Assuming we're going to continue this discussion without allowing Brightnoon to derail it (we accept you don't believe it but we're not here to prove anything to you), I thought I'd bring up the subject of the emerging economies and the Third World and how they intend to argue environmental ethics and justice.
An article in today's Times of India reveals how they're going to focus on "carbon space" in conjunction with presenting the West's profligate energy use as a plague of gluttony and greed for which they, and the Third Worlders, are paying the price. It's a clever but apparently effective tactic to draw the Third World into their fold, leaving the West isolated. Here is the thrust of the argument:
"If the current fleet of 25-40 million gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles (SUVs) in the United States were to shift to more fuel-efficient cars such as those available in Europe, more than 1.6 billion people in the world currently living in the dark can be provided electrification without any increase in the levels of greenhouse gases that lead to climate change.
"Phasing out the oversized, power-packed SUVs, considered the hallmark of a Midwestern dream in the US, would reduce global emissions by a whopping 36 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, according to the World Bank's yet-to-be-released World Development Report 2009.
"This is only one example of the "duplicity" of the industrialized nations that the WDR highlights to prove that "carbon space" is inequitably powering the luxurious lifestyles of the rich at the cost of the poorer nations. Carbon space is an individual's or a country's share of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.
"The report, the draft overview of which was seen by TOI, now points out that the 1 billion people living in the high income countries are using 63% more carbon space than is their fair share on a per capita basis if one were to analyze the emissions since 1990.
"India, for decades, has demanded at the UN climate negotiations that it must be given a greater 'carbon space' in the atmosphere to allow its 600 million poor access to electricity. The industrialized nations have argued that if India grows and powers its poor, the already limited space left in the atmosphere to spew out GHG gases would lead to irreversible and dangerous climate change."
What India is planning is to take our cherished Western ideals of fairness and equity and club us over the head with them. Instead of vague promises of such and such a percentage reduction in emissions by this date or that, the Indians are shifting the focus to "carbon space."
The Indians are relying on two studies released this year that have identified the amount of carbon dioxide the earth's atmosphere can handle before triggering unacceptable warming (the 2 degree target). They looked at pre-industrial levels, how much has been added since and then worked out a remarkably specific estimate for the permissible balance.
Once you've reached that point the only question remains who gets how much of the remaining capacity? The Indians want to fix quotas. And they want it done on a per capita basis. The snag is that would require the West to implement an immediate, 63% carbon emissions reduction.
The worst part of India's argument (for us anyway) is that it doesn't seek redress for emissions imbalances of the past. They can point to our greed and gluttony instead to reinforce their argument for a per capita allocation of the remaining "carbon space."
Here's the rub. I know, you know and the Indians along with everyone else knows that the West isn't willing to shut down tomorrow to achieve the identified 63% emissions cuts. So, how do we respond?
Can we ethically claim that we need those SUVs to fetch our groceries? Can we ignore them and maintain that we must continue to have a superior claim to the remaining carbon space? Do we fall back on might is right?
It strikes me that there are a few arguments available to the West. One is to tell India (and China) that it bears responsibility for the inevitable effects of its 1.3-billiion strong overpopulation. Another might be to argue that, if they won't see it our way on overpopulation, quotas ought to be allocated taking into account several factors, including each nation's landmass. Living in an enormously underpopulated country like Canada, that last one has an obvious appeal.
But in all seriousness, this climate change debate may force us to devise a new philosophy for how we all shall interact in the future.
---------- Post added at 09:19 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:44 AM ----------
Kennethamy, nobody is talking about a return to horsedrawn anything. You're setting up straw men to show you can knock them down. Anything serious to say?