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Old 11-01-2006, 06:25 PM
mikemover's Avatar
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Jury is in: Kyoto Treaty really WAS an unworkable idea.

Excerpted from www.tcsdaily.com:



Since the advent of the Kyoto Protocol, scores of academics, think-tankers, journalists, and pundits have been arguing that the treaty designed to combat global warming simply could not achieve its aims. There were technological, economic and political realities that made success highly improbable.

The specific arguments varied and have modified as evidence and data have accumulated. But in the main, the critics of Kyoto argued that absent cost-effective technological fixes, the amount of economic pain required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would not be politically tenable for the world's developed democracies. Voters' demands for economic growth would likely override concerns about climate change. The benefits of Kyoto would be so small, and so far off in the distance, that nearer term economic concerns would dictate policy and action.


As a result, the only time that Kyoto was presented to the Senate for a vote, it was rejected, 95-0. The Byrd-Hagel resolution, as it was called, put the Senate on record as opposing any climate change agreement that did not require developing nations to participate and that was likely to cause substantial harm to the U.S. economy.


Criticisms of Kyoto have always been out of fashion, and critics were often denounced for their claims. Frequently they were criticized for having received money from interests with a stake in the dialogue over climate change. It is of course true that some Kyoto critics, including this website, had received advertising and sponsorship support from energy companies (just as some Kyoto supporters have received sponsorship and other support from parties that would benefit from Kyoto). But many other knowledgeable and serious critics, such as climate scientist Richard Lindzen of MIT and the economist Deepak Lal, did not receive industry money.


Either way, enough time has passed to conclude that, at least on the question of the workability of Kyoto, the critics have been correct. For years it was only the critics pointing out Kyoto's flaws -- their unadulterated arguments found in smaller journals of opinion such as this one and occasionally on the op/ed pages of the country's better newspapers.

But today, mainstream media outlets can no longer overlook the obvious. Even those who have given the benefit of the doubt to alarmists are conceding that Kyoto is failing.


This week the Associated Press reported:


"The industrialized world's emissions of greenhouse gases are growing again, despite efforts under the Kyoto Protocol to cap them and stave off global warming..."


The United States has frequently been viewed in environmental circles as a villain because it emits more greenhouse gases than any other country and has not supported Kyoto. If Kyoto fails, the alarmists have asserted, it will be because the US refused to go along.


But that excuse no longer holds water. The US cannot be blamed for Kyoto's failures. Even in regions where Kyoto was fully embraced -- such as Europe, as well as in Japan, the very country where the treaty was signed -- slashing emissions has proved unworkable.


"Of the 41 industrialized nations, 34 increased emissions between 2000 and 2004, the U.N. reported.... Kyoto signatories such as Japan, Italy and Spain have registered emissions increases since 1990."



This failure will come as no surprise to those who have been following the arguments of Kyoto critics. Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a chief proponent of global warming mitigation efforts, admitted Kyoto's shortcomings a year ago.


But instead of recognizing the failure, now some powerful members of Congress wish to denounce the messengers and are threatening their freedoms - both of speech and association.


The same week that the AP and other news agencies admitted Kyoto was not working as planned, Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe urged a major energy company to stop contributing money to groups "whose public advocacy," they claimed, "has contributed to the small but unfortunately effective climate change denial myth." The Senators even singled out this web site for opprobrium.


This slur against TCS is irksome because it's obvious the Senators do not read the site they denounce. TCS has run pieces asserting climate change is real and mankind has an influence over climate. If they bothered to contact me before denouncing the site I edit, I could have alerted them to that.


The denial on display here is on the part of the Senators, who issued their letter the same week the United Nations publicly admits Kyoto's supporters are failing to reach their goals.


It is particularly troubling that Sen. Rockefeller would target the freedom of speech of others. He has enjoyed exercising his free speech rights for many years as a longtime benefactor of the Washington Monthly, a magazine on the left. It seems free political speech is fine and can be supported by those with an interest in public policy outcomes, provided they espouse only views that Sen. Rockefeller agrees with.


There are dozens of organizations and publications on the political left that receive advertising, sponsorship and other dollars from firms, organizations, labor unions, foundations and individuals with public policy agendas in Washington. For government officials to single out TCS because of its advertising support by one firm should be deeply disturbing to anyone who cares about free speech, regardless of political orientation.


Despite the claims of Sens. Rockefeller, Snowe and others, the conversation over climate change is really just starting. The widespread agreement that greenhouse gas emissions can influence climate and that controlling them is difficult marks the beginning of a debate, not the end. In the coming months and years the participants in this debate are likely to wrestle with, among many other things, the merits of carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems, the reliability of climate models, the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate, government funding of basic research and the role to be played by new technologies.


What the debate most definitely does not need is the stifling of opinions just because they happen to be unfashionable. As it turned out with the workability of Kyoto, what were once unfashionable views turned out to be correct.


The author is editor of TCSDaily.com and is conducting researching for a book on economic growth, institutions and development.

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Old 11-01-2006, 06:45 PM
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I'd think China is one of the biggest polluters. Everything in this country seems to clean now. Even cars, on the new ones emissions are extremly low.
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Old 11-01-2006, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatterasguy View Post
I'd think China is one of the biggest polluters. Everything in this country seems to clean now. Even cars, on the new ones emissions are extremly low.
It is my understanding that we are the biggest per-capita polluters....

We are followed by Australia, India, and China... But China and India are catching-up quickly.

Mike
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1982 300D-gone---sold to a buddy
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1994 E320
not my favorite, but the wife wanted it

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  #4  
Old 11-01-2006, 09:30 PM
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Not all pollutants are equal. I'd be interested to see about other things like arsenate's, cyanide's and heavy metals. The metals industry has done a remarkable job of cleaning-up over the past 30 years or so. If you want to see what happens when metal refining goes without enviro regs try eastern Tennessee or places out west like Montana, Nevada and California. Or Brazil --> O-M-G!

We are far and away the greatest CO2 emitters. All of that carbon-based fuel gets oxidized into the atmosphere and we burn more carbon than anybody.
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Old 11-01-2006, 09:55 PM
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Thanks for that post Mike.

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