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Climate change is a global crisis and no single country can solve it. If the United States, China and other industrialized countries do not come together and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world we leave to our sons, daughters and future generations will be increasingly unhealthy and unlivable. Unfortunately, the cooperation needed to address this existential threat is being undermined by laziness in the US and China, leading us toward a disastrous Cold War.
It is time to radically rethink geopolitics to reflect the reality that international cooperation is not only for the benefit of all nations, but absolutely necessary for the survival of the planet.
This is the reality. The last eight years have been the hottest ever recorded. In the United States, July broke more than 3,200 daily temperature records, and dozens of American cities broke or tied their previous daily temperature records three or more times. Phoenix had 31 days of 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 Celsius) or higher, 13 more than the previous record. El Paso, Miami, Austin and many other places also experienced periods of extreme temperatures that broke heat records.
Smoke from unprecedented wildfires in Canada has reached American cities and spread halfway around the world, causing unhealthy air quality. Vermont, the state I represent, experienced flooding that damaged 4,000 homes and 800 businesses, the state’s worst natural disaster since 1927. Maui, Hawaii destroyed 2,700 buildings and claimed more than 100 lives in historic Lahaina. Wildfires in the United States for more than a century.
But the United States is not alone in dealing with historic heat waves and massive disasters caused by climate change. Last month, China’s record high of 52.2 degrees Celsius (126 Fahrenheit) and recent floods killed around 100 people and destroyed nearly 200,000 homes, displacing more than 1.5 million people and causing Over $13 trillion in damage.
From Tokyo to Rome, Tunis and Tirana, cities across Asia, Europe and North Africa had their hottest days on record. In Iran, the heat index reached 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit), testing the limits of human survival. In our own hemisphere, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador saw temperature records. It’s now winter in South America, but that hasn’t stopped temperatures from exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 Celsius) in some places, a warming effect that one climate historian has called „one of the most extreme events on Earth.” I saw.”
And it’s not just that temperatures on land have risen paradoxically. Our oceans have never been this warm. Right now, 44% of the world’s oceans are experiencing an ocean heat wave. The Mediterranean Sea is experiencing the hottest temperatures ever recorded, with some locations 9 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Off the coast of Newfoundland, the water is up to 18 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. South of Miami, the water reached 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 Celsius). These temperatures should be in a hot tub, not in the ocean. This warming could further destroy coral reefs, fisheries and marine ecosystems around the world.
In the midst of this global crisis, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that in recent years, long-awaited steps have been taken to shift the global economy away from fossil fuels to efficient and renewable energy sources. In the United States, the Inflation Reduction Act includes $300 billion in investments in clean energy and energy efficiency that will help reduce carbon emissions by 2035 by 500% from U.S. solar power and double that from wind power. .
Other countries have also made significant investments. China spent $546 trillion on clean energy last year and produces and uses more renewable energy than the rest of the world. By 2030, China could use enough renewable energy to nearly triple the entire US power grid. The European Union plans to invest more than $1 trillion over the next decade in renewable energy and energy efficiency, with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels.
Importantly, large segments of the corporate world have moved away from fossil fuel investments and are now spending hundreds of billions on sustainable energy. In total, the International Energy Agency expects to invest $1.6 trillion in wind, solar, electric vehicles, batteries and power grids this year, up from just $1 million. Billions of dollars worth of fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency predicts that this development will overtake coal as the world’s largest source of electricity by early 2025.
The bad news is that we are still far short of the investment needed to tackle this crisis. We are not yet acting fast enough to save our planet. A recent report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that without further urgent action, the world will exceed the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) by the early 2030s, risking a dangerous future. For our boys and girls and the future. The science is clear: if the United States, China and the rest of the planet do not act more urgently to drastically reduce carbon emissions, our planet will face massive and irreversible damage.
Let’s be clear: The United States has emitted more carbon into the atmosphere than any other country since the Industrial Revolution began. While new technologies based on fossil fuels have improved our quality of life, we have laid the foundation for the climate catastrophe the planet is now experiencing.
In recent years, China’s fast-growing economy has made the United States the world’s top carbon emitter. Now,China is building six times more coal-fired power plants than the rest of the world – the equivalent of two new coal-fired plants every week. Last year, they quadrupled the number of approved new coal plants compared to 2021. Current plans would add five times more new coal capacity than China’s second-biggest coal user, India, as used throughout. Used by the US.
It is no secret that the Chinese government is pursuing many policies that we and the international community should oppose. They brutally oppress the Uyghurs, threaten Taiwan, and stifle free speech in Tibet and Hong Kong. China bullies its neighbors, abuses the global trading system, steals technology and creates a dystopian surveillance state.
The United States is mobilizing its allies to pressure Beijing on these and other issues. But organizing so much of our national effort around a zero-sum global conflict with China is unlikely to change Chinese behavior and alienate allies and partners.
More importantly, it could destroy our planet by making climate cooperation impossible for the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. We need to move in a new direction. Recent history provides some instructive examples.
In 1962, when the United States and the Soviet Union were on the brink of nuclear war, President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev came together to prevent mutual annihilation. A few months later, in the wake of the nuclear crisis, President Kennedy proposed a disarmament plan to the Soviet Union that would change the dynamics of the conflict that had brought the world to the brink of the abyss. Even anti-communists like Nixon and Reagan, fearing world destruction, adopted bold tactics to reduce tensions. Today we face a similar dynamic: if we don’t change course we face a collective catastrophe.
There are crazy dynamics here that need to be changed. In recent years, both the US and China have greatly increased their military budgets. The United States now spends about $900 billion on the Pentagon, more than the next ten countries spend on weapons. China has the world’s second largest military budget, spending nearly $300 billion. Despite spending this huge amount on „security”, both countries are losing the battle against the climate crisis. America has experienced massive floods, fires, droughts and extreme weather events costing us hundreds of billions of dollars. The recent floods in China alone cost the government billions. Scientists tell us that in the future, if we don’t act effectively against the climate crisis, big cities like Shanghai and New York will be under water.
So here’s a „radical” idea. Instead of the U.S. and China planning war with each other, the U.S. and China should come to an agreement to reduce each other’s military budgets and use them to improve energy efficiency, move toward sustainable energy, and end. Our dependence on fossil fuels. They should, through no fault of their own, provide more support to developing countries affected by the climate crisis.
Just now know that politicians Installation From both countries I would be told how naive and unsophisticated I am to make such a suggestion and give me a million reasons why it can’t be done. My answer is this: Go and talk to the people who lost their homes in the floods in Vermont and the families who lost loved ones in the recent fires in Hawaii. Go and talk to the more than one million people in China displaced by the catastrophic floods. Go and talk to the people in South Africa who are starving due to the terrible droughts and floods they are experiencing, or to the farmers around the world who are unable to farm due to lack of water.
Perhaps most importantly, given the enormous challenges the climate crisis poses to a normal life, hundreds of millions of young people in every country in the world are losing hope and wondering whether they want sons or daughters.
Nelson Mandela famously said: „It’s always impossible until it’s done.” If we want to save the Earth, now is the time to act boldly. Let’s do it.