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Postby KatyBr » Wed Jun 15, 2005 2:56 pm

But she did tend to demolish her own argument didn't she?

But oc newspapes are exempt, right?

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Postby M. Henri Day » Wed Jun 15, 2005 3:31 pm

I'm not sure that it would be correct to say that Ms Schiff «demolished» her own argument - I find the verb a bit strong here. I think she has valuable things to say on the phenomenon now called «infotainment». But at the same time I think you have clearly pointed out that the same arguments that can be used against bloggers can also be used against journalists - whatever stream their journals swim in. My view (as you would know if you could see the letters I have the habit of sending to unfortunate editors) is that newspapers are definitely not immune from error, whether inadvertent or - alas, all too often - by design....

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Postby William » Wed Jun 15, 2005 3:48 pm

Fact 2: Humanity has been emitting gases that are proven to have greenhouse effect at laboratory level. The emission amount of CO2, for example, surpasses all the recorded instances of natural emissions in the history of the Earth.


And yet the geologic record indicates periods when there was less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and during which the average temperature was significantly higher than it is today. Two "facts" are often insufficient to arrive at a valid conclusion.

Here is and article from yesterday's issue of USA Today that makes some interesting points.
The article is copied below. A couple of points the article makes indicate that the real purpose of the Kyoto Accords is something other than influencing "greenhouse" emissions.
There is also evidence that the Accords would have a negative impact on the U.S. economy, and there is an interesting quote from a scientist at MIT. I have underlined all of these.

Evidence is underwhelming
By James M. Inhofe
Despite the lack of a scientific consensus to warrant such measures, climate change alarmists — in the heat of the summer for the scariest effect — are promoting mandatory caps on carbon dioxide emissions in the USA. It's a classic case of "ready, fire, aim."
Until recently, the foundation of climate change alarmism has been the so-called hockey stick graph. The graph, constructed by Dr. Michael Mann, a professor at the University of Virginia, and shaped like a hockey stick, purports to show a link between rising temperatures and human activity.
Recent Canadian research discredited the graph because of its errors and improper methodologies. An Environment Canada statistician agreed Mann's method "preferentially produces hockey sticks when there are none in the data." Dr. Hans von Storch, a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, called it "rubbish" methodologically, and Dr. Rob van Dorland, an IPCC lead author, said the IPCC "made a mistake by only including Mann's reconstruction and not those of other researchers."
In spite of this, some still seek to solve a problem even before it has been established one exists. Two Senate bills would, like the Kyoto Protocol, cap carbon dioxide emissions. Wharton Econometrics Forecasting Associates estimates that the costs of implementing Kyoto would cost an American family of four $2,700 annually. Two international leaders once described Kyoto's intent. Margot Wallstrom, the European Union's commissioner on the environment, said Kyoto is "about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide," and French President Jacques Chirac called it "the first component of an authentic global governance."
MIT professor Dr. Richard Lindzen sums up the current state of affairs best: "Science, in the public arena, is commonly used as a source of authority with which to bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens. ... A fairer view of the science will show that there is still a vast amount of uncertainty — far more than advocates of Kyoto would like to acknowledge." Based on that uncertainty, our constituents hardly need "global governance," but they do deserve responsible governance at home.


Henri, I have made only a token effort to contact my brother-in-law and was not successful, as he was probably asleep at the time I called him. He is on East Coast (EDT) and I am on West Coast time (PDT). I will try again this evening.

William
Last edited by William on Thu Jun 16, 2005 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby KatyBr » Wed Jun 15, 2005 6:41 pm

Ok Henri, if not demolished, at least partially negated.....

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Postby M. Henri Day » Sat Jun 18, 2005 11:08 am

William wrote:...

... Wharton Econometrics Forecasting Associates estimates that the costs of implementing Kyoto would cost an American family of four $2,700 annually. Two international leaders once described Kyoto's intent. Margot Wallstrom, the European Union's commissioner on the environment, said Kyoto is "about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide," and French President Jacques Chirac called it "the first component of an authentic global governance."...


...


Whilliam, I am not in a position to judge the estimate you cite - but I do find it interesting to note that those who claim that the science dealing with the phenomenon of global warming is so uncertain believe that they are in a position to calculate the cost of adhering to the Kyoto Protocol so nicely. Is it good science to ignore completely the uncertainties which inevitably afflict such calculations ? I find this rather «creative» use of the concept of uncertainty - of the type «your calculations are uncertain, mine are sculpted in stone» disturbing, not to say absurd. In a recent cartoon, Jeff Danziger shows just how ridulous these manueouvres have become :
Image

But, for the sake of argument, let us assume that the above figure does, in fact, represent a reasonable approximation to reality. Have you - or the Wharton Associates (who, of course, have no connection whatever to any of the industries - like oil - who are opposed to anything which might force them to pay for the emissions they produce) - seen any evidence to the effect that implementing the Kyoto Protocols would cost, say, a Swedish or a German family of four less than the USD2700 annually that a similar family in the US would have to pay ? Margot Wallström is by no means my favourite among Swedish politicians - she's far too much an EU partisan for that - but would the «level playing field» she here advocates be so bad ? And as global warming and the emissions that are thought to play a vital role in causing it are global problems, is it unreasonable to expect that it be dealt with by means of global commitments - and that a country which collectively produces about 25 % of the total world emissions should bear its share of the responsibility ? «Global governance» was not invented by M Chirac - it was, in fact, the United States that took the initiative for such a project towards the end of and immediately after WW II - what nation do you think stood midwife to the United Nations ? That none of this is of any concern to a present US administration which is doing its best to repudiate and repeal the legacy of Franklin D Roosevelt is hardly surprising, but according to what I read, a majority of the people in the US have another conception of their place in history and their responsibility to the world. But perhaps I am deceived ?...

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Postby uncronopio » Sun Jun 19, 2005 5:46 am

Have you - or the Wharton Associates (who, of course, have no connection whatever to any of the industries - like oil - who are opposed to anything which might force them to pay for the emissions they produce) - seen any evidence to the effect that implementing the Kyoto Protocols would cost, say, a Swedish or a German family of four less than the USD2700 annually that a similar family in the US would have to pay ?


First, whatever the cost is, it is not the oil companies that will pay. It is us who will. Any cost will, eventually, be passed to the final user. Second, the cost should not be related only to emissions but to economic output too. That is, the US produces a lot of greenhouse gases but, at the same time, it also has a huge production (and productivity). So, cost should probably be related to efficiency (emissions/production). Third, why should all the cost be paid by a single generation? Fourth, we do not have a clue what are we getting in exchange of that cost. Finally, I am very skeptical about giving too much power to (any) government. Thus, I am not very receptive to any idea of global governance. I agree with general principles and the ability of countries to freely interact with each other. However, things like the European Constitution monstrosity or treaties that hinder interaction rather than encourage trade, are beyond what I would consider reasonable.
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Postby Apoclima » Sun Jun 19, 2005 7:31 am

You make alot of sense to me, uncronopio!

....whatever the cost is, it is not the oil companies that will pay. It is us who will.


.....we do not have a clue what are we getting in exchange of that cost.


And, you, too, William:
A couple of points the article makes indicate that the real purpose of the Kyoto Accords is something other than influencing "greenhouse" emissions.
There is also evidence that the Accords would have a negative impact on the U.S. economy


I find it interesting that China and India are exempt as developing nations. I mean, wouldn't it be just as easy to pollute from a third world country, driving industries out of the first and second worlds and into the third world, where there is less regulation, it doesn't really make much sense, except if you just want to undermine industrial economies.

And all this because of what computer models have been treaked to output!

It's like playing a shell game when you are told ahead of time that there may not be a pea at all.

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Postby Flaminius » Sun Jun 19, 2005 9:01 am

Uncronopio's reference to efficiency deserves a serious consideration. I found a carbon efficiency table here. These figures are emission divided by production and, therefore, a country is more thrifty and efficient if it ranks lower.

Granted that all developed countries emit 600 kg or more of CO2 while producing a dollar's worth (use OECD countries tab), West European countries, Japan ande India are doing better than China, United States, Canada and Australia.

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Postby KatyBr » Sun Jun 19, 2005 12:42 pm

....whatever the cost is, it is not the oil companies that will pay. It is us who will.



[/quote]
Just as it's not the oil companies who are paying for our super-high heating and electrical costs now.

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Postby William » Sun Jun 19, 2005 11:02 pm

Henri,

Your posting of the absolutely apolitical and totally unbiased Jeff Danziger’s cartoon is certainly enough to convince me to change my ideas about Mr. Bush and Saint Sadam. Or…..maybe not. I have seen the light. The lies told about the peace loving government of Sadam Hussein date back to the 1980s during the evil Republican regime of Ronald Reagan, who somehow convinced the world that Hussein had started a war with the peace loving and democratic country of Iran and actually used weapons of mass destruction in that war. And then there were those lies the evil Americans told about how Saint Sadam used nerve gas on his own people. He never actually had any of that material. Those were all lies perpetrated by the evil Americans. And the work of the U.N. Inspectors was so distorted by the U.S. media that I actually for a time believed that Saint Sadam was hindering their work. Thanks to such unbiased journalists as Mr. Danziger and the inestimable Dan Rather of CBS news, and the journalistic excellence and error free reporting of such unbiased publications as Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and the National Inquirer I have decided to devote my life to freeing Saint Sadam and restoring this saintly lover of democracy and mercy to his throne, uh, I mean his presidency.

Your sarcastic comment in re Wharton Associates having “no connection whatever to any of the industries – like oil – who are opposed to anything which might make them pay for emissions” of course means that you have evidence that they do have such connections. Perhaps you would care to post it for us. But even if they do have such connections, should one automatically assume that their calculations are invalid?

“the United States … took the initiative for such a project towards the end of and immediately after WW II - what nation do you think stood midwife to the United Nations ? That none of this is of any concern to a present US administration which is doing its best to repudiate and repeal the legacy of Franklin D Roosevelt is hardly surprising”


I am not ignorant of FDR and his history, nor of the fact that Soviet spies occupied high places in his administration. (Please, spare me the anti-Joe McCarthy rhetoric). There really were spies in his administartion, Alger Hiss being the most famous. Perhaps you have never heard of the Venona Project, for which the God-father of Robert Kennedy’s children (the same Joe McCarthy) had little to do. Nor am I ignorant of the enormous errors FDR made at Yalta, nor was I ignorant of them before George Bush mentioned them in his recent visit to Eastern Europe.

But I digress. Perhaps the UN was a good idea at the time. Perhaps it really did prevent a nuclear confrontation between East and West. But then, it is more likely that the leaders of East and West were deterred from nuclear war by the fact of Mutually Assured Destruction.

The UN, if it ever was popular in the U.S. it is certainly losing popularity now.

As for global warming, I have seen enough evidence to indicate that those who fear it have little understanding of it.

One more thing. I finally made contact with my brother-in-law. I asked him for his opinion about the economic impact of the Kyoto Accords on the U.S. He indicated that he has not studied indepth the political ramifications of the Treaty, but based on what he has studied about it, if the treaty were accepted by the U.S. and was implemented rapidly, the economic impact “would be dramatic”. He went on to compare the U.S. under the Kyoto treaty to a man who had one wrist strapped to one ankle, trying to compete in an athletic event with others who were not so hampered.

I will be in the D.C. area this next and will have a chance to talk to him in person. I hope to discuss the issue in greater depth with him tomorrow or on Tuesday.

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Postby Apoclima » Sun Jun 19, 2005 11:56 pm

Bravo, William!

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Postby M. Henri Day » Mon Jun 20, 2005 1:49 am

Luckily (?), I was able to save this posting before my access to the Agora was broken last night :

Let me attempt to deal with the important points raised by uncronopio :

1) The oil companies will, of course, attempt to pass added costs on to the consumers. But consumers - at least in the developed world - often have an area of discretion ; e g, many of them they can choose to purchase and drive more fuel-efficient motor vehicles rather than SUVs or Hummers, or they may opt for public transportation (where that is available), or indeed, like myself, they may actually choose to bike to work, where possible. Such choices are to a certain degree price-sensitive, so that if the cost of heating oil or petrol goes up, at least some people are going to explore the possibility of better insulating their homes or using less costly means to get to work. This fact, perhaps the best argument for market-based economies in which consumers have a choice, is one of the reasons why (in my opinion, short-sighted) firms like Exxon Mobil have lobbied so hard (and so successfully, under the present US administration) to see to it that the US withdrew from the Kyôto protocols….

2) I agree that emissions should be related to productivity, for both pragmatic reasons and concerns about equity. Flam has helped us here by finding a source that provides such data - even if, of course, all will recognise that 1000kg CO[sub]2[/sub]/GDP (in USD) is a very crude measure (the 0 figure for countries like Somalia and Namibia (1998) strikes me as odd) . The site also provides more precise breakdowns ; those interested in the results for the OECD countries, which have roughly comparable economies can find a table here (that Switzerland ranks so low is presumably due to the fairly minor role that industrial production plays in its economy compared to services). What this table says to me is that the costs of reducing emissions should tend to be lower in countries that are higher up the scale of inefficiency - generally speaking the cost of going over to more efficient methods tends to rise as these measures are taken. Thus, increasing efficiency in Poland, with a ratio of 2.84, should be less costly than doing so in Australia, with one of 2.07. Similarly, increasing efficiency in the US (1.77) should be less costly than in Germany (1.19) or Sweden (0.70), the two countries I mentioned in my earlier posting....

3. Alas, my generation has hardly paid the cost of the pollution it has caused, leaving later generations to do so ! But I don't really understand the comment - one thing the Kyôto Protocol isn't about is making the generations presently alive pay the whole cost of cleaning up past errors - the mandated goals regarding CO[sub]2[/sub] emissions were for Germany and Sweden (and for the EU as a whole) to reduce these emissions to 92 % of 1990 levels by 2012, for the United State 93 %, for Japan 94 %. Australia's target does not even call for a reduction, but rather for a limitation of the increase to 108 % of the 1990 figure. These levels, even if attained, would be far insufficient to reverse the current trend of increasing CO[sub]2[/sub] levels in the atmosphere and reduce them to pre-industrial levels. Coming generations definitely do not run the risk of having nothing to do in this regard !...

4. This I find the most weighty of the points taken up by uncronopio. While we have a pretty good idea of what will happen if we go on increasing our emissions of climatic gases - and the prospect is not pretty - we don't know if even far more stringent measures, which would succeed, in time (perhaps after a century or more - TTT), to lower the concentration of CO[sub]2[/sub] in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels, would actually stop the process of global warming which we now observe. Perhaps, as I have noted earlier, the homeostatic mechanisms which regulate temperature change on the planet are already out of whack - and that even if we reduce emissions now, temperatures will continue to rise. This uncertainty certainly exists, given the inadequate state of our present knowledge - but to me, using this as an excuse to continue as we have is a counsel of despair. My position is that it is the better part of prudence and wisdom to attempt to deal with the problems we face - but then again, as I have said before, perhaps I am naive....

5. I share uncronopio's skepticism about giving governments too much power. Things we can determine for ourselves as individuals, and the results of which affect only ourselves, are, to my mind, best left to us. If each individual - and only he or she were affected only by the emissions (remember the discussion on CH[sub]4[/sub] above - pigs are not the only animal that emit, as an inevitable result of digestion processes, that gas, which is a still more powerful climatic gas than CO[sub]2[/sub] !) he or she produces, than government intervention would neither be necessary nor desirable. But emissions affect the climate over the whole planet and impinge upon us all - for this reason, government (and inter-governmental) regulation is a sine qua non for addressing the problem. This is not to gainsay that individuals, in particular those with relatively large disposable incomes also have a responsibility to make choices concerning their private life styles that are in accordance with the goal of reducing global warming. But as there are always those who want a free ride, government intervention seems necessary to spread the burden as equitably as possible....

I find it interesting that China and India are exempt as developing nations. I mean, wouldn't it be just as easy to pollute from a third world country, driving industries out of the first and second worlds and into the third world, where there is less regulation, it doesn't really make much sense, except if you just want to undermine industrial economies.


I quite agree with you, Apo. It is imperative that these rising industrial economies be drawn into the framework of a limitation and reduction treaty. The best way to do so, to my mind, is for the US to accede to the Kyôto Protocols, which would mean that over 85 % of current CO[sub]2[/sub] emissions would be regulated by the treaty. Both India and China desperately wish to be accepted as economic, industrial, cultural, and social powers on a level with the major «Western» powers (including Japan). If convinced that reducing emissions were a necessary passport to this exalted status, they would surely hop on the bandwagon. But in the event the US stays out of agreements limiting emissions, China and India can and will always point to this example of a major power that doesn't play by the rules. Why then should they join ? Another point is that industrial efficiency in the use of fossil fuels in both these two countries is vastly below European or even US levels ; this means that the costs - which are, as uncronopio points out, passed on to the consumer to the degree that competition allows this to be done - for reducing emissions in there would be much lower than in the industrialised lands mentioned above. And as emissions have global consequences, a reduction in India or China would not only be to the benefit of Indians and Chinese, but to the benefit of all. In a Kyôto-like framework, technologically advanced countries could purchase emission credits by paying the costs of cleaning up the inefficient act in India and China. Adam Smith would smile in his heaven !...

Henri
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Postby uncronopio » Mon Jun 20, 2005 2:38 am

Henri,

At some point in time technological change will occur, independently if oil companies like it or not. We need to remember that we have been using oil for a very short time (from a historic perspective) and we will eventually switch to other sources of energy when they are more competitive. This will happen. Of course, as an individual one has choices and I drive a 1.5L engine car.

Normally the impact of projected temperature increased are discounted from the future to the present (Net Present Value), using very low alternative rates of return, and that is used to point out that we should be 'doing something'. In that way, all future effects are brougth to the present so they are a burden for the current generation.

In the past, our planet has had much more dramatic changes of atmospheric composition. What do we do about this? On one side, one can put forward the idea that 'we need to do something'. Given that it is an economic decision (there is a trade-off, because resources that are used for a Kyoto commitment can't be used for something else) the question is: is this the best use of our resources? I would say probably not.
Last edited by uncronopio on Tue Jun 21, 2005 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Spiff » Mon Jun 20, 2005 6:39 am

I find this an interesting discussion, the more so since I'm not exactly sure myself what to believe about global warming. And it's a fairly friendly discussion, unlike some other discussions. So, carry on.

But please refrain from writing things like this:

A couple of points the article makes indicate that the real purpose of the Kyoto Accords is something other than influencing "greenhouse" emissions.
There is also evidence that the Accords would have a negative impact on the U.S. economy


In other words: 'The Kyoto Accords would have a negative impact on the U.S. economy', therefore 'The real purpose of the Accords is to hurt the U.S. economy.'

This reasoning is in the same league as: 'You say Bush is bad', therefore 'You think Saddam is/was good.' (Couldn't find the exact quote right away and lack time to search for it, sorry.)

Regardless of whether these four sentences are true or not, this is really crappy logic. These are ridiculous deductions and, by themselves, prove absolutely nothing. I found them to be sadly misplaced in posts which also made some good points.
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Postby M. Henri Day » Mon Jun 20, 2005 6:56 am

uncronopio wrote:...

Given that it is an economic decision (there is a trade-off, because resources that are used for a Kyoto commitment can't be used for something else) the question is: is this the best use of our resources? I would say probably not.


Uncronopio, we seem to be in agreement that economic decisions (in a condition of scarcity relative to our unlimited desires) are a trade off. Recognising a certain degree of uncertainty, you maintain that adhering to the Kyôto Protocol is probably not an optimal use of these resources. I have no complaint with this position, provided that other alternatives - like the proposals put forward by Professor McKibben - which promise an equally great or greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions are adopted. I do not think, however, that doing nothing about the problem is a viable alternative....

Henri
Last edited by M. Henri Day on Tue Jun 21, 2005 10:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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