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Kyoto is Dead - Long Live Pragmatism

By imrdkl in News
Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 08:48:05 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

There's troubling news (FT subscription reqd, alternate copy here) coming from Japan, where the Kyoto protocol on Greenhouse Emissions was born in 1997. It seems that the Japanese aren't going to be able to meet their emissions targets specified in the agreement in time. Indeed, unless they buy a "large quantity" of emissions credits from other countries, they're not going to be able to meet their commitment at all.

Taishi Sugiyama, a climate expert at the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry in Japan, said emissions were rising 1 per cent a year due to a larger-than-expected impact from vehicles and households. That made it impossible to cut real domestic emissions by the required 16 per cent within a few years, he said.

Is this the last nail in the coffin for the Kyoto protocol? And if so, which way do we go when it's buried? Was GWB right to pull out, and where would John Kerry take us, in either case?

While the Bush administration was roundly criticized for their retraction from and refusal to abide by the Kyoto agreement, this latest news makes it clear that the agreement does in fact set its sights too high. While admirable in its goals, it has proven much less than achievable in its ends, and not just for the Japanese. So, while the Bush Administration has been justified at some level in their skepticism about the Kyoto agreement, it's also clear, even to lifelong Republicans, that the Bush administration's environmental policy is driven by much more than just honest skepticism.
Russell Train, who headed the EPA under Presidents Nixon and Ford, called the Bush administration's environmental record over the past four years appalling and filled with paybacks to special interests. [...] Bush's domestic policies favour voluntary reductions by industry and moves to cleaner fuels and fuel-burning technologies.
Now consider John Kerry - his views on Climate Change are expressed in a recent interview with Nature Magazine. John Kerry won't be signing up for the Kyoto Protocol either, he has long recognized that the short-term goals are unfeasible, and voted for the Interior Dept's funding bill (HR 4578) in 2000 which forbade any funds to be used to implement the Kyoto protocols. Yet, Kerry will be looking for an alternative with achievable targets. He'll resume the international negotiations, with a more reasonable and pragmatic approach, and he's promised to match the efforts of other countries to cut emissions.

While both candidates have recognized the Kyoto protocol as unreachable, opposition to Environmental issues is clearly not a "badge of honor" for John Kerry, as it is for many, many Republican members of congress - and the Bush administration itself. The reasonable and pragmatic approach for John Kerry may not include Kyoto, but probably won't continue to trust Big Industy to do the right thing voluntarily, either.


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Most Pragmatic?
o Kerry 61%
o Bush 38%

Votes: 36
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Display: Sort:
Kyoto is Dead - Long Live Pragmatism | 91 comments (71 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
At least Japan tried [nt] (2.87 / 8) (#3)
by truth versus death on Fri Sep 17, 2004 at 07:39:52 PM EST

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
So did plenty of other countries (none / 1) (#5)
by imrdkl on Fri Sep 17, 2004 at 07:58:47 PM EST

AFAIK, none succeeded. Not Norway, not France, not Denmark, not Belgium. I haven't heard of a single success (not even with credits) among the non-third-world signatories, have you?

[ Parent ]
Well (3.00 / 5) (#9)
by truth versus death on Fri Sep 17, 2004 at 08:30:02 PM EST

When the U.S. pulled out early under Bush, the incentive to make the investment as much of a priority disappeared for the rest of the countries.

It's hard to have a Kyoto when one of its major backers evaporates.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Red Herring (none / 1) (#10)
by imrdkl on Fri Sep 17, 2004 at 08:43:30 PM EST

Japan, especially, was not hindered by the US' lack of participation. Their automobiles are the most fuel-effecient in the world, and yet, the article states that the main reason they failed was "due to a larger-than-expected impact from vehicles and households". Not to mention their N plants and mass transportation which is already light years ahead. I think it's fair to say that the US hindered the development of the credits-trading game, by their lack of participation, but not much more than that.

[ Parent ]
Heh. (none / 1) (#22)
by BJH on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 08:13:13 AM EST

Don't you believe it about their inability to meet the Kyoto goals being the fault of households. It's big business all the way. Saying that it's households makes it easier for them to push the average guy on the street to try harder, that's all.

Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
could well be (none / 1) (#32)
by speek on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 01:48:33 PM EST

It's like the way they used to blame LA's smog on backyard barbeques.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

households are important (none / 1) (#55)
by wakim1618 on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 10:03:58 PM EST

Several years ago in Canada, some politician was awarded the position of Transport Minister. In his admirable but incorrect fantasy, he wanted to increase the use of railways so as to reduce emissions. The policy analysts quickly pointed that most of the emissions is due to the millions of people driving around within a city. Not between cities. Not transport trucks (although important, accounts for a small minority of total emissions). The analysts pointed out that complete conversion of inter-city transport from buses to rail will results in a decrease of at most 1 percent in total Canadian emissions.

If I wanted dumb people to love me, I'd start a cult.
[ Parent ]

Keep thinking that. (2.33 / 3) (#12)
by duffbeer703 on Fri Sep 17, 2004 at 08:55:07 PM EST

The Kyoto protocol was a arbritary treaty cooked up with a noteable absence of any substantive public debate. (I'm talking about the general public here)

Effective energy policies are dictated solely on price. People drive around in 10mpg SUVs because the immediate economic impact of driving of getting 10mpg is minimal.

The Bush administration probably has reduced emmissions more than the Kyoto treaty would have by creating instability in the Middle East and doubling gasoline prices over the last 4 years.

[ Parent ]

Bush's flip-flop on the environment (1.25 / 4) (#17)
by truth versus death on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 12:20:35 AM EST

Bush made a promise about the environment during the campaign in 2000. How many days in office did it take for Bush to flip-flop on his promise?

a. 30 days
b. 60 days
c. 90 days
d. 120 days

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
oh, oh, I watched "NOW' (2.50 / 2) (#60)
by Wah on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 03:41:01 AM EST

umm, holding, holding...
[ Parent ]
Irrelevent (none / 1) (#65)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 09:52:58 AM EST

Has nothing to do with what I said.

[ Parent ]
Question (none / 0) (#89)
by Kuranes on Sun Sep 26, 2004 at 06:35:06 AM EST

Did you ever see substantive public debate within the general public on any topic?

Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
Yeah, like Russia... and Europe... (nt) (none / 1) (#16)
by Skywise on Fri Sep 17, 2004 at 09:53:03 PM EST

[ Parent ]
UK and Sweden are managing it (2.50 / 2) (#67)
by davidmb on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 12:25:32 PM EST

While the rest of Europe are not. It might be luck, I don't know. They're among the most successful European economies at the moment which might be coincidental, it might not. But it is possible to meet the targets.
[ Parent ]
I stand corrected (none / 1) (#79)
by imrdkl on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 03:42:09 AM EST

The UK and Sweden are the only countries in the EU that are on track to meet the targets.


[ Parent ]

GB (none / 1) (#68)
by Ward57 on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 01:39:23 PM EST

seem likely to succeed at meeting the kyoto targets, mostly due to an economically motivated switch to gas power stations (electrical power) than any other efforts.

[ Parent ]
pride is expensive (none / 1) (#57)
by auraslip on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 10:44:34 PM EST

[ Parent ]
John Kerry won't be taking us anywhere (2.42 / 7) (#4)
by I Am Jacks Severed Testicles on Fri Sep 17, 2004 at 07:54:46 PM EST

Even as a rather liberal person, I think it's safe to say he's pretty much lost the election already. He's such a weak candidate that even with Iraq blowing up in Bush's face, he still can't get a leg up in the polls.

Support our troops - buy W Ketchup!
Kerry is a pragmatic defender of the environment (none / 1) (#6)
by imrdkl on Fri Sep 17, 2004 at 08:02:45 PM EST

I think his record speaks volumes for what he'll do.

[ Parent ]
what kerry will do for the enviroment? (2.75 / 4) (#11)
by RandomLiegh on Fri Sep 17, 2004 at 08:54:20 PM EST

I'll take "nothing signifigant" for 200, alex.

Thought of the week: There is no thought this week.
[ Parent ]
Absolutely nothing (2.50 / 4) (#24)
by Rk on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 10:51:27 AM EST

I believe that is the definition of "pragmatic" in poltical circles.

[ Parent ]
or maybe it's just a weak media? (none / 1) (#58)
by auraslip on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 10:44:53 PM EST

[ Parent ]
But even Kyoto isn't enough (3.00 / 5) (#18)
by jongleur on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 02:19:47 AM EST

to stop global warming. So saying it isn't practical doesn't mean much.

We need face this head on, something like this, the Apollo Alliance, after the moon programs. Best of all it'd create economic activity, jobs, be an investment and in the right direction to boot.
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil

Well, you're correct to a point (1.60 / 5) (#44)
by kurtmweber on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 10:46:59 AM EST

After all, it is impossible to stop that which does not exist in the first place.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Why do you believe that? (2.00 / 3) (#61)
by mr strange on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 03:51:19 AM EST

Whenever disaster looms there are always people like you around, burying their heads in the sand, and trying to encourage others to do the same.

There is wide consensus within the scientific community that 'global warming' exists and is affecting our planet. Given that, I think you should at least quote your sources for believing otherwise.

Here are a couple of sample sources that you might want to try debunking:

Business Week article

IPCC Third Assessment Report: Climate Change 2001

intrigued by your idea that fascism is feminine - livus
[ Parent ]

The fact that it's true (none / 1) (#66)
by kurtmweber on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 10:40:17 AM EST

The fact that all these claims are based on no more than 30 or 40 years of observation of the climate of a four-and-a-half billion-year-old planet. The fact that it is nothing more than alarmist trash. Want to know why so many scientists support it? They're big fans of social engineering, and any hokey garbage that gives them an excuse for performing their experiments that are based on wholesale violation of individual rights and slavery they immediately line up behind.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
-1, author is a notorious diary crapflooder (1.00 / 8) (#19)
by Esspets on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 02:21:33 AM EST

-1, imrdkl

Why detour on the way to catastrophe, (2.50 / 4) (#23)
by tetsuwan on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 10:21:40 AM EST

when you can head straight for it?

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

Don't Change Horsemen Mid-Apocalypse! (3.00 / 3) (#30)
by kcidx on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 12:40:10 PM EST


[ Parent ]
I thought it was "horses" (none / 1) (#59)
by tetsuwan on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 02:44:31 AM EST

As in the Tower of Power classic from -74.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Considering who's running (none / 1) (#70)
by Cro Magnon on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 01:58:27 PM EST

The proper term is jackasses! Both of them.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
This is why they needed the U.S. (none / 1) (#25)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 11:39:22 AM EST

If the U.S. joined the standards would have been much lower and most countries could have met them.  Well, probably not the U.S.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
Doesn't matter (2.75 / 4) (#27)
by minerboy on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 11:57:43 AM EST

Congress ratifies treaties. Whether Kerry wanted Kyoto or not, it never would be ratified by the republican congress. Clinton used this to great effect, in agreeing to treaties he knew would never be ratified. He was sure to choose the pragmatic solution, and place the blame on the republicans.

Yes...well.. (2.00 / 3) (#29)
by kcidx on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 12:37:49 PM EST

He was sure to choose the pragmatic solution, and place the blame on the republicans.

If the president agrees to a treaty he believes in, and the congress doesn't ratify it - it IS the congress' fault for it not being ratified. If they happen to also be republicans,than you can safely place the blame on the "republicans."

[ Parent ]

But ... (2.66 / 3) (#52)
by sonovel on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 07:47:48 PM EST

The only vote in Congress related to Kyoto was 95-0 against. No Replublican/Democrat split at all.

Clinton negotiated Kyoto in bad faith. He knew it couldn't possibly be approved and he tabled it instead of asking the Senate to vote on it. He did the same thing with the ICC.

[ Parent ]

Spell it with me: C-Y-N-I-C-I-S-M (none / 0) (#88)
by Kuranes on Sun Sep 26, 2004 at 06:29:12 AM EST

Here's a very good book about the topic.

And it still works after 20 years.

Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
I would like to state, for the record. (1.20 / 15) (#31)
by John F Kerry on Sat Sep 18, 2004 at 01:00:06 PM EST

that I would fully support the Kyoto Accords. My utter disdain for capitalism and a strong economy compell me to enact all of the standards proposed by a bunch of brainless foreigners.

Over a hundred billion for Iraq. (3.00 / 2) (#35)
by Kasreyn on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 03:01:27 AM EST

Gee, I wonder if the protocol's goals wouldn't have seemed so "unfeasible" if that is what we had spent the money on.

Why do wars get more funding than ecology? My guess: they make for more exciting T.V. :P


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Didn't Clinton not sign Kyoto (none / 1) (#37)
by QuantumFoam on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 04:29:19 AM EST

Didn't Clinton let Kyoto sit on his desk and not sign it?

- Barack Obama: Because it will work this time. Honest!

Al Gore signed it (none / 1) (#48)
by imrdkl on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 06:04:00 PM EST

And the Clinton administration never submitted it for ratification.

[ Parent ]
No... (none / 1) (#81)
by lookout on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 10:46:29 AM EST

Clinton let Kyoto sitting on his dick and suck it.

[ Parent ]
There is an assumption (2.83 / 6) (#40)
by jd on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 07:52:57 AM EST

That Kyoto (and environmentalism) is bad for business.

It's a flawed assumption. If companies spend more on R&D to get more output for a given level of fuel consumption, they reduce emissions per unit output. (Really Basic Maths, guys!)

On the flip-side, if they're getting more output, but having to spend less on fuel, they're increasing their profit margins. (Again, Really Basic Maths, Guys!)

Inefficiency is unprofitable. No self-respecting economy should tolerate inefficiency that then damages the environment in the process of being inefficient. Hey, if you want to be inefficient on your own time, at your own expense, that's your problem. You can go bust when your competitors steam-roller you into the ground.

But when inefficiency harms everybody, then that's another story. There, the line needs to be drawn. If you're wasting resources, but wasting OUR environment in the process, then damnit, I want you to have to pay to clean up your mess. It IS your mess, therefore it IS your problem.

How do we improve efficiency? By spending money on R&D. By investing in firms that make higher quality components for machines, etc. Sure, going for shoddy components and parts saves you a few bucks. It might cost you thousands of bucks in poor performance, over the lifetime of those parts.

(Or, in the case of certain Bridgestone/Firestone tires, it might even cost you your life. But, hey, you probably bought a few spare lives at a Walmart sale, so what does it matter. Right?)

How else? Well, improved mass transit would probably help. The rail network is an almost unusable mess, the coach system is collapsing, and the few States that do run bus services don't seem to have any idea on what busses are used for. It's a mess. You need people with vision, insight, and an idea on how to run these kinds of networks.

Ok, anything else? Raising the minimum MPG would be a good idea. Also, testing more vehicles meet the standards, and imposing those standards AS a minimum, not an average.

Then the US needs to do something about its power network. The power grid wastes a LOT of energy. It is horribly inefficient and (as the California brownouts and New York Blackout showed) it is also archaic and utterly inappropriate for modern needs.

Again, there needs to be massive investment in R&D, and in replacing the existing grid with a much more fault-tolerent, low-waste system.

Even street lighting could be improved. Do you REALLY need to provide the ISS astronauts with extra lighting? If not, then simply mandate that street lights must direct their light strictly downwards. Easy enough to do. How does that help? Well, if you're not wasting half the light, by blasting it into space, then you only need to put half the power into the bulb in the first place. There are a LOT of street lights across the US as a whole. The power savings you could make from using simple reflectors might easily reduce emissions from power stations by significant amounts.

Just tiny things, like the street lights, add up. There are 260 million people in the USA. Each is likely to encounter fuel-inefficient devices and utilize them in (additionally) wasteful ways. You're unlikely to change Americans, but you can change the machines they use, and what those machines will permit.

I don't think it the least bit difficult to meet the Kyoto targets -AND- bolster all existing industries profits in the process -AND- create whole new industries on top of that.

Henry Ford, by using the time and energy efficient production line all but obliterated his competitors, who followed suit or died. Learn from that! Efficiency Makes Money! The Environment can make you rich a damn sight easier than those spam e-mails can. At least environmentally-friendly practices can give you real-life examples of how and why it works.

Is inefficiency unprofitable? (2.83 / 6) (#43)
by flo on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 10:36:15 AM EST

You assume so. Yet, inefficiency means that you buy more stuff than you need, and this is the cornerstone of modern consumer culture. Whoever sells the consumables to you obviously doesn't want you to be efficient with it. I don't know much of economics, but it seems to me that western economies are pretty much based on overconsumption. Or do we really need to buy new clothes every time a new fashion is unveiled? I don't know if oveconsumption of oil is any different.
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
Don't confuse Kyoto and environmentalism (3.00 / 4) (#54)
by epepke on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 09:55:36 PM EST

Environmentalism consists of a large number of possible programs. Some of them are good, and some of them are stupid. Kyoto is in the stupid category, as the negligible effects (the best estimate I've seen is 1/20 of a Celsius degree over 50 years if all of Kyoto were implemented) do not justify the costs. Furthermore, it requires resources to be allocated in the dumbest possible way.

Even if you think that Kyoto isn't in the stupid category, that still does not justify equating objecting to Kyoto with objecting to all of environmentalism.

I am fully in agreement with you about spending more on R&D. However, most street lights already do direct the light downward--the stuff you see from space is reflected off the ground.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
I shouldn't be the question... (none / 0) (#87)
by Kuranes on Sun Sep 26, 2004 at 06:27:03 AM EST

...whether protecting the environment is efficient for the economy or not. If it is, then why do you talk about it at all (and not only about the economy) except maintaining the appearance that you're doing something about the environment after all?

The ozone layer is an inefficient asset.

Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
Kyoto not practical? (3.00 / 4) (#41)
by bhearsum on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 10:10:56 AM EST

How is preserving the environment that we are conditioned to live in not practical? Do you want to breathe in more and more fumes from fossil fuels and other polutants? Kyoto is damn practical for anyone that wishes to live in a healthy world. It's obviously going to be unpractical for some businesses, and industries, but nothing helps everybody, and I for one won't feel bad if the oil industry starts to die. It would be odd but satisfying to replace the oil industry with a much 'greener' alternative.

many intelligent people disagree (1.66 / 3) (#50)
by wakim1618 on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 06:13:42 PM EST

that kyoto is the best way to achieve what is needed. For one thing, it would not reduce emissions significantly. For another, there are serious alternatives - do a google search. It may be a good thing since it will be fiscally painful for many governments to comply. Moreover, how do you explain to a skeptical electorate 10 years down the road that the resoures that could have been spent on education and health care had been diverted for an ineffective environmental program. And that they are being asked to give some more because the last one was a trick.

If I wanted dumb people to love me, I'd start a cult.
[ Parent ]

guess what (none / 0) (#91)
by William Shakespeare on Thu Apr 21, 2005 at 04:11:09 AM EST

hark I hath returned HAHAHAHA but no one shall know HAHAHAHA! ha

[ Parent ]
practicality (none / 1) (#78)
by emmons on Wed Sep 22, 2004 at 12:33:32 AM EST

It's obviously going to be unpractical for some businesses, and industries, but nothing helps everybody.

Big business, industry and the evil corporate empires don't operate in a vacuum. What hurts them eventually hurts you as well. Environmental protection is of course desirable, but we should be careful to figure out what methods of protection yield the greatest amount of good at the lowest cost. Since in the end, everyone pays for it.

In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
-Douglas Adams

[ Parent ]

Practicality (none / 0) (#90)
by rho on Mon Sep 27, 2004 at 11:15:02 AM EST

How is preserving the environment that we are conditioned to live is not practical?

Define preserving; define practical.

Living in a dirty, smelly, smoggy town like LA might suck. It obviously doesn't suck too badly, since all those people are still there. The roads aren't broken--Greyhound still runs routes back East.

Is it practical to spend $100 billion to save the equivalent of three lives? I'm picking numbers out of my ass, but our standard of living and life expectancy has been rising for years, even as our pollution has been, theoretically, increasing as well. To clean everything up will be more expensive than now. We might increase people's life expectancy by a few years. Is that practical?

Most people would say no.
"The thought of two thousand people munching celery at the same time [horrifies] me." --G.B. Shaw
[ Parent ]

playing favourites eh? (1.66 / 3) (#42)
by Black Belt Jones on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 10:24:39 AM EST

how did a story with score 8 get posted?

That's nothing (none / 1) (#46)
by imrdkl on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 05:15:48 PM EST

I once posted a story with a 6. That record has yet to be broken, although, theoretically, a story with a score of 5 can autopost.

[ Parent ]
Kyoto's moral bankruptcy... (none / 1) (#47)
by kurtmweber on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 05:29:49 PM EST

...is in the fact that it attempts to achieve its goals through prior legislation, rather than ex post facto civil suits.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
vast right wing conspiracy (1.50 / 2) (#49)
by wakim1618 on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 06:05:09 PM EST

to use up all the oil in the middle east so that they can ignore it once and for all.

If I wanted dumb people to love me, I'd start a cult.

Don't be evil (3.00 / 3) (#53)
by Pkchukiss on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 09:12:26 PM EST

I firmly believe in the philosophy that one should not do anything that will ultimately bring harm to others, and that includes doing nothing about the high amounts of pollutant emissions from industrialised or developing countries.

Pollutants harm our body, and certainly some of them do worse, like enhancing the already warming Earth, so we should seize any opportunity that we can get to reduce the amount of pollutants that we release into the atmosphere. Being the worst offender, the United States should seriously consider more efficient ways of burning fuels, for ultimately, it is a large factor as to whether the whole world (including the U.S. itself!) will live in a hostile environment.

Ignorant no more
My blog

HR 4578 (none / 1) (#56)
by anaesthetica on Sun Sep 19, 2004 at 10:40:46 PM EST

[Kerry] voted for the Interior Dept's funding bill (HR 4578) in 2000 which forbade any funds to be used to implement the Kyoto protocols.

Yeah, well he voted against it before he voted for it.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven

Achievable... (3.00 / 5) (#62)
by brain in a jar on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 04:25:05 AM EST

Of course it is.

The UK is well on its way to meeting it Kyoto targets, and that is without any major effort on the part of its government. We met our targets by accident by switching the fossil-fuel part of our power generation system for gas.

Now just think what could be done if governments actually made an effort to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses, if they invested in low emission power generation and encouraged people to produce some of their own energy through solar or wind power.

I remember reading a summary in the new scientist of a report which showed that california could save a huge amount of money and energy on air conditioning if its residence painted their roofs white.

Fantastically cheap and simple things, are simply not being done. Energy consumption could be cut dramatically if governments were prepared to act.

The kyoto targets are moderate and entirely achievable, and they are the minimum we should be doing. Deeper cuts will be required if we are to stabilise the climate in the long run.

As this graphic from the IPCC (the intergovernmental panel on climate change) shows, keeping our emissions at year 2000 levels would be a disaster in the long run.

Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Or (none / 1) (#69)
by Ward57 on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 01:53:47 PM EST

insist on flourecent light bulbs everywhere.

[ Parent ]
Typo (none / 1) (#76)
by Ogygus on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:49:44 PM EST

Fantastically cheap and simple things, are simply not being done. Corporate Profits Energy consumption could be cut dramatically if governments were prepared to act.

Which answers the question of why governments are not prepared to act.

The mice will see you now.
[ Parent ]
theres a great way to achieve kyoto's requirements (none / 1) (#77)
by Work on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 11:08:28 PM EST

outsource all your heavy industry to 3rd world countries where it doesnt apply. Despite all the talk of tech outsourcing in the US, industrial outsourcing is very unpopular in the US.

[ Parent ]
Solar? (none / 1) (#83)
by cdguru on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 01:36:03 PM EST

Let's assume that solar photovoltic cells became cheap enough that it made sense for everyone with a roof to have some kind of solar power setup. Let's say this was coupled with some kind of benefit or "keeping up with the neighbors" trend that made the adoption rate more than twice that of DVD players.

The result of this would be massive toxic waste dumps from the manufacture of PV cells - these use all sorts of toxic materials in their manufacture. We don't see this effect because they aren't manufactured in large quantities today.

The only way we are going to get cheap PV cells without the pollution is to start manufacturing them offworld. There is no safe place to make enough to cover even 30% of the roofs in the US. Also, it takes years before a PV cell has put out as much energy as it took to manufacture it, so the power plants we have today will still be around for a very long time.

[ Parent ]

I for one... (3.00 / 3) (#63)
by Sarojin on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 06:19:02 AM EST

...don't care about global warming. What I care about is that the air in my urban area stinks and is probably harmful to my health, and when I see poorly tuned 30 year old gratuitously polluting V-8 boats drive by me, and smell the plumes of white smoke eminating from their decayed silencers, I am made most unhappy! I guess things are different in the US, though. Americans take a deep long breath of the smoke, and proclaim "That is the smell of freedom!"

Nonsense. (none / 1) (#64)
by ghjm on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 09:20:00 AM EST

There might be places in the U.S. where you would see this, but if so, I've never been there - and I've traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada. In the state where I live, every car is given a mandatory annual emissions inspection, and if it's putting out more than its share of pollutants, it fails the test and becomes illegal to drive on public roads.

Certainly, in some of the rural counties you see shenanigans like having the family friend mechanic substitute one car's results for another, but in the cities you can drive around for a _long_ time before you see visible exhaust coming from a passenger car.

And if you did happen across one of those old, mistuned V8s, my state has a form you can fill out and submit to the DoT on which you can report a car producing excessive pollution - and people do fill them out. (There's no shortage of nosy busybodies here, or for that matter anywhere else in the world.)

Your air doesn't stink because there are polluting cars in America. Your air stinks because of what you do in your own city. If your country allows polluting cars on the roads, then your air will stink.


[ Parent ]

Non nonsense (2.50 / 2) (#71)
by synaesthesia on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 03:35:01 PM EST

In the state where I live, every car is given a mandatory annual emissions inspection, and if it's putting out more than its share of pollutants, it fails the test and becomes illegal to drive on public roads.

Chances are, it is putting out more than its fair share. Here in the rest of the world, we typically drive cars with 1 to 1.5 litre engines. Perhaps your perspective is -1, too US-centric?

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

actualy (2.00 / 2) (#72)
by Altus on Mon Sep 20, 2004 at 04:11:58 PM EST

I would guess that the reason air quality is so poor in european cities is because of population density.  the sheer number of cars per sq mile.  remember... a lot of the cars on the road in america are in the country side... and we have alot of country side.  things are a little more dense population wise in europe so you would expect the emmisions to be more noticable even though your country as a whole is giving off less.

a thought anyway.

 also.. the air quality most likely varies significantly from city to city... I found philly to have much worse air quality than boston, or even New York city (unless it is sumertime and there is a garbage strike)


"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

-1, $YOUR_COUNTRY-centric (none / 1) (#86)
by J T MacLeod on Fri Sep 24, 2004 at 10:10:51 AM EST

There are many countries where the average car has an engine between 1 and 1.5 litres.  

Those countries do not comprise the entire "rest of the world".  


In dense cities in America, many people are able to quite happily drive very small cars, or even use no cars at all.  

In other places, though, things get harder.  Fitting four people into a VW Jetta turbodiesel can be done, yes.  Can it be done in most places without begging to be turned into a fine paste on the pavement?  No.  In a dense city, traffic moves at a slow pace, and you could merge into traffic riding a turtle, so it doesn't matter there.  In sparsely driven territory which has a low speed limit?  It works there.  In the US especially, though, there are long stretches of high speed, high density traffic roads which often go uphill.  And being spread out farther, driving is usually a necessity, meaning groups ride together more frequently.  (Good luck fitting a family inside a small car, anyway.  Sadly, they often have no choice but a van or an SUV)

My first vehicle was a small Toyota pickup truck.  The 2.4 litre, four cyllinder engine made 103 bhp.  It wasn't fast, but it was fast enough for driving the back roads and sparse city roads, though crossing traffic was very scary at times (and I did get hit eventually).  

I would fear for my life driving it there or where I live now, though.  I drove a 2.0 litre SPI Focus, 110bhp, with an automatic transmission cross country and almost went to meet my maker several different times because it just wasn't fast enough to be safe, considering the traffic and the roads I was on.  

I've had two different six cyllinder vehicles, both over 140bhp in betwee, and I now drive a 2.0 ZETEC engine based Focus SVT, but it's been souped up to get 170bhp.  It's fast enough to keep me out of bad situations and fast enough to get me out of the dangerous encounters I do find.  

Out of the faster cars I've owned, I've been in many situations where I simply wouldn't have survived if I'd been in a small-engine car.  It's not because I'm a dangerous driver, but because that's how the other traffic on the road is.  Driving on rural roads or in a dense city, one doesn't encounter those situations.  

Yes, many people in the US (and Germany, and Japan, and Canada, and...) drive unnecessarily large and polluting vehicles.  They shouldn't, but we can't all drive tiny cars, either.  

[ Parent ]

Kyoto agreement is a waste of money (1.33 / 3) (#74)
by Wouter on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 10:06:38 AM EST

The Kyoto agreements will only postponed globel warming. The total annual cost of the agreement is enough to help give clean drinking water and sanitation to every person on the globe.

    Mmm. I just realise I have been brain washed by people like Bjorn Lomborg. Therefor I stand corrected: The Kyoto agreement is great, it will help in limmiting globel warming, the money spend at Kyoto can't be used to help world growth. Less people == less polution

Official pollution (none / 1) (#80)
by dollyknot on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 09:33:25 AM EST

The biggest cause of unnecessary pollution is offices. I have four female friends that all work in call centers. The off loading of UK call center work to India, proves that location bears no function in the process of call center work. Two of these fine ladies actually DRIVE to work.

Design it, build it or grow it, then deliver it - the rest is information. Who needs what and where do they need it? The same two ladies also possess computers and one is on the 'net. All four ladies spend their working day sitting in front of a computer with a headset on yakking about gas problems. Why on earth can they not do the self same thing from home. Factor in the energy sucked up by the office building and you get my drift.

Our definition of efficiency usually translates to profit. Our economic behaviour shows this. True economics is resource management not profit. The collosal waste of time and energy is astonishing. If work is defined to be 'The expenditure of energy to the benefit of others that cannot be achieved by machinary or automation' The use of this definition suggests a lot of people who say they are working, are doing no such thing

An acre is about the area that a man with a horse and plough can work in a day. A man with a tractor and plough would easly do thirty times that in a day - so what happened to all the ploughmen? Well they all had the day off didn't they ;) I'm a Brit - one of roughly 60 million. Easy equation 60 million people how many potatoes do they need? Ah but that is a state secret - don't yer think. Ho Ho He He Ha Ha

They call it an elephant's trunk, whereas it is in fact an elephant's nose - a nose by any other name would smell as sweetly.

Germany? (2.50 / 2) (#82)
by schrotie on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 10:47:32 AM EST

I come from Germany, which is still one of the largest economical powers in the world even thow we are doing our best to change that. Anyway Germany is also one of the politically greenest nations in the world. We have five (!) different dustbins in every household for better recycling capabilities, we have very strict environmental legislation and so on. Oh and legislation is on the way of implementing public trade of emission rights.

So my question: is Germany on the way of breaking Kyoto? I really don't know. But if Germany can meet Kyoto requirements (Germany is also one of the most densely settled regions in the world), other industrial nations should be able to achieve the Kyoto goals too (even though it would be harder without the German environmental history). If Germany does not meet the Kyoto margins, but misses the goal only barely it would still be possible to meet them. Certainly Kyoto comes at a price, you don't get intact environment for free. So how about Germany, anybody informed?

Interesting read .... (none / 1) (#84)
by iso on Thu Sep 23, 2004 at 04:44:52 PM EST

I don't know the answer to your question, honestly, but your post made me want to find out a little more about whether or not Germany would hit their Kyoto targets. I didn't find what I wanted, but I stumbled across this link that might interest you.

It's only tangentially related to what you were asking, but it's interesting nevertheless.

[ Parent ]
Very interesting indeed! (none / 1) (#85)
by schrotie on Fri Sep 24, 2004 at 04:23:01 AM EST

Thanks for the link. That's what we have - the rule of the righteous :-)

[ Parent ]
Kyoto is Dead - Long Live Pragmatism | 91 comments (71 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
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