Global Warming Emissions in US and China
Posted April 19, 2013
The Wall Street Journal had a front page article today about how US global warming emissions have been going down. (Side note: The opening paragraph described carbon dioxides as “the greenhouse gas widely believed to contribute to global warming” which makes me wonder if the WSJ would describe gravity as being “the theory widely believed to cause objects to fall towards the ground instead of towards the sky.” )
The article also includes a graph of annual changes in GHG emissions, showing that China’s have gone up since 2005, while the US’s have gone down. The clear take-away from this graph is: “The US is great, we’re doing our part; China is causing problems, they need to get with the program.” The WSJ graph shows relative changes, but does not show actual emissions. Here are the 2005 per capita emissions in US and China:
We are polluting over 400% more. In other words, it takes four people in China to pollute as much as a single American. So yes, their emissions went up and ours went down, which changed this relationship to be... we are still polluting four times as more. And if the Chinese “get with the program” and do what we are doing, they would need to quadruple their emissions. Quadruple. As in, if they are now eating one hamburger a day, they would need to start eating four.
It’s great that our emissions had a downtick, but let’s not kid ourselves that we are doing our part or that the Chinese should just do what we are doing. We need to put our ingenuity to work figuring out how to support a high quality of life with fewer emissions, so that we can truly tell others to get with the program and do as we do.
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