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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.
    • by I confirm I'm not a (720413) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:42AM (#11687884) Journal

      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

      Agreed, and I feel that the economic disadvantages have been grossly overstated: for example, a pundit on the BBC suggested that with Kyoto compliance it would take the UK until 2056 to achieve the same level of prosperity it would otherwise attain in 2053. I suspect there's grounds for error there, but that it's not far from the truth.

    • by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...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).
      • 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?

      • 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

        Michael Crichton is a pretty decent novelist, but this is a strikingly dumb remark. No, the consensus is not always right.
    • 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 st

  • FE (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:32AM (#11687805)
    First Emission!
  • 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.
    • 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.
      • Mod Parent up. Hemp's possibilities in manufacturing are starting to be re-discovered. I know that Europe, Canada and the UK are starting to embrace hemp into their economies. The US has remained a little in the dark. I think hemp is still illegal to grow in the US. In other countries Hemp is being used for food, paper, clothes , plastics, etc... The best thing is that it grows like a weed. Forgive the pun and don't get Hemp confused with it's sister plant. Hemp needs very little chemicals to allo
    • 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:34AM (#11687809)
    as the scientific consensus is well established.

    The only people saying so are scientists, and we all know that someone with an MBA would know more about this sort of thing.

    • Re:only scientists (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MikeB123 (859938)
      Trusting people who have MBA's? Obviously all those with MBA's who ran or observed Enron got a free pass that day! In fact there is an amazing level of consensus as far as global warming is concerned, and the differences within the mainstream scientific community are about levels of dgree, not whethr humans are causing the warming in the first place. The problem with relying on the judgment of those in the business community is that they are in the business of making a profit, and often this makes them t
    • Re:only scientists (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JimJinkins (144263)
      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 a
  • 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 MosesJones (55544) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:52AM (#11687973) Homepage

      US People => Tend to recycle, some buy hybrids and other good cars (some do buy SUVs though). So overall just people and in some cases pretty damned good.

      US Legislature => A bunch of lazy pork riddled morons whose whole aim in life is to reject anything that comes from abroad and do what ever big business wants

      US President => Commander in Chief of the "not invented here" syndrome: International Criminal Court (bad), UN (bad), Chemical and biological non-proliferation treaty (bad), Geneva Convention (bad), Kyoto (bad), Steel Tarifs (good) etc.
  • Smoke Screen (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fishdan (569872) * on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:34AM (#11687813) Homepage Journal
    Part of what is supposed to make Kyoto work is that there will be a big market and alot of money to be made in the buying/trading/selling of carbon emissions. Morning Edition had a great story on the economic backbone of Kyoto [npr.org] but it won't be online till after 10:00am EST. If such a market develops and there are fortunes to be made, you can be sure the Americans will come. If it turns out to be an economic disaster, they won't.

    The basic American claim that the treaty is unjust towards wealthier nations, while benefits countries like China and India, is true. There can be no argument that the US would be restricted much more than the #2 consumer of petroleum, China, under Kyoto. The question is, can the will of the world force the US into a position that it views as unjust towards itself? It's a thorny one, but recent history suggest that the United States will not be swayed by foreign legislation. Thus the financial incentive is the best hope of Kyoto ever being ratified by the US.

    If Europe wants the US to ratify Kyoto, all they have to do is make the dollars and common sense will follow. One side is right here, and one side isn't. If Europe is right, and this does create a financial windfall, the US will follow. If the US is right, and Europe's economy suffers greatly, they will withdraw from Kyoto.

    • 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:Smoke Screen (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fishdan (569872) *
        Haven't read the treaty eh?

        The US objection to the treaty is not that there are restrictions, but that the restrictions are applied unevenly. According to what the Bush administration has said, if China and India et al were held to the SAME standard as the US, France, Germany etc, then the US would have ratified the treaty.

        That's my definition of just -- everyone is treated equally

        • Re:Smoke Screen (Score:4, Interesting)

          by guet (525509) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:37AM (#11688411)
          That's my definition of just -- everyone is treated equally

          oh, well since that's your definition of just, perhaps you'd like your country (and the rest of the 1st world) to stop imposing tariffs on incoming agricultural, steel and other products, to stop demanding that drugs which could save millions are sold at exorbitant prices in the 3rd world, and to cancel the loans made after the colonial period which are leaching away the little money third world countries have?

          Or perhaps you want to be treated 'equally' when it suits you?

          The world is currently structured in a very unfair way; any truly fair system will therefore be skewed towards those nations who are historically disadvantaged. The reason for involving China et al just now is to get them to the point where they can start to cut pollution, and since they'll be within the system, it'll be easier to persuade them to take the next step.

          Frankly I think the non-ratification of the treaty has a lot more to do with the unilateral go it alone against the world spirit of the current administration, along with fear of Chinese (and to a lesser extent Indian) domination of the global economy, than with any so-called concept of 'justice'.
          • Re:Smoke Screen (Score:4, Interesting)

            by fishdan (569872) * on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:12AM (#11688719) Homepage Journal
            Like many people here, I am a libertarian [lp.org] thus I definitely am opposed to ALL tariffs, both American and foreign, because I believe in complete free trade, not state imposed regulations.

            Regarding drug costs in the 3rd world, you think the US legislates that? Those are corporations who are making those choices. I personally support India, which does not honor patents on medicine. I believe medical patents are murder, so I think we agree there as well

            You wrote...any truly fair system will therefore be skewed ...

            We fundamentally disagree here. For me any fair system will NOT be skewed. That is really my definition of fair -- the field is level for everyone, rich and poor, strong and weak. Do the strong win more often than the weak? Yes, if they lost more, they would be the weak.

    • Re:Smoke Screen (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jb_nizet (98713)
      There can be no argument that the US would be restricted much more than the #2 consumer of petroleum, China, under Kyoto

      Hmmm. There is a strong argument: if the climate is changing now, it's because of the high CO2 emissions during the whole 20th century. And most of the CO2 emissions of the 20th century came from the US, Europe, and other industrial countries: not from China or India. US has to make more efforts now because it has polluted much more in the past.

  • 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.

    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) * on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:38AM (#11687845)
      and we'll end up buying our cars and power systems from them

      "Buying?"

      heh.
    • 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.
  • More news coverage (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cally (10873) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:36AM (#11687828) Homepage
    I left this out of the submission cos it looked like there were enough links in there to keep anyone happy for a while...

    There is plenty of other news coverage [google.com] of this. As I type this (2pm UK time) it's still the lead story on Murdoch's Sky News satellite TV channel. Although this is known to be generally right of center (by UK standards) the tenor of their reporting is much the same as the BBC's, with respect to the whole "pressure mounts on the USA" aspect, and the fact that the science has reached the status of accepted fact in popular discourse. (I know there are still plenty of areas of legitimate debate, disagreement, and continuing research amongst real scientists, but the basic thesis that anthropogenic CO2 can affect, and IS already affecting global climate is about as solidly accepted as anything gets in the public mind - over here at any rate.

  • 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).
  • by Underholdning (758194) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:38AM (#11687848) Homepage Journal
    How do you guys think the US would have reacted if the situation was turned around? (I.e. the US was pro-Kyoto).
  • 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.
    • Re:A plea (Score:3, Insightful)

      by northcat (827059)
      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.
    • Consensus Science (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ari_j (90255)
      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 curtai
      • Re:Consensus Science (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ed_Moyse (171820)
        Firstly, humans aren't special. Clearly it *is* from a *scientific* point of view possible to "improve" the human race by selective breeding. So, you have not proven that the science was bad, merely that when science is applied without recourse to morality, or without carefully consideration of what "improve" really means, then we have a disaster on our hands. The same could be said of atomic bombs, GM etc. It has bugger all to do with whether the science is correct.

        Now, I agree that science has inertia, a
  • by Epistax (544591) <epistax@gmailUMLAUT.com minus punct> 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.
    • Energy usage is a personal thing too you know. You can bitch about the US dragging it's collective feet but my feet are moving now. My electrical consumption in 2001 was 13 MEGA Watt/hours. By 2004 I was down to 2/3rds of that (8.7 MW/h) and is still falling. Every year my energy footprint shrinks as I replace old 80's clunker appliances with new Energy Star ones.

      How much brains does it take to spend at little more on an appliance when you can see that it will save you over the long haul? The funny th
  • Kyoto Rules (Score:5, Informative)

    by grqb (410789) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:40AM (#11687867) Homepage Journal
    theWatt [thewatt.com] has a summary of the important details [thewatt.com]. Basically 127 countries have signed up (but not the US). Countries that have ratified the protocol must reduce emissions (such as CO2, methane, NOx etc) by 5.2% of 1990 levels by 2010, this is expected to be about a 29% cut if Kyoto was not implemented by 2010. If a country exceeds their target, then they can sell carbon credits (at about $30-40/ton in the US and $70-80/ton in Europe), if they're under, they can buy credits.


    The second round of Kyoto starts in 2012 and will try to lure in those emerging countries like China and India. The omission of China and India is the big reason why the US isn't going for Kyoto.

  • Bush and Kyoto (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poindextrose (640377) <sliderule AT gmail DOT com> 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:Bush and Kyoto (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:23AM (#11688271)
      Although the United States signed the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate. In July 1999, the United States Senate voted 95-0 to pass a resolution co-sponsored by Sen. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Hagel (R-Neb.), which stated the Senate would not ratify the Protocol unless rapidly developing countries such as China were included in its requirements to reduce greenhouse gases. The Clinton Administration announced it would not send the treaty to the Senate for ratification.

      But of course it's Bush's fault. Sure. It's only ever been Bush's fault. Now that's Orwellian doublethink.
    • 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 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.
    • 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 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 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 antic (29198) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @09:54AM (#11687985)
    FWIW, pressure is also mounting on the Australian Prime Minister to ratify the protocol.

    He is arguing that "it would be against the national interest for Australia to sign the Kyoto protocol on climate change". (quote from ABC.net.au)

    "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," he said.

    The headline for the article on the ABC site is "Signing Kyoto virtually worthless: PM".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Some stats (Score:5, Informative)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:19AM (#11688225) Journal
    Just to clarify what wasn't quite mentioned in the articles:

    Kyoto countries account for 55% of 'Greenhouse Emissions' together, and the USA accounts for 36%.

    Population wise, the USA makes up 4.6% of the world. I don't know about the combined populations of Kyoto countries but it includes the 3 greatest populations: China, India and the EU which means Kyoto countries make up at least 45% of the worlds population.

    In the worlds economy (don't know how this is calculated) the USA makes up 30% and the EU 23%, Japan 14%, China 3.2%. Which puts Kyoto countries' economies at at least 40% of the world

    Source is mostly BBC, not sure of the accuracy.
  • by fygment (444210) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:33AM (#11688363)
    Don't you wonder about motives? So to whos profit is it to buy in to Kyoto? (Sadly, in this world that is the only real question.)

    a) + Public perception - Politicians seen as being environmentally proactive ergo more votes.
    b) + Public perception - Big business moves unsightly production plants offshore allowing them to look squeaky clean at home. Ergo profit.
    c) + Public perception - Big business has valid excuses to move into 3rd world countries. It is no longer about cheap labour, it is about saving the atmosphere. Ergo profit.

    Is there anything beyond Public Perception?

    a) Permanent solution - NO. As human population grows so will its effect on the environment. Kyoto is a delaying tactic environmentally BUT a profitable one.
    b) Near term solution - NO. Will any nation HAVE to reduce its greenhouse gas production? No. Many have promised but a change in administration can easily bring about a cessation of participation.

    Irony - The only really honest players have been the U.S. They are clearly worried about economic impact and see that as having a higher priority than the atmosphere. You may not like it but you know where they stand. As for the others, do you really believe their stated motives? If so, see above para.

  • Consensus? (Score:3, Informative)

    by phlegmofdiscontent (459470) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:57AM (#11688583)
    Funny, I read the Wikipedia article and it doesn't look like there's much of a consensus at all. In fact, it looks like there is so much that we don't know that to definitively state anything about climate change is to speak from one's lowest sphincter.
  • 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 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 dunstan (97493) <dvavasourNO@SPAMiee.org> on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:27PM (#11689394) Homepage
    Kyoto may be a start, but one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse emissions is aviation. Yet Kyoto specifically excludes international aviation.

    This favours small countries (such as GB) with little domestic aviation over large countries (such as the US, Russia, China, etc) where much of the aviation is domestic.

    Personally I would have all aviation, domestic or internation, included.

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