The meaning of Kyoto’s failure

Did the now-irrelevant 1997 Kyoto Protocol reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, or even slow the rate of increase?

No, according to Global Carbon Project, established in 2001 to measure worldwide, man-made carbon emissions patterns. According to the project’s “Global Carbon Budget,” released Sept. 25, “Anthropogenic CO2 emission have been growing about four times faster since 2000 than during the previous decade, despite efforts to curb emissions in a number of Kyoto Protocol signatory countries.”

Pep Canadell, Washington-based executive director, said, “This new update of the carbon budget shows the acceleration of both CO2 emissions and the atmospheric accumulation are unprecedented and most astonishing during a decade of intense international developments to address climate change.” How’s that for an admission of failure?

The report found that atmospheric CO2 concentrations grew to 383 parts per million in 2007, an annual increase of 2 ppm since 2000, and a third faster than in the previous 20 years, the project said.

This report will cause considerable hand-wringing among climate change activists. Their likely response will be that the world must work much harder through international institutions to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and that the U.S. must become a full-fledged participant. The assumption is that global warming is both bad and preventable, the recent increases intolerable, and only a mega-Kyoto approach can work to reduce emissions.

That paradigm looks to me to be entirely feckless. It seems to me it wouldn’t have made any difference if the U.S. had been a willing participant in Kyoto or not. Worldwide emissions would have continued to rise substantially (not led by the U.S.). There is no evidence I’ve seen that international action of any kind can reduce carbon dioxide emissions, or even reduce the growth of emissions. The whole Kyoto paradigm, based on the 1987 Montreal Protocol to reduced CFC emissions and save the Antarctic ozone layer, is fraudulent.

Those of us who are greenhouse skeptics ask: so what if global CO2 emissions increased dramatically? Since the turn of the 21st century – despite apparent CO2 emissions increases – global temperatures haven’t increased and may have gone down. That data doesn’t seem to affect the debate.

Nor is the evidence that a warmer world is a worse world is at all convincing. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – perhaps the worst choice for a vice presidential running mate in U.S. history – understands that a warmer Alaska is not a bad thing, and not unique over the past 100 years. She’s lived there all her life. More than a decade before she was born, Alaska was much warmer than today. Alaska’s climate is cyclical. She’s a dope, but she understands Alaska.

A new, 35-page paper from climate guru Richard Lindzen of MIT, the world’s leading warming skeptic, argues that environmental politics, the emphasis on modeling as opposed to empirical data, and government funding agendas have polluted the scientific debate over climate change. In short, he argues, “political correctness,” not science, is driving the warming debate.

Conceptual models, rather than empirically-based hypotheses, have come to dominate climate science, argues Lindzen. The map has come to dominate the territory.

Lindzen writes, “For a variety of inter-related cultural, organizational, and political reasons, progress in climate science and the actual solution of scientific problems in this field have moved at a much slower rate than would normally be possible. Not all these factors are unique to climate science, but the heavy influence of politics has served to amplify the role of the other factors. By cultural factors, I primarily refer to the change in the scientific paradigm from a dialectic opposition between theory and observation to an emphasis on simulation and observational programs. The latter serves to almost eliminate the dialectical focus of the former. Whereas the former had the potential for convergence, the latter is much less effective. The institutional factor has many components. One is the inordinate growth of administration in universities and the consequent increase in importance of grant overhead. This leads to an emphasis on large programs thatnever end. Another is the hierarchical nature of formal scientific organizations whereby a small executive council can speak on behalf of thousands of scientists as well as govern the distribution of ‘carrots and sticks’ whereby reputations are made and broken. The above factors are all amplified by the need for government funding. When an issue becomes a vital part of a political agenda, as is the case with climate, then the politically desired position becomes a goal rather than a consequence of scientific research.”

Powerful language, which I find persuasive. Let’s hear a refutation.