Kyoto Skeptics Have Egg on Their Faces

Yesterday, 16 February 2005, the Kyoto Protocol for reducing greenhouse gas emissions went into effect, having been ratified by the requisite minimum of countries responsible for 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Consequences include the following:

– Thirty-five industrialized countries and the European Community are legally bound to reduce their combined emissions of six major greenhouse gases during the five-year period 2008-2012 to below 1990 levels.

– The international carbon trading market receives a strong market signal. The Protocol’s “emissions trading” regime enables industrialized countries to buy and sell emissions credits amongst themselves; this market-based approach will improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of emissions cuts.

Now, the Kyoto Protocol by itself is certainly not the answer to problems of pollution and anthropogenic climate change. Among its drawbacks are the facts that the emissions cuts it requires are fairly small, that it doesn’t impose emissions controls on large developing nations like China and India, and that major greenhouse-gas polluters like Australia and the USA have refused to participate in it. Whether it can accomplish anything significant, given these limitations, remains to be seen.

Nonetheless, it’s at least a step in the right direction towards mitigating human environmental impact, and it has now become legally binding—contrary to the predictions of many who alleged that Kyoto was just environmental window-dressing that would never be adequately ratified, and that even its pretended supporters didn’t really want it to go into force. Those cynical predictions were, as we now see, dead wrong, and I welcome this opportunity to mock them. Mock mock mock: :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley: :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley: :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley: :stuck_out_tongue:

I have collected a few remarks from various Kyoto skeptics here at the SDMB, and I append them here for mocking purposes. (Note that I am not mocking people for having opined that Kyoto would be ineffective or counterproductive if it went into effect: the accuracy of those predictions is still unknown. I’m just jeering at the soi-disant realists who proclaimed that it would never even go into effect, and/or that nobody was seriously trying to implement it.)

(That was an interesting forage through the archives: boy, there sure were a lot of people saying all kinds of negative things about the Kyoto Protocol a few years back. Depending on how the economic costs of compliance work out, I may be able to start another mocking thread solely devoted to Sam Stone’s frequent gloom-and-doom forebodings about Kyoto being “economically crippling” with “trillions of dollars” in cost! :))

A big step in the right direction, but a long way to go.

It will influence policy in the nations that have signed on, and hopefully they in turn will have an influence on those which have not yet signed on.

Good rant, in the tradition of Bricker following the President’s win in November. So I’ll not ruin the fun (not that I have any ruination to visit anyways!). But a quick factual question: Is Australia really a major offender? They’ve got a marvelous economy there, but there’s only 20 MM people and most of them live in a small number of clusters. I don’t have a vision of them packing the family into the station wagon and driving cross-country like Americans do (or do they?). Under 200 billion kWh of electricity, under 1 MM bbl/day oil consumption, not a global player in air-fouling industries like petrochemicals. Eradicate some ignorance here, please.

I honestly don’t know Manhattan but they must have had some reason for not signing.

Maybe it is that whole go-it-alone-with-America thing?

ROFL. Call me when any significant reductions in emissions actually happen.

“Legally bound” - uhh, so what? What are they going to do if they fail to meet targets? Throw entire nations in prison?

I doubt it – this seems like an unusual one to go that route on. They are huge exporters of coal, maybe Kyoto covers raw material production or Australia is sticking up for the industry by trying to influence trading partners? Again, all just a guess. I’m confident that Kimstu will have an idea.

Ah, here we go. They’re not huge producers of gas, but they’re huge per capita producers. Also, the exclusion of China and India, which is a little annoying for the United States, must be a huge slap to Australia, as they are regional economic rivals.

Meantime, they’ve actually set and acheived goals in excess of the Kyoto goals.

So it looks like mostly a regional competition/make a diplomatic point thing, I guess.

While I appreciate that people who posted nothing would ever come of Kyoto were wrong, it still doesn’t amount to much if the US doesn’t sign up to it.

Heaven will punish our nation for this vile pollution. :frowning: :frowning: :frowning:

Well, yeh, Heaven or natural forces, take your pick. Predictions are that within this century, given current trends, a strong storm will have much of downtown Boston and New York (for two examples along the Eastern Seaboard) awash as sea levels rise.

I realize some folks would think that’s a GOOD thing, and it certainly would give the streets a much-needed washing, but…

That is the whole point really. Australia is being contrary for some bloody reason, BUT if the US doesn’t play the game then why are we all bothering. They are the biggest polluters/consumers and the ones who have the grunt power to enforce things.

As long as they ignore the Kyoto protocol it won’t be effective.

Could George spend 2 mins worrying about something other then the “war on terror”?

I don’t know about sea levels but if anyone thinks the climate is not well fucked up then they are just nuts…or on crack.

Some of us at the ends of the planet know this :smiley:

May Flying Monkeys come out of your low-rent ass, Bruce_Daddy. :mad: :smiley: :mad: :smiley: :mad: :smiley:

calm kiwi: BUT if the US doesn’t play the game then why are we all bothering. […]
As long as they ignore the Kyoto protocol it won’t be effective.

Maybe not, although a few years ago the “Kyoto skeptics” were saying exactly the same thing about the chances of even putting the Protocol into force without US participation.

The current Kyoto signatories, remember, represent 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Admittedly, if the US had signed on, that figure would be boosted to about 75%. And you are correct that in the long run, it probably won’t be possible to reduce emissions substantially without US participation. But an emissions-reduction commitment from the producers of over half of the total emissions is not negligible, IMO.

Moreover, the Kyoto signatories may be able to perform a very valuable service by “early adopting” emissions-cutting measures. And just as with Japanese hybrid-automobile technology, you can bet that as other eco-conscious technologies become profitable, US businesses will come lumbering along to catch up.

(Oh, and manny, sorry for not getting to your question in the thread’s first hour, but you seem to have answered it pretty well yourself! :))

Many signatories have already achieved large cuts in emissions. Admittedly, Russia’s success comes more from economic decline than policy, but other major emitters like the UK are on course for success, and have shown that it need not be economically detrimental.

In a wider context, CO2 concentrations are now at 378 ppm due to the undeniably man-made effect of burning hydrocarbons. Last year’s rise was a record 3 ppm.

All climate experts, and even cranks like Bjorn Lombourg, agree that around 500 ppm is our absolute limit if we are not to drown our great-grandchildren. At the current rate of emission, we’ll be there within a century. At the current rate of increase of emissions, we’ll be there within decades. And this is a conservative estimate: Abrupt climate change could occur at around 420 ppm according to some models, which is just a few years away.

Kyoto is a small step, covering around half of the worlds emissions. The other half is progressing completely unchecked. Here is what the Pentagon suggests unchecked emissions will do for the US economy in future.

You know, the USA WILL eventually follow Kyoto if the other industrialized nations are successful. Once it makes sensse from a business standpoint, American firms will push the govt to get a “green” label so that they can do more business.

One thing I would like to see, though I don’t know how feasible it would be, but after a time, (say in 2020 for example), tariffs on imports from countries not following Kyoto be subject to a 100% tariff (for example.)

MAKE it worth the businesses in non-Kyoyo countries to demand that their gov’ts sign on. If they do it for big business, or for the environment, the net result would be the same.

Oh, and to add, I KNOW that my tariff suggestino would never be put into place in Canada as the US is our largest trading partner, but it is nice to think about it happening.

Why doesn’t it include China and India? (re. manhattan, post 7)

For the same reason it doesn’t include the US: they never signed it.

They have also received less pressure to sign it because they are simply smaller emitters than the US (vastly smaller per capita), and didn’t hardly contribute to the vast CO[sub]2[/sub] increase in the first place. To them, it must have seemed like watching the West indulging in a huge waterfight involving fire hoses and swimming pools while begrudging them a drink of water.