Saturday, December 08, 2007

Indonesia Pushing Tighter Emissions Pact

Indonesia, in conjunction with Australia and South Africa, issued a draft proposal on climate change reforms at UN talks aimed at curbing greenhouse emissions. The draft places the burden of drastically cutting emissions squarely on the shoulders of the wealthiest nations, while glossing over the global impact of the world's most populated and most polluted nations. (Reuters: All nations must join climate fight: Bali draft.)

The draft proposal claims that there is "unequivocal scientific evidence that preventing the worst impacts of climate change will require (developed nations) to reduce emissions in a range of 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020."

It's an interesting concept, however there is no such "unequivocal scientific evidence" that climate change - which started at the end of the last ice age some 14,000 years ago - can be reversed at all. Neither is there "unequivocal scientific evidence" that climate change has anything to do with emissions caused by human industry. The implication that there is universal agreement in the scientific community to that effect is both misleading and completely false. The fact is, this is the third such warming period our planet has undergone in the last 250,000 years, and it's safe to say that the last two had nothing to do with human technology. Why, then, do we automatically assume - through the arrogance of human hubris - that we are the cause of this one or that we can do anything at all to stop it?

The US came under a great deal of criticism for refusing to sign the Kyoto protocol due to the exemption of India and China, two of the world's greatest polluters. It should be obvious to anyone that the US cannot agree to economic constraints that exclude the two most rapidly developing nations on Earth, especially when there's no evidence that such constraints will have any impact on the issue at hand.

It's time to come to grips with the fact that the planet's climate is indeed changing as part of a much broader natural cycle. Regardless of what we attempt to change, the polar ice will continue to melt, the average temperature will continue to increase, and the sea levels will continue to rise. It is part of the natural cycle of the planet and it is inevitable. We can no more prevent that from happening than we can prevent the sun from rising in the east.

This does not mean we should do nothing to curb pollution. On the contrary, the issue of waste and the effects of pollution do have to be addressed and should be addressed. Our water supply is in grave danger world-wide, and the quality of the air we breathe is well below the most generous of health standards. Where the conditions are worst, though, is China and India, not the US. You may recognize those two as the countries exempted from anti-pollution agreements.

The bottom line is that the US must continue to resist these efforts to further cripple American industry and manufacturing presented to the world as a heart-wrenching attempt to reverse the natural effects of the planet's climate cycle. If you want the US to participate in this exercise in futility, then the developing nations - especially China and India - must be under the same constraints. Until that happens, and I do not expect it ever will happen, the US must continue to respectfully decline the invitations to cripple our economy. Thanks for the offer, folks, but we'll pass.


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