We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Europe is left holding the UN’s Kyoto baby

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!

Phil Bradley

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

46 comments to Europe is left holding the UN’s Kyoto baby

  • Dale Amon

    I agree the issue has gotten heavily politicized. However I do believe the warming is real, and if it is not, there are some very basic issues that have to be settled to explain “why not?”

    There is absolutely no doubt that humans have become a significant carbon source with no corresponding carbon sink. Natural mechanisms still dominate but we’re definitely in the game.

    CO2 is also without a doubt a greenhouse gas.

    Based on the amounts released over the industrial era, there should be a significantly larger change in atmospheric C02 (and consequently temperatue) than there actually has been. Much research has been going into hunting down the missing sink. Many think it is being temporarily sequestered in the oceans.

    Under most scenarios we should expect a gradual warming which causes a gradual shift in climate and a gradual rise in ocean levels. The rates of change are on a longer time scale than that of property amortization: something the left never mentions. Basically that means that it will make FA difference in capitalist countries. Some will win and some will lose: if you happen to guess in advance where the new beach front property will be when we reach a new stability, you could win really big.

    The losers are some of the kleptocratically governed 3rd world nations who will have a major land loss or climate turn over without the advanced capital markets to spread the risk and loss over time and generations. The leadership will win, their populations will get the usual shaft. And of course, we’ll get the blame.

    Some nations will just be plain screwed though, capitalist or not. Bangladesh will mostly disappear under the waves. We’d better start thinking about where that 100 million or so people are going to migrate because they will, like it or not.

    Some of the Pacific island nations will simply become undersea mounts until the corals grow a bit. Should only take a couple millenia that.

    The worst case is if the Clathrates go. Deep waters have absolutely enormous pools of a sort of sludgy/ice made of CO2 and some other gases. If the temperatue of the water around them rises to a certain very sharp threshold, the simply… become gas again. A *lot* of gas. Enough that a ship traveling over them at the time would *fall* to the bottom…

  • Phil Bradley

    Dale, I agree with most of what you say, and any increase in greenhouse gases will at least in the short-term have a warming effect. The issue is, how large is that effect in relation to climate changes due to other sources. There is no evidence that the effect is more than a small proportion of the changes from other sources.

    Under most scenarios we should expect a gradual warming which causes a gradual shift in climate and a gradual rise in ocean levels.

    I disagree! The evidence points to warming/cooling cycles that pre-date large scale human release of CO2 will be the primary determinant of whether climates warm or cool.

    Human release of CO2 may push the world past some tipping point and result in rapid global warming, but there is no evidence to-date that this has occured. Nor is there any evidence that Kyoto will stop it, should it occur.

  • I’m not sure if warming is real, though I did think do at one time. However, the complete avoidance, if not outright hostility, to geoengineering — such as the Geritol Solution — by environmental groups has made me think we should do nothing until they will accept geoengineering as part of any solution. If it’s real.

  • Phil Bradley

    Sorry Dale, I’m not picking on you, but everyone brings up the Bangladesh example and it really irks me.

    Sea levels have been rising at a very steady rate for as long as we have been accurately measuring them. There is *no* evidence that the rate is increasing due to rising CO2 levels. In addition we know for sure that large parts of Bangladesh are sinking because of a well-understood geological process that we can do *nothing* to stop.

  • Guy Herbert

    All true, Phil, but there’s another, more damning, point made by Bjorn Lomborg: the Kyoto protocol is utterly useless in its own terms, because the model on which it is based implies that it only delays the global warming process by a few years.

    It is hard to comprehend why this simple idea has been ignored by almost all soi-disant environmentalists. Unless it is that their enthusiasm for punishment and telling people what to do outweighs their concern for doing something useful. (There is an honourable, if loopy, contingent of back-to-the-stone-age greenies who are prepared to call a halt to all combustion, now.)

  • Canada’s participation is controversial for a number of reasons. Certain western provinces are major producers of fossil fuels (almost all of which is either consumed domestically or sold to the US) and aren’t very pleased with the idea of curbs in consumption of such things. But you’ve got leftists there, Canada’s equivalent of America’s Berkeleyites, for whom no expense is too great as long as the cause is noble and someone else is paying the bill.

    Of course, under Kyoto Canada may actually be a net sink of CO2 because of its forests. Except that if the population of beavers in Canada continues to rise, they may undo a lot of that, so to avoid absurd expense they may have to start shooting the little buggers.

    And, of course, Canada must always demonstrate that it is different from the US. Since the US kissed off Kyoto entirely, obviously that means Canada is compelled to be a participant.

    North America is politically simpler than Europe, but we make up for that in other ways.

  • By the way, there’s been some interesting studies done which are relevant. They take advantage of the fact that there are actually two isotopes of oxygen in the atmosphere, and the proportion of them present in snow and certain other things changes as a function of temperature. So they’ve done isotopic analysis of the layers in ice cores from the Greenland icecap, as well as doing analysis of cores taken from the ocean bottom in the north Atlantic.

    What they found is that there’s a fairly constant cycle of temperature changes which is about 1500 years long, which seems to be due to a long term cycle in the output of heat from the Sun. In the recent past, it hit its trough during the period known in Europe as the “little Ice age”, and began warming up about 1700. Based on the historical record of previous cycles, it’s expected to continue warming for about the next hundred years, and then to cool for about a thousand years and hit another trough about the year 3100.

    Which means that there’s non-trivial reason to believe that the coincidence of warming now and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution may well be total coincidence. (Actually not; the beginnings of warm weather and improvements in agricultural yield appear to have helped kick off European economic activity which may have helped start the Industrial Revolution. If so, it would mean that cause and effect are completely backward: global warming cause the Industrial revolution and not the other way around.)

    The evidence for this long term solar cycle appears to be quite solid, but you don’t hear a lot about it because if it’s true it would pretty much ruin the case for those whose agenda is to stifle the economic activity of the wealthy nations so as to let the poor nations “catch up”. (Because this is the real purpose of the Kyoto treaty; it was never really about global warming.)

    And just in passing, what this means is that Dale is wrong: it is not at all certain that the earth would not be warming up now even if we were not releasing any CO2 at all. Indeed, it is not at all certain that the CO2 we’re releasing is actually involved in any way.

  • Jacob

    You must give credit where it belongs – the main architect of this Kyoto idiocy was Al Gore (when he was VP). Seems even Clinton was too smart to buy this nonesense and did nothing to ratify Kyoto.

  • Phil Bradley

    Guy, I haven’t read Bjorn Lomborg’s book – shame on me I hear its very good – but a similar argument occured to me.

  • Ben

    There are three points to the whole “global warming” thing.

    1) Temperatures are rising worldwide.
    2) This is caused by man made industry and farming
    3) This is a bad thing.

    None of these things have been conclusively proven. For every acre lost due to rising water, more becomes arable further north. Besides which, there is a “corresponding Carbon sink” in the forms of plantlife. If we put more CO2 in the air, what is preventing plants from breathing this and getting bigger?

  • Phil Bradley

    Steven, One thing I found out after I wrote the article is that most of the increase in temperature that did occur in the 20th century predated most of the increase in CO2 levels. In fact there is a strong negative correlation, that effectively precludes causation. http://www.wuss.org/Conference/papers/DA09.pdf

    This is good evidence that rising temperatures are causing (through some unknown mechanism) the rising CO2 levels, which of course totally blows Kyoto out of the water.

  • Not a single environmental scientist to date has been able to answer this question for me:

    If the sea temperature warms up, the ice caps melt. At first, it will just be the fringes around Antarctica and the North Pole that melt. This ice is floating (as indeed is all of the ice at the North Pole). When floating ice is melted, the level of the water in which it is floating drops, due to the volume of melted water being less than the displaced volume of water when the ice was still ice. So my question is if the fringes of Antarctica melted, along with the entire North Pole, how come the sea levels would rise?

    I am not convinced that they would. The North Pole displaces more water than the volume of water which it contains (simple physics – density is less if it floats). Should this melt, the resulting meltwater would be less than the volume which the ice displaced. This can only result in a drop in sea levels.

  • T. Hartin

    I find it tooth-grindingly annoying when otherwise ntelligent people start spouting enivor-wacko gibberish.

    First, there is no conclusive evidence that any kind of wide-scale warming trend is underway. The satellite data shows that it is not. The ground-based data shows that it is. Honest scientists are in arguing over the why this is, with much ink being spilled on the subject of urban heat islands.

    Second. There is no such thing as a global average temperature. Temperature fluctuates constantly across time and space, and an honest physicist will tell you that it is impossible in principle to calculate an average temperature for the entire globe. What this means is that temperatures are rising here, falling there, etc., but the constant mantra of the global warming weenies about the whole planet heating up is, strictly speaking, gibberish.

    Third. No one has been able to put together a model for climate change that is not hopelessly flawed, and the proper role of models in any event is not prediction but explanation. Thus, saying that the latest model shows temperatures rising 10 degrees by the end of the centure is nonsense. Climate is, technically, a chaotic system. That means it cannot be predicted longterm. Period.

    Fourth. No one knows how climate works. It is incredibly complex, and CO2 is one variable that is probably not even in the top three or four when it comes to heat retention. Sun, water vapor, particulates, albedo, etc. are probably all at least as important.

    The whole foundation for Kyoto is rotten to the core, and it is a sad commentary on the degree to which scientists are willing to be bought and paid for in wholesale lots that it hasn’t been laughed out of court already. But, there is way too much grant money to be harvested cranking out papers which take this fiasco seriously, so off we go.

  • S. Weasel

    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.

    Not quite as rational as I’d hoped. As usual, we did the right thing…sort of.

    The Bush administration rejected Kyoto, but came up with an alternative plan to reduce US CO2 output. This makes it look like we believe the framers of Kyoto are right, but we’re too selfish to accept their terms. The answer wanted was, “we reject this treaty because the terms are punishing, the result is uncertain, and the science behind it is, frankly, pretty shaky.”

  • Dale Amon

    The Antarctic ice sheets are indeed grounded, which is why water levels will rise if they melt. One shelf looks quite securely grounded; another is showing serious signs of becoming ungrounded. Whether this is part of a natural cycle or not, it looks set to happen. It’s a very large amount of water.

    I don’t expect the rest of Antarctica to go melting off any time soon.

    There are also some worries about the Greenland cap, but I’d have to actually go searching for the data. I do know there has been enough of a meltoff to increase the fresh water flowing into the North Atlantic. Densities of fresh and saline water are different and it takes a long time for them to equalize. There is a circulation pattern involved with this which also impacts how far north the Gulf Stream moves.

    Personally, I think the smart move is to estimate what the water rise is (I don’t care what you believe the cause is) and buy up a lot of future beachfront. You’ll make a killing.

  • Jacob

    You’ll be better off betting on the horses than trying to make a killing by predicting the weather or the ocean level 50 years ahead.

  • veryretired

    The warming “crisis”, like so many of the repeated doomsday scares of the last few decades, gets its legs from the convergence of three distinct trends in our culture.

    First is the pervasive anti-capitalist mentality that runs through the intellectual and artistic communities. This goes back to the 19th Century, has its antecedents on both the right and the left, and provides a set of assumptions about the dangers of industrial capitalism that undergirds any number of variations on the theme of “we better watch those capitalists, or they’ll enslave/destroy us all”. This mindset is impervious to to evidence, reason, or rational arguement. It is a modern religion, complete with saints, devils, and revealed wisdom.

    Second is the continuing descent of the media circus to ever lower levels of tabloid sensationalism as more and more channels, magazines, and publishers look for “the next big story” which will let them scream about doomsday. If there’s no war, or Iran hostage story, and OJ hasn’t killed anyone lately, then the end of life as we know it is pretty sexy. Just keep it simple, for the peasants, and don’t bother with a lot of complex scientific stuff that no one understands anyway, like the fallability of computer modeling.

    Third is the enormous amount of money available to research if it”s high profile enough. And what could be more high profile than the end of the world. The scientific community has an insatiable appetite for money, and if you are going to convince the EPA or NASA or any one of the hundreds of government agencies that fund research to give you lots of money, you need a hot topic (no pun intended). For big computer modelers, nothing is bigger and hotter than global warming.

    The end result is “The Litany”, a list of assertions that continue to be referred to as fact long after any possible scientific justifcation has evaporated. Until it is made clear to the voting public that the issue is power and control, not the environment, those who continue to sell doomsday will continue to set the agenda.

  • Byna

    I see some misconceptions on what will (theroetically) cause the oceans to rise.

    1st, I think that humans are contributing to GW, and I think that Kyoto is garbage and I’m glad the US did not ratify it.

    The oceans will rise due to the increased temperatures. The extra water from the melting glaciers will have little effect. If the ice is floating, it will have minimal effect, and since 99% of the water is already in the oceans, putting all sources of fresh water into the oceans could only have a small effect on the level.

    The actual cause of rising ocean levels would be the temperature change. Liquids such as water change their volume based on their temperature. While this effect is not as great as it is for a gas, over the entire depth of the ocean the effect can be seen. Increase the average temperature of the ocean by 1 degree and the volume will visibly increase the ocean level.

    Here is a completed example of volume change.

    Here is an experiment that can be run to see the effect for yourself.

  • Dave

    If the ice is floating, it will have minimal effect,

    Most of the ice is locked in areas like the Ross Ice Shelf which isn’t floating but holding back many giga-tonnes of ice on the antartic shelf.

    If that were to collapse, which is what some cliamte models have happening, you’ve enough there for a several metre rise in sea level.

    You are right to say that ice like we find in the Artic won’t make much difference as its already in the water. The real killer is the Antartic ice shelves.

    Not to mention the problems shipping is going to have as they break up like a part of one did last year.

  • Jacob

    I’ve read somewhere that, while some ice on the Antarctic shelf is breaking loose, the overall thicknes of the ice cap on the Antarcitc continent is increasing, not diminishing, i.e. more ice is beeing locked atop the continent than is released into the sea.
    That “several meters” rise in sea level seems to me a gross exageration, but maybe I’m not well enough informed.

  • Here are a couple of things that I discovered while doing a bit of research.

    Mt. Krakatoa. It blew around 150 years ago, sending out shockwaves strong enough to circle the globe seven and a half times. It took an entire large island and reduced it to a few small lumps sticking out of the water. Massive amounts of dust, CO, CO2 and other gasses were sent into the atmosphere. The results? Lower tempatures for a decade or so.

    Mt. Pinatubo in the Philipenes. When that blew it put more CO and CO2 into the air than ALL OF MANKINDS ACTIVITY, EVER. The result? Slight climate change for 3-7 years.

    Two cataclysmic events, which effected the global climate for years, and yet the globe balanced itself out. Tell me again how humans can even match the damage done by those two eruptions/explosions?

    And last, when I was stationed in Kansas, I found out that the Mississippi River had massive floods every 21 years. Anyone in the midwest over the past few decades will remember the 1993 floods. Well, guess what? They had floods like that in 1972, and 1951, so on and so forth. All the precious scientists couldn’t tell me why. They could tell me how, but they couldn’t tell me why.

    Let me re-state this one more time. They. Could. Not. Tell. Me. Why. That. River. Flooded. Every. Twentyone. Years.

    If these people can’t figure out WHY a damn river floods every twentyone years, why the hell should I listen to their shrieks about global warming? They can’t figure out something relativly simple, yet I’m suppose to believe that they have this great complex several hundred year climate model all figured out? As my buddy would say, “That’s nuthin but bullshit.”

  • David Mercer

    Nothing but bullshit indeed…recall that in the 70’s everyone was crowing about the next Ice Age!

    The only bit that has me concerned at all is that we MIGHT be marginally increasing our move over a warming tipping point that triggers the next Ice Age, as some models of how that cycle goes predict. So the biggest danger from the (unproved) human caused warming could be it triggering cooling.

    But no one has constructed a computer model yet that can accurately account for the last 100 years of measured climate, let along predict anything AT ALL on a large time scale, so they are indeed pissing in the wind, and Kyoto is indeed about power and control.

  • G Cooper

    I spend as much time as I possibly can in a rural part of England, by the coast. Knowing what the weather is going to be, judging when I can slide out of the city and enjoy ‘real life’, is important to me, so I pay very particular attention to the weather forecast. Obligingly (or not, considering how much of my taxes it consumes) the Met Office provides quite localised weather forecasts, which I regularly consult.

    They are crap. Frequently, they are almost totally unreliable. Every single day for the past week, for example, they have been wrong for the area I monitor. Last year I wrote and complained, receiving obfuscatory bullshit as a response.

    And yet this self-same Meteorological Office pretends to understand the earth’s climate and be able to predict ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’?

    If weather ‘scientists’ are incapable of predicting the weather 24 hours ahead, why do we pay them the slightest attention when they get up on their hind legs and yap at us about what may, or may not, happen in even six weeks time, let alone 20 years?

    The entire outbreak of global warming hysteria has been a triumph of Leftist hair-shirt, misanthropy. Earlier, someone suggested this movement began in the 19th Century. It did not. To find the roots of both this and the nonsense that grew into socialism and then communism, you need to study the English Civil War and some of the more lunatic ideas that sprung from the traumatised ranks of the New Model Army and the Mujahadeen of the Protestant revolutionaries who gave poor Oliver Cromwell such a rough time.

    Before that, look to the history of the 16th Century ‘Reformation’ in European Christianity.

    Combine Christian notions of ‘original sin’ with resentment against a ‘ruling class’ with terror of change and yet an urgent yearning for it and you have the wellspring of a psychopathology, the resonances of which we are still grappling with today.

    ‘Man-made global warming’ is just psuedo-scientific anabaptist claptrap until they are able to prove it.

    And no. Computer ‘models’ will *not* do.

  • Even if global warming is real, Kyoto is shit. I’m glad we — the U.S. — abandoned that treaty. As another poster pointed out, Lomborg said it would delay maximum temperature by SIX years, using the enviro’s data. Kyoto will costs trillions to implement. As if Europe didn’t have enough to worry about with their median age shooting to 52 by the year 2050, from 37 now.

    Regarding President Bush’s commitment in reducing emissions, it was minimal. He committed to reducing the amount of CO2 per unit of GDP starting next decade. I doubt even that will happen.

  • Phil Bradley

    Regarding President Bush’s commitment in reducing emissions, it was minimal. He committed to reducing the amount of CO2 per unit of GDP starting next decade. I doubt even that will happen.

    There is a long term trend in Western economies, for the energy input for each unit of GDP to decline by about a half percent per annum (from memory). In an economy where energy is produced from fossil fuels this will result in a similar reduction in CO2 emission per unit of GDP.

    So Bush can keep his commitment by doing precisely nothing. My kind of politician!

  • Kodiak

    G Cooper,

    What I can tell you is you don’t need no scientist to see that the Atlantic is gaining at least one meter yearly in the Gulf of Biscaye (or Gascogne, whatever).

    The dunes collapse into the ocean. In addition, the heavy steady westwards winds blow off what’s remaining.

    I don’t know if it’s due to global warming or to a change in the northeastern Gulf Stream shape or strength. But something’s rotten in the kingdom of Denmark.

    Greenhouse gas can either be natural: water vapour (H2O), CO2, methane (CH4 = natural gas for cooking), protoxyde of azote (N2O = hilarious gas) & ozone (O3),
    or artificial (halocarbures, hydrocarbures).

    The most greenhousish gas are water steam (55%) & CO2 (40%) >>> that’s 5% left for the rest (natural + artificial).

    For all the above-mentioned gas, & whatever the source of pollution (although wells + sea & air international taffic are not taken into account), the USA is undeniably the greatest polluting agent on Earth. It has the highest pollution per capita rate & the highest polluting growth rate…

    I don’t know if Kyoto was a farce or not. But what I know is for such matters as pollution, multilateralism only is needed (just like in Iraq where the US is now starting to ask for help in Europe).

  • Julian Morrison

    Warming doesn’t matter regardless. Worst case scenario, seas rise, inland areas become more lush and productive. People move, or build sea walls. Big effing deal.

  • Doug Collins

    One thing that is almost always missing from a discussion of global warming and CO2 is any idea of how much CO2 we are actually talking about. Kodiak is the only one who has mentioned a number so far and his 40% of greenhouse gas is wildly inaccurate.

    At the end of WWII the total percent of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere was about 0.22%. I believe it is now about 0.25%. That is ONE QUARTER OF ONE PERCENT. The actual increase that is causing all the fuss is 0.0003 of the total atmosphere!

    I don’t know how much of the atmosphere is water vapor, but if Kodiak is right it has to be very very low to have a 40%-55% ratio with CO2. It is probably not even that dry in Iraq.

    The idea that a minor constituent of the atmosphere has such a major effect when much bigger factors are ignored (many computer models ignore water vapor because it is very difficult to model) makes these results worthless.

    One further question that I have never been able to answer to my own satisfaction has been: How and where is atmospheric CO2 measured? As far as I have been able to determine, the measurements going back to WWII were all made at an atmospheric observatory on the slopes of Mauno Loa. The flank of an active volcano doesn’t strike me as a good place to get an unbiased CO2 sample. I have asked “Where else?” many times of self professed experts and have never gotten another answer. If any of you know of another measuring station I would be interested in hearing about it. Do their results match Mauno Loa?

  • Adam

    Steven raises an interesting point that often gets lost in the Kyoto debate. North America is a net carbon absorber, Europe is not. How can this be? The U.S. is the world’s number one polluter as Kodiak points out.

    Well, thank technology. In 1930 the U.S. lost 52 million acres of forest to fire. During the last decade that number has fluctuated between 2 and 7 million acres. The decrease in forest fires can be attributed to the advances in fire suppression during that time.

    In addition, the threat of urban sprawl has not manifested itself. Satellite images show that urban and suburban areas account for only 1.7% of the total landmass of the continental U.S. The combination of population density and fire suppression has allowed for forestland to grow for the past century, with new timber growth outpacing timber cutting by greater and greater rates.

    Oil is the favorite demon of enviros. But, oil is less carbon intense than the favorite fuel of third-world countries- wood. Oil replaced coal, which replaced wood as the primary energy source for the west. Technological evolution has given us and will continue giving us less carbon intense fuels.

  • Adam

    One more thing- Raging Dave’s post reminded me of great comeback when enviros ask “Aren’t you worried about the cataclysmic results of global warming?” Ask them if they are worried about Yellowstone Park. Let the befuddlement set in for a moment and explain to them that there are such things as calderas, or “supervolcanoes”. They are essentially giant lakes of magma which reside just below the surface.

    There are three known supervolcanoes in the world. The last one to erupt is in Indonesia. When it went off 74,000 years ago it nearly eliminated the human species. Volcanoes emit debris into the atmosphere, blocking the sun, resulting in a cooler climate. When a supervolcano erupts, it results in a nuclear winter without the radiation.

    The Yellowstone caldera is several times the size of the Indonesian supervolcano. It erupts every 600,000 years, give or take a few thousand years. The last time it went off was 630,000 years ago.

    We may face a cataclysmic environmental event in our lifetimes, but I doubt it will be global warming.

  • Kodiak

    Adam: as you said, steady massive deforrestation has surely a greater impact on greenhouse stuff than oil operating (although some studies claim the opposite to be true >>> see below). But combining both isn’t good news, as afr as climatology is concerned.

    Doug Collins: I don’t know what to think about the datas about the water vapour/CO2 impact on greenhousing. I found new ones stating that anthropic CO2 is by far the most important factor on greenhouse effect (although I thought it was water vapour). They say natural CO2 in the atmosphere accounts for 0,03 % of the total atmospheric volume. They add that anthropic CO2 is accountable for 2/3 of the warming caused by human activity (CO2 sources being: energy use = 80 %, deforrestation = 17 % & cement (or concrete?) production = 3%).
    So apparently they put the blame more on energy operating than on deforrestation.
    Do you agree?

  • Kodiak


    As of 1998, the USA accounted for 25 % of world emission of CO & CO2 (that’s 36 % of what industrialised countries are emitting). The US is emitting 6 tonnes of carbone-equivalent per capita, while it’s 2 for France, the world average being 1 tonne of carbone-equivalent per inhabitant.

    New figures: 70 % of world anthropic gas emission
    would be CO2…

    Polluting agents ranking:

    1/ USA
    2/ Europe (1: Germany – 2: UK – 3: Italy – 4: France)
    3/ Russia
    4/ Japan
    5/ Australia.

    I don’t know if it’s accurate.

    Any confirmation/infirmation ?

  • AileenZ

    Check out TechCentralStation – Ross McKitrick – The Bad News Bearers. RM points to published research (real science, guys and gals) which tends to cast doubts on the role of CO2 as a dominant agent in the world’s climate. Solar variability seems to be a greater influence…. Hence the Krakatoa, Yellowstone, Taupo etc events, which released massive amounts of CO2 and dust, affected climate because of the dust’s solar screening effect. Much more significant than the CO2.

  • Kodiak


    Yes they estimate that 50 % of solar radiation is actually reaching terrestrial ground.

    Any solar radiation absorbed by the ground or the atmosphere is eventually sent back to space in infrared form. That re-emission to space causes many interactions with atmospheric elements to occur, thus warwing the lower atmospheric layers.

    So natural (in low quantities) atmospheric gas like water vapour, CO2, methane & ozone are interfering with spaceward infrared radiation & refrain them from going any further (like in a greenhouse). Hence the warming.

    So solar volatility may well have an impact on global warming. But what if more & more CO2 (or other anthropic gas) are produced by human industry?

  • Doug Collins

    Your figure of 0.03% is actually one tenth of mine(0.25%). That would make my argument that CO2 is a minor factor even stronger. You may be correct. I wrote from memory, and I have a nagging recollection that my number is too big. I am at home today and my source- the Chemical Rubber book- is at the office. I will have to check it later. I don’t know the range of water vapor in the atmosphere, but I am certain it is orders of magnitude greater that 0.25% or 0.03%. Aircraft have to consider humidity when loading as it strongly affects lift. I cannot believe a >1% factor would do that.

    So in summary, I don’t think CO2, anthropic or natural, matters much to global temperature. I think water vapor does. So perhaps it would be better if most of the United Nations orators would, to use a phrase of Chirac’s, take advantage of any good opportunities to shut up.

  • J'hn1

    For a pretty comprehensive evaluation by an ex-marine biologist see http://www.johnringo.com/rglobal.htm

  • Blair

    “Except that if the population of beavers in Canada continues to rise, they may undo a lot of that, so to avoid absurd expense they may have to start shooting the little buggers.”

    Memo to Steven: It’s OK to shoot beavers up here again. They are no longer protected. They built two dams in the creek behind my place and all the old hard woods are dead. Praise nature.

    And for the record, Mr. Cretien made his decision on Koyoto, based on a ‘gut feeling’, as he will proudly tell anyone.

  • Phil Bradley


    The evidence that atmsopheric CO2 is increasing is pretty compelling. Its from several sources, including air trapped in glacial ice. drill out a core and you get a pretty good series.

    So we can be pretty sure that atmospheric CO2 has increased by about 20% in the last 100 years. The problem is that there is no real evidence that this is causing significant warming.

  • Spawn

    “The US is emitting 6 tonnes of carbone-equivalent per capita, while it’s 2 for France, ”

    This is because France had the good sense to build nuclear reactors. I will believe the green left is serious about global warming the day they endorse nuclear power as an alternative.

  • Kodiak


    You’re right. Typical greens will have it that nukes are no valid alternative to global warming. They’d prefer wind turbines &/or solar boards instead.

    Nuclear facilities are good economically: cheap, no shortage, “easily” manageable etc.

    The only stuff is security. Zero risk does not belong to human achievements. And nuclear plants may well be a fantastic target for terrorists. Also there’s the problem of what to do with the nuclear wastes which are supposed to remain harmful for at least the 50 or 100 generations to come…

    Green opposition to nukes is receivable, debatable.

  • Canadian A

    Canadian forrests aren’t a co2 sink, hell we have 200-300 forrest fires burning at any given time, how much co2 does that put in the air? I say save the world, cut down those forrests!

    Besides, another post was right, it’s cold here, bring on global warming!
    kyoto is the dummest thing that idiots in the world have ever come up with yet, besides the liberal party

  • Kodiak

    Canadian A,

    Couldn’t we at least acknowledge that, whatever the actual Kyoto’s output, it was a step that was needed.

    A momentum where all nations could affirm their values, their beliefs, their visions & myths, & affirm what they wanted & what they didn’t want.

    Better than silent indifferrence.

  • Kodiak: That is a typically bizarre statement… clearly the majority of people here are not silently indifferent to Kyoto… they are loudly hostile to it.

    …all nations could affirm their values, their beliefs, their visions & myths, & affirm what they wanted & what they didn’t want.

    What the hell does that means? Are you keen for the leaders of Saudi Arabia to affirm ‘their’ values, beliefs, their visions & myths (myths???) & affirm that they want global Wahabbist Islam? You make very odd remarks.

  • Kodiak


    Maybe my English is very odd indeed.

    I didn’t say that Kyoto hadn’t raised no fierce controversy. I said silent indifference (no Kyoto) would be worse than Kyoto’s eventual output.

    I meant that Kyoto was a means for diverging views to surface & be put on the table >>> a debate where nobody agrees is better than no debate at all, isn’t it?

    As for Saudi Arabia or the US or Germany or any country, what their views are may be shocking. Their stating those views isn’t shocking. It’s fuelling the debate.

    Also, I was just referring to environmental issues (global warming existence or assessment >>> global policy building). The point I made was about water vapour & CO2, not Islam or capitalism or communism as such.