Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-21
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-21

  16 Apr 2021

16 Apr 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Identification of a 50-year scaling relating current global energy demands to historically cumulative economic production

Timothy J. Garrett1, Matheus R. Grasselli2, and Stephen Keen3 Timothy J. Garrett et al.
  • 1University of Utah, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, 135 S 1460 E, Rm 819, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84112
  • 2McMaster University, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, vHamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada
  • 3University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom

Abstract. Global economic production, or the GDP, has risen steadily relative to world primary energy demands, suggesting technological change is driving a gradual decoupling of society from its resource needs and associated pollution. Here show that in each of the 50 years following 1970 for which reliable data are available, one Exajoule of world energy was consumed to sustain each 5.50 ± 0.21 trillion constant 2019 US dollars, not of yearly production or physical capital, but of running cumulative production summed over human history. The half-century for which this fixed ratio held covers two thirds of historical growth in energy demands, so assuming its persistence, the implication is that society is not in fact decoupling from resource needs. Rather, it can be expected that future environmental impacts will be more strongly guided by past activities, or inertia, than is generally permitted within economic and climate modeling prescriptions that allow for policy to spur more rapid change.

Timothy J. Garrett et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • EC1: 'Reviewer 1 report esd-2021-21', James Dyke, 17 May 2021
    • CC2: 'Reply on EC1', Richard Rosen, 24 May 2021
  • CC1: 'Comment on esd-2021-21', Richard Rosen, 23 May 2021
  • AC1: 'Response to Richard Rosen', Timothy Garrett, 01 Jun 2021
  • AC2: 'Response to Reviewer 1', Timothy Garrett, 01 Jun 2021
  • RC1: 'Comment on esd-2021-21', Peter Haff, 08 Jun 2021
    • CC3: 'Reply on RC1', Richard Rosen, 08 Jun 2021
      • AC3: 'Reply on CC3', Timothy Garrett, 11 Jun 2021
    • AC4: 'Reply on RC1', Timothy Garrett, 22 Jun 2021

Timothy J. Garrett et al.

Timothy J. Garrett et al.

Viewed

Total article views: 1,708 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
1,385 297 26 1,708 6 10
  • HTML: 1,385
  • PDF: 297
  • XML: 26
  • Total: 1,708
  • BibTeX: 6
  • EndNote: 10
Views and downloads (calculated since 16 Apr 2021)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 16 Apr 2021)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 1,411 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 1,411 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
1
 
 
 
 
Latest update: 18 Oct 2021
Download
Short summary
Current world economic production is rising relative to energy consumption. This increase in “production efficiency” suggests that carbon dioxide emissions can be decoupled from economic activity through technological change. We show instead a nearly fixed relationship between energy consumption and a new economic quantity, historically cumulative economic production. The strong link to the past implies inertia may play a more dominant role in societal evolution than is generally assumed.
Altmetrics