“Forging Ahead With China on the Climate Crisis” November 2012

Audio for “Forging Ahead With China on the Climate Crisis”
WAMC

O.K., we now know who the next president will be not only in the United States but equally important in the People’s Republic given that China’s Not Very Communist Party has selected Xi Jinping to lead that enormous country. Yes, two nations especially well positioned to take on the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. That core irony the while homo-sapiens, us, — have been around for perhaps a hundred thousand years. It was only after the last ice age, that a more stable friendly environment that began some 15,000 years ago, allowed the emergence of complicated urban society in places like ancient Mesopotamia to develop. Yes, complicated civilizations that when compared to the hunter gather communities that proceeded them, were not all that different from how people lived until quite recently. In fact very familiar life styles until only some two hundred years ago when humanity’s mastery of fossil fuels began to energize modern civilization.

Yes, fossil fuels those wonderful new fuel sources that we have only just come to understand have ironically undermined the very climate stability that allowed for the creation of civilization in the first place. Thus pushing us into the scary era of extreme weather people are experiencing all over the world today.

Oh sure, both American candidates for the presidency Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were often disappointing to those of us who knew how serious the stakes were and of course it was a disaster that Mitt Romney allowed himself to be bullied by the “it’s not real crowd.”

And while President Obama carried out the biggest financial boost to the greener safer energy sources in American history even he has been unwilling to use the bully pulpit of the presidency, to explain to the American people how dire our situation really is.

And of course both presidential candidates took the low road by attacking China relentlessly during the campaign, attacking the very nation we need to work most closely with to take on the climate crisis.

America after all, given our enormous size, the historic length of our fossil fuel driven industrialization and the fact that it takes more than 100 years for heat trapping CO2 to dissipate from the upper atmosphere remains the single largest cumulative cause of what is happening to the planet globally, while China, forging head over the last generation with its own fossil fuel driven modernization has became the single largest annual emitter of greenhouse gases.

And I am not saying that we two countries have ignored the problem. Actually the Chinese in recent years has taken to green energy like a duck to water. Becoming the largest single investor in green energy globally and an enormous player in the world’s production of solar and wind energy. Meanwhile, the United States has been pushing its own massive green energy agenda.

But the only thing that matters is whether humanity is slowing the growth of greenhouse gases which we are not. No, the only way for humanity to have a real chance to arrest our accidental disruption of the climate stability we built human civilization within. Is if the two largest global players, themselves both climate change victims and manufacturing giants join hands to help humanity get through this challenge.

For President Obama for example, to enlist the only republican presidential contender willing in the last primary battles to speak the truth to the tea party climate change denial crowd. The former Governor of Utah and recent American Ambassador to China, John Huntsman, to become the new administration’s point person on Sino-American Climate Change cooperation.

And for Xi Jinping, China’s new leader to draw deeply from his own professional training as a chemical engineer from Tsinghua University — the MIT of China, to fully commit the People’s Republic to jointly take up with the United States this extraordinary challenge, a challenge that forced residents of both Beijing and New York City over the last few months to see their own showcase cities flooded with waters from what should most appropriately be called the Harbinger Storms of a new and dangerously destabilized climate system.

About Steven Leibo

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This entry was posted in American Politics, Asia, China, Energy, The Climate Crisis, WAMC Northeast Public Radio Commentaries. Bookmark the permalink.

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