Global warming: nothing doing.A year ago, decried as costly and ineffective and lacking badly needed Senate support, the Kyoto Protocol's future looked bleak. Today, with several new versions of related legislation under discussion, the issue is back on the table. But a hard look at the evidence suggests that when it comes to what to do about global warming global warming, the gradual increase of the temperature of the earth's lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution. less may be more - and nothing may be best.
Last summer, CEOs of 12 major corporations, including the natural gas giant Enron, and Black and Veatch, a designing firm for gas-fired power plants, met in Aspen, CO, with environmental professionals and former administration officials to draft a letter to President Clinton on global warming and the controversial and somewhat flawed Kyoto Protocol Kyoto Protocol: see global warming. .
They urged Clinton not to submit the Protocol to the Senate for ratification, where it would surely die. They attempted to delegitimize de·le·git·i·mize
tr.v. de·le·git·i·mized, de·le·git·i·miz·ing, de·le·git·i·miz·es
To revoke the legal or legitimate status of: public scientific discussion of this issue by having the President appoint a bipartisan "Blue Ribbon Commission Noun 1. blue ribbon commission - an independent and exclusive commission of nonpartisan statesmen and experts formed to investigate some important governmental issue
blue ribbon committee " on global warming. Last, and by no means least, they wrote to the President that industries that reduce their greenhouse gas greenhouse gas
Any of the atmospheric gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect.
greenhouse gas emissions prior to passage of the Kyoto Protocol should be given credit for those reductions if and when the Protocol, or other emissions reduction mandates, pass. These credits could then be sold, at market price, to industries that had not reduced emissions, should they need a credit in order to meet a reduction target and timetable.
For example, Enron, which recently proposed some large generation facilities in India, might, for example, claim that by powering them with state-of-the-art gas turbines, they reduce greenhouse emissions by, say, 10,000,000 tons per year, compared to coal, which would nominally be the fuel of choice. They get a "credit" for this CO2 saving. Upon passage of Kyoto, a coal-fired utility, which cannot reduce emissions further, has to buy Enron's credit in order to stay in business. The market, recognizing the desperation of all of the coal-fired utilities, bids up the price of the credits to the point that Enron's competition in power production - coal - is severely, if not fatally damaged. Not a bad trick!
Further, whatever industry stands to gain in this exercise now has deployed its PACs in support of Kyoto; otherwise they do not gain this advantage.
This legislation actually already exists, in the form of a bill (S. 547), the "Credit for Voluntary Reductions Act," sponsored by Senators Chafee (R-RI), Mack (R-FL), and Lieberman (D-CT), which pundits are calling "Kyoto Lite."
An alternative approach would be to credit industry for expenses related to technological discoveries that reduce net greenhouse emissions. This incentive does not punish one sector in favor of another, but merely cost-shares environmental stewardship The integration and application of environmental values into the military mission in order to sustain readiness, improve quality of life, strengthen civil relations, and preserve valuable natural resources. . Radically different from S. 547, this approach also exists in the form of a draft bill by Senators Murkowski (R-AK) and Hagel (R-NB), as the "Energy and Climate Policy Act of 1999."
Attempting to "game" Kyoto into existence with S. 547 is an extremely shortsighted short·sight·ed
1. Nearsighted; myopic.
2. Lacking foresight.
shortsight philosophy. All legitimate models indicate Kyoto will cause enormous economic damage. The rather obvious subtext sub·text
1. The implicit meaning or theme of a literary text.
2. The underlying personality of a dramatic character as implied or indicated by a script or text and interpreted by an actor in performance. - using legislative entree to displace coal with natural gas in electrical generation - is equally short-sighted and profoundly expensive because of consequent economic damage. The reason that coal currently produces 56 percent of the nation's electricity, compared to 10 percent for natural gas, is largely because coal costs less.
A previous attempt to "game" energy production, the Fuel Use Act of 1978 that banned the production of gas-fired power plants, was repealed in Ronald Reagan's first term. Another "affirmative action affirmative action, in the United States, programs to overcome the effects of past societal discrimination by allocating jobs and resources to members of specific groups, such as minorities and women. " program to right this obvious, but aged, inequity would be absurd given the current economics of the energy market. CEOs who perceive global warming as a threat could more rationally support the Murkowski bill, which reduces their costs without damaging the economy.
WHAT'S A CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. TO DO?
The real question is whether any action is necessary. Lost in all of this discussion about treaties, protocols, and legislative distortion is the key question surrounding global warming: Is drastic action necessary, or are minor steps of prudency more in order?
Evidence argues persuasively in favor of the latter option. Global warming burst onto the nation's radar screen more than 10 years ago, on June 23, 1988, when NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Independent U.S. scientist James Hansen For the American politician from Idaho, see Jim D. Hansen. For the American politician from Utah, see James V. Hansen.
James E. Hansen (born March 29 1941 in Denison, Iowa) heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies testified before the House of Representatives that there was a strong "cause-and-effect relationship" between observed temperatures and human emissions into the atmosphere. His testimony coincided with a very hot, dry period - much worse than last summer - and subsequent polls showed that, as a result of his testimony, the public believed the 1988 drought was caused by human-induced global warming.
At that time, Hansen also produced a model for future behavior of the globe's temperature. It was one of many similar calculations that were used in the 1990 First Scientific Assessment of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “IPCC” redirects here. For other uses, see IPCC (disambiguation).
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment , which stated that "when the latest atmospheric models This article is about static atmospheric models. For weather prediction and climate models, see atmospheric model.
Static atmospheric models describe how the ideal gas properties (namely: pressure, temperature, density, and molecular weight) of an atmosphere are run with the present concentrations of greenhouse gases, their simulation of climate is generally realistic on large scales." In 1987, the U.N.'s General Assembly specifically directed the IPCC See IMS Forum. to provide the scientific basis for a "possible climate treaty." IPCC serves as the basis for the Framework Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and the need for this article.
One version of Hansen's model assumes that there was no legislation mandating large cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, which turned out to be true. It predicted that global temperature between 1988 and 1997 would rise by 0.45 [degrees] C [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED]. Figure 2 compares this to the observed temperature changes from three independent sources. Ground-based temperatures from the IPCC show a rise of 0.11 [degrees] C, or less than one-fourth of what Hansen predicted. Lower atmosphere temperatures measured by ascending thermistors on weather balloons show a decline of 0.36 [degrees] C and satellites measuring the same layer - much more "global" measures than the IPCC history, which has little data for large areas of the planet - showed a decline of 0.08 [degrees] C.
WHERE HAS ALL THE WARMING GONE?
The forecast made in 1988 proved an resounding re·sound
v. re·sound·ed, re·sound·ing, re·sounds
1. To be filled with sound; reverberate: The schoolyard resounded with the laughter of children.
2. failure, and IPCC's 1990 statement out the realistic nature of these projections was simply wrong.
This failure isn't surprising. On a 100-year time-scale, this and similar models were predicting a warming of about 1.5 [degrees] C by 1988. The observed change was 0.5 [degrees] C. That the models continued to fail in the last 10 years at the rate that they were failing in the previous century was strong evidence against their use as the basis for the FCCC FCCC Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN)
FCCC Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia, PA, USA)
FCCC Four County Career Center
FCCC Florida Civil Commitment Center and the Kyoto Protocol.
By 1996, in its second full assessment of climate change, the IPCC admitted the validity of this position: "When increases in greenhouse gases only are taken into account...most [climate models] produce a greater mean warming than has been observed to date, unless a lower climate sensitivity [to the greenhouse effect greenhouse effect: see global warming.
Warming of the Earth's surface and lower atmosphere caused by water vapour, carbon dioxide, and other trace gases in the atmosphere. Visible light from the Sun heats the Earth's surface. ] is used... There is growing evidence that increases in sulfate aerosols Sulfate aerosols are produced by chemical reactions in the atmosphere from gaseous precursors (with the exception of sea salt sulfate and gypsum dust particles). The two main sulfate precursors are sulfur dioxide (SO2 are partially counteracting the [warming] due to increases in greenhouse gases."
IPCC is presenting two alternative hypotheses: Either the base warming was simply overestimated, or some other anthropogenerated emission is preventing the warming from being observed. IPCC did not suggest an obvious explanation - that greenhouse gases were not increasing at the projected rate.
As evidence comes in, the first and third reasons appear to be carrying the day. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. a 1998 paper by Gunnar Myhre in Geophysical Research Letters Geophysical Research Letters is a publication of the American Geophysical Union. GRL is the organization's only letters journal. Since its introduction in 1974, GRL has published only short research letters, typically 3-5 pages long, which focus on a specific discipline or , the direct warming effect of carbon dioxide carbon dioxide, chemical compound, CO2, a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is about one and one-half times as dense as air under ordinary conditions of temperature and pressure. was overestimated. Carbon dioxide is not accumulating in the atmosphere at even the lowest rate estimated by IPCC in 1990, according to NASA scientist James Hansen, whose early models initiated most of the hyper-concern of the last decade. The second most important greenhouse emission, methane, began to decrease its rate of increase in 1981 some 15 years before the 1996 IPCC report on climate change, which projected an increased rate of emissions for the next 50 years. That paper was published by David Etheridge in the Journal of Geophysical Research Journal of Geophysical Research is a publication of the American Geophysical Union. JGR was formerly titled Terrestrial Magnetism from its founding by the AGU's president Louis A. .
Why didn't it warm as predicted? The idea that some other emission, such as sulfate sulfate, chemical compound containing the sulfate (SO4) radical. Sulfates are salts or esters of sulfuric acid, H2SO4, formed by replacing one or both of the hydrogens with a metal (e.g., sodium) or a radical (e.g., ammonium or ethyl). aerosol, is reflecting the sun's radiation - and therefore cooling the surface - is increasingly untenable as the excuse for the dearth of warming. The southern half of the planet is virtually devoid of sulfates, and should have warmed at a prodigious and consistent rate for the last two decades. Unfortunately, we have very few long-term weather records from that half of the planet, and almost all come from the relatively uncommon landmasses. However, we do have more than two decades of satellite data and these show no warming at all, except for the obvious El Nino spike of 1998, now departed.
In fact, the sensitivity of climate to carbon dioxide appears to have been overestimated. The large warmings predicted by the failed models that back the Framework Convention rely on a roughly threefold amplification of carbon dioxide warming by increased atmospheric moisture (water vapor, like carbon dioxide, is a greenhouse gas and contributes to surface warming). But a 1997 Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society is a publication of the American Meteorological Society. The official organ of the society, devoted to editorials, topical reports to members, articles, professional and membership news, conference announcements, programs and study by Roy Spencer
Roy Spencer is a principal research scientist for University of Alabama in Huntsville. In the past, he served as Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in and William Braswell found that the predicted moisture was not there.
A WHOLE LOT OF HOT AIR
Greenhouse physics predicts that the driest air masses should respond first and most strongly to changes induced by human activities. These, in fact, are generally the coldest air masses, such as the great high-pressure system that dominates Siberia in the winter, and its only slightly more benign cousin in Northwestern North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. . When the jet stream attains a proper orientation, it is this air mass that migrates south and kills orange trees in Florida.
We recently examined seasonal temperature trends in the journal Climate Research. Since World War II, warming has been largely confined to the coldest winter air masses, in agreement with the satellite observations. A warming of the coldest, driest air masses, is by definition, a relative warming of nights compared to days. By extension, this is the type of change that slightly lengthens the growing season growing season, period during which plant growth takes place. In temperate climates the growing season is limited by seasonal changes in temperature and is defined as the period between the last killing frost of spring and the first killing frost of autumn, at which , as the coldest temperatures occur at night. In a different paper in the same journal, we asked an additional series of questions germane ger·mane
Being both pertinent and fitting. See Synonyms at relevant.
[Middle English germain, having the same parents, closely connected; see german2. to climate change concerns:
* Is the temperature becoming more variable from year-to-year? We found a statistically significant decline in interannual variability worldwide [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 4 OMITTED].
* Is the variation from day-to-day increasing? We found no statistically significant change.
* Are the number of record high or low temperatures increasing? We found no statistically significant change.
In fact, the most notable change in the thermal climate during the greenhouse enhancement is that the coldest air masses of winter - in Siberia and North America - have warmed slightly, while the only change overall has been a tendency towards reduced year-to-year variability.
The observed data on climate and recent emissions trends clearly indicate that the concept of "dangerous" interference in the climate system is outmoded within any reasonable horizon - which makes the Kyoto Protocol a useless appendage appendage /ap·pen·dage/ (ah-pen´dij) a subordinate portion of a structure, or an outgrowth, such as a tail.
epiploic appendages see under appendix . to an irrelevant treaty. It makes S. 547 a naked attempt to use the brute force (programming) brute force - A primitive programming style in which the programmer relies on the computer's processing power instead of using his own intelligence to simplify the problem, often ignoring problems of scale and applying naive methods suited to small problems directly of law to mandate changes in our electrical generation system that can only cost us all. It makes Murkowski and Hagel's draft Energy and Climate Policy Act of 1999, which helps to defray de·fray
tr.v. de·frayed, de·fray·ing, de·frays
To undertake the payment of (costs or expenses); pay.
[French défrayer, from Old French desfrayer : des-, the cost of environmental stewardship, a much more ethical alternative. It even makes doing nothing about global warming the right thing to do.
RELATED ARTICLE: KYOTO PROTOCOL 101
The Kyoto Protocol is an important amendment to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), a treaty unprecedented in its ability to dictate the domestic energy policy of its signatories, and representing a potentially notable transfer of national sovereignty to an international authority.
The stated goal of the FCCC is: "Stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous human interference in the climate system." The operative word, "dangerous," is never defined. The quantitative target for the original treaty was to reduce the emissions of most major greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide and methane, to 1990 levels by the year 2000, in approximately 25 nations with relatively high GDPs.
Less than two years after the FCCC was signed, it became apparent that only two nations would meet the target: Great Britain Great Britain, officially United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, constitutional monarchy (2005 est. pop. 60,441,000), 94,226 sq mi (244,044 sq km), on the British Isles, off W Europe. The country is often referred to simply as Britain. and Germany, and that neither would do so out of greenhouse concern, but rather because of industrial reorganization, such as the shutdown of the wildly inefficient East German industries after reunification re·u·ni·fy
tr.v. re·u·ni·fied, re·u·ni·fy·ing, re·u·ni·fies
To cause (a group, party, state, or sect) to become unified again after being divided. in 1989. In the U.S., by 1998, greenhouse gas emissions had risen a considerable 15 percent from the 1990 level, and the exponential trend indicated they would be around 37 percent higher in 2010 than in 1990.
As emissions continued to rise in spite of the FCCC, environmental organizations - which have largely driven the global warming issue - became more vocal. Representing one of the largest lobbies in the history of this nation, such organizations amass as much as $1 billion in contributions per year. The U.N. refers to these groups as "Non-Governmental Organizations" (NGOs), and the FCCC specifically empowers NGOs to further the goals of the treaty.
In concert with various governments, and out of concern that the FCCC was not "legally binding" inasmuch as in·as·much as
1. Because of the fact that; since.
2. To the extent that; insofar as.
1. since; because
2. the year 2000 emission reductions were only a "goal," NGOs helped to draft the main points of the Kyoto Protocol, which are that:
* It is "legally binding," allowing the UN to invoke whatever penalties it might choose on those signatories that do not meet their commitments,
* It commits the U.S. to a 7 percent reduction below 1990 levels in net greenhouse gas emissions by the averaging period 2008-2012. E.U. nations and Canada are committed to an 8 percent reduction, while Australia is allowed an 8 percent increase,
* It commits none of the poor or developing nations, including China, India, and Mexico, to any emission reductions, and
* According to federal climatologists, the amount of warming that the Protocol would prevent in the next 50 years is 0.07 [degrees] C (0.13 [degrees] F), an amount too small to measure with any confidence.
What's more, the actual impact of Kyoto on the U.S. is much greater than anywhere else in the world, because the projected increase under a "business as usual" scenario, based on simple extrapolation (mathematics, algorithm) extrapolation - A mathematical procedure which estimates values of a function for certain desired inputs given values for known inputs.
If the desired input is outside the range of the known values this is called extrapolation, if it is inside then of the established 1990-1998 trend, is 37 percent between 1990 and 2010. An additional 7 percent reduction commits the U.S. to a stunning 44 percent reduction in net emissions.
Based on preliminary numbers, Charles River Associates calculated that meeting the Protocol would cost the U.S. 2.3 percent of its GDP GDP (guanosine diphosphate): see guanine. per year, on average, to meet the reduction target. Needless to say, the Kyoto Protocol was initially greeted with general disapproval. The Global Climate Coalition, an industry group, lined the margins of its newsletter with state-by-state job loss figures. Pundits calculated a total of 12 possible votes for the Protocol in the Senate, which requires a two-thirds majority for ratification. Representative John Dingell (D-MI), regarded by friend and foe Friend and Foe is the third release from the Portland, Oregon-based band Menomena. It was released January 23, 2007 by Barsuk Records. The cover art is designed by Craig Thompson, writer and illustrator of the award-winning graphic novel Blankets. alike as one of the most perceptive and savvy politicians of the 20th century, has said that the Protocol is "so flawed, in fact, that it cannot be salvaged."
RELATED ARTICLE: IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN
The Green Effect" is real. Certain natural constituents in the atmosphere, namely water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane, absorb the radiation emitted by the earth in response to the warming rays of the sun. If these molecules didn't exist, the radiation would pass directly out to space.
When these molecules re-emit this radiation, it either goes out to space or radiates back down towards the earth's surface. So the greenhouse gases "recycle" some warming radiation, creating a warmer temperature in the lower atmosphere and a colder temperature in the thinner stratosphere, which contains relatively few greenhouse molecules.
The earth's natural greenhouse effect is about 33 [degrees] C (59 [degrees] F) at the surface. Without this warming, the planet would likely be a frozen iceball unable to sustain higher life forms. Of the greenhouse gases, water vapor is by far the most important. After allowing for water vapor, the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide is about 1.5 [degrees] C (2.7 [degrees] F), and that of methane is even less.
Human beings have long been emitting carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere as result of industrial activity, mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels. As a result, the effective concentration of carbon dioxide has risen from about 280 parts per million parts per million
mg/kg or ml/l; see ppm. (ppm) before industrialization industrialization
Process of converting to a socioeconomic order in which industry is dominant. The changes that took place in Britain during the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and 19th century led the way for the early industrializing nations of western Europe and to around 450ppm today. This "effective" concentration change treats all the human greenhouse gases, including methane, chlorofluorocarbons chlorofluorocarbons (klōr'əflr`əkär'bənz, klôr'–) (CFCs), organic compounds that contain carbon, chlorine, and fluorine atoms. , and a number of exotic emissions that are in very small quantity, as if they were carbon dioxide, resulting in the 450ppm figure, which is 161 percent of the background value.
Scientists have known about the greenhouse effect since the 1870s, when it was quantified in experiments by British physicist John Tyndall. The original concern that combustion of fossil fuels might change the surface temperature dates back to 1896, when Svante Arrhenius published a paper in the journal Philosophical Transactions hypothesizing that doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide would raise the surface temperature around 5 [degrees] C (9 [degrees] F), and going half-way to a doubling (we are beyond that point already) would warm the surface 3 [degrees] C (5.4 [degrees] F). This forecast was a clear failure, as the earth has only warmed 0.6 [degrees] C (1.1 [degrees] F) in the last 100 years, with more than half of that total before the major greenhouse changes. The computer-generated calculations of climate change that served as the basis for the FCCC bore a remarkable resemblance to Arrhenius' forecast.
Patrick Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at Cato Institute; Paul Knappenberger is senior analyst at New Hope Environmental Services.