Letter: A flawed argument on climate change
To the Editor:
In a recent column, John McClaughry said that we Vermonters shouldn't save our climate because China isn't saving it. This extremely bad advice for three reasons.
First is the moral flaw. Our morals are not tied to others. We must do what's right, whether or not people do bad things far away.
The second reason is more sinister. His message simply is not true. China is doing much more than Vermont is, to fight climate change. Things happen in strange ways in China, much like they do here in the United States, so it can be hard to tell what's really happening. Yes, there are longterm plans that are being pushed to build many more coal power plants, but these plans are pressed forward by special interests who earn billions of yuan by building them and feeding them coal, and their efforts will probably fail, since coal is collapsing in China, just like it is here. That's because of their hugely successful development of solar and wind and water power. Most of China's coal plants are running way below profitable capacity and are losing money, and coal's share of their electric power has dropped from 81 percent to 64 percent since 2007. So China does not actually need more coal plants. (I must point out the irony that the largest funder of John's Ethan Allan Institute is a coal company.) China has installed more than twice as much wind power and almost three times the solar power that we've installed here in the United States. At least America is number two in the world in wind and solar behind China. India may install more solar than us next year, though.
This brings us to the third flaw in John's advice. When a group fights over who's not doing their share, the group loses. I say let's make this a race to save the world, a race to see who can do the most. That's how we win, that's how we pass a fine and normal world on to our children. They deserve it. We still have time.
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