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Monday, June 29, 2009

Nate Silver demolishes a new talking point that climate change will only reduce global GDP by 5% in one hundred years. Taking that very questionable assumption at face value, Nate writes:

Let's see how much of the world we can destroy before getting to 5% of global GDP. The figures I'll use are IMF estimates of 2008 GDP, for all countries bit Zimbabwe where the IMF did not publish a 2008 estimate and I use 2007 instead.

Zimbabwe, indeed, is the first country on the chopping block, whose 11.7 million greedy bastards consume a whole 0.0196 percent of the world's output -- a global low of just $55 per person. After that, we get to destroy Burundi, The Congo (the larger of the two Congos -- the one that used to be called Zaire), Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Eretrea, Malawai ... do you really me to go through the whole list? You do? ... Malwai, Ethopia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Afghanistan (big problem solved there), Togo, Guinea, Uganda, Madagascar, the Central African Republic, Nepal, Myanmar, Rwanda, Mozambique, Timor-Leste, the Gambia -- we've only used 0.27 percent of GDP to this point, by the way -- Bangladesh (which has 162 million people), Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Mali, Lesotho, Ghana, Haiti, Tajikistan, Comoros, Cambodia, Laos, Benin, Kenya, Chad, The Soloman Islands and Kyrgyzistan. Next up is India, which, while growing, still consumes only 2 percent of world GDP. Then Nicaragua, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Mauritania, Pakistan (another problem solved), Senegal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia, Yemen, Cameroon, Djibouti, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Nigeria (another pretty big country -- we've now got only about 1.4 points of GDP left), Guyana, the Sudan, Bolivia (our first foray into South America), Moldova, Honduras, the Philippines, Sra Lanka, Mongolia, Bhutan and Egypt.

At this point, we've used up 4.4 points of GDP. Indonesia is next on the list of lowest per-capita GDPs. But unfortunately we can't quite fit them into the budget so we'll spare them, opting instead for Vanauatu, Tonga, Paragua, Morocco, Syria, Swaziland, Samoa, Guatemala, Georgia (the country -- not the place where they have Chik-Fil-A), the other Congo, and Iraq. Skipping China, we then get to Armenia, Jordan, Cape Verde, the Maldives -- and another big bunch of skips follows here since we're very low on budget -- Fiji and finally Namibia. Collectively, these countries consume 4.99997 percent of the world's GDP. There's absolutely no budget left for anyone else -- not even St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which would be a great band name, BTW.

So, we'll have to settle for just these 81 countries, which collectively have a mere 2,865,623,000 people, or about 43 percent of the world's population.