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Kyoto


The Kyoto Accord is an international treaty whereby countries agree to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they emit if their neighbours do likewise. It is a very complex agreement that allows trading pollution credits. If it is cheaper to reduce emissions in country A, then country B can buy the pollution credits, and have them count toward its own quota of reductions. Happily, the global atmosphere does not care where the greenhouse gas reductions come from. There was a second round in Copenhagen and third in Durban. The next will be in Doha in Qatar. Unfortunately, there has been almost no progress. Because there has been so little progress, most of this essay, written at the time of the Kyoto conference, is still current.

The current Kyoto round calls for a greenhouse gas emission reduction of 6% in Canada and 5% in the USA.

Canada is the third worst polluter on the planet (after Australia and the USA). They have done absolutely nothing to reduce greenhouse gases and the Conservative government elected 2008-10-14 has promised to do nothing in their term in office. If this were no bad enough, Canada tried to get offsetting Kyoto credits for any forests they did not level, as if destroying all forests were the expected norm. They also tried to excuse themselves on the grounds Canada has a small population. China could pull the same silly argument if they considered each province of China separately.

Global warming has already reduced the depth of the winter polar ice cap since the 1970s by 40%. Polar bears will become extinct if the ice retreat continues. 90% of all glaciers on the planet have retreated significantly in the last 50 years. As the white reflective snow melts, it leaves behind the darker earth which is even more efficient at absorbing solar energy. This causes an acceleration of the heating effect.

The red line shows the average temperature of the earth over the last 1000 years. The grey vertical line represents the year 2000. You notice the red line is pretty flat then suddenly starts to take off matching the curve of greenhouse gas production that came along with global industrialisation. The last part is an extrapolation based on computer models. There are several lines, outcomes dependent on how lackadaisical we are about global warming.

You might wonder how scientists can possibly know the average temperature going back 1000 years. There are many sources of information that can be used to cross check each other including ice cores, chemical analysis of carbon isotopes, tree rings of 1000 year old trees, plant remains in silt layered deposits and of course civil records.

Klein imagines that the Kyoto treaty will be costly to the oil interests in his province. He reasons, if we reduce emissions, we necessarily will necessarily consume less oil, therefore Alberta will sell less oil, therefore Alberta will make less money. Therefore, Kyoto must but stopped, the planet be damned.

Industry similarly screamed at the acid rain restrictions. Yet it turned out the acid captured in the smokestacks more than paid for the equipment to collect it. This same pattern has repeated itself over and over. Capturing and reusing a pollutant, or avoiding creating it in the first place always turns out to be unexpectedly profitable.

Others pooh-poohing global warming, quote president Bush, the man famous for lying about Iraq, 9/11, his military career and just about everything else.

According to an article in Mother Jones, 2005-05/06 by Chris Mooney, from 2000 to 2003, Exxon funneled more than $8 million into a network of think tanks, quasi-journalistic media outlets, and civic and religious groups, to great effect. Peer-reviewed scientific journals contain virtually nothing that challenges the consensus on anthropogenic global warming.

Those who have a financial investment is playing ostrich, carefully avoid reading any of the thousands of books written by reputable scientists.

As you might guess, I think those claiming doubt about climate change are a bunch of paid shills without conscience. But let us give them the benefit of the doubt. If there is doubt about climate change, what is the prudent thing to do?

This is the same man who lied brazenly on national television in 2008-10 claiming his political party had the strongest plan to deal with greenhouse gases. Cough!

Harper has lied about global warming so many times, I think he truly believes it himself. There is no controversy among scientists. There is unanimous consensus that global warming is real and a major threat, with a handful of hold-out shills and people without credentials who are funded by the oil companies. Harper of course gets all his information from big oil, who continue to pump out FUD. If you have any doubt, just peruse some peer reviewed scientific journals or read about the Naomi Oreskes survey.

Harper is fixated on the costs of implementing Kyoto, estimated as high as 1% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).