Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Chinese whispers…

A Brazilian friend just told me he doesn’t much feel like making an effort to reduce his ‘carbon footprint’ because he keeps reading that China is pushing out more and more CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels.
The Chinese are certainly industrializing at breakneck speed and building coal-fired power stations at a prodigious rate. And this at a time when the biggest macro-political problem the world faces is said to be global warming. Western governments are committing their economies to reducing carbon dioxide output by forcing through technological changes and increasing taxation on their populations without any specific mandate through the ballot box: I was never yet offered the choice of a political party that would impose CO2 restrictions on me and one that would not.
Yet Western governments seem to swallow the hype that the Chinese should be allowed to pump out rising quantities of CO2: when Western countries industrialized, it’s said, that’s what they did so it’s ‘only fair’; the Chinese are only ‘catching up’.
No one seems to point it out, but this is absurd. Let’s see why:
When Britain (for example) was industrializing there was neither awareness that carbon dioxide emissions might be harmful to the earth’s atmosphere nor was there available any mitigating technology. Early industrializing nations had to inch their way forwards to scientific knowledge and technological innovation. Vast amounts of both are now available as a common heritage of mankind to currently industrializing countries effectively at no, or minimal, cost. These great boons allow them to industrialize rapidly and efficiently. Furthermore, western-based companies are falling over themselves to take the latest technologies into the newly industrializing countries in an effort to continue to grow profitably.
China is a political dictatorship with a market-based economy and Chinese leaders make fools of western bureaucrats and politicians with specious arguments about CO2 emissions. Why is there such a silence on these matters in the western media? My friend is clearly smarter than the average bear.

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