July 17, 2010

American hypocrisy on Climate Change

By Ai Lung Nguyen - July 2010.

ENVIRONMENT/POLITICS - Awhile ago the Financial Times encouraged all European Union governments to approve stricter emissions targets, pointing out that it would encourage private investment in low emissions technology and benefit Europe's economy.

But when it comes time for the US government to do the same thing, its not stricter emission targets... its the watering down of emission targets.

The United States Senate spent this past week arguing the best ways to water down greenhouse gas emissions targets because some of them have it stuck in their silly heads that such things would hurt the economy.

Question: How does better fuel efficiency hurt the economy?

The answer is it doesn't. It boosts the economy by making it cheaper to transport things. We have the technology to build more efficient cars, motors and engines that run on less energy but still provide the same amount of power and torque.

But because Americans are lazy they choose not to use the technology sitting right in front of them. How backwards is that?

The energy bill currently being debated calls for a 17% cut from 2005 emissions levels by 2020. It is frankly a ridiculously easy goal to achieve and you don't even have to cull SUVs to do it.

The automotive industry is minuscule compared the amount of CO2 being emitted from coal-burning electricity plants. Cut out just half of the coal burners and you will have reduced CO2 emissions by 17.5% right there. (Coal burning accounts for 35% of CO2 emissions in the USA.)

Replace the coal burners with nuclear, geothermal, solar, wind and other renewable resources and the problem is very quickly solved. And the building of such things creates local jobs, boosting the economy in the process.

According to 100% of peer-reviewed scientific reports the Earth is facing catastrophic climate change if global temperatures rise more than 2 degrees Celsius, which will result in massing storms, flooding, rising sea levels, droughts, and widespread destruction of crops and livestock.

Meanwhile European lawmakers are moving much more aggressively. They're calling for 30% reductions below 1990 levels by 2020. Asian countries like China, India, Japan and South Korea are likely to follow suit.

Meanwhile quite a few American cars can't even be sold overseas in Europe or Asia because they can't meet the efficiency standards. America's economy is largely dependent on automotive exports, but because American politicians can't get their act in gear the economy is floundering.

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