The common notion these days is that global warming is real. That it is a terrible threat. It is the result of human activity. And the Kyoto Protocol is the solution to this problem.
Though this is a four-stage argument, each stage produces a wide variety of dissent within the scientific community, especially toward the latter stages. Since this topic is so broad, I will cover the Kyoto Protocol and why it is hypocritical.
Let’s assume that the first three stages of this argument come to be agreed upon in the affirmative (even though I disagree). If any of these were negative, then there would be no need for the Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol has been signed by all industrial nations, and has only recently been ratified or utilized by some other approval procedure. The Kyoto Protocol was signed by George Bush and then resigned by Bill Clinton after revisions were made. The Senate stated that they wouldn’t ratify such an agreement, so Clinton never pushed it. George W. Bush has since pulled out of the agreement.
The first major problem with the Kyoto Protocol is that it makes rather minute reductions to the actual production of industrial greenhouse gases. For example, the United States would be required to cut its levels to 93% below their 1990 levels. This would only reduce actual greenhouse gas levels slightly but would have drastic economic effects. We continually hear how a few-degrees rise in temperatures would cause such devastation. If this were really an imminent threat, shouldn’t there be a greater reduction required?
The real hypocrisy is that only industrialized countries are required to make any reductions. China doesn’t have to make any reductions to its greenhouse gas emissions, yet it is the second largest economy in the world and a leading producer of CO2 emissions. While the industrialized nations will be wasting capital on reducing emissions (effectively contracting their economies), China will be able to expand their economy without these restrictions. The Kyoto Protocol will make energy production and factories’ operating costs significantly more expensive, while having to invest in cutting CO2 or paying for CO2 credits from an emissions trading system devised as part of the Kyoto Protocol. These companies will either move their operations to a developing country or be forced out of business because their competitors operate in a developing country. In short, the entire protocol is wealth redistribution (socialism) under the name of environmentalism.
This will not, by any means, have the desired effect of actually reducing greenhouse gases. Production of the industrial worlds’ greenhouse gases will be replaced by booming industrial growth in the developing world.
Ironically, this would be the worst outcome for environmental activists. The developing world isn’t going to have the strict controls on pollution that is present in most of the industrial world.
The only way to effectively combat this perceived threat of global warming is through progress. The economy must remain strong in order for research and development to continue and develop more efficient ways to produce goods and services. The government cannot coerce companies to become more environmentally friendly as effectively as the marketplace can. Environmentalism is already an issue in industrialized countries, so companies will strive to bare their tree-hugging side in order to gain an edge over their competitors, especially if consumers show they are willing to support environmental friendliness.
Alex Hardman is a senior in electrical engineering.