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By Dawson, Stephen | Review - Institute of Public Affairs, September 2001 | Go to article overview

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Dawson, Stephen, Review - Institute of Public Affairs


The Kyoto Protocol, purportedly intended to reduce human-produced carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and thereby reduce Global Warming, has been watered down. While Kyoto Mark I required most industrialized nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012, Kyoto Mark II reduces this requirement to a mere 1.8 per cent, adds some allowance for `carbon sinks' (that is, new forests which absorb CO^sub 2^) and permits trading between nations of excess carbon production. For both versions, the world's developing nations were excluded from the Protocol's requirements.

Most free-enterprise types would take the view, assuming anthropogenic Global Warming is real, that governmental agreements are amongst the worst ways to deal with the problem. But perhaps the more important question is whether Global Warming is, in fact, real. Is the level of CO^sub 2^ in the Earth's atmosphere increasing? If so, is the Earth's temperature increasing? If so, is the former driving the latter?

If temperature or CO^sub 2^ or both are on the way up, will this actually be damaging? If it is, what will be the costs of reducing the damage, and will they be less than the damage the measures seek to address?

Few of us are competent to answer either set of questions. For the first set, a climatologist or other scientist with training and experience that equips him to understand the data and processes involved is required. The second set of questions may, perhaps, be answered by an economist. Environmentalists, the great majority of politicians and almost all of the mass media accept the authority of those scientists who affirm that Global Warming is a real problem.

But almost without exception, even those scientists are not as firm in their views as is commonly represented. And there is a significant body of scientific opinion that denies any Greenhouse Effect, or any damage to the Earth therefrom.

SCIENTIFIC DIVERGENCE

Look at the process by which scientific analysis of Greenhouse proceeds. Some group of scientists are appointed to gather all extant data on the issue and produce a detailed report. They do so. That's fine so far.

But most of us don't like numbers. So just about nobody reads the report. Instead, they read the report's summary, which has usually been prepared by the group's secretariat, rather than by the contributing scientists. The summary often reduces the report's equivocations and qualifications. Rarely, however, does it remove them completely. But then the media reads words like 'may' as 'will', and the report is represented as yet another proof of looming Global Warming.

So consider the testimony of Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the US Senate in 1997. He alleges substantial misrepresentation of the 1995 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and further alleges that despite his express wish not to be associated with the report, he was listed as a contributor.

Go to:

http://193.78.190.200/historic/ files/lindzen.htm

or

http://www.forces.org/historic/ historic.htm

and click on the Lindzen link near the bottom of the page.

Have things improved? Not according to Lindzen's 2001 testimony to the US Senate, in which he says that `almost all reading and coverage of the IPCC is restricted to the highly publicized Summaries for Policymakers which are written by representatives from governments, NGO's and business; the full reports, written by participating scientists, are largely ignored'. Go to:

http://www.globalwarming.org/ lindzentest.htm

He also notes that `the IPCC represents an interest in its own right'. In other words, it is constitutionally incapable of producing truly sound science on the subject. …

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