A gorgeously mild winter in Beijing – at what cost?

I believe in caution when looking at the day’s or week’s or season’s weather and seeing it as evidence for or against the issue of climate change. So I approach at least one of the claims expressed in this article with a degree of skepticism. Still, the article is important.

China has no plans to radically change its reliance on coal and other dirty fuels despite already feeling the impacts of global warming, according to a leading Chinese meteorologist. In the first official Chinese response to a stark UN report issued last week on climate change, Qin Dahe said China lacked the technology and financial resources for a wholesale conversion to cleaner energy sources.

“To replace 70 percent of China’s energy consumption really takes a lot of money,” Qin, who was one of the main authors of the report, told a press conference.

The UN report blamed human activities for global warming and warned that the Earth’s average surface temperatures could rise by between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees by 2100. China is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the United States.

As press reports said Beijing was experiencing its warmest February on record, Qin said unseasonably warm temperatures and other weather phenomena in China looked like evidence of climate change.

“We can say this winter has been a very warm one (in Beijing). This is clearly related to the tendency of global warming,” said Qin, the head of the China Meteorological Association. Qin said a recent severe drought in southwestern China and lower water levels on the Yangtze River also bore the hallmarks of climate change

Whether this year’s warm winter weather and southwestern drought actually back up arguments of global warming I can’t say. What I can say is that it’s a pity to learn the air and water will remain as polluted as ever, and the soot stains adorning many walls, many human faces and even entire cities aren’t going away anytime soon. I have to wonder about China lacking the resources and the technology. One thing I’m convinced of is that the government can somehow find whatever funding is necessary when it truly wants to do something (like design satellite-zapping missiles or host the Olympics).

And, as usual, the same goes for the US. While we somehow can come up with endless streams of cash to support our beloved war in Iraq, there never seems to be much left over (relatively) to invest in alternative energy. As usual, it’ll only be when the problem is life-threateningly acute that they’ll somehow, as if by magic, find the money for a solution, though by then it may be too late.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

I absolutely and compeletly couldnt agree more…this post is the first one to raise a response from me.
obviously nations need resources to maintain growth and their very existence but should that be at the expense of everything else? i.e. environment for China, mid east regional security for the states.
both nations equally bloody-minded about all this at the moment, which kind of fills me with dread…

February 8, 2007 @ 5:46 pm | Comment

Even if China doesn’t have the financial resources to make its energy sources cleaner, if it doesn’t make an effort then there might be a lower chance the U.S. will make a full blown effort to reduce carbon emissions. And I’m guessing a bunch of other developing nations like China, even if they do have funding to change to renewable energy sources, will hide behind China’s immobility as an excuse…

Either way, I’m filled with dread too =(

February 9, 2007 @ 2:54 pm | Comment

Let’s not forget holier-than-thou Europe and Canada, who signed off on the Kyoto Protocol, scolded the US for not signing it, but are hopelessly over their agreed to limits.

The US gov’t is foot dragging as long as The Dark Lord Of Oil and Industry is in the VP’s office, but most US states are rushing to build massive windfarms and both biodiesel and cellulose ethanol plants to get off to a running start and make cash off of ethanol exports.

Europeans love to scold the US, while their immigrants riot and burn cars due to being cast into ghettos and expected to shine shoes and carry luggage like the good old days.

February 10, 2007 @ 6:30 am | Comment

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