Civilisation is awful: Let's stop it right now
On China, India and CO2
Andrew's mailbag "Let's find out what everybody is doing - and stop them doing it" - A P Herbert
Last week, the UN's Nobel Prize-winning climate jobsworth, Raj Pachuri, said he thought anti-industrialisation measures should not be taken against China and India. It's just one man's opinion, but a politically significant one: Pachuri heads the UN's IPCC climate panel.
Punishing economic development is the primary policy choice for climate activists, but it isn't a popular view shared in countries where development is most needed. And which happen to be developing at a great pace, bringing health and education benefits and opportunities to 1.5bn people.
Here's a selection of views on development from my mailbag, starting with an excellent one from Aron. The very idea that China is only just becoming technologically advanced is a bit cocky, he writes;
It's quite remarkable that we keep hearing that the West's industrial revolution was the start of any form of industrial development at all. The world has been industrialising for five thousand of years and humans have been burning wood, coal, bitumen and oil for many thousands of years more.
When a Chinese official says they should be exempt from the same punitive carbon controls that are being imposed on the West because they are still a developing nation, they should be reminded of their proud nationalist boast that China was a developed nation back when Europeans were still sacrificing people to trees and peat bogs? After all, there was never a period when we can say that China or India deindustrialised. Their progress had simply slowed down compared to the West for a relatively short period. China and India's experiment with socialism was the one time when its development slowed the most.
Even under the shadow of imperialism they experienced greater economic growth than under socialism. Now both nations have returned to a faster pace of development, mostly spurred on by their population size and in India's case, a caste system that creates a continual flow of cheap labour from the lower castes.
We need to bust the myth that industrialisation is a new thing, or an "evil western capitalist ideology". That would give the modern world's critics (Socialists, Islamists and Greens alike) something difficult to tackle. Global Warming Alarmists will have to explain why the historical global temperature record doesn't correlate to thousands of years of human population growth and carbon emissions when they no longer have just the last 150 years and the West to pick on.
Though the title makes me itch, the content makes me want to scream. It appears as if the U.N. only stands for Useless Ninnies, not United Nations. It is long past time that those countries that are actually paying to keep the doors open at the UN had the last word on what that money was spent on. Either that or we should just walk out and start a new entity.
For the last 25 years, Asia and Central/South America have taken jobs away from more “developed” countries on the basis that their emission laws were non existent and our wages are “too high”. The sheer cost differential of compliance with US, CA, UK & EU emission law was one of the primary deciding cost factors for moving our manufacturing overseas. The greatest bang for your buck in emission control is the simple stuff like having automatic air fuel ratio control for Oil, Coal or Gas fired combustion applications. This gets things running reasonably well by reducing NOx, SOx, & CO to tolerable levels (less smog if not compliant with carbon hair shirt requirements) while increasing combustion efficiency (better fuel economy equals lowered emissions).
The next step involves electrostatic precipitators to remove particulates (more expensive, but they would not have to shut down the power plants and factories during Olympics), followed by some kind of wet or dry scrubbing technology to remove the actual toxic gas components (much more expensive, hard to maintain and operate, but much less smog). This technology also has the benefit of being able to produce gypsum from the waste to make drywall. The developed countries have already done this work but less developed countries do not care and will not spend the money to meet emission regulations unless they are forced to.
The “developed” countries should be the ones instituting a “carbon tax” on countries that do not comply with our more severe emission requirements. Furthermore, instead of ruining our economy’s by sending all manufacturing overseas (fat cat corporations can KMA), anyone who wants to sell into our trade zones should be required to have 50% local manufacturing content by WEIGHT. This will mean that heavy industries like steel, aluminum, glass, casting, smelting, forging, rolling, machining etc will have to stay located where the product is being consumed. This not only saves jobs but saves excess carbon by reducing the global shipment of these items. The incremental cost of reducing source emissions is too high for developed nations as we have already done all the “easy” stuff that was possible.
Instead of allowing governments (and the corporations that run them) to drive our wages down and break our unions, we should be organizing workers in India and China to form unions. We are already down as low as we can go without complete collapse and anarchy. The developing nations have to rise to meet our wage levels and manufacturing environmental requirements now!
But wait! Economic development, writes Philip Fletcher, is awful. We must stop everyone else practicing it.
We are simply exporting our manufacturing pollution to cheaper, less regulated places on the planet - and as a by-product are encouraging citizens and governments of those countries to consume (and therefore pollute) on a massive scale.
I invited Philip to elaborate.
Poor but happy
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