Magazine article New York Times Upfront

Global Warming: What the Next President Should Do: The Candidates Haven't Focused on One of the Biggest Challenges of This Century

Magazine article New York Times Upfront

Global Warming: What the Next President Should Do: The Candidates Haven't Focused on One of the Biggest Challenges of This Century

Article excerpt

Imagine that the United States instituted a much higher gas tax [like those in Europe) that reduced our auto emissions by 25 percent.

That would be a stunning achievement. The problem is, it would do very little to alleviate global, warming. In fact, just the increase in emissions from China would match any savings from the U.S. within nine months.

The increased use of coat to power new factories in booming Asian countries like China and India is raising concerns that the climate problem is actually much bigger than anticipated.

China and the U.S. each produce more than one fifth of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. And white China's emissions per capita are smaller, they are soaring as China's economy continues to grow at such a fast pace.

As a result, some experts are starting to say that reducing emissions is fine as far as it goes, but that more powerful remedies must also be investigated.

"We've gotten this hopelessly wrong," says Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental, studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "If we approach this from reducing emissions we get nowhere. Driving Priuses may be good, but it's not going to accomplish what we need."

It will be enormously difficult to persuade China and India to rely less on coal-fired power plants, and it will be utterly impossible unless we take serious steps ourselves.

"The message is, let's change tight bulbs and let's be more efficient," Pielke says. …

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