A Heated Issue – Global Warming

“While the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”. This was how Athens viewed the world in 431 BC, but is this how the US and China still view the world? It certainly seemed like that during the UN Climate Change Summit in New York this year where the more powerful countries walked out of the summit without sacrificing anything, while the smaller, less powerful, and developing countries left having made large sacrifices.

President Obama stated during the summit that, “As the two largest economies and emitters in the world, we have a special responsibility to lead. That’s what big nations have to do.” He is referring to the United States and China. He is claiming to be taking control, saying that the most economically powerful countries in the world should be in charge of the initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The most powerful countries should lead the world, right?

However, what happens when the most powerful countries who claim leadership, are bad at leading the world? The US, China, and India (who are all among the top six emitters of greenhouse gases), all left the summit without having made a clear plan on what they themselves were going to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Whereas the other “weaker” and developing countries left the summit having made pledges to make internal changes that would help the world. So by claiming to lead this summit, did Obama mean that he would make the other less powerful countries do all the work? Although I highly doubt that there were any threats made to these “weaker” countries, there may have been some unannounced pressure on them to accomplish at least something at this summit (especially since the powerhouse countries weren’t accomplishing much). The countries who left the summit with work accomplished were countries that were not in the top of the list of greenhouse gas emitters. I don’t think this should have been the case.

Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders.

So the “weak” are in charge of “saving the world” in a way. Is this just? Are the more powerful countries doing as they please, and making the less powerful countries carry the weight of the world on their shoulders?

It appears that China and the US are operating under a different set of rules. Do they not view themselves as equals with the rest of the world? If so, do they believe that as equals they can operate under a certain set of rules, while handing out a separate set of rules to the countries who are not their equals?

Since the US and China have more (they have more people and more greenhouse gas emissions), shouldn’t they be the ones to take action?

They didn’t take action at the summit, and now the rest of the world (the less powerful countries) must suffer and try even harder to make the global warming situation better. However, any changes other countries make to their greenhouse gas emissions won’t make as much of a difference compared to the impact that would result from China and the US stepping up.

Why are the U.S and China fighting this issue? Why aren’t they just making definite plans on how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? It’s because they are protected their interests, since greenhouse gas emissions are what helped make these countries who they are today. These countries’ economies rely in a big part on greenhouse gas emissions.

However, maybe the US and China, although they are fighting this issue mainly to protect their interests, may also be fighting out of fear. If they have to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions, then they may hurt their economies and thus may then feel weak and vulnerable.

Either way, it’s time for the US and China to move on and start viewing the world in terms of justice and honor, just as the Melians did in 431 BC. They should be fighting global warming to honor the world and to keep justice alive.

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2 comments

  1. mcpatton2014 · October 1, 2014

    I would have to disagree to a degree. Yes, the US, China, and India are the leading countries in emitting CO2 and greenhouse gasses, but they are also the largest economies. It is more beneficial to look at the CO2 emissions per capita, which eliminates the discrepancy between the amount of people that live in a country. Looking at those statistics provided by the hyperlink showing the world leaders in the emission of greenhouse gases, China drops from the leader in emissions to just over the world average, and India drops well below the world average. The US is still extremely high on that list, but smaller, currently developing countries all emit more CO2 emissions per capita. The US has actually decreased its emissions year by year, and developing countries in the Middle East and Central/South America have increased their emissions. While China and the US, and India for that matter, certainly can decrease their greenhouse gas emissions, they have started to sacrifice in order to help the planet.

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  2. rplamp · October 2, 2014

    I see where the previous comment is coming from and I would have to agree. While global warming is a major problem that every country must take action with, the countries that find it the cheapest to reduce pollution are the ones that need to start first. With China and the United States having more resources at their disposal it may be the easiest for them to reduce their own pollution. However, the more developed countries may have already taken action up to an extent where it is becoming majorly expensive to cut back pollution. If this is the case then they should definitely take action to help the smaller countries get to the same place in advances that they are at. Though I also see where the author of the blog is coming from because in Economics 101 we learned that the top 16 cities with the worst air pollution in the world all happen to be in China. This does lead to the belief that the bigger countries should start double checking their emissions and see where they could start cutting back that would be the cheapest. Thus it is not always about who the biggest country is and who has the most money, but it is about who can easily reduce pollution and which firms (or countries) can do it the cheapest. As one unit the United Nations should look for the best possible pollution reduction technique because it is no longer about separate countries working for themselves but one world working for a better future.

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