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Further Fallout from Kyoto Decision
Criticism continues to fly at the United States from the European Union over President Bush’s decision to withdraw US support for the Kyoto Protocol.
The United Kingdom’s Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, accused the US of “free-riding” in “glorious isolation,” isolationist being an ugly epithet amongst internationalists. The US “must know that it cannot pollute the world while free-riding on action be everyone else,” said Prescott.
Other leaders have not been so diplomatic. Several statements have contained outright threats. John Gummer, Tory MP and former environment secretary, called Bush’s decision “an assault on European sovereignty,” wrote Mark Steyn in London’s Sunday Telegraph (April 1, 2001). “Globally warming to his theme,” wrote Steyn, Gummer “decided he wasn’t going to have Yankee imperialism shoved down his throat…. ‘We are not going to allow our climate to be changed by somebody else,’ he roared, threatening an international trade war against the United States. You go, girl! Why not refuse to sell the Yanks your delightful British beef?” A blustering Margot Wallstrom, the EU environment commissioner, stated, “I don’t think that we should let the United States simply pull out of the Kyoto Protocol” (Financial Times, March 29, 2001).
Perhaps the most strident statement came from Malcolm Bruce, president of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. He accused Bush of wanting to kill “thousands and millions” of people by pollution. “George Bush prides himself on having authorized the execution of more people than many dictators, but he is now tearing up the Kyoto Treaty on behalf of the polluting oil, gas and mining interests that back him and his family,” said Bruce. “Not content is he with killing Texan prisoners by lethal injection, he now wants to kill thousands and millions around the world by lethal pollution” (www.ananova.com , April 1, 2001).
These criticisms may be seen as slightly hypocritical, since none of the EU countries has ratified the Kyoto Protocol. More hypocritical are criticisms by Russia and China. Russia cut a deal under Kyoto where it would essentially have no commitments and be able to profit by selling empty emission credits to the United States (Russia Today, April 1, 2001).
China, which won’t even consider taking on commitments, voluntary or otherwise, said that, “The US announcement that it will not meet its emission reduction duties, citing the lack of obligations on developing countries, violates the principled rules of the Kyoto Protocol and is irresponsible” (Inside China, March 30, 2001).
Not all of the comments from abroad have been negative, however. Canada’s environment minister, David Anderson, blamed Europe for Bush’s decision. “The problem was the rigid position of the Europeans who thought they could force the Americans to do something they knew the Americans couldn’t do.” The Times of India (April 1, 2001) reported that Anderson believes that Europe’s “rigid stance” left Bush “little option” but to withdraw from the treaty.
Australia to Follow US
Australia, which has been less than enthusiastic about Kyoto from the beginning, may follow the US According to The Age (April 2, 2001), “Federal cabinet is today poised to back the United States in an effective withdrawal from the Kyoto global warming reduction process, hastening the collapse of the international protocol.” The story notes that, “Key cabinet ministers -- backed by Prime Minister John Howard -- will argue that a new deal needs to be established, including controls on greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries such as China.”
This is important because the Kyoto Protocol does not enter into force unless Annex I countries -- those which are required to reduce emissions under the Kyoto Protocol -- accounting for at least 55 percent of 1990 emissions ratify it. If the US and Australia fail to ratify the protocol, it may be nearly impossible for it to come into force.
We shouldn’t be surprised by the European reaction to the United States’ withdrawal form the Kyoto Protocol, writes Philip Stott, a professor of biogeography at the University of London. In a Wall Street Journal (April 2, 2001) op-ed Stott says, “The reason is simple. In Europe, ‘global warming’ has become a necessary myth, a new fundamentalist religion, with the Kyoto Protocol as it articles of faith. The adherents of this new faith want Mr. Bush on trial because he has blasphemed.”
“Global warming,” wrote Stott, “has absorbed more of the emotional energy of European green pressure groups than virtually any other topic.” Moreover, “the science of complex climate change has little to do with the myth. In the US, the science is rightly scrutinized; in Europe, not so.”
“Interestingly,” said Stott, “the tension between science and myth characterizes the ‘Third Assessment Report’ of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to which Europe always turns for legitimation. The whole feel of the report differs between its political summary (written by a group powerfully driven by the myth) and the scientific sections. It comes as a shock to read the following in the conclusions to the science (italics added): ‘In sum, a strategy must recognize what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear system, and therefore that the prediction of a specific future climate is not possible.’”
“Inevitably,” said Stott, “the media in Europe did not mention this vital scientific caveat, choosing to focus instead on the political summary, which Richard S. Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has described scathingly as ‘very much a children’s exercise of what might possibly happen,’ prepared by a ‘peculiar group’ with ‘no technical competence.’ This is a damning statement from a scientist with impeccable credentials.”
“The science of ‘global warming’ is thus deeply flawed,” said Stott. “The idea that we can control a chaotic climate governed by a billion factors through fiddling about with a couple of politically selected gases is carbon claptrap.”
Government Action on Global Warming Lacks US Support
A Time/CNN poll appearing the in April 9 issue of Time Magazine shows little support for Kyoto-style policies to combat global warming.
When asked whether global warming is a serious problem, 75 percent said it was either very serious or fairly serious, while 21 percent said it was not very serious or not at all serious.
To the question, “Should President Bush develop a plan to reduce the emission of gases that may contribute to global warming,” 67 percent said yes, while 26 percent said no.
When asked to put their money where their mouth was, however, Americans changed their tune. The poll asked if participants if they would be willing to pay an extra 25 cents per gallon of gasoline to combat global warming. Forty-nine percent said no and 48 percent said yes.
Finally, participants were asked if they “would personally be willing to support tough government actions to help reduce global warming even if each of the following happened as a result?”
Forty nine percent said no if utility bills went up, with only 47 percent saying yes, and a whopping 55 percent said no if unemployment increased with 38 percent saying yes. Americans, however, are more willing to accept mild inflation to fight global warming, with 54 percent saying yes and 39 percent saying no.
Time noted with regard to the poll, “If Bush gauged the heat he’d take from the rest of the world wrong, he read the American people more or less right.”
One of the mainstays of the global warming apocalyptics has been that the polar ice caps are melting and the seas are rising. It has even been claimed that the Arctic regions serve as an early warning system that global warming is on its way due to its supposed greater sensitivity to temperature change. In 1999, a paper published in the Geophysical Research Letters by Rothrock et al. suggested that Arctic ice was thinner in the 1990s than it was from 1958 to 1979.
A new study in the March 15 issue of GRL takes a closer look at the evidence. The 1999 study used data collected from submarine cruises from 1993, ’96, and ’97 and compared it to similar data from 1958 to 1979. The new study by Peter Winsor, with the Department of Oceanography, Earth Science Centre, at Göteborg University in Sweden, “carefully analyzed” the Rothrock results “using the most comprehensive data set presently available to the research community.”
The study concludes, “Draft data from the North Pole, and the Beaufort Sea, and transects between the two areas over a 7-year period from 1991 to 1997 show no evidence of a thinning ice cover.” Winsor goes on to show that by “Combining the mean drafts derived [from another study] from 1986 to 1990 with those from the present study, I conclude that the thickness of sea ice cover has remained on a near-constant level at the North Pole during the 12-year period from 1986 to 1997.”
If the Arctic is an early warning system of global warming as environmentalists claim, then judging by these results greenhouse gas emissions are not having any effect.
A new study in the March 29 issue of Nature has cast doubts on claims by environmentalists that the current climate is unprecedented. Indeed, if the results of the study are true, today’s climate is typical of past interglacial warm periods.
The study analyzed tree ring data from partially fossilized remains of the conifer Fitzroya cupressoides or Alerce, the world’s second longest living tree. The trees, which can live to be as old as 3,600 years, died about 50,000 years ago. This gives scientists an opportunity to study a long period of the ancient climate system.
“The fine scale of the record reveals climate fluctuations that closely resemble those we are experiencing now, including the 2-5-year spell of El Niño oscillations,” noted a news story accompanying the study. According to the researchers, “Our study suggests that comparable cycles in tree growth occurred between interstadials of the last glaciation and today, and hence that similar factors have affected the radial growth of Fitzroya since the Late Pleistocene,” and that, “The forcing mechanisms of climate during the interstadials have not changed dramatically.”
The National Research Council announced a new study on April 2 looking at the impacts of climate change on human health. They found that, “It is not yet possible to determine whether global warming will actually cause diseases to spread,” according to a press release announcing the study. The diseases looked at include mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, malaria and yellow fever, influenza, intestinal disorders, and so on.
“Basic public health protections such as adequate housing and sanitation, as well as the availability of vaccines and drugs, can limit the geographic distribution of diseases regardless of climate,” said the release. “One example of this is along the border between the United States and Mexico, where dengue fever outbreaks are common just south of the Rio Grande in Mexico, but are rarely seen in neighboring regions just north of the river in the United States, mainly because of differences in socio-economic conditions.”
The printed study, Under the Weather: Climate, Ecosystems, and Infectious Disease, won’t be released until this summer, but can be read online at http://nationalacademies.org/topnews/ .
A new study in Astrophysics and Space Science (275: 2001) by internationally renowned scientists Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe presents a new theory of climatic change. According to them, the earth’s natural state is the extreme coldness of the ice ages, and the earth would remain in such a state forever if not for the periodic collision with large comets.
One-kilometer size comets have a probability of hitting the earth about once every 100,000 years, which coincides with the average periodicity of ice ages. When one of these comets hits the earth’s oceans, it ejects enough water vapor into the atmosphere to “jerk the earth almost discontinuously out of a long drawn-out ice-age into the beginning of an interglacial.” Afterwards, the earth gradually returns to its normal frozen state.
What are the implications for global warming? According to Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, “We must look to a sustained greenhouse effect to maintain the present advantageous world climate.” They warn, “The renewal of ice-age conditions would render a large fraction of the world’s major food-growing areas inoperable, and so would inevitably lead to the extinction of most of the present human population.” Indeed, “Without some artificial means of giving positive feedback to the climate, ...an eventual drift into ice-age conditions appears inevitable,” they said.
They have harsh words for those who support greenhouse gas regulations. “Manifestly, we need all the greenhouse we can get,” they said. “Those who have engaged in uncritical scaremongering over an enhanced greenhouse effect raising the Earth’s temperature by a degree or two should be seen as both misguided and dangerous.” The current danger “is of a drift back into an ice-age, not away from an ice-age.” For a longer review of the study see www.co2science.org .
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