Dave's Energy

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

no such thing as a free lunch

Global warming/climate change/greenhouse gases is a global epidemic. There is a lot of sentiment out there to reduce carbon emissions, with the fingers pointing towards the US. What bothers me is that countries such as China and India, which could likely surpass the United States in carbon emissions within the very near future, have been publicly lamenting that they cannot control emissions like the US should because it would hinder their economic growth.

Doesn't it hinder America's economic growth too?

I am fully supportive of the economic renaissance of India, China, and other countries; I do believe, however, that there are costs in any project that cannot be swept under the rug and if an entity can't compete with all costs considered, then perhaps they shouldn't. Is it fair to expect American companies to spend the incremental dollar towards carbon control and give other economically-disadvantaged countries full license to let their smoke stacks go unfiltered? Beyond the fairness factor is the cold (or should I say, inconvenient) truth that if pumping bad stuff in the sky is wrong and we have the means to control it, then there should be no selectiveness--everyone must participate. There has to be a better solution available.

I found Sethi's justifications to be a bit hackneyed, "I do not have the funds for both [energy efficiency vs. poverty reduction]. My choice is to improve the lot of India's poor or reduce CO2 emissions so the developed world can breathe easier." Well, if you spin it like that it is hard to argue against helping the poor. Throwing a red herring at my moral compass can work for only so long, though.

Fix the Kyoto Protocol to include China and India, prompting the US to ratify the thing, and let's move forward.

Carbon Reduction or Poverty Reduction, Not Both


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