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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Renewable Energy, China, Climate Change
Created by John Eipper on 11/16/14 1:40 PM

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Renewable Energy, China, Climate Change (Randy Black, USA, 11/16/14 1:40 pm)

In his 15 November post, Paul Levine lamented the negative impact of a delay until 2030 regarding implementation of the recent US-China emissions agreement. Paul's premise seems to be that by then, "it will be too late to avoid a significant increase in global warming."

I share Paul's position to a point. His and my position seem to be sort of a "if not now, then why not sooner than 2030," or am I misunderstanding?

The fact of the matter is that neither the US president nor China's Xi Jinping will be around to implement such an agreement in 15 years or to even influence future democratically elected governments if any remain. Plus, theirs is just an agreement, not a treaty, which might or might not have legal standing in 2030.

Thus, Xi and Obama's agreement is a non-starter. The agreement is more or less a promise by China to increase its use of energy from zero-emission sources to 20% (of its total energy needs) by 2030. The United States has pledged to cut its emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Source: The Guardian, 12 Nov 2014. RB: I am not sure of the relationship of one to the other. Our part seems to be cutting emissions. Theirs seems to be related to the percent of wind and hydro power in use but does not appear to be tied to emissions. Why does China get a pass on emissions? In theory, by 2030 China might be getting 20 percent of its energy needs met by solar, wind and hydro power, yet still polluting the atmosphere as much as they are today from the usual sources, yet be in compliance.

Why does the US have to attain such a level sooner than the Chinese? After all, China manufactures about 40 percent of the wind turbines that are being installed by the thousands in the USA and beyond. Why not go to the head of the line at their own factories and immediately put a few in their own backyard now?

Fact: There are more than 46,000 wind turbines in 39 US states as of 2013. Texas leads with more than 12,000. California is second with nearly 6,000. Delaware has two.

I'm certain that China's leaders are laughing at the gullibility of US leadership and the American voters is we accept their promise as credible. Is there anyone among us who actually believes the Chinese leadership's promises have credibility?

More importantly, is a promise to China by an unpopular US president relevant to China? It's a reasonable question. My thought is that this is just a straw held out by both sides in order to look good to their public supporters where some still exist as they fly from meeting to meeting on their Boeing aircrafts. Yep, even China's leaders fly on 747s.

In my mind, the idea that China might even be capable of implementing such environmental plan is a big if. However, according to the World Wind Energy Association's ranking, the US comes in second to China "for total wind power capacity, 67.7 gigawatts capacity to 60 for the USA as of 2013."  Geographically small Germany produces "more than 30 gigawatts" of its power from wind, which is about 30 percent of total European wind production.

And then there's the probability that if the next US national election follows the trend of the recent election (the results were a disaster for the liberals), it is unfathomable that the conservatives might give the time of day to such an agreement made today, yet implemented so far in the future.

One thing is certain: There seems to be little consensus in the scientific community regarding global warming. Do not misunderstand the following as my position, which is irrelevant.

I've researched the many news articles that are a result of the hundreds of academic papers on these matters. Whether liberal or conservative, the media clearly transfers the impression that global warming is not settled science.

Whether you are a believer or a denier, I have to ask, "If the scientific community is not in agreement, how are those among us who are still trying to separate the chaff from the wheat supposed to formulate a position?"

And if there were consensus among academics, to what extent would such a consensus be a yardstick, a compass really, toward change by democratically elected governments?

JE comments:  I'm quite comfortable with accepting global warming, although it does require a leap of faith, a trust in the infallibility of the scientific community.  I've never seen global warming, and it certainly hasn't happened in my neighborhood.  But then again, I've never seen DNA either.  Are there any DNA deniers out there?

As for the validity of unpopular US presidents reaching accords with China, my mind is invariably drawn to Nixon.  Have we heard anything from Henry Kissinger on Obama's latest deal?


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