China and Climate Change

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After last night’s show about the politics of climate change, we got an email from the Watson Institute’s Geoffrey Kirkman, suggesting we take a look at China and recommending some folks to talk to.

We’d like to do a show about China as part of our miniseries on climate change, but we need your help in figuring out how to do it and what, specifically, to talk about. We know that one reason Kyoto broke down was the difference between how the U.S. and China would be forced to deal with restrictions on emissions, and that China is the world’s #1 consumer of coal, and #2 consumer of oil, behind the U.S. But there’s also evidence that China is aware of the consequences of an oil-based economy, and is considering leap-frogging their development straight to a green economy, or at least one that’s post fossil fuel.

So is this about China as a case study for developing countries? Is it about China’s impact on the global conversation about climate change? Is it about what China is doing about climate change (and what they’re not)?

Help us figure this out.

Doug Ogden

Director of the Energy Foundation‘s China program. He joins us from San Francisco.

Bill McKibben

Environmental journalist and author of The End of Nature. He joins us by phone from the Adirondacks.

Mikkal Herberg

Director of the Globalization and Asian Energy Security Program at the National Bureau of Asian Research. He joins us by phone from Seattle.


  • P&N Lydon

    For Robin/Katherine/Chris: This is a background note, not for posting, if you can make a differentiation. On China and climate change, you’ll want to talk to Mark Levine and Jonathan Sinton of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, CA. Jonathan is a great specialist in the subject, and Mark is a particularly good speaker/talker. You’d also want to talk to Chris Nielsen, who manages an active group at Harvard on this issue, and his chief, Michael McElroy. Best, Peter

  • loki

    Professor Juan Fernandez teaches at a western style Business School in Shangahi.

    He at Harvard Business School unti 8/17. His email is fjuan@ceibs.edu .

    Currently there is a UMass Amherst Business School Professor who goes to China each year.

    Following up last nights conversation,it would be interested in how business and industry leaders deal with “Climate Change”

  • jc

    It says something about the hypocrisy of this world’s leaders that China has been far and away the most responsible of all nations by trying to relieve the stress most important regarding essentially all facets of sustained existance and the quality thereof by attempting to reduce the population of China. So far, the populace has not the wits to realize the importance of this effort. When the world accomplishes a population reduction by a proper amount, everything that will be discussed on tonight’s program will become irrelavant.

  • Potter

    I just listened on the streaming rebroadcast from WUMB and I am quite appreciative for that. I may listen in on their other programs. Thanksfor a really great show re climate change and the problems with regard to China. For me it all comes back to the example we set. And we are not settting a good exaample. We can’t help what we did already, but we sure can change what we do. It was heartening to hear, as it always is, about individual and philanthropic efforts, but how much better, if we had people who understood and were effective at the leadership level instead of a group of people drunk on power, the quick buck and in denial.

    Keep up the series please. What else can you do? Folks have got to understand.

    I am wondering if I can fire my kiln without some guilt or even have a barbeque. I already plan my trips out, recycle, turn down the heat and wear socks to bed in the winter.

    By the way I was very heartened to hear someone say that the Chinese are growing some food organically.

    It seems to me that China could show us up, shame us, becoming in the process, a great laboratory and example. The calm and unity they value above all, can be used to achieve real calm, pride in a truly great purpose. The Chinese can do it.

  • Robin

    thanks to all who gave us leads on China experts. We actually called every single person you recommended! Unfortunately, because the show was put together on such short notice, many of these folks were unavailable (such as Mark Levine, who just got back from Botswana today). But we’re going to keep them in our rolodex for future shows, especially the rest of the shows in the climate change miniseries.

  • http://www.ecologia.org Randy Kritkausky

    Enjoyed the opportunity to briefly contribute to last night’s show on China and Climate Change. If you want to pursue this topic to its end point, address the question that was asked but not answered; “Does Chinese society allow political participation sufficient to address global warming from the ground up?” We heard some encouraging news about policy moving in the right direction. But global warming will be adequately addressed only when China’s 1.2 billion consumers begin to act responsibly, in fact more resonsibly than most American consumers currently act. Some of us working at the grassroots level in China have insights into this area. There are ways that ordinary Americans can get involved and make a difference in China as well as here. I would like to pursue this with listeners. Contact me if you would like to get involved. rkritkausky@ecologia.org

  • SocialUpgrade

    Enjoyed listening to the show last night. Someone (listener or guest, I’m not sure) mentioned the cost of this administration’s energy bill vs. the cost of the transportation (read:roadbuilding) bill. They made the point that this roadbuilding bill is a further investment in the fossil fuel industry because it will most likely increase transportation via combustion engine. However, another way it also contributes to the fossil fuel industry in that asphalt is actually often made from petroleum products.

  • r.moreira

    Thank you for the opportunity to listen to this intelligent conversation. I would like to stress the importance of the point made by your guest Bill (I think) about the need of behavioural changes. Any serious environmental plan would start with energy efficiency (be it in buildings, transportation or industry) before considering renewables. Likewise, American consumers need to realise that, instead of waiting for a technological magic answer to climate change, they must recognise their major role as emitters and start now changing their energy consumption behaviour.

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  • joel

    Various aspects of climate change, “global warming,” environmental degradation, etc. have been referred to as “causes” of many of society’s problems when, in reality, they are results of a far more important phenomenon, the huge, unsustainable and growing current human population, the prime cause of the

    other causes. The technical methods of alleviating the growing short-comings of our life-giving environments will be obsolete by the time they are implemented… outstripped by the size of the population.

    You might find the views of Eric Pianka interesting and edifying:

    http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~varanus/Vanishing.Book.text.pdf

    http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~varanus/Everybody.html

    http://www.zo.utexas.edu/courses/bio213/why.html

    http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~varanus/

    http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~varanus/Controversy.html

    The otherwise perhaps flawed domestic policies of China may not be to our liking, but their “one child” per parents should have our blessing and be adopted by the rest of the world as soon and completely as possible. It is nothing less than mandatory. It is the fastest (60 years), the cheapest (zero cost), the most easily participated (no one need do anything – merely do not have a second child) method with essentially no counter-acting side effects.This action obviates the need for all the programs now being touted and it will put the world back to the number of people, resulting from millions of years of linear growth, which existed about 250 years ago, when it was hardly under populated, but it was before the ruinous logarithmic growth that has occurred since. As Dennis Meadows said:”Any environmental issue that doesn’t list overpopulation as the main problem is a lost cause.” Or, as this line on the stationery of The Committee of Concerned Scientists states:”If we do not solve our overpopulation problem ourselves, sagely and humanely, the problem will be solved for us by Nature, efficiently and savagely.”

    Cheers