Fletcher in the News

Prof. Kelly Sims Gallagher on the Threat of 'Irreversible' Climate Change

China Beats U.S. With Power From Coal Processing Trapping Carbon

After studying chemistry at Shanghai’s Fudan University, Jane Chuan and Wang Youqi pursued doctorates in the U.S. She got hers from what’s now the University of Buffalo in 1988, the year they married. Wang graduated in 1994 from the California Institute of Technology.

A few years later, they were cashing in stock options in Silicon Valley companies they’d co-founded, one of which created a luminescent chemical to store X-ray images. Their home in Atherton, California, had seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms and an acre of land, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its May issue.

By 2000, Wang was convinced that the research methods he was patenting could help stave off the environmental nightmare he saw unfolding during return visits to his homeland. China, already reeling from pollution, was poised to more than double coal consumption during the decade. That would choke cities with smog and exacerbate global warming. …

…Scientists say China must act now. The world has just two or three decades to avoid irreversible climate change, says Kelly Sims Gallagher, an energy professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and author of two books on pollution.

“If the Chinese don’t dramatically reduce carbon emissions from coal, there’s no way we can make a dent in climate change globally in the time period that matters,” Gallagher says.

David Fridley, at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, says it may already be too late to avert higher temperatures, rising seas and melting glaciers. He says China’s emissions won’t stop increasing until its population peaks at 1.45 billion in 2030 -- that’s 15 years after he predicts immutable global warming.

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