the buildings last for decades. What would be expensive is to knock everything down and try to start over, impossible. What is not prohibitively expensive is to rollout the old stuff and roll in the better stuff. And the difference in cost looks to be something on the order of 50 to100 dollars per ton of CO2 avoided. Now if it's 50 dollars per ton and we have to avoid 4 billion tons of it, we're talking about an annual cost on the order of about 200 billion dollars a year, small stuff with what they play with in Washington. That currently is about 1 point--what is it? 1.35 percent of GNP. So it's between 1 and 2 percent of GNP. If instead, you allow for the energy efficiency as well and still assume that high price, not a bait, not declining over time, you'd get to something by the middle of the century that would be well under 1 percent of GNP. And indeed, if you phase in this transition, you could stay last than 1 percent of GNP through the entire transformation process. And this I think really is the bottom line of the reality. We can lose the planet because we don't want to do this or we can decide to invest something a little bit less than 1 percent of our income each year. Given that where America this days, I don't know what we're going to decide. But as rational human beings who care for ourselves and our for children, I think the choices pretty obvious when it's laid out doubt clearly. Now--I can't go through all of that but let me say the following. There are probably fairly clever, low intrusive ways to do this, much better than the ways that have been proposed in Washington and it so far been rejected by Washington until now. And the way that I'm roughly proposing this without going into all of the gory details is to give an incentive for new low carbon producers by subsidizing the gap between essential their current higher cost and the cost of coal and guaranteeing that subsidy out for a period of 25 years, each year on a rolling basis as new producers bring clean technology online. Now how would you pay for that? Since we start out with essentially a coal, gas and oil economy, if you put a tiny tax--sorry [laughter]. If you put a tiny tax on coal, oil and gas and then you give a pretty robust subsidy, 5 cents a kilowatt hours, 6 cents of kilowatt hour differential to the low carbon sources, you bring them on with very low disruption. Overtime, as more and more of those new low carbon sources come online, you have to give a wider subsidy, you raise that lower tax up but that pushes up the price that consumers are anyway paying for their energy and it means that you can also pull down slightly these cents per kilowatt hour that your subsidizing the new producers coming online. And you create essentially a rolling system and I'd illustrated it here with--I won't going in to detail but you phase in over a 40 year period, mind you, 4 cents per kilowatt hour on the energy bill, can't make it softer than that. And overtime that ends up raising the energy bill, by total in the year 2050, by about 0.7 of 1 percent of GNP according to this calculation.
Now, it maybe that the technologies get even better of these renewables and they compete in their own, it could be that as a reason article in Nature Magazine, had it 2 weeks ago, maybe we've over estimated--this is not exactly easy news, it's not great news but it changes the calculation, maybe we've over estimated the amount of coal that's under the ground and rather than actually having fairly on limited supplies of coal just enough to wreck the planet at a low price. Maybe the coal was actually going to rise in price and rise right pass the price solar and wind and so on, so you want to need any subsidies at all. We'll just be lead to these alternatives by the market without even needing to take it to account the externality of climate change destruction. Which ever it is, my point is that we at a quite low price can make this transition. It is essentially a technology transition. It's essentially based on the idea of mass electrification of autos and the buildings and then converting the electricity itself to a clean grid. Those are the 2 essential steps of this. Electricity is the fuel carrier and the primary energy converts either to carbon capture and sequestration or to a zero or low carbon energy source. And some of the best technologies combine natural with wind or combine natural gas with solar, you want to make that combination because of the intermittency of the renewables themselves. The costs are completely manageable, but we've never seen a plan. And this, I really do fault the administration for, instead of a plan, they went to congressional negotiations. They went to the back room, they went to the lobbyists, they said, "If we give you this many permits, if we do this and that, will you come on board?" And it was a pretty awful process. Most of you were not watching it as closely as the process of healthcare which was another awful process in terms of how the lobbyists swarmed around the system rather than having a plan with a logic, we had, unfortunately, the way we do it, a scrum and ended up partly with a mess. And on energy, we didn't even end up with a mess, we ended up with the mess that was passed in one house and was a defeated in the other house but we never saw a plan. And this, I think, is absolutely missing. Not that you can plan from here to 2050 but you can certainly bound a strategy and you could certainly use a plan to say, "What should we do from here to 2020?" And then we'll recalibrate along the way, what's called adaptive programing. But we haven't even started to do that. We went for a [inaudible] cap-and-trade system which is a bit of a mess on many accounts rather than a simpler gradually, rising, transparent carbon tax. Because supposedly, the lesson was learned in 1993 when President Clinton tried to put in a BTU tax, never mentioned the word tax. That may be true, we do have part of the electorate which is completely, obsessively and I used the word advisedly, against us paying for our most minimal needs--and our most urgent needs I should say. But the fact of the matter is, the cap-and-trade was immediately branded a tax which should implicitly was and it was and it was the end of it anyway. And it was a much less direct way to get where we needed to go. Obviously, we would need a gradual phase in of subsidies as new producers come online and that's why the actual budget outlays can be pushed to the future but paid for by an identified, gradually, rising tax. We need a lot of research development, I don't have time to elaborate on this today because we don't actually know a lot of what needs to be known. How will carbon capture and sequestration work? How will the Chevy Volt operate? How will batteries improve in the future? How can a national grid be properly and robustly managed when it relies on not the base load of coal but a much higher proportion of wind and solar and other intermittent sources. I'm told by all of my engineering colleagues that we just don't know the answers to these things. They are knowable, but they're not known. And we're certainly going to need a broad mix of technologies. Anyone that rules out a major category probably has to think again. Sad to say, we're going to need nuclear, and it's sad to say because it's a big problem in this world. And the risks of example proliferation politics are real. But it is also a low carbon energy source that dozens of countries will use for their electricity and that the United States is going to need and continue to use. And we're probably going to need carbon capture and sequestration, clean coal, another of those tag words. Now, there's another fight brewing which is about the natural gas deposits and the hydrofracking, so called of a blasting out of the shale rock of the Marcellus shale underneath the New York and Pennsylvania, massive deposits, whether this can be done ecologically, soundly or not. Nothing is assured in any of this. Everything has to be done adaptively. The only thing that, unfortunately, is assured is that the current course is a course of disaster. And a disaster that's already underway. We start today in Cancun, there will be no agreement, maybe next year, but it's a very odd process. It's basically the wrong people at the negotiating table. It's very nice diplomats. I love diplomats, when they're good they keep us out of wars, but they are not good engineers, they don't design systems, they certainly don't design physical and technological systems, they don't understand the economics and they don't know how to get us started. And unfortunately, these negotiations have kept the business sector away and kept the analytical and the academic sectoral away. And so, we don't have negotiations over the things that we need to be negotiating on. I think the kind of framework that I'd very loosely sketch of how to converge in 2050 to a 1/6 emission standard is actually a basis for discussion, a kind of convergence of technologies. And I think the China and India and other low income countries right now accept the fact that they want to converge on incomes and that they would also have to converge on technological standards. And how to do that and who to pay for some of the extra cost are valid issues of negotiation. But focusing on how to make that convergence process work, I believe is the right way to negotiate but we're not there yet at all. And we'd simply not cast these negotiations in the context of technology. Now finally, let me turn back to us, here. These are the numbers from the most recent Pew Center Survey on American attitudes towards climate change, they are horrifying. What's happening to us? We're a weird place. We're in a complete anti-science rant right now and it's getting worst. Since climate change has been big news in recent years, the numbers of people who believe that there's evidence for it has fallen sharply, down from 50 percent to who believe that there is human-induced climate change in the 19--2000--oh sorry 2006 poll, to just 34 percent last month. So well over half of the American people either believe this is a natural process for which the scientists have looked up and down at changes of solar radiation and every other kind of process that could conceivably be part of this can't find those fingerprints or that it's not happening at all. In the lower left-hand part of the chart, you see the answers by political party. Only 16 percent of republican respondents said that there is human-induced climate changed.
Wherein in an extraordinary moment, when a really life and death issue for the planet has become a completely part as an issue as well and where beliefs on the basic facts are so profoundly different across the divides, so 53 percent of democrats, 16 percent of republicans and the independence right in the middle at 32 percent. And among our newly ascendant "Tea Party", it's 8 percent. 8 percent of those who, among the republicans who said that they agreed with the Tea Party also said that there is human-induced climate changed. What's happening here? It's really hard to know. Of course it is true, you can get 25 percent of American's to agree on any proposition you can name and so there is something to that. But the aggressive anti-science that we're living in right now is not entirely an accident. I have seen over the recent years and many of us in academia feel it, the most relentless assault on science that I certainly recall in my professional lifetime and it's led by identifiable and powerful interests that are doing a profound disservice to the planet. Number 1, Rupert Murdoch, definitively the most destructive individual on this issue and many others in the world, because he commands the media in a way that almost no other person on the planet does. I don't whether he's simply the most cynical or ignorant but somehow, he is the most destructive. Sometimes I believe the Wall Street Journal Editorial page is just design to get my blood going in the morning, because my wife knows that I'm absolutely bouncing off the walls every morning by about 6 a.m., out of control. So it's morning exercise, but it actually has a very powerful effect. David Koch, who some of you may have read about in the New Yorker earlier this year, the owner of the America's largest privately owned oil and gas company, Koch Industries, big philanthropist in New York. You go to Lincoln Center, you go to Koch Theater. You go to American Natural History Museum, you go to Koch Exhibition. More destruction of financing, anti-scientific propaganda than perhaps any other person other than Rupert Murdoch himself. And this stuff works in today's age and we're facing something more than problems of communication, more than problems of what to--was called climate gate last year of injudicious statements by a few climate scientists that I can assure had absolutely zero to do with the climate science and with its reliability, its depth, its knowledge. But, it was taken on as a massive campaign by the Wall Street Journal who everyday wrote the most viscous nonsense saying that not only was climate science wrong but it was a deliberate global scientific hoax and fraud and conspiracy by all of those climate scientist looking to get rich on their government grants. And I kid, you not. And as one who tries to help keep these people able to do their marvelous research, they're not in it for the bucks, I call tell you. They are in it because they know that not only is the science fascinating in deep but the stakes could not be higher. And for us ladies and gentlemen, the stakes that we have as citizens now to get our country reoriented in the right direction could also not be higher. Thank you very much.
[ Applause ]
[ Inaudible Discussion ]
>> Thank you very much for both a sober and passionate assessment and a country policy analysis and proposal. We are very short of time, but we are going to take just 2 questions and I'm going to ask for one from each side. And if you could say the questions and then we'll turn back to Jeff for a quick response that would be great, so perhaps one on each side first. Here? Yup.
>> Please, please.
>> Hi Jeff, I'm Mary Albertson, I'm from RESULTS Global Group in the area and I want to thank you for your friendship and your support to RESULTS. What I wanted to ask you about was if you please comment on the importance of investments like a Global Fund for Education and why this is doable and needed even in this economy for educating the people.
>> Great. Thank you, thank you. Yeah, let's take one more, yup.
>> Thank you also for a lucid and enlightening talk. You've talked much about the quantitative needs for more energy to meet economic growth and human aspirations primarily using the first law of thermodynamics that is talking about X number kilowatt hours or BTU to do that work. Yet as we give up oil, natural gas, coal, we're going to energy that's much less intensive, much less power packed, that those fuels are going to--the very gentle harvesting of solar and wind then so on, which means that we're probably now we're going to have to increase our effort but also change our lifestyles to solve problems that lowers temperature energy sources could do. Like living closer together, giving out the American dreams for all and living in cities where we can walk, use transit and bicycle. Could you comment on that?
>> Sure. So first on the question about Global Fund for Education and I want to first thank RESULTS International which is a marvelous, marvelous organization which mobilizes public awareness for purposes of global sustainable development and I love everything that RESULTS does. I didn't talk about problems of poverty parse, but what chart shows is, I think, perhaps useful, very briefly. The red triangles are conflict areas and the yellow on the map are dry ones. And what's happening--point that I making, this was taken from a book that I wrote a couple of years ago called Commonwealth, is that the ecological stresses of the poorest places, the dry ones, are spilling over into massive conflict and we're fighting in places like Afghanistan or Yemen or Somalia or Sudan, not by accident but because people are hungry, desperate, poor. And therefore, those places become vulnerable to terror or to internal conflict or demagoguery and extremism and the like. We are spending an unbelievable waste of our resources, fighting this condition through military means which is useless. Because--
The problems are poverty and we spend in Afghanistan 100 billion dollars a year right now. And 100th of that on the poverty problems in Afghanistan and we go out of our way, we don't care about Afghanistan, this is just about Al-Queda. It's mind boggling how ignorant this process is. We're just really in the hands of the military, I'm sorry to say. And if you read Bob Woodward's book on Obama's war, you can't find one sentence in the whole book of anybody that says one word about Afghanistan's real life conditions. Even though what's mentioned a 100 times by these generals, is winning the hearts and minds, they don't have a clue as to the hearts and minds, not a clue because the poverty, the hunger, the water stress, the ecological stress isn't mentioned one sentence in the entire book and this is our disaster. So why do we need a Global Fund for Education or a Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and malaria?
Or help to make sure that girls can stay in secondary school which is one of the things that such a Global Fund would do or help for smallholder farmers to grow more crops. First, it would save lives. Second, it might save our souls. And third, it would be by far the most reliable way to peace on the planet. And climate changes going to make all of this dreadfully worst, because it's the poorest people who almost inherently--not inherently--but by deed of history, our poor in part because they're living in marginalized places that are already very difficult and therefore, more vulnerable to the kinds of dislocations that are likely to come. Second question was about the lifestyle changes and how we can mange on this. I think there are a couple of things to say. First, let me make a technical point that solar power is very diffused but there is potentially a lot of land available. This is one way that the deserts really can fulfill a tremendous direct human need at very, very low ecological price. And many of you have seen the little square in the Sahara which collects enough solar radiation to fuel the entire world. This is not fanciful, that are Mojave Desert or the Sahara or the Atacama Desert in Chile and Peru and so forth or the Gobi or the Taklamakan or the Thar Desert in India, could actually become places for major collection of solar radiation. Yes, very, very large arrays brought to people living in cities, I think it's a pretty interesting way to go when there is something called DESERTEC and DESERTEC Foundation which is looking to mobilize the deserts for solar energy on a very large scale and I find it a very exciting thing. Now lifestyle changes, absolutely, are part of, I think, any kind of improvement in our quality of life aside from our environmental sustainability. We're finding that the way we've designed for all the all the way we designed our cities without walking, the way that our landscape has led to more flooding and less of percolation of rainfall, less--more surface runoff and so forth, provokes major hazards for us, major health risks. And I think, major problems of our own societies right now. One of the interesting things about economic growth that economists have understood since Richard Easterlin at University of Pennsylvania brought the fact to our attention more than 30 years ago, is that after a certain point, this chase for higher incomes is not leading to higher self-reported happiness or satisfaction and what economist now technically call the SWB--as subjective well-being in the opinion surveys. And it's actually quite stark, you get big gains when you're poor, they are real gains. I can tell you living with electricity rather than living without it, it's huge, it keeps you alive, it allows you to have a quality of life that we forget what happens without it, perhaps. But after a point, and we've certainly reached the point that the statistic show, it's very hard to find much benefit directly from per capita income parse as supposed to better health, more longevity. But that's not necessarily coming from a higher GNP per capita, that's coming from a smarter lifestyle, a better way to live, walking rather than driving every place and so on. And so, I could only say a man in general but there are many things that cities and dense settlements actually do very, very well. New York City's CO2 footprint per capita is 1/4 of the national average. You can see why people walk, buildings--your building heats the next building because you're all interconnected down the long blocks of the rowhouses or the brownstones and it shows up very much in the results. So this kinds of changes, no doubt, are part of what I call the energy efficiency, getting more for less and getting--and being happier as a result of it as well. And I think that there is a lot of that kind of learning and introspection to do. We are absolutely on what the psychologist called the hedonic treadmill right now. We are running so fast, we're completely. And why we're doing it and what we think we're getting out of it really is a huge question but a question for another lecture. Thanks.
[ Applause ]
>> Thank you Jeff. We certainly got a lot more and we appreciate all of your insights and comments. Thank you all of you for joining us this afternoon. There are, I think, some refreshments and hopefully conversation in the lobby and I invite you to stay and continue your discussion. Thanks again for joining us.