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On China, India and CO2

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Poor but happy

He replied:

I have worked with many India colleagues who have witnessed the huge issues created by the very small of pockets of wealth in their country. The overwhelming vast majority of people in developing countries see no benefit - often quite the reverse as the gap between rich and poor becomes greater.

I also think the general usage of the term 'undeveloped' is incredibly arrogant. We appear only to be able to measure 'development' in $$$ terms. The social structures of India and China are far better developed than ours (or the US), except where the west has historically attempted to 'develop' the natives.

Do you really think bringing all nations on earth to the unsustainable level of 'development' as the UK and the US is good for current or future generations?

Ah, the weasel word "sustainable" - which is (almost) completely absent at El Reg, since it's so loaded with faulty assumptions. As far as I can tell, the logic of "sustainable development" looks something like this. The world can never be equal, and equality is a higher moral goal than prosperity. So while development here has given us miracles of health care such as lower infant mortality rates and longer life, and the freedom to choose a life more rewarding than following a cow round a field with a stick, other people shouldn't have those choices.

Never mind that everyone is getting wealthier, as Philip explains, equality trumps prosperity. Instead, they should be "poor but happy".

Now the problems Philip refers to - pollution and inequality - are genuine, but they're typical of countries in the early phase of rapid industralisation. These are remedied in later phases - unless you think China and India are incapable of remedying them, as we did.

And that's what racism looks like today. Once easy to spot with their uniforms, shaved heads and funny walks, racists are now far more likely to be reading the Guardian and wearing Birkenstocks.

Finally a puzzle - can readers help?

Why is it so hard to find out how much natural CO2 is thrown into the atmosphere annually? It's easy to find estimates of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The 26.4bn Gt [gigatonnes] figures is widely quoted, and comes from the IPCC4. (The IPCC's emission scenarios (SRES), which guesstimate cumulative emissions can be found here.) But good luck trying to find anything sensible on ocean emissions, plant respiration and things rotting.

Can anyone do better than the 700bn Gt I did on the back of an envelope? Mail me here.. ®

Andrew welcomes your comments

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