Year 3, Month 6, Day 7: Well, I Guess You “Win” That Round.

Peter Passell offers a well-constructed argument in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Climate change, we are often told, is everyone’s problem. And without a lot of help containing greenhouse gas emissions from rapidly growing emerging market countries (not to mention a host of wannabes), the prospects of avoiding disaster are small to nil.

Now you tell us, retort policymakers in the have-less countries: How convenient of you to discover virtue only after two centuries of growth and unfettered carbon emissions.

Since you were the ones to get us into this mess, it’s your job to get us out. (The United States’ what-me-worry posture on climate change does not, of course, make the West’s efforts to co-opt the moral high ground any more convincing.)

This clash of wills is a bit more nuanced than that, but not much. Almost all the net growth in greenhouse gas emissions for the last two decades – and more than half the total emissions today – is coming from the developing world.

What’s more, most of the cheap opportunities for reducing emissions are to be found in the same countries. But as a matter of equity, it’s hard to argue with “you’ve had your turn, now it’s ours.” And it’s equally hard to see how the stalemate will be resolved before the world goes to hell in a plague of locusts (in some places, literally).

The comments are full of stupid denialists who have not, apparently, taken the trouble to read the article. Shocked, I tell you. Shocked. Sent May 28:

Any approach to an equitable assignment of responsibility for mitigating the impact of climate change is doomed to fail as long as citizens of the developed world find it easier to reject the existence of the greenhouse effect entirely. In the world’s poorest and least developed countries, climate-change denialism is an unaffordable luxury; it is only the economically privileged who are free to indulge in careless wishful thinking under the guise of “skepticism.”

Ask any rural agriculturist whether the climate has changed; the answer will be immediate and unequivocal. An Indian farmer facing the consequences of a vanishing monsoon is immune to the persuasions of a petroleum-sponsored news program.

Yes, poor countries need to invest in economic growth along with sustainable technology — but rich countries cannot claim moral ascendancy as long as their citizens prefer to reject the evidence of science in favor of thinly disguised arguments of convenience.

Warren Senders

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