Study: Economic prosperity equals increased use of fossil fuels

Infographic illustrates the close link between increased country prosperity and greater carbon footprints that a recently released article has analyzed. Graph by Aron StrandbergInfographic illustrates the close link between increased country prosperity and greater carbon footprints that a recently released article has analyzed. Graph by Aron StrandbergDespite Bill Nye the ‘science guy’ saying the energy revolution is akin to human slavery, your quality of life does improve with the increased use of fossil fuels. So says a new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change (h/t Raining Sky):

Must greater prosperity necessarily lead to a greater carbon footprint and increased greenhouse gas emissions? “In theory, no, but in practice this seems to be the case,” says researcher Max Koch from Lund University in Sweden. His study of 138 countries is the first ever to take a global approach to the connections between growth, prosperity and ecological sustainability. The study was recently published in the journal article Global Environmental Change.

“Some people argue that extensive investments in green production and sustainable consumption can increase economic growth without increasing the emissions of greenhouse gases. We wanted to test how this connection holds up in reality, taking a global perspective,” says Professor in Social Work Max Koch.

In all three categories there was a clear connection to GDP: there was greater social inclusion and the quality of life improved as the countries became increasingly wealthy at the expense of environmental sustainability such as greater emissions and carbon footprint.

“We are not saying that it is impossible to separate economic growth from ecological issues; however, our study of global development shows a clear connection between economic development and increased greenhouse gas emissions that cannot be ignored,” says Max Koch.

One of the researchers’ conclusions is that because of the urgent need to reduce emissions globally, the possibility for an economic degrowth should be seriously considered — that is, a deliberate de-prioritisation of economic growth as a policy objective.

The study was conducted using data from the World Bank, the Global Footprint Network and OECD.

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Comments (3)

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    Raining Sky


    A “climate activist” said that the rich countries should have to pay for climate change because, after all, you can’t point to a single country that got rich without using fossil fuels.

    We say, “Exactly!”

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    How low would CO2 have to go before damage is done to the entire eco system ? Plants animals flourished at much higher levels so what’s different now ?
    The vast majority of CO2 comes from natural sources . So if nature changed direction, as it always does, would humans be lighting their hair on fire trying to set the direction of CO2 from natural sources or are those OK ..well because they are natural ?
    When the next ice age starts to take hold
    are we going to think lets crank up those coal plants to increase the earths temperature by a whopping half a degree ?
    Without any influence from humans (as we know it ) there were no Volvo’s , the earths
    temperature is estimated to have been over 20% warmer than today . Fair to say an ice age would be a few degrees colder than today ?
    Why do humans think we are some how going to control the earths temperature ?
    Isn’t that a rather arrogant stupid thing to try and sell in a supposedly sophisticated and educated world ?

  • BizzyBlog


    […] how hostility towards resource extraction has helped them. More broadly, economic prosperity has historically been correlated with increased use of fossil fuels. There’s no reason, despite the hype over obscenely […]

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