Letters to the Editor 7/10

Kyoto Protocol does make sense

Alex Hardman’s argument that the “Kyoto Protocol is hypocritical” lacks some important information.

Evidence shows that the Earth is getting warmer. Humans produce more pollution now than ever before in the history of our species, most of it coming from industrialized nations. We also know that greenhouse gases accelerate warming trends. The global average temperature is up 0.5ºC since 1970 and is the highest it has been for the past 1,000 years, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This increase is far more than previous estimates predicted. What’s worse is that it will be years before we see the effects of today’s emissions. The Kyoto Protocol is an effort to give this issue the international attention that it deserves.

The Kyoto Protocol was never adopted by the United States. Most other industrialized nations have adopted the rules and many others have agreed to lower greenhouse-gas emissions.

George Bush, ever reluctant to help the environment, stated that he opposes the Kyoto Protocol, claiming it is not fair and would hurt the economy.

Hardman echoes Bush’s argument when he claims that China is the second largest economy and won’t be required to reduce emissions. Japan is the world’s second largest economy, according to the World Bank’s 2001 World Development Indicators, and has promised to decrease its CO2 emissions.

The United States produces 25 percent of all global CO2 emissions – as much as all developing countries combined. China produces less than half that amount. Industrialized nations combined produce 75 percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions; emissions from non-industrialized nations are negligible in comparison.

Why shouldn’t the biggest polluters make the biggest reductions?

We saw the tightening of environmental rules during the Clinton Administration, and at the same time, experienced the largest economic expansion in our history. Polluters hire engineers to clean up their plants, contributing to economic growth. The increased costs are offset by innovation.

The Kyoto Protocol cannot solve the problem of global warming. What it does do, however, is recognize that there are more greenhouse-gas emissions now than ever before and requires those most responsible for the emissions to take steps toward controlling them.

The only way to combat global warming is through progress. The Kyoto Protocol enforces progress, by enforcing standards. If adopted by the United States it would encourage investment in technology, spur economic growth and provide cleaner air for our generation, as well as generations to come.

James Bucklen is a senior majoring in Computer Science and Information Systems