...the path of least resistance doesn't just apply to electricity, it applies to the foods people eat, it applies to the modes of transportation they use, and the culture they adopt. The American lifestyle, in comparison to the struggles of most 3rd world citizens is "the easy life" and nobody with a strong sense of self-interest is likely to forego it for the sake of environmentalist tendencies...Even if wealthy Westernized nations suddenly caught the environmentalist bug, I pondered whether it would make a difference:
[h]ow is that going to not only offset the billions of new drivers, TV watchers, and french fry eating, starbucks drinking customers in India and China, not to mention the rest of the world? Indeed, how is that going to actually roll back CO2 generation, per capita, globally, to levels in the ... 1940s?!Last week, I came by the following article: "Gas comsumption to jump by a quarter in China by 2010".
Here's an excerpt:
One of the factors keeping the world price of oil at historically high levels is continually increasing demand and relatively static supply. One of the biggest drivers of that growth is the ever-increasing population of cars in China, which, along with India, has been the fastest growing markets. ... By 2010, gasoline consumption is anticipated to increase by almost twenty-five percent relative to 2006. Given the twenty-seven percent increase in car sales last year that is probably a very conservative estimate.Let's do a quick math problem:
Assume the US consumed 20M barrels of oil per day in 2006.
Assume China consumed 6M barrels of oil per day in 2006.
Assume China's oil consumption grows at a rate of 25% every four years.
A simple ratio tells us China_2006:China_2010::6:7.5
Since we know that US_2006 + China_2006 = 26M barrels/day, and China 2010 is 7.5M barrels/day, the US would have to cut overall consumption to 18.5M barrels of oil/day in 2010 to maintain ceteris paribus. In other words, the US needs to cut oil consumption (and as a rough analogue to this, carbon dioxide emissions) by 7.5% over four years just to keep the glaciers melting at the rate they are now to make up for the difference in global warming the Chinese are expected to generate.