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Climate Warming

The climate for fighting climate change just got noticeably more cordial. Historically, the two biggest stumbling blocks to reducing carbon emissions have been China, which is the world’s largest source (accounting for 29% of the global total annually), and the US (at 15%).

Even though China is the largest source of carbon today, that statistic is slightly misleading as China has four times the number of people, so it pollutes less per person than the US. In addition, until around ten years ago, the US held the record as the largest source of carbon. If you count all carbon emissions since 1751 (and they are cumulative), then the US has emitted 2.5 times the amount of carbon as China.

However you figure it, the US and China have been the major stumbling blocks to reducing carbon emissions.

But that is now old news. In a dramatic change, the US and Chinese presidents shook hands on Tuesday over a deal that will see China cap its carbon emissions and the US cut its emissions by at least 26%.

China will increase non-polluting energy sources so that their share is greater than the energy China produces from coal. In fact, China will build alternative energy capacity that will be greater than the total electricity generation capacity of the US.

It is expected that this breakthrough will put strong pressure on other countries (including India and Brazil) to agree to reduce carbon emissions.

Predictably, the Republicans attacked the agreement, even though 58% of US voters say that climate change is a serious problem. The GOP has pledged to make it a priority to roll back Obama’s measures on the environment. But what did we expect from the Party of No? After all, the new Republican majority leader of the Senate is from Kentucky, one of the major producers of coal.

Republicans have long used China as an excuse to do nothing about climate change in the US. Watch them in their own words:

In fact, on Monday evening (the evening before the announced agreement) Charles Krauthammer appeared on Fox News and said that Obama should push for a climate agreement with China, saying “if we get one with China we have something real.” Just last week, Krauthammer said on Fox News “if he gets an agreement with China, which he won’t, but that’s the one area it would be historic.”

Now that China is onboard, Fox News has changed their tune and is now calling the agreement with China a “War on Coal”. It never ends.



  1. ThatGuy wrote:

    Love the swap from “It’d be great if Obama could do this but he’s incompetent so he won’t” to “Look at this terrible thing he’s done.”

    Friday, November 14, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  2. rk wrote:

    I suspect China has anticipated this. If, for any reason, the Republicans can kill the deal, then China can claim to have put forward an honest effort while refusing to deal with us again on the issue.

    I’m not convinced that the US could even get companies to comply with this agreement given the political climate these days.

    Friday, November 14, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    It isn’t just industry. It is clothes dryers, air-conditioning, heating a whole house, driving to the mall, using an automatic washing machine instead of a wringer, using a dishwasher instead of two hands, using disposable this and that, on and on and on. It isn’t for someone else to save the environment, it is for each of us. I grew up with automatic washer, dishwasher, dryer, disposable napkins, paper towels. I remember discussing with my sister 54 years ago how wasteful all this was, how train was the least wasteful way of travel, etc. I’ve watched the human race destroy itself.

    Friday, November 14, 2014 at 6:33 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    Actually, commercial and residential use together are responsible for only 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. In the US, electricity production from burning coal and natural gas alone accounts for 32% of our greenhouse gas output. Transportation accounts for 28%. So either one of those alone is more than enough to get us to the agreed upon 26% reduction. See

    I say this because people worry that in order to reduce greenhouse gases, we will have to suffer, give up things, or that it will kill jobs. And this is simply not true. By telling people that they have to wash their dishes by hand or stop using paper towels (in order to reduce greenhouse gases), many people will just give up on the idea of fighting climate change. And that’s bad. Because we can stop using fossil fuels while raising our standard of living. We can dramatically reduce greenhouse gases, and still have modern conveniences and more jobs. And we will reap other benefits, including fewer more wars for oil, less pollution, no more acid rain and oil spills, the elimination of billions of dollars of tax subsidies for fossil fuels, and a more stable economy (no longer affected by volatile energy prices). It can be a win-win.

    Friday, November 14, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Sheesh, now Krauthammer is saying that if Obama issues executive action on immigration, that it would be an “impeachable offense”. Yes, of course he said it on Fox News. Yes, it never, ever ends. See

    Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink
  6. Jon wrote:

    Sure… and Krauthammer, constitutional scholar that he is, would know. Oh, oops. It’s Obama who is the constitutional scholar, while Krauthammer is actually a journalist.

    On the other hand, one definition of “impeachable offense” is, anything for which impeachment of a sitting president might be attempted by the opposition party… which now controls both the House and the Senate.

    Would the GOP really be that much happier with a Biden presidency? Or is this just another time waster?

    Monday, November 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink