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A rift in modernity? assessing the anthropogenic sources of global climate change with the STIRPAT model

Richard York (Department of Sociology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403‐1291)
Eugene A. Rosa (Department of Sociology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164‐4020)
Thomas Dietz (Environmental Science and Policy Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 1 October 2003

Abstract

Ascientific consensus has emerged indicating that the global climate is changing due to anthropogenic (i.e., human induced) driving forces. Our previous research reformulated the well‐known I=PAT (environmental Impacts equal the multiplicative product of Population, Affluence, and Technology) model into stochastic form, named it the STIRPAT model, and used it to assess the effects of population and affluence on carbon dioxide loads. Here we extend those findings by examining the impacts of population, affluence and other factors on the emissions of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as the combined global warming potential of these two gases. We also assess the potential for “ecological modernization” or an “environmental Kuznets curve” (EKC) effect to curb GHG emissions. Our findings suggest that population is a consistent force behind GHG emissions, that affluence also drives emissions, that urbanization and industrialization increase emissions, and that tropical nations have lower emissions than non‐tropical nations, controlling for other factors. Contrary to what ecological modernization and EKC theorists predict, we find that to date there is no compelling evidence of a decline in emissions with modernization. These results support both the “treadmill of production” thesis and the “metabolic rift” thesis.

Keywords

Citation

York, R., Rosa, E.A. and Dietz, T. (2003), "A rift in modernity? assessing the anthropogenic sources of global climate change with the STIRPAT model", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 23 No. 10, pp. 31-51. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443330310790291

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MCB UP Ltd

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