Measuring up to the climate challenge
Sir, – Dr Eddie O’Connor (Opinion, December 19th) touches on a number of important points. He rightly asserts that key to reducing climate impact is not simply promoting green energy in the West but crucially moving China and South-East Asia in this direction also.
As a student and resident of Shanghai, I can state with near certainty that such a move will unfortunately not occur. At least, it will not occur with enough haste. China’s economic boom has been built on unsustainable foundations, and although the country adopts green energy at a rapid rate, it will likely not be enough.
Beijing is frequently criticised for high levels of pollution, but just recently Shanghai suffered from an Air Quality Index score of above 500 (this is the point beyond which the scale no longer measures, and beyond this it is not updated). The pictures were widely available in the West at the time, but this raises a startling conclusion. Shanghai’s air had never gone above 400 on the AQI, indicating the level of pollution is getting worse, in an effort to address the needs and wants of an increasingly affluent population along with meeting export goals.
Environmental scientist Dr James Hansen points out in Storms of our Grandchildren that the business as usual approach has us closing on the line of disaster already. All of the signs show that even if Europe and, far less likely, the US, were able to curtail emissions to acceptable levels, the amount of time required for rapidly developing countries to do the same would be too great. At that point, geo-engineering may be the only solution in a list of very undesirable solutions. – Yours, etc,