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[经济学人] [2006.09.09][Leaders]The heat is on

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发表于 2010-4-28 17:42 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Climate change
气候变化


The heat is on
气温上升中

Sep 7th 2006
From The Economist  print edition


The uncertainty surrounding climate change argues for action, not inaction. America should lead the way
气候变化无常,行动切勿观望。美国理当率先垂范




FOR most of the Earth's history, the planet has been either very cold, by our standards, or very hot. Fifty million years ago there was no ice on the poles and crocodiles lived in Wyoming. Eighteen thousand years ago there was ice two miles thick in Scotland and, because of the size of the ice sheets, the sea level was 130m lower. Ice-core studies show that in some places dramatic changes happened remarkably swiftly: temperatures rose by as much as 20°C in a decade. Then, 10,000 years ago, the wild fluctuations stopped, and the climate settled down to the balmy, stable state that the world has enjoyed since then. At about that time, perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, mankind started to progress.
以人类的标准看,地球上所历经的大多数时间要么寒冷之极,要么酷热难耐。5,000万年前,两极没有冰川,鳄鱼生活在怀俄明州。18,000年前,苏格兰的冰层厚达2英里;并且由于形成巨大冰层的缘故,海平面同现在相比,下降了130米。冰芯(Ice-core)记录的研究告诉我们,在某些地区,气候曾经发生过剧烈的突变:十年间温度骤升20摄氏度。后来,到大约10,000年前,强烈的气候波动停止了,并且趋于温和、稳定。自那时起,地球进入了气候平稳的阶段。或许是巧合,或许不是,人类也是从大约那个时候开始繁衍、兴旺起来的。

Man-made greenhouse gases now threaten this stability. Climate change is complicated and uncertain, but, as our survey this week explains, the underlying calculation is fairly straightforward. The global average temperature is expected to increase by between 1.4°C and 5.8°C this century. The bottom end of the range would make life a little more comfortable for northern areas and a little less pleasant for southern ones. Anything much higher than that could lead to catastrophic rises in sea levels, increases in extreme weather events such as hurricanes, flooding and drought, falling agricultural production and, perhaps, famine and mass population movement.
但如今,人类制造的温室气体正在威胁这种稳定。尽管气候变化复杂无常,但从我们本周的调查研究来看,得到的计算结果却相当明确。据预测,全球平均温度在本世纪将上升1.4至5.8摄氏度。按照这一升幅的下限,对于生活在北方地区的生物来说,气候将变得更为舒适,但对于南方地区的生物来说,气候将变得更恶劣一些。但只要升温的幅度高于这一估计的下限值,海平面将灾难性地升高,同时增加极端气候事件的发生,如飓风、洪水、干旱、农业减产,还可能导致饥荒和大规模的人口迁移。

Nobody knows which is likelier, for the climate is a system of almost infinite complexity. Predicting how much hotter a particular level of carbon dioxide will make the world is impossible. It's not just that the precise effect of greenhouse gases on temperature is unclear. It's also that warming has countless indirect effects. It may set off mechanisms that tend to cool things down (clouds which block out sunlight, for instance) or ones that heat the world further (by melting soils in which greenhouse gases are frozen, for instance). The system could right itself or spin out of human control.
谁也说不清楚哪种变化发生的可能性大,因为气候几乎是一个无限复杂的系统。要预测出特定二氧化碳的水平将令地球升温多少是件不可能的事。这不仅因为温室气体对气温的确切影响还不清楚,而且全球变暖会带来诸多间接性的影响。全球变暖可能会引发某些机制,这些机制既可能减缓变暖(例如,形成云层遮蔽阳光),也可能进一步促进全球的升温(例如,冻结在土壤中的温室气体被融解释放)。气候系统可能会自我组织并调节,也可能会脱离人类的掌控。

This uncertainty is central to the difficulty of tackling the problem. Since the costs of climate change are unknown, the benefits of trying to do anything to prevent it are, by definition, unclear. What's more, if they accrue at all, they will do so at some point in the future. So is it really worth using public resources now to avert an uncertain, distant risk, especially when the cash could be spent instead on goods and services that would have a measurable near-term benefit?
处理气候问题的首要困难正是不确定性。因为气候变化所造成的损失不得而知,所以一切防范措施和努力能够带来的利益也自然是个未知之数。此外,即便这些措施确实能够带来利益,那也只能在将来的某个时候发挥作用。那么现在,尤其在如今这个能够用现金换取那些具有近期收益的商品和服务的时候,利用公共资源来避免这一场未必发生的远期风险是否值得?

If the risk is big enough, yes. Governments do it all the time. They spend a small slice of tax revenue on keeping standing armies not because they think their countries are in imminent danger of invasion but because, if it happened, the consequences would be catastrophic. Individuals do so too. They spend a little of their incomes on household insurance not because they think their homes are likely to be torched next week but because, if it happened, the results would be disastrous. Similarly, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the risk of a climatic catastrophe is high enough for the world to spend a small proportion of its income trying to prevent one from happening.
如果风险很大,那么答案是肯定的。各国政府一直在做这类用现金规避风险的事情。他们抽取税收的一小部分用于维持军队,并非因为担心自己的国家处于随时面临侵略的危险处境之中,而是因为一旦战争爆发,后果将不堪设想。个人也是如此。人们花费收入的一小部分用于家庭保险,并不是因为担心自己的住所在一周以内付之一炬,而是因为一旦火灾发生将损失惨重。同样地,越来越多的科学证据表明:气候性灾害的风险之高足以令全世界为之花费总财富中的一小部分,目的就是防范此类灾难的发生。

And the slice of global output that would have to be spent to control emissions is probably not huge. The cost differential between fossil-fuel-generated energy and some alternatives is already small, and is likely to come down. Economists trying to guess the ultimate cost of limiting carbon dioxide concentrations to 550 parts per million or below (the current level is 380ppm, 450ppm is reckoned to be ambitious and 550ppm liveable with) struggle with uncertainties too. Some models suggest there would be no cost; others that global output could be as much as 5% lower by the end of the century than if there were no attempt to control emissions. But most estimates are at the low end—below 1%.
而且,这部分用于控制温室气体排放的全球性开支不会很高。化石能源同某些替代能源在成本上的差距已经不大,而且可能会继续缩小。有些经济学家正试图估算出将二氧化碳的浓度控制在不高于550ppm(百万分之一个单位)水平的最终成本(目前二氧化碳的浓度是380ppm,要将未来的浓度控制在450ppm水平似乎是种奢望,而550ppm是人类生存所能耐受的上限),他们也在同各种不确定性搏斗。一些数学模型的结果显示不需要任何花费就可以达到;另一些模型显示,到本世纪末为止,同不控制气体排放现比,控制温室气体排放会令全球经济减少5个百分点。但是,大多数估测出的全球经济减少幅度都很低——不足1个百分点。

The technological and economic aspects of the problem are, thus, not quite as challenging as many imagine. The real difficulty is political. Climate change is one of the hardest policy problems the world has ever faced. Because it is global, it is in every country's interests to get every other country to bear the burden of tackling it. Because it is long term, it is in every generation's interests to shirk the responsibility and shift it onto the next one. And that way, nothing will be done.
这样看来,无论是技术层面还是经济层面,解决这个问题并不如想象中那样困难重重。政治层面才是真正的障碍。气候变化是当今世界面临的最难处理的政治问题之一。正因为这是一个全球性的问题,世界各国为了自身的利益竞相把解决问题的责任推卸给其他国家;正因为这是一个长期的使命,每一代人为了自己的利益将解决问题的责任转交给下一代。长此以往,一事无成。


What Kyoto did
京都议定书做了些什么

The Kyoto protocol, which tried to get the world's big polluters to commit themselves to cutting emissions to 1990 levels or below, was not a complete failure. European Union countries and Japan will probably hit their targets, even if Canada does not. Kyoto has also created a global market in carbon reduction, which allows emissions to be cut relatively efficiently. But it will not have much impact on emissions, and therefore on the speed of climate change, because it does not require developing countries to cut their emissions, and because America did not ratify it.
京都议定书(注1),这份试图让世界上的污染大国将污染物的排放控制到1990年的水平以下的协议并未完全宣告破产。尽管加拿大还无法完全履行自己允诺的责任,但欧盟各国和日本可能即将达成各自的目标。此外,京都议定书还设立了一个全球性的碳减排市场,通过这个市场可以相对有效地减小碳排放。但是,该议定书将不再对碳排放起重大作用,因此对于气候变化也就无能为力了。这不仅因为议定书中并未规定发展中国家减排的义务,而且因为美国拒绝执行京都议定书。

The United States is the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases, though not for long. Every year China is building power-generating capacity almost equivalent to Britain's entire stock, almost all of it burning coal—the dirtiest fuel. It will shortly overtake America, and India is not far behind. Developing countries argue, quite reasonably, that, since the rich world created the problem, it must take the lead in solving it. So, if America continues to refuse to do anything to control its emissions, developing countries won't do anything about theirs. If America takes action, they just might.
美国是目前世界最大的温室气体排放国,然而这种情况维持不了多久了。中国每年新增的发电装机容量几乎相当于整个英国的容量,而大多数是以煤,这种污染最重的燃料为动力的。中国马上就会超过美国,印度也紧随其后。而发展中国家却振振有辞:既然这个问题是富国们引起的,富国理应挑起大梁解决问题。因此,如果美国继续拒绝采取措施控制排放,那么发展中国家也不会承担自己的责任。但倘若美国采取行动,那么发展中国家也可能共担责任。

Two measures are needed. One is an economic tool which puts a price on emitting greenhouse gases. That could be a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, such as Europe's Emissions-Trading Scheme, which limits how much producers can emit, and lets them buy and sell emissions credits. Ideally, politicians would choose the more efficient carbon tax, which implies a relatively stable price that producers can build into their investment plans. The more volatile cap-and-trade system, however, is easier to sell to producers, who can get free allowances when the scheme is introduced.
有两项措施必须采纳。其中一项是经济手段,即给排放温室气体标上价格。可以考虑提出一套碳税体系或一套限额交易体系,例如欧洲的排放交易方案(ETS),该方案对生产商的碳排量作出了限制,并允许他们买卖排放信用(emissions credits)。最理想的结果是政客们选择更有效的碳税政策,这样生产商必须在投资方案中将一笔相对固定的成本考虑在内。引入的限额交易体系越灵活,那些不受排量限制的生产商越容易接受。

Either of these schemes should decrease the use of fossil fuels and increase the use of alternatives. In doing so, they are bound to raise energy prices. To keep down price rises, and thus ease the political process, governments should employ a second tool: spending to help promising new technologies get to market. Carbon sequestration, which offers the possibility of capturing carbon produced by dirty power stations and storing it underground, is a prime candidate.
无论选择何种方案,都应当设法减少化石燃料(注2)的使用,并增加其他替代能源的利用。要达到此项目的,政府必须提高能源价格。为了压制价格上升,进而配合政策推行,政府应该采用另一项措施:从财力上的支持新技术顺利进入市场。固碳技术是一种最佳的选择,该技术能够捕获从肮脏不堪的发电站排放出的碳并将其储存在地下。

Although George Bush now argues that America needs to wean itself off its dependency on oil, his administration still refuses to take serious action. But other Americans are moving. California's state assembly has just passed tough Kyoto-style targets. Many businesses, fearing that they will end up having to deal with a patchwork of state-level measures, now want federal controls. And conservative America, once solidly sceptical, is now split over the issue, as Christians concerned about mankind's stewardship of the Earth, neo-cons keen to reduce America's dependency on the Middle East and farmers who see alternative energy as a new potential source of energy come round to the idea of cutting down on carbon.
尽管,现在乔治•布什强调美国应该抛弃自身对石油的依赖,但他领导的政府对此却依然不予重视。然而,其他美国人正在采取行动。加州议会刚刚通过了一项京都议定书般苛刻的关于污染物排放标准的议案。由于害怕自己最终面对的是各个州政府制定的五花八门的条款,许多企业现在希望联邦政府直接介入条款的制订。而且在美国,对石油问题曾抱有怀疑的保守派现在也开始闹分歧了:基督教徒们只关心人类在地球上履行的职责;新保守派们却一心想着减少美国对中东的依赖。而看好替代能源的农民们,将其看作一种能量来源的潜在新途径,并改变了原来的看法,开始接受减少碳排放的观点。

Mr Bush has got two years left in the job. He would like to be remembered as a straight shooter who did the right thing. Tackling climate change would be one way to do that.
留给布什的时间还有两年。如果他想给人留下一个好印象:一个做好事的正派人物,那么,一种途径就是着手解决气候变化问题。


注1:为了人类免受气候变暖的威胁,1997年12月,在日本京都召开的《联合国气候变化框架公约》缔约方第三次会议通过了旨在限制发达国家温室气体排放量以抑制全球变暖的《京都议定书》。 《京都议定书》规定,到2010年,所有发达国家二氧化碳等6种温室气体的排放量,要比1990年减少5.2%。具体说,各发达国家从2008年到2012年必须完成的削减目标是:与1990年相比,欧盟削减8%、美国削减7%、日本削减6%、加拿大削减6%、东欧各国削减5%至8%。新西兰、俄罗斯和乌克兰可将排放量稳定在1990年水平上。议定书同时允许爱尔兰、澳大利亚和挪威的排放量比1990年分别增加10%、8%和1%。《京都议定书》需要在占全球温室气体排放量55%以上的至少55个国家批准,才能成为具有法律约束力的国际公约。中国于1998年5月签署并于2002年8月核准了该议定书。美国曾于1998年签署了《京都议定书》。但2001年3月,布什政府以“减少温室气体排放将会影响美国经济发展”和“发展中国家也应该承担减排和限排温室气体的义务”为借口,宣布拒绝批准《京都议定书》。
注2:化石燃料,亦称矿石燃料,是一种碳氢化合物或其衍生物。化石燃料所包含的天然资源有煤炭、石油和天然气。
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发表于 2010-4-28 17:57 | 显示全部楼层
因为内容涉及全球气候变暖,非常感兴趣所以就翻译了。错误之处还望指正!
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发表于 2010-4-28 18:12 | 显示全部楼层
edenbahamut 的动作可真快,佩服佩服!一点我的浅见,同edenbahamut 探讨. ^_^

第一段:
by our standards,是否是指人类,要不要翻出来比较好?
The sea level was 130m lower. 比之现在要低130m
Dramatic changes happened, dramatic, 取“Arresting or forceful in appearance or effect: 引人注目的:引人注目或给人深刻印象的外表或效果”意思可能更好,

第二段:
a little less pleasant for southern ones. 翻作 “情况正好相反”可能不妥,是不是“不那么舒适”会好一些?

第四段:
第一句漏掉。这种不确定性是解决气候问题的主要困难。
What's more, if they accrue at all, they will do so at some point in the future.中的if,是不是翻作“即使”更好呢?比如翻成“此外,即使这些措施确实能够带来利益,那也只能在将来的某个时候发挥作用。”
So is it really worth using public resources now to avert an uncertain, distant risk, especially when the cash could be spent instead on goods and services that would have a measurable near-term benefit?
“那么现在,尤其是当金钱可以花费在那些可在短期带来可观利益的商品或服务之上时,将这些公共资源花费在阻止一场不能确定是否会发生的,遥远的危机之上,是否值得?” 是否更好?

第六段:
others that global output could be as much as 5% lower by the end of the century than if there were no attempt to control emissions.
应该是:如果不对气体排放采取控制措施,全球的。。
另外,对于二氧化碳含量不解,究竟是高好还是低好?中间这句话“the current level is 380ppm, 450ppm is reckoned to be ambitious and 550ppm liveable with”很矛盾阿,现在的水平是380ppm,如果越高越好,怎么说550ppm是“维持生存所必须达到的水平”?如果是低好,怎么说控制在450ppm的水平ambitious?不解!

第七段:
America did not ratify it. 应该是“美国没有签署。。。”之意吧

第八段:
If America takes action, they just might.个人觉得是“即使美国采取行动,发展中国家也只是可能承担责任”

第十二段:
Tackling climate change would be one way to do that. 应该是“解决气候变化问题将是他的一个选择。”
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发表于 2010-4-28 18:27 | 显示全部楼层
dramatic changes
剧烈的变化
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发表于 2010-4-28 18:42 | 显示全部楼层
非常感谢两位。尤其是icetea,刚才跟她经过一番讨论,得到了许多有益的结论和体会,再次感谢!我已对原文做了修改。
欢迎提出其他的建议!
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发表于 2010-4-28 18:57 | 显示全部楼层
Developing countries argue, quite reasonably, that, since the rich world created the problem, it must take the lead in solving it. So, if America continues to refuse to do anything to control its emissions, developing countries won't do anything about theirs. If America takes action, they just might.
这句话有讽刺发展中国家的意思,应该翻译出来,“发展中国家振振有辞”
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发表于 2010-4-28 19:12 | 显示全部楼层
恩,这样一来是更好些。当初翻译时想过振振有辞,或者另有一套说辞,不过不确定是否有这层调侃的味道。既然你也这样认为,就改了吧。谢了:)
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发表于 2010-4-28 19:27 | 显示全部楼层
倒数第3段不知为何漏了,还请edenbahamut兄核对一下
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发表于 2010-4-28 19:42 | 显示全部楼层
Damn it!竟然miss了一整段,不应该!非常感谢xwei兄的提醒,已经补上了!
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发表于 2010-4-28 19:57 | 显示全部楼层
California's state assembly has just passed tough Kyoto-style targets.
加州的州议会刚刚通过了一项京都议定书式的苛刻目标。

target有“指标”的意思。结合小标题的“京都议定书”是关于排放指标的,所以,这句值得商榷。
加州议会刚刚通过了一项京都议定书般苛刻的关于污染物排放指标的议案。
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