Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Kyoto and Global Warming: Science Comes in Second

By dgreality in Op-Ed
Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 03:05:58 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

The recently concluded UN conference in Bonn demonstrated that the EU sees the Kyoto protocol on climate change as an economic measure designed to punish the United States, and that the science of climate change is now far less important than the politics. Billed as the "Sixth Conference of the Parties, Part II" after the original "Sixth Conference of the Parties" fell apart last year in the Hague, the conference made the farcical nature of Kyoto painfully clear.


Ostensibly convened to iron out details of the treaty, the conference succeeded only in highlighting the economic motives that are guiding negotiators. The anti-American rhetoric was at a fever pitch at the meeting, with green groups whose place on the political spectrum ranged from radical left to what passes in Europe for moderate (read: left) heaping abuse on the Bush administration and the irresponsible, domineering American mindset it is perceived to embody. The lobby of the Hotel Maritim, ground zero for the conference, was awash with dead trees on which the messages of the enviro-friendly had been printed. These preachers of green wisdom directed their chorus of pro-environment slogans at a choir of receptive delegates, most of whom already agreed with them, but served the vital purpose of stoking the flames of moral indignation directed against the United States.

"Global warming is real," environmentalists were repeatedly heard to proclaim. The truth, however, is more complicated, as our immediate past President could likely appreciate - it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is. The global surface temperature appears to have increased by about one Fahrenheit degree over the last 100 years, and most scientists think that human activity is one of the reasons for the increase. Whether human activity is the main reason, they don't yet know. They are certain that the earth's climate is widely variable even without human influence, ranging between ice ages and more temperate periods. The intensity of radiation from the sun changes over time, as does the proportion of the earth's water frozen into ice caps. CO2 definitely acts as a greenhouse gas, but scientists believe its effect may be minimal relative to these other factors. Scientists agree that humans are putting greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, but that's nowhere near a scientific endorsement of the pictures of global catastrophe painted by green activists.

Here's a question to ponder: If the Europeans really cared first and foremost about reducing emissions, would they care how emissions were reduced? The answer, of course, is that they would not - but they do, because economic motives are paramount. The United States, which used a market-based emissions credit trading system to curtail sulfur dioxide emissions, knows from experience that market mechanisms ensure that emissions reductions happen at the lowest possible cost. If we really want to cut emissions, and minimize secondary economic ill effects, then a market-based system makes the most sense.

But Europeans don't favor such a system for CO2. They wouldn't dream of allowing the nations that can most easily reduce emissions to earn credits that could be sold to countries who find reductions more costly, a step which would work to the economic benefit of all involved. On the other hand, under the treaty, the EU will reduce emissions within a so-called "bubble" that would effectively permit trading between European nations in pursuit of a single combined EU emissions target. This setup reserves the benefits of emissions trading for Europe alone, ensuring that the economic burden of Kyoto will fall disproportionately on the United States. Clearly, it reflects priorities that aren't simply environmental in nature.

Meanwhile, even the most casual examination of Kyoto reveals that it would never accomplish its stated goal of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of CO2. Even in its strongest possible form, it excuses the world's number two emitter of greenhouse gasses, China, from any obligation whatsoever, and places a disproportionate burden on the United States relative to our own emissions. Developing nations, the parts of the world where emissions growth is likely to be largest in the future, are exempted en masse from any restriction by the treaty.

And in the wake of the realization that no amount of minor tweaking would entice the US to sign, negotiators in Bonn excised even the small amount of muscle that Kyoto had in the first place. Without a US signature, the treaty needs Japan's support to become binding. To get Japan on board, EU chief negotiator Olivier Deleuze agreed to an exceedingly generous estimate of the amount of CO2 soaked up by Japan's forests, and junked the enforcement provisions of the treaty entirely.

Net result: A treaty that asks almost nothing of Japan, excludes the United States, ignores the developing world, and cannot be enforced. Even those who thought that Kyoto once promised meaningful emissions limits can now recognize that the treaty has become a prop for the EU to brandish over the United States in outrage, giving Europe the moral high ground without affecting any meaningful diminution in greenhouse gas emissions.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Related Links
o Also by dgreality


Display: Sort:
Kyoto and Global Warming: Science Comes in Second | 95 comments (58 topical, 37 editorial, 0 hidden)
Argument by name calling (4.13 / 22) (#14)
by jacob on Sun Aug 12, 2001 at 07:30:10 PM EST

So I'm supposed to believe you because ... you said things like "the anti-American rhetoric was at a fever pitch" rather than "disapproval with the US government's actions was very pronounced"? Because I see no other persuasion techniques at work here.

'Global warming is real,' environmentalists were repeatedly heard to proclaim. The truth, however, is more complicated ...

Says who? Apparently, you alone. The message: You alone are competent to interpret scientific literature, or at least you're more qualified than the entire attendence of a global summit? Oh, but wait, they're leftists. I guess you're right.

Meanwhile, even the most casual examination of Kyoto reveals that it would never accomplish its stated goal of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of CO2.

Man, those guys are dumb. I'm glad that you're here to point these things out without any real justification.

I know this is op-ed, but that doesn't mean arguing your point is unnecessary. You could just as well have said, "Other countries bad, US good, environment stupid." It would have saved me time reading.



--
"it's not rocket science" right right insofar as rocket science is boring

--Iced_Up

Real Effects (4.00 / 11) (#23)
by Paradocis on Sun Aug 12, 2001 at 10:25:18 PM EST

What's really interesting about the Bonn agreement is that the parties involved only agreed to reduce their emissions by %1.8 from 1990 levels, whereas the Kyoto treaty was attempting %5.2.

Why is that interesting? Because with Russia's economic colapse, emissions have dropped to about %50 of what they were when they were the Soviet Union, meaning they could greatly increase their current output of emissions and still be well within the boudaries of the agreement. Now if you put that together with emissions trading, and do the math, you'll realize that the agreeing countries could cheaply purchase these emissions credits from Russia and very easily increase their own emissions. In other words, The Whole Agreement is a SCAM, globally we're already below 1990 levels. The Bonn agreement is strictly about global realpolitik.

-=<Paradocis>=-

emissions globally (4.20 / 5) (#24)
by kmon on Sun Aug 12, 2001 at 10:55:45 PM EST

You'll note that it looks like (since 1750) about an exponential increase. Even though the USSR collapsed (and reduced CO2 emissions) were still screwed. Eventually, Russia will be back on their feet economically, and besides that, China's economy has been growing at about a rate of 10% a year for quite a while now. Even though between 1996-1998, it appears that there's been a reduction, it doesn't appear to fit with the larger trend (graph). The fact is, that we've got 250 years of research and data to back this up. Here is a graph of global emissions.
ad hoc, ad hominem, ad infinitum!
[ Parent ]
Exponential? (3.00 / 3) (#43)
by Afty on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 11:48:12 AM EST

That's a nice comment, and some good research, but that graph looks distinctly linear to me, and while you decry the recent dip, I say it's a good step, but that we need more stringent (and fair) controls than the Kyoto treaty would provide.



[ Parent ]
Exponential (4.00 / 2) (#66)
by Merk00 on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 10:04:42 AM EST

It's exponential over the entire domain of the graph. However, you made a good point, that by choosing a domain the graph can appear to be exponential or linear.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

What is your argument? (4.00 / 3) (#55)
by marx on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 08:13:56 PM EST

The Whole Agreement is a SCAM [...]

This is a strong statement. I expect you to have some facts to back this up. You do not provide any reference to what the goal of the agreement is. Here is the objective of the Kyoto protocol:

The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

Your only argument supporting your accusation is:

globally we're already below 1990 levels.

So what? The objective is not to reach the level, and then dismantle the treaty. The objective is to stabilize the levels. Just because the objective is met today does not mean it will be met tomorrow. "Oh, there was no crime today, why do we need the police? The law is a SCAM!"

Also, just because the global levels are stable does not mean all is well and good. If some parts of the world work hard to reduce emissions, and some parts just keep increasing emissions, the level could still be stable, but the burden of reduction is unfair.

The environment minister of the EU (or whatever her title is) made a statement after the Bonn meeting which I think was pretty good. She said something like "I'm disappointed that the protocol has been watered down, but at least there is now an international framework for dealing with emissions, while there previously was none". If there is no framework, what stops single countries from increasing their emissions? Countries could increase their emissions 1000% and nothing could be done.

I think you'll just basically have to give up. Basically the whole world has joined this agreement (180 countries), and the US is alone in rejecting it. Isn't the US supposed to be the protector of democracy in the world? They're not setting a very good example.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

A chance to speak my mind! (4.00 / 9) (#29)
by jackdoe on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 04:18:59 AM EST

This political frenzy is a good opportunity to raise understanding of climate science and invest some resources in improving it.

There seems to be general scientific agreement that human activity has significantly increased (and will continue to increase) the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere...

...and on precious little else. Some say the temperature has increased; others say it has not. Of those who say it has, only some consider the rise in carbon dioxide (or anything else done by humans) to be responsible.

I guess cutting emissions can be argued on the grounds that change is dangerous and those emissions have (an unknown amount of) potential to cause some - but not, honestly, on any other grounds, because the conclusions just aren't there.

I think the politicians are asking the wrong questions. If they feel the issue important, they should be plowing resources into climate science to learn:

  • Do humans actually have the power to affect the global climate? (Wow!)
  • If so, what are some cause-and-effect relationships between various human actions and planetary responses?
  • How can humans (with appropriate caution and humility) learn to control their climate impact to general advantage?

Not just what they're actually asking:

  • How can humans slow this impact, if any, until they understand it?

I'd sleep better at night knowing that we could stop an ice age - or a deluge of melted polar ice - if we wanted to. We're not going to get there without learning more about the climate and our effect on it.

While some caution is probably called for as we learn to understand the effects of our actions, slowing emissions growth is an interim policy at best. ("Fix the emissions and everything will be ok" - tell that to the mammoths.) We need to understand what we're dealing with.

Enough of stupid questions. (2.62 / 8) (#31)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 06:50:08 AM EST

Do humans actually have the power to affect the global climate? (Wow!)

If you had been in Southeast Asia in 1997 you would not be making this idiotic question. The impact of human activity in global climate is an undisputable fact.

If we can't ask the proper questions, what hope is there about finding any answers?
------------------------------------
"They only think of me as a Mexican,
an Indian or a Mafia don"
Mexican born actor Anthony Quinn on
Hol
[ Parent ]

He said *global* (2.80 / 5) (#37)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 10:26:50 AM EST

Of course we can affect the local climate. The question is: can we, at current levels of activity, affect the *global* climate.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
All activity off all countries affect the climate! (3.25 / 4) (#57)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 09:46:47 PM EST

I put just one example (one!) of just one country affecting a vast region of the planet. Please have a look at a map and check the size of the countries affected.

At the same thime this was happening rivers are contained and poluted (Ganges, Nile), big dams are still built (Three Gorges in China, another one in Malaysia), jungle is destroyed (Amazon, Chiapas, Borneo, Congo), many places have unbreathable air (Bangkok, Mexico City, Ho Chi Minh City) and so on and so forth.

The destruction of full ecosystems in big areas in many different parts of the world have an overall factor that makes it clear that we as a species are influencing the climate (is very well understood how the depletion of flora or the managemente of big bodies of water affects huge climatic areas).

Perhaps the climate is not affected in a concious, concerted global effort, but human activity is slowly but surely changing the climate for good or bad.


------------------------------------
"They only think of me as a Mexican,
an Indian or a Mafia don"
Mexican born actor Anthony Quinn on
Hol
[ Parent ]
Climate (2.66 / 3) (#65)
by Merk00 on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 09:57:09 AM EST

The destruction of full ecosystems in big areas in many different parts of the world have an overall factor that makes it clear that we as a species are influencing the climate (is very well understood how the depletion of flora or the managemente of big bodies of water affects huge climatic areas).
Actually, it's not. Because if that were true we'd be undergoing climate changes on a global scale. And we'd also have to be destroying full ecosystems. The climate is not particularly well understood at this point despite what some scientists would like everyone to believe.

It's also important to distinguish between climate and weather. They are totally different (albeit inter-related). Climate refers to the tendencies of the whole earth's weather. Local weather can have little effect on the whole earth's weather. Simply causing haze does not mean that we can effect the climate. The climate also has a bit of a self-correcting effect built-in which is not understood. In short, no one's sure what damage can be done to the climate or if we're doing any.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Answers.. (4.50 / 2) (#62)
by ajduk on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 09:02:03 AM EST

>>Do humans actually have the power to affect the global climate? (Wow!)

Yes - any human activity which increases or decreases the surface heat flux from the sun, or changes the distribution of that flux, affects the climate.

This is complicated by the natural feedbacks - a small warming/cooling can lead to a muck larger one, i.e.

- The transition from Interglacial (now) to Ice age is caused by a very slightly cooler northern summer, as a result of slight changes in the earth's orbit. Positive feedback (Methane clathrate formation and increased albedo) turns this slight cooling into a major cooling.

- The transition from Ice age to Interglacial is caused by a very slightly warmer northern summer combined with natrural variation. Feedback: Methane release, rainforest->savannah transition, decreased abledo.

>>If so, what are some cause-and-effect relationships between various human actions and planetary responses?

CO2 release, methane release -> warming.
Aerosol release -> cooling.

Feedback as above.

>>How can humans (with appropriate caution and humility) learn to control their climate impact to general advantage?

Technology such as (for example) large space based mirrors. In a few hundred years, at the current rate of technological progress, large scale climate control will be achieveable.


Here's a question for you: How long would fossil fuels last if everyone on earth in 2050 (about 7-9 billion) had a U.S. standard of living and used the same amount each as US people currently use?






[ Parent ]
Conjecture (1.50 / 2) (#67)
by Merk00 on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 10:05:15 AM EST

>>Do humans actually have the power to affect the global climate? (Wow!)

Yes - any human activity which increases or decreases the surface heat flux from the sun, or changes the distribution of that flux, affects the climate.

That is highly unconfirmed and simple conjecture based on other conjecture.
This is complicated by the natural feedbacks - a small warming/cooling can lead to a muck larger one, i.e.
Or it can lead to absolutely nothing at all. It takes very special conditions in certain places to affect the climate.
- The transition from Interglacial (now) to Ice age is caused by a very slightly cooler northern summer, as a result of slight changes in the earth's orbit. Positive feedback (Methane clathrate formation and increased albedo) turns this slight cooling into a major cooling.

- The transition from Ice age to Interglacial is caused by a very slightly warmer northern summer combined with natrural variation. Feedback: Methane release, rainforest->savannah transition, decreased abledo.

Both of which are conjecture. There isn't really any proof behind this and I believe the causes of ice ages are still debated.
>>If so, what are some cause-and-effect relationships between various human actions and planetary responses?

CO2 release, methane release -> warming. Aerosol release -> cooling.

Feedback as above.

Yet again more conjecture.
>>How can humans (with appropriate caution and humility) learn to control their climate impact to general advantage?

Technology such as (for example) large space based mirrors. In a few hundred years, at the current rate of technological progress, large scale climate control will be achieveable.

Um, I'm not even going to bother answering anything there as this is complete and utter conjecture.
Here's a question for you: How long would fossil fuels last if everyone on earth in 2050 (about 7-9 billion) had a U.S. standard of living and used the same amount each as US people currently use?
Depends. What fossil fuels are being used? How much fossil fuel is exactly available? How efficient is the processing?

My main point in all this is a lot of what we are basing our global policy on is conjecture. There is very little proof behind it and not particularly much consensus. There is a lot of guessing at this and making the data fit the objective, on both sides. Until there is some concrete data it makes it very hard to decide either way.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

It's interesting.. (4.50 / 2) (#81)
by ajduk on Wed Aug 15, 2001 at 06:31:23 AM EST

I'm a postgraduate geologist. Nothing I said above is remotely controversial.

The first statement is akin to saying 'If I turn up the heating in my house, my house gets warmer'.

Maybe you know something about the laws of physics that the rest of the world dosen't; why not publish and get your nobel prize?

The second is based on direct observation of earth history; small changes in energy fluxes, or even the distribution of those fluxes, has a large effect on climate. If you disagree with this, you've got a hell of a lot of explaining to do.

Just because you don't know the science and evidence behind climate change, dosen't mean that no-one does.




[ Parent ]
Not quite (1.50 / 2) (#86)
by Merk00 on Wed Aug 15, 2001 at 01:46:03 PM EST

I'm a postgraduate geologist. Nothing I said above is remotely controversial.
All right, I believe that puts us at about the same level of qualifications for this discussion. Neither of us do climitalogy.
The first statement is akin to saying 'If I turn up the heating in my house, my house gets warmer'.

Maybe you know something about the laws of physics that the rest of the world dosen't; why not publish and get your nobel prize?

I'll retract my first statement of conjecture as I misunderstood on my first read through. The idea that any human activity can affect the climate to a large degree is merely conjecture: it would have to have happened for it to be anything but.
The second is based on direct observation of earth history; small changes in energy fluxes, or even the distribution of those fluxes, has a large effect on climate. If you disagree with this, you've got a hell of a lot of explaining to do.
True, but small changes can also lead to nothing at all. I can light a candle and create heat and that will have very little if any impact on the climate. As I said, there have to be special areas and conditions for those changes to do anything to the climate.
Just because you don't know the science and evidence behind climate change, dosen't mean that no-one does.
Then I invite you to kindly share it with me. There is no need to retreat to "because sciencists say so" as an arguement (which is a logical fallacy none-the-less). If you can't prove it, then it's not truth at all.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

More Questions... (1.00 / 2) (#82)
by shaum on Wed Aug 15, 2001 at 11:46:33 AM EST

This is complicated by the natural feedbacks - a small warming/cooling can lead to a muck larger one
Is all feedback necessarily positive feedback? If that's the case, then why don't volcanic eruptions trigger ice ages, rather than producing (as they do) measurable, but short-term, cooling?
Here's a question for you: How long would fossil fuels last if everyone on earth in 2050 (about 7-9 billion) had a U.S. standard of living and used the same amount each as US people currently use?
I wouldn't count on them not lasting the same amount of time, or longer. The limitation on oil reserves has never been the actual amount of oil extant, but rather the cost of finding and extracting it. As technology has improved, driven by demand, proven oil reserves have increased, consistently outstripping consumption, since the oil industry began.

:wq!
[ Parent ]
Typical US attitude (3.50 / 14) (#30)
by LQ on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 05:45:15 AM EST

From a European POV, we see the US as this great, big, dirty polluter who doesn't give a flying fsck about the environment, global warming or anything else but their corporate profits. Global warming is real and the US are more to blame than most.

US POV (3.20 / 10) (#34)
by Merk00 on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 08:21:36 AM EST

From a European POV, we see the US as this great, big, dirty polluter who doesn't give a flying fsck about the environment, global warming or anything else but their corporate profits. Global warming is real and the US are more to blame than most.
And from an American perspective we see Europe as being jealous of the US's prosperity and blaming on the problems of the world on the US. We also see lots of blanket statements ("Global warming is real") without anything to back it up.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Global warming is real ... (2.80 / 10) (#39)
by LQ on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 10:51:36 AM EST

... and the only people saying otherwise are scientists in the pay of US oil corporation, and their puppets in DC.

[ Parent ]
Global Warming (2.75 / 8) (#40)
by Merk00 on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 11:03:32 AM EST

It is true that the overall global temperature is rising. However, there is absolutely no proof that humans are causing global warming. One of the main reasons is that we don't have a long enough record of temperatures. We can't tell if this is just a normal cycle of the environment or it is human caused. Now, C02 is known to be a "greenhouse gas" but its effect in a climate system is not known. Scientists have predicted what it will be but those are predictions at best.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Evidence (3.90 / 11) (#47)
by LQ on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 12:21:12 PM EST

we don't have a long enough record of temperatures

There's that old denial again. What about all the work that's been done measure isotopes in ice cores to determine snow levels and carbon dioxide levels? 1000 years enough? See this report. But, of course, it's not produced by US oil corporation funded scientists so you'll probably dismiss it out of hand.

[ Parent ]

Climate (3.81 / 11) (#50)
by Merk00 on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 02:07:07 PM EST

Actually, a 1000 years really isn't all that much data. You have to remember that climatic changes are on the order of 100,000's of years (think of how long an ice age lasts). I believe it's a common meterological fact that we're still coming off a mini-iceage centered around the 1400's (the Thames River used to freeze then but no longer does). We're also talking of temperature changes over the past 100 years of about .6C+/-.2C. That's not a particularly large change nor do we know if this is particularly common over a large time scale. There also isn't particularly much proof behind our climate models. While it's very easy for scientists to say they're accurate, they have no been proven over a long time scale and when talking of global warming, that's the issue at hand. Nothing serious will happen in the short term but instead in the long term which is why climate models that are proven accurate are needed.

Also, please do not debase yourself into name calling about "US oil corporation funded scientists" and the like. There's no need for that nor is that what I'm doing. If you want to go on about the origins of data, please remember that the link you added was from the "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change." The name presupposes that there is some form of climate change going on and that something should be done about it (obviously there is some sort of measured climate change; however, the name implies that it is human in nature and that we can actually do something about it). All sources are biased. There are some that are more biased than others and therein lies the problem of basing public policy on debated science.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

More pointless arguement (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by LQ on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 04:34:45 AM EST

the Thames River used to freeze then but no longer does The Thames used to freeze because it used to be much shallower, covering a larger area of marshland. It has been embanked and so is deeper and faster flowing.

please do not debase yourself into name calling about "US oil corporation funded scientists" The fossil fuel lobby has a lot to loose in the short term and are putting a lot money in lobbying and funding tame scientists. First they denied there was any climate change at all. Then they denied that humans were responsible. And then their DC puppets said they would only sign up for an international agreement if it included developing countries. So even the DC oil men grudgingly admit there should be reductions!

[ Parent ]

Global Warming (3.00 / 3) (#61)
by Merk00 on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 08:04:16 AM EST

the Thames River used to freeze then but no longer does
The Thames used to freeze because it used to be much shallower, covering a larger area of marshland. It has been embanked and so is deeper and faster flowing.
Actually, no there was a mini ice age. Temperatures were on average 4.5F colder than they are today. Before the mini-ice age, there was a medieval warm period which was warmer than today.
please do not debase yourself into name calling about "US oil corporation funded scientists"
The fossil fuel lobby has a lot to loose in the short term and are putting a lot money in lobbying and funding tame scientists. First they denied there was any climate change at all. Then they denied that humans were responsible. And then their DC puppets said they would only sign up for an international agreement if it included developing countries. So even the DC oil men grudgingly admit there should be reductions!
Guess what, both sides have a lot to loose at this point. The energy producers do hold the possibility of loosing money (although most of that would be recooped by the increased cost of more efficient energy production systems that they could sell and the additional costs of alternative fuels). The global warming camp however stands to loose even more: their reputation. As a large portion of this group is scientists, without their reputations they are out of a job and will not be taken seriously by their peers. This is much more of a conflict of interest than simple money is.

Now as for what the government is doing: it is not taking orders from big business or the oil companies. There is no grand conspiracy and you have a profound misunderstanding of American politics if you think so. It is however trying to protect the US economy. Allowing developing economies (including the second largest polluter in the world, China) to escape restrictions makes the treaty unworkable. It would be highly unlikely that these countries would ever be made to abide by the treaty and therefore the US economy would be crippled against these economies that are allowed to pollute at will.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

Every Time I See... (3.42 / 7) (#53)
by greyrat on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 05:07:19 PM EST

...the second graph on page three of the report you link to, I have to trot out this fine refutation. Please remember that the data used to produce the "hockey stick" is not reliable. Note that the error bars (which everyone seems to forget about) indicate the possibility of virtually no warming at all.

Is the planet getting warmer? Probably. Is it our fault? Probably not. We're not the center of the Universe, we're not the center of the solar system, and we don't necessarily control the destiny of the earth.


~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
and (4.66 / 3) (#63)
by samth on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 09:28:08 AM EST

Every time someone mentions that rebuttal, I feel the need to point out Daly's association with the Greening Earth Society, a front group for the Western Fuels Association.

Furthermore, even if you got to pick whatever data points you wanted in the gray area on that graph, it would still show a marked warming trend in recent years, and the warmest year in centuries in 1998.

Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
[ Parent ]

And Again (2.33 / 3) (#64)
by Merk00 on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 09:50:55 AM EST

Every time someone mentions that rebuttal, I feel the need to point out Daly's association with the Greening Earth Society, a front group for the Western Fuels Association.
I think at this point that no one is unbiased anymore as too many reputations have been stacked one way or another. So, really, political orientation doesn't matter.
Furthermore, even if you got to pick whatever data points you wanted in the gray area on that graph, it would still show a marked warming trend in recent years, and the warmest year in centuries in 1998.
I've seen many explanations of this as resulting from the large El Nino effect of 1997-1998. And that this was an isolated effect because of that. Shouldn't it hold, if we were undergoing global warming, that there would be a continuing warming trend from 1998? There hasn't been one as of yet although it is a bit too early to tell if we will have warmer years than 1998.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

and again (4.66 / 3) (#70)
by samth on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 01:13:49 PM EST

First, no one is unbiased, period. However, only some people are paid by companies with a major stake in the research. I know of few companies who are paying the scientists on the IPCC.

Second, 1998 being warmer than 2000 might be explained by El Nino. However, El Nino cannot explain the trend of the last 50 years, as that graph shows.

Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
[ Parent ]

Furthermore (2.33 / 3) (#71)
by Merk00 on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 01:33:05 PM EST

First, no one is unbiased, period. However, only some people are paid by companies with a major stake in the research. I know of few companies who are paying the scientists on the IPCC.
Money isn't the issue now. It's reputation. Reputation is much more important to a scientist than money is. Too many people have stacked too much on global warming being true and caused by humans to ever recount the theory.
Second, 1998 being warmer than 2000 might be explained by El Nino. However, El Nino cannot explain the trend of the last 50 years, as that graph shows.
Look at the refutation again. It gives a completely different look at the warming trend. Who's right? I'm not particularly sure but I see too many political agendas on both sides for my taste.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

maybe (4.66 / 3) (#72)
by samth on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 01:39:10 PM EST

Reputation is much more important to a scientist than money is.

I wouldn't be so sure. Money will persuade almost anyone of anything.

As to the trend,greyrat made a claim that the error bars showed that there was a possibility of no recent warming. I showed that that wasn't true. That has no bearing on whether the data itself is valid, but it does refute his claim.

Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
[ Parent ]

Still (2.33 / 3) (#73)
by Merk00 on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 02:08:06 PM EST

Reputation is much more important to a scientist than money is.

I wouldn't be so sure. Money will persuade almost anyone of anything.

Scientists wouldn't go into academic research science if they wanted money. They want the reputation. But it's beside the point, everyone in this debate is highly biased at this point.
As to the trend,greyrat made a claim that the error bars showed that there was a possibility of no recent warming. I showed that that wasn't true. That has no bearing on whether the data itself is valid, but it does refute his claim.
With the error bars, the temperature increase over a long period of time (longer than 50 years which is insiginificant as far as climatology is concerned) is nearly statistically insignificant. The way the graph was prepared is very suspect as it is intended to highlight a change and minimize the idea of a possiblity of no change (look at the small size of the error bars, the choice of colors for different sections, etc.).

The main problem with the data showing the trend is that it was gathered from two different sources (one being tree rings and the other thermometers). It makes an accurate comparison impossible.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

who cares who pays? (3.00 / 3) (#75)
by dgreality on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 03:34:21 PM EST

What about the possibility that, in the context of peer-reviewed science, bias on the part of the scientists makes no difference? To understand what I mean by this, look here.

[ Parent ]

News flash (3.66 / 3) (#78)
by samth on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 06:47:16 PM EST

Group that takes industry funding and puts out results benifical to industry claims that taking funding from the industries that you write about, and then advancing their agenda is ok.

Tommorow night, we will politicians who took large contributions from corporations that were affected by recent legislation, who say it's all ok.

Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
[ Parent ]

Sure (3.00 / 4) (#85)
by Merk00 on Wed Aug 15, 2001 at 01:39:48 PM EST

Group that takes industry funding and puts out results benifical to industry claims that taking funding from the industries that you write about, and then advancing their agenda is ok.
Sure, as long as the research is done correctly. It doesn't matter who funded as long as the research is truthful and accurate. That's what peer-review is supposed to accomplish.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

delusions (4.33 / 3) (#87)
by samth on Wed Aug 15, 2001 at 02:35:50 PM EST

Do you really think that funding doesn't affect research? That fails the laugh test too.

Furthermore, Daly's research is posted on the web, not in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The real journals don't publish loony views like that.

Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
[ Parent ]

Close Mindedness (2.66 / 3) (#88)
by Merk00 on Wed Aug 15, 2001 at 03:10:37 PM EST

Do you really think that funding doesn't affect research? That fails the laugh test too.
First of all, quit it with the "laugh test." Just because something doesn't seem possible to you that doesn't mean it can't be taken seriously by the rest of us. Funding can affect research, but it's not a guarantee it does. And guess what? It doesn't in all cases. There are some scientists with a conscience *gasp*. They actually want to do science and don't care who's funding them.
Furthermore, Daly's research is posted on the web, not in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The real journals don't publish loony views like that.
Just because you reject arguements because they're "loony" doesn't mean that they aren't valid. And just because something's not published in a scientific journal doesn't mean that it's not true. And as an FYI, Daly has been published. He just also maintains a website. It's important to remember that the most revolutionary ideas in science are the ones that are most ridiculous and differ from the norm the most. This does not mean that all offbeat theories are correct but it's important not to dismiss them out of hand.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

ha ha ha (4.00 / 2) (#89)
by samth on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 08:42:59 AM EST

First, the laugh test is useful, and I won't give it up. It is a good way of eliminating truly ridiculous views.

Second, funding doesn't always affect research. But when the point of your foundation is generating research to support a particular point of view, that's a good indication that maybe some affecting is going on.

Third, you were the one that brought up peer review, claiming that it would eliminate funding biases. Yet Daly isn't published in peer-reviewed journals.

Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
[ Parent ]

still got love for the streets (4.00 / 3) (#79)
by samth on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 06:54:49 PM EST

. . . it's the D.R.E.

Sorry about that.

So, you claim that anyone who didn't take the highest paid position available to them is not motivated by money. That claim fails the laugh test.

Then you claim that if reality was at the extreme edge of the error bars, it would allow you to get away with your claims. However, I encourage you to look at the graph again, and note that the recorded temperature in 1997 (or 1999, or 2000) was drastically higher than the top of the error bar for 1850, say. If you picked the data values most favorable to your hypothesis, you would get a climate about as warm as it is now about 500 years ago, with significant cooling until about 1825, at which point the temperature starts rising again, until it's as hot as it is now.

Finally, the idea that data from two different sources cannot be compared is so ridiculous that even Daly doesn't use it.

Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
[ Parent ]

No (2.33 / 3) (#83)
by Merk00 on Wed Aug 15, 2001 at 01:37:44 PM EST

So, you claim that anyone who didn't take the highest paid position available to them is not motivated by money. That claim fails the laugh test.
No, but it implies that there are other factors that motivate them more. I think the main issue is the same thing I've been repeatedly stating: there are too many entrenched opinions and too much is at risk for either side to give in easily or admit a mistake.
Then you claim that if reality was at the extreme edge of the error bars, it would allow you to get away with your claims. However, I encourage you to look at the graph again, and note that the recorded temperature in 1997 (or 1999, or 2000) was drastically higher than the top of the error bar for 1850, say. If you picked the data values most favorable to your hypothesis, you would get a climate about as warm as it is now about 500 years ago, with significant cooling until about 1825, at which point the temperature starts rising again, until it's as hot as it is now.
The large error regions for the earlier data means that there is a distinct possiblity of no upward trend over the long term. What does this imply? That global warming isn't caused by people. Instead, it's natural as I doubt you can argue that the earlier warm period was caused by human industrialization.
Finally, the idea that data from two different sources cannot be compared is so ridiculous that even Daly doesn't use it.
I should clarify, data that measures two different things (thermometer temperature and tree-ring temperature are not the same!) cannot be equated as equal in a comparison. That is why it's a problem.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

sorry (3.50 / 2) (#90)
by samth on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 08:58:03 AM EST

but you're still wrong. At least Daly has real arguments.

No, but it implies that there are other factors that motivate them more.

So money could motivate them. Furthermore, they get to keep doing science because these companies pay for it. Maybe that's their motivation.

The large error regions for the earlier data means that there is a distinct possiblity of no upward trend over the long term.

If you got to pick whatever points you liked, within the error bars, there would be a distinct cooling trend, until about 1920. Then there would be a distinct warming trend, till now, that reversed 920 years of cooling. So, this still wouldn't prove what you wanted.

I should clarify, data that measures two different things (thermometer temperature and tree-ring temperature are not the same!) cannot be equated as equal in a comparison. That is why it's a problem.

As I said before, this doesn't make any sense. The thermometers say it's 21.6, the tree rings say the same thing. (Or whatever the temperature is.) There's no problem here.

Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
[ Parent ]

Nope (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by Merk00 on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 09:16:38 AM EST

As I said before, this doesn't make any sense. The thermometers say it's 21.6, the tree rings say the same thing. (Or whatever the temperature is.) There's no problem here.
Except tree rings don't measure temperature. Tree rings measure tree growth. Tree growth is affected by temperature but not temperature alone. Tree growth only can give an indication of the temperature during the growing season which leaves out a significant portion of the year. Tree growth is also dependent on precipitation, soil composition, and amount of sunlight among other things. That is why they can't be compared.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

well (3.50 / 2) (#94)
by samth on Fri Aug 17, 2001 at 01:04:56 PM EST

If what you're saying is that tree growth doesn't accurately measure temperature, that's something different. Fortunately, however, they also used ice cores, as well as a number of other measures.

Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
[ Parent ]
Nonsense (4.50 / 2) (#92)
by StrontiumDog on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 09:51:29 AM EST

Money isn't the issue now. It's reputation. Reputation is much more important to a scientist than money is. Too many people have stacked too much on global warming being true and caused by humans to ever recount the theory.
The ultimate wet dream of every scientist is blowing away some established, entrenched theory and becoming the new Einstein.

If there be a hole in a scientific paper on the greenhouse effect, some other researcher will try to punch a hole in it.

[ Parent ]

Back and Forth (3.66 / 3) (#69)
by DJK on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 10:15:18 AM EST

And every time I see this back and forth about a paper and/or numbers, I think of the quote:
"There are 3 kinds of lies: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics".

Most everyone has an agenda and/or was funded by some organization that has their own best interests in mind. You can make numbers say almost anything you want, and there can always be a rebuttal. I have very little faith that either side is telling the whole correct story. We can only guess.

-= "Freedom no longer frees you." - Metallica =-
[ Parent ]
A thousand years ago... (2.00 / 2) (#93)
by darthaggie on Thu Aug 16, 2001 at 12:10:58 PM EST

Greenland was green, and a place the Vikings called Vinland grew vines...both of which are neither, at this point in time...

Of course global warming is occuring. It's been occuring the last 15K years.

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

Further Reading (3.20 / 5) (#36)
by dgreality on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 09:46:50 AM EST

I'm new here and didn't realized that it would be helpful to include citations with my essay; here are a few for those who would like to learn more.

The web site of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. From here, you can order your own copies of the scientific findings at the core of this debate.

The Science and Environmental Policy Project run by Dr. Fred Singer, a leading "contrarian" in the global warming debate.

An in-depth exploration of the issue published recently in the Weekly Standard.



Its not you... (3.00 / 3) (#48)
by MrJbQ7 on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 12:51:03 PM EST

Don't worry if this doesn't end up being posted. It is a good article and from what I know of the Kyoto Accords, factually correct. If I were you, don't take this personally, re-post with a few statistics and links in the main article and give it an it's-a-good-thing-but-only-if-done-right-so-lets-do-it-right spin (which I think you were trying for).

As with most political attempts at anything, environmental legislation seems to bring out all sorts of extremely rabid pro- and anti- sentiment. It is amazing how few people can debate these issues objectively without getting personally offended or emotionally hurt.

[ Parent ]

I would say something about the article... (1.00 / 2) (#54)
by goosedaemon on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 07:08:30 PM EST

but it seems to me to stand by itself, especially due to your comment with references. Personally I think the meta issue here is pretty interesting, but that kind of points itself out too.

Guess I'll re-post this (4.25 / 4) (#56)
by spacejack on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 08:38:40 PM EST

I posted this in the other Kyoto article that died (been having bad luck, posting to unpopular articles lately and all my wonderful prose going down the drain :) Anyhow...

While I would consider myself an environmentalist (a practicing environmentalist that is, as in I walk, ride a bike or take transit, don't have a car, live downtown, recycle, don't buy a lot of crap I don't need, etc.), I'm not wholly convinced about the global warming thing either. As has been stated numerous times, climate change happens on earth, and whether we do something or do nothing, the planet's temperature could rise or fall much more dramatically all on its own.

Personally I think it might be more productive to look at at the real costs of things like air and water pollution and how it directly affects the quality of our lives. I mean, if all the people in each city who are supporters of the Kyoto agreement instead put their efforts towards reducing pollution on a local scale we could in reduce emissions overall, simply by looking out for our own interests. Furthermore, people would see the immediate benefits rather than listening to a bunch of scientists talk about humanly imperceptable differences that may or may not have an effect in the long term.

There are all sorts of things a city can do all on its own to reduce air pollution: from intelligent urban planning, growing grass on top of buildings, designing for lots of green space, restricting traffic -- none of which need global approval.

But somehow I think that a lot of the Kyoto supporters are clueless SUV drivers who know nothing more than the odd sound-byte they pick up wherever, hoping that this agreement will get signed and magically fix the environment. Meanwhile they'd continue to drive 50km to the trendy downtown fashion stores & back to the burbs every day, blasting the AC, honking at or running over cyclists and pedestrians as usual.

I have the answer! (2.50 / 6) (#58)
by ghjm on Mon Aug 13, 2001 at 10:06:39 PM EST

Here's the Bill Clinton answer to reducing global CO2 emissions: Don't exhale.

The "bubble" (4.66 / 3) (#59)
by marx on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 02:19:24 AM EST

First of all, here is an explanation of the "bubble". It is from National Center, some kind of conservative information foundation:
The umbrella provision was modelled after the European Union's so-called "bubble" proposal, which would allow the EU to be treated as a single nation, thereby allowing it to shift the burdens of greenhouse emissions controls to its member states that can most easily meet the targets.

This is from the K5 article:

On the other hand, under the treaty, the EU will reduce emissions within a so-called "bubble" that would effectively permit trading between European nations in pursuit of a single combined EU emissions target. This setup reserves the benefits of emissions trading for Europe alone, ensuring that the economic burden of Kyoto will fall disproportionately on the United States. Clearly, it reflects priorities that aren't simply environmental in nature.

First off, I assume the US would be free to do emission trading within its own borders. If not, ignore my argument and I will agree with you.

I guess we first have to answer the question "why are the levels set on a country to country basis at all, why not just have a global level"? The answer is of course sovereignty and jurisdiction. The UN could impose environmental laws on the member states to reach the objective, but the member states would not agree to this (especially not the US). Instead, the parties of the treaty commit themselves to a certain level, and then it's up to themselves to figure out how to reach this level (by passing laws or planting forests or whatever). I think we all can agree that this is a sensible approach.

Now, when talking about sovereignty and jurisdiction in the EU, things become a bit complicated. While the member states are still technically sovereign, there is an EU parliament, and an EU Court of Justice which has powers over the member states. For example, here is a ruling over Sweden: SWEDEN NOT PERMITTED TO INCREASE ITS COD CATCH. Part of the EU legislation is about the environment, which of course includes atmospheric pollution.

I'm not very familiar with the US legal system from this perspective, but I assume it's quite similar. The individual states have a quite high level of self-rule (as demonstrated by the ballot counting procedures in the election), but there is a higher authority which harmonizes the laws of the states. There are also federal laws. I suspect these two systems, at least when it comes to environmental law, are quite similar.

If we can accept that the legal structures of the US and the EU are quite similar in this respect, why can't we accept that the Kyoto protocol should apply similarly?

There may even be situations where a member country could not meet its levels due to some EU general directive preventing its action plan. Perhaps Luxembourg is suddenly invaded by tourist cars from other member states (I'm guilty of this). To prevent this they try to keep cars out. This however conflicts with the directives about free movement within the union.

If this is of such a great concern to you, I have a proposal which will remove all such jurisdictional problems. We create a grid all over the Earth of a fixed resolution, say 100*100km. In the center of each cell we place a sensor. Now, instead of mandating levels for each country, we do it per cell.

Unfortunately, this would greatly restrict flexibility. If you want to build a new coal-burning power plant, you would have to build a system of pipes to distribute the pollution over a great number of cells. This would probably not be economical. Perhaps using Bush's "clean coal", this would not be a problem (ha ha). Regardless, I'm sure the US would reject such a proposal, since it would impact the US economy far worse than the protocol in its current form, even though it would provide a much more positive environmental effect. You could also not increase the cell size very much, since the smallest country in the world has to span at least one cell.

Until the US would be prepared to accept my grid proposal (or even just per-state levels), I think it's plain hypocrisy (or just a misinformed opinion) to accuse the EU of trying to benefit unfairly from emissions trading. I'm also pretty sure the EU does not intend to maximize pollution for economic profit. At least Sweden keeps a much stricter environmental policy than required and there is generally quite a high environmental awareness (and will to do something about it) in the EU.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.

The analogy between the United States and the EU (2.66 / 3) (#68)
by dgreality on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 10:09:41 AM EST

You raise an interesting issue, and clearly have a thoughtful and well-informed take on it. I'd question, however, the idea that the EU is analogous to the United States in terms of international agreements of this sort. Yes, the EU and the US have comprable economies, and yes, desire to compete with the US economy has animated much of the effort to reduce trade barriers in Europe, but that doesn't make the EU and the US the same.

The United States enjoys national sovreignty, as do the member states of the European Union. That's why France, Germany, and the United States are peers in terms of their status vis vis the Kyoto treaty (each is a potential signatory). The fact that European nations have created a superstructure for their interactions does not endow that superstructure with sovreignty, or deprive member nations of it.

On the other hand, it might be argued that becaus the EU and US are of comprable size economically, the efficiencies realized by the European bubble for Europe are comprable to those already enjoyed by the US alone, on account of its size.

At this point, I would simply return to the fact that emissions trading could still exist with an EU bubble. The problem isn't that the bubble permits the EU nations to trade, but rather that the European negotiators who created the bubble have also prevented trading between European and non-European nations under the Kyoto framework. It's fine for Europe to trade, but the larger point is that there's no reason to stop any state whose emissions are limited by Kyoto from trading with any other state. In the end, the larger the pool of nations permitted to trade with one another, the more cost-effective reduction will be. The same amount of emissions reduction will occur regardless of the nature and extent of trading systems; the real question is how much reductions will cost.

[ Parent ]

Democracy (4.66 / 3) (#80)
by marx on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 09:11:49 PM EST

At this point, I would simply return to the fact that emissions trading could still exist with an EU bubble. The problem isn't that the bubble permits the EU nations to trade, but rather that the European negotiators who created the bubble have also prevented trading between European and non-European nations under the Kyoto framework. It's fine for Europe to trade, but the larger point is that there's no reason to stop any state whose emissions are limited by Kyoto from trading with any other state. In the end, the larger the pool of nations permitted to trade with one another, the more cost-effective reduction will be.

I think though, that if can establish that the EU exception is not an attack on the US, it doesn't really matter if it's cost-effective or not. I can see that emissions trading could help generate more wealth for industrialized nations, and maybe also give a strong incentive to stabilize levels to the worst offenders. This is not really relevant though, since I (and many others) oppose this trading not from a financial viewpoint, but from a sociological or philosophical viewpoint.

From the US stance, we can assume that emitting CO2 is necessary for the industry to operate. Thus, if a poor country sells its rights to emit CO2, its industry will not be able to operate, and it will not be able to develop a sustainable industry and infrastructure. Couple this with the fact that the industrialized countries essentially are dictating the economic programs for the poor countries (through loans, World Bank, IMF, etc.), and I don't see how this system will help the poor countries to develop, instead it will do the opposite.

There is also a revulsion against the ideology this trading represents. The idea is that if you're rich, you can circumvent laws and regulations, and be how obnoxious you want, at the expense of poor people, which you pay off. An analogy could be that a rich man loses his arm through irresponsible behavior. This is no problem to him, since he just goes to some poor country and pays off a man to chop off his own arm and give it to him. Substitute "arm" for "kidney", and this is already happening.

We can go one step further. The argument I have whether emissions trading is good or not is irrelevant. We can all agree that democracy is the absolutely most important thing when it comes to government (global or local or whatever). Here we have a situation where 180 countries (representing something like 5 billion people) agree to something which has a direct bearing on everyone (the atmosphere). The US then says "you have no scientific proof, and it's not cost effective", and refuses to comply. If this would happen in any other democratic process, there would be an outrage.

Let's say that George Bush has just been declared as having the most votes in the election. Bill Clinton however, still being president, declares that there is no scientific evidence that George Bush will be a good choice for the country, and instead says that he has his own proposal which he thinks is better. He has made some analyses with his advisors, and he thinks that Al Gore is a much better choice, and appoints him as the next president. This is not so funny if you realize that this is essentially what is happening in many countries:

In remarks televised in Pakistan, General Musharraf presented his assumption of the presidency much as he did his original seizure of power: as the act of a reluctant patriot, motivated by a desire to rid Pakistan of corruption and economic mismanagement that left the country teetering on the edge of an economic morass.

In principle, don't you see many similarities between this and what the US is doing with the Kyoto protocol?

Science does not trump democracy. The market does not trump democracy. Maybe people are stupid, but you have no right to make decisions for them, this is the whole point of having a democracy. I would be very interested in the response of Americans in general and specifically American politicians to the question: "what is more important, democracy or the will of the market?"

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Re: (2.00 / 2) (#84)
by dgreality on Wed Aug 15, 2001 at 01:39:29 PM EST

This isn't about "selfish" behavior on the part of a nation (is that even possible? I have trouble thinking of the United States as a "self.") Rather, it's about benefit to all involved... The point of a trading scheme is that all of the participating nations benefit because all can make their own choices about whether, when, and at what price they may be willing to buy or sell credits.

More importantly, the suggestion that a market mechanism would harm poor countries is moot because their emissions are not limited by the protocol! Kyoto excuses developing nations from any emissions strictures, so they would not need to purchase credits in order to pollute. They may emit as much as they wish without sanction, even if Kyoto is ratified.

What is at issue is whether or not the US should be able to trade emissions credits with the nations of Europe. The rationale for disallowing this is a desire to put the US at an economic disadvantage to European nations.

[ Parent ]

Erope as a Block (none / 0) (#95)
by craigtubby on Wed Aug 22, 2001 at 10:42:49 AM EST

The EU/EC was not as "closely" integrated in 1990 as it is now - infact many countries have the same currancy and banks etc.

The EC is more than a "Trading Block" it is becoming a federal state - with its own parliment, with its own central bank, with its own currancy, with its own Army, with its own courts ....

To claim that the EC can't act as a block now because in 1990 it was not a block is pointless, the fact that the EC has signed up to the Kyoto agreement, although not ratified it, show show this -

"The European Community and its Member States will fulfil their respective commitments under Article 3, paragraph 1, of the Protocol jointly in accordance with the provisions of Article 4."

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

Consensus (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by botono9 on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 03:19:36 PM EST

Anyone who holds any illusions that there is some sort of consensus of opinion about "global warming" has only to read through the comments of this story to be dissuaded.

Let's make more observations, do more tests, and then make even more observations. I think I'll wait until I'm 120 before I make up my mind about this issue.

"Guns are real. Blue uniforms are real. Cops are social fiction."
--Robert Anton Wilson

Need for a Better Treaty (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by AArthur on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 03:35:01 PM EST

I think it would only make sense for the Bush administration to purpose another treaty, for rejecting the first one (like this will ever happen).

I would like to see a treaty that attempts to cap the largest C02 releases first (ie. 3rd world developing countries), and does enough to make a difference.

Why just play around with the waters? If your going to spend billions of dollars, you should go all the way to make a difference.

I would also like the replacement of Kyoto to address far more pressing enviromental problems -- such as the release of toxins into the enviroment that are making kids sick today -- not tommorow like C02 will at some point.

Simply walking out on Kyoto is a good reason for a Missile Defense. Now, and with those other 10000000 million mistakes the president has made in foreign policy, people will have good reason to nuke the US (at least Washington). Of course, it will take long enough to get a working missile defense, that Bush will be dead by that time.

Idiots in power. Now that's what we need. Maybe George Wallace should run as the Democratic candiate in '04 -- he might actually win this time.

Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264

Atmospheric science is so new.... (3.33 / 3) (#77)
by madgeo on Tue Aug 14, 2001 at 05:03:00 PM EST

its like using an abacus in a computerized world. As an example, research recently determined that the antarctic atmosphere is way more oxidizing than previously thought. This was a revolutionary find almost as shocking as the ozone hole but got almost no mention in the press, comparitively. The effects of this on ice cores, etc. used for historical atmospheric determinations has not been determined but is most probably significant, either way.

Some additional predictions have also begun to state the obvious that the earth has undergone significant temperature fluctuations over the millenia. We are most likely in a inter-glacial (warming) period between ice ages and have been for a very long time (duh!). The media is always looking for the next big catastrophe to hype and the environmentalists are geared to assist the media in this stupidity. That way the environmental organizations get their name out and get to make a Dollar or a Euro! If you do not doubt that, get on the mailing list (say Greenpeace) and see how much solicitation crap you get in the mail!

In the 1970s the textbooks were predicting the world would freeze in a great ice age. For example:

"WILL THE ICE AGES RETURN? Climatologists report that the world's weather is turning sharply cooler. Signs of this are evident. Drifting icefields have hindered access to Iceland's ports for the first time in this century. Since 1950 the growing season in England has been shortened by two weeks. Director Reid Bryson of the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin reports that, if this trend continues, it will affect the whole human populace. A long term study of climactic conditions would place the first half of the twentieth century into an exceptionally warm period. The warming trend peaked in 1945, and the temperatures have been dropping since. The drop to date is on 1.5 degrees C, far from the 10 degrees C drop necessary for a new Ice Age. If this trend is not reversed, however, the planet may be caught in an ice-forming cycle similar to that of the Pleistocene." From Physical Geology by Eugene Mitacek 1971.
Read it and weep.

Kyoto and Global Warming: Science Comes in Second | 95 comments (58 topical, 37 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!