Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Giving Up On Fighting Global Warming

That is what Robert J. Samuelson did in yesterday's Washington Post (I have not picked on him for awhile, time to gt back at it).  The new UN report on global climate change has brought from him a giant shrug of the shoulders along the lines of, so what?  He makes three arguments.

The first is that we do not have the technology to do anything.  Only 4% of total energy is coming from renewables he says, by which he means solar and wind. But there is also geothermal, hydro, and nuclear.  They add up to quite a bit more.  Maybe we have reached the limits on the first two and lack political will to do more on the third, although it is still expanding in China and in some other nations.  But this seems overly pessimistic.

Then he gets into a rant about how in the US there is no focus on the future.  That may be true, but emphasizing that seems to be just giving up.  Every other nation in the world has signed the Paris Accord. Just because the current US administration has pulled out does not mean we cannot get back into it.

Finally he notes that we shall likely see further emissions from poorer nations, especially China and India.  That is certainly true.  But China in particular has begun to move against GHGs, and India is leading the world in efforts to develop clean and safe nuclear power using thorium the US gave up on in the 1950s because one cannot make nuclear weapons from it.  Really.  None of this seems like we should do nothing.

Just to make himself look really ridiculous, on the second argument he goes back to one of his longstanding bugaboos.  He concludes his argument on the lack of future orientation in the US by denoucing the lack of change in Social Security and Medicare, presumably meaning cuts in benefits as he has long advocated.  For me personally, I oppose this as I want to see my children and grandchildren get the same benefits I shall get.  I oppose cutting those benefits  out of my concern for future generations.  This is probably the most  shameful part of what is already a pretty shameful piece by him.

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...

Another excellent and needed essay.

Tom Humphrey said...

Agree with you completely, Barkley. Excellent analysis and take down.
----Tom Humphrey

Kien said...

On Australian TV, I heard a TV journalist (whom I would usually regard as reasonable) argue with some UK commentator that Australia should’t Have to do more to mitigate carbon emission because China is still growing carbon emissions. This is on Australia’s public broadcaster, the ABC!

It’s exasperating that some Australian journalists don’t seem to grasp the urgency of climate action, and keeps using China (not the US!) as an excuse for inaction. I just don’t understand how the mainstream media can be so complacent and parochial.

If anything, rich countries with high per capital emissions ought to do much much more than poor countries with low per capital emissions. Why is this basic principle of fairness and equity so hard for wealthy Westerners to understand? Yes, Beijing and Shanghai are undoubtedly as rich as any other Western capital city, it the vast majority of China’s population remain poor, and emit less carbon per capital than Western countries.

Mainstream media and journalists, wake up! Climate change, fostering inclusive growth and ending the global refugee crisis are the 3 key challenges for our generation. You (the media) are not merely a neutral observer. Your neglect has harmful consequences for future generations!

Anonymous said...


There is a strain of prejudice against China in Australia that repeatedly startles me, and public broadcaster ABC reflects this prejudice. Of course this is self-defeating, but how this is to lessen is unclear.