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Kyoto Protocol Comes Into Force 1336

Posted by Zonk
from the better-to-use-this-than,-say,-tcp/ip dept.
Cally writes "The controversial Kyoto Treaty regulating CO2 emissions finally comes into force today. The BBC has several stories and backgrounders, and notes that international pressure is now mounting on the USA to take action as well, as the scientific consensus is well established. A key question is whether the US economy will benefit relative the rest of the world, with some arguing that new technologies such as clean power generation and energy efficient appliances will provide an economic boost."
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Kyoto Protocol Comes Into Force

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  • by Peeteriz (821290) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:32AM (#11687801)
    Looking at the question of 'will USA gain a relative economical advantage' is missing the point - it IS clear that there are certain economic disadvantages - ensuring that our children have a decent world left will have some costs.
  • Seems to me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:32AM (#11687806)
    If the war on terrorism is to continue then decreasing our reliance on oil (which comes from the Middle East) should be a priority.

    There is no denying that oil revenue undoubtably finds its way into the hands of those that wish evil against the US. Clean technologies reduce our need to funnel more money into that part of the world.
  • Oh good a flamewar (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CmdrGravy (645153) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:34AM (#11687810) Homepage
    US Good / US Bad ./ will decide
  • by northcat (827059) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:34AM (#11687814) Journal
    A key question is whether the US economy will benefit relative the rest of the world,

    It doesn't matter whether a country's economy benifits from this. The safety of our Evironment is more important than the economy of a country.
  • by NardofDoom (821951) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:35AM (#11687818)
    This will be just one more nail in the coffin of US dominance. While other countries are out developing new technologies, we'll continue to drive inefficient vehicles and burn coal for electrical power. Eventually, the rest of the industrialized world will have switched to fuel cells and renewable or nuclear energy, and we'll end up buying our cars and power systems from them.

    So we better start getting really creative, really fast. Otherwise we'll have nothing to sell anyone.

  • Prediction (Score:2, Insightful)

    by govtcheez (524087) <govtcheez03@hotmail.com> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:36AM (#11687826) Homepage
    This is going to be a very very replied-to story, and at the end of the "discussion", no one's mind will be changed.
  • Re:US economy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by REggert (823158) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:37AM (#11687837)
    If I'm not mistaken, the primary US objection to the treaty is that it does not apply to India or China, who are expected to be responsible for most of the world's CO2 emissions in the next couple decades. The reasoning is something like, "Why should we limit our emissions (and suffer the economic consequences), when the biggest polluters get to keep on polluting?"
  • by damian cosmas (853143) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:37AM (#11687842)
    India, China, and Brazil aren't involved in Kyoto. Together, they make up a rather nontrivial fraction of the world's population, with the former two beginning to industrialize heavily. This treaty is, has been, and will continue to be a joke.
  • Wikipedia entry? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by northcat (827059) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:38AM (#11687846) Journal
    Err, Providing a wikipedia entry to support something like this isn't good considering how biased/wrong wikipedia can be. Especially since this topic has so much to do with USA and this is so controversial in USA (although everyone outside knows the truth) and Wikipedia is virtually controlled by US people (editors).
  • A plea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ed_Moyse (171820) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:39AM (#11687851) Homepage
    Every time we get a story like this, a bunch of people write in about how global warming isn't happening, or if they accept that, then they write about how it's not certain* that it's caused by us.

    Please PLEASE can people like this read the links, and read about the consensus. If they have specific points to rebutt with the evidence then this is interesting (especially if they have training in the area).

    I'm not a climate scientist myself and so I feel a bit hestitant about posting anything on these topics. It would be nice if the self-appointed 'experts' who take over these threads would behave in the same way, and let those of us who are interested in learning more read comments from people who actually know what they're talking about. This does not mean you have to agree with Kyoto (it's clearly flawed in some areas), nor that you have to believe that global warming is our fault, but you should have some damn good facts and links! ;-)

    *of course nothing can ever be proven to be certain in science, only disproven, but you all know what I mean.
  • by JPelorat (5320) * on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:40AM (#11687861)
    So then you think China and India shouldn't be exempt? I agree, there shouldn't be any exceptions made, if the stakes are that high.
  • by Epistax (544591) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [xatsipe]> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:40AM (#11687866) Journal
    We're talking about the country which doesn't admit smoking causes cancer until ~ twenty years after it's proved. Then we don't admit second-hand smoking causes cancer until... wait have we admitted it yet? Wait, we're still using land-mines?

    Calling the Kyoto treaty unfair is irrelevant. Pointing out other countries engaging in the same ignorance as our own is irrelevant. The US drags its feet when it comes to international and social issues. I don't know which is more depressing.

    I hate to have to keep doing this: This not a troll. This post contains only facts (except the ~ twenty is a guess). If you feel a violent reaction to this post I suggest you start thinking before you post.
  • Bush and Kyoto (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poindextrose (640377) <sliderule@FREEBSDgmail.com minus bsd> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:41AM (#11687876) Homepage
    Bush will never force the industry of his country (including power generation) to conform to the Kyoto accord. It's bad business.

    In fact, he passes laws that relax the current regulations on pollution. His not-so-aptly-named "Clean Skies" initiative allows coal-fired generating stations to increase the amount of pollution they produce in favour of dumping more wattage on the grid.

    This sort of behaviour disgusts me. I live in Toronto, and although we have a busy airport and traffic corridor, we don't produce nearly as much pollution as our neighbours to the south. Nanticoke generating station generates enough power for the city of Toronto without running at full capacity. It produces less emmissions than a plant half its size in Detroit. It does this with not-so-new-but-expensive technology that is invested in in favour of oh, say, being able to breathe.

    I went down to D.C. recently, and when I left on the plane, looking east, I couldn't tell where the ground ended and the sky began. It was a disgusting layer of brown that looked like it spanned five hundered meters in the air... probably more.

    I hope someone manages to bring sanctions against the Bush administration. His lack of regard for anything not minted or drilled or slipped into his pocket is disgusting.
  • Re:US economy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CVD1979 (718352) <tim.stoop@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:41AM (#11687877) Homepage
    Hm, I thought once the large countries would adopt it, they could 'force' (as in, political force) the rest of the world to comply? I'm not really into politics, though.

    Even when your comment is correct, I still think the US could at least set an example, like Europe and Russia will do. It's not about solving the problem of others, but working at our own problems. Even when India and China will not comply to the agreements, having the rest of the world comply will still make a difference, if only by creating a frame of mind.

    At least, that's my opinion.
  • Re:US economy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Krisbee (644227) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:42AM (#11687885)
    Problem is:
    The economy crowd's horizon is the next quarterly report
    The ecology crowd's horizon is the next quarter millennium.
  • by moz25 (262020) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:43AM (#11687888) Homepage
    I think it's better to stick to these agreements in the long run: it is both an intuitive an scientific fact that (oil) supplies will run out sooner or later. If we reach near that point without well-developed alternative technology and infrastructure, that would be a bigger disaster.

    It comes at a price perhaps on the short term, but it gives a number of benefits: not only can alternative energy resources potentially come cheaper than conventional ones, it is a given that a worldwide demand for these will grow at some point in the future. Having technology, research and patents ready gives a major economic edge... it is exportable technology after all.

    So.. I don't think it will damage the U.S. economy that much within the next 10 years or so, but it will be relatively damaging in the sense that reliance on foreign technology and resources remains.
  • Re:Screw Kyoto (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mindstrm (20013) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:44AM (#11687904)
    Yeah, screw those developing nations without stable economies, just let them rot.

    Some nations can't afford the changes requried, they would be *devastating* to their already fragile situations. They need time for their economies to grow and stabilize before they can make such changes.

    The US, and the rest of the 1st world nations, on the other hand, CAN afford to make some changes without collapsing their entire economic system.

    Like it or not, China is still a developing nation, even if has 5x the population of the US.

  • Parent is correct (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alcimedes (398213) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:45AM (#11687911)
    I work with said scientists, and the consensus is about nil. Those who's funding requires that they find emissions to be the root of rising temperatures find just that.

    For those who work in academic fields, funding means a lot. It shouldn't be that way but it is.

    And when a scientist does a study that your funding source didn't like, no more funding for that scientist. Anyone who thinks that science is immune from politics isn't paying attention.

  • by Kokuyo (549451) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:45AM (#11687914) Journal
    Yes, but considering the state of their social system I'd say we cannot expect them to first look out for the environment before feeding their children.

    We live in relatively stable countries... it is OUR duty to show them how it should be done by example. Then they will follow this example.
  • Re:US economy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ikkonoishi (674762) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:46AM (#11687919) Journal
    Kyoto if it were fully enforced would only decrease global warming by 1/500th of a degree over the next 50 years. Its a $90 billion bandade on a bursting dam.
  • by zapster (39411) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:47AM (#11687929)
    China is on track to build 562 new coal fired plants in the next 8 years. India is looking at building 213 plants. The US 72...The US does not matter in this equation, talk about China and India. Any gains in CO2 emmissions are buried by 3rd world increases.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:47AM (#11687931) Homepage
    The controversial Kyoto Treaty

    This is the same way as Christian Fundamentalists in Kentucky et al describe Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

    Quick Summary: Everyone in the world thinks that someone has to be done about pollution. Except the biggest polluter.

    Basically this is the same as elements like the Chemical and Biological non-proliferation treaty (objected to by the US), the International Criminal Court (objected to by the US) and a host of other good ideas that the US President objects to because he didn't think them up.

    The US Approach of "Build Bigger SUVs and let our kids sort out the mess" is a disgrace to the 21st Century on a par with any other act of wilful destruction that can be conceived. The US is deliberately increasing its pollution rates and refusing to do anything about it. This already causes increases in deaths in the US an abroad due to breathing disorders and toxic poisoning.

    And if its about the economy, how about trimming that massive debt George ?

  • by rsidd (6328) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:47AM (#11687934)
    This treaty is, has been, and will continue to be a joke.

    It's a starting point. Much more needs to be done. But the US is not even willing to make a start. As of now, India and China combined emit about 14% of the world's CO2 (it was a lot lower when the treaty was being negotiated and India's share is still low), while the US all by itself emits 25%

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:48AM (#11687940)
    they make up a rather nontrivial fraction of the world's population
    But, at present, a pretty insubstantial proportion of the world's carbon emissions. And there's a good reason they're omitted.

    If they were given quotas in line with already industrialised nations of similar population, all that would happen is the heavy polluters would purchase their credits, and do nothing to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    If they were included with relatively low levels of maximum emissions, that would automatically give Kyoto an extremely limited lifespan. So at present they're omitted, with the clear and stated aim that when the contribution of their industries begin to be important in the CO2 balance equation, they'll get included.
  • by REggert (823158) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:48AM (#11687945)
    By that reasoning, we should immediately halt all factory production everywhere, forget about driving anywhere, and, oh yeah, shut down the power plants that power your computer so you can post on ./ The environment is more important, after all.
  • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles.jones@nOspam.zen.co.uk> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:48AM (#11687947)
    Then set them an example?

    Honestly, it's a joke when the worlds biggest polluter stands up and complains about poorer countries who pollute less.

    Sure it will have economic costs, but developing technology will create jobs and result in lots of energy saving technology which can be sold.
  • by TheViffer (128272) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:49AM (#11687950)
    let the farmer become the "oil" barrens of the 21st century and let them grow hemp for biodiesel production.

    I believe estimates state that if 25% of all crop land was hemp, the USA would be self sufficiant. Not to mention, give farmers a "true" cash crop.
  • Greenland (Score:1, Insightful)

    by zihamesh (662659) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:50AM (#11687959)
    When the vikings first discovered Greenland, they called it that because it was a green and relatively pleasent land. That's not a description that one would use today, despite the effects of a supposed global warming. The point is that climate change has always been a feature of the Earth, especially in the last few thousand years. Its seems to me that the USA are, for once, in the right.
  • by Nine Tenths of The W (829559) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:50AM (#11687963)
    Modern nuclear power is cleaner, safer, cheaper and more efficient than it ever was, yet we continue to build toxic, filthy fossil fuel plants. Why?

    Because of the relentless, unscientific green PR campaign that's portrayed every nuclear plant as a Chernobyl in waiting. Wind, sun and waves are not always an option, and anti-nuclear campaigning has left no choice but fossil fuels.
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:51AM (#11687969)
    well obviously the nasty terrorist polluter countries would require regime change.
  • by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:52AM (#11687978)
    Ah, the old "they're not doing it, so there's no point me doing it" attitude...

    Look, it's perfectly simple. The more countries sign up, the better. Yes, it would be preferable to get every country in the world to sign up and adhere to the treaty, but that's not going to happen right away. Failing that, the more the better. Even if a couple of major polluters don't sign up, those that do can still make a positive difference.

    Hey, not everyone obeys inconvenient laws like not killing people, not stealing stuff, not dumping toxic waste into rivers, and so on - that doesn't mean that no-one should bother.
  • Re:Smoke Screen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jrumney (197329) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:55AM (#11687991) Homepage
    The basic American claim that the treaty is unjust towards wealthier nations, while benefits countries like China and India, is true.

    It is only true if your definition of "just" includes the right of Americans to pollute ten times as much as Chinese and Indians so that they may maintain their already significantly higher standard of living.

  • Re:A plea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by northcat (827059) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:56AM (#11688002) Journal
    I agree. On a related note, this is one of the main drawbacks of Internet discussion forums, mailing lists etc. Everyone acts like an expert and it's almost impossible to tell who is actually an expert and who is just ignorant or pushing his agenda. It's not disastrous when it happens on ordinary forums, but very bad when it happens on sites like Wikipedia which are supposed to inform people or even slashdot (a lot of undecided readers come to slashdot).

    People don't know how to STFU.
  • by frankthechicken (607647) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:57AM (#11688012) Journal
    India/China/Brazil are not in Kyoto as per head of population they do not contribute as much towards to Carbon dioxide problem as Western nations. The only so called industrialized nations not signed up to Kyoto are the US and Australia.

    Australia is the one that amuses me, their PM's statement

    "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"

    Especially when their leading oppposition party states that

    Australia is the world's worst greenhouse gas polluter per capita because of its heavy use of coal-burning power stations.

    The arguement that because so and so aren't doing it, why should we, is not only childish, but considering stances against some countries for not commiting to certain agreements, it seems down right hypocritical.
  • by skyshock21 (764958) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:59AM (#11688021)
    Maybe it's just me? But it seems kind of ignorant to place such a burden on the world's largest economy based on a flimsy theory which hasn't been proven sufficiently yet.

    This seems to me like political posteuring and hangers-on wishing to force an economic advantage because they can't seem to acheive it through any other means.

    I say give 'em the finger.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:03AM (#11688045)

    The USA doesn't listen either, so what's the difference...

  • by little1973 (467075) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:03AM (#11688052)
    Kyoto will fail sooner than you may think due to Peak Oil [peakoil.net]. Nations will want to get as much energy as they can get and nobody will care if that energy is harmful to environment or not.

    Do not forget that 20% of the world population uses up the 86% of the energy of the world. As people in China and India, the two most populous country in the world, want to live like us the price of energy will rise and Kyoto will be ignored.
  • by mordors9 (665662) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:03AM (#11688054)
    I'm sorry, but saying that a totalitarian regime like China will follow anyone's example is just silly. The US should either accept or reject the Kyoto protocol based upon its own merits. Not make decisions based upon a fanciful notion that China or India are so full of respect for anything the US does that they will follow along.
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:04AM (#11688058)
    If the war on terrorism is to continue then decreasing our reliance on oil (which comes from the Middle East) should be a priority.

    There is no denying that oil revenue undoubtably finds its way into the hands of those that wish evil against the US. Clean technologies reduce our need to funnel more money into that part of the world.


    Yes, but the oil companies are not run by fools or idiots, unfortunately. Why do you think they staged a coup d'etat in the United States in 2000, and possibly again in 2004?

    Sane public policy would have us moving away from oil (and not cancelling vialbe programs that would have given us tangible results in three to five years, and replacing them with grandios programs that probably won't deliver in ten to fifteen years ... said programs of course to be cancelled and replaced again a couple of years before delivery with something else, rinse, wash, and repeat until the oil reserves have gone completely dry). That is something the oil plutocrats simply cannot abide, and, having seized control of the United States government, will not allow.

    So no, we won't be joining Kyoto anytime soon. Sorry, folks.

    It may mortify me personally as an American to see what my government is doing, but as the odds of my vote even counting continue to decline I don't see much I can do about it, except gripe here on slashdot and send letters for my representatives to ignore.
  • by Kokuyo (549451) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:05AM (#11688064) Journal
    No. We shouldn't be talking so they wouldn't have to be listening.

    We should be a shining example with breathable air and water coming out of the tailpipes of our cars. And they will WANT to follow the example.

    I do believe that clean energy will mean lots of cash in the future. If SOMEONE manages to make big bucks with it everyone else will follow. That is in the nature of humans. The problem is someone needs the cojones to INVEST first. And we really can't expect underdevelopped countries to do the investing, right?
  • by ajs (35943) <ajs@ a j s . com> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:05AM (#11688070) Homepage Journal
    So we have to take a political and scientific debate down to the level of "do it for the children"? How sad.

    As for the article itself, let's please stop talking about "consensus".

    Seriously, if you want a nice review of the topic of scientific consensus, here's a bit from a speech given by Michael Crichton [crichton-official.com]
    "I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had."
    He goes on to explain that many important scientific discoveries have been in direct conflict with the consensus. So please, let's not use the word "consensus" in this context. Discuss warming trends (there's some hard data you can point to), anthropic influence and other real topics, but science is not a popularity game. If you talk about consensus, you're only talking about politics, not science.

    For my part, I have no fundamental problem with the idea behind Kyoto, though a) I think there are better places to spend time and money that would save more lives (e.g. reducing chemical toxic waste dumping) and b) the details of the treaty are almost certainly a mass of political potatoes that are getting lobbed around for individual gain, so one should not be too quick to judge its detractors.

    I've still not been sold on anthropic warming, but I'd welcome more debate in the US on emissions. At the very least it's not a bad idea to keep our emissions under control with an eye toward air quality (though keep in mind that air quality isn't necissarily served by a focus on CO2 levels).
  • by ShamusYoung (528944) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:07AM (#11688083) Homepage
    I believe estimates state that if 25% of all crop land was hemp, the USA would be self sufficiant. Not to mention, give farmers a "true" cash crop.

    Not even close [denbeste.nu]. Keep in mind that if it worked, someone would have attempted it. Getting rich is a strong motivator, and lots of people would love to become the "new oil barrens".

  • by Malc (1751) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:07AM (#11688089)
    And two wrongs make a right? Rather than sinking down to the level of others, how about taking the high ground and leading by example, or aren't you up to the job? The US is the richest country in the world - there's no excuse.

    The Kyoto Protocol is not the last word on this. It was never intended to be. It's a step in the right direction. Much like the Rio Summit was (1992???), where incidentally many countries including the US made promises they immediately went about breaking. The next agreement after Kyoto will undoubtedly try to pull in these developing countries whose economies have grown large enough that they can be considered up to the job. The cynics amongst us would say the Americans wanting to apply the protocol to poor countries is a method to try to keep the poor countries poor and under the American thumb. The US doesn't suffer easily - a bit like a petulant child.

    It's time to start working in the right direction with the knowledge that others will be brought in to the fold later.
  • by Kokuyo (549451) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:09AM (#11688105) Journal
    As I stated in my answer to another poster above:

    This is not about respect or whether they will listen or not. This is about profit. Be it either financial or other means.

    No, China gives a damn about what the US wants or says. But they will give a lot of thought about technological and economical advantages the US will gain over them. Make a market for clean energy and they will want to participate.
  • Re:Seems to me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bombadillo (706765) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:10AM (#11688117)
    I agree. The cost of maintaining a stable oil supply should be factored in with the price of oil. There has to be some sort of bell curve at which cheap oil is not so cheap when defense spending, lives etc are factored in to the cost.

    Unfortunately, Oil makes a lot of money and so does Military contracting, and Weapons Sales. Take Halliburton for instance. Their subsidaries are in Oil and Military contracting. Which means that Oil rich areas that are unstable are great Money makers. Great for the business's and economies that trade thouse commodities. Bad for the people that live there or get sent there.

    Moving to energy independence would be a dramatic shift in our economy. I am sure there are many parties that do not welcome that shift as it would not profit their interests. They will try everything they can to slow the shift to renewable/independent energy.
  • by danharan (714822) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:11AM (#11688124) Journal
    There's one huge problem with that prediction.

    As far as they go, predictions of energy use have been completely, utterly atrocious when they have been done for periods of 30 years. I think if the US DOE (and all the industrialized nations' counterparts) were right, we'd be using twice as much energy today.

    Most third world countries didn't finish building old-fashioned telephony systems before cell phones took over. Their infrastructure costs are much lower- without an entrenched bureaucracy that wants to have its old investment pay off, there's little incentive to put down copper lines now.

    The reason I mention cell phones is that not only did it surprise most analysts, it perfectly illustrates what we could expect to happen as they "leap-frog" our filthy, polluting fossil-fuel addictions. A leap we can't take for the same reasons most of us (well, maybe not here) still use old-fashioned telephone lines.

    As far as reducing emissions, technology has more of the solution than politics. Something the /. crowd should take to mean that we have potentially more power than politicians. After all, we know politicians aren't usually clued in about tech :)
  • by Malc (1751) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:11AM (#11688135)
    The US doesn't suffer easily

    Err: The US doesn't suffer rivals easily
  • by ballpoint (192660) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:13AM (#11688158)
    No, another nail in the coffin of the EU. The EU is already as largely economically uncompetitive as it gets due to extreme bureaucratic inefficiencies (producing nothing but paper). The economic decline is hidden because the capital that has been extracted (stolen) from former colonies is being spent to keep up appearances.

    Kyoto is just there to establish a base from which to launch new taxes. These taxes will further foster the power of this bureaucracy, and divert money towards funding pork-barrel projects and more junk science studies.

    In the end, Kyoto will slow down development, including development in alternative energy, because the money and (human) energy isn't put to work in the most productive way. Instead of people desigining and producing interesting technology, they'll be pushing paper and develop convoluted emission trading systems.

    Already Kyoto has made me post this, instead of spending my time on better things. QED.
  • by renderhead (206057) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:17AM (#11688197)
    Nonparticipation in the Kyoto treaty is not synonymous with having no interest in alternative energy technologies. Despite the prevailing PR on the subject, the United States has not vowed to continue business as usual. What they have done is reject a specific agreement which they feel is not in their best interests.

    If there is an economic advantage to developing alternative energy sources, and I believe there is, U.S. corporations will be all over it. Power companies aren't oil-lovers. They're money-lovers. And they aren't stupid; they know that the world's oil supply won't last forever, so they're all going to want new business models ready to roll out when oil goes up to a million dollars a barrel. They'll either be developing the new technologies themselves or watching the Europeans very closely.

    In summary, Kyoto isn't the end-all of emissions reduction, and it probably won't even be the last international emissions reduction treaty of its kind.
  • Well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:18AM (#11688199) Homepage Journal
    with some arguing that new technologies such as clean power generation and energy efficient appliances will provide an economic boost

    Well, it's pretty clear that it provides an economic boost to the people who are in the business of developing technology. The open question is whether adopting Kyoto (or rather participating in the development of a modified Kyoto). would boost the productivity economy as a whole. A lot depends on the time frame you look at, and assumptions you make.

    There's no doubt in my mind that failing to endorse Kyoto means that Europe and Japan will become the technology leaders in emissions reduction, energy efficiency, and possibly even alternative energy technologies. US companies (meaning companies that do most of their business in the US) on the other hand will invest their money in other things, which will presumably pay off in other ways. I think it's fair to say that US companies will lag in these particular areas.

    The key question, which nobody can answer for sure, is whether energy efficiency, emissions reduction and alternative energy technologies are going to be more signficant in the long run than the other things that Amercian business are going to be investing in.

    I personally think there is a good chance that they will be the most important technogies of the twenty-first century, dwarfing computer technology or even biotechnology. Oil stocks are finite, and our first world life style, upon which all else depends, is very energy intensive. Furthermore companies by their nature look at quarterly or annual results, not the tweny year timeframe this becomes important in. As a person in my mid 40s, I fully expect to live another 40 years, in twenty of which I expect to live on my investments. Therefore I'm very interested in the performance of companies twenty plus years out.

    Of course, if you take an even longer viewpoint, it may be that after Europe and Japan invest heavily in first generation technology, the US companies may be able to leapfrog them the way other countries have leapfrogged the US in wireless technology, by investing in a second generation technology without having concern for the existing infrastructure investments. However, (a) I don't expect to be alive long enough to benefit from this and (b) I think it might be doubtful whether this will happen at all.

    I don't think the US is poised to maintain its leadership in technology as a whole throughout the twenty-first century. There were circumstances in the twentieth century that made US technolgoical dominance possible, but they are gone now, and there is no serious interest in doing what would be necessary to maintain US leadership.
  • by killbill! (154539) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:23AM (#11688263) Homepage
    Being less reliant on oil is a serious economic benefit.

    You hit the nail right on the head. In fact, I'd argue that the main reason the US has to go Kyoto is not to save the global environment (because it might already be too late), but to save the US economy. Namely, to force companies that are too focused on their next quarterly results to save themselves.

    Instead of complaining about the cost of Kyoto on the US economy, maybe US politicians should ask themselves why EU politicians are in favor of Kyoto. Seriously, do you really believe it's because they care about the environment? Or even their constituencies? Do you really expect them to be less sold out to Big Business than in the US?
    Something tells me their backers did the math.

    The US *has* to reduce its energy consumption lest it faces utter economic ruin in the coming decades. Right now, the US is burning twice as much energy per capita as the EU or Japan.
    If you didn't know already, the EU is a larger economy than the US, and both the EU's and Japan's industrial sector are larger as a share of GDP than the US's. The US must be doing something seriously wrong somewhere.

    When Peak Oil comes, the EU and Japan will have decades of technical and organizational expertise in energy efficience behind them. They will be able to bear the burden, as they will be thoroughly prepared.

    The US on the other hand will have to reinvent itself completely in only a couple years. Even cities will have to be rebuilt from the ground up (try doing that 100 mile daily commute in a world where gasoline is 10x more expensive than it is today). They will have to build extensive public transportation systems that do not exist right now. And all this right at the time the foreign debt crisis hits.

    To put it in a nutshell, it is going to make the 30's look like a walk in the park.
    And it's going to suck even more when all the equipment needed to adapt the US has to be imported from China or the EU and paid in overly-expensive yuans or euros because no US company even cared about the looming disaster when it was still time.

    On the other hand, it the US does get its act together and starts saving energy in earnest soon, then it might manage to pull it off.
  • by JJ (29711) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:23AM (#11688265) Homepage Journal
    The problem with the Kyoto treaty is not just the economic devastation it would entail in the USA, it is the blatant unfairness in it (although diplomacy requires the Bush admin never to mention that.) The 1990 date was chosen by Europeans not as a fair reference but because it was an easy target for them. Since 1990 the Soviet Union has dissolved and with it an enormous, archaic (heavily polluting) industrial base. Germany almost makes it's quota by removing all the Trabants alone.
    So, as a US citizen and speaking for our government let me propose a deal. Agricultural subsidies are also world problem and both Europe and the USA must take action. So I propose this deal, you slash your subsidies to zero and we'll do nothing and then the USA will sign the Kyoto Treaty (they are both equally fair.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:23AM (#11688269)
    MW/h would be Megawatts _per_ hour, which makes no sense. You mean MWh, the Megawatt-hour which is a unit of energy equivalent to 3.6 Gigajoules.

    It's hard to imagine how even an American with a house full of 1980s appliances and his AC cranked up high can use more than 36 Gigajoules in a year, that's outrageous.
  • by dave420 (699308) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:26AM (#11688301)
    Um, if you look, China is rapidly opening itself up to the rest of the world, which is following the example of the western world. Clearly they DO follow people's examples.

    China and every other struggling nation can't afford to make cuts in pollution. America and the rest of the developed world can, and so it's our duty to. We're all in this together, acting like a spoiled primadonna helps no-one.

  • by SimianOverlord (727643) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:29AM (#11688329) Homepage Journal
    Republicans: Sure, Iraq's elections aren't perfect, but they're the first step on the road towards true democracy....

    Republicans: Since the Kyoto treaty isn't perfect, but is a first step on the road towards a solution to global warming, we'll stay out...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:30AM (#11688332)
    Hey, moron. You just compared a treaty that generates more heat than light wherever it goes to a theory with a solid foundation. And to deny that Kyoto is controversial... that's just operating on a zero level of intellect.

    The rest of your post was typical, mindless USA bashing, and complete ignorance of the myriad details in the scattershot issues you tossed out. Typical "debate" approach of the ideologue. Toss out a zillion sound bites so anyone opposing you simply can't be bothered to deal with the blathering.

  • by rseuhs (322520) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:30AM (#11688334)
    I completely agree.

    Sure the US might gain some short-term benefits, but as Oil becomes more and more rare, it will turn out that those nations that prepared for it (by actually *gasp* conserving energy) will be at a huge advantage.

    Just look at some random street, the vast majority of minivans, SUVs, pickups, etc. have just one single person in them. Would it really be so terrible if those would drive compacts instead? (Maybe with a trailer on those rare occasions where you really need to take so much stuff with you) Would that really reduce the living standard?

    When gas prices become higher and higher, wouldn't you have a higher standard of living with a more economic car? (Or are you living for your car? Is your only purpose in live to keep your car running?)

    And I didn't even start to talk about pollution...

    Even if you think this whole pollution (global warming, cancer from tiny dust particles, cancer from polluted water, etc. etc.) is just an invention of the liberal media, conserving energy makes sense from a purely 100% economic point of view.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:31AM (#11688336)
    If cars had worked, surely some caveman would have invented them!

    Do you realize the innanity of your psuedo-logic?
  • by idlake (850372) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:32AM (#11688355)
    The notion of effectively throwing out a lot of existing hardware and replacing it with new, more energy efficient hardware produced by a diverse group of companies should have economists and politicians licking their fingers.

    Instead, they are listening to a tiny number of very powerful lobbies: the car companies, the oil companies, and the power producing companies. For them, of course, the move to energy efficient technology means that they have to make investments, investments that they would rather take as profits (or at least not have to borrow in order to make).

    But that's just it: if those investments were made, it would provide a huge economic boon that would help the economy greatly, creating just the kinds of jobs we like: manufacturing, high-tech, design, software. It would also be an opportunity to modernize our aging infrastructure in many industries, as well as provide the necessary pressure to de-subsidize automobiles and support a modern and convenient system of public transit (which yields yet more jobs and other benefits).
  • Consensus Science (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ari_j (90255) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:36AM (#11688394)
    There was another scientific theory that attained "scientific consensus," and everyone who was anyone believed that life as they knew it would end if something was not done. As a result, massive programs were undertaken to ensure that this would not happen. Connecticut was the first of the United States to enact laws, in 1896. The Carnegie Institution funded research into solutions starting in 1904. In 1910, a centralized research facility was set up, and in 1924 federal law was passed to further curtail the effects of this theoretical phenomenon.

    Although we can look back and clearly see that the consensus was wrong, at the time the methods and results were almost universally believed to be entirely legitimate science. Detractors, no matter how credible or scientifically convincing, were either ignored or ridiculed for deviating from the broad scientific consensus.

    Of course, the United States was, at the time, only the second most active nation in its attempts to curtail the effects of the disaster impending for all of humanity. Germany was more ambitious and probably more successful in its advances of eugenics [wikipedia.org], the theory essentially that the gene pool is decaying and needs to be carefully maintained by selective breeding, specifically excluding those "unfit" to carry on the race.

    Consensus has exactly as much weight in science as it does on the playground: the only effect is that those who dare disagree (no matter how correct they are) are beaten up and called names. If that's the kind of support you use to justify your beliefs, then you have no place in science. Unfortunately, global warming believers have taken their place regardless of its nonexistence. And they win you over by fear ("Humanity will not survive!") and by false dichotomy ("If you're not with us, you're against the environment!"). (See Wikipedia's list of logical fallacies [wikipedia.org], quite a few of which apply to arguing that global warming is reality and not just a theory.)

    The US didn't join Kyoto because Kyoto is meaningless, not because the US is anti-environment. (And whether the latter is the case or not depends on a lot of factors, but is irrelevant to this discussion nonetheless.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:39AM (#11688426)
    Right, because nobody ever starves in America, even when you dampen the economy.

    People need to get it through their heads that

    economic bad news == dead people

    You can talk about the importance of cleaning up the environment, but only if you are willing to look at the cost on both sides of the ledger. If you insist on claiming that reducing oil consumption in the US means nothing worse than a few less rich assholes driving Hummers, I simply can't take anything you say seriously.
  • Re:only scientists (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JimJinkins (144263) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:41AM (#11688438)
    The IPCC report summaries are written by bureaucrats, not by the researchers who did the work. If a 'scientific consensus' can be established only by ignoring those who disagree and condemming them if they dare to speak out, then we need a new term.

    The difference between government-supported science in the U.S. today and in the USSR in the 1930s and 1940s is that Lysenko could send a dissenter to the Gulag, while today's grant committees can only destroy his career.

    Those who will not learn from history are doomed to step in it - again and again.
  • by Rogue Pat (749565) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:43AM (#11688461)
    Microsoft got bashed early this week for only talking about the NUMBER of security patches, but saying nothing about UNFIXED issues, size or criticality.
    You make the very same mistakes and apply VERY poor arguments/logic in doing so.

    It's about emissions. Not about plants. Don't narrow down the topic. There are many other sources of emissions, like cars with 5 liter engines.

    But even if it WERE only about plants, you keep on making FUDdy statements:
    1) you overlook the fact that new plants generally is less polluting than old plants.
    2) you say nothing about the SIZE of these new plants.
    3) you imply that the number of new plants is related to the total emission. This is of course not true. Suppose the US has 1000 plants and build 10 new ones and India has 100 plants and build 100 new ones. Then where will the greatest pollution come from?

    I don't have an opinion either way on this topic to be honest, but such misleading statements as you make don't make "Kyoto is not necessary" feelings any stronger.
  • by smagruder (207953) <stevem@webcommons.biz> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:47AM (#11688494) Homepage
    It's not "acting like a spoiled primadonna", but rather insisting on fairness, and that means the entire world participating. Otherwise, it's a sham that unfairly targets the U.S. This may be the only issue where I somewhat agree with the Bush administration. Either the whole world is in it, or it's a no-go.
  • by Cally (10873) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:47AM (#11688499) Homepage
    I'm sorry Aaron, I stopped reading when you started quoting Michael Crichton. He's an author, and a bad author of trashy airport thrillers at that. He's not a scientist (in fact he studied Anthropology. Bleuchhh) and his conspiracy theories about climate change have been comprehensively debunked here [realclimate.org] and here [realclimate.org], amongst other [columbia.edu] places [wikipedia.org].

    I guess you didn't find the time to read much on RealClimate.org as you said you'd try to do? or do you disagree with what's said there?

  • Re:Bush and Kyoto (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malc (1751) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:47AM (#11688505)
    Tell me, where were you a couple of weekends ago when we had all those smog warnings? I drove from Toronto to London on the Saturday. The air stank in Toronto and was hazing and foggy with a yellow tinge. It was vile.

    For us in Ontario, it's the smog that we can't see or smell that's the bigger problem. I have an in-law who owns a cottage in Rondeau Provincial Park on Lake Erie. I get there and inhale deeply - the air seems so clean and fresh compared with downtown Toronto where I live. In actual fact, it's often more polluted. It's stuff that can't be seen or smelt that has drifted up from the Ohio valley.

    Furthermore, as Canadians, or residents of Canada, we have to be very careful about lecturing others, including Americans. Okay, we did ratify the Kyoto Protocol, but we have a lot to do to put our house in order before we can preach to others. You do know that Canadians consume far more energy per capita than Americans, and almost twice as much as other leading industrial countries such as the UK? There's a reason why Canada is lumped in to the "Dirty Three" by the rest of the world (the other two are the US and Australia).

    If you believe in what you've written, please get out there and start working on educating others. Evangelise simple things like the use of compact flourescent bulbs. Start campaigning against the crackpot Aliance^WConservatives who are spread lies and FUD and who've been bought by the oil companies in Alberta. Even Ralph Klein as a minister more than 10 years wrote a paper about the benefits to the Alberta economy if they adopted more a environmentally friendly approach - what happened there? BTW, I don't think all of the Conservatives are nutty extremists, although most of them are former PCers.
  • by ShamusYoung (528944) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:49AM (#11688518) Homepage
    It isn't a start. Cutting energy production is always tough on the economy. The US went through this in the late 70's, and most people remember how miserable that was.

    The US would need to make some serious sacrifices [janegalt.net] to obey Kyoto. Keep in mind that most of the US lives much, much more sparsely than Europeans. They are not (for the most part) crowded into dense polluted cities. They are spead out over rual areas with clean air, clean water, and blue skies. Now they hear this:

    "We MUST reduce emissions now! Before we destroy the planet!"

    We've been hearing this sort of thing for three decades now. Eco distaster is always just around the corner. We are always near the tipping point, close to the point of no return. Horror is coming!

    But it hasn't. I don't think people are being unreasonable when they conclude that people are crying wolf. Environmental scientists have been wearing a sign that says "THE END IS NEAR" for thirty years, and people are just used to it. Every single weather event is treated as "proof" that we are near cataclyism. Its a bad winter! Its a mild winter! Tsunami! All blamed on global warming.

    Despite the dire claims, we have yet to see any REAL environmental disaster. Nothing truly spectacular has happened (not on the scale the doomsayers have been predicting) and now we get Kyoto.

    Here is what the average American can plainly see:

    1. The air and water seem pretty good. Weather seems normal.
    2. Kyoto WOULD create a nasty economic downturn. Everyone over 30 can remember the last one, and it wasn't pretty. Worse, the Kyoto downturn would be PERMANENT.
    3. Europeans dislike us, some HATE us, maybe they don't have our best interests at heart with this thing?
    Keep in mind you must pursuade these people to do something that is not in their best interests (in the short term). Kyoto would hurt the US more than anyone else, and its citizens see less need for it than anyone else. It's a tough sell. Arguments of "Americans are selfish and stupid" are not likely to pursuade.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:52AM (#11688547)
    You all are missing the human and economic behavior results from the treaty and why the treaty is totally useless.

    What is easier for corportaions to do?

    1. Research and Develop new envormental technologies
    2. Move manufacturing to Kyoto Treaty exempt nations.

    Until the vast majority of nations, including China and India are subject to the same Kyoto rules and their compliance can be confirmed. Corporations will naturally choose #2 above unless option #1 is cheaper.
  • by ajs (35943) <ajs@ a j s . com> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:54AM (#11688563) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry Aaron, I stopped reading when you started quoting Michael Crichton

    That's too bad because what I quoted above is quite true. Science is not about consensus, it's about fact. Politics is about consensus.

    He's an author, and a bad author of trashy airport thrillers at that.

    To quote from his biographical blurb:
    Educated at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, A.B. (summa cum laude) 1964 (Phi Beta Kappa). Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at Cambridge University, England, 1965. Henry Russell Shaw Travelling Fellow, 1964-65. Entered Harvard Medical School, M.D. 1969; spent one year as a post-doctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, La Jolla, California 1969-1970. Visiting Writer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1988.
    He may not be in the thick of this particular field, but with that list of credentials, I'll take his opinion on the matter of what the line between science and politics is over yours or mine or GWB's for that matter any day.

    I guess you didn't find the time to read much on RealClimate.org as you said you'd try to do?

    Actually, I did. I stopped after the 10th or so ad-hominem attack on people who held ideas that they did not like. Science is also not about discrediting those who hold conflicting theories.
  • by Loco3KGT (141999) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:57AM (#11688584)
    What market for clean energy are you talking about?

    Last I checked, it's simply a market for energy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:11AM (#11688711)
    If the environment is not looked out for, there won't be any great-great grandchildren, famine or not.

    Yes, but only if "The" environment is the universe. You're just talking about Earth.

    There are plenty of potentially habitable environments, from man-crafted spacefaring vessels to hollowed asteroids to terraformed worlds.

    Our main problem -- if species preservation is truly your concern -- is that we have currently only one basket in which all our eggs are placed. And besides the threat of nuclear annihilation or environmental decay, the likelihood that our planet will be smashed by asteroids is, relative to our planet's lifespan, very high. Also there's the obvious problem of our sun eventually dying.

    Instead of focusing intently on fixing our one basket, which by the way is far, far from breaking (the babies born today will have great-great grandchildren even if smog production goes up 500% over the next 50 years), why not concern yourselves with the problem of creating more baskets?

    Part of my problem with environmentalists is that they want to restrain human development in order to preserve the Earth. But the Earth is doomed, regardless - it isn't an infinite habitat. The one thing that can save humanity is technology -- that which the environmentalists seek to restrain ostensibly for the benefit of mankind. Those restraints will IMO prove more deadly to humankind as a race than smog will ever do.
  • by bfline (859619) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:11AM (#11688712) Homepage
    The American Enterprise has an article [taemag.com] on why the Kyoto deserved to die.
    Reasons:
    1. Kyoto "Would have exempted China and other developing nations entirely (despite the fact that their growing emissions would have swamped the reductions from the developed nations)."
    2. "Long before President Bush acted, this approach had been rejected by the U.S. Senate in a vote of 95-0, which is why President Clinton never submitted the treaty for ratification."
  • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:16AM (#11688747) Homepage
    We can do this without being a part of the treaty.

    Infact, if our intent was actually to do this then it would make MORE sense to not be part of the treaty.

    However, the fact remains that the treaty as it stands is absurd. China is the world's industrial outsourcer. Allowing them a free ride only encourages more industrial outsourcing that will ultimately lead to MORE pollution rather than less.

    The developing nations never should have gotten a forebearance.

    A senate vote of 95:0 is nothing to sneeze at.
  • by DarkSarin (651985) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:19AM (#11688769) Homepage Journal
    At the risk of feeding a troll::

    Let me put it this way--the GP had a POINT. It will NEVER persuade an American that you are right if you sit around (or walk around--your preference) telling them how ignorant, arrogant, and selfish they are. I recognize that in some countries it is not uncommon to get into rather heated discussions where name calling is acceptable (and even expected), but in the US, such is frowned upon in business (/. doesn't count), and by professionals.

    Personally, I think that if you had paid attention, you would have realized that what was being said is important. Most of us living in the US are NOT living in high-population density areas. The weather has not changed significantly in 30+ years (lifespan or more for many of us), and there is little evidence that it will (from a practical, hey it's 20 degrees C below today in Miami FL. type of perspective).

    You want to convince mainstream America living in Podunk Iowa that global warming is important AND that the economic downturn resulting from accepting the Kyoto treaty is worthwhile? Then you need to figure out first how to get and maintain, the interest of the Americans who count. Our folks in Congress know political suicide when they see it, and anything that hurts the economy is likely to be political suicide. It takes serious support from voters (who are fickle at best) AND some serious courage for them to go against the grain.

    BTW, many Americans view Europeans as arrogant, snobbish types, but we all know that there are arrogant, ignorant pricks on both sides of the pond. Laters.
  • Re:only scientists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rcs1000 (462363) * <rcs1000@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:21AM (#11688786)
    So, Bjorn Lomborg made some money.

    That doesn't make him wrong. He doesn't pretend to be a scientist (he isn't a scientist). What he does is show that many of the statistics presented by the environmental movement are flawed. And, yes, he is a statistician.

    For which he has been criticised beyond belief. The green community has behaved like Bill Gates does towards the open source community, and that's not right.

    Just my rant: I'm more green than Mr Lomberg (as a lifelong supporter and donater to Friends of the Earth), but I feel he has been unduly ridiculed for making some very good points.

    Enough said.
  • by Decaff (42676) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:26AM (#11688820)
    We've been hearing this sort of thing for three decades now. Eco distaster is always just around the corner. We are always near the tipping point, close to the point of no return. Horror is coming!

    You have been hearing it from a few for a long time. Now you are hearing from a majority of respectable scientists.

    Despite the dire claims, we have yet to see any REAL environmental disaster. Nothing truly spectacular has happened (not on the scale the doomsayers have been predicting) and now we get Kyoto.

    The problem is that by the time the average citizen notices major changes, its too late.

    If you want evidence, look at your Glacier National Park. Check the temperature changes and mass changes of the glaciers. The evidence for climate change is there if you bother to look.

  • by johannesg (664142) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:29AM (#11688836)
    Cutting energy production is always tough on the economy.

    On the other hand, building alternative energy production capability, and selling equipment with lower energy usage (or investing in research for the same), might very well pay off handsomely. If the US had chosen to invest the money wasted on the war in Iraq on lowering its energy usage, not by raising prices or forcing people out of their cars, but simply by creating machinery that requires less energy and stimulating its use, and of course by building alternative energy sources, the country would be a lot better off at this point. You would be mostly free from the middle east, and you would be a world leader in new, clean technology. Of course the same is true for Europe, and I hope one day soon we will get leaders who understand this.

    So this is not just about getting hurt. It is about new opportunities, for anyone willing to invest. The first major economy to realize this will have a golden future, being able to export its knowledge and equipment world wide while being largely independent from middle eastern oil.

    Chances are this woulnd't end well for those currently in power in the middle east, but it could be argued that that power structure is an aberration caused by oil in the first place, and doesn't in fact benefit the majority of people living in the area. In other words, when oil money runs out we may see a few revolutions, followed by a more normal, stable situation.

    Kyoto WOULD create a nasty economic downturn. Everyone over 30 can remember the last one, and it wasn't pretty. Worse, the Kyoto downturn would be PERMANENT.

    In the economy there is no such thing as a permanent upturn or downturn.

    Europeans dislike us, some HATE us, maybe they don't have our best interests at heart with this thing?

    In any group that is large enough you will find people who hate just about anything, but on the whole "europeans" don't hate americans. Please do forgive us for being suspicious about your leaderships' goals, though. Arguments of "Americans are selfish and stupid" are not likely to pursuade.

    To summarize:

    - No more grovelling towards the arab world.

    - Significant expenditure in research will tremendously boost the economy.

    - Significant expenditure in new, clean power plants (both big, like fusion, and small, like wind farms) also boost the economy. Wind farms are small enough to be owned by individuals.

    - Export of new-found knowledge brings in further cash.

    It is all a matter of perspective. You say "problem", I say "opportunity".

    And if you are wondering how you should pay for all that research and all that new equipment, well somehow the billions for the war in Iraq were also found and this is, quite frankly, much more important.

  • by Retired Replicant (668463) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:32AM (#11688859)
    As an American, I think that reducing our dependence on foreign oil, reducing smog in our cities, reducing acid rain, and the likely benefits of spinoff technologies are all far more compelling reasons to pursue a new energy strategy than the unproven theory that the alleged increase in global temperature since the beginning of the indusrial age is due to human activities. Environmentalists have become overly dependent on the global warming argument to advance their cause in the same way that Bush was overly dependent on WMDs to justify going into Iraq. In both cases, there are a lot of other good arguments in favor of the position. Environmentalists ought to be highlighting other benefits of a new energy economy in case global warming turns out to be their equivalent of Iraqi WMDs.
  • by shotfeel (235240) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:33AM (#11688865)
    However, the fact remains that the treaty as it stands is absurd.

    Not only that, but IMO its pretty much a joke.

    From TFA,

    "Canada, one of the treaty's first signatories, has no clear plan for reaching its target emission cuts. Far from cutting back, its emissions have increased by 20% since 1990."

    "And Japan is also unsure it will be able to meet its legal requirement to slash emissions by 6% from 1990 levels by 2012."

    So when 2012 rolls around and none of the countries has actually reduced emmisions, what's the penalty for not meeting the "legal requirements"?

    I know the US has taken a lot of flack for not signing on, but I have to wonder what it means to sign the treaty when you know you can't meet the requirements, much less even have a plan. At least the US was honest enough to admit they couldn't (wouldn't?) do it.

    Time will tell.
  • by j-turkey (187775) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:34AM (#11688873) Homepage
    And when a scientist does a study that your funding source didn't like, no more funding for that scientist. Anyone who thinks that science is immune from politics isn't paying attention.

    I have to agree -- the whole global warming topic is very aggrivating to me...not because the world's supposedly gonna end in about 2 weeks, but because of the total lack of objectivity in the general discussion. The environmentalists are just as guilty as the oil companies (maybe even worse, since they're the ones making accusations, sometimes even personal, of anyone who thinks differently than they do). Most people involved in the discussion just want to be right, without any regard for discovering a greater truth.

    Environmentalists (as well as geological resource research consultants/oil companies) are more interested in finding data that proves their case than uncovering the truth. It's a very emotional issue, which makes much of the "science" that comes out of the debate questionable in and of itself. It's akin to scientific data coming from a church. For example: How many /. environmentalists would welcome conclusive news that global warming is just a natural trend that has absolutely nothing to do with humankind's Co2 emissions? Maybe 1 in 1000, at best. I don't mention the oil industry, because their agenda is a bit more obvious...but the same goes for them.

    Maybe someday, we'll be able to put emotion aside and allow our scientists to be objective again, but with this issue, it's pretty unlikely. A sad state of affairs.

  • by J05H (5625) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:39AM (#11688911) Homepage
    Whether global warming is real should not be an issue. The warming already exhibited trends below the low-end of the IPCC's predictions. It is also far less than the climate change we have experienced in the past: Near East devastation in 1200BC, shifts of the Sahara, end of last Ice Age, etc. The real threat, IMHO, is in cataclysmic disasters. Preventing/mitigating them is part of how we can weather out global warming.

    Regional disasters devastating populations are inevitable in most places - tsunamis, asteroids and continental supervolcanoes among others. Cities and whole coastlines should be protected with seawalls, especially coastal industrial zones. The economics of building the walls (they are considerable) are beside the point: How much does it cost to replace Manhattan? Or the whole east coast, if that volcano in the Canary Islands breaks apart? Beckerman in "through green colored glasses" makes the calculation for seawalling Bangladesh to prevent and control their seasonal flooding, it would cost about $16 Billion which is comparable to a good monsoon's damage.

    Kyoto is mainly for taxing the industrial countries/companies through carbon trading. Obviously, interests here in the US are against that. (This is bipartisan - the Senate refused to vote on it, 99-0) Kyoto speaks nothing of disaster mitigation, a far, far bigger issue than a 1-degree increase in global temps. If this temperature rise is ongoing/accelerating, those in power would have to reach a consensus on some kind of radical action - it is not going to happen with the entrenched interests worldwide. That leaves it to citizens and corporations, so go ride your bicycle.

    And please think about seawalls.

    Josh

    Josh
  • by ballpoint (192660) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:42AM (#11688935)
    Its a bad winter! Its a mild winter! Tsunami! All blamed on global warming.

    Today, on national (government-sponsored) radio news in your typical EU country:

    "Not respecting the Kyoto protocol could lead to natural disasters like tsunamis"

    I'm not making this up. If you understand dutch, check out this letter [standaard.be] by someone else who heard it.

  • by DerWulf (782458) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:42AM (#11688947)
    The election actually moved iraq some in the desired direction. The extend of this can be debated, but hold it to be true that some progress has been made.
    Now kyoto: A protocol that incurs massive costs (read: your money) and doesn't, even over 50 years, even show a messurable result, as even its advocates don't deny. Kyoto is a massive efford and shows NO result. It's not a step in any direction except towards more poverty in the world.
  • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:42AM (#11688948) Journal
    You have been hearing it from a few for a long time. Now you are hearing from a majority of respectable scientists.

    By "respectable", you probably mean "those who agree with global warming." Also, science isn't something you put up to a vote. A majority of "respectable scientists" thought the sun revolved around the earth until Copernicus proved otherwise.

    If you want evidence, look at your Glacier National Park. Check the temperature changes and mass changes of the glaciers. The evidence for climate change is there if you bother to look.

    If it's so readily apparent, why can't I see it where I live? You want to prove global warming is happening, then provide the proof. Don't expect me to go looking for something I don't think is there. The burden of proof lies with you, my friend.
  • Better yet - China is a bigger poluter than the US, yet excused from the protocols because it's a developing country (as is India.)

    So why should the US participate when llarger poluters than ourselves aren't?

    In absolute terms, China emits a little bit more than half the CO2 the US does. Per capita, it is about 10%. What was your argument again? Moreover, China has signed and ratified Kyoto. It is not an Annex 1 country yet, but expected to become one soon if industrialization continues. Yes, China's industries are, on average, more dirty than modern Western industries in other pollutants. But these have mostly local effect (and any climatic effect of those would be short-term and rather cooling than warming).

    Yes, it is a lot to ask to buy a smaller SUV as the third family car. Much better for 1000 Chinese peasants to have their rice uncooked on Mondays - they will still be allowed hot food the other 6 days of the week!

    Maybe you need to do something about CO2, but shouldn't EVERYONE need to play? The protocol looks like another UN scheme to redistribute wealth is all to me.
    ...as the UN has done so successfully in the past? Those millions of Eritrean Moguls are surely driving up the prices for bespoke suits!

    I have not seen any valid indication that moving to cleaner energy will have a negative medium or long term economic influence. In Germany, wind turbine makers and solar energy companies are some of the most profitable at the moment. Of course, the longer you wait, the more you will fall behind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:57AM (#11689072)
    Besides, Kyoto is based on junk science.

    No, the Bush administration's policy is based on junk science.

    Even if the world does everything they say they admit it will make very little to no difference.

    Quite right. But it will get economies started on the path to more energy efficiency. One hope is that as nations discover that this is economically beneficial for them, they'll voluntarily do better.

    It is just a very large hole to throw billions of (Euroes, dollars, yen, paso's, krugerands) into.

    It's not a "hole" at all; those billions are going into the economy and creating good jobs.

    In fact we are coming out of a mini ice-age.

    All the more reason to be concerned about adding CO2 emissions on top of that.

    Venus has also warmed up in the past 20 years without human help.

    Yes, and we may end up like Venus if we don't get this under control.
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:59AM (#11689097) Homepage Journal
    Even if that were the case (I'm agnostic on it myself), does anyonr think that making the situation worse by adding artificial warming to any natural changes is a good idea?
  • by Mac Degger (576336) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:01PM (#11689115) Journal
    I really don't beleive you got a '+5 insightfull' for what you just posted.

    The correct response, other than a lot of swearing at your utter stupidity, or maybe locking you up in a few year's time on charges of murder and environmental polution, is maybe this:

    You don't get the fucking point, do you? Who cares about China, India, and Brazil , when the US is still the largest polutor in the world?
    And even that isn't the point.
    The point is that polution is fucking up the climate. It isn't speculation, it isn't hypothesis, and with so much supporting data it isn't even really a theory. Consider it an axiom. Smarter people than you, who have studied chemistry, biology, ecology, meteorology, you know, people who should know, tell you that.

    So we've established that the greenhouse effect et all exist: climate change due to human influence is real (to those who still want to debate the point: you really are dumb, go study a relevant field [or any hard science for that matter], have the most cursory glance at the data available and you too will realise there is nothing to debate except details).

    Given that climate change is real, and knowing the effects (look at Mars: observing that planet lead to the discovery of the existance of the greenhouse effects in the first place), there is only one conlusion: we have to act or our children (and those who still have 50 years or more ahead of them) will suffer. Not just 'have to spend more on taxes' or 'will witness a draught or flood or two more'. No, we're talking about the effects of that last tsunami, but then all over the world: the water will not drain away and the damage will not be localised. Coastlines worldwide will be hit and the large production/distribution centres found there will be destroyed.

    So it's no use playing the blame game. This environmental stuff doesn't give a shit: it doesn't compromise, it doesn't give a shit for politics or geographical boundaries. Chemistry is a bitch like that.

    The Kyoto treaty isn't just a first step in the right direction. It is, at the moment, the only step on the table. It has to be taken. It is do that or do nothing. By itself it is a joke, of course, if you're shortsighted enough to think that it by itself is the solution to the problem. It's not: the USA weakened it so much during it's formation (before pulling out entirely) that it's not even a very definitive first step anymore. Even so...it's all there is at the moment, and we just don't have the time to wait another ten years to draft a better treaty and get the support. We need that time to draft the successor to it.

    So, damian: you are a fucking git. Your point is just that: a cute little factiod which doesn't have anything to do with the point at hand, which is: we must do this thing now or in 50 years we have an insurmountable problem instead of just a huge fucking large problem. Your indifference is even worse than the 'but we need to gain a relative economical advantage'-crowd (who are dumb enough, because one thing they fail to realise is that, yes, it will cost money, but that money is going into the development of new technologies, which need to be manufactured, which means new jobs created all around...hopw's that for economic advantage? Plus, you get a place to live!) because they at least recognise the problem at hand.

    But no matter what happens, there is a bright point: remember that social security problem? In the future it won't be. All the old people who could have done something will, in a couple of decades, be left to rot in the streets by the kids who are born now or are too young to influence the process, because as they grow up, they'll realiser that those old bastards did this to them: they fucked up their own planet and did nothing to stop it...so why the fuck should we pay them anything, or care for them? They didn't for us, even though the evidence was staring them, in the face; all they did was say, like the bum on the street who didn't pay his morgage-payments, 'where is the economic advantage in it?', or 'hey, but in a couple of decades, those other countries will be reaching our level of polution' even though it was our own level of polution has already done all the damage.
  • by slashkitty (21637) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:01PM (#11689119) Homepage
    Right now, the world would be worse off if we switched to electric cars. We don't have a clean source of electricity that people support, so they'd have to run on coal electricity. This woould make your assumed global warming thing worse. right?
  • by Jason Hood (721277) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:03PM (#11689132)
    Because pollution should be based on an entire countries size, shape and economy structure? Thank you for proving my point.

    Kyoto is a joke based on its merits. By definition it is harsher on larger countries where it could take decades to for an economy to recover. The US has some of the most stringent regulations in the world, from scrubbers to car exhaust. On a square mile basis we are in the middle of the pack for pollution production. Some states are in the bottom quarter. Some states lead the world like California and New York. (And those state is as liberal as it gets ;)

    Get the facts, dont repeat meaningless BS without understanding both the problem and a viable solution.

  • by Catiline (186878) <akrumbach@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:05PM (#11689144) Homepage Journal
    Otherwise, it's a sham that unfairly targets the [developed world]. Either the whole world is in it, or it's a no-go.

    I decided to make your comment less ... well, self-centered. Now read it again and think about this: only the developed world has any chance of discovering low-polluting technologies.

    This isn't some sort of targeted wealth-redistrobution UN program -- but a simple and open way to help push developed nations into working on renewable energy while not punishing developing ones.
  • by MourningBlade (182180) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:13PM (#11689235) Homepage

    it is both an intuitive an scientific fact that (oil) supplies will run out sooner or later. If we reach near that point without well-developed alternative technology and infrastructure, that would be a bigger disaster.

    Your argument ignores the information-bearing aspect of price, and the dynamic of the market.

    As oil supplies run down, price goes up[1]. If demand is also increasing, price goes up even more quickly. As the price of oil rises, the comparative advantage of oil drops[2].

    As the comparative advantage of oil drops, the more attractive other fuels become, leading to research into raising the comparative advantage of oil (through efficiency), or more research into other fuels to increase their comparative advantage[3].

    This process goes on continuously. As a result, efficiency will rise when it is needed and alternative fuels will come into play when they are needed. There will be no overnight "ohmygodwe'reoutofoil!"

    So the question becomes: should we jink with things? I mean, it would be reasonable to assume that artificially raising the price of oil would cause increased investment in either oil efficiency or alternate fuels - we've said as much above.

    If we're just considering decreased usage of oil as the only good in the system, then this would make sense. However, if that were already the case then there would be no need to tweak with the price system: the lower demand for inefficient oil-using cars would provide the exact same investment patterns into oil efficiency and alternate fuels!

    So the conclusion would then be that people consider other goals within the fuel-burning realm than just the use of oil to be important. If that is the case then optimizing for reduced oil usage would hurt the other goals people have. So the best way to make people happy is to not mess with the price structure and let oil work its way out of the system naturally[4].

    [1] - price is not just current-availability over demand, it also incorporates prospective supply and demand.

    [2] - when you have a need (energy), you also have a selection of methods with which to fill that need. You choose the one most advantageous to you, so it doesn't matter what the absolute price of fuel is - only how it compares to other fuels.

    [3] - let's say that you have 3 fuels: aberhol, bakernol, and crepetol. All other things being equal, if they are $3/kj, $4/kj, and $15/kj, it would make sense to put most of your research dollars into aberhol, followed by bakernol, and almost none into crepetol.

  • by dave420 (699308) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:26PM (#11689380)
    Insisting on fairness? Ok... maybe the US should give 0.7% of its GDP to developing nations as it has promised to do, instead of giving the 0.1% it does now. That would be fair. Or, maybe, the US should give MOST of its GDP to poorer countries, as that would be EVEN FAIRER.

    Back to the issue at hand - something has to be done now. The US is polluting more than any other nation on Earth, and more than most continents. Expecting to treat some struggling nation gripped by a military coup or millions of people starving the same way as a secured, comfortable, prosperous nation is so selfish it's beyond words. No-one was pestering the US to follow environmental treaties when IT was developing, but now you want to force those on other developing nations? THAT seems grossly unfair to me. Of course, I'm looking at a global picture, not one with myself in the middle looking amorously at a SUV ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:27PM (#11689402)
    I think someone at Wal-Mart said the same thing:

    "What market for 'Made in America' are you talking about? Last I checked, people just want cheap shit."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:30PM (#11689430)
    I claim the complete opposite. This is not something that unfairly targets the US. If you look at the situation as it is now, the US is one of the very few industrialised countries that have not ratified the protocol. At the same time it is the country with the highest carbon dioxide emissions per capita in the world. This is unfair not unfair to the US, it is unfair to the rest of the world!

    Stating that every country should be in it is just naive. This will never happend and is just used as an excuse to not share responsibility. Industrialised countries produce more emissions, have better economy, and should therefore take a greater responsibility!

    This issue is urgent. We have to start working towards a solution.
  • by shotfeel (235240) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:32PM (#11689467)
    I think he understands Europe isn't a country, but he does raise an interesting point.

    For example, the state of California alone has an area, population and economy comparable to many European countries. If you compare the emmision of California to the various European countries, how do they stack up? I don't know the answer, but it would be interesting to know.
  • by shotfeel (235240) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:40PM (#11689554)
    Each country has pledged a given reduction target. Japan doesn't even think they can meet their target but at least they're willing to try.

    Of course not signing the treaty is not the same as not doing anything.

    Let me ask this. Would it be better for the US to sign the treaty, knowing they couldn't meet the requirements, just to make it look like "they're willing to try"? Or is it better to just say, "No thanks, we can't do that", and continue to do what they can?

    The treaty looks a lot like a bunch of countries got together to sign a document saying they're going to do something they know they can't do, just to make themselves feel better. And when it doesn't work, we all know who will be blamed -wether they sign or not.
  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:41PM (#11689566)
    Glaciers have been going away for the last 14,000 years in North America. Glacier National Park 14,000 would have been all the way down to Missoula Montana and into Wyoming. Glaciers shrink and the grow all over the World, the BBC piece with the photos "illustrating the change" are simply "best of show" pictures.

    There are 160,000 glaciers in the world, over 65,000 of them have been inventoried and only a handful of those have been studied. They have tracked the mass increase and decrease for only about 100 of the 160,000 glaciers for five or more years

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_ga ll ery/05/sci_nat_how_the_world_is_changing/html/1.st m

    More evidence, Ross Ice Streams in West Antarctica is increasing at 26.8 gigatons per year, according to Science 295: 476-80

    Now people like to throw out that there will be more dangerous storms from GCC, someone from a US Congressman's Office on Monday used that as an arguement in my Geology class, well, for example, Hurricanes are not increasing in thier strikes against the US, nor in thier force. We might be inline for a good decade for 2000-2009, but it needs to pick up to match 1940-1949

    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pastdec.shtml
  • by goon america (536413) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:48PM (#11689632) Homepage Journal
    That's too bad because what I quoted above is quite true. Science is not about consensus, it's about fact. Politics is about consensus.

    No, sorry, we use a consensus of scientists as informative because we are not scientists ourselves. I, and 99.99% of other people, want and need to know about of issues like climate change, but have no way of analyzing the data and knowing ourselves because we are not climatologists spending their whole lives doing this sort of thing. But we can look at polls of scientists to learn for ourselves. This is imperfect, I agree, but it's the only way to do things short of all us quitting our jobs and becoming climatologists.

    Second, you could use this argument to justify absolutely anything. If all you have to do to disprove a scientific finding was to simply say "all these scientists might be wrong" then you could disprove absolutely any scientific finding. So, how can you use it against one particular scientific finding and not (literally) all of the others? Logically, it applies with equal force. If you want to believe this, logically the only thing you can do is live in some world of Cartesian doubt where the only thing you can know is that you exist because you have thought. Everything you see even with your own eyes could, maybe, conceivably be an illusion somehow... so that means, if motivated, you can conclude that everything you see is an illusion, right?

    While it is true that it is conceivably possible in some way that the consensus of scientists is totally wrong, how likely is that this is going to happen? Possibility != likelihood. In the past, in modern science, when virtually all of the given scientists studying the same hard science subject believed something, how often were they wrong? (And, by comparison, how often were the people with vested interests opposing them wrong?) It's, you know, possible that there's going to be some great Galilean revolution awaiting this field, but if you find that compelling enough to withhold any conclusions, then you can't conclude anything about anything scientific.

    While it is true that "many important scientific discoveries have been in direct conflict with the consensus" what is the relative likelihood that this is true for any given scientific finding? Let's be scientific. You can't conclude anything by looking at only one corner of a 2x2 contingency table [cia.gov]. Let's call the consensus of modern scientists on a topic of their expertise A and let's call the opinion of a few motivated non-experts B. If A or B is wrong, we'll call it !A and !B, respectively. All you're saying is that !A & B is possible, or non-zero, which is certainly true. So, what are the relative probabilities of (!A & B), (!B & A), (!B & !A) and (A & B)? Note that every cell is possible. !A and !B is possible -- it's possible that scientists and nonexperts are both wrong. (A & B may equal zero when A and B are contraries.) So, we just might as well conclude them true, right? But these four possibilities cannot be true at the same time, so you have to pick one, and I suggest you do so not by looking at only one cell and deciding whether it's non-zero, but based on the relative likelihood of all four cells comparatively.
  • by wk633 (442820) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:54PM (#11689695)
    How about replying to the message, not the messenger.

    The point is, the US is increasingly acting in ways contrary to the rest of the world. For a country that touts democracy, that's hardly democratic. I didn't vote for Bush, but I recognize that the majority did. So he's the president. The US takes the attitude that "The majority of the population of the World says X, but we know better".

    Maybe all those people who voted for Bush know something I don't. And maybe all those countries who think the US is a rouge nation know something we don't. It's not comfortable being a minority, but the US is becoming one.
  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:58PM (#11689754)
    You're assuming that European industry won't solve its pollution problems by relocating to India and China, I take it?

    Because that may be quite a bit cheaper than actually complying with the Treaty. May not, but we won't know for a couple years.

    And the relocation solution for polluting industries pretty much means Kyoto does nothing but enrich China and India at Europe's expense. If that's the way it works out.

  • by MourningBlade (182180) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:59PM (#11689759) Homepage

    Since it doesn't exist, would it be cruel to eat a spherical cow?

    Anyways. I was replying to a proposal to modify the price so as to effect change. Since it was within the bounds of a working market, I went with the market argument.

    I agree that externalities are not being addressed. I believe that they can be addressed through respect for private property and the use of the tort law system: establish land-use torts and contract provisions for them.

    The thing of it is that the market doesn't have to be all that near perfect in order for the effect of reduced oil supplies to be felt and compensated for. Even if the government placed a subsidized price cap on oil when supplies were running low, people would make investment decisions based on the information that supplies were running low.

    Most importantly, it needs to be understood that reducing oil consumption is not the only positive end out there, it has to be balanced with the others.

  • by amightywind (691887) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @01:03PM (#11689804) Journal

    If you want evidence, look at your Glacier National Park. Check the temperature changes and mass changes of the glaciers. The evidence for climate change is there if you bother to look.

    Yes, look at it. Glaciers have been in retreat for 12000 years. That is what happens in interglacial periods. No need to invoke CO2 emissions. No matter how enlightened your global treaty you will not be able to use it to favorably manipulate climate.

  • Re:US economy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MikeB123 (859938) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @01:05PM (#11689818)
    The comments about Kyoto being no more than a band-aid are simply wrong. Kyoto is a first step, and its targets were seriously watered-down in order to get the US (in particular) on board, as well as getting as many countries as possible to sign up. Will China and India somehow unfairly use the Treaty? Possibly, but since global warming will have a massive effect on their economies, they have certain incentives to play by the rules. As far as the US economy is concerned, any country that refuses to do anything about vehicles that burn oil at 12 miles to the gallon, while spending billions on protecting supplies from one of the most volatile (and anti-American)regions on earth can do a lot worse than simply increase the efficency of its energy use. There are major pay-offs to the US, not least because it has a huge amount of scientific resources and technology that it can sell to the rest of the planet. There seems to be a certain divide on these postings, between those who are extremely cynical of the science/politically conservative/and or very protective of the US's stance; and those who wish to see change (no matter how tentative at first)/ and who may not be from the US. Is it just me who is picking up on this?
  • by misleb (129952) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @01:09PM (#11689873)
    The US would need to make some serious sacrifices to obey Kyoto.

    Why is it that, on one hand, we hear from Kyoto detractors that Kyoto is a "joke" and then the same people recognize how much of a sacrafice we'd have to make to obey it. Seems to me that it is not, in fact, a joke. Rather, it is something very serious. It is a start.

    Keep in mind that most of the US lives much, much more sparsely than Europeans. They are not (for the most part) crowded into dense polluted cities.

    WHile it might be true that US citizens are less densley packed than Europeans, the majority of Americans live in metropolitan areas and not in rural areas. Also, European cities, with the exception of Paris, seem much cleaner than most American cities. Maybe there is some major underlying polution that I am just not aware of, but as far as I can tell, they are pretty darn clean compared to New York, Chicago, Detroit, LA, etc.

    Despite the dire claims, we have yet to see any REAL environmental disaster.

    And we probably won't see a singular disaster. The environment has been, and will continue to be in gradual decline as underground water tables dwindle, atmospheric CO2 rises, rainforests get slashed and burned, etc, etc etc. Just because many people (including you, apparently) have misinterpretted the warnings as pronouncements of imminent doom, doens't mean they are invalid.

    The air and water seem pretty good. Weather seems normal.

    In post-industrial nations, yes. This is largely true. But guess why it is this way. Because of environmentalists making a fuss about it. Although the air and water could be cleaner. We still have work to do. Why is it that I shouldn't eat fish out of Lake Michigan or the Mississppi River? These are major fresh water ways and we woudln't be wise to eat or drink directly from them. Everyone knows these water ways are full of pollution.

    Kyoto WOULD create a nasty economic downturn. Everyone over 30 can remember the last one, and it wasn't pretty. Worse, the Kyoto downturn would be PERMANENT.

    Gee, talk about doom and gloom. Economic disaster is right around the corner if we enact stricter environmental standards! Oh no! Permanent Great Depression ahead! Whatever you do, don't act in an environmentally responsible manner! What you don't seem to realize is that the economy survived the major environmental regulations of the 70's. Our cars are MUCH cleaner. It was tough, but we did it. We are all better off for it. But we can't stop now. THere are many more improvements to be made.

    I seem to recall a time in history when industry leaders insisted that if we enact child labor laws, the economy would suffer horribly and permanently. BUt here we are today with our children enjoying their childhoods without needing to work for peanuts in sweatshops. Yeah, maybe some industries found it difficult at first to get by without cheap child labor. It was the same way with slavery in the South. Southerners felt that slavery was necessary for economic survival. But eventually it worked out. And we are better off for it. The environment is very much the same, IMO. Environmentalists are the modern day abolitionists even if they do lack some of the moral imperitive.

    -matthew

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @01:19PM (#11690010)
    Forgive the pun and don't get Hemp confused with it's sister plant.

    Actually it is the same plant. However industrial hemp is grown from a strain of Cannabis that has been bred to remove the THC (the active ingredient), so really all the fear-mongering over it here in the US is silly - no, your kids won't get high from smoking Farmer Bob's hemp.
  • GW & State of Fear (Score:2, Insightful)

    by harvey the nerd (582806) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @01:22PM (#11690049)
    I grew up with the worries of global cooling. In the graduate engineering air pollution classes, carbon dioxide's spectral absorption band was reported already near saturation - very low sensitivity to more. Only CO2's higher mass molecule remained a factor. Crichton and others have long pointed out how the 1995 IPCC draft report was altered to convert "uncertainty" into a "consensus" for GW. Another example of intellectual dishonesty is the [http://muller.lbl.gov/TRessays/23-MedievalGlobalW arming.html treatment Mann has given his critics].

    I think that GW'ers still do not properly address astrophysical and geological processes. Also anyone who has worked with simulators realizes that emprical fudge factors are used liberally, that whole processes may not be treated adequately if at all (unkown or not well understood), and that their predictive value, without repeated validation cycles (xxx yrs?) or starting from a *complete* set of fundamental equations, is bunk.

    I am more concerned about coal vs oil & gas, because the US has a lot, coal is relatively cheap and it is loaded with heavy metals, particulates and nucleotides. Coal use is the real policy issue to the US. Timing (a last resort?), adequate clean up and competitive economics are crucial to the US if another competitve energy cycle doesn't emerge. Don't worry about the oil & gas useage, you'll be competing with several billion prosperous Asians for it; it will all get used anyway.

    I think Crichton has it [http://www.crichton-official.com/speeches/speeche s_quote05.html
    right also in this speech] where he points out that the current version of "environmentalism" is a religion. I think many engineers are bigger and better environmentalists - working something other than their mouths and vacuum tubes. I liked the reviews on Crichton's book "State of Fear" and plan to read it.

    Thought: If the 10% (100,000 ppm) decline in magnetic field (atmosphere retention, modulation of the ionospheric reflection) is more important than 100 ppm increase in CO2, if we are going through pole reversal (through/near magnetic zero, -90% more) what then? Before you go blow a few trillion, please make sure you have some hard facts addressing or prioritizing real problems. You might really miss the economic resources later. Lonnnggg term, I vote for aneutronic power sources (e.g. p-B) or space (D-T, D-D fusion or solar).
  • by qkslvrwolf (821489) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @01:26PM (#11690094)
    The one thing that can save humanity is technology -- that which the environmentalists seek to restrain ostensibly for the benefit of mankind. Those restraints will IMO prove more deadly to humankind as a race than smog will ever do Actually, most environmentalists I know (we're talking the serious ones, not the fanatic retards) are all about improving technology so that we can have our cake and eat it to. In this case, have our lights and our computers and our cheap transporation, but do it without all the pollution. And you might have noticed that a number of people have mentioned simply improving our general environmental health, because even to the die-hards like myself its pretty clear Kyoto does jack shit. As for "the problem of creating more baskets", thats all well and good. However, I submit to you that there is a certain amount of moral question here...afterall, do you really want to become like that alien race from Independence day? And many of the technologies for cleaner earth and new colonies on other planets would be complementary, so why is it so bad to research both?
  • by izomiac (815208) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @01:34PM (#11690202) Homepage
    No, just the article references one character in the book is so fond of citing. Actually, the point of the book is that people are quick to jump to conclusions based on very little information. He elaborates on the issue in the appendix (that's where that comparison comes from). I don't expect that the book properly defends global warming, but the fact that a such an argument can be made and backed up with numerous scientific articles shows that the theory of global warming isn't nearly as strong as most people think that it is. The point is that people usually do what's in their immediate best interest. You'd have to make one hell of an argument to convince them to take the economic hit that Kyoto would bring, and no disaster theory is strong enough right now to do that. So what do you expect people to do when they hear that they'll have to make several sacrifices just to prevent something that might be an issue a hundred years from now (which is what a lot of these catastrophe theories sound like to average joe). So politicians won't risk making any major changes and the industry is content with what it's currently doing. My opinion is that the government should provide incentives to move fossil-fuel burning engines/facilities to hydrogen (for cars and such) and nuclear.
  • by whirred (182193) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @01:58PM (#11690550)
    I know this may sound like flamebait, but I'll say it:

    The only way we'll be able to even come close to Kyoto standards, and the reason that those eco-friendly French are able to do so, is by going nuclear. The coal plants we currently utilize create more pollution and more radiation (yes, radiation) than equivalent nuclear plants would.

    So what's it going to be, you technology savvy hippies? Kyoto and nuclear? Or no Kyoto and no nuclear?

    A couple of facts:

    1) Automobiles account for 5% of the pollution in this country. SUVs make a very small percentage of this number - remember that the next time someone starts harping on SUVs.

    2) Airplanes pollute an automobile equivalent of a 30,000 mile trip with each flight. Think about that the next time you book a flight.

    3) The cost, energy and materials that currently go into solar panels actually create more pollution than that solar panel will save in it's lifetime. Hopefully further advances in solar technology will help.

    4) The truth is - we're running out of oil. For the rest of our lives, oil is going to go down in supply and up in demand. Nuclear is our only choice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @02:01PM (#11690579)
    What you mention hasn't contradicted the original poster. You've got a bunch of nonsensical bullpucky and increasing emissions. So when you fail to reduce them, which you will, are you going to go back to a pre-Industrial country for the good of the world?
  • by xenobyte (446878) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @02:03PM (#11690603)
    You have been hearing it from a few for a long time. Now you are hearing from a majority of respectable scientists.

    A theory doesn't get to be more correct/accurate just because more and more people are repeating it... And I have a hard time respecting scientists mindlessly repeating this without actually bothering to look at the facts and keep the basic scientific methods in mind.

    Now, let's just take a brief look at things...
    • We know very little about natural climate variations. That they happened is about all we know. Why they happened are the bigger and much more interesting question. But even the climate-changing giant meteor that 'killed the dinosaurs' is subject of much dispute on every level. And for some reason almost all these 'respectable scientists' insist on the energy input from the Sun being irrelevant and without significance... Yet without it the Earth would be a very cold place indeed. So the Sun is a very significant element in our climate and we know very little about the periodic instabilities in the nuclear processes up there, so that's another bit of shaky ground.

    • We know very little about the complex balances in the atmosphere and we're far from knowing with any certainty that additional CO2 will increase the apparent greenhouse effect. It may even decrease it!

    • The 'ancient' meteorological data is full of inaccuracies and you cannot 'measure' (calculate) a 0.5 degree change based on data that's only accurate to +/- 2.0 degrees. Yet this is done even by the UN people!

    • There's no viable alternatives to most of the CO2-producing technologies. Solar and Wind power is useless for anything but a nice supplement to a core technology that sustains business and city consumption without fail. Cars that run on anything but gas are still more or less on the prototype stage, and airplanes are not even on the drawing boards. We simply cannot give up our CO2-producing technologies yet!


    Anyway... Make up your own mind.

    IMHO: If it was costless to be on the safe side then by all means do that! - But it isn't costless. Quite the opposite. The CO2 reductions could easily cost many times the combined global GNP plus lower the stage of civilization in many places. And all this based on very uncertain theories... I say it's not worth it. Not yet anyway.

    We need more absolute evidence that we are affecting the climate before we even should consider doing anything more than thinking about new ways to build the next generation of cars, airplanes, power plants etc.

    That's just my opinion. Your milage may vary.
  • by misleb (129952) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @02:09PM (#11690680)
    In other words, the parent poster claimed that the U.S. population is more evenly distributed than the European population.

    ..which is incorrect. THe majority of the US population lives in urban and suburban areas. Have a look at a US map with population density. You'll notice that most Americans live on the coasts and in the northeast in particular. Population is clustered around large cities.

    I think the poster in question is confusing the design of individual cities and towns with overall population distribution. It is true that American cities and towns tend to sprawl more, but they are still clustered.

    -matthew

  • by demachina (71715) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @02:33PM (#11690946)
    "Kyoto is a massive efford and shows NO result."

    Other than potentially making a start at ending global warming, which if it happens, and it is an "if", is going to do far more damage to the world both physically and economicly than Kyoto will.

    I think a really good test for Americans would be to offer, or maybe compel them to trade their current homes and real estate for an estate several times more valuable on some low lying coastland or better yet a low lying tropical island and see if they are willing to gamble that global warming is a lie.

    All in all its waste of time debating U.S. entry in to Kyoto, or even that the U.S. will make any significant investment in weaning itself from complete dependence on coal because with the current political regime its go a snow balls chance in hell. Even if the U.S. rejects Kyoto which there are valid reasons to reject, it should still solve its addiction to fossil fuels and there is an indisputable case for doing that.

    But no, Kyoto is inevitably going to end up one of American's expansive land fills probably outside of Washingtoon D.C. alongside the Geneva conventions, the ABM treaty, U.S. law against torture, the rule of law, the Constitution and it appears very soon the global test ban treaty [counterpunch.org].

    There is irony that as the U.S. tries to dictate to nation after nation that thou shalt not develop nuclear weapons the U.S. is in fact developing new ones, is going to test them in violation of treaty, and in the case of the new nuclear bunker busters is almost inevitably going to start using them to kill people for the first time since World War II. When the U.S. takes the first step off that slippery slope the world is going to become a VERY dangerous place.

    "The extend of this can be debated, but hold it to be true that some progress has been made."

    It certainly is a subject for debate. Just because an election was held proves next to nothing. There is still a high probability that the Shia majority is just bideing its time until the constitution is written, the next elections are held which the Shia's will win, which the Shia will always win being 60% of the population and being an extremely cohesive voting block. Sistani issued a Fatwah compelling his large block of Shia's to vote which is why they did in such large numbers, the voted because they knew they would win the power they've been denied so long by doing so.

    Sunni turnout was in fact dismal, they are shut completely out of power unless the Shia and Kurd's throw them crumbs, and this insures the Sunni insurgency will continue unabated which it has.

    Once the Shia have cemented their hold on power, they can then tell the U.S. to get its troops out and the U.S. will either:

    - Have to withdraw its troops in deference to Iraq's sovereign will and its Democraticly elected government
    - Say no, leave its troops there and the elections the Republican's are so proud of are then proven to be a sham

    You see the U.S. really only likes Democracies when they vote the way the White House wants them to. If they don't the U.S. really isn't that big a supporter of the concept.

    Assuming the U.S. withdraws the Shia are then free to institute an Islamic theocracy and align themselves with Iran. Women will most probably be oppressed under Islamic law more like they were under the Taliban than the relative freedoms they enjoyed under Saddam's secular state, and in fact already are more oppressed than they were in most areas. Christians and Jews also enjoyed some tolerance for their religion under Saddam and are generally being forced to leave Iraq as it swings hard towards fundementalist Islamic state.

    Meanwhile the Kurd's in the north are also voting en masse and trying to secure as much power as they can get at the ballot box and as much territorial control they can of the oil fields around Kirkuk. They are also bidding their time and waiting patiently. When the opport
  • by SuperBigGulp (177180) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @02:48PM (#11691129)
    Whenever I hear that it will be "expensive" to meet the targets set forth in the Kyoto accord I wonder if people made the same argument against factories in the late 1800's. Sure, it was a lot of work to shift to an industrial economy, but in the end what we have is (usually) more efficient than the previous model. Likewise, it was expensive to set up lines of communication that basically cover the globe, but this has created whole new economic sectors and enabled dramatic increases in productivity. Who knows what innovations we will see as a result of research and development associated with a "cleaner" economy.
    In some ways becoming "cleaner" is much like space exploration...is it expensive? Yes. Is it beneficial? Yes. Can we enumerate all the benefits at the outset? Probably not. Should we do it? Yes.
  • Cutting energy production is always tough on the economy. The US went through this in the late 70's, and most people remember how miserable that was.

    Um, that wasn't a voluntary thing. To grossly oversimplify, fossil fuel prices skyrocketed because the OPEC nations decided to close the taps (in 1973; in 1979 it was the destabilization of Iran during the Iranian Revolution).

    Aside from the threat of invasion, there's nothing to prevent the same thing from happening today. It's a question of whether the United States (and other developed nations--don't forget that Canada, the U.K., Australia, and others have also signed on) reduce their dependence on foreign oil voluntarily now, or whether it happens...

    a) on the whim of OPEC,

    b) when the next war in the Middle East wipes out oil production/refining/transportation infrastructure, or

    c) when oil production in the Middle East falls significantly due to depleted supply.

    Maybe it makes sense to wean overly dependent nations off their excessive fossil fuel usage. Do it in a measured, controlled, planned manner over the course of several years, rather than having OPEC decide to do it for us in a week. Incidentally, it might be good for the U.S. economy in the long run--right now, it keeps posting record trade deficits.

  • by mickwd (196449) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @03:20PM (#11691528)
    "Science is not about consensus, it's about fact. Politics is about consensus."

    So what should a large proportion of the world's climatologists do if they seriously believe that mankind is in danger of causing seriously climatic damage ?

    Pretend they're in a minority ?
  • by IthnkImParanoid (410494) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @03:28PM (#11691648)
    False Dichotomy:

    The attempt to force your opponent into taking an extreme position by arguing as if there are only two possible positions, e.g. if you believe in lowering emmissions to improve environmental conditions at a certain known economic cost, you must also believe in incurring any arbitrary economic cost, no matter how large, for the same purpose.

    Either you are an idiot, or your ability to think rationally has been stunted by cable news "Crossfire" style shows that showcase arguments like the one you just made.
  • by Ironsides (739422) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @03:31PM (#11691694) Homepage Journal
    SUV and big all road vehicules with very low mpg everywhere (compare that with the average european car)I know people who use the 4WD on an SUV frequently. On Mud and Snow and off paved roads it generally helps to have it. And they do use this throughout the year. We frequently go camping places where sedans (toruing cars, like those european ones you talk about) can't go. We also cram them with 6 or 7 people plus gear when we do this. On regular days I drive a sedan. So how are we wasting energy? By going camping?
  • by psmurf (808573) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @04:30PM (#11692423)
    I would definitely consider myself to be an environmentalist, but there is some sense in the statement from Australia. Every country has to watch out for their economy, and to lower your economic standards when your competitors will not would hurt australia considerably more than if the economic competition had to follow suit. That's why it's called a "treaty", the same term used for agreements between military adversaries. In this case it's not military, but economic.

    Just to clarify where I'm coming from, I live in the US and I think that we clearly afford to enact tougher environmental regulations and that it's our responsbility to do so. I'm not sure if Kyoto is the best solution though.

  • by dazz_j (829431) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:18PM (#11695426)
    Just to nit pick: the One Tonne Challenge doesn't quite count as "a plan". _If_ everyone in Canada was successful at this, the total reduction would be about 30 million tonnes, only a fraction of our commitment of more than 240 million tonnes.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/kyoto/timeline.h tml [www.cbc.ca]

    I want to be optimistic, but we're going to need a lot more than some encouragement from Rick Mercer to get us to make major changes in our lifestyles. Whether it's tax incentives, or transportation system changes, big changes have to happen for long term reductions.

    On top of that, there will need to be changes in most types of industry as I'm sure has been mentioned here many times, so let's not let our politicians off the hook that easily.

    Never fear! Stephan Dion, Environment Minister, was on CBC radio today promising to come out with a plan soon.

    DJ
  • by BeerSlurpy (185482) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:38PM (#11696011)
    Three points:
    1) The treaty, even if it somehow got 100% implemented against the wishes of many, would theoretically reduce world temperatures 0.1C over the next century. This is completely unmeasureable, especially when viewed against decade to decade fluctuations in world climate. Only 200 years ago we emerged from a mini-ice-age. Remember frozen Holland in the Bruegel paintings? 0.1C is statistical noise. Kyoto basically has no measureable goals or objective criteria with which to judge success or failure.

    2) Most of the countries which will do the heaviest polluting over the coming years are not counted under Kyoto. Kyoto amounts to a tax on carbon emissions levied against wealthy industrial countries but not poorer ones like india or china that burn shitloads of coal. It would have hurt the US both in terms of the cost of manufacturing competitiveness and in terms of jobs lost. This amounts to a transfer of wealth from wealthy countries to poor ones.

    3)Environmentalism in general is an attempt to subvert the sanctity of property rights in western society in the intersts of "protecting mother earth." How many times have you heard about ranchers losing their homes because someone found a rare species of lizard or flower or moss on their acreage? How many people in FL lost their homes for the crime of living too close to the everglades? How many national forests are built from formerly private land snatched through eminent domain? Do you think that using greenhouse gasses as an excuse to levy exorbitant taxes on wealthy countries is somehow more justifiable than just stealing it outright? Do you think this is an accident or perhaps a real attempt to subvert our ownership based society?

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.

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