I’ve written about the ghastly pollution in China before (here, here, here, here and here). With the recent bomb of “Climategate”, much of the core data supporting the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) has been called into question. I am not going to get into a debate about AGW, or whether a trace gas like CO2 is something to worry about, but I am concerned that Climategate will take the the focus off the need to reduce pollution worldwide, especially in China and India.
The big immediate danger to humans in China is not a potential, theoretical increase of 1 degree Celcius, but rather toxic air, land and water. Vast amounts of coal and diesel are consumed everyday, all of it burned inefficiently in technologically primitive power plants or wretched Dong Feng trucks. No wonder so many Chinese people smoke (an estimated 70% of men); with that much soot, why the heck wouldn’t you smoke? If you don’t believe me, check out the photographs in this month’s National Geographic article on Xinjiang province (sorry for the link, but NG marks it hard to look at the pics if you don’t pay – freeze the video about 9 seconds in). I don’t know about you, but when the sky is the color of cat mess, CO2 is pretty far down on my list. And don’t get me started on the water pollution.
India has announced in advance of Copenhagen that they won’t be signing anything (heck, even Al Gore isn’t bothering to go). I am sure the Chinese will do the same. And there is no way the US Senate would ratify Copenhagen when they unanimously voted down Kyoto.
From my perspective, worrying about what might happen years from now and proposing fantastically expensive fixes to what may not be happening, detracts from practical efforts to mitigate what IS happening right now. I don’t need a climate model to tell me the Asian Brown Cloud is real – I can see it, smell it and taste it (*cough*).