Monday, January 21, 2008

Asian Growth Blamed for Record Carbon Dioxide Levels

Reports from a Norwegian station in the Arctic show that carbon dioxide measurements have reached a new record of about 394 parts per million (these measurements are higher than the most quoted measurements obtained in Hawaii). An article in the Internet Edition of China Post says that Kim Holman, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, attributes the increase in carbon dioxide emissions to growing Asian economies. Holman says this growth is connected to a recent reduction in industrial efficiency as more carbon is being emitted per dollar of economic output, a trend which is opposite to that which took place over many preceding years. Holman is quoted in the article as saying that “the affluent world wants to buy cheap stuff and we buy it…from the inefficient old-fashioned technology that we have got rid of.” As long as people think of themselves as consumers rather than citizens they will prefer the “cheap stuff” to what makes sense in terms of protecting the environment, furthering human rights, etc. American political scientist Benjamin Barber addresses this problem in his 2007 book Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole. He puts the blame not those buying products but on the manufacturers who are selling products.

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