On Monday, June 2nd, President Obama announced the most sweeping climate plan of his presidency. The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) was first created by Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970. And for its latest and most ambitious undertaking, it will bypass a gridlocked Congress to mandate unprecedented restrictions on coal production in the United States; it will also seek to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2030. To put simply, many of those coal-fired power plants will have to be shut down to meet these standards. For more information on the E.P.A.'s plan, click here.
~ President Obama's historic Climate-Change plan.
While some environmentalists are encouraged by the president's actions, they are still concerned about his support for hydraulic fracking (used mostly to produce cleaner natural gas) that has made the U.S. into a global energy superpower. And they are still worried about his indecision on the Keystone XL pipeline; read our latest article on this topic: "Obama Likely To Approve Keystone XL," click here. Many also argue that a reduction in emissions does not stop the U.S. from exporting fossil fuels to other countries like China. And more extreme environmentalists are saying Obama is not doing enough; they want the U.S. to move aggressively and massively toward renewable energy.
~ Obama cracks down on coal. Environmentalists are cautious.
From the Right, the president's critics are saying that his new plan will be harmful to the economy, cutting tens of thousands of jobs in the fossil-fuel and power industries. As of 2012, there are approximately 570 coal-fired plants in the U.S. that generate about 44% of its electricity and account for about 39% of the nation's CO2 emissions. Conservatives also argue that no matter what the U.S. does to its own economic detriment, other countries like China and India will simply continue to burn coal to gain an economic advantage over the United States.
While FrogBook.com supports President Obama's plan, let us just digress for a moment to look at what China is doing to this planet in regard to pollution and carbon emissions. As of 2013, China produces just under half of the world's coal, and about four times that of the United States. Chinese coal generates about 79% of that nation's electricity. As of 2012, China has about 620 coal-fired plants. And it intends build to another 160 by 2016 – that's about one per week. Based on 2010 estimates, China accounts for over 26% of the world's carbon emissions. And this figure is expected to go even higher.
The problem with China and other developing countries is that coal is a cheap source of power, and it's plentiful in China. In fact, coal is not only used by its power plants, but also by millions of households in rural areas for cooking and heating. Cakes made of coal dust are often kept in boxes outside of the dwelling, not unlike how logs were kept at a cabin back in the day.
~ Coal cakes or briquettes used for heating and cooking in China.
China's smog not only has real – though gradual – effects on the global climate over the long run, it has an immediate and severe impact on the air quality of entire nations just outside of China, such as Korea and Japan. These are difficult-to-measure health and economic costs imposed by China on its neighbors; these costs are called "externalities," click here.
So, are the U.S. conservatives such as the Tea Partiers and Libertarians right in their assessment of President Obama's climate plan as being futile?
~ China's smog engulfs another nation.
The president's curbs on carbon emissions are sound. America's resolve to reduce emissions will give it the credibility and leadership status it needs to encourage other nations to reduce their emissions. Any reduction in CO2 by the U.S. is just that much less for our atmosphere to contend with, buying the planet a little bit more time. And China's actions are not totally out of the control of the rest of the world, especially the United States and the European Union. This is because in the age of Globalization, all our economies are intricately linked.
China's Trading Partners ~ U.S. and E.U. are China's largest trading partners.
The U.S. and the E.U. are China's largest buyers of manufactured products, goods that take carbon emissions to make. And they can exert pressure on China in regard to carbon emissions. But weren't the U.S. and E.U. themselves manufacturing powerhouses in their own right just decades ago? So, what happened to them?
What really happened here over the past decades was that as the modern economies began to clean up their own environment through regulations, their industries moved their operations to developing countries for the cheap labor, lax regulations, and lower taxes. Then they would burn up more fossil fuel by shipping the finished goods back to their own countries for consumption.
~ Source: World Bank. (Click on image to enlarge.)
One could argue that Chinese people also consume manufactured goods, not just the Americans and Europeans – true, but by a far less extent. The GDP per capita in the U.S is almost eight times that of China's. Per capita, the U.S. has over seven and a half times more automobiles than China. The U.S. uses three and a half times more energy per capita than China. And emissions per capita in the U.S. is over three times that of China's, even though the Chinese do most of the manufacturing work, breathing in all that pollution in the process. In essence, the West imports finished goods from the developing world and exports the filth to nations like China and its neighbors. The Western manufacturers make most of the profits while the local workers make a living wage.
~ The truth behind one of the world's most profitable companies.
FrogBook.com would like our readers to think of their own responsibilities to the climate every time they buy that cheap item that was shipped across the ocean to their local dollar-store. We invite our readers to consider living more modestly and to buy more from local farmers and manufactures that have to operate under better labor and environmental regulations. This and President Obama's climate plan will have real effects not only on the U.S., but also on China and other countries around the world in the reduction of global carbon emissions.
~ New York City three decades ago. This smog is now in China.
Updated (Aug. 2, 2015): Obama's America's Clean Power Plan.
UPDATE: China Follows U.S. With A Cap On Carbon
(June 5, 2014) Experts believe that China's announcement on it's own caps on CO2 emissions just one day after the White House's announcement is no coincidence. President Obama's climate plan and Beijing's response to it may be a signal to other countries around the world that NOW is the time to act on Climate Change.
~ China follows the U.S. in capping carbon emissions.
UPDATE: Oil Crash Could End Fracking & Oil Sands
(December 19, 2014) Read our article on how the drop in oil prices can destroy shale and tar sands oil, click here.
UPDATE: Mini Ice Age Coming In 2030: Scientists
(July 19, 2015) Read our article on how solar activity changes the Earth's climate, click here.
UPDATE: Nuclear Power Is Best For Climate Change
(August 20, 2015) Read our article on why nuclear power is the only realistic way to cut out all carbon, click here.
For related articles in the Frog Blog:
- Nuclear Power Is Best For Climate Change Click here.
- Mini Ice Age Coming In 2030: Scientists Click here.
- Oil Crash Could End Fracking & Oil Sands Click here.
- Obama Likely To Approve Keystone XL Click here.
- U.N. Climate Report Spells Disaster Click here.
- Arctic Ice Grew By 30% – Global Cooling? Click here.
- Keystone Pipeline Would Be A Disaster Click here.
- Arctic Ice Melts To Lowest Level Ever Click here.
- Rick Perry Calls Global Warming A Hoax Click here.
- Climate-Change Deniers Gain In Congress Click here.
- Palin Blames "Greenies" For BP Oil Spill Click here.