Politics and Science – Strange Bedfellows

The UN’s first international global warming summit took place  in Rio in 1992.   After two weeks of meeting a protocol for reducing global warming by slowing man-made carbon dioxide production emerged. (A SWAG if ever there was one)

In 1997 an agreement at a  meeting in Kyoto turned some of the Rio protocols into a Treaty.  The treaty was ratified by most of the countries in the world and went into effect  on February 16,2005.  The treaty will expire at the end of 2012.

The Kyoto treaty is a political agreement attempting to address a perceived science problem.  The UN is both the political body in charge of negotiations and the keeper of the science; the opportunity for mischief is almost endless.

Because the Kyoto Treaty is a political solution; it does many strange things in order to get countries to go along.  The agreement uses a 1990 base line year and allows all sorts of adjustments to that year for the various countries involved.

Kyoto mandates levels 5% below the 1990 levels for 14 developed countries and 20 other countries in transition (Russia and Eastern Europe), collectively called Annex I countries. The rest of the world is considered developing countries and they are not required to do anything.  Kyoto assumes the greenhouse gas goals will be met in 2012.

The strange nature of the Kyoto treaty begins with the list of Annex I countries.  These are the developed countries that are expected to make the sacrifices for the benefit of the group. Annex I countries include Turkey, Romania, Iceland (that recently went bankrupt), Bulgaria, Luxemburg and Liechtenstein; but not China or India, the two most populous countries in the world and two of the three largest carbon producers.

Canada (a very high per capita user) is given credit for trees, Britain credit for converting coal to natural gas because of North Sea production and Western Europe gets to count all the “dirty” stuff in Eastern Europe that they would improve or already had improved.  Australia is given credit for all the trees it destroyed in 1990 as its baseline.

The collapse of the Soviet Union completely destroyed the Soviet economy and Russia was given the benefit of the former USSR usage, Japan and Germany got carbon sinks to be counted.

The treaty is expensive.  Countries were jockeying, trying to agree to their obligations without hurting their economies too much.

Climate change politics and climate science have been intertwined since before the first Rio meeting.  This political, scientific and economic reality leads to lots of bizarre behavior.

When the individual countries first met to discuss global warming in Rio in 1992, China was  a small player.   Way back in 1992, nobody knew China was going to become the second largest economy in the world and the biggest carbon producer by far.  China was given a pass.

Sometime in 2012 or perhaps 2013, China will produce as much man-made carbon dioxide as the USA and all of Western Europe combined.  We in the west are preparing to spend huge amounts to limit a product that China is producing in abundance.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Why do Al Gore and his mentor,  James Hansen,  continue to give China a pass while bashing the USA, Germany and Britain?   Global warming politics.  Mr. Gore and Dr. Hansen are all about motivating all of us to act…and act now.

If  China can and does overwhelm anything and everything we do…..why bother?   Mr. Gore needs  all of us in the Western world to feel responsible for the horrible events he is predicting.   We will not do what he wants us to do, if we don’t feel responsible.

And he doesn’t want us to notice the mega-doses of  wild ass guessing included in his predictions.

Al Gore regularly bashes the USA for our poor environmental record and is strangely silent on China.  Mr. Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, was released in 2006.  It is full of condemnation of the USA and is almost silent on China.  While the film was in theaters, China passed the USA to become the worlds biggest man-made carbon emitter, but you’d never know it from the rhetoric displayed in the film.

James Hansen has testified against an individual new coal fired power plant in Britain, insisting that one incremental plant will do horrible harm, while standing silent as China opens a new coal plant every week.

Japan will likely be replacing Nuclear plants with coal plants because of the disaster at Fukashima.  They will probably fall short of their Kyoto obligations because of that change.  Japan will continue to have difficulty meeting Kyoto obligations in the future, and it will almost certainly impact how Japan negotiates in the future.

Wind and Solar will not work as electric base load, they are only available when mother nature cooperates.  Power utilities need predictable power…and Nuclear is the only carbon dioxide free fuel available today in large quantities.  Before the March 11, 2011 tsunami, articles about the future Nuclear world were everywhere.   Now….silence is golden.   The science hasn’t change, but the politics sure did.

Oil is a transportation fuel, wind and solar are power generation sources.    The USA uses only domestic sources for power generation (except in Hawaii) so wind power and solar have absolutely no impact on energy independence….but they are linked by politicians and environmentalists all the time.

I am sure many scientists, environmentalists, and politicians know that carbon dioxide emanating  from an automobile tailpipe will not be changed by building a wind farm in North Dakota; but the two are constantly linked together.  President Obama did just that last week.  He brought up renewable energy efforts while touting his energy policy in an effort to tap dance around high gasoline prices.

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