The United States likes to see itself as a beacon for the rest of the
world. A shining light for all other nations to follow, leading the
way to prosperous and happy future. The US leads the world in
business, in science and technology and in entertainment; people
across the world dream of coming to America and living the American
Dream. Why, then is the US so behind on climate change, an issue so
vital to the survival not just of Americans, but of every citizen of
The environment is changing for the worse — at least worse for Homo
Sapiens — there is no question about that. However, it seems that
despite the looming ‘inconvenient truth’ of global warming, the
nations that are on the forefront of global culture are all truly
behind in the fight to fix the only planet we have.
Ask yourself: what are the countries that will probably lead the world
in the future? One does not have to think for long to come up with a
few good answers: China, India and the US. Well, it just so happens
those nations comprise the list of major powers that either did not
ratify the accords in their own nations, or are not bound by the
agreement to lower their emissions due to being developing nations.
Adopted in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, and put into force in 2005, the Kyoto
Protocols serve as a legally binding agreement to affect
‘stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a
level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the
climate system’. If all nations are signatory to this agreement, it
could see a massive drop in greenhouse gas emissions, which could help
save the planet. However, with the US refusing to ratify the protocols
and India and China — the world’s No. 1 greenhouse gas emitter — not
needing to meet the protocols, the future success of this critical
piece of global legislation is in jeopardy.
The US is, indeed, a leader in the world; an example for other
nations. Despite this, their reasoning for not wanting to ratify the
Kyoto Accords simply comes down to jealousy. Because China and India
do not have to conform to the same standards.
What of China and India, though? Surely despite their nature as
still-developing countries, they should be required to lower their
emissions too. I submit that the Kyoto Accords are not what is
important here: national and global responsibility is what is
important. The people of China and India need to realise that the
future of the planet is in their hands — they must appeal to their
leaders to create their own stringent environmental standards.
Currently, China and India do have emissions standards, but they are
not nearly as strict as Europe and the United States — both of which
are still behind what is necessary to curb Global Warming.
In Europe, the people have already stepped up and are presently
setting the best example for the rest of the world. Unlike in America
and Asia, the socialist-leaning people in Europe tend to favour
environmentalism because of its benefits both to the planet and their
wallets. In automobile technology, Europe leads the way in efficiency,
driving smaller cars and more diesel cars than the US by a wide
Diesel fuel has approximately 20 per cent more energy per given volume
than regular gasoline, making it the perfect fuel for efficiency.
Despite this, in America diesels are perceived as slow, dull smog
machines — even though recent advances in diesel engine technology has
drastically improved their power and emissions. Europe also leads the
way in solar technology, with Germany and Spain standing as the world
leaders in solar panel production.
There will be no economy to lead if lower Manhattan — the heart of the
financial district — is underwater, there will be no entertainment
industry to fuel if Los Angeles dries up in a massive drought and
there will be no science and technology to innovate in if the weather
is too volatile to leave the house.
The US, India and China must lead the way toward this future, whatever
the cost because no matter the price we pay, our planet — and its
seven billion human inhabitants — are far more valuable.
Frank-Jürgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global
Horasis is a global visions community committed to enact visions for a sustainable future. (http://www.horasis.org)
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