Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Turning Down the Heat

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Turning Down the Heat

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE: "Case Closed: The Debate About Global Warming Is Over" by Gregg Easterbrook, in Issues in Governance Studies (June 2006).

THE GLOBAL WARMING DEBATE is gridlocked in part because the problem seems almost too big and costly to solve. That's foolish, argues Gregg Easterbrook: "Greenhouse gases are an air pollution problem, and all air pollution problems of the past have cost significantly less to fix than projected, while declining faster than expected."

Easterbrook, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, detailed that history in his 1995 book A Moment on the Earth. He also criticized environmentalists (with whom he was sympathetic) for inducing gloom about what could be accomplished in the future by ignoring the great gains America had already made in reducing pollution. At the time, he was somewhat skeptical of claims about human-caused global warming, but no longer. The question now is what to do about it.

Critics of the Kyoto Protocol, ratified by more than 160 countries but not the United States, are right, Easterbrook says. Even if the treaty were perfectly enforced, "atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in 2050 would be only about one percent less than without the treaty." (The Bush administration's unsung multinational methane reduction pact of 2003, Easterbrook adds, "may do more to slow global warming than perfect compliance with the Kyoto treaty.") An perfect compliance is a pipe dream: "Most nations that have ratified the Kyoto treaty are merely ignoring it." Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are 24 percent above the Kyoto-mandated level, for instance.

Easterbrook's optimism comes from U.S. experience in reducing ordinary air pollution during the past 30 years. "Today, any make or model new car purchased in the United States emits about one percent the amount of smogforming compounds per mile as a car of 1970, and the cost of the anti-smog technology is less than $100 per vehicle. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.