25 April 2007

Playing Climate Politics With China

The New Scientist has an unintentionally amusing juxtaposition of items this evening. The first announces that fossil evidence of a hippopotamus-like creature found on an Arctic island, together with existing evidence of sequoia-type trees and crocodile-like beasts in the Arctic millions of years ago, "hints at a once-balmy climate – 'rather like Florida' – in the polar region," when carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, was at about 1000 parts per million in the atmosphere as a result of natural swings in the climate (cf. present levels stand at a mere 390 per million).

The second warns that China's CO2 emissions are to surpass the US within months, and quotes the International Energy Agency's chief economist as calling for bold international initiatives to persuade China and India to address climate change issues.

One has a degree of sympathy for the head of China's Office of the National Coordination Committee for Climate Change, quoted as saying, "For some international organisations to reach the conclusion that China's carbon dioxide emissions are about to surpass the United States' is not only irresponsible, but is also being used to apply pressure on the Chinese government."