Monday, September 29, 2008

Breaking News: Global Warming is .... Global

I've had a few thoughts on global warming on the back burner only to wake up this morning and find Instapundit having a post about the very subject. I guess that is why he gets millions of hits--so timely he is in your head. Spooky.

Glenn links to this article at the NY Times which notes that CO2 emissions are up and increasing worldwide and that "poor countries" are now in the lead.
Overnight the Global Carbon Project, a network of scientists tracking emissions of carbon dioxide, released its latest update, and it shows that emissions are accelerating and are close to the highest scenarios considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year.

Seth Borenstein of The Associated Press has written a summary of the carbon dioxide findings, with some input from experts who express surprise that a slowing of economic growth in some places hasn’t blunted the growth in CO2 output.
(As a quick aside, the Times blog, above, has the tag line: Nine Billion People, One Earth. Did I miss something? The current world population is about 6.8 billion. Where did this nine billion number come from?)

Back on subject, this report exemplifies the reason I've always agreed with the U.S. government's (under Clinton and Bush) refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty. Regulating the behavior of developed nations while giving poorer countries a free pass on a issue that is clearly global was never logical approach.

Note that in the Times quote above, "experts" are surprised that emissions are increasing from developing nations even as economic growth there slows. I don't think that is to surprising at all. As much as global warming has been framed as a crisis that must be addressed in the next few minutes or we will experience the Day After Tomorrow, by populations as a whole fighting it is still considered a luxury. When times are good, people are excited to be an early adopter of hybrid technology, even at a cost premium. When times are tough, the hybrid had better be all-around cheaper, more reliable, and built to last for a long time. As economic conditions change, people's priorities change. To emphasize this, Glenn also points to this article which notes that Europe is starting to backtrack on CO2 emission reduction goals as economies there worsen.
Poland has joined Germany in calling for industry exemptions to EU climate rules as a recession in Europe’s major economies is casting doubts on whether Brussels will be able to push through its ambitious CO2 reduction programme.


Member states are getting nervous about asking their industries to pay more for CO2 pollution, says Christian Egenhofer, a senior researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels. The “assumptions have gone”, Egenhofer said in reference to likely declining investments and growing constraints on governments’ abilities to use macro-economic instruments towards ‘green’ aims.
This is the reality of a world filled with billions of people--getting consensus on a single issue is impractical if not impossible. This is why I question quotes by people like Joe Biden, who said if China builds coal plants, they have to be clean coal. And how is he going to make them do that?

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