Tuesday, March 11, 2008

China too must act on climate change

China's Three Gorges Dam and its many other hydroelectric projects will not get the world's largest carbon emitter off the hook. Nations of the developing world must be party to any meaningful initiative to reduce climate change. This much is clear from a report published today in Washington Post (via OTB):

The task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions enough to avert a dangerous rise in global temperatures . . . would require the world to cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades.

. . . findings, published in separate journals over the past few weeks, suggest that both industrialized and developing nations must wean themselves off fossil fuels by as early as mid-century in order to prevent warming that could change precipitation patterns and dry up sources of water worldwide.

Using advanced computer models to factor in deep-sea warming and other aspects of the carbon cycle that naturally creates and removes carbon dioxide (CO2), the scientists, from countries including the United States, Canada, and Germany, are delivering a simple message: The world must bring carbon emissions down to near zero to keep temperatures from rising further.

This is a big story. First, because it indicates China, India, and other developing countries will have to be part of the solution. Second, these findings redefine the magnitude of the challenge. And they do so at a time when many bright people still don't get it -- the subject of my next post.

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