Monday, February 17, 2014

Rooting For China

The northeast is bracing for another snowstorm. Fifteen inches of the powdery stuff fell last week.

The southeast is coming off a freak ice storm that paralyzed Atlanta for 48 hours.

In some parts of the Midwest temps will start the week in the teens, rise into the 60’s at mid-week only to plummet back to sub-freezing by the weekend.

Meanwhile the far west is suffering through a record drought.

Is there any wonder that the debate over climate change has reared its ugly head?

The debate of course is whether man is causing or at the very least contributing to these climactic extremes by the way in which we produce goods and services. In laymen’s terms…there are those who believe that the greenhouse gases that we produce are causing the weather extremes that we have been experiencing. These folks want to see us reduce those emissions for the betterment of our quality of life.

Naturally there are those who stand in opposition. They say that these fluctuations in climate have been happening for centuries. They find absurd any notion that these fluctuations are manmade.

For the uneducated greenhouse gases are: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. They result from the burning of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, oil and various agricultural and industrial processes. Reducing these greenhouse gases is doable…but expensive. And therein lies the rub.

We are not going to get into the debate over whether or not the greenhouse gases that we produce are having a direct effect on our heat waves and snowfalls. What we know about science wouldn’t fill a thimble.

Here is what we do know.

We know that in 2008 the summer Olympics were held in Beijing China. Beijing is a city of 21 million people. Chinese laws limiting the emission of greenhouse gases are non-existent. Citizens routinely wear surgical masks to filter out the pollution. In 2008 the air was so thick with pollutants that you could cut it with a knife. During the weeks preceding the games the Chinese government shut down traffic and ordered manufacturing facilities to cease operations to allow the air to clear. The Chinese government acted not out of concern for the athletes or its citizens but to avoid the embarrassment of having photos of the filthy skies broadcast around the world. Their attempts at subterfuge were all for naught and the world got to view first hand a society with little concern over the affects of greenhouse gases.

China leads the world in the production of green house gases.

The United States ranks a close second.

Heat waves and snowfalls aside…that’s one race we don’t want to win.

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