Kerry: US and China to Cooperate on Climate

February 16, 2014

AP – Secretary of State John Kerry toured a factory in Beijing Saturday and announced a new joint partnership with China to work on curbing emissions and output of greenhouse gases that trap solar heat in the atmosphere. (Feb. 15)

Kerry was on tour of Asia where emerging competitors must be looking with delight at the Anti Science movement in the US – a guarantee to erode our technological edge.


JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Climate change may be the world’s “most fearsome” weapon of mass destruction and urgent global action is needed to combat it, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday, comparing those who deny its existence or question its causes to people who insist the Earth is flat.

In a speech to Indonesian students, civic leaders and government officials in Jakarta, Kerry laid into climate change skeptics, accusing them of using shoddy science and scientists to delay measures needed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at the risk of imperiling the planet. He also went after those who dispute who is responsible for such emissions, arguing that everyone and every country must take responsibility and act immediately

“We simply don’t have time to let a few loud interest groups hijack the climate conversation,” he said, referring to what he called “big companies” that “don’t want to change and spend a lot of money” to act to reduce the risks. He later singled out big oil and coal concerns as the primary offenders.

“We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts,” Kerry told the audience gathered at a U.S. Embassy-run American Center in a Jakarta shopping mall. “Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits.”

“The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand,” Kerry said. “We don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society,”


38 Responses to “Kerry: US and China to Cooperate on Climate”

  1. This is positive news and should give a signal to other national governments. The pseudo-sceptics and contrarians are now very marginalised… time to start asking them to show some evidence for their position or shut up!

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    Talk is cheap, and the Chinese have other plans: Check out what they are saying out of the other side of their mouths.…/chinas-plan-to-clean-up-air-in-citi…

  3. Both are in a bind. How to reconcile growth against pollution and climate change. China is at a dead end. US is on the horns of the dilemma. Remember, we are talking about “Clean Coal”, having a conversation about CO2 with “worlds worst air pollution”. Sort of like one alcoholic to another. ” I gotta quit.” ” Yeah.” ” Pass the bottle.” Good intentions don’t make it. Neither does exponential growth and resource depletion. Mother Nature does not listen to excuses.

    • andrewfez Says:

      Even thought the U.S. and Europe still grow their economies marginally, they’re at a point of stagnation: wages in the U.S. have been flat for decades [increases in productivity per worker have been comprehensively translated into profit for 1%ers] and the only things that had been fueling demand up until 2008 were that Americans were using money to buy crap that the generation before had traditionally saved in savings accounts and asset purchases [lots of folks out there have given up on the idea of retirement], and the unleashing of large amounts of credit [those same people that won’t retire are willing to go into serious debt for a house, kids, travel, and the American Dream]. 2008 showed us there is a limit to credit; too much causes catastrophic volatility; growth by means of credit is no longer an option.

      So China’s large growth rate, along with the other emerging markets, is key to S&P500 company earnings – something like 40% of the earnings are reliant on overseas $$. If China stops growing exuberantly, the stock market falls; big time. So whatever lip service is happening now, is overridden by the fact that if China doesn’t grow, billionaires lose billions, pension and retirement funds must deal with austerity, etc.

      You would think China would want to stop its pollution problem as it is a huge risk to future growth. Hiring a consulting firm to deal with waste management grows GDP just as good as dumping the crap in the river and keeping the profit. It probably even increases the velocity of $$ locally, as the 1% would just throw a % of that money into offshore accounts, etc. and let it stagnate.

      • Economic peak oil. Saudi Arabia is no longer increasing production at US request to improve GNP. We have switched to Canada and the Dakotas for more expensive tar sands and the last crude oil. Switched to fracking in Pennsylvania and the Marcellus for gas. Tar sands can go on until we foul ourselves like China or run out of water. We are way past a sustainable population because we built it on borrowed time from fossil fuels. We also have an economic system that is the anathema of sustainability and promotes an addiction to growth. We are already at a resource limit and the result is the inevitable check on growth, which is how we measure economic health. Our very notions of ideal living are bound in the notion that growth is endless and consumption is desired. You can see it all played out on IEA graphs. Conventional oil is decaying just like Hubbert predicted. Tar sands and unconventional sources are projected from there. Every replacement for Existing fossil fuels is more expensive and less EROI, except shale gas, which has a short life. It’s time to pay the piper. Wind can replace conventional sources without economic penalty, soon solar, others. But renewables must replace FF before economies collapse and populations suffer. Rather than choose a future proactively, we have followed a path waiting for the inevitable consequences. Is it too late? When will we wake up? How much will future generations suffer from choices already made.

    • One major irony is that China is on a massive building campaign for nuclear plants (17 or so under construction right now?), while John Kerry was instrumental in killing the US’s advanced reactor research program 20 years ago this year.

      Another irony is that the research program killed by Kerry, the Integral Fast Reactor, was partly funded by Japan and a commercial-scale plant would likely have been ready to replace the ancient GE BWRs at Fukushima Dai’ichi before 2011.

      Suppose the Tohoku quake and tsunami had done nothing worse to any nuclear plant in Japan than it did at Onagawa?  Would we be having such worries about the climate?

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Crying over spilt milk on what might have been on the reactors. So China is going to build reactors? How does that jibe with their plans to use all that coal to “clean up their air”? Will all that nuclear power be enough, and built soon enough, to make a difference? What’s their timetable, and what setbacks are they having?

        • Crying over spilt milk on what might have been on the reactors.

          There are two lessons there, relevant to this post:
          1.)  By knowing what could have been, we see how to change course.
          2.)  By knowing who prevented it from being, we see who shouldn’t be negotiating for the USA.

          So China is going to build reactors? How does that jibe with their plans to use all that coal to “clean up their air”?

          Both efforts are in pursuit of the same goal:  cleaning up the air, which is an in-your-face (literally) problem in both Beijing and Shanghai.

          Will all that nuclear power be enough, and built soon enough, to make a difference?

          The syngas scheme has to be because they can’t build nuclear fast enough.  The one twist that came to me is that China may not ship raw syngas to the cities.  It is technically possible to use the water-gas shift to convert syngas to hydrogen, and ship only the hydrogen.  If the CO2 was injected or e.g. mineralized by artificial weathering of olivine, it might be carbon-neutral.  I wouldn’t bet that way, though.

          What’s their timetable, and what setbacks are they having?

          We do know that China cancelled plans for a number of inland reactors (water constraints?), and for all pre-Gen III+ designs.  Right now China has 20 reactors operating, 28 under construction and more awaiting start of construction.  China will go from 60% of US nuclear capacity in 2020 to 200% of US capacity in 2030.

          China is also looking to become a major exporter of its own nuclear reactors, de-carbonizing energy elsewhere.

          I’d dig through my bookmarks for articles listing setbacks but tagsieve now bombs with an XML parsing error that has me mystified.  Even the name of the file referenced in the error message only exists in an archive, and it took me days just to learn that.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I’ll take your word for it on the data that has mysteriously “disappeared itself”—-it’s not that important to spend that much time. I had to spend 20 minutes on the phone this AM with Verizon trying to get my vaunted (and expensive) Fios to work properly, and my time on this orb is getting more valuable every day.

            When I see “by 2030”, I immediately think of my nightmares regarding the continued rapid warming of the arctic, the disappearance of the arctic summer sea ice, and all the ramifications of that (many of which we have seen this winter). I fear that we will have major SHTF before 2030, and, as I gave said, that may be our only hope for waking everyone up (with the hope that it’s not too late)..

          • I’ll take your word for it on the data that has mysteriously “disappeared itself”

            Oh, the data’s there; my bookmarks file is intact.  What’s missing is my ability to pull out everything tagged “China” and “nuclear power” to see if anything mentions setbacks.  It’s like having the whole Internet without search engines.  I suspect that I’m going to have to learn a lot more than I ever wanted to know about XML to have a prayer of getting tagsieve working again, because there’s no mention of this problem anywhere.  I may be the only person on earth experiencing it.

            I fear that we will have major SHTF before 2030, and, as I gave said, that may be our only hope for waking everyone up (with the hope that it’s not too late)..

            The crazy combination of sub-zero Midwest with balmy Alaskan north slope ought to get lots of people thinking.  If they have seen Pandora’s Promise, maybe they’ll think that the way to kill Keystone XL isn’t to ban it (because crude travels reasonably well by rail) but to make it irrelevant.  We are pulling out oil and bitumen to run cars and trucks.  Electrify the cars and trucks and charge them with carbon-free electricity, and the pipeline goes away.

  4. Wes Says:

    At what point does the population of the Earth become unsustainable? Let’s not forget, as one scientist has put it, that Nature bats last. There’s this unspoken agenda that says we can solve the climate problem and continue to grow our economies and our families indefinitely, that our only problem is carbon fuel. When that theory is proved wrong, and it will be, the result will be really ugly. Just as we have overshot the upper limits on humans and carbon, Nature’s response is likely to overshoot the downward adjustment. By a big margin.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      You’ve got the right question and the likely answer, Wes. A “downward adjustment”, indeed.

      I can remember reading Ehrlichs’ Population Bomb back then and saying”OMG”. The green revolution and medical and technological advances have allowed us to kick the can down the road, but we’re running out of road.

      There are hockey sticks everywhere one looks—-look at this link and follow the links from there for some real eye-openers. I have spent hours reading them, and that’s why I believe the Sixth Extinction is likely to include most if not all humans, and may be coming on us rapidly.

      Blog 2009 The graph: A picture of the present and the future‎

      • dumboldguy Says:

        I checked and the link didn’t work, but googling the title (Blog 2009… etc) WILL get you there. For you lurkers out there, this is one of the most significant things you might ever look at here—the links go far beyond the science.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Dang! You have to run blog2009 together. Keep it up until you get it—it’s worth it.

          • redskylite Says:

            Trying to find your link:

            but here is a great hockey stick of CO2 over the last 800,000 years from Switzerland’s (for the climate gate obsessed man – nothing to do with Michael, or University of Anglia) Dieter Lüthi et al (Switz, German and French team)

            Here is a great quote from Winston Churchill:

            “The farther backward you can look,
            the farther forward you are likely to see.”
            – Winston Churchill

            There are plenty of non Mann hockey sticks on temperature over the last 800,000 years, and GHG blocking effects are indisputably proven. So why is society even wasting time listening and paying attention to time-wasting think tanks like Lord Lawson’s:


          • dumboldguy Says:

            Google “blog2009: The graph: A picture of the present and the future” and you should get the hit. It is worth chasing. And remember, it’s five years old.

            As for Lawson, off with his head—-they should imprison people like him—-what they do is a form of treason, and should be treated as such.

          • daveburton Says:

            The differences between the CO2 hockey stick and the Mann-made temperature hockey sticks is that the CO2 hockey stick is real.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            WHAT? You sound like O-Log

          • redskylite Says:

            NotsoDumboldman “As for Lawson, off with his head—-they should imprison people like him—-what they do is a form of treason, and should be treated as such.”

            In the law, there is a notion that “willful ignorance” of a state of affairs can not be used as justification for continuing harmful behavior.

            I agree it is time to put such people to the laws of the land seeing how many people of this and future generations are threatened.

        • redskylite Says:

          Found it and see your point on pessimism, biospheres and artificial Islands might be a good thing to get into for the future, I have a feeling they will take off towards the latter part of the century (for the richer non-migrators at least)

      • andrewfez Says:

        Those lines represent humanity ascending into heaven.

        I’ve heard it said that every solution to overpopulation thus far has been dependent on exploitation of cheap energy (oil and coal for the most part).

        Fritz Haber (from Wikipedia):

        ‘During his time at University of Karlsruhe from 1894 to 1911, Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch developed the Haber process, which is the catalytic formation of ammonia from hydrogen and atmospheric nitrogen under conditions of high temperature and pressure.[3]

        He was awarded the 1918 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work (he actually received the award in 1919).[4]

        The Haber-Bosch process was a milestone in industrial chemistry, because it divorced the production of nitrogen products, such as fertilizer, explosives and chemical feedstocks, from natural deposits, especially sodium nitrate (caliche), of which Chile was a major (and almost unique) producer. Naturally extracted nitrate production in Chile fell from 2.5 million tons (employing 60,000 workers and selling at $45/ton) in 1925 to just 800,000 tons, produced by 14,133 workers, and selling at $19/ton in 1934.[5] The annual world production of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is currently more than 100 million tons. The food base of half of the current world population is based on the Haber-Bosch process.[6]

        • redskylite Says:

          Thanks for sharing that interesting fact (not so welcome for Chile maybe, but great for the rest of us), I still read people writing in blogs insisting that (vitamin) CO2 will be good for future crop cultivation and a saviour mankind’s ever increasing population, nitrogen shortages is one of several factors why this will not be generally true:

          good article from 2007 in the New Scientist:

          Talking of China I think their 1 child policy was needed – and the days of excessively large families anywhere should be curtailed. We need to trim down.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            If you want to really plumb the depths to which the CO2 lovers have sunk, you should seek out the book by C.D. and S.B. Idso titled “The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment”. It is published by the Science and Public Policy Institute’s (SPPI) Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, one of the Koch brothers funded denialist front groups with a VERY bad reputation for slinging horsepucky. The subtitle of this alleged “book” that lists 55 Benefits of CO2 is “How humanity and the rest of the biosphere will prosper from this amazing trace gas that so many have wrongfully characterized as a dangerous air pollutant!”

            Damn those “wrongful characterizers”! Have they no shame? My favorite among the 55 “benefits” is #21—Human Longevity, which states:

            “The last 150 to 200 years have seen a significant degree of global warming, as the earth has recovered from the global chill of the Little Ice Age and transited into the Current Warm Period.

            “Simultaneously, the planet has experienced a rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration that has taken it to levels not experienced for eons.

            “Yet these much-maligned “twin evils” of the climate-alarmist movement have had no discernible negative influence on human health, as represented by perhaps the best integrative measure of their myriad possible influences, i.e., human lifespan. In fact, they may actually have helped to lengthen human lifespan”.

            In case any of you have missed it, they are claiming that CO2 and global warming HAVE (oooops, MAY have) helped humans live longer. Of course, the improvements in agriculture and particularly medicine MAY actually have had everything to do with humans living longer, but that’s “off topic”. LOL

          • daveburton Says:

            Actually, “the improvements in agriculture” (increased agricultural productivity) really is due, in significant part, to increased atmospheric CO2 levels.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Actually, Dave, anyone who has studied the science knows that increased CO2 levels CAN enhance plant growth in artificial “microenvironments” or in limited areas of the actual biosphere with certain plants. Big whoop to that, however, since the OVERALL negative impact of CO2-induced AGW far outweighs any limited positive effects from higher CO2 levels.

            Plants can’t take advantage of whatever benefits increased CO2 may bring when they are being burned by drought, flooded by torrential rains, or eaten by “bugs” and diseases that are spreading because of global warming.

            To take two major examples. 1) the forests of British Columbia are being destroyed by bark beetles that have been able to extend their range northward because of milder winters, and will never be able to benefit from more CO2 because they will soon be DEAD. 2) the acidification of the oceans threatens the base of the entire ocean food chain—-will increased CO2 allow us to somehow grow things on land that will replace the food we take from the oceans?

            I hope I haven’t started Dave off on another “gallop” here, but if he wants to show us all that he is as ignorant of “things CO2” as he is in so many other areas of science, I guess we’ll just have to go along. It WILL be a shame if we have to spend much time on it, though—-most mainstream denialists had given up on the “CO2 is good for us” meme long ago because it is such a laughable overreach. Dave is, as usual, a day late and a dollar short on his “looking up”.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            PS Let me add that the “increased agricultural productivity” really is due to “modern” agricultural practices—-genetically modified plants, heavy use of fertilizers, and excessive application of herbicides and pesticides. The “green revolution” is the significant factor, NOT CO2, and it is backfiring in many parts of the world—-it did allow us to kick the can down the road, but time is running out.

    • At what point does the population of the Earth become unsustainable?

      When resources are consumed faster than they can be replaced.  The consumption itself may alter the rate of replacement.

      An unsustainable population can become sustainable by any set of circumstances which reduces the consumption of resources to less than the rate of replacement.  This can be by a reduction in numbers, or a reduction in average footprint.

      The environmental footprint of nuclear energy is tiny, and the effects on human behavior (exclusion zones which become wildlife refuges) may make it negative.  It’s certainly not a solution, but it’s a big piece of one.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        “Nuclear energy is…certainly not a solution, but it’s a big piece of one”, says E-Pot for the umpteenth time.

        I have become tireddumboldguy watching E-Pot beat his nuclear power drum at a level that surpasses even daveburton’s crazed energizer bunny, and have thanked Arcus for fighting the good fight on our behalf. The response to Wes calls for my two cents.

        E-Pot speaks truth about resource consumption and sustainability and throws the word “population” around casually as he leads up to his usual “nuclear energy is the answer” closing statement. I suspect that E-Pot has never studied population dynamics much or looked at human populations in much detail, in particular how they relate to the distribution of existing and planned nuclear power. I have said several times that I agree with E-Pot and Hansen et al in seeing a need for nuclear power to fight CO2, but looking at the numbers raises serious doubts in my mind as to whether we could ever move rapidly enough on it to make a difference, or whether other global “resource” issues would short circuit any crash program. .

        There are perhaps 450 nuclear power plants in the world today, with another 75 under construction or close to it, and plans for more in the future.

        We can find nearly half (195 or 43%) of those reactors in the following countries—-U.S. (104), Russia (33), and France (58). The populations of those three countries totals around 515 million (U.S 310m, Russia 140m, France 65m).

        China has 17 reactors and 1,400m people, India has 20 reactors and 1,200m people. That’s a grand total of 37 reactors and a population of 2,600m people. If my math is correct, that a “people to reactor ratio” of ~70,000,000 to one for China-India, ~2,600,000 to one for the “big three”, and ~1,120,000 to one for France, E-Pot’s “poster child” for nuclear power. Do we need to do the math to see how many reactors China and India would need to build to catch up with France? Do we see that happening? No, China and India are using a resource that is cheaper and quicker—COAL—even though the water and air problems associated with coal may put a huge crimp in those plans before long. The same will hold true for most of the world—people living at just above subsistence levels will burn sticks (as they do in Haiti) rather than “go nuclear”.

        And China and India are developing rapidly and are perhaps better able to afford nuclear power. A look at the rest of the world’s numbers is discouraging. Without much further comment—data is from the other countries in the top 20 population-wise—the numbers speak for themselves.

        Indonesia 234m 0
        Nigeria 170m 0
        Bangladesh 164m 0
        Phillippines 94m 0
        Viet Nam 85m 0
        +Turkey 300m 1
        Brazil 193m 2
        Pakistan 170m 3
        Japan 127m 2
        Mexico 108m 2
        Germany 81m 9

        That’s another ~1.500,000,000 people with a people to reactor ratio similar to China’s.

    • Hi Wes, try this. It’s speculative, but gives some idea of dynamics.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        An interesting exercise, but mainly intended as a lesson in modeling rather than a full “prediction” of the future. I will again direct you to:‎

        If the link doesn’t work, Google “Blog2009: The Graph: A Picture of the present and Future” to see some plots of factors related to growth, all asymptotic hockey sticks. We are well on our way to unsustainability.

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