Climatologists: Kyoto Is Pointless, Harmful

Jeff Goldstein notes in piece in The Telegraph on 60 climate scientists who wrote a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper that the Kyoto Protocols are based on fear-mongering and junk science:

They emphasised that the study of global climate change is, in Mr Harper’s own words, an “emerging science” and added: “If, back in the mid 1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary.” Despite claims to the contrary, there is no consensus among climate scientists on the relative importance of the various causes of global climate change, they wrote.

“‘Climate change is real’ is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified.

“Global climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ‘noise’.”

The whole idea that human-caused climate change is scientific fact is junk science, pure and simple. “Consensus” is not a scientific term, and it has no validity in hard science. Science demands reproducable proof, and the argument that the frequent and unpredictable fluxuations in global temperature can be determined to have been caused by one singular agent is a profoundly unscientific conclusion. We don’t have nearly sufficient understanding of the dynamics of Earth’s climate to make such an argument with any degree of certainty. Observational evidence indicates that the solar activity, urban heat islands, and a whole host of other facts play into the current condition of Earth’s climate – trying to argue that human activity is the primary cause of climate change is not supported by sufficiently strong evidence to justify sweeping changes to public policy.

Kyoto was always a sham – the EU couldn’t implement their emissions targets despite the fact that they were using the collapsed economies of the former Soviet bloc as a dodge against the restrictions. Brazil, India, and China – countries that will soon represent the largest share of CO2 emissions were exempted from the Protocols. Kyoto was junk policy influenced by junk science created in a climate of fear – the right course of action is to treat it like the rubbish it is.

UPDATE: Another climatologist argues that global warming stopped in 1998, and between 1998 and 2005 global temperatures either stayed stable or fell slightly. The fact is that we simply don’t have sufficient real-world data to make long-range (or even short-range) predictions about where the planetary climate will go – which is precisely why it’s so foolish to try to craft public policies around scenarios that are inherently unpredictable.

19 thoughts on “Climatologists: Kyoto Is Pointless, Harmful

  1. To the true believers, human-caused global warming is fake but accurate. It fits in with the religion of the non-religious: The Earth is Gaia, a goddess; mankind is the Devil. It’s useless to suggest to these simpletons that nature is a stage on which all life forms play out their drama, and is itself morally neutral; or rather, amoral, because a category such as morality simply doesn’t apply.

    Nature — or The Earth, if you want to sum it up that way — can be, for humans, beautiful and inspiring; it can also be (if we apply human values to it) cruel and destructive. The Nature worshipers can’t admit that a tsunami is as much a product of Nature as is a view of Mt. Fuji, or that an earthquake or volcano wiping out a village is as natural as a rainbow.

    So these Earth First types have to believe that everything about Nature that might be watched with concern is a disaster, and a disaster caused by mankind to boot. After all, if Nature is benevolent, any of her activities that would be a crime if done by a human can’t be her fault.

    And if the blame can be pinned on not just ordinary people, but on capitalism (as though Soviet Russia or Red China was an ecological paradise), why, call a UN conference and come up with a treaty to punish the guilty posthaste!

  2. “Kyoto was junk policy influenced by junk science created in a climate of fear”

    So are you on record in suggesting that global warming doesn’t exist?

  3. So are you on record in suggesting that global warming doesn’t exist?

    No, there’s no doubt that average temperatures are getting slightly warmer. It’s just that such a warming trend is nowhere near as dramatic as it’s made out to be, and mankind is but one of hundreds of factors behind it – and probably not the primary cause either.

  4. It would be cheaper to put up an orbital solar shield over a few empty portions of the mid-Pacific than it would be to implement the Kyoto Protocols worldwide for a single year. All we need to do is block out .5% of the solar input to the earth, and we’d mitigate any likely global warming effects for the next century.

    Why is no one promoting mitigation?

  5. I say, so what? So what if humans are only one of many causes behind climate changes? That doesn’t give us free license to do whatever we want. Or, I guess we could do whatever we want, but remember that it’s stupid to shit where you eat. Yes, there are some idiots out there who chain themselves to trees and sign petitions to ban dihydrogen monoxide. Ignore them. The real reason to practice conservation is because we have to live here. So we can wait for Jesus to pull our fat out of the fire when the earth fails under the weight of humanity, or we can stop being stupid now.

    Actually, Jay, proofs are for alcohol and math. In the field I work in, you gather evidence. The more evidence you have, the better supported your hypothesis is. So actually, consensus is a valid term in the sciences. Who are these 60 climatologists? Have they published recently in any reputable journals? Have they done research on climate change? Or are they the climatological equivalent of Kent “I have a fake degree” Hovind? These are questions you need to ask before you believe what they say. And the minute you say “indoctrination” or “peer review conspiracy” is the minute you lose all credibility and join the creationists in crazyland.

  6. Erica:

    The point isn’t whether or not global warming is happening. Based on my analysis of the information I’ve seen, I, for one, think that it is and could be catastrophic in its effects.

    The point is that Kyoto isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. It’s not that global warming is “junk science”, it’s that the Kyoto treaty, even if fully implemented, would hardly make a dent in the problem and cost nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars a year to execute. The only effective way to stop global warming at this point would be a mitigation regime, and that’s not even on the table.

  7. That’s the other thing. Even we accept that global warming is happening, and that we’re the cause, the environmentalist movement’s pet solutions won’t work. Wind turbines aren’t efficient enough. Neither is solar.

    Even James Lovelock (the guy who came up with the Gaia Hypothesis – which I won’t hold against him in this case) is right when he says that nuclear energy is the only way to produce the power we need without significant risk to the environment. The Chinese are already developing a crash program to place safe pebble-bed reactors across the country to produce 300MW of new electrical capacity.

    If we were serious about cutting down on emissions, we’d be starting to replace smog-belching coal plants with pebble bed reactors. Sadly, I don’t think anyone in contemporary politics has the foresight for that – outside of the PRC, anyway.

  8. For the record, Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis has been used in all kinds of ways he never intended; his hypothesis (which was named during a discussion with J.R.R. Tolkien) was that the Earth’s ecosystem functions as a super-organism, not that it’s a magical “Earth Goddess” that we should worship. Many neopagans and new-agers don’t seem to get the distinction. That, and Lovelock has always been a proponent of nuclear energy and ecological engineering; he wrote some of the best books on terraforming scenarios that I’ve ever read, and would probably support a mitigation regime as being the last-ditch solution to global warming.

    Wind power is more potentially efficient than solar power (at the present time) simply due to the lifespan of new wind facilities; a new wind turbine is designed to generate power for 100-200 years (though it takes about two decades to pay off the initial investment, at average operating capacity). While nuclear will need to be the backbone of our future power grid, a substantial investment in wind capacity wouldn’t hurt either.

  9. Neat idea with the mitigation, Nick. Better yet – let’s grow some cheap photovoltaic cells on the sunward side of the shield and beam the power in microwave form down to power stations on the surface (or use it to crack seawater for hydrogen.)

    Although the majority of the Earth’s oxygen is generated via photosynthesis of seaborne algae, so your shield might have an unintended consequence there. Nonetheless, the answer to this problem will be scientific and technological, not treaty-ological. So which political party is going to be the most open to those solutions? Not the party that champions intelligent design creationism in schools, I think.

  10. The way I see it, both sides have their difficulties with science, specifically with biology. The hippies don’t like transgenic crops or things that “mess with mother nature”. The neocons don’t like things that mess with their rigid religious beliefs. None of these ridiculous belief systems are in any way conducive to solving problems, and we need to stop listening to their whining. The expectation that all scientists everywhere should drop everything to appease these primitive superstitions is a ridiculous one.

  11. The big problem with wind is that it’s unpredictable – you don’t have any way of knowing how much capacity you’ll get, and we can’t store electricity on a megawatt scale – the electricity we have is only what’s being produced. If you get a hot day with no wind, you don’t really get much benefit.

    Wind certainly isn’t a bad option, it’s just that it isn’t reliable enough to be a primary source of power. As a supplement, though, it can provide some extra capacity at a reasonable level of efficiency.

  12. “I also think nuclear power would be a really good way to start reducing our dependence on oil.”

    I’m not certain how one would sell that idea to main street America. Perhaps the climate is better now than 30 yrs ago when a number of planned nuclear powered facilities were scrapped mainly due negative public comments (NIMBY).

  13. “Have they published recently in any reputable journals? Have they done research on climate change?”

    In light of the recent scandal in South Korea over ‘successful’ stem cell cloning it seems that there needs to be a ‘test of time’ requirement before going ga-ga over any research paper. Didn’t the South Korean (don’t have the name) do research and have it published in a reputable journal?

  14. “Didn’t the South Korean (don’t have the name) do research and have it published in a reputable journal?”

    I have no idea what journal they published in, but they were caught because they published. That’s one of the purposes of publishing.

  15. “I have no idea what journal they published in, but they were caught because they published. That’s one of the purposes of publishing.”

    Glad you cleared that up because your earlier question could have been easily misconstrued to mean that publishing in a reputable indicates that the ‘science’ is valid.

    I could be mistaken but I seem to recall there was a three year lapse between publication and ‘capture’. Good thing the scientific community didn’t jump off the deep end overnight and immediately buy into the guy’s research.

    One might say that strong evidence doesn’t necessarily constitute a smoking gun.

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