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The Dead Protocol Sketch

Look, matey, I know a dead protocol when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now:

Russia says it will not ratify in its present form the Kyoto Protocol designed to mitigate global warming.

“The Kyoto protocol places significant limitations on the economic growth of Russia,” presidential aide Andrei Illarionov told a conference in Milan.

The landmark environmental pact cannot now enter into legal force, especially since the US has also repudiated it.

It’s not pinin’! It’s passed on! This protocol is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet it’s maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! It’s metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off it’s mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PROTOCOL!!

37 comments to The Dead Protocol Sketch

  • Daisy Mutlar

    Curious how the BBC has buried this story away – front page headline for Science/Nature: “Neanderthal ‘face’ found in Loire”. hmmmm… any French politician we know?

  • Simon Jester

    How many of the Grauniadistas who bashed the USA for not ratifying Kyoto will now start bashing Russia, I wonder?

  • A_t

    okok… i know you’re all “global warming ain’t happening”… “the planet’s resiliant enough to withstand all the crap we can throw at it, and hey, even if it can’t, we’ll cope” types round here, but what if the dire global warming predictions are true? Do you have a proposed solution, or do we go merrily whistling into world hugely changed for the worse because there was never any alternative?

    (anything involving “eco-loonie”, “human-hating” etc. is boring, & not an answer, just an ‘amusing’ bit of preaching to the converted & avoiding the question)

  • Julian Morrison

    Basically, the direst predictions amount to mere economic damage. Islands vanish, some coast becomes islands. But also: deserts green, permafrost becomes farmable. Probably the total plant/animal effect would be an improvement. More CO2 = more green plants.

    Nature has coped happily with far harsher climate shifts. So has humanity. We lived through the ice age – a vastly harsher world than any global warming could threaten.

    Frankly, it’s not a problem, regardless. The problem is “conservationists” who fail to see that the present climate status quo is no more “normal” than any previous state, of which there have been many.

  • I always loved that bit.

  • ed

    Simply put the predictions for Global Warming aren’t true because they *cannot* be true.

    The fact is that the same scientists, along with the same data, that was being used in the 1980s to try and prove that more research funding was needed to counter an incipient mini-ice age. It was nonsense then and it’s nonsense now.

    Fact is that the entire pollution output of the human race doesn’t even match the output of the world’s active volcanoes. Mount St. Helens alone put more crap into the atmosphere than all of humanity in that one year.

    The only reason for Kyoto is that it fulfills three basic desires by it’s proponents. Firstly it greatly hinders the further economic growth of developed nations, which is something the “developing” nations would like. Secondly it severely reduces the energy usage by developed nations, which is something the tree-hugger eco-nuts like. Thirdly it supplants the soveriegnity of nations with a global socialst system that could be easily penetrated and controlled by Leftists, which is something that Leftists very much like.

    Frankly it was a stupid idea to begin with. It’s a common refrain that America is the most polluting nation in the world but I have a hard time believing it. I live in New Jersey, considered to be heavily polluted, and yet I’ve *never* seen anything like the “Brown Cloud” that covers northern India through southern China all the way out into the Pacific. A cloud that measure 3-5 miles thick and about 2,500 miles long by 1,000 miles wide. Big enough and dense enough to have changed the albedo of that portion of the world and completely altered the monsoons.

    Considering that Kyoto completely disregarded both India and China as “developing” nations and therefore exempted from it’s regulations makes it even more of a mockery. As for the Global Warming nonsense the final nail in that coffin is that temperatures were much higher than they are now in around 1100AD. The fact is that temperatures fluctuate according to volcanic activity and solar activity.

    If the human race ever gets to a point where it’s contributions could even match those two engines, then we’d be pretty darn advanced and so we could look to technology to provide solutions. Until then I’m going to continue sucking down gas, cheeseburgers and beer.

  • llamas

    A_t wrote:

    ‘but what if the dire global warming predictions are true? Do you have a proposed solution, or do we go merrily whistling into world hugely changed for the worse because there was never any alternative?’

    What, indeed, if they are true?

    The first thing we must know is whether they are true or not, and, if they are, what the mechanism is.

    If we do not know those things – how can we formulate a response? In that situation of ignorance, any response we choose – and especially what seems, intuitively, to be the ‘right’ response – has every chance of being exactly the wrong response, and may do more harm than good.

    One of my physics teachers used to illustrate this by example. He would say – ‘if someone tells you ‘the sky is falling!’, the first question you must ask is ‘in which direction?’ Because, while it may be quite true that the sky is falling, if you don’t know which direction it is falling, you don’t know whether to start building pillars or making ropes.’

    Such is the case with global climate change. We do not know whether the climate is changing, or, if it is, in what ways. Twenty years ago, the fear was global cooling, for which there was compelling evidence. Not, it is global warming, for which there is also compelling evidence. Noone can define a mechanism by which these things are/were supposed to be happening – an effect is apparently observed and a causal relationship with human activity is postulated. Unfortunately, the causal relationship does not hold as the effect is more closely studied, and the explanations of mechanisms have to get more, and more, and more, complicated and conjectural to shorhorn the cause into the effect. Add to that that closer exmaination of the effect shows that it’s not nearly as obvious or consistent as at first appeared.

    In that environment, any proposed solution is nothing but conjecture. One of the risks we take in implementing any solution when we don’t realy know what is hppening is that it may be the exact worst thing to do.

    So which should we do? Start building pillars, or making ropes?



  • Julian Morrison

    Do they say the USA is most polluting? Or merely most energy-using or “resource” using, and leave the implication of pollution dangling? Because the US undoubtedly uses a lot of energy. Just in a comparatively nonpolluting way.

    In fact the high CO2 output may be precisely due to that. Consider: all that soot and crud over the third-world is un-burned fuel. Carbon and hydrocarbons. Burn that all up efficiently, and you get clear and (by any reasonable measure) non-polluting CO2 and H20.

  • Kudos for your virtuosic segue to Monty Python. I haven’t laughed so hard for days 🙂

  • Robert Dammers

    But wait ….

    But they will not be without all hope. Michael Williams, a spokesman for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said he hoped the Russians could still be won round.

    “Russia has over the last few months sent mixed signals but [President Vladimir] Putin didn’t rule out ratification last September,” he told the AFP news agency. “We remain optimistic that Russia will indeed ratify.”

    In other words, they continue to believe in porcine aviation, and so avoid the need to condemn Russia in the way they have demonised Mr Bush.

  • ed

    Hey Putin said it best

    “We want Global Warming! Russia’s too damn cold as it is. If it got warmer here then that would be good for us. It would suck for the Middle East, India and China but hell. Screw’em. Damn thing might even make Siberia useful. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll go make a regulation requiring industries to produce more co2…..”

    Well he didn’t say it. But we all know that’s what he was thinking! 🙂

  • The difficulty with global warming as a theory on which to base policy is that it’s not particularly predictive. Either the climate is actually warming, or it’s cooling, or it’s staying within normal bounds (and given a baseline of only a hundred years or so of hard data, the fact is that we just don’t know — all the inferential methods have real problems.) If it’s warming, it may be anthropogenic — greenhouse gas. Or it may be some other source: there have been good, peer-reviewed publications suggesting it’s the result of long-term solar cycles, changes in cosmic ray levels, or simply measurement error of various sorts.

    If global warming is actually happening, then it either will lead to drought or flood, more hurricaines or less, wild variations in weather or long-term changes that “fix” certain climate changes, more snow or less, more big storms or fewer. Where I live in Coloorado, we had a recent 500-year snowstorm. There were people of a green bent claiming that as more evidence of global warming — but the problem is that Western write-things-down-and-measure civilzation has only been here for about 150 years.

    In other areas, when the science can’t make effective predictions and the studies are so contradictory, we say “we don’t know.” The pro-green people say “we can’t afford to wait”, but the fact is that it’s massively irresponsible to act without knowing: the changes demanded would hurt people who otherwise wouldn’t need to be hurt.

  • Hty

    I wish I can be as optimistic as David. But Putin and Bush only saved their respective countries. Our British friends can expect a number of foolish policies resulting from the Kyoto Protocol implemented by 10 Downing as long as this government remains where it is.

    One last note: US pollution should not be measured by its population, but rather by its economy. US accounts for about 1/4 of the pollution emitted around the world, which is about the same proportion of the US GDP in terms of world GDP.

    It’s easy to see why environmental nutcases don’t want to measure it that way. They want everyone to live in caves.

  • Ian

    “There it moved”
    “No it didn’t, you changed the data !”

    It’s not so much climate change but the human contribution to it that is in question, if the climate is going to change whatever we do, then its best to adopt the “adapt or die” approach.

    I still haven’t seen any reports linking these recent huge flares from the sun on climate, surely they must have _some_ effect ?

    “Ah the Kyoto Blue, beautiful doom-and-gloom age”.

  • A_t

    “It’s easy to see why environmental nutcases don’t want to measure it that way. They want everyone to live in caves.”

    a) rubbish… stupid exaggeration. Most people who are concerned about this stuff aren’t total anti-progress hermit hippies. They’re just the most outspoken & newsworthy types. A hairy guy spouting rubbish will always attract more attention than someone fairly calm, who looks normal & is reasoning in a rational fashion.
    b) If you don’t accept the evidence for human-influenced climate change, then yes, there’s no point. If you do, then you could view the earth’s atmosphere, and it’s ability to handle pollution, as a commons of limited scope, which every human has a right to a portion of. By using up more than their share per capita, the US is forcing non-American humans to either push the planet beyond it’s capacity, or to accept that the US somehow *deserves* more of this commons, a case which is difficult to put.

    Charlie, you’ve made the most valid points in this thread of comments so far, & not an ‘eco nut’ in sight 🙂

  • “If you don’t accept the evidence for human-influenced climate change, then yes, there’s no point.”

    I don’t and there isn’t.

    The rest of it is yet another variation on the same old zero-sum mentality predicated on the belief that the planet is a fixed common resource which must be rationed out ‘fairly’.

    Risible rubbish.

  • A_t

    David Carr, where do you derive your authority that that planet is not a finite resource, at some level at least? I’m not saying I have proof that we’re approaching any limits in some respects, & not even saying I’m convinced we’re close, but where, aside from the fact that it works well alongside theories of human wealth etc. (which is clearly not a finite resource), and ties in well with a market-based theory of everything, do you derive such certainty from?

    The atmosphere has a fixed volume. Ergo, there must be some volume of gases which could make the atmosphere unbreathable, or unfriendly. I’m not saying we’re near that limit, but I feel it’s foolish not to be open to suggestions. It sounds to me as though your position is predicated on ideology just as much as the ‘eco nuts’ you revile.

  • S. Weasel

    As someone pointed out up the thread a bit, energy consumption is not the same thing as pollution. I’m willing to believe that Americans use more energy on a per capita basis, but I don’t believe for a moment that we pollute more, per capita, in the process.

    In fact, I’d be willing to bet we have one of the best ratios of units-of-energy-consumed to waste-released-into-the-environment.

    But cheer up, a_t – the sooner we consume all them ‘orrible ‘hydrocarbons, the sooner alternative energy sources will become economically viable. Best of all, we’ll probably end up paying more than our share to bring them cheaply to market, since we’re such terrible energy addicts.

  • “David Carr, where do you derive your authority that that planet is not a finite resource, at some level at least?”


    May I suggest that you are looking at this in the wrong way. There is no such thing as a finite resource because the only resource that really matters is human beings and there is no limit on either our ingenuity or adaptability.

    Attempts to place restrictions on use in order to ‘preserve’ have the effect of hobbling that ingenuity and creativity while failing to preserve anyway.

  • A_t – You keep asking what should we do if the global warming people are right. I say we should plow straight ahead with economic progress. The better we can grow, the sooner we can spare the resources to do something about whatever new problem comes our way.

    The third world is horrendously inefficient, and for national security reasons it’s no longer acceptable for them to stay isolated from the world economy. If they grow, they can afford to build efficient plants and the people will be rich enough to insist on it.

    Grow and grow efficient or stagnate and die. That’s the answer.

  • Verity

    A_t – “By using up more than their share per capita, the US is forcing non-American humans to either push the planet beyond it’s capacity… ”

    More than their *share*? Who apportioned these cosmic “shares”? Where are they registered?

    TM Lutas – Of course, that is exactly what we should do and what mankind has always done. Power on ahead and solve the problems as we go. Self interest is what drives the human race. Somehow, someone always solves the problems and someone else finances the solutions and everyone else buys them. Why is this such bitter aloes to the socialists?

  • bil.

    Having taken a course in Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Climate change, taught by someone who receives grant money in direct proportion to public perception of a potential environmental disaster, I figured I would spit out some info that I learned there.

    The data does show a strong correlation between increased CO2 concentrations and higher MEAN GLOBAL temperatures, even accounting for orbital, solar, and geomagnetic fluctuations (amongst others). It also shows increased CO2 starting from the early industrial period to now.
    In addition, we are supposedly near the beginning of a minor ‘ice age’ cycle, but the doom-and-gloomers are worried about what happens when things start warming up again (such concern for their great-great-great-great-great grandchildren is amazing).

    Something I think is important to point out though is that the use of MEAN GLOBAL temperature glosses over much that is important.
    Increased CO2 levels would only induce warming in drier (and usually colder) areas, as water vapor in humid (typically warmer) air absorbs all the radiation that the CO2 would (pesky greenhouse gas, water is). So while average global temps would rise, this does not mean that you would see higher temps in summer months in most places. You would expect to see higher temps in cold places in winter, which would make life better for most people, as well as cut down on heating costs and the fossil fuels burned for those purposes. It would also increase growing areas and times for agriculture, very important if you want to go ‘organic’ (I won’t mention here the nasty chemicals that you are allowed to use and still be classified as ‘organic’ farming).

    Another thing I found interesting is that the scientific community has almost no idea about the role water would play. Warming would lead to more water vapor and thus more clouds, which tend to reflect radiation back into space. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas though, so it would cause further warming in higher concentrations. The real doom-and-gloomers suggest that a runaway cycle could massively increase water vapor in the atmosphere and turn the planet markedly Venus-like. But as the earth has easily sustained higher levels of CO2 and H2O atmospheric levels in the past (giving rise to the previously massive amount of African rainforest), this is not a likely scenario.

    Just something to chew on.

  • Well the way I see it, actual weather science just started last month. That was the first time a computer model of sufficient resolution for hurricanes to spontaneously arise was run (on the Earth Simulator in Japan, currently the fastest supercomputer on earth, at least till next month).

    Up till now all of the models couldn’t be predictive, because they couldn’t model what’s going on NOW, let alone simulate the past given the historical data, or predict the future.

    So maybe in 5-10 years we’ll have some kind of clue about what’s going on, but until then things like Kyoto, or any other attempts at politicizing the weather, are beyond pointless.

  • R. C. Dean

    I find the notion that anthropogenic CO2 is a primary driver of earth’s weather to be inherently hilarious. One hardly knows where to start unpacking the lunacy of the Kyotistas.

    First, of course, serious academics cannot even reach a consensus on what data to look at (surface or upper atmosphere), what data sources to use, or how to correct the flaws in that data, much less what trends and conclusions to draw from the data.

    Second, the trend line for warming predates the trend line for anthro CO2. If it was the other way, a theory could be constructed for delayed effects of anthro CO2. As it is, though, I have never heard of a scientific theory that permitted the cause (CO2) to predate the effect (warming). The so-called “hockey-stick” uptick in temperatures is found only in highly controversial ground-level temps, and disappears when urban heat islands are backed out of the data.

    Third, there are so many other variables in play that nobody knows how to weight, such as water vapor, particulates, and, oh yeah, the freaking SUN! Does anyone seriously believe that, at the end of the day, CO2 that is released into the atmosphere by humans will not be swamped by the fact that we orbit a variable star?

    Give me a break.

  • The biggest single problem with that verdampte Kyoto Protocol is not the question of “global warming”, it is the punishing treatment of only a select few “incorrect” countries, with the accompanying intent to damage &/or destroy, whilst, at the same time, promoting incredibly polluting industrial activities in those favored countries that fit a politically correct position.

    A pox on those who try to use “science” to promote a poitical agenda!

  • Jacob

    “but what if the dire global warming predictions are true?…”

    Well, what ?

    Would Kyoto have made any -ANY- difference at all ? Even if we grant ALL the duboius-to-ridiculous assumptions of the alarmists, Kyoto is still wothless and efectless nonesense.

    “but what if the dire global warming predictions are true?…”

    Shouldn’t we do something in a hurry ? Shouldn’t we ? Shouldn’t we shoot ourselves in the foot ? Shouldn’t we pray to Ra, the sun god ? Because, you see, we MUST do something !

  • The problem Kyoto Protocol was designed to fight is real. The problem is that people failed to realize the difference between normal global warming and accelerated global warming.

    It is true that global warming is natural. There was also global cooling. The data support that but accelerated global warming is not anything we have seen. Who could deny the temperature in the poles have risen for a few degrees? Plus, at rate Antarctica is disintegrating, how could one denies the proof? Furthermore, do you really believe after more than a century of carbon emission, the Earth is not affected by it?

    As a result of the warming, the climate is changing. It’s true that the data pretty sketchy right now but I don’t want to see the data in action in the future when El Nino’s effect is worse, more typhoons and storms, freak snowstorms, desertification, and more terrible flood.

    However, I do believe the Kyoto Protocol is a bit too demanding for a number of nations. Still, that doesn’t mean that we should not do something about global warming. Something must be done.
    If Kyoto fails, then it’s time for neo-Kyoto Protocol.

  • Jonathan L

    I have an idea to square the circle.

    Why not replace taxes on labour ( a totally stupid idea ) with taxes on primary energy usage.


    1) Everyone becomes richer and unemployment falls.

    2) The market accelerates what it has always done and energy efficiency increases

    3) Energy usage per output of GDP falls

    4) Exporters of Hydrocarbons have to find additional sources of income.

    Of course we are still talking state action, but it works with rather than against the market. Individuals are left to decide how to improve energy efficiency, rather than leaving it to the state.

    For this reason no leftist will ever agree to such an idea unless the taxes are incremental. Of course most other people wouldn’t agree to such an idea because we can’t believe that any government could be trusted not to use a new tax to gain extra revenue.

  • Jacob

    Jonathan L:
    “Why not replace taxes on labour ( a totally stupid idea ) with taxes on primary energy usage.”

    You seem to fail to understand the meaning of the word “taxes”. Taxes can only be added, never abolished or replaced.
    Abolishing taxes requires a revolution.

    Beside that your idea is good.

  • Jacob

    “Something must be done. ”

    People always felt this way. In the distant past they prayed to their gods, and sometimes offered them scarifices, human or animal. They asked for plenty of rain and good weather. The Kyoto protocol would have had the same influence on the weather as those prayers.

    There is, of course, something that can be done to save the atmosphere – kill off a couple of billion of those pesky people that overuse and pollute the earth. This will really save the atmosphere.
    There is no way the current population can be sustained while at the same time reducing energy use and CO2 production by a significant amount.

  • A_t

    ” There is no way the current population can be sustained while at the same time reducing energy use and CO2 production by a significant amount.”

    Where’s your faith in human ingenuity? I strongly believe it’s just a matter of time before we can do all the above. It’s just a question of how much time, which depends largely on what incentives/disincentives (whether imposed by nature or man) are on offer.

  • Andrew Duffin

    _earth (Wondeful moniker btw):

    “Who could deny the temperature in the poles have risen for a few degrees? ”

    Well I could for a start. The fact is that almost all of Antarctica (except the long narrow bit that sticks up into the Southern Ocean) is actually getting colder at the moment.

    And weather stations all around the Arctic show no long-term warming at all.

    bil. :

    What “HIGHER GLOBAL MEAN” temperatures? Show me these higher means, how were they measured? Against what baseline? Starting when?

    (Actually don’t, I alread know the answers – “In Urban Areas by thermometers”, “Average since about 1970” and “After – but omitting – the most recent cooling period”)


  • No, it’s not dead, chaps. I hate to tell you this.

    The U.S. Supreme Court, and a couple of our circuits, have taken to adopting “customary international law” – which means anything law professors at Berkeley and a couple law lords and a Belgian anti-war protestor want it to mean – and writing it into U.S. law through judicial fiat.

    The process isn’t simple; sometimes vague “customary international law” notions slip in via the Alien Tort Claims Act, sometimes through a naked judicial power grab, as in the Lawrence and Penry decisions. Based on those two decisions, and the comments of Justices O’Connor and Ginsburg, at least 4 out of our 9 Supreme Court justices think “customary international law” ought to be used as a normative standard in U.S. law. The problem is, there isn’t really any such thing, outside of a narrow body of maritime and commercial law. So really it’s just an excuse, in Justice Scalia’s terms, for writing into the law the smug assurances of the elites of our age.

    How would this happen? Easy. Johnny Singapore sues the U.S. government, in the 9th Circuit under the Alien Tort Claims Act, alleging that our use of petrochemicals has sucked the oxygen out of the atmosphere, in violation of Kyoto, which nearly everybody has ratified, and which the vast majority of (flaming left wing pinko commie) law professors think is a great idea. This in turn has led Johnny to get asthma, and it will cost him $750 a year to treat it, until he dies. So the court awards him a tiny sum – maybe $25k, and holds that the vast weight of international opinion is that Kyoto is or ought to be the law, therefore the U.S. is in violation of international law, and needs to cut a check to Mr. Singapore right now.

    Bada boom, bada bing, we’ve revived our thing. Kyoto is back, badder than ever, and applicable to the United States.

    Coming soon to a court near you… The Rome Agreement and the International Criminal Court.

    And don’t laugh, my British friends… your little efforts to extradite Pinochet, and that one loony’s efforts to indict Bush, will lead you soon enough down this same golden road of disappearing national sovereignty. Anti-landmines treaty, anyone? International Law of the Sea Treaty with redistributive clauses intact?

  • Jacob

    “Where’s your faith in human ingenuity? ”
    If you have faith in human ingenuity there is no need for dumb Kyoto, human ingenuity will solve the warming problem when, and if, it arises.

    What Kyoto implies is that most humans are dumb and they need firm and coercive guidance by a few privileged sages, who just happened by a strange coincidence to capture political power and aquired thereby supernatural and omnipotent wisdom by virtue of which they have the right to impose their “solutions” by force on others.

  • ed

    Perhaps I’m a bit clueless but I’m still wondering why there isn’t more interest and money invested in HDR (Hot Dry Rock) Geothermal? Regular geothermal requires a preexisting source of superheated water while HDR doesn’t. Effectively regular geothermal is restricted to a relatively few number of sites around the world, generally those that have high volcanic activity and geysers. While HDR can literally be placed almost anywhere.

    So why isn’t this more popular?

  • As one who occasionally hangs out with climatologists and has read few books on global warming, let me add a bit about Kyoto and the “science” of anthropogenic global warming. In a nutshell, Kyoto is a fraud and its proponents know it.

    As it turns out, I ended up writing so much on this tonight that I decided to blog it rather than leave it here, so you can find it here.