Thanks to how the establishment heavily filters environment- and climate-related news — with more than a little irony, you might call it a bad-news blackout — a large majority of Americans, particularly of the 85% to 86% of us who are for better or worse relatively disengaged, likely believe that:
- The recently passed cap-and-trade legislation is a first-stage shining example of the U.S. “doing its part” to forestall alleged global warming and its ultimate passage will lead other countries to follow our example.
- Whatever the U.S. can do to minimize its carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions will have a material impact on the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere.
- Much of the rest of the world is doing more than we are to fight alleged global warming.
Without the indispensable CCNet email from English climate policy analyst Benny Peiser, yours truly could be buying into some or all of the above conventional “wisdom.” None of the above bulleted items is even remotely true.
The House’s passage of cap and trade hasn’t impressed the three countries that matter most, namely India, China, and Russia.
On Sunday, “[Indian] environment minister Jairam Ramesh asserted … in the presence of visiting U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton that India would never take legally binding commitments to cut down on emissions.”
China? Yeah, like we’re in a position to boss around our biggest lender, whose holding of U.S. Treasuries at the end of May, at over $800 billion, was 60% higher than a year earlier, and where in early June an audience of students broke out laughing when Treasury secretary and tax cheat Tim Geithner tried to tell them that “Chinese assets [invested in the U.S.] are safe.” That same month China, identified as the world’s leading emitter two years ago, “announced that they would not participate in a global initiative to control climate change air pollutants.” Russia did the same.
This means that the world’s number one, three, and four emitters, according to this 2006 chart with supporting spreadsheet, aren’t on board and aren’t about to get on board, no matter what kind of “example” we set.
But even if the U.S. ultimately chooses aggressive carbon-reduction targets, thereby, according to many predictions, slitting its economic wrists and voluntarily becoming “a second-rate economic power” in the process, it won’t do much to stop worldwide emissions growth. The spreadsheet referred to earlier shows that China’s annual emissions increased by 600 million metric tons of CO2 per year from 2003 to 2006. If that country’s emissions have continued to grow at that rate, its emissions are already 30% higher than ours. Projecting further ahead at that same rate, China’s emissions will double ours by 2016. Even the EPA has had to sheepishly admit to the fundamental truth that the U.S. alone can do little to affect overall worldwide emissions growth.