Jan 19, 2006

On Climate Changes And Protocols

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Above: Map showing nations and their positions on the Kyoto Protocol, courtesy of Wikipedia

(Toledo, OH) An editorial by the New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert has been gnawing at me for several weeks, and I urge you to give it a few minutes of your time. Kolbert builds a strong case that we are approaching a point in which humans not only affect the global climate, but in which we may not be able to reverse the effects of such changes.

The US and Australia are the only major nations who have yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to limit global production of greenhouse gases (note: the US is a signatory, but has not officially ratified the protocol; Australia refused to sign).

Opponents fret about the possible effects on economic growth and employment. President Bush also argued that the agreement gave unfair advantge to China and other developing nations.

Failure to act, though, may have profound consequences for future generations, and I believe that the US needs to take the lead in environmental protection. Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol is an important step in protecting the global environment, and the Bush administration needs to join the near-unanimous world chorus on this issue.

16 comments:

Lisa Renee said...

I'm not sure on this one, there is so much conflicting information and then studies like this one where they have discovered more plants than just rice paddies and other swamp type environments create methane. I'm not sure if Kyoto is the answer, but I do agree that we need to finally determine exactly what can really be done and minimize whatever damage possible.

Anonymous said...

Americans will wait until the planet is so far gone that the ecosystem is wrecked before they will act, then it will be too late.

Matt Drudge, Jr. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
historymike said...

Sorry - white supremacist spam has no business on this thread, and really not on my site.

Stephanie said...

Mike,

"Kolbert builds a strong case that we are approaching a point in which humans not only affect the global climate, but in which we may not be able to reverse the effects of such changes."

The fact that global warming IS happening does NOT mean we caused it. The earth has experienced global warming before without our contribution of green-house gases. This article offers no proof that we are the cause.

As a historian, could you provide information as to the fate of that island during the warm spell that allowed the Vikings to traverse waters that were supposed to be clogged with ice, but the ice was melted and thus they wreaked havoc and possibly even made it to the American continent?

How much shore-line did it have then?

Stephanie said...

I mean, by the charts I was taught in junior high (about ten years ago) half of California was supposed to be underwater now, IF our emission stayed the same. Instead, they went up and Hollywood is still enjoying it's coastal view from a reasonably safe distance.

Is there even any proof that green-house gases are even CAUSING global warming? The only "evidence" I've seen is conquencidental...they're both happening.

I don't doubt global warming is happening...it's fifty degree in January in Wisconsin, and has been consistently warm for most of the "winter." However, green-house gases and the numerous wrong "facts" I've been taught about them, don't seem to match up to much.

Personally, I think it's time for another theory.

historymike said...

I guess it really boils down to the information that you trust, Stephanie.

I have less faith that I am going to get honest information about the environment from the large corporations that create much of the world's environmental problems than I would from scientists and non-profit groups.

Lisa Renee said...

But some of the scientists don't agree with the icecap melting being related to global warming and the group that announced the discovery that plants were releasing methane were not corporate either from what I understood.

I think it's both, part of it we can't avoid because it's cycles of weather patterns like the increase in hurricanes, that goes in cycles. Part of it man has added to. The problem is how to stop it, because if the methane plant theory ends up being proven, planting more trees in areas with increased heat/sun is just going to create more methane.

It seems counterproductive to do something that might end up making things worse. However, ignoring it is not a good option either. So I am left as I was before...I'm not sure...It would be a good start for scientists to stop exaggerating the data some of them input into their computers to come up with predictions. That adds to the skepticism when you have one group come up with a doom and gloom scenario and another group come forward and state the data they used was exaggerated. If more of these groups were properly funded maybe they would not feel they had to focus on "huge" results to get research dollars and actually provide information that couldn't be disputed.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is that environmentalists have engaged in so much hyperbole over the years that it's hard to take their dire predictions seriously.

I am against anything that further degrades our ability to compete with China and Third World nations in the global economy.

MeMyselfandI

Anonymous said...

Much of the environmental rhetoric is too alarmist and negative - it focuses too much on what we're doing wrong and not enough on what we could be doing right.

We need to start seriously exploring alternatives to fossil fuels NOW! Why, after 100 years of existence, does the same internal combustion engine give us the same pathetic 10-20 MPG, when there have been quantum technological leaps in so many other areas? Corporations profiting directly from this must be examined closely and denied any future tax breaks at any levels except for deductions for investment in alternate fuel technology.

A future energy grid will require a mixture of solar, wind, geothermal, and nuclear, in addition to dwindling fossil fuels, judiciously combined into an efficient national grid. Not all areas are capable of producing all alternatives. Alaska is too geologically-active for nuclear power plants, but could be a major source of wind energy. Southern states could specialize in producing solar energy.

We must also accept another fact: We are not going to get Americans out of their cars. So, let's try steering Americans at least towards smaller, more energy-efficient, but fully driveable commuter cars. No one who commutes from Santa Clarita to an office job in downtown L.A. needs to commute in an SUV. I an not anti-SUV, but when I see so many of these 10 MPG behemoths idling in gridlock it is so wasteful. These "commuter cars" need to be equipped with AWD technology in case of unpredicted ice and snow. We can let Americans keep their cars, and even drive without carpooling, but it's ludicrous to allow people to commute back and forth to an office job in a gigantic SUV.

We need more emphasis on mass transit. We also need to restore nationwide passenger train travel to curtail the airport glut. With all the airport pre-boarding rigaramole, one can probably go from NYC to DC by train as fast as by air. I travelled by train from LA to Salt Lake as a young nipper. What a pleasant, relaxing experience. I miss it.

historymike said...

Good points, MeMyself&I. Hyperbole gets in the way of intelligent discussion, and turns many people off.

Of course, if we degrade the environment to the point where the quality of life on the planet also declines, the economy will be the least of our troubles.

Stephanie said...

mike,

"Of course, if we degrade the environment to the point where the quality of life on the planet also declines..."

I don't think that's really an if. That's a very real here-and-now issue.

Don't get me wrong, my lack in belief that global warming is man-made doesn't equal lack of caring about emissions or the environment.

All those gases that MAY be warming up our globe ARE poisoning our air, which we then breath, are less healthy, ect. Alternatives to fossil fuel are very important for economical as well as environmental reasons. We cannot sustain, indefinitely, our current use of fossil fuels. We simply can't. Nor is it healthy and wise for us to do so.

As far as a boost to our economy...what would be a greater boost making a better SUV or coming up with the technology that makes sufficient, cheap, renewable energy a reality? One's a short-term thing (what many corporations have their eye on, how can we make money NOW) and one is the long-term bread-winner. If we have that technology, sell or lease it, and have people who need help maintaining it...it's a long-term boost to our economy (more of our money stays in the US versus oil-states, more of their money comes into the US versus oil-states) from itself AND it's consequence (no more pricey oil or electric bills that shock people into turning their heat down or off in winter and their air con up or off in summer, cheaper travel means cheaper goods and services too).

There's lots of real, tangible reasons to fixate on finding a better, cleaner energy source. Global warming...if there is a consensus that could be reached, all the scientists will probably reach it (and thus be convincing) AFTER it's too late.

And personally, while I do trust individual scientists (since I know some) more than CEOs and company men, I don't trust scientists as a whole more than CEOs and company men. They each have their own agenda that doesn't include the welfare of my family (or families in general), so I see no reason to trust one over the other.

historymike said...

Great thoughts, Stephanie. I am glad this thread avoided the "liberal/conservative" trap that many conversations about the environment hinge upon, because the environmental problems we face really transcend simple partisan bickering.

Once in a while I will turn on Limbaugh, and invariably he will dedicate a segment to an environmental issue. However, he can't seem to get past his dislike of liberals to realize that everyone has a stake in protecting the environment.

Very sad.

Stephanie said...

Thank you.

I'm a conservative who believes in conserving the environment, what can I say? Linguistically it works, even it is strange in a geo-political sense.
:-)

I think, the difference, is my lack of belief in ownership of the world. I believe we, as human beings, are stewards, not owners of our environment. Besides, it's in our own best interests to take care of it.

As far as Limbaugh...ick!

Though conservative I may be, Republican I am not. I just can't stomach the whole money at all costs mentality. Thus, I support VOID.

I just hope the American populace at large realizes cooperation is more productive and gets better results than bickering before the two main parties flush this nation down the toilet.

billT said...

I'm an American and I agree like many Americans do that climate changes are occurring and they are going to effect our all our children.

As an American there is no way other than driving the best gas mileage car I can and voting against the culture of denial that permeates our government now that I can do to combat climate change.

I really do wish that people would quit blaming of Americans in general and put the blame where it really belongs on our politicians who curry the money of lobbyist.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Mike,
"...and I believe that the US needs to take the lead in environmental protection."

While I agree in principle that environmental protection is a good thing and we should indeed take the lead, I'm wondering who/what will be blamed if we do reduce our greenhouse emissions and the warming continues, which I suspect it will.

I understand about Kyoto, but I also understand that our climate has long term cycles.