Sunday, January 06, 2008

Kyoto - Smoke & mirrors

Whenever I read anything on global warming, climate change or Kyoto, I am struck by how the whole topic of what should essentially be a scientific issue is often framed in terms of a belief system - much like a religion or faith.

People on both sides of the argument attempt to use their own biased data to attempt to convince others that they are right.

If that doesn't work, then they try guilt and shame. (Ironically, these folks usually tend to be moral relativists in most matters, but when it comes to climate change, their position is ABSOLUTE TRUTH!)

In today's Sun, Lorrie Goldstein attempts to shine a light of balance and reality into an otherwise murky, emotional debate - Skip the Kyoto Snow Job.

I trust and respect Lorrie's work on this subject. After doing a great deal of reading and research, he seems to agree that there is some degree of man-made component to global warming (AGW), but remains skeptical of Kyoto as the means to accomplish any real results. That is a position with which I can support.

Kyoto was a seriously flawed treaty from the start in terms of credibility:
...Russia is in compliance with Kyoto and has billions of dollars of "hot air" credits to sell to countries like Canada -- not because of its environmental policies, but because the base year for Kyoto was deliberately set at 1990, just as the economy of the former Soviet Union was imploding, causing the shutdown of many GHG-producing industries. Similarly, Germany and the European Union benefit from the collapse of the East German economy.

Kyoto envisions the First World paying billions of dollars to the Third in the faint hope the latter will use that money to reduce its rapidly-growing GHG emissions...

When some countries realize the economic reality that meeting the targets would entail, they often balk at the commitment. The Kyoto Kult activists use guilt as a weapon to try to shame them on the world stage (remember Bali?):

...we must ignore simplistic environmental rhetoric that portrays nations which meet (or try to meet) their Kyoto targets as "good" while those that don't as "bad." In reality, all countries act in their own perceived best interests.

China rejects GHG cuts (as has the U.S. through both the Clinton and Bush administrations) not because it favours global climate catastrophe several decades from now if Al Gore's apocalyptic rhetoric is correct, which is unlikely.

It does so because it has more pressing problems, such as feeding its 1.3 billion people today.

It's pointless to condemn China for acting in its own interests, just as it's silly to portray Canada as an energy glutton, a favourite guilt-inducing tactic of environmentalists...

You see this guilt meme rise up often in global warming enterprises.

Scott Stinson of the National Post pointed out yesterday in "Buying your way out of carbon debt", that the carbon-offset market is becoming big business.

Just how scientifically effective it is, however, is another matter:

...The carbon-offset market was non-existent just a few years ago, but it is big business now, with researchers estimating the activity in North America at more than $100-million last year. So, what are the buyers getting for all that offset money? At best, they are spurring investment in an enterprise that reduces greenhouse-gas emissions. And at worst, critics say, they are simply practising chequebook environmentalism, ­salving guilt by investing in a scheme whose benefits are negligible...

Here's the inherent glitch:

...But in order for such a transaction to be truly "carbon neutral," the seller would have to use the offset money to create an environmental benefit that would not otherwise have happened.

Robert Stavins, the director of the Environmental Economics Program at Harvard University, says that is the key problem with offset programs -- that the companies that generate credits must do so by "doing something that they otherwise would not have done."

"It is a comparison with an unobserved -- and unobservable -- hypothetical," he said in an interview...

So it all boils down to faith. You are paying to assuage your guilt and look virtuous.

And here's the kicker. In BS alert! BS alert!, Lorrie Goldstein discloses this little gem:

Finally, if idiot celebrities jetting around the world claiming they are "carbon neutral" because they buy carbon offsets understood the Kyoto Accord, they wouldn't bother, considering what hypocrites they already are.

That's because Kyoto doesn't count GHG emissions caused by flying, although it's one of the world's fastest-growing sources of GHG.


Goldstein ends today's column with a suggestion that we skip the rhetoric and look for real solutions:

...Despite what Kyoto propagandists and opportunistic politicians pretend, this isn't about making an easy choice between "good" and "bad." It's about making intelligent choices from the options we have, all of which have positive and negative consequences.

So let's leave the morality rhetoric to issues of religion and faith.

Or perhaps we should all pray for Divine guidance.

* * * *
Update: I was waiting to hear back from Lorrie Goldstein before disclosing a bit more information. Since he has granted his permission, I will tell you that he has been kind enough to advise me about global warming and climate change issues for some time now.

The reason I value his opinion so much is that he has "read seven books on the subject (six by Kyoto/man-made global warming supporters, one by a skeptic) watched and taken notes of three documentaries (Al Gore's plus two by skeptics) plus read at least 200 articles by now, both pro and con."

I find that to be a fairly thorough and well-rounded research background.

His personal position on climate change, global warming and Kyoto is both fascinating and logical.

I will elaborate in a separate post because this one is likely approaching the attention-span tolerance of most readers.


Anonymous said...

Oh,'s about "intelligent choices" not lemming leadership.

That explains everything.

I'm waiting for it this week when the thermometer hits 12c for the climate change lemmings to line up and barrage the media with "we told you sos"

I wonder what it says about human nature that so many buy the hype and ignore the science?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I'm waiting for it this week when the thermometer hits 12c for the climate change lemmings to line up and barrage the media with "we told you sos"

I'm waiting for that too.

If it's freezing cold out, we're not allowed to make a reference to it being an example of the lack of credibility of GW. i.e. That's just weather. Which I agree with.

However, you can't have it both ways!

Anonymous said...

Yippee! I get to work in the garden today! I didn't get all my fall bulbs in because winter hit so fast.Today and tomorrow will be great planting weather.
I'm lovin' it!
Northern Ontario Gardener.

Anonymous said...

I'm suffering from KADD Kyoto Attention Deficit Disorder.

It's an afflication that's slowly affecting too many Canadians that's brought on by the usual suspects, the MSLib.Media pundits, their cheerleaders and the eco. junk science.

Symptoms of KADD include:

- an urge to throw something at radio or tvs when faced with a photo or quote by Al Gore, David Susuki caught in a B&E, or Stefan
Dion wringing his knickers in knot.

- immediately tuning out and turning off at parties or social gatherings when the topic of the environment comes up.

- a sudden aversion to St. Patrick's Day and the colour green.

- actually feeling grateful for Canada to have received the "fossil" award in Bali...because fossils are preferred to the hoopla of the whine of Balihoo.