Phil Bradley observes a nasty combination: voodoo science allied to voodoo economics
The European Parliament’s adoption last week, of ‘the world’s first Kyoto Protocol mandated multi-national emissions trading scheme (ETS) covering greenhouse gases’ gives me an opportunity to rail against the biggest government instigated boondoggle in the history of the world – namely the Kyoto Climate Change Protocol. Yes, it still rumbles along, destroying prodigious amounts of wealth without producing any measurable benefit. 117 countries are now signatories, although it has no material effect on most of them, except to funnel some money from rich countries into projects of dubious value. The latest signatory is Switzerland, who, reading between the lines, did so under pressure from the EU.
No one really knows how much Kyoto is costing, or how much it would cost were it to be fully implemented, which it never will be. All we do know is that it both reduces growth and diverts resources into economically pointless activities. This link estimates that by 2010, Kyoto will cost the UK around US$35 billion a year, and result in the permanent loss of half a million jobs. Reams of left-wing econo-babble has been written on how Kyoto will actually increase investment in windmills or whatever and stimulate economies. The simple fact remains that any increase in resources to produce the same result necessarily makes us poorer.
The Kyoto Protocol is an object lesson in what happens when you combine agenda-driven leftists with some dodgy science, a media that is mostly ignorant about most things, and politicians who want to be moral and righteous irrespective of the cost to the taxpayer. Bring them together in a UN sponsored framework that is not accountable to anyone, and you have the right formula for this madness.
Climate change is something I have been interested in for long time. In part, it probably stemmed from spending my childhood playing in the woods and fields situated on a glacial terminal moraine that marked the southern limit of last great ice advance across England. I recall being suitably awestruck when someone explained to me that 10,000 years earlier, where I was standing was the edge of a great ice sheet that stretched all the way to the North Pole.
Climate changes, has always changed and will always change. While we have an imperfect understanding of the mechanisms underlying the changes, we do have accurate data on the climate cycles themselves. These cycles vary from a few years to many thousands of years, and perhaps millions of years. To take England as an example, since the Norman Conquest, the climate has varied from about as warm as the south of France, to about as cold as south central Sweden. The last century has been more or less in the middle of the range for the last thousand years.
The weather is something people can relate to. It is immediate – they can see and feel it, and it affects their lives. In particular, extreme weather can be very disruptive to people’s lives. The Left is always on the lookout for anti-capitalist issues. When some scientists started to suggest that man-made increases in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were causing a warming trend in the climate, then it did not take long for the media to start publishing alarmist stories of super-hurricanes, floods and droughts of biblical proportions, rising sea levels flooding whole countries, and wholesale extinctions of animal and bird species. It made great copy on a subject people were interested in, and was written by self-styled environmental correspondents. Most of whom graduated in media studies or similar and could not pass a basic high school science exam.
A number of unusually hot summers in North America have now given way to a number of unusually cold winters, in line with a well-understood short-term climate cycle. It also appears that much of the widely publicized increase in global temperatures over the 20th century was a measuring artifact due to most measurement points being in urban areas that are getting warmer for reasons that have nothing to do with global warming. Anyone interested can find more information here.
In the mean time, global warming was ‘clearly’ a problem for the whole world and of course that well-known fixer of the world’s problems, the United Nations, got into the act, resulting in Kyoto. Even if the world were facing a global catastrophe (and don’t imagine for a moment that it is), Kyoto doesn’t fix the problem. All it does, in line with left-wing agendas, is hobble developed countries with huge costs, it does nothing to limit the fastest growing carbon emitters – the developing world, and picks a ludicrously arbitrary target of some percentage of carbon emissions in a particular year for a country, and for which there has never been any scientific justification. If atmospheric CO2 really were a problem, then probably the only way to fix it would be to build a massive infrastructure to scrub CO2 from the atmosphere. Of course, it is not a real problem and Kyoto is not a real solution.
Of the countries that are affected by the Kyoto Protocols (and most are not), the USA has, as usual, taken the most rational approach, and rejected it outright. Japan has decided that compliance will be voluntary – what ever that means. In both Canada and Australia, Kyoto remains deeply controversial. Australia has yet to ratify it, and while Canada has, there is still substantial resistance from the provinces (you would think Canada would be in favour of some climate warming). Which leaves Europe left holding the UN’s baby, valiantly trying to save the world by implementing Kyoto, and in the process impoverishing its citizens. As usual!