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Thursday, January 7,2010

U.S. produces more gas

(Re: “Copenhagen was a success — for the Chinese,” Danish Plan, Dec. 31.) Paul Danish’s implication that the Copenhagen accord, such as it is, is unfairly advantageous to China and other developing countries ignores the simple and overwhelming fact that China’s per capita greenhouse gas production is only about one-quarter of our own.

We have built our wealth by burning fossil fuels, and have no moral basis for demanding that the huge populations of developing nations should limit their consumption at levels far below ours.

Only when the U.S. and other developed nations make it a priority to reduce their per capita pollution to a level that poor nations could approach without destroying the planet, and/or use some of our wealth to help them prosper without such pollution, can we expect those nations to follow our lead. Yes, that’s a tough goal, but yes, it’s doable, and we really have no other choice.

John Spencer/Boulder

Not a ‘success’

“Copenhagen was a success — for the Chinese” (Danish Plan, Dec. 31) starts out with a mistaken premise right in its headline — that is, that failing to adequately address climate change can be considered a “success” for anyone, in China or anywhere else on Earth.

Will climate change be a success for the hundreds of millions of Chinese dependent on snowmelt on the Tibetan Plateau? Is regional political stability enhanced by giving up a major slice of Bangladesh to the Bay of Bengal? By drought and crop failures in India and Pakistan? Agricultural disruption in Vietnam’s Mekong delta?

Danish says, “Self-evidently, China and most of the Third World do not see global warming as a threat ... .” That’s a gross oversimplification. While it’s certainly the case that poverty and development are (necessarily) immediate priorities for many national governments, climate change is already a real problem for tens of millions of people, and a major concern for billions more.

To suggest that China and the developing world will only adopt renewables if rich countries pay them to do so is unhelpful. For one thing, China is poised to become the world’s leading producer of photovoltaics, it may already be the production leader in wind turbines, and both China and India already have major players in the wind industry. For another, per capita energy use in the developed world greatly exceeds that in the developing world. U.S. per capita consumption is about five times that of China, and 20 times that of India. In other words, the global poor aren’t causing the problem — we are.

It’s a huge mistake to consider global climate change solely through the prism of conventional international politics. China does not benefit from climatechange. It did not and will not benefit from the lack of progress in Copenhagen, and neither will the rest of the world.

The real measure of success will be what humanity does together to address the problem. By that measure, Copenhagen was largely a failure — for everyone.

Eric Johnson/Lafayette

You forgot two shows

(Re: “Top 10 TV shows of the decade,” Reviews, Dec. 31.) Any amount of credibility that I had previously ascribed to the Boulder Weekly evaporated when I noted the omission of two TV programs from this erstwhile list. They are Battlestar Galactica on SciFi and Dexter on Showtime. How you could fail to include these two shows is beyond me.

Brian Caldwell/Longmont

Re-read the tea leaves

In the U.S., between 1999 and 2008, median (not average) household income, adjusted for inflation, actually shrank. Since the top 1 percent of households did quite well, what might be said about the other 99 percent? You guessed it: we’re really in the tank. Add booming unemployment to the mix (there’s a two-year lag to such measures; so, who was president two years ago?), and no wonder folks are upset.

But the leaves in the cups at the “tea parties” are being read completely wrong. The GOP is absolutely, clearly, unequivocally the party that got us here. It’s ludicrous to see that element continuing to imagine it might be relevant, attempting to block every legislative initiative, good or not so. The group continues to enlist what we once called the “middle class” to join in protesting taxes. As if lower taxes might “trickle down” to the rest of us. Nothing could be more wrongheaded. What’s needed are higher wages. But most businesses seem to be run by — you guessed it — GOP’ers. The GOP wrings its hands over being sent to the “wilderness;” a more appropriate location might be the moon.

Greg Iwan/Longmont

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