China, CO2 Emissions and Alternative Facts


In réponse to yesterday’s post, a reader sent WC a chart showing CO2 emissions by country, claiming that China burned the most CO2 and that therefore Trump was right to back out of the Paris accord.

First, that’s a non sequitur. Assuming China is the highest emitter of CO2, why does that excuse the U.S. from reducing its own CO2 emissions as quickly as possible? Removing the U.S. contribution from the total CO2 output is a positive; mitigation matters. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can. When the lifeboat is sinking, it’s a poor time to argue over who has the bigger bailing can.

Second, China has actually reduced its CO2 emissions in the last two years. not a lot, but its air pollution is forcing a reduction in total emissions.

Third, since China has a population of 1.37 billion against the United States’ 321 million, total emissions aren’t a fair measure. Four times as many people. On a per capita basis, China is much lower.

On a per capita basis, the U.S.’s CO2 emissions are more than three times higher than China’s.

It’s annoying to WC when someone seizes on a single aspect of a complex problem, ignoring the inconvenient aspects, and tries to make the omission the basis for a rebuttal. The world has enough Sean Spicers as it is.

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