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Kyoto's Quiet Anniversary

Global warming alarmists marked the Kyoto Protocol’s first anniversary in subdued fashion this week. The treaty so far has been a failure and its future doesn’t appear much brighter.

As tallied up at JunkScience.com courtesy of the global warmers’ own data, Kyoto is estimated to have cost about $150 billion so far, while only hypothetically reducing the average global temperature by 0.0015 degrees Centigrade.

At that rate, it would take 667 years and cost $100 trillion to hypothetically avert just 1 degree Centigrade of global warming.

But such infinitesimal estimates of averted global warming would only apply, of course, if Kyoto’s signatories actually complied with its provisions. They are finding it virtually impossible to even do that.

Kyoto obligates the European Union to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent from 1990-levels by 2012. But the European Environmental Agency projects that EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 will be 7 percent above the 1990 levels.

The Russian news agency Novosti took a charitably long-term view of Kyoto noting, “Many people question the effect of the measures outlined by the Kyoto Protocol on the climate. Today, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is approximately 370 PPM (units of these gases per million units of the air).

"In 2012, as compared with the base year of 1990, their concentration will increase by 18 PPM, if the Kyoto measures are not carried out, or by 16-17 PPM, if they are implemented. It transpires that the effect of these measures on the climate is a mere 1-2 PPM. This fact allows the critics of the Kyoto Protocol to describe it as ineffective. But experts maintain that a reduction by even 1 PPM is quite good, considering that the task of stabilizing greenhouse emissions in the atmosphere has been set for a hundred years, not for five.”

I doubt that world leaders, however, will perpetually sacrifice 2 percent or more of their nations’ annual economic growth, year after year, for no tangible benefits.

While Kyoto’s failure may be news to the public, it’s not to former vice president and global-warmer-in-chief Al Gore, who smugly admitted on Jan. 4 at a political gathering that included yours truly, “Did we think Kyoto would work when we signed it [in 1997]?... Hell no!”

Gore explained that the actual point of Kyoto was to demonstrate that international support could be mustered for action on the environment – quite an expensive political exercise.

A year into Kyoto, global warmers seem to be focusing more on melodrama than science.

There’s NASA scientist Jim Hansen’s claim, first reported in the New York Times, that the agency is trying to “silence” him by asking to preview his lectures, papers and Internet postings before he goes public. To Hansen, this “seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States.”

Hyperbole aside, Hansen cannot credibly claim to have been censored on global warming. He first sounded the climate alarm in 1988 congressional testimony and has since been quite outspoken on the topic. He gives more speeches than the agency’s head, according to NASA.

Hansen’s problem isn’t that anyone is trying to silence him; it’s that he has a track record of being wrong – for example, overestimating 1990s warming by 200 percent.

Then there’s the new Al Gore movie – a documentary production of his global warming lecture and slide show – that was recently screened at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie’s promotional material features penguins trekking as in the hit documentary “March of the Penguins” – but across a desert rather than Antarctic ice.

To those unfamiliar with the global warming controversy, Gore’s one-sided movie may appear compelling. Pictures of melting glaciers, ominous temperature graphs and cartoons for the science-impaired – one features Mister Sunbeam trapped by the Greenhouse Gas bullies – give the impression that the planet is doomed unless we cede control to global warming alarmists.

“We are recklessly, mindlessly destroying the Earth. As Lincoln said, ‘We must disenthrall ourselves. And then we will save our country.’ And our planet,” Gore said in a statement.

“Reckless” and “mindless” are certainly some of the terms that occurred to me after watching Gore’s slide show. Some glaciers are receding, but others (omitted from his slides) are advancing. No one knows what causes glaciers to advance and retreat – the physics are complex and much more is involved than simply air temperature.

University of Virginia climatologist Pat Michaels points out, for example, that, “Glaciers [in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska] have been receding ever since John Muir first publicized them in the 19th century” – well before the advent of significant manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

Gore’s graphs imply that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide historically have preceded increases in global temperature. But a 2005 study in the journal Science reported that higher temperatures may actually have preceded increased carbon dioxide levels in the past – the opposite of the global warming hypothesis.

Were that fact mentioned in Al Gore’s movie, the Kyoto Protocol might not survive its second anniversary.


Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience .com and CSRWatch .com. He is a junk science expert, an advocate of free enterprise and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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