There’s serious flaws to the agreement that, in my opinion, prevent it from being anything more than a feel-good measure designed to mollify the Green Party. Developing nations, the largest growing pollution producers, are exempt from any controls. It also seems to be designed more as a way to cripple the US economy than as an effective tool against pollution.
Added to this is the fact that the science behind Kyoto is suspect. The data is so inconclusive and contradictory that some scientists actually warned that the world would be plunged into an ice age if we allowed global warming to continue.
The news coverage of this event (or non-event, if you prefer) strikes me as being very odd. The wire services are falling all over themselves to trumpet the start date of Kyoto and blame the Bush administration for it’s inevitable failure, but they seem to have forgotten (or are deliberately ignoring) the fact that Kyoto would be doomed even if the US signed on. Far too many pollution producing countries other than America have rejected the Protocol for it to work.
Another thing that puzzles me is why they’re heaping blame on the Bush admin. Wasn’t it the Byrd-Hagel Resolution which stated that the Senate would absolutely refuse to consider any such treaty unless it underwent significant revision? And wasn’t Byrd-Hagel passed in 1997, during the Clinton admin, by unanimous vote?
But let’s just put that aside for a moment. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s just make the incredible assumptions that global warming is going to happen, and that it’s bad, and that we have to take steps right now in order to save ourselves.
Even so, I think the whole idea of a global regulation on pollution emissions to be a very serious mistake. Looking at it as a very practical fellow, the first thing that jumps out at me is the problem with getting everyone on board. If it’s going to be done then everyone without exceptions has to do it, developing country or not. And every country will have to reduce their emissions by an equal percentage. Otherwise it’s just a waste of time.
The second problem is with enforcement. How could foreign countries be compelled to abide by the agreement, particularly when compliance would be sure to cause problems with their local economies? Economic sanctions wouldn’t work since the countries most affected would probably figure that they could live with sanctions as long as their entire banking system and currency doesn’t collapse, which might happen if they try to hobble their industry while going through a bad economic downturn.
The only way it could work would be for every government in the entire world to give up a portion of their sovereignty and allow an outside body to enforce the law. Not only can’t I see this happening, but I can’t figure out who would be qualified to wield such godlike, globe-spanning authority. The ICC? The United Nations?
It seems that proponents of Kyoto and similar measures think that this is too important a subject for anyone to even contemplate cheating. Any efforts to ensure compliance are unnecessary because every country and government in the world will do their part to reduce emissions as soon as they sign the paper.
Dream on, guys. Me, I’m going to wait until something other than wishful thinking comes to the fore.