Monday, January 17, 2005

Kyoto Is Japanese for Poverty

According to the left, President Bush's refusal to ratify the Kyoto accord on climate control is both dangerous and arrogant. As previously discussed, the evidence of warming is thin, and proof that cutting CO2 emissions would halt warming non-existent. Indeed, whining to the White House about warming is principally a political ploy given that the Senate declared Kyoto "dead on arrival," and -- by a vote of 95-0 -- refused to consider ratification three-and-a-half years before Bush took office.

To the extent the liberal love affair with Kyoto has any logic, it's a back-door attempt to federalize "anti-sprawl" rules beloved by wealthy moviestar landowners and threadbare populist politicians like former Vice President Gore. Applied to the U.S., Kyoto would "merely" increase taxes (or producer prices), provoke a recession, which would disproportionately disadvantage "Hispanic and African-American households."

Worse yet, world-wide adherence to Kyoto emission limits could cause a global depression, also unequally burdening the poor. And, Greg Price, writing in Friday's WSJ, reminds us that this would halt economic growith in Asia, preventing the region from growing into prosperity:
Emissions caps could seriously damage the high economic growth upon which their status of "developing" -- as opposed to just simply "impoverished" -- depends. Last year, Russian presidential advisor Andrei Illarionov described Kyoto as an "economic Auschwitz" for Russia, reasoning that it could only meet emissions caps if economic growth was kept below 4% (a lower level than in recent years).

There's also a concern that Kyoto is an all-pain, no-gain response to climate change. It fails to acknowledge the scope of the climate change problem.

Consider the scenario outlined by a group of prominent climate scientists in an article in the Nov. 1, 2002 edition of the American journal Science. They point out that atmospheric CO2 has already risen to 370 parts per million (ppm) from a pre-industrial 275, and on current trends will exceed 550 ppm this century. At any level beyond 450 ppm, they wrote, we will eventually suffer effects such as a rise in the sea level in the order of several meters. (A currently popular estimate of 88cm this century suggests that 100 million people will be displaced in areas such as Bangladesh and the Maldives.)

To keep atmospheric CO2 under 450ppm, emissions need to be cut by around 60%. Kyoto, however, may cut them only by about 1%. Now, current global power consumption is around 12 terawatts (TW) and around 85% of it is fossil fuelled. Global power needs are expected rise to 30 TW by 2050. This means that if we want to avoid the worst effects of global warming we may soon need 25 TW of clean power -- roughly double our total global output.
Universal adoption of Kyoto caps won't significantly diminish any possible warming. It will, however, impoverish the globe. This is no cooincidence--global warming zealots generally are anti-growth/anti-sprawl advocates, whose dislike of business and suburban (Republican) homeowners is stronger then their opposition to Islamic terror. As a result, they push psudo-science that promotes poverty. Yet Democrats still insist they're the party of the common man.

Why isn't this decision easy?


TechCentral's Alan Oxley writes:
Access to electricity is a fundamental building block to raise living standards in developing countries. China cannot develop without electricity. And it is better for health. In many parts of Laos people do not have access to electricity. Villagers burn wood inside their houses, dramatically lowering life expectancy because of the choking environment created by the smoke. Greenpeace would deny them electricity from hydro or coal.


Comrade_Smirnoff said...

It's all very well slagging Kyoto, but do you actually have an alternative solution to global warming?

@nooil4pacifists said...

Kyoto emission caps are justified only if all five of the following are true:

1) global warming exists
2) global warming would be harmful
3) global warming is man-made, as a result of increased CO2 emissions
4) Kyoto caps would significantly reduce emissions
5) the costs of imposing Kyoto caps are less than the benefits

None of these points are proven; each is disputed by scientific and economic experts. The probability that ALL are true (thus validating Kyoto) can be calculated by multiplying the individual probabilities. Assuming, charitably, each has half a chance of being accurate, the total probability the Earth needs Kyoto is 3.13 percent. That's tiny.

So, my Kyoto alternative: do nothing. It safer and cheaper.

Anonymous said...

if a rise in CO2 causes a rise in the earth's atmospheric temperature, and human beings figure out a way to produce energy which has the byproduct of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, what do you think happens? if a drop in O3 causes a rise in the amount of hard UV radiation which can penetrate the atmosphere, and human beings figure out a way to expell liquids from canisters or cool food which has the byproduct of destroying O3, what do you think happens? skepticism is always healthy, but a lot of this is just common sense. have you ever smelled the exhaust that comes out of a car? have you ever been to a smoggy city? have you ever seen a clearcut? we're all in this together, you know, and i can't see how putting this much energy into something so negative can be good for you or any of us. global warming is hard to study because it involves such a staggering number of individual factors, but scientists have been aware of it for years. you can pull all the pieces apart and manipulate into what you want to say, but when it comes down to it, your best tools for assessing the validity of a statement are your own senses, and your ability to reason. think about all the cars, planes, and boats that have ever burned fossil fuel, then think of the fuel you use every time you drive your car. i'm sure you don't notice the exhaust being produced while you're driving it, because it's so small and you're inside the car, but try imagining a hundred of your cars, a thousand, a million. even though we can only directly experience life as one person, we've got to realize that there are several billion more all breathing, thinking, consuming, and playing. our lives seem so small, and our actions so inconsequential, "who cares if i throw this bag on the ground, it's just one piece of trash," but in the context of the global society in which we coexist, our actions are amplified a billionfold or more. if i may offer a suggestion, it would be to devote a small portion of time to meditating on the interrelatedness of all things. ideologies aside, we live and die together, let's stop quibbling over data and learn to trust our own senses.

OBloodyHell said...

> ideologies aside, we live and die together, let's stop quibbling over data and learn to trust our own senses.

*Sigh* People who Just Don't Get It.

This is a COMPLEX problem. Our only HOPE to actually come to the right answer is to LEARN to understand the DATA. You cannot FEEL your way to the solution of complex problems.

The EARTH is telling us something. We NEED to understand what it is. That DATA is the language of its message. We must LEARN to interpret that language.

This may be very important -- there is substantial evidence that human development has been fending off an Ice Age for the last 1000 years -- so if we are WRONG and we reduce our effects on Global Temperatures then we may well be looking at a disaster that will make the worst of Global Warming into the results of a knitting duel.

In other words, Guessing Is Not An Option. Thanks for playing.

Anonymous said...

scientific and economic experts.

Anonymous said...

Wise guessing must always be an option. Ovid notice long ago that nothing is certain to mankind.