America: embarrassingly unique on climate change.

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There’s some good news on the global warming front.  Of the 66 countries responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse emissions, 61 of them are doing something about it with their legislation.

Out of 66 countries representing 88 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 61 of them have legislation aimed at cutting carbon pollution and promoting clean energy sources, according to an annual audit of climate change legislation released Thursday.

Good job world at getting your shit together!  Alright USA, how’s that American exceptionalism working out?  Surely, since we’re so exceptional, we can manage to live up to the minimum standard set by other, less exceptional nations.

Written By: JT Eberhard
continue to source article at patheos.com

20 COMMENTS

  1. This constitutes as a Crime against humanity amongst others – decades long which the rest of the world recognises and can only await the day when the great nation falls into line or eventually succumbs to a new global leader when the balance of power shifts…

    • In response to the last sentence of the article:

      We’ll go back to trying to stop gay people from marrying or eating at Christian restaurants while nations like Russia, China, and Mongolia mop up this mess..

      Um, has anyone else noticed something ridiculous here? It would be more accurate if it read, “We’ll go back to trying to stop gay people from marrying or eating at Christian restaurants while nations like Russia…er, um…have other ideas about gay people.

  2. “Surely….we can manage to live up to the standards set by other, less exceptional nations.”

    No…because we are now a third-world cesspool with a layer of greedy, power-hungry money-mongering scum floating on top of a murky abyss of oblivious idiots, with pathetically few intelligent, rational folks flailing around just trying to keep their nostrils above the corporate stench.

  3. When there are streams of vehicles going from one town to another in order to get to work , and jobs people could do from home but aren’t allowed or won’t , thats how to tell the governments and people are not serious about trying to negate the effects of existence .When car racing runs races at night spewing CO and CO2 not just from the car engines but from the generators lighting up the circuits , when Las Vegas is lit up like a Christmas Tree 24 hours a day and much of the world burns coal to keep warm and much of it burns coal to keep cool you know we are doomed , someday it’ll be time to put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye

  4. Economy first, got to get ahead. It’s all very short sighted.

    To be fair, I don’t really see any major country doing anything significant. We cant seem to get away from fossil fuels, and that’s that.

    • In reply to #7 by obzen:

      Economy first, got to get ahead. It’s all very short sighted.

      To be fair, I don’t really see any major country doing anything significant. We cant seem to get away from fossil fuels, and that’s that.

      France seems to be doing pretty well on its nuclear power program. Granted, “pretty well” is being used in a relative sense, given that it has had safety incidents and public protests, but it’s financially well off and its energy is considerably more efficient, and it at least shows that fossil fuels aren’t necessarily the be-all and end-all of modern power economies.

      Whether you’d want to trade in risky global warming and widespread mass extinctions for eyesores, radiation leaks, and barrels of long-lived toxic waste, however, is another matter entirely. At this stage, though, it’s just a question of what’s going to cause the least damage.

      • In reply to #8 by Zeuglodon:

        To be fair, I don’t really see any major country doing anything significant. We cant seem to get away from fossil fuels, and that’s that.

        France seems to be doing pretty well on its nuclear power program. Grant…

        For me it is no contest between fossil fuels and nuclear. Expanding nuclear fission power generation is the only way we will stop ourselves from being cooked by CO2 before fusion becomes commercially feasible. Wind and solar will never be able to provide more than a tiny fraction of the power needed to run the economies of the First World and rapidly modernizing China and India.

        AFAIR, France generates almost 80% of its power from nuclear and as a result has the cleanest air in the industrialized world. That is for me the greatest thing about nuclear is that the waste is pretty easy to keep in one place. If France has a facility similar to the soon to be operational Yucca Mountain in Nevada, it can be sealed away for the foreseeable geological future or it can be reprocessed where economically viable.

        On the safety front, the newer generation reactors being developed and built in nations where the Greenpeace nut bars haven’t stopped all new development and construction since the 1970′s (a la the U.S.A.) are orders of magnitude safer and more efficient than older generations. For instance, the reason the reactors at Fukushima failed from overheating, is because they are/were pressurized water reactors, that need an external source of power run the pumps circulating the water to keep cooling the reactor cores down to a safe level after a SCRAM (Emergency Shutdown). Because of infrastructure damage from the earthquake, the external power failed resulting in the clusterfuck we are now all so “familiar” with. Newer reactor designs use passive cooling systems that need no external power to function after a SCRAM and some designs that use Thorium for fuel are actually incapable of overheating to a dangerous level without shutting down.

        People who are concerned about the release of radioactive material into the atmosphere, should go look up how much of it is released by the burning of fossil fuels. Nuclear power stations also give us a place to use the High-Enriched Uranium and Plutonium left over after excess nuclear weapons are are dismantled. A large proportion of the fuel currently running the 104 active nuke plants in the U.S. come from dismantled Russian warheads.

        • In reply to #12 by Negasta:

          That is for me the greatest thing about nuclear is that the waste is pretty easy to keep in one place.

          I think the nuclear waste is probably the biggest objection to nuclear fission. I agree that the risks of disaster from nuclear power plants are considerably exaggerated, especially since such fears have been rendered obsolete by continued advances in safety protocol. The response to the Fukushima incident was wildly disproportionate to its actual harm. However, it’s not so easy to deal with the low-grade plutonium that is a byproduct of fission, as the facilities needed to contain it add to what is already the relatively large cost of power plant construction. Fossil fuel plantations are cheaper by comparison, and at least their industrial byproducts just dissipate into the atmosphere (granted, it is a case of Somebody Else’s Problem). Not to mention that the waste has to be transported, and you’ve got to hire people to handle it and perform safety inspections to prevent leakages. France earns its keep just as much from exporting its power for money as in producing it, and it still supplements nuclear power with fossil fuels.

          People who are concerned about the release of radioactive material into the atmosphere, should go look up how much of it is released by the burning of fossil fuels.

          I’m not sure what you mean here. Combustion isn’t the same as radioactive decay, so you’re less likely to get radiation sickness from its byproducts than from those of nuclear fission plants.

          Quite frankly, I would weigh in favour of nuclear power, especially if fission reactors are the precursors of future fusion reactors, which would provide the most efficient means of energy production. This would also limit the effects of global warming. Yet, I think fission reactors do have problems even though I think they have fewer problems than fossil fuels, and they do come with issues such as waste storage and cost efficiency that have to be solved. Plus, I doubt the stigma against them will diminish fast enough.

          • In reply to #15 by Zeuglodon:

            In reply to #12 by Negasta:

            That is for me the greatest thing about nuclear is that the waste is pretty easy to keep in one place.

            I think the nuclear waste is probably the biggest objection to nuclear fission. I agree that the risks of disaster from nuclear power plants are considerably exaggerat…

            Personally I think the biggest problem with nuclear fission power is that it will likely prevent other options from being developed. For example fusion reactors.

        • In reply to #12 by Negasta:

          People who are concerned about the release of radioactive material into the atmosphere, should go look up how much of it is released by the burning of fossil fuels. Nuclear power stations also give us a place to use the High-Enriched Uranium and Plutonium left over after excess nuclear weapons are are dismantled. A large proportion of the fuel currently running the 104 active nuke plants in the U.S. come from dismantled Russian warheads.

          Interesting story I hadn’t heard about that. Thanks.

          My problem with current nuclear power isn’t the non-accidental release into the atmosphere it’s the waste products. There is no safe way of storing them and the time scale is longer than humans have been civilised.

          We should be converting to thorium base nuclear power as rapidly as we can.

          Michael

    • In reply to #7 by obzen:

      Economy first, got to get ahead. It’s all very short sighted.

      To be fair, I don’t really see any major country doing anything significant. We cant seem to get away from fossil fuels, and that’s that.

      Of all nations you could most easily “get away” as many other nations are already trying to do. Tragically America could make the most difference globally, simultaneously advantaging itself. Your post obzen, exemplifies the problem.

      Reckless Monkey wrote: Add Australia to the list. Current government is trying very hard to remove the carbon tax and as soon as the senate changes over it will.

      Unfortunately Australia seems to be almost unique in going backwards. I recall another contributor recently citing Canada regressing too, but Oz has become pathologically ignorant. Her citizens like many others are fretting about porous borders allowing refugees, who are probably Islamic terrorists, invading with their Sharia Law to rape our womenfolk. Climate science is a sinister leftist/socialist/greenie plot, and our guvmint relies on America for its lead. If America took a rational approach Australia and many other under-confident, fawning countries would follow suit instantly.

  5. In 2012 Europe had $80bn of new investment in renewables (down from$112bn the previous year). China had $67bn (up from $55bn). The US had $36bn (down from $48bn). The US is the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gas and the biggest per person by some considerable margin.

    The US is still weighed down by the dumb old half of its industries, able to survive through anti-democratic, purchased advocacy. However, recently Obama, in bailing Detroit out, forced them to raise their fuel efficiency and is doing so again over heavy trucks. (All praise to him, because it seems to be working.) Though for us outside the country, this is critically about climate change, Obama takes care not to phrase such policies as doing the right thing or decent thing for the world at large. He gains traction by appealing to the wallet of a uniquely self centred society.

    The US is mostly a headless chicken as far as strong policy enactment is concerned, but it does have more effective government at the state level and a few effective and admirable institutions exist. A good potted account is here from page 40

    Still its not doing enough and shale gas has delayed that final all important investment in its future to remain “Rich Beyond Oil”. Saudi Arabia is investing $109bn in solar power…

    …the Minister of Petroleum, Ali Al-Naimi, said: “Saudi Arabia aspires to export as much solar energy in the future as it exports oil now.”

  6. When will the words consumer and growth cease to be thought of as going together naturally?

    I’d like to see consumer and conservation linked.

    Remember, I’m the bubble and squeak kid! I pride myself on being able to get by with next to nothing.

    The first time my now wife went through the door into the front room of my London flat I noticed that she started.

    Ages later I heard her tell a mutual friend how surprised she’d been at there being hardly anything in the room.

  7. I think its costs that leave nuclear out in the cold coupled with its terrorist liabilities.. Though cheap now, look at the table here on page 33. Note how many technologies have the capacity to undercut nuclear and note how rapidly their average pricing has fallen from 2009 to 2013. (Solar PV technologies falling by 44 and 58% and due to further falls as new (or rather, newly out of date) silicon fab plant comes on to the market replaced by the next gen stuff)

    The 2009 figures from Bloomberg seem to be taken from the Credit Suise analysis of the same year. Also included in that analysis was the cheapest source of increasing energy capacity, negawatts, energy efficiency, the safest, most versatile and energy efficient investment in new capacity. (Note also “negawatts” is a baseline contributor.)

    A country like Ireland can source as much as 60% of its power with wind, with a 40% baseline requirement. This can be met with natural gas used with new capacity installed as CHP and embedded and distributed generation and it can start where we are with enhanced energy efficiencies and migrate into green gas as it becomes available. Baseline capacity requirements (particularly daytime capacity) go down as the transcontinental HVDC links go in, from Iceland for major geothermal supply and down south through Europe and east to take in the Solar generation from the Desertec projects.)

    France can remain the Baseline provider selling its nuclear where needed and buying cheaper on shore wind and daytime Saharan solar.

    I am, however, a fan of investing in Thorium, eliminating many of nuclear’s geo-political risks.

  8. it may be a little optomistic but I really believe low-emission technology could be the next gold rush. the benefits are just so enormous not just for the environment but for individuals too. when the tipping point comes there’ll be huge gains for those with foresight. most probably be a developing country or tiger economy but it’ll happen

    america’s gonna get pwned

  9. As far as I’m aware, assuming uranium based nuclear power, the main supplying countries are Canada and Australia ? Now why do they both have Christian prime ministers ? Is Jesus intervening in worldly affairs ? Or is it just the profit motive that drives the capitalist economy ?

    The latter in my view.

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