Mittwoch, Oktober 11, 2006

Two Nails In The Coffin...

I have never been a fan of the Kyoto pact. Nor am I a fan of "environmentalists" whose Idea is to force other people to live according to the dictates of the environmentalists.

But let me tell you first what I am a fan of: I am a fan of those conservancy organizations that put their money where their mouths are, such as the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. They don't try to force life-style changes, instead going out and buying land to ensure that the land is moved from commercial use to wilderness. The actions of such organizations is measurable, quantifiable and concrete. They help ensure that wildness is conserved: living as I do in Germany, where there is no such thing as wildness, I find that the best thing you can do for nature is to leave it well enough alone and simply let nature take its course. After all, it's nature, isn't it?

Not a bad deal for land owners, either: by taking land off the market, it helps land prices stay relatively high through the simple rules of supply and demand. What is there for an economist not to love?

But the point of this post is not that: it is to reiterate what a joke Kyoto has been, is, and will continue to be.

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , as the damned thing is known as, is, as we all know by now, a comittment to reduce the output of certain kinds of gases that result from industrial output.

I will not debate whether these are a problem, nor global warming. This distracts from the real issue.

What I will say here is that the Kyoto Protocol as we know it was, plain and simple, bad policy. Not merely bad policy, but policy enacted in bad faith: by excluding a penalty clause, the protocol has no meaning. Any sort of committment to "action" that has no enforcement conditions means that the committment is nothing more than political bullshitting.

It is political white-washing of the worst kind: it is the moral equivalent of deploring war whilst selling guns to the warring parties indiscriminately.

Why? Here are two more nails for the coffin that the Kyoto Protocol should be buried in, preferabyl sooner than later.

This should give you an idea. As should this.

Fundamentally, the makers of the treaty wanted to do something "feel good" but without any sort of meaning. This is what I mean by political white-washing. All that this served was to take off the political pressure from "green" groups and give them something to be happy about: yay, the planet is going to be saved!

Why is it the moral equivalent of deploring war whilst selling guns?

Because the reductions achievable by Kyoto are basically background noise: a maximum modelled reduction in temperature rise of 0.28° C within a modelled temperature increase of between 1.4°C and 5.8°C. Of course, it sounds better to say a 20% reduction in the best case modelled temperature rise and a 4.83% decrease in the worst-case scenario.

But that's not the real story. The numbes 1.4°C and 5.8°C are the limits to the ranges that the models used deliver: a variance of 4.4°C. Now the middle value of those two is 3.6°C, and when I look at the modelled maximum effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol, we get 0.28°C/3.6°C = 0.0778 or not even 8% change in a modelled result. Given the dire predictions of the "environmentalists," making the commitment to spend billions of dollars - which is, after all, a scarce resource in and of itself - to hope to affect a change that is well within the realm of statistical variance means that you are spending billions to achieve nothing. Kyoto, even if it were to be implemented 100% AND - a very big leap of faith - the most likely scenario - the middle point of the two extremes - were to come about, achieves at best a change that falls within a very narrow confidence level.

That is, as far as I am concerned - feel free to disabuse me of my notions here - meaningless.

Meaningless: that is the core of the Kyoto Protocol.

And who will profit? Well, that second link up above - to carbon trade - shows what happens when you let "environmentalists" set up systems designed to provide economic incentives to achieve political goals. Set things up and then do not fund. Open the door to corruption and deliberate malfeasance, negating the whole point of carbon trade to begin with.

And those who will be laughing all the way to the bank aren't the populations of the lesser developed countries, cashing in on the inability of developed countries to reduce their carbon footprint: instead, the beneficiaries are those who are more than willing to abuse the system, selling promises with no intention of keeping them, coupled with an oversight system that is rife with conflict of interests.

Within the financial community, any attempt to set up such a scheme, where contracts aren't enforced (or even enforceable!) and where the watchdogs are corrupted by their own actions, would end up with massive fraud and ultimately prison time for those who get caught and don't have political friends in high places.

Here there will be massive fraud and no one will care until everyone realizes that the Kyoto Protocol is terribly, terribly flawed.

By then, if the models are accurate and reality unfolds as they expect, the damage will be there, but rather than even try to address the problems then, the money will have been spent now.

But not to address the real problems of a possible future, but rather to assuage political pressure groups and bribe them into supporting corrupt politicians, those who are only interested in achieving power and maintaining their lifestyles without the danger of having to actually work for their money.

What we need instead is to spend the monies dedicated to Kyoto on building dikes in Bangladesh if rising sea levels is the result of global warming; on learning where climate change will occur and what it actually means; on ensuring that there is a minimum of loss of life and suffering.

Instead, Kyoto will come to be seen as the greatest mistake of the beginning of the 21st Century and historians will wonder why the obvious was so long ignored.

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