I view his response essay to be in large part an outstanding quantitative review of the human implications of the trade-offs between carbon dioxide emissions and economic growth. Goklany proceeds from the premise, which I share, that the primary reason we care about climate change in the first place is its potential impact on human flourishing. He makes the point, forcefully and with careful analysis, that giving up economic growth doesn’t only mean slightly smaller SUVs, but reduced lifespans, nutrition, housing improvements, and so on. When denominated by such indicators, all responsible projections indicate that we expect to be made worse off by coercive policies to force immediate, aggressive abatement of carbon dioxide emissions.
I will leave the (in my view logically separable) argument about how much the developed world should spend to reduce malaria, starvation and other global ills to another time. Mr. Goklany argues that at whatever level we choose to address these, forcing reduction of carbon dioxide emissions is not a smart way to go about it. I agree.