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demonstrated at length. Barring a stunning change in Senate rules, that
body will continue to require a supermajority of sixty votes to pass leg-
islation, giving Republicans and resistant Democrats an effective veto
on any serious action. here is litle cause to hope that the American
Congress will ever approve of workable solutions in the absence of a fun-
damental political realignment of the sort that is highly unlikely to take
place anytime soon. 62 The Obama administration, assessing the situation
in Congress well, has scaled back its atempts to address climate change
in any forceful way and has made clear its preference for fairly modest
measures, even ater Superstorm Sandy brought renewed atention to
climate concerns in the waning days of the 2012 election campaign. Its
plans to take action within existing law, through the President's executive
authority or the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency, while
welcome, can only chip away at the problem rather than bring about the
necessary widespread transformation. 63
That's just the domestic political situation. Things aren't much bet-
ter internationally. As everyone knows, developing nations refuse to sign
on to a climate change treaty without a much more sophisticated under-
standing of their dilemma, especially of their desire to continue on the
path of economic growth and industrial development and their longing to
join in the abundance on full display among the wealthy nations. 64 heir
hope, in short, is somehow to combine development and greenhouse-gas
austerity. Doing so will happen only if wealthy nations help them leapfrog
over outdated technologies and adopt the most recent, least damaging
alternatives—and to preserve their ecosystems as well.
This demand for subsidies, of course, does not go down easy in the
developed West. But that is only part of the problem. Most commenta-
tors point out that we cannot blame China for its intransigence on cli-
mate change, because historically the developed nations have put far
more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than China and because the
per capita carbon footprint in China remains far below that in the West.
All these points are true. But it does not follow that China's resistance
deserves sympathy. For one thing, emiting greenhouse gases into the
atmosphere in total ignorance of the consequences, as developed nations
have done for a century or two, is quite diferent from emiting them now ,
when we know what those consequences are. We would not countenance
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