A couple of months ago Speaker of the House John Boehner foolishly compared America to China and complained that the communist nation was surpassing America because they were building a pipeline. Boehner claimed that to keep up, America had to immediately approve construction of the dangerous KeystoneXL pipeline or it would fall behind the savvy Chinese. Boehner has no comprehension, or regard, for the danger of contributing to climate change advancing tar sand extraction will have on America in part because his stock portfolio will profit with the pipeline’s construction and partly due to his devotion to the Koch brothers’ dirty energy industry. Boehner and Republicans are also intent on defeating President Obama’s climate change initiatives on myriad fronts such as stripping the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from coal-fired electricity generating plants, or the air and water pollution related to coal mining. If Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are so intent on comparing America to China, they should embrace the President’s climate change agenda and follow the communist nation’s latest effort.
This week, China announced that in Beijing, where dire pollution from coal-fired plants is twice the national standard and suffocating residents, it will close all of its coal-fired plants this year as part of its effort, and agreement with President Obama, to do its part in combatting climate change. The capital city is shutting down the China Huaneng Group Corporation’s 845-megawatt power plant. It is the fourth major coal-fired plant China has forced to close down this year according to an announcement by the city’s economic planning agency. Where Republicans are waging a ferocious battle against even reducing carbon emissions from coal-fired plants as part of their crusade to maintain America’s contribution to devastating climate change and to advance the Koch brothers war on the environment, China is taking the lead and surpassing America.
China is the world’s worst carbon emitter and to address the pressure both at home and abroad and fulfill their agreement with the President, they are making a huge effort to reduce their impact on environmental damage wreaking havoc in China and around the world. The communist nation already plans to cut its annual coal use by 13 metric tons to cut the concentration of pollution, and shuttering all of its coal fired plants in Beijing is just a start. The effect of closing the four coal-fired plants is a reduction in carbon emissions of over 30-million tons; a significant amount according to analysis of a London-based research company focusing on China’s contribution to climate change.
In attempting to reduce its emissions, and meet the goals China promised to the President, China also plans on shutting down over 2,000 coal mines around the country according to the vice chief of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety. This is a significant move by the Chinese who were the principal source of the world’s total carbon emissions. A Chinese official said that the nation understands that since
“Most pollutants come from burning coal; the closure will have a clear impact to reduce emissions. To make up for the loss of coal-fired generation, China is replacing coal-fired plants with natural gas that is a much cleaner burning process. As an aside, America’s oil industry has shut down a significant number of oil wells to jack up the price of gas and oil due to the overabundance keeping prices low.
Unlike in America where just suggesting coal-fired plants reduce their carbon emissions, China sees completely eliminating the plants as the most critical step in addressing pollution, and its effect on climate change. In fact, coal use overall is declining in China as communist leaders are ‘encouraging’ a much broader use of renewables such as hydroelectric, solar, and wind power. The difference between America and China is that if a group of wealthy billionaires or the politicians they own dared challenge government environmental protection efforts, they would be jerked out of their compounds, marched out in public, and summarily executed by firing squads. Not so in America where a concerted Republican effort is underway in Congress to strip all authority and power from the EPA to even regulate carbon emissions causing climate change or encourage clean energy alternatives.
Air pollution in China has finally garnered the attention of the public and politicians over the past couple of years due to devastating health issues such as breathing due to extremely heavy pollution in and around cities. In 2014, nearly 90 percent of 161 cities monitored for air pollutants failed to meet China’s standards. The small particles posing the greatest risk to human health, PM2.5, averaged nearly three times the nationally-required standard and the government has put its foot down and said enough. Their solution, as opposed to America, is reducing the pollution by closing down dirty companies and cement production operations in an effort to clean up the air as ordered by China’s Environmental Protection Bureau (EBP). It is noteworthy, and in stark contrast to America, that none of the companies, shareholders, or politicians ever challenge directives and regulations of the environment regulators when it comes to protecting citizens; much less threaten to strip the EPB’s authority to regulate pollution from the businesses unlike in America.
It is another national embarrassment, and a tragically sad commentary, that America is lagging a communist nation intent on doing what Republicans refuse to countenance; protecting their own people from the effects of climate change and worse, stopping the environmental and health hazards associated with air and water pollution. John Boehner was quick to demean President Obama for not keeping up with China and making a commitment to reduce carbon emissions, and yet there has been nary a word from him or his Republican cohort about China taking the lead in combatting climate change. Of course, the Chinese do not question or dispute the overwhelming scientific and empirical data that the devastation of climate change is man-made and can be reduced. Experts have said for some time now that China will surpass America as the world’s leader in many areas, and although this warmongering nation has the most powerful army, it lags a great deal of the world in nearly every other area. Now, it appears it lags a communist nation in taking great steps to combat what is clearly this nation’s greatest national security, economic, and health risk to this so-called exceptional nation; reducing carbon emissions and combatting climate change Republicans still claim is a hoax.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.