Global Warming, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Global Economy

Global Warming, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Global Economy

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Global Warming, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Global Economy

     As the amount of greenhouse gas emissions increases a plan of action has been introduced, know as the "Kyoto Protocol." As of July 2002 seventy-six of earth's one-hundred ninety countries have agreed to cut their emissions under the "Kyoto Protocol." However, only Japan has set some goals, that currently seem unattainable. Many people and businesses are opposed the Kyoto Protocol.

     Climate change is a serious, global, long-term issue that must be addressed immediately. Everyone must do their part to have a discernable impact on the decrease of greenhouse gasses (GHG) around the world. Many fear that Alberta has much to lose, economically. Albertans have much to lose if emissions are forced to be cut, many businesses will be forced to find new and expensive ways to produce or refine their products which will raise the cost to Albertans and people around the world. Or if they cannot meet the requirements of Kyoto or any other plan they may be forced to close down completely putting many people out of Jobs. If Alberta chooses to accept the terms of "Kyoto or the Alberta Climate Change Plan," The cost for such commodities such as electricity, water, gasoline, and natural gas, could increase by almost 40% by 2002. With the cost of living already on the rise and with even more expected. many Canadians, especially young Canadians that are paying off student loans. With such a small job market these protocol's threaten the job market even further, and most will not be able to afford survive.

     However according to Accu-Weather, the world's leading commercial forecaster, "global air temperature's as measured by land-based weather stations only show an increase of O.45 degrees Celsius over the past century. This may be nothing more than normal climatic variation. Satellite data indicate a slight cooling in the climate in the last 18 years. These satellites use advanced technology and are not subject to the "heat island" effect around major cities that alters ground-based thermometers.

     Projections of future climate changes are uncertain. Although some computer models predict warming in the next century, these models are very limited. The effects of cloud formations, precipitation, the role of the oceans, or the sun, are still not well known and often inadequately represented in the climate models --- although all play a major role in determining our climate. Scientists who work on these models are quick to point out that they are far from perfect representations of reality, and are probably not advanced enough for direct use in policy implementation.

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Interestingly, as the computer climate models have become more sophisticated in recent years, the predicted increase in temperature has been lowered.

     Many say that humans are a contributing factor in the production of greenhouse gas emissions yet, over 98% of greenhouse gasses are natural (mostly water vapor); only 2% are from man-made sources. By most accounts, man-made emissions have had no more than a minuscule impact on the climate. Although the climate has warmed slightly in the last 100 years, 70% percent of that warming occurred prior to 1940, before the upsurge in greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes. (Dr. Robert C. Balling, Arizona State University.) By most accounts, man-made emissions have had no more than a minuscule impact on the climate. Although the climate has warmed slightly in the last 100 years, 70% percent of that warming occurred prior to 1940, before the upsurge in greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes.

     The idea that global warming would melt the ice caps and flood coastal cities seems to be mere science fiction. A slight increase in temperature -- whether natural or mankind induced -- is not likely to lead to a massive melting of the earth ice caps, as sometimes claimed in the media. Also, sea-level rises over the centuries relate more to warmer and thus expanding oceans, not to melting ice caps. Contrary to some groups' fear mongering about the threat of diseases, temperature changes are likely to have little effect on the spread of diseases. Experts say that deterioration in public health practices such as rapid urbanization without adequate infrastructure, forced large scale resettlement of people, increased drug resistance, higher mobility through air travel, and lack of insect-control programs have the greatest impact on the spread of vector-borne diseases.

     Because of the devastating effects that global warming policies will have on economic growth, the treaty that was discussed in Kyoto in December 1997 currently excludes developing nations. However, the US Senate has voted 95-0 against supporting a treaty that doesn’t include developing nations. Other developed nations have followed the US including Australia and France.

     According to a report by the Department of Energy, in the US stringent targets to reduce fossil-fuel emissions in the US will cause energy-intensive industries, including steel, iron, chemical, rubber and plastic, to flee from the developed countries to undeveloped countries, taking with them hundreds of thousands of jobs. Carbon taxes will cause relatively large income losses in the poorest one-fifth of the population. The poor, because they spend a greater proportion of their income on necessities, would have few ways to cut back to compensate for higher living costs. The burden would fall on many individuals and families and would be unfair in that it would be quite unrelated to income, wealth or ability to pay. Instead, the burden would be determined by energy use patterns and circumstances, such as distance from work, condition and energy efficiency of homes, automobiles, and appliances. Senior citizens on fixed incomes would find their energy costs escalating and their income dwindling.

     By all estimates, only severe reductions in global CO2 emissions (on the order of 60 percent or more,) will alter the computer forecasts. The resulting economic dislocations would be tremendous, potentially outweighing the negative impacts of even the most apocalyptic warming scenario. If the policies do not include developing nations the result will likely be a reallocation of emissions to developing nations, not a reduction of emissions.

     If the entire world is included in the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol and CO2 emissions are severely restricted, the science is not clear what impact, if any, it would have on the world’s climate. But out attention must be focused in a new direction, to prevent possible problems in the future. Kyoto has prompted the change we need to undertake as a global community. Remember: Kyoto is putting your job, your taxes, and your standard of living are all at stake.
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