Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Global warming in Tokyo

It's not even July yet and already Tokyo has set a new highest-ever record as the temperature hit 36.2. For those who are "Celsius impaired," 36.2 translates to 97.16 F, but with the humidity factored in, it felt like 101. Way too hot for June! This doesn't bode well for the rest of summer.

Around the world temperatures are soaring, including in Europe. In 2003 there were over 30,000 deaths in Italy and France due to sustained high temperatures, and there's worry now that another catastrophic heat wave will claim more lives this summer.

Global warming is a reality, not "misguided science," and the U.S. is foolish and shortsighted to withdraw from the Kyoto Accords to reverse global warming. As a nation that uses more fossil fuel than any other country, and that dumps more chemicals into the atmosphere than anyone else, it seems only fitting that we should take more responsibility for cleaning up the mess.

Isn't it amazing how political coffers lined by big polluters' donations have the potential to kill millions of people around the planet? Where's the outrage?


ThoperSought said...

"...dumps more chemicals into the atmosphere than anyone else..."

Um... What about India, and China, not to mention other developing nations, which were exempted from the Kyoto Accords?

In the U.S., we have quite strict environmental controls, which have changed the course of many industries, from logging and mining, to manufacturing.

In China and India—the most populous nations in the world—they have almost no controls.

How about Russia, and all the former Soviet Republics? They pollute more than the U.S., too.

Absolutely Tokyo! said...

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate all feedback.

According to my research:
"The US contains 4% of the world's population but produces about 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions. By comparison, Britain emits 3% - about the same as India which has 15 times as many people"
BBC: The US and climate change

If you're interested, take a look at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/ in_depth/sci_tech/2001/climate_change/chinafacts.stm
for a chart that shows the world's biggest CO2 polluters.

The U.S. is first on the list. China produces half the U.S. level, and Russia and India combined produce only half the U.S. level.

Granted, as China, Russia and India continue their economic pursuits, their pollution levels will continue to rise, but right now we've got 'em beat for air pollution.

You mentioned the strict environmental controls over such industries as mining, but according to my research, mining is the single biggest polluter in America and occupies all ten positions of the "Top 10 Polluters" scorecard.

I guess what I'm trying to stress is that we're all in this together, and it's incumbent on every country to do whatever possible to reduce pollution of the air, waterways, oceans, and land. Because America is the single biggest polluter, it should certainly be a part of the Kyoto Accords.


ThoperSought said...

This whole issue is more complex than that.

I haven't researched this. I probably should. But I'm just curious, as a first-response kind of thing, why are all the ones you reference CO2 emissions? Is that some kind of index for other pollutants? There are many far worse pollutants, including other greenhouse gasses, are there not?

You're right, we are all in this together. That's why it's absolutely necessary that we look at the whole picture, rather than just the easy parts. The U.S. is a very easy target, especially given how internally divided we are on nearly every relevant issue.

What about China and India being exempted from the Kyoto accords? That seems like a really glaring omission to me. If China, Russia, and India combined are producing as much pollution as the U.S., that is as much reason to demand that they participate as to demand that the U.S. participate.

Finally, and again I haven't checked on this, who compiled your statistics? How did they compile them? A history professor I had once told us a story about a student who quoted a study at him about cigarettes not causing cancer, or somesuch. As it turns out, the study was commissioned, very indirectly, by a tobacco company.

My overall problem with this situation can be summed up by the post-consumer recycling situation. Recycling pollutes quite a bit. The impurities in the recycled materials have to go somewhere, and that somewhere is, in many cases, into our air and water. Plus, most recycled materials can be used something like a maximum of 6 times. Further, aluminum is the only material that is currently cost-effective to recycle.

All this not to say that we shouldn't recycle. We should. But people have gotten it into their heads that recycling is the saviour of the world. It's ridiculous. Because of our attitude towards recycling, we totally fail to reuse things that could easily be reused with considerably less environmental impact.

I'm just guessing, but, considering that deposit bottles from at least as early as the 60s are still in use (last time I checked) at the Dublin Dr. Pepper bottling plant, I estimate (completely without information to back this up) that we could get, say conservatively 1000 uses out of a bottle, on average, before it would have to be recycled. So, let's see. 6 uses, then landfill. 6000 uses, then landfill. Which is better?

And yet no one advocates this. A very nice guy I know, who I'm sure votes democrat or green in every election, once told me, "no, it's recyclable," when I offered to let him refill my bottle of a product he makes. I had the bottle right there, but instead he handed me a fresh bottle of the product.

I freely admit I don't have a lot of statistics to back all this up. I'm sure I could find some, but I certainly couldn't guarantee their validity. I, likewise, don't trust your statistics. How, precisely, do they measure those emissions? Are there alternate ways of measuring them? How much is actually measured, vs. estimated? Do they, for example, measure only one day's output, and multiply it by 250 days? Who gets to pick what day they do the measuring? Do they actually measure every factory?What's the accuracy of the calculations they do to estimate the final totals? How can they possibly do anything more than a rough estimate for any country where there aren't emission controls? Do India, China, and Russia have any emission controls at all?

Finally, my point is that the whole thing is not nearly as simple as most people would like it to be. And "it's awfully hot this year, and it was pretty damned hot last year," is no evidence for global warming.