Kyoto Treaty Takes Effect...so what?

Makalakumu

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How do you feel about the Kyoto treaty? Do you think it was right for the US to pull out of it?

Here is an article on the subject...

Climate treaty takes effect, but will it matter?
Backers say more must be done; critics say it's worthless
MSNBC News Services
Updated: 7:45 a.m. ET Feb. 16, 2005

KYOTO, Japan - Seven years after it was negotiated, the Kyoto global warming pact went into force Wednesday imposing limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that many scientists blame for warmer temperatures, melting glaciers and rising oceans.

The agreement, negotiated in Japans ancient capital of Kyoto in 1997 and ratified by 140 nations, officially took effect midnight New York time.
It targets carbon dioxide and five other gases that can trap heat in the atmosphere, and are believed to be behind rising global temperatures that many scientists say are already disrupting the Earths environment and weather patterns.

Even if fully implemented, Kyoto would cut a projected temperature rise by just 0.1 degrees Centigrade by 2100, according to U.N. figures tiny compared to scenarios by a U.N. climate panel of an overall rise somewhere between 1.4-5.8C by 2100.

Kyoto is without doubt only the first step, said Klaus Toepfer, head of the U.N. Environment Program. We will have to do more to fight this rapid increase in temperature on our wonderful blue planet Earth. It will be hard work.

U.S., Australia stay out

The United States, the worlds largest emitter of such gases, has refused to ratify the agreement, saying it would harm the economy and is flawed by the lack of restrictions on emissions by emerging economies China and India.
We have been calling on the United States to join. But the country that is the worlds biggest emitter has not joined yet, and that is regrettable, Japans top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, told reporters.

The United States accounts for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.
Australia, the only other developed nation not to join, defended that decision, with Environment Minister Ian Campbell saying the country was nonetheless on track to cut emissions by 30 percent.

Until such time as the major polluters of the world including the United States and China are made part of the Kyoto regime, it is next to useless and indeed harmful for a country such as Australia to sign up, Prime Minister John Howard said in Canberra.

The Kyoto agreement was delayed by the requirement that countries accounting for 55 percent of the worlds emissions must ratify it. That goal was reached last year nearly seven years after the pact was negotiated with Russias approval.

In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said climate change is a global problem. It requires a concerted global response."

I call on the world community to be bold, to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol, and to act quickly in taking the next steps," he added. "There is no time to lose. The Kyoto pact is an adjunct to the 1992 U.N. treaty on climate change.

Different targets

The Kyoto targets vary by region: The European Union is committed to cutting emissions to 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2012; in the United States, the Clinton administration agreed to a 7 percent reduction but President Bush withdrew from the pact in 2001.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday that we are still learning about the science of climate change. In the meantime, McClellan said, We have made an unprecedented commitment to reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in a way that continues to grow our economy.
The State Department said Tuesday that that commitment would mean $5.8 billion in 2005 on research and programs addressing climate change. The administration is particularly interested in funding technology to reduce and capture CO2 emissions.

While the United States and countries with binding emissions restrictions under the Kyoto Protocol are taking different paths, our destination is the same, and compatible with other efforts, said Richard Boucher, a spokesman for the State Department.

Kyoto allows nations to trade carbon dioxide quotas and Russia in particular expects to have plenty of spare quotas given the collapse of Soviet-era smokestack industries. That trade could bring it billions of dollars in revenue.
Russia also has access to a new European Union market that enables emitters overshooting their targets to buy emission allocations from those falling below. Carbon dioxide is trading at about 7.33 euros ($9.51) per ton.
Still, most agree the fight against climate change after 2012 hinges on policies by Washington.

Bo Kjellen, a researcher at Britains Tyndall Centre, said countries like China or India would feel little incentive to sign up if the United States is exempted. Kyoto wont work unless the United States is included after 2012, he said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6933936/
 
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MisterMike

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I think if you believe in the agreement, you should do it. Everything costs money, so claiming it would harm the economy sounds like a cop out but then, I do not know the costs of putting in such envirnmental measures.

But if we believed in it, it wouldn't matter that India and China have less restrictions. We would join anyways.
 

Cryozombie

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If its true that the amount of decrease is so insignifigant, "just 0.1 degrees Centigrade by 2100" it is probably NOT worth it... we need to focus on somthing that has more impact. I suppose it can be said that 1000 baby steps will get you there as surley as 3 giant leaps...

But there has to be SOMTHING we can do that will have real impact.
 
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Deuce

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The big question is whether the vast amounts of money to reduce emmsions to compliance levels in order to prevent a 0.1 degree rise within 100 years is worth it. IMO, no it's not.

I think it's good that steps are being taken in order to perserve environmental quality, but I'm not sure if this would be a wise expenditure of assests, considering the little difference it would make. I have no problem with emission levels being lowered as new and cost effective technologies are developed, it happens all the time.

But I think the money would be better spent on R&D sectors. Some scientists can't even agree on the cause of global warming. Some say it's a natural shift of the CO2 cycle, and others say it's a result of human activity releasing greenhouse gases. I think more aspects of global warming needs to be studied before a viable solution is accepted.

CO2 capturing plants may be able to considerably reduce the amount of CO2 emissions, but not until better technology exsists in order to make them smaller, cheaper and more efficient to treat effluent gases from other industries with high emission rates.

I just think that the Kyoto accord will do little to combat the increasing global temperture. Money would be better spent on developing sunscreen SPF-5000.
 

bignick

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Whether or not the Kyoto protocols are in effect, they are dead in the water unless the USA gets behind it. The U.S. has something like 5 percent of the world's population but consumes more and produces more pollution than any other country.
 

JAMJTX

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There are a lot of problems here.

First off, in the 1970's, the same groups that are now warning about global warming were warning about a new ice age if we don't "act now". Atleast at that time there was some rationale, as between then and the mid 90's temperatures around the world slightly decreased.

Also, "greenhouse gasses" are found in nature. The last eruption of Mt Pinatubu dumped more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere than U.S. Industry ever has.

There is no eveidence that curbing U.S. industrial production, bankrupting U.S. companies and putting millions of people out of work will help ease the problem. Yet that is what is touted as the best solution.


The treaty is a joke. Take Germany, for example. They moved thier biggest coal burning power plant to Poland. They continually dump increasing amounts of gasses into the atmosphere, only they do it from Poland and claim they cut thier own emissions. It's ridiculous.

China and India are rapidly increasing the amount of gasses they dump into the air. Why not ask them to slow down thier economies now? They will never do that.

The treaty is blatantly biased against the U.S. and does not have nothingt at all to do with the best interests of the environment.
 

bignick

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Here we go...these were some of the statistics I was looking for...from here http://www.theithacajournal.com/news/stories/20011016/opinion/1086940.html

The United States consumes the world's resources at an appalling rate. Although we make up only 5 percent of the world's population, we use 33 percent of its resources and 25 percent of its nonrenewable energy. Experts estimate that the average American uses 54 times more resources than the average citizen of a developing county.
 

JAMJTX

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China has overtaken the United States in the consumption of basic agricultural and industrial goods, a new survey says.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4272577.stm

We'll have to see if there will be new restrictions on China. There probably won't be. The main focus of Kyoto is to attack and restrict the U.S.
 

Gray Phoenix

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If the world has that much of a beef with American industry, then they can take the wellfare money we give to them and buy stock in our industries. Thus gaining voting power on various corporate boards and influencing how our companies are run.

Obviously this wont happen because it would kill the bottom line, crater the stock, and they would lose their investment.

The Bottom Line: Its a great idea so long as someone else pays for it.
 

deadhand31

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Oh good lord. Sounds like a lot of people need to read "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton. It is a novel that has the theory (yes, it is so far, a THEORY) of global warming as a theme throughout the story. Now, this isn't just some guy writing fictional accounts for the status of global temperature change. Michael Crichton had spent years of research for this book before he wrote it. At the end of the book, he makes several points. Here are a few of them:

-We know astonishingly little about every aspect of the environment, from its past history, to its present state, to how to conserve and protect it. In every debate, all sides overstate the extent of existing knowledge and its degree of certainty.

-Atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing, and human activity is the probable cause.

-Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be a natural phenomenon.

-Nobody knows how much of the present warming trend might be man-made.

-Nobody knows how much warming will occur in the next century. The computer models vary by 400%, de facto proof that nobody knows.

There's a bunch more, and I don't want to spoil it for you. I suggest you read the book.

With those things said, I think before we try to politicize this issue, we need to increase research first. First, we need to make sure whether or not this warming trend is fully man-made, or natural. If it turns out to be a natural event, then there is probably little we would be able to do about it. If it's man-made, then the only way we will be able to fix it is by researching it, finding out the causes instead of theorizing about them, and act on them.

It's because of environmentalist fearmongering that several south-eastern counties in Wisconsin have to use a reformulated type of gas. This gas burns cleaner per gallon, but you have to burn more gallons of it to get the same mileage from it. The passing of this bill was not on the basis that it will work, but that it MIGHT work. So far, it hasn't done a darn thing.
 
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rmcrobertson

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Let me see if I understand this correctly: we shouldn't do anything about conspicuous and unnecessary waste and consumption, environmental damage, and generally tearing up the world so we can build malls and parking lots and drive to them in SUVs, BECAUSE OF A NOVEL?

I assume that we are also heroically facing the facts about, a) the Andromenda Strain, b) cloning dinosaurs, c) Demi Moore's sexual harassment of Michael Douglas, d) runaway nanites, e) the corruption of the timeline? And let's never forget those runaway albino apes in the Congo?

The interesting thing about this sort of logic is that it reveals one of the ideological constructions that gets in the way of rational planning based on science: do nothing except well we're really doing a lot to screw up the planet, because "doing something," (i.e. thinking and planning reasonably) runs counter to the notion that we're, "just waiting until good science gets done," (i.e. continuing to dump crap into the air, chop down forests, pollute the oceans, build and expand endlessly).

The Kyoto Accords were only ever meant to be a start. Were there problems? Sure--that's why they were meant to be a start.

Those wildly-varying studies, just so folks know, ALL show more-or-less drastic climate changes within the next 50-100 years, changes which have already started taking place. They're simply disagreeing over how drastic the changes will be--kind of like those disagreements of 50, 000 years one way or another over exactly how old human fossils are that Creationists cite desperately, forgetting that plus or minus 50 K on a date of one million years ago isn't going to help you much if you're claiming that the world started in 4004 B.C.

These Accords show that, once again, we're simply refusing to think about what we're doing, pull back on consumption, plan for the future, consider what we want our lives to be like. To do that would contradict the Big Lie of Capitalism--everybody can have whatever they want whenever they want it and can always have more. And, it runs counter to a Fundamentalist theory about, "being fruitful and multiplying," because God put us here to completely trash the planet and anyway the End Times are coming soon.
 

deadhand31

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Ok, like I said, the novel itself is not a story that manufactures a fictional environment for the sake of the story. The story is fictional, but the sources cited are real. Perhaps you think organizations like the EPA and NASA are not qualified to monitor things like climate change, polar ice cap thickness, and weather trends? If so, I suggest you pick up the book at your local library, and tell me how each and every source cited in the 30+ page bibliography is wrong or misstated.

And when did I say pollution controls are a bad thing? All I'm saying is that before we implement solutions, we need to ensure that these solutions will be effective, and that they will work. The reformulated gas is a good example of such a "solution". Yes, each GALLON is cleaner burning by a minute fraction. However, you have to burn MORE gallons to get the SAME effect. In essence, it's more of a catch 22.

One thing to be examined, which has been cited by NASA: From 1940 to 1970 global temperature went down by about 2 degrees, while CO2 went up. Now, if CO2 is the reason for global warming, why is it that in this 30 year period, temperatures went down? Could it be a possibility that maybe, just maybe, there might be more variables that we are not aware of? Do you think, perhaps, before we start drafting up accords, that maybe we need to make sure that what we're doing will have an effect?

And all of these studies can show drastic climate changes, can they? How do you define drastic? 1 degree? 10 degrees? Who did these studies?
 
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rmcrobertson

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First off, my point was that Crichton--while a lot of fun to read--stands in a long tradition of science fiction writers who are a) trying to scare people to sell books, b) trying to sell several right-wing bits of political correctness.

Second off, my point was that the best science we have at the moment says that, "global warming," is real, its effects are already measurable, and that they're going to increase. Even a one-degree rise in average global temperature is a huge change, with serious consequences--unless of course you forget that smallish concerns like our food supply rest on a fairly-delicate set of climate conditions that we rely upon. It doesn't take the planet falling into the sun for there to be enormous effects upon our lives.

Third off, the Kyoto Accords are just the start of a number of things we should do--and probably won't. Global climate change is directly linked to all sorts of concerns about the environmental damage we're doing and refuse to recognize, let alone try to fix. For example, a recurrent complaint you hear out here in California is that gas station owners big and small alike all had to replace their storage tanks recently. It cost a lot of money, somewhere around 100 K a pop, on average--a lotta cash, if you're running a small business. So why'd the state mandate it? EPA measurements showed that more and more of our water supply was contaminated by gas and gas by-products leaking from gas storage tanks.

Dumping greenhouse gases like CO2 is just one of a whole ensemble of dumb, wasteful, potentially suicidal things we're doing to the planet just so's we can have all the trucks, vacation homes, jet skis and garbage dumps we want. Acting every bit as wisely as a group of monkeys pooping in the air system of their spaceship, we're screwing up the joint and it might be nice if we stopped.

If you look at the politics of the Kyoto Accords, they had a lot more to do with a) nationalism, b) short-sighted economic policies, c) Republican politics, d) Bush's brand of flag-waving evangelism than they had to do with common sense, let alone good science. A real leader would've bit the bullet and told the truth, but...this guy won't recognize the truth even when it bites him hard, so...

I quite agree that some of the current "environmentalism," is half-baked. The only reason I prefer it is that at least the wackos recognize there's a problem, and are trying to start working on it. It's better than, "There's no problem, and anyway Jesus is coming back soon, so who the hell cares about the stupid planet anyway?" approach.
 

deadhand31

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Your first point, I can see where you're coming from. However, before Crichton did his research he planned on writing a book about the dangers of global warming. After looking at all sides, he found that he could not, in good conscience, write about something that we can't prove. In his book, he uses actual research and citations to bash people on both sides of the argument.

Second, we don't know if this whole "Global Warming" thing is truly as dangerous as the environmentalists want you to believe. We don't know about how horrible these consequences might be, or if there will be consequences at all. In the days of Mark Twain, you could grow oranges in Missouri. You can't now. Has the food ecosystem been destroyed there? What if maybe we could grow citrus and a variety of different produce further north again? Would that be disastrous?

Third, the Kyoto Accords are a step that is taken out of order. They want to fix the problem before they know how to fix it, the size of the magnitude, or if we're even causing it all. That's like going to a doctor, saying "I'm feeling a bit run-down," and having him schedule you for a lung transplant after only hearing your heart-beat. If C02 causes global warming, then why did global temperatures go down by 2 degrees from 1940 to 1970, despite a constant increase in C02? For those 30 years, a so-called "greenhouse" gas was increasing, but temperatures decreased? Makes you wonder what the kyoto accords is really trying to accomplish.

As for whackos recognizing a problem, well, they haven't been able to prove that there is a problem in the first place.

Now, should we take steps to ensure clean drinking water? Yes. Should we move towards cleaner fuels? Yes, but only if they are cleaner burning in practical application. Should we move away from fossil fuels? Yes.

However, when these things happen, it will be because somebody invented them, or sought out their methodology, and not because a bunch of hippies without things like post-high school education (Michael Moore, Martin Sheen, Barbara Streisand, Alec Baldwin, and Cher come to mind) were promoting bills or politics that their pea-brained minds couldn't seem to understand.
 

bignick

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deadhand31 said:
Third, the Kyoto Accords are a step that is taken out of order. They want to fix the problem before they know how to fix it, the size of the magnitude, or if we're even causing it all. That's like going to a doctor, saying "I'm feeling a bit run-down," and having him schedule you for a lung transplant after only hearing your heart-beat. If C02 causes global warming, then why did global temperatures go down by 2 degrees from 1940 to 1970, despite a constant increase in C02? For those 30 years, a so-called "greenhouse" gas was increasing, but temperatures decreased? Makes you wonder what the kyoto accords is really trying to accomplish.
deadhand31 said:
Should we move towards cleaner fuels? Yes, but only if they are cleaner burning in practical application. Should we move away from fossil fuels? Yes.
OK, so you are saying that the CO2 levels have been rising for decades, the temperatures decreased a bit, ok...and now they're rising. Out of curiosity, anybody got some numbers on the greenhouse gas production in the 1940's and today? Wanna take a wild shot in the dark which is higher.....???? Do some research on glacial melting. It's astounding what's disappearing from the face of this earth.

I don't understand how you can argue for one and not the other? Why should me move away from fossil fuels, as according to you, there is no real evidence that it causes any harm. A very shaky argument at best. Everything I've seen has been based on the book and the research Crichton did. Ok, you are arguing on the basis of what a fiction novelist thinks about the subject. How many years did he research this? One, two? Let's say two...give him the benefit doubt. So we are supposed to take what the writer said about the subject and ignore what the people that have been studying this for decades are saying.

On second thought, I live in northern Minnesota maybe if you get your way it will be a nice place to live...no more -20 below winters...which is significantly warmer than it has been, by the way. It was just a couple of years ago up here when we didn't even have snow on Christmas day. So keep it up, we've got a lot of lakes, sunny beaches here I come...
 
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rmcrobertson

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So that folks don't need to rely upon a novel for their reality, try:

http://www.koshland-science-museum.org/exhibitgcc/index.jsp

It's from the National Academy of Sciences.

The other things to do, when you're thinking this stuff through, include:

a) Look around you. Do you find that the world you see is more trashed than it was when you were a kid? When you travel, do you see more signs of deforestation, damaged environment, etc.?

b) Read the paper. Do you see a lot of articles on the following: local pollution problems such as the groundwater contamination by rocket fuels near Vandenberg AFB in California; "dead zones," in the ocean; deforestation in the Amazon; costs for cleanup.

c) Ask yourself some questions: when you drive to the mall and look around at all the big cars and trucks, what's their MPG? How many resources do such vehicles consume? Are they necessary? Do their drivers seem to behave better or worse than those in smaller cars?

d) Think about your experience and history. For example, has it been your experience that corporations do what's best for all without kicking and screaming, or has it been your experience that they tend to think of their stockholders' and bosses' profits first, last, and foremost?
 
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rmcrobertson

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While the Hiebs' site is nicely done and contains a lot of useful info, they also seem to have a little teensy problem with reality that impinges on the rights of energy companies.

Here is one of their other little messages from the same site that pooh-poohs the whole global warming, "scare:"

"Like most of the independent strip miners, Carl didn't do much more than make a living for himself over the long haul, eventually rolling the dice once too often in this high stakes game where weather, steep terrain, coal markets, environmental zealots, and the ever-changing geologic conditions eventually took their toll. Most of the small independent coal operators have now, for the most part, disappeared-- casualties of a tangled labyrinth of government regulation, the uncertainties of the coal market, and the laws of Monte Carlo. Only a handful-- all professionals-- remain. Their culture and their perseverence will one day, hopefully, be told in a way that adequately portrays the daily heroics of their endeavors against many odds, and gives due credit to the Strip Miner for having provided many families in Appalachia the means to lift themselves out of poverty and participate in the American dream."

Gee, I just referred to the National Academy of Sciences.
 
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