Saturday, December 10, 2005

Dealing With Climate Change

The big climate change circus in Montreal is winding to a close, with posturing on all sides. I can't help but be disgusted by the hypocrisy. Canada's PM attacked the US, even though Canada's performance under the Kyoto treaty (which does not bind the US, which never ratified it) is worse that the US's. Canada's CO2 emissions are up 24% since the start of the Kyoto period, meaning they'll need a 30% reduction in emissions to meet their commitments. 11 European countries are in similar situations.

What that means is they'll be buying emissions credits, mostly from Eastern Europe. As I understand Kyoto, if the promised emission reduction in the country selling the credit doesn't materialize, the buyer is not liable. So I expect lots of fake credits to be sold, and then, gosh, too bad so sad when the seller drops out of the treaty (not that the enforcement mechanisms in Kyoto have any teeth.)

The Europeans, who initially opposed emissions trading, could at least thank the US for getting it into the treaty in the first place -- even if, as predicted years ago, this scheme proves unworkable. At this point it provides them a useful fig leaf.

Kyoto's a failure, and the follow-on is not likely to be any less ridiculous, so what's to be done? My money at this point is on geoengineering, particularly schemes to increase the effective albedo of the Earth. Allowing CO2 to double (for example) while reducing insolation to compensate for the resulting warming would dramatically increase the biological productivity of the Earth's ecosystems. A study at Lawrence Livermore of mitigation showed that, if optimized, the cost is amazingly low -- just a billion dollars a year. This is a small fraction of the cost to the US alone of complying with Kyoto, never mind the rest of the world or the far more onerous emissions reductions that would be required to actually stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the US government is, at some level, egging on the climate hysteria, encouraging greater and greater predictions of disaster and doom from a warming world. At some point, a geoengineering proposal will be brought out, and it will be difficult for the doomsayers to claim it shouldn't be done.


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