Tuesday, February 20, 2007

European Arrogance: The Big Lie

You do understand that as an American you and you alone are responsible for "climate change". America is the #1 emitter of greenhouse gasses. You should be ashamed. Europeans, on the other hand, can continue to pat themselves on the back and revel in their superiority.

It should come as no surprise that our smug friends in Europe believe that if only the cowboy in the White House would just sign Kyoto the world would be saved. Yes, it's all George Bush's' fault. Never mind that President Clinton never signed on. Never mind the 1990's famous 99-0 vote in the US Senate rejecting Kyoto (including Senator John Kerry, I might add). Never mind that the two fastest growing national economies in the world, namely China and India are entirely exempt. Just you never mind all that. These facts cloud the issue at hand - America is destroying the world.

Not so fast...

It is sad that it takes an Internet blogger from Germany to break a story our own media should be hyping if they weren't so damn unAmerican. The blog David's Medienkritik bills itself as "Politically Incorrect Observations on Reporting in the German Media" and today offers us the text of a very revealing speech by Kurt Volker, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs of the U.S. State Department at a meeting of the German Marshall Fund. Visit the website for the full article - here I submit some excerpts:

Now, I know there is a deeply held view among many in Europe that the U.S. Government doesn't get it. That we don't care about climate change, that we are doing nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that Europe, while perhaps not perfect, is doing a far better job of tackling the issue than the United States. This proposition--no matter how simple, no matter how widely held, and no matter how much it fits a pop-culture "blame-the-United States" paradigm--is completely wrong, on every point. (...)

The United States is number one in greenhouse gas emissions primarily because it is the number one economy in the world. With 5% of the world's population we produce 25% of global wealth. And despite being relatively clean and green, Germany leads Europe in emissions, because it is Europe's largest economy. Our emissions are not out of line with the size of our economy. And it's worth noting: the International Energy Agency is forecasting that China, with a smaller economy, is expected to surpass U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2009.(...)

...from 2000-2004--the most recent period for which we have good, comparative data--U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased by 1.3 percent. This is an increase, but a very modest increase. The EU-25, on the other hand, increased collective emissions by 2.1 percent.

And, no, this is not because the new EU members added since the 2004 expansion run dirtier economies than the previous 15 members, and this then bumps up the numbers. Actually, the new members have the opposite effect. Those nations--by moving away from some older energy technologies like brown coal--are part of the good news story. If the new EU members did not bring down the average, the old EU-15 would get a worse report card--having increased emissions by 2.4 percent during this same time period.(...)

I would venture to say that few people in Europe know that from 2000 to 2004, EU-15 emissions grew at nearly double the U.S. rate, and that Europe, at least during this period, has been moving away from-not towards-its Kyoto target of an 8 percent cut. (...)

Now notice something else. This time period of 2000 to 2004 was a period of rapid economic growth in the United States. Between 2000 and 2004 we grew our economy by almost 1.9 trillion dollars (or nearly 1.46 trillion Euros). That's about the equivalent of adding Italy to the U.S. economy. And we increased our population by 11.3 million people--adding more than the population of Greece. And yet our emissions grew only 1.3 percent--that tells you a lot about how the U.S. economy is already changing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.(...)

There you have it. Not only is Europe, the righteous and noble guardians of the planet falling behind their own Kyoto targets the trending actually shows the U.S. moving decisively in the right direction. This while Europe's economy stagnates and the emerging super economies of Asia are becoming dirtier and dirtier despite being only a fraction of the size of America's economy.

We need to quit beating ourselves up and we need to shrug when the self-righteous, smug, elitists in the European media flaunt their self deluded superiority. Surely we have work to do. We need to continue to set higher standards and attain higher goals regarding our own stake in the carbon emissions sweepstakes - but we are doing it - not just beating our chests.



al fin said...

Craig, have you seen the film A World Without America?

It looks like a very interesting counter-point to a lot of the anti-american poison coming from journalists and educators.