“We cannot survive our way out of climate change denial”
June 27, 2020 – The rhetoric of climate change claiming that reducing greenhouse gases is detrimental to job creation and economic growth in the United States negates the fact that there will be no jobs if there is no planet. The Beltway Beast mind-set of having a binary choice of either pollution or jobs ignores the fact that more than 155,000 deaths in 2015 were related to pollution in America. Pollution alone could create lifelong health problems for the MI Generation and their children since it is associated with respiratory conditions and weaker immune system. The Trump administration blames China and India as the world’s leading polluters, which is true, but the United States is also one of the top three polluters.
The argument that China and India are big polluters and, therefore, America should also be one of the main polluters is self-defeating and suicidal. America does not need to compete with China and India in killing its people by producing more greenhouse gases from the use of fossil fuels. China and India are both paying a heavy price in reduced productivity and the mortality of their people. In 2015, China had 1.8 million deaths linked to pollution, and India had 2.5 million. That translates to about five thousand Chinese and seven thousand Indian deaths per day. Beijing is one of the top-ten cities with the highest levels of air pollution in the world. The city government, in December 2016, ordered twelve hundred factories to shut down because of the dangerous level of smog.
The Trump administration and a majority of Republican congressional leaders continue to deny that there is global warming. Therefore, they do not see any need to reduce carbon emissions, be part of international protocols, or solve the environmental problems facing the nation. Climate change is a long-term phenomenon, and its detrimental impact may not materialize for decades. Th e Trump administration will be long gone before that occurs. Therefore, the administration does not have to bear the responsibility of denying global warming while leaving the MI generation to live with the consequences.
Some climate change deniers do not even seem to know the difference between weather and climate change. Weather is a short-term behavior of the atmosphere, whereas climate change is a long-term pattern of the weather. Back in February 2015, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma brought a snowball inside the Senate chambers to demonstrate that global warming was not real. “It’s very cold out. Very unreasonable,” said Inhofe, then the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
The United States took the lead when it passed the Clean Air Act in 1955. This legislation is considered one of the first and most comprehensive air-quality laws in the world. However, over the last two decades, the United States has abrogated its responsibility as the sole superpower leading the world on combating global warming. Instead of being the instigator, it rejected two major international treaties on curtailing carbon emissions and isolated itself from the world. Former president George W. Bush in June 2005 stated:
“Kyoto would have wrecked our economy. I couldn’t in good faith have signed Kyoto . . . The treaty did not require other big polluters such as India and China to cut emissions”
This landmark agreement was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 and ratified by 144 nations. It targeted carbon dioxide and five other gases that can trap heat in the atmosphere and that are believed to be behind the rising global temperature. China, India, and other countries, as carbon polluters, were used as scapegoats that would place the United States at an economic disadvantage.
Twelve years later, President Trump used similar rhetoric when he decided to walk away from the Paris climate accord in June 2017. He stated:
“I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States (which is what it does), the world’s leader in environmental protection, while imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters” [referring to China and India as the world’s leading polluters].
The Paris climate agreement is a nonbinding agreement and responds to the climate change threat by limiting the increasing global temperature. All signatory countries pledged to work toward keeping the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and continuing to lower it, to 1.5°C. Each country agreed to meet specific targets by specific dates toward that goal. The accord was signed by every country except the United States. Not only is the United States not leading the world at a critical juncture in this planet’s life, but it is delegating its leadership to China.
China is so focused on reducing its carbon footprint that it has become the second-biggest importer of liquefied natural gas. Air quality in Beijing, known as one of the most notoriously smoggy cities, has improved by 41 percent compared to historical trends. China is even planning to end the sale of gasoline and diesel cars, joining with France and Britain. In July 2017, France and Britain announced that they will stop sales of gasoline and diesel automobiles by 2040 as part of an effort to reduce the pollution and carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
China created 3.5 million renewable energy–related jobs in 2015 compared to 1 million in the United States, and it is projected to create 13 million more jobs by 2020 in that sector. It is also on track to generate more than a quarter of its electricity from wind power by 2030 and claims to be the world’s leader in wind energy. Five of the six largest solar module producing firms in the world are Chinese, and these companies reduced their solar panel costs by 30 percent in 2016, leaving the United States behind in the solar energy sector.
Let us assume that Republicans are right and that there is no global warming. Then the question is, what is the harm in developing renewable sources of energy? The Beltway Beast spends billions of dollars supposedly to keep America safe but has no problem with the deaths of thousands of Americans because of climate change. According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report in 2017, the United States has lost $350 billion to extreme weather and fires over the last decade:
What if America invests that $350 billion in renewable energy? How many new jobs will it create?