Bob Samuelson, as so often, puts what I have been trying inelegantly to express much more directly:
From 2003 to 2050, the world's population is projected to grow from 6.4 billion people to 9.1 billion, a 42 percent increase. If energy use per person and technology remain the same, total energy use and greenhouse gas emissions (mainly, carbon dioxide) will be 42 percent higher in 2050. But that's too low, because societies that grow richer use more energy. Unless we condemn the world's poor to their present poverty -- and freeze everyone else's living standards -- we need economic growth. With modest growth, energy use and greenhouse emissions more than double by 2050.
Even the most drastic measures from Western nations will not make much more than a dent in this. Only an energy technological breakthrough can. I'd ratchet up gas taxes to see what the market will throw up in innovation (and for national security reasons). But then I'd channel resources into adjusting to global warming, rather than trying to prevent it. If the technology comes through and we can really do something to heal the planet in time, I'm all for it. Until then, a lot of this debate is, as Samuelson says, posturing. Or have I and Samuelson missed something?