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).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.
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.
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.