Copenhagen will be no more successful than was Kyoto. The reason: China. Last year China surpassed the U.S. in producing carbon dioxide, even though China’s overall economy is still about one-third the size of ours. By 2020 China’s emissions will be twice those of the U.S. Beijing is not about to stop its headlong economic growth in the name of fighting global warming.
This obsession with carbon dioxide is misplaced. There are a series of practical things we could do that are very climate-friendly and would not damage the economy. Among them are building more nuclear power plants; promoting coal sequestration technology, which is achieving more and more success in reducing emissions; encouraging greater use of natural gas, of which we have an abundance in offshore wells and in shale in the western states (natural gas releases about half the CO2 that coal does and a quarter less than oil); changing the paving surface of streets and the material used on roofs (Houston is experimenting with this), a technology that would dramatically cut heat retention; modernizing the nation’s electricity grid, which would sharply reduce waste during the transmission process; and making it easier to run transmission lines to potential wind farms in Texas and elsewhere. And who knows what breakthroughs might occur in solar energy and other areas?
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