Friday, November 06, 2015

American lifestyle can no longer remain non-negotiable

One of the many tough lessons that we learn while growing up is that life is unfair.  It is a tough lesson.  Even worse is the lesson that we humans will not work towards making life at least a tad less unfair.

Today's exhibit on unfairness: the global climate change discussions.

We are rapidly counting down the days towards that global meeting of the minds, which will happen in Paris from November 30th to December 11th.  It is the latest in a long-running series of meetings that began in 1979.

Except for a few nutcases, who operate mostly from the US and from within the Republican party, there is an overwhelming consensus on climate change and its potential to wreak havoc on conditions for human life, via the impacts on the natural environment.



Those nutcases aside,,
climate experts estimate that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be reduced by 40-70% by 2050 and that carbon neutrality (zero emissions) needs to be reached by the end of the century at the latest.
But, that is where the "fairness" and "unfairness" begins.
Rancorous negotiations over a draft version of a universal climate treaty took place this week in Bonn, Germany. The treaty is supposed to be adopted by nearly 200 nations at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. The fight in Bonn is over how much the countries of the world should cut their emissions of greenhouse gases, by what year they should complete those cuts, and who should pay for the transition.
Remember those expressions like, "talk is cheap" or "put your money where your mouth is" and the like?  It is one thing to wish for a wonderful planet, but another when it comes to who has to the dirty work and how to pay for it.
Fairness and fair share arguments kick in, and they kick in faster than the time it takes you to yell "climate change":
The activists calculate that rich countries need to boost their domestic reductions from 5.5 billion tons to 9.1 billion tons. They also call for "a vast expansion of international finance, technology and capacity-building support." This means the rich countries should provide poor countries with the wherewithal to reduce by 15.1 billion tons the greenhouse gases they would otherwise have emitted. ...
What do the activists think is the U.S.'s fair share of reductions? Historically, the U.S. is responsible for about 30 percent of the cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide since 1850. The fair share activists calculate that the United States is promising to cut its annual emissions by only 2 billion tons by 2030. Without going into the arcana of the climate equity calculations, the activists argue that the U.S. should instead cut its emissions by the equivalent of 13 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2030. 
If you even remotely think that the most affluent country that the planet has ever known will even remotely agree to paying for fairness, well, I have only these words for you: lobotomy by Dr. Carson!

Shikha Dalmia adds to these:
Western countries, especially America, have been arguing that China and India with their billion-plus people and dirty energy sources are a major part of the problem. Therefore, unless they do their "fair share" to cut — not just slow the rate of — their emissions, no amount of mitigation by the West will make a dent in global temperatures.
However, India and China counter by dragging out the West's historic emissions. ... As these countries see it, America (as the rest of the Western world) is in their ecological debt. It needs to put itself on a drastic energy diet — and effectively undo the industrial revolution that has generated untold wealth for it. Especially since India has used only 7 percent of its share. "For the sake of the world's future, American lifestyle can no longer remain non-negotiable," froths India's leading environmentalist, Sunita Narain.
The Indian stand is understandable:
Over 300 million Indians still live below the poverty line, earning less than $1 per day. India's per capita energy consumption is 15 times less than the United States'. India has to keep boosting its energy use — and therefore carbon emissions — for at least another two decades to eliminate dire poverty
The selfish gene is not wired for fairness, it seems.


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