Feb 21, 2005
After 15 years of delay, the Kyoto Protocol came into effect on February 16. By the terms of this treaty on "greenhouse gases," 141 nations have promised to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases [coming from carbon dioxide] by some 6%. But even this weak promise is not to be reached until the year 2012.
Furthermore, richer countries are allowed to sell the "right to pollute" to poorer countries. Or a corporation could sell old polluting equipment to a poorer country when it installed new pollution controls, thus gaining credit for "reducing" pollution.
The United States has refused to join the Kyoto Protocol. By itself, this country is the world's biggest producer of "greenhouse gases," contributing one QUARTER of the world's pollution from its industries, cars and trucks. And the situation is not improving: the International Energy Agency just reported that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by 17% since 1990 when this discussion began.
Why be concerned with global warming? Around the world, there are one hundred million people living along oceans, where rising water levels due to global warming could cause even more deaths and even larger disruptions than were seen in December's tsunami disaster.
Another study, dealing only with France, Austria and Switzerland, said in those three countries alone more than 40,000 deaths EVERY year could be attributed to the air pollution from these greenhouse gases. A recent study in the U.S. showed that for every 10 parts per billion increase in ozone levels, the death rate rises a half a% and even more for those who already have heart or lung problems. Just for the few cities studied by Yale scientists, there were almost 4,000 excess deaths from pollution each year.
Scientists concerned about the damage done by "human interference" and "human-induced climate change," as the Union of Concerned Scientists put it, pushed world governments to discuss global warming starting two decades ago. Left on their own, the governments of countries rich and poor alike have shown their total disregard for their health of their populations.
On top of the global governmental cowardice in the face of corporate and energy industry pollution comes the anti-scientific attitude of the current administration. At a conference on global warming this past December in Argentina, the current U.S. Undersecretary of the State Department, Paula Dobriansky, asserted, "Science tells us that we cannot say with any certainty what constitutes a dangerous level of warming, and therefore what level must be avoided." And she said this rubbish without breaking into hysterical laughter!
Of course scientists do not give an exact date on which global warming will reach a point of catastrophe, nor EXACTLY how much of it has been caused by human-created pollution. They are not in the business of reading crystal balls.
But the amount of climate change already seen suggests the coming disaster. A study released by Scripps Institution of Oceanography this month provides the strongest evidence seen so far that global warming is caused by human activity – exactly the point the Bush administration wants to deny. The data examining climate changes and their causes came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
After the study was released, one of the Scripps marine scientists put it clearly. Said Dr. Tim Barnett, "The debate about whether there is a global warming signal now is over, at least for rational people."
Exactly. The scientists have more than enough evidence about the problem to propose solutions. But the U.S. government isn't listening.