Re: [asa] Subglacial Water System Moving Faster Than

From: PvM <>
Date: Mon Feb 19 2007 - 13:11:47 EST

Previously Thought
Precedence: bulk

On 2/19/07, Rich Blinne <> wrote:
> On Feb 18, 2007, at 11:57 PM, PvM wrote:
> I second Rich's concerns. It's one thing to reject policy based on
> concerns, it's quite another to reject good science. Such a position
> does a disservice to science, policy and faith. Janice has shown how
> such a position can lead to much poorly supported arguments, flawed
> logic and failure to do sufficient research.
> So why could Janice not just state that she has a problem with the
> Kyoto policy rather than having to embrace poorly supported
> 'scientific' claims. Would that not have been much simpler?
> What am I missing?

> I split the opposition into two parts those who deny that
> anthropogenic
> climate change is real -- something that is no longer
> intellectually viable


> -- and skeptics of Kyoto that has some merit. As the case has been
> building

I am not too happy with Kyoto but as is with everything involving
world wide politics, this will be a slow process. How to reduce CO2
and other greenhouse emissions in a globally fair and sustainable
manner is something that takes time. For instance China and India are
only recently starting to expand their economies (recent compared to
Western countries) and yet they feel that Kyoto restrictions reduces
their potential for growth, a growth which has already happened in
Western Europe/US.

Kyoto was based on the following agreement, which is important to

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed to a
set of a "common but differentiated responsibilities." The parties
agreed that

    1. The largest share of historical and current global emissions of
greenhouse gases has originated in developed countries;
    2. Per capita emissions in developing countries are still
relatively low;
    3. The share of global emissions originating in developing
countries will grow to meet their social and development needs

In other words, China, India, and other developing countries were
exempt from the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol because they were
not the main contributors to the greenhouse gas emissions during the
industrialization period that is believed to be causing today's
climate change.

However, critics of Kyoto argue that China, India, and other
developing countries will soon be the top contributors to greenhouse
gases. Also, without Kyoto restrictions on these countries, industries
in developed countries will be driven towards these non-restricted
countries, thus there is no net reduction in carbon.

The growth of China and India's industries needs to be facilitated
while maintaining a reduction in overall CO2, not an easy goal.

Can this be done?

<quote>Economists have been trying to analyse the overall net benefit
of Kyoto Protocol through cost-benefit analysis. Just as in the case
of climatology, there is disagreement due to large uncertainties in
economic variables.[66] Still, the estimates so far generally indicate
either that observing the Kyoto Protocol is more expensive than not
observing the Kyoto Protocol or that the Kyoto Protocol has a marginal
net benefit which exceeds the cost of simply adjusting to global
warming. A study in Nature[67] found that "accounting only for local
external costs, together with production costs, to identify energy
strategies, compliance with the Kyoto Protocol would imply lower, not
higher, overall costs."

The recent Copenhagen consensus project found that the Kyoto Protocol
would slow down the process of global warming, but have a superficial
overall benefit. Defenders of the Kyoto Protocol argue, however, that
while the initial greenhouse gas cuts may have little effect, they set
the political precedent for bigger (and more effective) cuts in the
future.[68] They also advocate commitment to the precautionary
principle. Critics point out that additional higher curbs on carbon
emission are likely to cause significantly higher increase in cost,
making such defence moot. Moreover, the precautionary principle could
apply to any political, social, economic or environmental consequence,
which might have equally devastating effect in terms of poverty and
environment, making the precautionary argument irrelevant. The Stern
Review (a UK government sponsored report into the economic impacts of
climate change) concluded that one percent of global GDP is required
to be invested in order to mitigate the effects of climate change, and
that failure to do so could risk a recession worth up to twenty
percent of global GDP.[69]

  64 : De Leo, Giulio A.; Luca Rizzi, Andrea Caizzi and Marino Gatto
(2001-10-04). "Carbon emissions: The economic benefits of the Kyoto
Protocol". Nature 413: 478-479. DOI:10.1038/35097156. Retrieved on

The third Conference of the Parties in Kyoto set the target of
reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by an average of 5.3% with respect
to 1990 values by 20082012. One of the main objections to the
protocol's ratification is that compliance would pose an unbearable
economic burden on the countries involved1. But we show here that this
is not the case if costs apart from the direct costs of energy
production are also considered. Costs are also incurred in rectifying
damage to human health, material goods, agriculture and the
environment related to greenhouse-gas emissions.

Stern report:

Full Text:

Stern Review summary:
Sir Nicholas' presentation:

Part of the problem may not be the cost of Kyoto but the belief that
this amounts to some socialist one-world government initiative.

> for anthropogenic climate change over the last two decades you see a
> shifting argument with the economic concerns being tantamount over
> everything including irrefutable scientific data. If the charge
> could be
> laid that the scientific results were skewed to obtain a particular
> policy
> outcome it would be on this side of the debate. That this is
> happening is
> not surprising because the skeptics are by and large economists
> rather than
> scientists. The best case scenario is for these economists to be co-
> opted to
> be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. The first
> thing
> that needs to be done is the good faith skeptics -- that is those
> who do not
> use denial of anthropogenic climate change as a ruse to support their
> desired policy results -- distance themselves from those who are the

I hope that all skeptics (in the economic sense) realize how they
undermine their position by embracing poor science under the guise of
'teach the controversy', to use an analogous example. In fact, I have
noticed how ID proponents also seem to correlate with global warming

> deniers. There will need to be persistence here because the good
> will has
> been exhausted and the good-faith skeptics will need to prove
> themselves.
> For example, the Bush Administration now says they believe in
> anthropogenic
> climate change but they want to while solving this problem protect the
> economy. This is a legitimate position to be staked out. The
> problem is

Indeed, and this should be a great opportunity for good policy based
on solid data.

> their association with the likes of Sen. Inhofe and Rush Limbaugh.
> Ironically, a Democratically-controlled Congress may free them from
> this
> ball and chain and allow them to make deals with Senators McCain and
> Lieberman. When Senator McCain signed the Global Legislators
> Organisation
> for a Balanced Environment Globe (Globe) agreement last week he
> said the
> following, according to the BBC:
> "I am convinced that we have reached the tipping point and that the
> Congress
> of the United States will act, with the agreement of the
> administration," he
> told the forum. [emphasis mine]That's what politicians can do, but
> I want
> focus specifically on skeptical economists because their skill set
> could be
> used to be a truly helpful force here. The IPCC was originally
> formed to
> provide expert assistance to policy makers concerning climate
> change. The
> scientific community has stepped up to the plate and done that. The
> economic
> one has not been as active. The policy makers really need solid
> models to
> make sound decisions and the models leave much to be desired --
> that is
> parts but not all of the models are inaccurate. The middle of the
> model,
> what is the direct forcing on the atmosphere given concentrations
> of GHG is
> very solid. The back end of the feedbacks is so-so with the
> majority of the
> inaccuracies happening when CO2 levels are very high. This leads us
> to the
> Achilles Heel, the front end of the model, projecting how much CO2
> humanity
> will actually produce. This is done through a series of hypothetical
> economic scenarios known as SRES. While the middle and back end
> models have
> gone through considerable improvement between TAR and AR4, SRES
> remains has
> remained unchanged and does not take into account any advances in
> economics
> knowledge since 2001. Here is one area where the economists can
> contribute
> and update these models to be more accurate. In fact, a skeptical
> eye here
> would be extremely valuable. Economists should not be playing climate
> scientist and vice versa. The only problem with this is its timeliness
> because most likely the new economic models couldn't be
> incorporated until
> the next AR somewhere around 2012.
> Which leads me to a more immediate help that skeptical economists
> can make.
> They could propose policy alternatives that improve/supplement/
> replace the
> cap and trade of Kyoto. There needs to be a follow up to Kyoto by 2012
> anyway and having all voices along the political spectrum would be
> helpful.

Good suggestion. If they are skeptic as to the nature of the Kyoto
treaty, this is an excellent time to present a 'better' policy

> Likewise, many economists reject apocalyptic scenarios on the
assumption that markets will
> develop technological solutions to the problems caused by warming
> as the demand for such
> solutions increases. The rational response today, taking this
> assumption into account, is to
> focus on incentives for new technologies rather than primarily
> focusing on disincentives for the
> old (fossil fuel) technologies.

The immediate goal is to reduce or at least slow down CO2 emissions
growth. While future technology may indeed resolve some of these
issues, it seems dangerous policy to rely solely on technology
catching up, especially without strong incentives.
While approaches by Gore and Branson to offer prizes for new
technologies will surely help, much more may be needed:

British business magnate Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin
empire, has offered a $US25 million science prize to anyone who can
come up with a cost-effective way to extract carbon from the

It's an initiative climate crusader Al Gore has backed by helping
launch the challenge in London.

The Virgin Earth Challenge offers the prize to an individual or group
who can come up with a commercially viable way of extracting one
billion tonnes of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere a year for ten

Branson said the idea was inspired by British and French technology
prizes offered in centuries past, particularly the British
government's offer in 1714 to anyone who could find a way to
accurately measure longitude eventually won 60 years later by clock
maker John Harrison.

"The earth cannot wait sixty years. We need everybody capable of
discovering an answer to put their minds to it today," Branson said.

The judging panel for the prize is Branson, Gore, Gaia-theory
scientist James Lovelock, scientist and "Weathermakers" author Tim
Flannery, NASA scientist Dr James Hansen and former British UN
ambassador Sir Crispin Tickell.

Environmental groups cautioned that the competition should not take
attention away from the need to reduce human-related emissions of
greenhouse gases in the first place.

Planktos says the answer to the challenge of large scale extraction of
carbon dioxide from the atmosphere lies in the oceans' ability to
absorb the leading greenhouse gas.

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Received on Mon Feb 19 17:33:09 2007

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