RCEC Document Kyoto Protocol and Global Warming 3.02


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Reconstructing Climatic and Environmental Changes"
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RCEC Document Kyoto Protocol and Global Warming 3.02

  1. 1. The Kyoto Protocol and Global Warming Sallie Baliunas March 2002 Sallie Baliunas. an astrophysicist at the Harvard- Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and deputy directory of Mount Wilson Observatory, received her M.A. an - Ph.D. degrees in astrophysics from Harvarc Univerity. She is co-host of the Web site www.TechCentralStation .com, a senior scientist and chair of the Science Advisory Board at the George C. Marshall Institute, and past contributing editor to World Climo te Report. Her awards include the Newton- Lacy- Pierce Prize of the Amnerican Astronomical Society, the Petr Beckmann Awards for Scientific Freedom, and the Bc k Prize from Harvard Univerity. 'The authorof over 200 scientific articles, Dr. Baliunas served as technical consultant for a science fiction television series, Gene Roddeubey s Earth Final Conflict. Her research interests include solar variability, magnetohydrodynamics of the sun and sun like stars, expoplanets, and the use of iasei electro- optics for the correction of turbule ice due to the earth's atmosphere in astronomi al images. on February 5, The following is abridged from a speeci delivered at Hillsdale College Alternatives and the 2002, at a seminar co-sponsored by t e Center for Constructive Ludwig von Mises Lecture Series. The evolution from fire to fossil fuets to nu tear energy is a path of improved human is health and welfare arising from efficient a d effective access to energy. One trade-off that energy use by human beings has always produced environmental change. For trees example, it has resulted in human artifacts marking the landscape, the removal of from major areas for wood burning, and region-wide noxious air pollution from coal the burning. On the other hand, ready availability of energy that produces wealth through
  2. 2. environmental damage from free market system provides ways to remedy (r minimize, energy use. oil and natural gas has become the With widespread industrialization, human use of coal, environmental impact, viz., global centerpiece in an international debate over a gobal of the energy consumed in the United warmning. Fossil fuels provide roughly 84 per ent An attempt to address the risk States and 80 percent of the energy produce worldwide. carbon dioxide-emnitting fuels is of deleterious global warming from the use of these series of international negotiations. But embodied in the Kyoto Protocol and its attendant Kyoto Protocol as an attempt to control on scientific, economic and political grounds ,the this risk while improving the human condition is flawed. What Would Kyoto Do? advanced computer simulations of Projections of future energy use, applied to hemost warming from a continued climate, have yielded wide-ranging forecast of future The middle range forecast of the increase of carbon dioxide concentration in he air. Panel on Climate Change, based on estimates of the United Nations Intergoverrn ental consists of a one degree Celsius expected growth in fossil fhel use without a y curbs, including the effect of increase over the next half century. A climate simulation 1997 and calling, for a worldwide five implementing the Kyoto Protocol - - negoti tdin levels -- would reduce that increase to percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions fro n1990 0.06 degree Celsius averted 0.94 degree Celsius. This amounts to an in!igniticant tracks the forecast of increasing temperature increase. [See Chart 1. The ja 'ged line Center' s model. The upper straight line temperatures through 2050. based on the adley rise without implementation of is the linear trend fit to the model's forecast temperature with implementation.] Kyoto, and the lower straight line is the Iiiar trend that are required under the Kyoto To achieve the carbon dioxide emission cit s by 2012 its projected 20 12 energy use by about agreement, the United States would have t stash so minimnal in termis of averted 25 percent. Why, then, are the temperature forecasts China, India and Mexico are exempt global warming? The answer is that countr es like the world's leading emitter of from making emission cuts, and China alone will become carbon dioxide in just a few years. Kyoto carbon dioxide emission cuts to Most economic studies indicate that the c s of the $400 billion per year. One major the U.S. would amount to between $ 100 billion and policy has been constrained by reason these costs are so high is that past US. energy the number of U.S. nuclear political influences. For example, substantially expanding would enable the U.S. to meet both power plants and reducing the number of coal plants dioxide emission reductions. But no its future energy needs and Kyoto's mandated carbon over 20 years, owing to non-technical nuclear power plants have been built in tlf e U.S. in factors. wind and solar power have been Over the same period, renewable energy sources like boutique energy sources: they produce discussed to the point of distraction. But hese are
  3. 3. do so ntermittently. While they may be cost- a relatively minute amounts of energy and fr large-scale electricity generation. (As effective in limited locales, they are unreliable e vironmental footprint that wind and solar side note, often overlooked is the enormous aconventional 1000 megawatt coal plant farms would require. For example, to replace isola -ed, uninhabited area with correct that spans tens of acres would require an wind squ2 re miles on which to place over 2,000 meteorological conditions of roughly 400 roads, of high-power transmission lines, turbines, not to mention the associated imprint mental blight and degradation over a etc. Solar panel farms would produce enviro similarly sized landscape.) to oeninternational relations. The The Kyoto Protocol also has the potential on the U3.S. to maintain stability and to provide struggling economies of the world rely pa mer While the developing nations are aid and economic opportunity as a trading cuts, the severe economic impact on the exempt from making carbon dioxide emission to continue to promote international stability U3.S. would dramatically curtail its ability i and to help improve those nations economie What Does Science Say? d occur as a result of implementing the Whereas the economic catastrophe that wou )fan environmental catastrophe resulting Kyoto Protocol is a certainty, the likelihood ly speculative. The facts in scientific from a failure to implement Kyoto is extreme as follows: agreement concerning global wainting are natural gas, the air's carbon dioxide 'UAs a result of the human use of coal, oil and human-produced greenhouse gases like content (along with the content of o her gases absorb infrared radiation and, as a methane) is increasing. Y The green ouse surface of the earth that would result, should retain some energy near the otherwise escape to space. should work, the surface temperature ~?Based on current ideas about how climate of the small amount of energy arising should warm in response to the ad ition carbon dioxide content. from a benchmark doubloing of the irs clouds. 7? The main greenhouse effect is natura and is caused by water vapor and are for now greatly uncertain. In other But the impacts of these greenhous factors computer simulations of the words, the reliability of even the nm st sophisticated concentration rests heavily on the use climate impacts of increased carboi dioxide To put this in perspective, the of factors that science does not uertn. and water vapor in climate simulations uncertainties surrounding the use o clouds ten -- not to mention other important ~ctors like sea- ice changes - - are at least a being tracked, i.e., the temperature times greater than the effect of the variable levels in the air. rise caused by increased carbon dioxide in the 7? Finally, in the absence of any con terpoising or magnifying responses temperature is roughly one degree climate system, die global average rise in of the air's carbon dioxide Celsius or less at equilibrium for a doubling for so profound a change in the air's concentration. That is meager wa mng
  4. 4. the range of climate's natural carbon dioxide content. indeed, it is wthin vaniability. the w rmmng is the following: What has been one key question in the debate over global aount of energy added by humans from response of the climate thus far to the sinall to Prove que tinis important because, in Order increased carbon dioxide in the air? This simulations from computer simulations, those the reliability of future climate forecasts have not explain g past temperature change. They need to prove that they are reliable at yet done so. surface temperature rose about 0.5 degrees In the twentieth cen~tury, the global average which this attributable to human fossil fuel use, Celsius. At first glance, one might think Bat a closer look at twentieth century increased sharply over the past 100 years. 0.5 Firt, a strong warming trend of about temperatures shows three distinct trends: 1940. Then, century and peaked around degrees Celsius began in the late nineteenth warming 1940 intil the late 1970s. And a modest oddly, there was a cooling trend from Ch~ar2 illustrating surfatce the p esent. [See trend occurred from the late 1970s to Unit and analyzed by Cambridge Research temperature changes sampled worldwide lines show ol Space Studies (dotted line). Both (solid line) and NASA-Goddard Institute these three distinct phases.] tUit about 80 percent of the carbon dioxide How do we interpret this data? We know in air 3frer 1940. Thus increased carbon dioxide from human activities was added to the 4 wa ming trend. That trend had to be largely the air cannot account for the pre- 19 O c ntent increased most rapidly, temperatures natural. Then, as the air's carbon dioxide about 0.1I that human effects amount at most to dropped for nearly 40 years. And it seems the I970s. increase in warming seen after degree Celsius per decade -- the maximum trend in recent decades -- even assuming How, then, does the observed surface-warming tc the results of climate change computer it is all due to human activity -- compare simulations'? predict that a smooth, linear rise of at least Lookig bac at hart 1, climate simulati ns through b occurring, and that it will continue twice the observed trend should already rn has been observed to be at most 0.1I the next century. Given that the warming greatly to a( tivities. these future forecasts appear degree Celsius per decade from human degree be adjusted downward to, at most, one exaggerate the future warming and should similar to natural ofwarming would be very Celsius warming by 21 00. That amount likely for thousands of years. Indeed, it would vaniability, which humans have dealt with ced in the early centuries of the second return climate conditions to those experie such is indicated by numerous proxies of climate, millennium, when widespread warming sea and lake floor ice cores, coral, tree growth, and as glaciers, pollen deposits, boreholes, is ths so-called Medieval Climate Optimum sediments. (It is interesting to note that and Iceland, travel by the Vikings to associated with the settling of Greenland gt neratly rising life spans.) Newfoundland, higher crop yields and
  5. 5. New Data Iin new temperature data, u.S.,leadership In ddiionto hatwecan deduce from surfa e he nic a ile arigtndtms space instruments and in the finding of globalrsac a lesser human-made global wamntrdthni temperature data that also indicates forecast by climate simulations. warming Of the lower troposphere According to these simulations, a readily detectable presence of increased altitude) must ccrwith the (roughly 5,000 to 28,000 feet from NASA's microwave sounder atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. But records essentially global, trend. T ese satellite records are units aboard satellites show no such -es, which cover a mere fifth of the planet. in contrast with records of surface temperatu temperature does vary over is that while t e tropospheric And what emerges firomn them warming Pulse of 1997 and 1998 - short periods -- for example, with the strong El Ni-o record. [See Chart ov rthe 21 -year span of the no meaningful warming~trend is observed for the lower troposophere fromn 3, illustrating monthly averaged temperature; El Nino taking into account the 1997-98 instruments onboard NASA satellites. Even Data are from +0.04 degree Celsius per decade. event, the linear trend is only htp/wwhcmf~aagvtmeaue lack of a a proposed explanation for the it should be noted in passing that there has been This explanation h-end in t e lower troposphere. significant human-made warmning sulfuir is masked because of soot from contends that human--induced global warmnig cool the atmosphere. But this idea of a aerosols, wich dioxide and other hiumnanl-made test by the scie ntific method, because the widespread aerosol shading effect fails the trend at all -- is relatively shows no I ng- term warming Southern Hemisphere -- which Free of aerosols. back record from -balloons that goes in addition to satellite records, we have a adiosonde coverage of satellite obviously ackes the dense spatial over four decades. This record warming trend in global average Nevertheless, it too shows no in measurements. effects. It records the strong warming that can be attributed to human shiLl temperature resulting from a natural, periodic 1976-77 known as the Great Pacific Cimate Shift, that global Oscill tion -- which is so significant in the Pacific -- the Pacific Decadal illustrates the seasonal average average temperatures are affected. [See Chart 4, which measured by for the lower troposphere as temperature anomaly sampled worldwide a linear trend of +0.09 degree radiosonde instruments canried aboard balloons. Although record, the trends across the entire period of the Celsius per decade is present if fitted lInes) indicate no of 1976- 1977 (straight horizontal before and after the abrupt warming made war ing. Data are from evidence of significant human~- the Pacific now /ngell/ glob.dat.] Furthermore, 7 6 phase, which should htp/cices~nlgvfp/rnsti998- )9, back to its pre-19 in seems to have shifted, perhaps global average. cooler temperatures, especially in Alaska and in the produce to the actual measurements of Thus according to our most relia ble dat, when compared overestimate to some decades, computer simulations temperature over the past four
  6. 6. exaggerate warming in the lower degree the warming at the surface and decide ly past warming trends, they troposphere. And given that the models have overestimated expected in the future. This inaccuracy is presumably also exaggerate the warming to b, must track over five million parameters; not surprising. Computer simulations of clina e change for a period of several decades relevant to the climate system. To simulate cliate degrees of freedom. is a computational task that requires 10,000.000.OOOOOO,000,OOO major natural on two information And to repeat, such simulations require acdi t greenhouse gas factors -- water vapor and cl ouds whose effects we do not yet -- understand. natural factors influencing the climate, Finally, it should be mentioned that in klooktinfor the sun. Twentieth century temperature a new area of research centers on the effects of changing energy output. Although the changes show a strong correlation with the si ins energy outputs are uncertain -- as are causes of the sun's changing particle, magne icand the correlation is pronounced. It explains the responses of the climate to solar change -- increase, which, as we have seen, especially well the early twentieth century tc niperature (See Chart 5, illustrating the change over could not have had much human contributio i. representative of the surface area four centuries of the Sunspot Number, whica is low magnetism of the seventeenth coverage of the sun by strong magnetic fields. The coincides with the coldest century of the century, a period called the Maunder Minir urn, in the latter twentieth century. See last millennium, and there is sustained high i agnetism as evidenced by the also Chart 6, showing that changes in the sun's magnetism -- Cycle (dotted line) -- closely correlates changing length of the 22-year or Hale Pola ty (solid line). The sun's shorter ~~with ~~~T changes in Northern Hemisphere land temperature sun during longer cycles. Lags or magnetic cycles are more intense, suggestin' a brighter 20 years are not significant, owing to leads between the two curves that are sho r than change. inthis chart, the record of the 22- year time frame of the proxy of bri~ litness substitutes for global temperature, reconstructed Northern Hemisphere land t mperature which is unavailable back to 1700.] Conclusion and human energy use: Two conclusions can be drawn about glob I warming effects can be found in the best ?? No catastrophic humnan- made glo al warming measurements of climate that we resently have. of humans have improved with 7?The longevity, health, welfare and productivity human wealth has helped the use of fossil fuels for energy, ad the resulting to health as well. produce environmental improvemi nrts beneficial the issue of greenhouse gases, it is In light of some of the hysterical language surrounding greenhouse gas produced by burning also worth noting that carbon dioxide, the primary it is essential to life on earth. And fossil fuels, is not a toxic pollutant. To the contrary, a ten percent increase in crop plants have flourished -- agricultural expc its estimate fertilization effect of increased carbon growth in recent decades -- due directly, o the dioxide in the air.
  7. 7. cience offers little justification for the It i goo nt bad, that the best current new, infodicates ta by the (ooPtcl.Tisience rapid cuts in carbon dioxide mandated minor and will be stow to deveoafrigs human- made global wanning is relatively of climate. observ itions and computer simulations anopportunity to continue to improve arig nlo ofhmnmd These will serve to better define the magnitud, response. development of an effective and cost-effective One the KYo Protocols international momentum? Given this science, what is impelling i i environmental regulation. This Principle strong factor is the "Precautionaiy Principle" nment until the action is certain to be envil disallows an action that might harm the the to science in practice, because it Sets environmentally harmless. it is antithetical 'doing wit certainty. In addition ,a policy of impossible goal of proving harmnlessness risk to the earth. This idea of something' .ispromoted as "insurance" again t possible ons owtstanding the lack of insurance as a prudent heg swogo Of madc warming. First, the actuarial notion scientific evidence of significant human- well-known pre, jum, paid against a reasonably insurance is that of a careffily calculated But in the case of human-made glob al risk in outcome and probability of outcome. notion that ca not be well defined. Second, the effects, the risk, premnium and outcomes that the actual insurance ignores the fact implementing the Kyoto Protocol is effectiv basis for incons quential. Indeed, the underlying averted warming that would result is that reaty of 1992, which specifically states current international negotiations is the Rio stabilized. In in the a mosphere, not emissions, be concentrations of greenhouse gases would have to be of greenhouse gases, emissions order to stabilize the au's concentration cut some 60 to 80 percent. of life are key to maintaining Americans' way For the next several decades, fossil fuels know them Accor ling to the scientific facts as we and improving the human condition. we should not continue using them today, there is no environmental reason ,arm