November 22, 2004
The Kyoto Push
I know it's not popular to say this, but I have to. The KYOTO ACCORDS are a bad idea, propagated on bad science and will serve to be a destructive force for the world.
What? Wait a minute Jason, what are you saying? How can you be against the environment, how can you rant against the Kyoto Accords?
The examination of Kyoto has to start at the question "Why Kyoto?"
The Accords were suggested, obstensibily, in the hopes that the industrialized nations could establish an "industrial status quo" with regard to the emmission of so called "greenhouse gasses." The next step is the reduction of gas emmissions worldwide. While this is a noble effort and certainly one worth considering, the true motives and reasons are more complex.
If the true goal were the reduction of greenhouse gasses, the accords would have addressed the unfettered slash and burn practices of the rainforests. Only lip service is given to this issue in the accords. tens of thousands of acres of rainforest in equatorial regions are decimated daily in the third world. The forest is removed to create pastureland that remains fertile for a brief time then the thin topsoil washes away creating landscapes that resemble the surface of the moon. NOTE: The rainforests are the #1 converter of the most evil of the greenhouse gasses, carbon dioxide, into oxygen, which is considered to be a "safe" gas. Rather than keep the ecological scrubbers natural to the planet, the Kyoto accords simply blame the industrialized nations for the problem, and create ticking time bombs of pollution in the third world.
While the industrialized nations are ordered to reduce emissions, third world nations are allowed, even encouraged to up their emission levels. A step further allows developing nations to "sell" their surplus emission allotments to other nations so they can remain inside the agreed upon levels. This is a bad idea on it's face, and even more insidious when you look behind the curtain.
The Kyoto Accords are condemning developing nations to pre-idustrialized status. Emission brokering will become the next "oil-for-food" fiasco, as third world potentates and dictators will sell off the economic future of their countries to larger nations who will in turn promise hard currency, manufactured goods and perhaps even kickbacks and military/economic development scenarios.
To top it all off? The science is bad. There's no concusive evidence that the planet is warming. In fact, for every scientific and anecdotal study that says the planet is warming, there's a counter study that says it's cooling.
The fact is that we don't know enough about what's going on with the world. Most of the data used to support global warming is coming from data collected in relative proximity to population centers. Put 10 people in a small room for an hour without any outside source of air conditioning, wait an hour and see what the temperature does. Or you could lay an acre of bright white cement and then put a thermometer in the center and locate another 50 ft from the slab and compare the temperature readings. In both cases you'll see that population and development increases local temperature.
Now get on a boat and travel to the center of any ocean. Drop a bouy with a thermometer on it and study those results. Yep, you've guessed it, the temperatures away from population centers are actually going down decade after decade.
The simple common sense truth is that we have no idea what's really going on with the warming and cooling of the earth. The Earth has been around longer than most people can conceive of. We have lots of theory and conjecture and even some sound scientific hypothesis about the mechanics of our environment, but we don't have anything that we can look at as fact. We're playing a whole new game with mother nature and given the size and scope of the playground, it's doubtful at this juncture that we're able to even field a team that can play with the old mother, let alone beat her at her own game.
I'm proud of the Clinton administration's initial obstructionist tactics when Kyoto started to turn into pop science. I'm even more proud of the Bush administrations' refusal to continue with the process in Kyoto. The popular opinion influences were turning against the demonstrated science. Any suggestion from NASA or any other scientific body that the Earth was actually cooling in some studies was met with jeers and attacks on the presenters, howling protests from eco-warriors and vicious personal attacks on the presenters.
Faced with the opposition science, the Kyoto group attacked the US, saying that "of course the world's largest polluter would present such 'manipulation' of commonly held opinion." Yes, the Kyoto signatories agreed that the Accords were based on "OPINION" not fact. The group looked at a political situation without regard to the science.
Of course cars are bad, but so is burning the rainforest, of course polluting coal fired electric plants are bad, but so are volcanos (which actually cool the planet btw). The simple truth is that all the money being poured into Kyoto based programs aren't being supported by scientific discoveries, they are based on pop science and politics. The Kyoto Accords are more about the redistribution of wealth on a global scale than they are about "fixing" the planet. A planet I add, that may not need fixing.
Rather than pouring money into an unknown "green hole", I suggest that we continue to fund and even increase funding for "true" scientific study of the history of the global climate. Lets get the ball rolling on Arctic and Antarctic ice core projects, lets get some more satellites into space to conduct a detailed planetary temperature study, lets approach the problem with common sense solutions that address the real issues rather than slapping band-aids on non-existant cuts and saying that we cured cancer.
Pollution is bad, we need to continue the development of hybrid vechicles of all types (here's a hybrid SUV), we need to help the developing nations meet their ecologic and energy needs without having to pass through the dark-ages of our own industrial revolution. We need to actively work with the third world to exploit, solar, wind, wave, water and geotherm energy production so they don't have to cut down rainforests for firewood, or burn noxious coal. We need to let industrialized nation's agribusiness interests enter into emerging markets to bring effective soil management practices worldwide. And we need to bring a new "Global Corps of Engineers" into being to work to correct and manage many of the worlds largest ecosystems for their effective long term stability.
For milenia, mankind has worked in harmony with nature, and nature has worked with mankind to provide for the development of the most successful species ever to move across the planet. We've integrated ourselves into every corner of the planets ecosphere, we've harnessed the resources and found the logical extentions of what the planet has to offer us; we moved from buring dung to burning wood, from wood to coal, coal to oil, oil to nuclear, then with this surplus, we've explored solar, wind, water, wave and geotherm technology. All of these sources of energy are a continuum of process. We'll continue to harness new and less polluting sources of energy as we progress.
Throw money at this process! Don't throw money toward hamstringing the economic drivers of the world economy; don't throw money to encourage development of "dirty" technology in the third world so they can "live up to" their quotas. Finally, throw money at those efforts that will give us a deeper understanding of what's actually going on, so we can have scientific fact on our side as we move forward rather than protests and propaganda that only assert that the sky is falling.
The Earth is not a political play-toy, it's our home. It's been around longer than we have, and will be around long after we're gone. We've certainly had our effect on it, but the ecosystem has the ability to shrug us off any any time if it so sees fit. We're going to have ice ages and periods of global warming again, and again, and again, it's better that we try to understand what these processes are rather than try to think we somehow have the ability to control it. Lets concentrate on getting off the rock before it shrugs us off before we try to start figuring out how to reverse ice ages or air condition the planet.
It's just common sense.
Posted by JasonColeman at November 22, 2004 1:11 PM