December 5, 2005
Pick a Pact, Any Pact
The long afternoon of the grand global climate pact is ending; the hot sun sinks low, and the coolness of the night chills fevered fantasies of scores of nations linking hands and singing a Climatological Kumbayah. Even the New York Times sees the lengthening shadows:
IN December 1997, representatives of most of the world's nations met in Kyoto, Japan, to negotiate a binding agreement to cut emissions of "greenhouse" gases.
They succeeded. The Kyoto Protocol was ultimately ratified by 156 countries. It was the first agreement of its kind. But it may also prove to be the last.
Today, in the middle of new global warming talks in Montreal, there is a sense that the whole idea of global agreements to cut greenhouse gases won't work.
I read about this on Saturday and was going to blog it, but Wretchard seems to have beaten me to the punch. Still, I did discuss this several months ago on Captain's Quarters, so I think it's still worth a follow-up -- and I'll post that Scaley Classic immediately following this post. (Sooner or later, I will post on Big Lizards every word I've written on other blogs, all of my fiction and nonfiction, and probably the first eight volumes of the Encyclopaedia Galactica before you can reel me in.)
What has happened is that the vision of a worldwide, enforceable pact, treaty, or protocol forcing a reduction in greenhouse gases (mostly carbon and carbonoids) by crippling industrial production has proven, oddly enough, to be extraordinarily unpopular. Oh, plenty of nations agree to the notion in theory and eagerly climb aboard; but when push comes to pull, they quietly scuttle any real attempt to comply. Even Japan itself has failed to honor any major component of the Kyoto Protocol.
Naturally, however, the Times has a more comfortable villain in mind:
But in the years after the protocol was announced, developing countries, including the fast-growing giants China and India, have held firm on their insistence that they would accept no emissions cuts, even though they are likely to be the world's dominant source of greenhouse gases in coming years.
Their refusal helped fuel strong opposition to the treaty in the United States Senate and its eventual rejection by President Bush.
Note the subtle dropping of context here: the "strong opposition" to the treaty in the Senate was in fact 97 to 0; and this vote was taken, not during the reign of George W. Bush, but that of his immediate predecessor, whoever he was. Bush simply withdrew a treaty that the Senate had overwhelmingly rejected (in a non-binding straw vote).
This Orwellian Europeanism -- or rather, Rachel Carson-ism -- has been replaced by the dawning recognition that George Bush was right after all: the best way to resolve the problems caused by the anthropogenic component of global warming (however large or small a percentage of total warming that may be) is to encourage capitalism, technology, and especially regional solutions... rather than trying to spin the entire globe off its axis.
Note that there are also a great many benefits to having an atmosphere with a significantly larger component of CO₂ (carbon dioxide): plants, including food crops, grow faster, larger, with a longer growing season, yielding healthier and more pest-resistant foliage and fruit, thus requiring fewer pesticides. If the goal is to better life for human beings, more CO₂ in the atmosphere is a grand thing, so long as we don't overdo it (which isn't likely under even the wildest, most politically driven overestimate by actual scientists). See for example Chapter 10 of the Satanic Gases, by Patrick J. Michaels and Robert C. Balling, jr. None of these benefits is ever considered in global climate pacts.
(Professor Michaels, research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and one of America's foremost researchers in climatology, was formerly the editor of World Climate Review, which took a skeptical view of global-warming theory and politics. WCR, sadly defunct now, was published by the Western Fuels Association, an alliance of coal-burning utility companies. Both Michaels and Professor Balling, director of the Office of Climatology and professor of geography at Arizona State University, are skeptics of the sky-is-falling model of globaloney. Another excellent book by Professor Michaels is Meltdown : The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media.)
I love the Times's conclusion. It's at once so lofty and so appallingly ignorant:
The only real answer at the moment is still far out on the horizon: nonpolluting energy sources. But the amount of money being devoted to research and develop such technologies, much less install them, is nowhere near the scale of the problem, many experts on energy technology said.
"Far out on the horizon?" How about, oh, nuclear power plants? Sure, there are some new designs that are still being tested: Pebble Bed Modular reactors (gas-cooled) and Integral Fast reactors (cooled by liquid sodium), for a couple of examples. But surely the fact that France gets so much of its electrical power from (non-greenhouse-gas emitting) nukes should have penetrated the skull of Andrew C. Revkin, who wrote this article. If he ever saw the China Syndrome, he ought to know that we do, in fact, have nuclear fission powerplants -- which therefore are not "far out on the horizon."
In any event, research and development of "such technologies" is precisely the approach favored by President Bush in the Asia Pacific Partnership, which we signed back in July of this year. See next post, a Climate Pact Even I Can Applaud.
So with the belated discovery by the "pactologists" in Europe (I include Japan) that you catch more flies with honey than cod liver oil, can we expect a formal mea maxima culpa for treating President Bush, who is now shown to have been right all along on this issue, like a dunderhead?
Sure... that's about as likely as the oceans rising up and inundating New York City up to Lady Liberty's headgear:
But it is fun watching the ritualized kabuki dance of the climate-change crowd.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 5, 2005, at the time of 4:39 AM
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