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Quitting Kyoto
October 1, 2002 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Quitting Kyoto Though I too was angry when Bush end gang refused to get involved with Kyoto (environmental treaty), I might have let my ant-Bush feelings take over my "better self." Here an expert argues that all the world but the EU knows that the Kyoto treaty is worthless.
posted by Postroad (28 comments total)

 
Oh Jesus! The Ant-Bush!?!
posted by Satapher at 10:48 AM on October 1, 2002


I might have let my ant-Bush feelings take over my "better self."

Gee, who'da thunk?
posted by HTuttle at 10:49 AM on October 1, 2002


Unfortunately, long on whimsy, short on facts.
posted by eas98 at 10:55 AM on October 1, 2002


Yes, Kyoto is flawed.
But this country owes it to the rest of the world to lead the way to a solution that will make a difference.
Instead, the current administration is busy denying that the problem even exists, putting off doing anything about it now so that a future administration has to deal with the consequences.
It's not just pulling out of Kyoto, it's rolling back years of progress. It's making a cold calculated decision to poison and kill more people than we do now.
posted by 2sheets at 10:58 AM on October 1, 2002


Hmm ...
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the US increase of 3.2 percent carbon dioxide emissions in 2000 resulted from economic growth of 2.5 percent with a concomitant rise in the demand for electricity and fuels, which was compounded by cooler winter conditions (so much for 'global warming') and a decreased output from hydroelectric dams (8).

Reference 8 actually says:
----
US greenhouse gas emissions increased at a faster rate during 1999-2000 than the average annual rate throughout the 1990s, according to the latest official US figures under the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report attributed the 2000 increase in growth of 2.5%, compared with previous average rates of 1.5%, to robust economic growth in 2000, leading to increased demand for electricity and transportation fuels; cooler winter conditions compared to the previous two years; and decreased output from hydroelectric dams.

This is reflected in the doubling in 2000 to 3.2%, of the average annual rate of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion, the largest source of US greenhouse gas emissions. This was the second highest annual increase – it was 3.6% in 1995-96.
----
The 2.5% increase is not an increase in the economy, but an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, not an increase in the economy.

The 3.2% increase is not the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, but the increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to use of fossil fuels.

Furthermore, he concludes 'so much for global warming' after hearing about colder winters for the last two years in America.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 11:08 AM on October 1, 2002


By "Bush and gang," I assume you mean the United States Senate, which in 1997 voted 95 - 0 on a resolution rejecting the Kyoto Protocol before Clinton ever had a chance to submit it to the Senate for ratification.

In my humble opinion, Bush ought to submit the damned thing now, and get those crafty Dem senators on record about the environment. Anyone wanna bet if 67 Senators would vote to ratify? (CEI argues that it would never happen.)
posted by mikewas at 11:12 AM on October 1, 2002


of course Kyoto is fatally flawed if the #1 consumer of fossil fuels (the US) refuses to sign on to it.. If the US doesn't participate in the solution it's as if the rest of the world is sacrificing so soccer moms can drive bigger and bigger SUV's
posted by Babylonian at 11:15 AM on October 1, 2002


The author doesn't even mention any specific alternatives to Kyoto. But, thankfully, he does offer the following choice quotes:

"Indeed, in some scenarios, removing 'greenhouse gas' emissions could prove even more dangerous than emitting them."

"Herb Dhaliwal, the natural resources minister, has even argued that some global warming might be good for Canada (4)."

And my personal favorite,

"Moreover, the false agendas being set by Kyoto are already imposing ill-directed and unfair climate change levies and allowing wind farms to mar some of the most beautiful and historic landscapes of the British Isles."
posted by gsteff at 11:15 AM on October 1, 2002


of course Kyoto is fatally flawed if the #1 consumer of fossil fuels (the US) refuses to sign

What does the the US's unwillingness to sign have to do with whether the treaty itself is flawed?
posted by turbodog at 11:23 AM on October 1, 2002


Shouldn't there be a (MeFi-specific?) corollary to Godwin's law involving the mention of soccer moms driving SUVs?
posted by tippiedog at 11:37 AM on October 1, 2002


The treaty is flawed...it's a first step, I agree. But an incredible expensive first step that will only decrease emissions by an environmentally negligible amount. The US is right in not signing it.

However, we should be working on some sort of worldwide environmental treaty or goal sheet that *is* economically justifiable. We are the leaders of the world, for all practical purposes, in the US. Even though Kyoto is flawed, there should still be some environmental discourse.
posted by Kevs at 11:38 AM on October 1, 2002


In my humble opinion, Bush ought to submit the damned thing now, and get those crafty Dem senators on record about the environment.

But then Bush wouldn't get credit with his base for 'showin' them tree-huggers who's boss'.
posted by goethean at 12:10 PM on October 1, 2002


turbodog. tippiedog.
tippiedog. turbodog.
posted by putzface_dickman at 12:18 PM on October 1, 2002


hmm, looks like a religious nut to me.


posted by crackerass at 12:26 PM on October 1, 2002


grr, trying to get the link thingy to work. Phillip Stott as a religious nut job.
posted by crackerass at 12:28 PM on October 1, 2002


Interesting article, but some of it simply doesn't set well with me.

(1) Lots of statistics about estimated loss of jobs and GDP.
No real sources. No mention of where the job loss would come from... which sectors? Finally, no mention of estimated costs of dealing with environmental consequences of continued greenhouse gas emission and fossil fuel use.

(2) Also, the article specified that the EU countries aren't keeping their limits. It specified increases, but not the actual limits. Anyone know what they are?

(3) Finally, the phrase so much for global warming along with nothing but the barest anecdotal support reminds me a lot of the talk show I heard say the same thing after Buffalo New York got six feet of snow last winter. Not only is the claim missing data, but there's some evidence that global warming can mess with ocean convection currents and actually cause colder temperatures in local areas -- such as the north atlantic.

I'm not really upset that the U.S. isn't signing Kyoto. Every state oughta have some right to sovereign actions that protect its domestic economics (a lesson the IMF would do well to learn. Brazil figured it out before Argentina, and while they're suffering, they're not as bad off as their neighbor). I'm just interested in seeing a better analysis than what this person chose to present.
posted by namespan at 12:52 PM on October 1, 2002


crackerass: hmm, looks like a religious nut to me.

your Philip Stott has an MSc in civil engineering; the author of the article is a Professor Emeritus in biogeography. probably not the same guy.
posted by eddydamascene at 12:56 PM on October 1, 2002


But this country owes it to the rest of the world to lead the way to a solution that will make a difference.

All the rest of the world has to do is stop buying stuff produced in the USA, forcing the reduction of manufacturing. Buy things made locally using low-pollution technology.

Ah, but that would take self-sacrifice and discipline, and make it harder to point fingers and assign blame.
posted by Ayn Marx at 1:01 PM on October 1, 2002


Ayn Marx - ermmmm - that's exactly what I do. Well, as far as possible I've stopped buying stuff made in an unsustainable way in *any* country. Not sure I follow your point. Am sure I follow the point(s) that we are no longer able to discount the possibility that our actions are having an adverse impact on our fairly small earth, that certainty about that is unlikely, that the precautionary principle is advisable and that solutions are likely to be difficult to formulate or apply.

In that context, arguments about the worthlessness of our preliminary attempts have round about the same merit.
posted by RichLyon at 1:34 PM on October 1, 2002


Here an expert argues that all the world but the EU knows that the Kyoto treaty is worthless.

In a related story, several hundred experts produce dozens of documents outlining the urgent need for action on climate change.
posted by gompa at 2:15 PM on October 1, 2002


All the rest of the world has to do is stop buying stuff produced in the USA

*ahem*

There are far worse polluters than the US. Stop supporting them.

And any scientist that uses the term 'global warming' instead of 'global climate change' doesn't really cut the mustard.
posted by i_cola at 2:39 PM on October 1, 2002


*ahem*

There are far worse polluters than the US. Stop supporting them.

Oh, were it so easy! My original comment about the world buying stuff from the USA was meant (albeit snarkilly) to suggest that certain counties produce/pollute as a result of world-wide demand. There are some who believe the US has an obligation to change its production patterns, but those patterns exist as a function of demand.

Of course, it's a bit flippant to simply say, "Stop buying from country X." I've tried to reduce the number of "Made in China" items I buy, but damned if 90% of *everything * doesn't have that cursed label.

Any pointers on avoiding products made in the Worker's Red Paradise are welcome.
posted by Ayn Marx at 3:15 PM on October 1, 2002


Part of the problem is that the U.S. has a serious lack of credibility. On the one hand, the U.S. government portrays itself as the leader of the free world, but on the other hand, makes it very clear that it has no problem with a double standard - one law for the U.S., one law for the rest of the world.

There's nothing really sinister about this. On the contrary, any large, hegemonically potent state (the Roman Empire, Imperial China, the British Empire, the U.S.) is going to protect its perogatives. The only time a state will relinquish its own power is when that is the only way to get what it wants. This is why so many European nations are creeping towards a United States of Europe model, because that is the only way they can realistically compete with the U.S.
posted by nick.a at 3:22 PM on October 1, 2002


And any scientist that uses the term 'global warming' instead of 'global climate change' doesn't really cut the mustard.

Wow.

I'll assume this sentence wasn't a stab at political correctness as relates to climatology. If we're in a period of 'global climate change' (and we are), and that climate change trends warmer (and it does), wouldn't we therefore be in a period of 'global warming'?
posted by mathis23 at 3:27 PM on October 1, 2002


Kyoto is a fake...it's about control and business, not about the environment. It allows countries like Russia to offset their targets with carbon sinks - areas of forest and farmland which absorb carbon through photosynthesis, but most European countries do not want to give these credits to the United States. It's about buying and selling carbon credits - giving the right to pollute - from countries, such as Brazil, that have pollution space. ""[Kyoto] is about economy", This is about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide."
posted by Mack Twain at 4:52 PM on October 1, 2002


Mack - your point is true up to a point, in that emissions trading is an integral part of the Protocol. It is useful to note that emissions trading was built into the Protocol largely at the behest of the US and Russia (and a number of developing nations), in order to allay their concerns that the implementation of the Kyoto measures would have serious impacts on the ongoing development of their economies (obviously, these concerns being more morally justifiable from a developing nations perspective). In that sense, the final draft of the Protocol does indeed have an emphasis which is "about the economy". The nations which pushed for the implementation of the Protocol in full (mainly European) tried to resist the inclusion of the emissions trading mechanism, because obviously this greatly dilutes it's overall impact.

In any case, by reducing it to the level of national interest, I fear you are missing the whole point of the Protocol. Climate change is a global issue in a real sense - national boundaries, governments and everything else become irrelevant at this level. The objective of Kyoto is to put a cap on total global emissions, so if one country falls below the target emission level required (due to the presence of sinks or low levels of industrial development), then a country which exceeds it's target should be able to buy surplus capacity elsewhere without exceeding the overall (global) target. It's a simple principle, and one which the US at one end of the pollution scale, and, say, sub-Saharan countries at the other need in order to protect their disparate interests. The 'levelling of the playing field' which you describe is an inevitable effect of the mechanism, but is not, in itself, contrary to the objectives of the Protocol, and certainly does not suggest it is a 'fake'.

Given the utter primacy of the US economy and living standards compared to others, it is not surprising that few nations feel particularly supportive of the US decision to drop the Protocol without submitting any alternatives. The Protocol was universally recognised as being deeply-flawed, but it was the best show in town and a major step in the right direction.
posted by Doozer at 4:29 AM on October 2, 2002


Even a slightly flawed treaty that actually takes steps in the right direction is much better than no treaty at all. Unilateralism sucks. How 'bout that all you Shrub huggers? I love my trees, I think I'll go out and hug one right now!
posted by nofundy at 5:01 AM on October 2, 2002


I'm truly amazed that some people continue to refuse to believe the conclusions of a vast majority of climatologists that "Global Warming" (or Global Climate Change) is a real phenomenon and mostly attributable to human causes. Or that a legally binding worldwide agreement - even a BAD one - is a necessary first step to deal with the problem.

I guess people can deny, as the Greek skeptics proved thousands of years ago, anything not directly in front of their faces. The head of the Mid-Atlantic creation research society, Tom Willis, is on record (in a "New Scientist" interview) as denying that the Earth rotates around the sun. Right on Tom. My brother is a "creationist" who sends his kids to special schools where they learn "creationism". It's OK, I guess though, if they become scientists, their colleagues will laugh at them behind their backs.

I was aware of the "Sudden Climate Change" story over three years ago - the possibility that Global Warming might cause a rapid, nonlinear effect, a sudden shutdown of ocean circulation leading to a mini ice age. So I made a facetious post in the Boston Globe "ask an expert" forum (self made experts, that is, anyone could give advice, I think this forum no longer exists ) a "real estate" question:

"My wife and I are considering buying a house in the Mass. area, but I am worried about a possible decline in real estate values due to the fact that scientists are predicting the possibility of a climate catastrophe brought on by Global Warming, which might trigger a sudden shutdown of ocean circulation leading to a mini ice age." I posted a slew of links to the best stories on the subject. People got really upset. Most were in total denial. I just kept posting the links - to the IPCC, to all the most authoritative sources. I doubt that many bothered to research my claims. The denial was so thick that you couldn't cut it with a chainsaw. And Boston is supposed to be "progressive" and "enviro". Paah!

When I lived in Baltimore, over 7 years ago, I was concerned about a possible decline in real estate values there from a possible terrorists attack on D.C. with a small "dirty" nuclear device - should the winds at the time of the attack blow the fallout towards Baltimore. A little paranoid, maybe, but merely in terms of the time frame. I wasn't actually far off the mark.

But back to "Global Climate Change". Disgusted, I wrote this bit at the time of the Globe post: "Is it necessary to believe in science to function in modern society? I have a relative who sends his children to a school which teaches that the world was created, by the Christian god, about 6,000 years ago and that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time! These children are even being taught accurate science even, in certain highly restricted areas far from evolutionary theory or paleontology, and so they may achieve good jobs one day as, say, chemists or wastewater treament managers.

At a certain point, as our beliefs about the world decouple from what science teaches, we become reduced to the status of aboriginies gawking at radios or of pacific island cargo cultists dressing up as US GI's to charm down with ritual magic planeloads of goods. We become less than "primitives" who tend to have, at least, pragmatic views, and religious cosmologies far more sophisticated and nuanced than our own. We become delusional."
posted by troutfishing at 8:37 AM on October 2, 2002


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