If not us, who will solve the CO2 problem?

October 7, 2023


Or should I say, if not the United States, then who? America is the most powerful and prosperous country in the world. We have the highest GDP.

A global survey ranks us among the world’s leaders in entrepreneurship and innovation, and we lead the world in agility, adaptability, dynamism and responsiveness. Nineteen of the top 25 universities in the world are in the USA. Without a doubt, we have the means to lead the world in confronting rising global temperatures and the destabilization of our climate.

The United States has powered this prosperity with around 150 billion tons of coal, oil and gas, and has generated over 500 billion tons of heat-trapping CO2. The burning of fossil fuels is fueling the devastating changes we see in our climate. That’s supported by the overwhelming bulk of the evidence, notwithstanding a much smaller number of observations that appear to contradict it.

That’s not just Al Gore talking. That’s Republican Bob Inglis, executive director of RepublicEN (“Let’s get this right before big government gets it wrong”), and a long list of Conservatives including both presidents Bush, John McCain, Matt Gaetz (“Global Warming is real, humans contribute”) and Lindsay Graham (“What I want to do is show that I’m a Republican who believes the greenhouse gas-effect is real, that climate change is being affected by man-made behavior and try to find technological solutions.”)

The United States’ half trillion-ton CO2 total leads the world by a wide margin, with China in distant second place. China’s annual CO2 emissions have exceeded the United States since 2006, but at the current rate, their total will not catch up to ours until the year 2050. While China is emitting more CO2 per year, with 1.43 billion people, their CO2 emissions per capita are barely half of ours: 7.94 tons per capita for China, 15.04 tons CO2 per capita for the United States, 18% of their exports come to us. In a sense, much of their CO2 is generated for our stuff.

China now obtains a greater percentage of its energy from nuclear and renewables than the U.S., and leads the world in new solar and wind construction. Regrettably, they are also adding 106 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants. Although their coal-fired plants generally lose money, they are adding them in order to provide back-up for renewable energy. Ironically, they are suffering from a drought—possibly CO2-related—that has curtailed their hydroelectric output.

The IPCC has set a target to limit our global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial temperatures. 1.5 degrees is significant in that going above it will trigger many of the tipping points for runaway global warming. Beyond 1.5 degrees, many human and natural systems will no longer be able to compensate and adapt. For example, 70% t0 90% percent of coral reefs will vanish above a 1.5-degree increase. Many crops won’t grow, catastrophic floods will increase four-fold, and sea level will rise by feet rather than inches.

If we can limit the increase to 1.5 degrees, our children’s world will be overwhelmingly more livable and prosperous.

Climate Action Tracker rates U.S. policies as “insufficient” for us to meet our share of reductions to hold global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees. They rate China’s policies as “highly insufficient.” China’s proposed policies, relative to their “fair share,” would allow temperatures to increase by 4 degrees.

We hear people saying that we shouldn’t attempt to transition off coal, oil and gas if China is going to continue emitting CO2. That’s an understandable impulse. On the other hand, it looks very much like we are going to suffer progressively worse economic disruptions and weather-related disasters if we don’t. We could lose about 1.3% of our GDP for every degree Centigrade increase. (Note that any loss of GDP for 2 consecutive quarters would be called a recession.)

Last year’s weather disasters cost the United States $165 billion, and by the end of this century, we could be losing $2 trillion in revenue annually.

Seeing what we have to lose, it is clearly in our long-term best interest to lead the world in replacing carbon-based fuels with renewable electricity, even if—especially if—China doesn’t do their part. Once other countries see our CO2 per capita drop below theirs, they will feel pressure to follow suit, particularly if we have a mechanism to impose fees on imports that generate excess CO2.

The good news is, we are starting to move in a positive direction. The PROVE IT Act (S.1863), introduced by Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Chris Coons (D-DE), would direct the Department of Energy to study the carbon emissions of products produced in the United States and compare them to other countries. This will demonstrate where U.S. companies are producing less greenhouse gases than their foreign counterparts, and give credit where credit is due.

The PROVE IT Act would go well with a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) on imports, which imposes a fee on imports that generate more CO2 than domestic products. That would give U.S. companies a level playing field when competing against more CO2-emitting foreign companies.

Regarding a CBAM, Senator Bill Cassidy (R Louisiana) said “Right now, the current system incentivizes countries like China and India and Vietnam to not pay attention to emissions because you can produce a good cheaper by not paying. But if we had a border carbon adjustment, it would help our workers, help our industry, incentivize them to do it right.” Moreover, A CBAM will make China pay for their excessive CO2 emissions.

Conservative organization RepublicEN favors complimenting a CBAM with a carbon fee and dividend, in which coal, oil and gas producers are charged by the ton for the CO2 their products generate. The fee would be given directly to you and me and all citizens of America to spend as we see fit. You and I would pick the winners and losers, not the government. That more than covers the increased cost of fuel for over 60% of the population, (i.e., most of us will profit from it, while those who use more will gain less).

As for the poorest members of our country—they’ll fare even better. 96% of those in the poorest quintile will get back more than they pay, and 85% of the 2nd poorest quintile will also profit. 68% of average earners will profit. For those who don’t, the difference will amount to less than 0.2% of their income. It’s simple and elegant by design. By itself, it will take care of more than half of our CO2 emissions. It is also projected to add 2.8 million jobs and $1.375 trillion to the economy.

We have seen that the USA has generated more CO2 than any other country, and that our current CO2 production per capita is much higher than even China’s. Moreover, CO2 is causing worsening changes in our climate that are problematic now and will be devastating for our children. We also see that we have the strength and resources to fix the problem, and powerful, market-based solutions with which to do it. It’s time we assume our natural role as leader in assuring a more stable climate and more prosperous future for our children.

Let’s support those measures that replace carbon-based fuels with pollution-free, climate-improving, beautiful, renewable electric power.

George Hansen is a 20-year resident of Arroyo Grande and a retired physician.


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Clearly, the record shows that the world, the worlds climate that is, has heated up over the last 80 to 100 years. But isn’t that just a snapshot in time? Geologically, we know that the world has been colder and warmer, before the industrial revolution. We know that the Romans grew varietal grapes in Scotland, 2000 years ago that you could not even imagine growing there today. How much of this warming is anthropogenic and how much of it is just part of the earth’s natural cycle. I am a little tired of the hysteria, but I think it would be wise to be more efficient with energy. I don’t think batteries and solar panels are the answer. When you look at the environmental destruction, and consequences, of mining rare earth metals. It just doesn’t add up. When you look at the social injustices of African children working in large, open-pit mine’s losing limbs, while the Chinese CCP masters, act as slave owners… Where is the social justice in that?

Don’t worry George. With over population and 100+ F. Ocean water temps, we will run out of food stocks and kill off the phytoplankton which produce 80% of our O2 well ahead of cooking to death!

We can’t plant enough trees on land to compensate.

Man made global warming and CO2 heat trapping as an earth problem are bogus fables manufactured to scare children and the credulous – and we seem to be overstocked with the credulous in California. Many meteorologists are fed up with the bogus manufactured hysteria, and so am I. The earth has been colder and it has been hotter. California governance almost doubling the price of gasoline, and soon electricity, won’t change a thing as far as climate is concerned, but will make all CA citizens poorer to no purpose.

“Criticism intensifies after big oil admits ‘gaslighting’ public over green aims

Criticism in the US of the oil industry’s obfuscation over the climate crisis is intensifying after internal documents showed companies attempted to distance themselves from agreed climate goals, admitted “gaslighting” the public over purported efforts to go green, and even wished critical activists be infested by bedbugs.

Previous releases of internal documents have shown that the oil industry knew of the devastating impact of climate change but chose instead to downplay and even deny these findings publicly in order to maintain their business model.”

Gaslight Obstruct Project

George, the funniest part is when you though the government was the way to fix this. I can’t hear you over the sound of millions of US tanks, APCs, and trucks idling all over the world.

Learn to swim.

Gee, if only we could build more nuclear plants we could reduce our CO2 output and have more stable power sources.

WOW !! You should run for a political office as you say all the right words but in the end it will never be implemented. You actually think any Government entity will give the citizens the carbon tax they get NOT ! The US is in debt up to it’s ears from helping every other country and it will not the leader of the world . because China, Russia N. Korea, Iran etc want to destroy us and will before the climate ever does because we are putting all our eggs in the climate change basket while they are not. We need to address the climate change issue but quit cutting our own throats doing it

I’m not convinced its a crisis… but far be it for me to argue that point with scientists… however when the UN the science community and governments around the world find a “fix” to any crisis they stay with it even as new evidence shows its going in the wrong direction… unleash the geniuses of today like Musk and others like him to fix the problem and governments take a back seat…. Maybe we will get somewhere… but forcing people to drive a certain car is not the answer…. making production more costly is not the answer… and raising the cost of energy is certainly not the answer…

This is total BS. We live on a planet that is constantly changing. Just 15,000 years ago (a blink in time) the Great Lakes were covered by mile high glaciers. To think that anything we can do to change the planet is just silly thinking. All this Green thinking is just the shallow thinking by those looking to increase their personal impact upon the rest of us.


You have a better chance to change the alignment of the Stars than you do in changing the way our planet evolves. Earth is a ever changing body, not subject to the interference of its habitants.

not subject to the interference of its habitants.”

You need to get out more, I have and the earth is absolutely subject to the interference of its habitants. Any reasonable adult can see this if they care.

Plant more trees. Problem solved…

If there ever was a problem…