Saturday, August 07, 2010
Warmists and dinosaurs
By: James Isanhart [firstname.lastname@example.org]
The debate over Climate change is another very heated debate which has captured the views of billions across the globe; on one side we have a multitude of cataclysmic claims and another emerging group claiming – “It is a natural cycle”. Could it be the so called consensus of Climate science maybe wrong?
What are we to make of this when so much seems to be at stake? After all it’s not like we are talking about a simple thing like the GFC, we are talking about the possible destruction of our planet. Is the prudent thing to do to immediately enact a Carbon trading scheme just to be on the safe side? You know, use precaution, because the Earth and our children are counting on us to do what is imperative and nobly right. If the Earth may be in peril should we not implement a price on carbon even if energy prices rise and cause economic uncertainty?
On the other hand, we have the Climate Sceptics (there is even a new political party called, the Climate Sceptics) also known as Climate Deniers (in a pejorative way). Their main argument goes something like this: “The climate is always changing and the recent, albeit miniscule uptick in global temperatures is nothing to be alarmed about”. This reasoning does not give me the warm and fuzzies; after all the Earth cannot wait for us to take action. Can it?
In this debate we have to rely upon scientists for our information. That is all well and good, but what are we to make of scientific findings, which seemingly are more and more linked with politics? More people are starting to speak out and believe that the science behind the ever increasing climate scare stories are losing their credibility because it has adopted an authoritarian tone, and has let itself be co-opted by politics.
Can it be so many expert scientists could be wrong and maybe, just maybe, the so called Climate Change Deniers could be right? No, it cannot be so. A consensus of Climatologist throughout the world could not be wrong!
The history of science is not one without famous blunders having taken place throughout our past. Galileo spent more than twenty years under house arrest for having the temerity to question the noted experts (Priests) of his era about whether the sun or the earth was the centre of the solar system.
Climate scientists of today are all learned experts with a special depth of knowledge which surpasses the knowledge of other scientific disciplines. Or are they?
In the early 70’s a young geologist named Walter Alvarez noticed a pronounced layer of reddish clay which were between two layers of limestone. He took a sample of this clay and asked a nuclear chemist friend of his, Frank Asaro, to analyse it in an effort to better understand its composition.
Frank Asaro the nuclear chemist, and Walter Alvarez the geologist determined the clay contained a high concentration of a very rare element called iridium, an element only found in space objects, like meteorites, comets, or asteroids. They immediately came to the conclusion that a large object collided with the earth approximately 65 million years ago causing the mass extinctions of the dinosaurs in a short period of time. It was conclusive, was it not?
However, the paleontological community of scientists thought this information was an outrageous heresy as all real palaeontologist knew the dinosaurs died out over millions of years, not in a quick extinction. The consensus of the paleontological community was united in questioning this meddling in their area of expertise.
It was around 1990 when a geologist, named Gene Shoemaker, discovered an impact crater near the Yucatan coast of Mexico which had high levels of iridium. When confronted with the crater discovery palaeontologists still had a hard time accepting that they were wrong. Gene Shoemaker noted, “It was like our findings were against their religion.”
Twenty years elapsed between the discovery of the iridium clay layer and the locating of the impact crater before a majority of the paleontological community gave their blessing to this new science. Even today there are holdouts in the paleontological community who still do not support the impact theory to explain the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.
What is to be learned about climate science from this story? Sometimes the experts get it wrong and sometimes the non-experts get it right.
I do not feel for one minute the paleontological community had any nefarious intent by questioning the new science. That is how science works, by questioning and defending a position based upon the science each party knows. In a similar way, I do not feel the climatology community is wrong to strongly defend their scientific consensus, especially as it relates to the environment.
However, maybe – just maybe – the climate sceptics, many of whom are established scientists in their own fields, have judged the climate change story correctly.
World renowned scientific leaders including Freeman Dyson, Ivar Giaever (Nobel Prize), Robert Laughlin (Nobel Prize), Edward Teller, Frederick Seitz, Robert Jastrow and William Nierenberg have each come forward with their respective doubts about manmade global warming claims authored by the now discredited consensus of United Nations sponsored climatologists.
I for one do not believe we should institute a carbon tax of any kind at this time as the history of scientific consensus is not one to hang our whole economic future on.
Received by email from the author. Mr. Isanhart lives in Rhodes, NSW, Australia and has been involved in environmental matters for over 30 years
Aaaargh! Controlling Soot Might Quickly Reverse a Century of Global Warming
This is NOT what Greenies want to hear
A massive simulation of soot’s climate effects finds that basic pollution controls could put a brake on global warming, erasing in a decade most of the last century’s temperature change.
Compared to the larger, longer term task of getting greenhouse-gas pollution under control, limiting soot wouldn’t be hard. Unlike new energy technology and profound changes in lifestyle, the tools — exhaust filters, clean-burning stoves — already exist.
“Soot has such a strong climate effect, but it has a lifetime in the atmosphere of just a few weeks. Carbon dioxide has a lifetime of 30 to 50 years. If you totally stop CO2 emissions today, the Arctic will still be totally melted,” said Stanford University climate scientist Mark Jacobson. If soot pollution is immediately curtailed, “the reductions start to occur pretty much right away. Within months, you’ll start seeing temperature differences.”
Jacobson’s simulation, currently in press at the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, is the latest in a line of studies showing a powerful climate role for fine soot, also known as black carbon. (That’s a somewhat misleading appellation, since some carbon is brown, and the pollution in soot contains a host of other compounds.)
Soot comes from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, and also from the burning of wood or dung for fuel. Crop residue and forest-burning are another major source. When aloft, the dark particles absorb sunlight, raising local temperatures and causing rain clouds to form, which in turn deprive other areas of moisture. When soot lands on snow or ice, its effects are magnified, because melts reveal fresh patches of heat-absorbing dark ground.
In 2003, a NASA simulation blamed soot for 25 percent of the past century’s observed warming. A study last year suggested that soot was responsible for almost half of a 3.4-degree Fahrenheit rise in average Arctic temperatures since 1890 — a greater rise than anywhere else on Earth.
Soot also appears to be a culprit in drastic melts of Himalayan glaciers which provide water to much of South Asia, and in disrupting the monsoon cycles on which the region’s farmers rely. The United Nations puts the soot-related death toll at 1.5 million people annually.
Jacobson’s simulation, the culmination of 20 years of research on the dynamics of soot and its interaction with local, regional and global climate dynamics, reinforces those findings. It also studies a question implicit in the earlier studies, but not yet modeled: What would happens if soot pollution stopped?
“If you just eliminate soot, you get a significant climate benefit, and you can do it on a short time period, because soot has a life of just a few weeks,” said Jacobson. “You don’t get the full response for a while, as there are deep ocean feedbacks that take a long time, but it’s a lot faster than controlling CO2.”
Jacobson simulated the effects of curtailing soot from fossil-fuel emissions, something that’s already possible with tailpipe and smokestack filters. He simulated the effects of replacing wood- and dung-burning cookfires with clean-burning stoves. And he simulated both advances simultaneously.
If soot disappeared overnight, average global temperatures would drop within 15 years by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, maybe a little more. That’s about half the net warming — total global warming, minus cooling from sun-reflecting aerosols — experienced since the beginning of the industrial age. The effect would be even larger in the Arctic, where sea ice and tundra could rapidly refreeze.
“It will take some decades to phase down fossil-fuel emissions, so reducing dirty aerosols [soot] while we are doing that may help retain Arctic sea ice,” said NASA climatologist James Hansen, one of the first researchers to study soot dynamics. But he emphasized that soot control is only a stopgap measure. “We should reduce soot for several reasons, especially its health effects, but it is only a modest help in controlling global warming,” he said.
Nevertheless, soot could ease the delay between controlling greenhouse gas emissions and cooling. It might also help “avoid tipping points — nonlinear, abrupt and potentially irreversible climate change, especially in the Arctic,” said Erika Rosenthal, a climate policy expert at the progressive nonprofit Earthjustice.
Soot-control policy, however, is scattered. According to Jacobson, climate policymakers have paid little attention to soot. Compared to well-studied greenhouse gases, its climate role is new and unfamiliar. “There are international efforts to limit greenhouse gases, but they completely ignore soot as something to control from a climate perspective,” said Jacobson.
The draft international climate treaty negotiated last year in Copenhagen doesn’t contain soot-specific provisions, but the United Nations Environmental Program is meeting in February to discuss policy options on soot. A relatively little-known U.N. effort called the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution has also established a black-carbon working group.
In the United States, a rare bipartisan environmental bill sponsored in 2009 by climate skeptic James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and environmentalist Barbara Boxer (D-California) foundered after its inclusion in massive energy legislation that recently died in Congress. It would have required the EPA to study and possibly regulate black-carbon emissions.
In anticipation of these legislative difficulties, the EPA was charged this year with launching a black-carbon study. More immediately, Congress is now debating reauthorization of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, a federal program that pays for putting clean tailpipes on diesel-fuel–burning automobiles, a prime source of black carbon. According to Rosenthal, the program has been fantastically successful, with retrofit requests exceeding available funds by $2 billion.
Controlling crop and forest burns isn’t so easy, but clean stoves could be provided to the developing world for relatively little money. “We have the technology now. It’s a matter of implementing it,” said Rosenthal.
“It’s low-hanging fruit,” said Jacobsen. “It’s straightforward to address, and it can be addressed.”
Images: 1) Rennett Stowe/Flickr. 2) Average global air temperature decline following elimination of fossil-fuel–based soot (dotted line) and fossil-fuel– plus biofuel–based soot (solid line).
Citation: “Short-term effects of Controlling Fossil-Fuel Soot, Biofuel Soot and Gases, and Methane on Climate, Arctic Ice, and Air Pollution Health.” By Mark Jacobson. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, in press.
Texas defies EPA on regulation of greenhouse gases
At the very least this will tie the issue up in the courts for years -- time enough for a new administration and a new head of the EPA
Texas officials warned U.S. EPA this week they won't change or reinterpret their air pollution laws to comply with federal greenhouse gas regulations, arguing that the Obama administration's climate rules are illegal.
EPA plans to begin regulating stationary sources of greenhouse gases next January and asked states to inform the agency by this week whether they would need to change state laws or regulations to comply with federal policies.
But Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Chairman Bryan Shaw and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) blasted EPA for unlawfully attempting to force states to "pledge allegiance to its rules." The dispute marks the latest in a series of altercations between the Obama EPA and Texas as federal officials have moved to overhaul the state's air permitting program.
"In order to deter challenges to your plan for centralized control of industrial development through the issuance of permits for greenhouse gases, you have called upon each state to declare its allegiance to the Environmental Protection Agency's recently enacted greenhouse gas regulations -- regulations that are plainly contrary to United States law," the officials wrote in a letter (pdf) sent Monday to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and EPA's Dallas-based Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz.
"On behalf of the state of Texas, we write to inform you that Texas has neither the authority nor the intention of interpreting, ignoring, or amending its laws in order to compel the permitting of greenhouse gas emissions," the Texas officials say.
Specifically, the officials are taking issue with EPA's "tailoring" rule for greenhouse gases. The tailoring rule seeks to substantially raise the Clean Air Act's permitting thresholds for greenhouse gases from the current limits of 100 or 250 tons per year. Without the rule, even small facilities would be required to obtain greenhouse gas permits when the agency officially begins to regulate tailpipes' greenhouse gas emissions in January.
"Instead of acknowledging that congressionally set emission limits preclude the regulation of greenhouse gases, you instead re-write those statutorily-established limits," the letter says.
EPA air chief Gina McCarthy told Greenwire in June that the final tailoring rule was written to allow states to avoid regulating except in the narrow way her agency intended (Greenwire, June 2).
"We wrote it after talking to the states and realizing that some of the rulemaking uses the same exact language, and if we interpreted that language at the federal level to mean that you don't need to regulate, except the way in which the tailoring rule has designed it, that you can simply decide when to use our interpretation and move forward," she said. "And we know that many of the states are perfectly comfortable doing that."
For states that can't or won't immediately comply with the rules, EPA is planning to use its authority to bring them into compliance with federal rules. The agency sent a proposal to the White House regulatory review office last month that seeks to guarantee authority for federal implementation plans, or FIPs, that could replace state programs if the states do not comply with federal requirements by the deadlines (E&ENews PM, July 9).
For states that do not align with the federal program, EPA could issue FIPs to curb emissions or issue sanctions including the withholding of federal highway funding.
The battle between Texas and EPA "is going to be a shootout at the O.K. Corral," Becker said. But he said EPA won't give up without a fight. "I think that EPA is very serious about taking this forward," he said.
A Call for Energy Realism
The fossil-fuel economy won’t disappear anytime soon
In the summer of 2008, at a time of widespread anger over historically high oil prices, Al Gore challenged his countrymen “to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within ten years.” This wildly ambitious goal recalled Richard Nixon’s proclamation, issued amid the 1973 global oil shock, that the United States would aim to become fully energy independent by 1980. It also brought to mind Jimmy Carter’s pledge, made during his famous 1979 “malaise” speech, that America would “never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977,” and would seek to cut its reliance on imported oil in half by 1990. For those keeping score, foreign oil accounted for 35 percent of U.S. consumption in 1973 — and 63 percent in 2009.
As University of Manitoba professor Vaclav Smil writes in his new book, Energy Myths and Realities, the various targets proposed by Nixon, Carter, and Gore collided with the harsh reality that “energy transitions are inherently prolonged affairs lasting decades, not years.” It was probably not until the late 1890s, he notes, that fossil fuels provided half of all global energy. While we commonly think of the 1900s as the “oil century,” oil did not become the world’s largest primary energy supplier until 1965; and during the 20th century as a whole, it contributed slightly less energy than coal did.
“In global terms,” says Smil, “1800–1900 was still a part of the millennia-long wooden era, and 1900–2000 was (albeit by a small margin) the coal century.” Commercial oil production started in the 1860s, but it took roughly eight decades for the black stuff to gain even a quarter of the global primary energy market. As for the U.S. market, coal became America’s biggest primary energy supplier in 1885, Robert Bryce writes in Power Hungry, and it held that crown for 65 years. In the early 20th century, its domestic market share reached as high as 90 percent. Oil did not surpass coal as the top U.S. supplier until 1950; its rise was driven largely by the automobile revolution and military needs during World War II.
By 1958, natural gas had eclipsed coal to become America’s second-largest primary energy source, says Bryce, managing editor of the online journal Energy Tribune and a Manhattan Institute senior fellow. But then, regulatory interventions hindered its growth and gave new life to the U.S. coal industry. In recent years, coal demand has been soaring in China, India, and other developing countries. Smil points out that coal’s portion of the global primary energy market was higher in 2008 than it was in 1973. Over the next 20 years, those hoping for a decline in worldwide coal consumption will almost certainly be disappointed.
Just look at the International Energy Agency projections. In its latest “World Energy Outlook,” released in November 2009, the IEA estimated that, if government policies stayed constant, global demand for coal would increase by 53 percent between 2007 and 2030. Over the same period, coal’s share of global electricity generation would swell from 42 percent to 44 percent, while that of renewable fuels would go from 18 percent to 22 percent. Total energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions would jump by 40 percent, with coal-power emissions growing by 60 percent. Coal would still be “the dominant fuel of the power sector,” and fossil fuels generally would still be “the dominant sources of energy worldwide.”
They will also remain the dominant sources in America. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reckons that, based on current government policies, fossil fuels will account for 78 percent of overall U.S. energy use in 2035, compared with 84 percent in 2008. Coal will provide 44 percent of U.S. electricity generation (down from 48 percent in 2008), and renewables will provide 17 percent (up from 9 percent in 2008). To be sure, the extension of certain tax subsidies and the establishment of muscular greenhouse-gas regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency could boost the market share of renewable technologies and further reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels. But even if the U.S. launches an aggressive renewable-energy drive, its reliance on oil and coal will persist well into the future.
Indeed, the promise of renewables has consistently been oversold by the political class. Solar and wind energy both suffer from major structural deficiencies. As Bryce observes, they are “incurably intermittent” and very difficult to store, and have low power density. Because of their low density, solar and wind “require huge swaths of land — which often becomes unusable for other purposes.” Smil offers a balanced assessment of wind power: “Conversion of wind’s kinetic energy by large turbines can become an important contributor to the overall electricity supply, but, except for relatively small regions, it cannot become the single largest source, even less so the dominant mode of generation.”
Compared with solar and wind, nuclear and natural-gas energy boast much higher power density and can deliver far greater capacity. Bryce argues that they are the true “fuels of the future,” though he concedes that nuclear plants are extremely costly to build and take a long time to become operational. Therefore, he urges a short-term expansion of natural-gas production and a long-term transition to nuclear. While Smil predicts that “an early and substantial nuclear comeback is unlikely either in North America or in Europe” — partly for economic reasons, and partly because of perennial concerns over plant safety and the disposal of radioactive waste — he affirms that “nuclear generation is the only low-carbon-footprint option that is readily available on a gigawatt-level scale.”
Even if previous energy transitions moved at a slow, incremental pace, might we be able to accelerate them in the years ahead? Smil acknowledges that we now “possess incomparably more powerful technical means to effect faster energy transitions than we did a century or a half century ago.” But there is a crucial caveat: “We also face an incomparably greater scale-up challenge. While the shares of new energies in the global or the U.S. market remain negligible, the absolute quantities needed to capture a significant portion of the total supply are huge because the scale of the coming global energy transition is of an unprecedented magnitude.”
Over the next few decades, he explains, replacing half of all fossil-fuel energies with renewable energies would mean replacing the equivalent of approximately 4.5 billion tons of oil. This would effectively require “creating de novo an industry whose energy output would surpass that of the entire world oil industry that took more than a century to build.” Smil also addresses the ten-year plan laid out by Al Gore: Even if America had the necessary high-voltage transmission interconnections, it would entail the construction of 1,740 gigawatts of new wind- and solar-power capacity — in other words, “1.75 times as much as [America] built during the past fifty or more years.”
Our current national energy debate is heavy on passion and hyperbole; it could use a sizable dose of historical perspective and empirical reality. In that sense, Smil and Bryce have done a valuable service. Their new books should be mandatory reading for U.S. policymakers.
The Global Warming Fleecing of American Taxpayers
By Alan Caruba
As the BP oil spill slips off the front pages, replaced by daily reports of Lindsey Lohan’s release from jail; as Chelsea Clinton’s marriage is no longer news; as the war in Afghanistan loses traction with the public; and as Barack Obama pauses to review his declining approval rates, it is time once again to ask, whatever happened to global warming?
Here’s an update. On the basis of legitimate—-not government funded—-science, it is as dead as Marley’s ghost.
There actually was global warming. It began around 1850 as a Little Ice Age receded from America and Europe. From about the 1500s on, it caused the Thames to freeze over in London, widespread crop failures, the fall of the French monarchy, and the tribulations of Washington’s troops in Valley Forge, among many other notable historic events. The Earth continued to warm, very moderately, until the 1990s.
That warming period is over. The Earth’s overall temperatures have been falling for the past decade and, since the Earth is at an end of an interglacial cycle between full-blown ice ages, we better hope it doesn’t tip over into a new one any time soon. The current cooling is attributed to another well known cycle, that of sunspot activity. Fewer sunspots means a cooler climate on Earth.
Plainly stated, there isn’t a damned thing anyone on Earth can do about this latest cooling, nor was the alleged “global warming” due to “anthropogenic” causes, i.e., anything and everything attributable to human beings.
Putting aside the fact that the creatures of the Earth exhale carbon dioxide after breathing in oxygen and that various technologies based on coal, oil and natural gas generate it along with natural events like forest fires, carbon dioxide (CO2) plays virtually no role whatever so far as the climate is concerned.
It is, however, along with oxygen, the most important gas in the Earth’s atmosphere since it is the “food” on which all vegetation, from forests to jungles, crops of every description, and grandma’s favorite potted plant depends. No CO2 means no life on Earth.
Despite this, a huge global warming industry has emerged thanks to the lies put forth by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The release in November 2009 of thousands of emails between a very small band of so-called climate scientists who provided the IPCC its falsified data was immediately dubbed “Climategate.”
“Global warming”, a hoax and a fraud, had nothing whatever to do with climate and everything to do with the creation of a scam called carbon trading.
By assigning a value to the amount of CO2 emissions produced by the production of electricity and the manufacturing of everything, “carbon credits” can be bought and sold on exchanges set up to trade in them. There is money to be made in “alternative energy” production such as solar and wind farms, or in biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. To justify this, any use of coal or oil has to be demonized.
The worst part of all this is the role that governments have played in furthering this greatest of all Ponzi schemes wherein carbon becomes a commodity.
Here’s where it gets very interesting for a cash-strapped United States of America where jobs are disappearing faster than ever since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In an interesting paper published by the Science & Public Policy Institute, “Climate Money”, some astonishing and appalling facts are laid out by Joanne Nova, its author.
“The U.S. government has spent over $79 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, administration, education campaigns, foreign aid, and tax breaks.”
“Carbon trading worldwide reached $126 billion in 2008. Banks are calling for more carbon trading. And experts are predicting the carbon market will reach $2-$10 trillion making carbon the largest single commodity trade.”
Based on her analysis of the money allocated to the global warming scam, “In total, over the last 20 years, by the end of fiscal year 2009, the U.S. government will have poured in $32 billion for climate research—-and another $36 billion for development of climate-related technologies. These are actual dollars, obtained from government reports, and not adjusted for inflation.”
Among the billions spent by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, otherwise known as the Stimulus Act, $7 billion was allocated to “carbon sequestration experiments.” That is taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and burying it.
This is as idiotic as it gets, especially when one considers that, despite $30 billion spent on pure science research, “no one is able to point to a single piece of empirical evidence that man-made carbon dioxide has a significant effect on the global climate.”
All that money, taxes paid by Americans, has been a complete and total waste.
It’s time to stop, but it will not stop if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has his way and pushes through a stripped-down version of the former Cap-and-Trade bill that had been pronounced dead on arrival in the Senate.
There are powerful vested interests devoted to fleecing the American taxpayer and they, not you, are represented in Congress and, in particular, in the Obama White House. This is why the Environmental Protection Agency is doing everything it can to secure the authorization to regulate “greenhouse gas emissions.”
If that should occur energy costs will, as President Obama has said, "skyrocket." It will mark the irreversible economic decline of the nation.
Climate of emissions trading cools
Comment from Australia -- where the Left have now put global warming on the backburner much more decisively than is the case in America
WE all know both Labor and the Coalition have jettisoned plans to implement an emissions trading scheme to tame climate change. But Australia is not alone in failing to put a price on carbon. Global warming fatigue is setting in all over the world.
Canada's cap-and-trade legislation is going nowhere. Japan's weak and divided government has temporarily shelved its ETS in parliament. French President Nicolas Sarkozy's carbon tax is blocked by the Constitutional Council. Public opinion polls show higher climate scepticism in Britain than in western Europe, North America and the Antipodes. Even when an ETS has been implemented, as in the case of the European Union, the policy has been a debacle: a collapsed carbon price, higher energy prices, and increased emissions during the first three years in operation.
China's leaders, far from leading the world to a low-carbon future, won't sign a legally binding global deal, because they want to grow their economy and reduce poverty on the back of the cheapest form of (carbon) energy.
Senior Indian politicians, meanwhile, criticise US officials when they push for Delhi to adopt binding emissions targets.
Nowhere is the changing climate more evident than in the US. Last month, congress could not even agree to a climate bill to debate on the Senate floor before a vote. Nor was it simply conservative Republicans who opposed what is called "cap and tax". Democrats from states heavily dependent on coal, oil and manufacturing are overwhelmingly opposed to Al Gore's agenda. When the House passed a climate bill a year ago, one in five Democrats opposed the legislation.
Meanwhile, even prominent global warming believers have come out against the ETS. US environmental lobby groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth; the ETS intellectual architect Thomas Crocker; NASA climate scientist James Hansen, among others, have repudiated the concept of cap and trade, saying it protects the big polluters while doing virtually nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Washington's failure to act this year represents a missed opportunity. If the US, where liberal Democrats control the White House and have super majorities in the House and Senate, can't legislate a tiny 4 per cent cut to emissions of 1990 levels by 2020 (with loads of loopholes and pork to industry), what are the chances of comprehensive climate reform when Republicans make likely gains in the House and Senate in November's mid-term elections?
All is not lost. The Environmental Protection Agency could use the 1990 Clean Air Act to regulate emissions, but such action would probably get bogged down in litigation for years. Beijing has also announced it will introduce domestic carbon trading programs and it has invested heavily in renewable energy, but any efforts to reduce emissions are outweighed by China's meeting the demands of its rapidly industrialising economy.
The Kyoto protocol expires in 2012. But the global momentum towards a genuine international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Mexico later this year is rapidly slowing. Get ready for another Copenhagen.
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Posted by JR at 3:18 PM