Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Don't just blame the superpower

It's really easy to blame the United States — and just the United States — for a number of things. It's a perfect target. The world's sole superpower, the US makes foreign policy mistakes frequently. Of course it is also easy to blame the big guy: the most powerful, most senior, most vulnerable for criticism, etc. On the subject of greenhouse gas emissions, however, it might be a bit harder to put the whole of climate change blame on the US. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that China could very soon overtake the US as the leading greenhouse gas emitter. Greenhouse gases play a role in global climate change.

The IEA says China will give our more CO2 than the US by 2010. Of course China is developing, less wealthy and more unable to enforce or create environmental standards, and just harder to blame than America. Even staunch free trade activists say that wealth leads to environmental enlightenment (and wealth comes from the exchange of goods, i.e. trade). China is no doubt being reckless in its massive industrial endeavors, but it does acknowledge climate change. But like the Sudan issue (generally), there is more rhetoric than action.

A big issue is the use of coal powered power plants. America also uses coal as a primary power source; coal is one of the dirtiest sources of power. Both economic giants must act now more than ever — especially the developed, wealthy US — to reduce coal dependence and enforce, not just promote, clean environmental policies. At the risk of sounding like a Green: we only have one planet, let's treat it wisely or future humans will pay the price. China and the United States are both huge countries with plenty of wind power potential, plenty of sun, and plenty of coastline and rivers for water-powered energy. I'd say its more cost effective to dish out some money for solar panels and wind turbines than to destroy your planet, thus destroying any economy. Why not pay the relatively small price now so we don't have to pay it later — when it will have a cost in currencies other than dollars, euros, yuans or yen.

When one considers all the factors, America has more of a responsibility to take action on its environmental policies, but China could save itself plenty of money (not to mention other things) if it acted sooner rather than later. At the risk of sounding like Al Gore: it's time for governments to act, now, on global warming. How does it hurt to not destroy our only habitat as much anyways?

I'll be covering alternative energy more soon, as well as free trade.

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