The greenhouse effect is a planetary problem

Greenhouse gas emissions are an international problem, not just a U.S. problem, as my friend Richard Brown pointed out and as the charts below show.

China has overtaken the United States as the largest producer of greenhouse gasses overall. But the United States is still a leader among the world’s major industrial nations in greenhouse gas emissions per person.

This is a difficult problem for which I don’t see a good answer.  Obviously it is no solution if one nation reduces its greenhouse gas emissions and all the rest keep pumping more carbon into the atmosphere.  But if every nation waits for all the others to go first, then nothing will happen until global warming becomes unendurable.

A partial answer is that there are a lot of things that will help alleviate global warming that are good in and of themselves—increasing energy efficiency, reducing air pollution, eliminating waste, developing renewable sources of energy.

Greenhouse Gasses Climate Change Global Warming

Double click to enlarge



Click to enlarge.

The situation is ever-changing, and some of this information may be out of date. Germany once set an example to the world in renewable energy, but reportedly is shifting to increased use of coal and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. I don’t think the United States is the only bad nation in the world, but I do think we Americans have a responsibility to get our own house in order if we intend to lecture other nations on their responsibilities.


One Response to “The greenhouse effect is a planetary problem”

  1. Anne Tanner Says:

    The United States did have a chance to join other countries to slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions–and turned it down. Now, I fear, it’s much too late.


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