So allegedly if we don't stop the economy the associated emissions from carbon dioxide will heat the planet up, leading to temperatures so high that we'll all fry.
What's interesting to me is that there have been at least two global warming episodes in the past.
The biggest was during a period called the Eocene several tens of millions of years ago. What's interesting about this era is that carbon dioxide was several times what it will be in the worst case scenario in our own era(more than 500 parts per million project compared to 2000 parts per million during the Eocene). During the Eocene the summer temperature at the poles was 20C and in the tropics it was close to 40C. At the same time the global biodiversity was one of the highest it's ever been in the history of life. There were no humans around.
The more recent period called the Pliocene was very interesting because it's similar to now. Carbon dioxide was just under 400 parts per million and the configuration of the continents was almost identical to the way they are now. The temperature, however was some 5C higher at the poles and some 3C higher than today at the tropics.
Biodiversity was also much higher than today. There were only early hominids around and in limited numbers. Practically speaking there were no humans around.
What can be gleaned from those two cases?
1. Biodiversity in the pre-human epoch was usually higher during global warming periods.
2. There is large variation in temperatures at the same level of carbon dioxide
3. Even at extremely high concentrations of carbon dioxide there was no runaway greenhouse effect and life was not baked to a crisp.
So given these incontrovertible pieces of evidence we have to ask the question WHY are the ecologists so up in arms about us pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere?
To answer that question we have to note that the response is: reduce the size of the economy and reduce energy consumption in order to reduce the emissions.
I think the answer to that is they do not really care about the carbon dioxide, it's the processes that generate the carbon dioxide and the energy consumption they're worried about.
Well, if your prime concern is biodiversity and preservation of ecosystems then you want the least possible interference. Given that carbon dioxide has a net positive impact on biodiversity all things being equal it's glaringly obvious that the problem for the ecologists isn't carbon dioxide, it's the size of the economy and the amount of energy consumption.
If it were carbon dioxide alone then we switch to non carbon means of generating energy but there isn't a consensus among the green groups. Some are opposed to e.g. nuclear power and wind turbines and very few are not. Tbus it's easy to conclude it's not the emissions they really care about it's the fact that the economy drives energy consumption which drives extraction of natural resources.
In the end the answer is the economy needs natural resources and that's their real concern. That also in fact is a message that's now being pumped out into the media: reduce consumption and "we use too many resources".
What's interesting however, is you hear no such message coming from e.g. the Chinese or the Russians.
The Russians don't believe in global warming AT ALL. They think it's bullshit.
On the other hand they also think WE should reduce our emissions (read: reduce the size of our economy).
Likewise the Chinese state they are very concerned about global warming but have no intention of reducing their emissions and in fact are going to GROW their emissions. They say that if anybody has to reduce emissions it should be us, meanwhile they will be free to increase theirs.
I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions from these observations but it's enough to ask one final question in closing:
Are we so GULLIBLE here in North America and Europe that we're going to voluntarily reduce our economy and standard of living while our industrial competitors laugh at us behind our backs while they increase their standard of living at our expense with NO NET EFFECT on global emissions since they will be emitting more to make up for our reductions?