February 18, 2005

Global Warming Sham Part 1
Kyoto Treaty: Anti-Industrial Revolution Redux

The Kyoto treaty went into effect yesterday, ninety days after Russian ratification. The treaty is allegedly based on a fear of as-yet-unproven global warming, seeks to prevent 'further' global warming through useless tactics, and is horrible economic policy.

First of all, the 'warming trend' that we've been told exists is based on some sketchy data and arguments. The Medieval Warm Period lasted from the 10th to 14th century, during which times ice in the northern waters melted, Greenland and Iceland were colonized by Vikings, and grapes grew in the South of England (300 miles north of where they are currently growable). The Little Ice Age followed it and lasted from the mid-14th to mid-19th century, during which time glaciers in the Swiss Alps advanced to destroy towns, Iceland was surrouned for miles in all directions by thick ice, and both the Thames and New York Harbor froze over (allowing people to walk across). Why did the temperature change? We're not sure. Maybe it was sunspots, maybe increased volcanic activity and dust, maybe it was the population shift (from the Black Death) and corresponding drop in agriculture. Maybe it's simply a natural effect of an ecosystem that's never in perfect balance. Probably it's all of these and more.

How can we interpret a scientifically-demonstrable warming trend if we can't even explain more than 1,000 years of temperature fluctuation in Europe and North America? Good question. Somehow, people still try.

We're supposed to believe that, even though temperatures dramatically shifted in the world since the 900s without the influence of industrialization, that somehow industrialization is a major factor in climate change. This is quite an under-supported connection, since from 1940 to 1970 temperatures stopped rising and started falling, but carbon dioxide rose steadily the entire time. Why did this cooling period exist in the midst of industrialization and population growth? We don't really know.

We just don't know very much about the climate. We don't know all the factors that weigh into climate change, we don't know how to weight the disparate factors against each other, and we don't know how the climate reacts to different factors. Despite these major inconsistencies and problems, somehow we're supposed to buy into the idea of global warming so strongly and self-assuredly that we'll gladly throw away our economic livelihood - thereby impoverishing millions or billions and reducing the progress and availability of health services - based on what is at best speculative and more likely an article of ideological faith. No thanks.

Second, Kyoto is going to fight off the alleged global warming by changing carbon output. However, it's not including developing nations in its requirements. The world's second largest producer of carbon into the air, China, has no commitments under Kyoto.

But beyond this deal-breaker of an error, the Kyoto process involves credits for carbon sinks - natural features and human actions. If you provide forests, for example, then that is supposed to use up carbon dioxide and reduce the overall level of carbons in the air. Countries get credits against the pollution they cause if they balance it out with carbon sinks. I think the case is much stronger that pollution can cause respiratory problems than that carbon dioxide can cause global warming, so forgiving pollution on that basis seems like a dumb idea.

The problem with these credits is that carbon sinks are not fully understood. It's possible that planting 'Kyoto forests' could actually increase carbon levels in the first ten years. Problems of this sort crop along all the time in 'climate change' debates. If we can't predict the rate at which carbons are created or absorbed, how can we design an entire policy around it?

Third, this is potentially a major economic problem. Subverting the combined economies of the world to a junk-science theory on carbon production could be a serious thing. Of course, it's possible or maybe even probable that the involved countries would simply abandon the standards if they really started to tank. If massive resources are spent to limit industriaization, replace industry with forests, downsize cities and industry through planning, or otherwise try and seriously manipulate the market, then we could be looking at a broad dampening effect. Spending resources on carbon sinks like Kyoto forests could be justified as a luxury expense, or a religious expense - after all, we have money to improve our lives emotionally as well as practically.

Are we willing to a) spend millions of dollars on carbon sinks and b) reduce our overall economic output by millions or billions if global warming is a fake? It could mean lost jobs, lost opportunities, lost discoveries, and a stagnation or reduction in health care and living standards. If it meant saving the world, that could be justified easily; if it meant just making environmentalists feel happy, then it's much harder to justify.

The science isn't there to prove global warming happens. The science isn't there to prove how much effect humans have on global warming. The science isn't there to prove that we know how to fix global warming. The policy isn't there to control the (rapidly) developing world, which includes the number 2 carbon producer in the world. Given this, why do we want to spend an aggregate sum of tens, hundreds or thousands of millions of dollars on what would basically amount to a cathedral and altar for the religious-environmentalists? That hardly seems like a good way to move money around in the economy, since it could mean a large trade-off in other areas.

Let's at least wait for a firmer grasp on the science of the thing before we go committing ourselves to these grand plans. When it comes to millions of jobs and billions of dollars, let's not just rush head-in with a "reduce first; establish facts later" attitude.

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