China already emits almost twice as much CO2 as either the U.S. or Europe. Every 18 months, its emissions grow enough to replace the emissions savings the U.S. will accomplish by hitting the president's 15-year target.
Other developing countries, such as India, are similarly adding to the problem; however, China accounts for about 85% of the annual increase in global CO2 emissions.
When jobs are outsourced to China, global emissions go up, because China uses energy less efficiently and relies more heavily on coal than the U.S. does, and the growth of manufacturing encourages migration to cities where folks use more electricity and automotive fuel.
Simply, without Chinas cooperation, U.S. efforts are futile.
Progressives propose to bring China and other nations along through diplomacy, but despite considerable effort, the president has not been able to obtain Beijing's cooperation on climate change, its undervalued currency or just about anything else that would constrain the Middle Kingdoms growth.
Put bluntly, if man-made emissions are the culprit, then by China's actions alone, global warming is going to happen with the force and fury many fear. The U.S. can do little to stop it, and efforts to do so will only reduce U.S. resources available to mitigate its consequences.
U.S. economic growth has fallen from 3.4% during the Reagan-Clinton years to 1.7% since the beginning of this century. The slowdown was caused by U.S currency and trade policies toward China that puts U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage, restrictions on offshore oil and gas development that keep America dependent on imports, and costly and ineffective regulations on banking, health care and other industries.
Millions of Americans are without decent jobs, and governments at all levels are severely challenged. Those will get worse if the nation continues on its current path.
Rising temperatures will confront federal and state agencies with unparalleled challenges, as droughts dislocate cattle ranchers in the Southwest, insects threaten forests, arable regions shift north, rising seas flood coastal cities and new diseases attack humans, plants and animals.
Moving populations and economic activities will cost trillions of dollars, and an economy impoverished by mindless micro-management from Washington simply won't be able to generate the tax dollars to foot the bill.
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This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.