Happy Birthday, Kyoto

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:34 AM GMT on February 20, 2006

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol, which went into effect on February 16, 2005. The world's industrialized countries that signed the Protocol are legally obligated to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 by a total of 5.2% (compared to 1990 emissions) by 2012. The U.S. and Australia did not participate, and developing countries were not asked to. About 50% of world's emissions of greenhouse gases come from Kyoto nations, so if the treaty were successful, global emissions would fall by about 2.6%.

How are the signatory nations doing so far?
Not very well, according to both critics and supporters. It seems unlikely that Kyoto's goal will be met by 2012. For example, the European Environment Agency warned in November that the European Union was likely to cut its emission by only 2.5% by 2012, not the 8% they promised under the Kyoto Protocol. It now appears that the only EU members that might meet their targeted reductions are Sweden and the UK.

Below I've tablulated recent estimates (usually from 2003 or 2004) of how the various countries are doing, percentagewise, in terms of slashing their emissions compared to the 1990 benchmark.

Greenhouse gas emission increases, by nation, since 1990

EU countries (15% of world's total emissions)
------------------------------------------------- -----------
Germany -18%
Britain -13%
Luxembourg -11%
Sweden -2%
France -2%
Belgium +1%
Netherlands +1%
Denmark +6%
Italy +12%
Austria +17%
Finland +21%
Greece +23%
Ireland +25%
Portugal +37%
Spain +41%

Other Kyoto protocol countries:
Russia -35% (6% of world's total emissions)
Japan +19% (5% of world's total emissions)
Canada +24% (2% of world's total emissions)
Czech Republic -23%
Estonia -51%
Hungary -31%
Latvia -58%
Lithuania -66%
Poland -32%
Slovakia -28%
Slovenia -3%

Non-signatory countries
U.S. +16% (25% of world's total emissions)
India +80% (5% of world's total emissions)
China +46% (15% of world's total emissions)
Australia +31% (2% of world's total emissions)

Britain, Germany, and the former Soviet bloc countries have made big reductions. However, their cuts have had litte to do with Kyoto. Germany and some Soviet bloc countries got big one-time savings by closing inefficient coal-fired plants in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Economic hard times have also contributed to the emissions reductions in some of these countries. In the UK, electric utilities in the 1990s shifted from burning coal, which has high CO2 emissions, to cleaner-burning natural gas. Now that the price of natural gas has risen relative to coal, more UK utilities are burning coal. CO2 emissions are increasing once more, and were up over 1% in 2004 compared to 2003. The UK was slated to make a 12% cut in emissions under the Kyoto pact, and the government announced last week that this was unlikely to happen.

What can countries who are failing to meet Kyoto targets do?
Under the U.N.'s "clean development mechanism," developed countries are allowed to exceed their emissions allowance by investing in emissions projects in less-developed nations, trading the emission reduction abroad for emissions output at home. It is likely that many nations will resort to this trick in the coming years in order to meet the Kyoto requirements.

What happens if a country misses its Kyoto Protocol target in 2012?
Then they have to pay back at a penalty rate (130%) in the years after 2012, when there will presumably be a new agreement for the 2013-2018 period. Negotiations to hammer out a successor agreement are set to begin in May 2006 in Bonn, Germany. It is possible that countries that are failing to meet their Kyoto Protocol targets for 2012 will choose not to sign successor agreement, to avoid the penalty. Also, any nation that signed the Kyoto Protocol is allowed to drop out after three years--on February 16, 2008. Some nations may take this route to avoid the penalty.

Is Kyoto having a significant impact?
The Kyoto Protocol's target of a 5.2% reduction in emissions is tiny compared to what is needed in order to prevent substantial warming. Critics say this proves the worthlessness of the treaty, while supporters say it is a neccesary first step. In order to achieve a maximum 2�C temperature rise, some studies project global CO2 cuts of 50% by 2050 are required. Industrialized countries would have to cut their CO2 emissions by 80%. Considering that the world's nations that are trying to reduce emissions via the Kyoto Protocol are unlikely to meet even a 5% reduction, it looks pretty likely that we'll be seeing a much warmer world by the end of the century.

Is there hope for avoiding a major warming this century?
There is a large amount of uncertainty in both the social and scientific aspects of climate change that leave some hope that we will avoid warming the Earth by 2�C this century. I've composed a list of five possible scenarios that might cause this, and ordered them from most likely to least likely:

Dr. Jeff Masters' top five list of 21st Century scenarios that might keep us from warming 2�C this century:

1) A dramatic climate change disaster or potential disaster will suddenly unfold, spurring the nations of the world to cut emissions drastically (similar to what the emergence of the Antarctic Ozone Hole did for regulating CFCs).

2) We luck out, and climate change turns out to be at the cool end of the scientific uncertainty estimates.

3) The global economy will crash due to war, natural disaster, climate change, or other causes, bringing drastically reduced emissions.

4) A revolutionary low-cost energy technology will emerge to replace fossil fuels.

5) Aliens will land and give us their non-polluting, limitless energy technology.

I'm hoping for scenario #4 or #5, but I think there is a significant chance scenario #1 will happen in the period 15 to 50 years from now. We may well be pushing the climate system too hard and in too many ways to avoid triggering a climate shift that will cause big trouble for a lot of people. I'll expand on the possibilities in future blogs this month.

Next blog (probably on Wednesday): A possible candidate for scenario #1: the bad news from Greenland reported last Friday in Science magazine.

Jeff Masters

Cloud or flying saucer (Grim)
Cloud or flying saucer
Incoming Aliens (Lemurian)
Incoming Aliens

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53. F5
2:38 AM GMT on February 21, 2006
Ethanol also has issues of it's own. It currently requires more energy input to produce than the energy it creates, resulting in a net loss of energy. In addition, it can aborb great amounts of water and above a certain ratio, will separate from gasoline, causing engine stalling. Finally, buring ethanol also releases volatile organic compounds which are contributors of smog.

52. LittletonCo
2:34 AM GMT on February 21, 2006
F5 - Thanks for the link to the CSU climate site.

A note the models comment in your last post. Models can be predictive - however, they must be validated against the real world to have preditive value. Short-term weather forecasting models are well-validated ... 600+ times a year. But validating a climate change model requires that we compare the models' results against the real world. Since these models make predictions on the scale of decades, centuries, and millenia we will have to wait at least that long until we can call them "predictive."

Model + validation = predictivity
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51. F5
2:30 AM GMT on February 21, 2006

If we take the last drop of oil out of the ground, we're going to be in far more trouble than just transportation. Petroleum and/or it's byproducts are used in millions of industrial processes and are a component of untold products. It's not just an energy issue.

That said, we are not going to run out of oil in 50 years. It may become cost prohibitive (based on current technology) to extract it, but there will still be oil there. To assume that the processes that create oil worked for a period of time and then suddenly stopped is non-sequiter.

None of this means that we shouldn't be trying to find alternate energy sources, as it would certainly make the existing known supply last far longer, and also help clean the environment, but I really doubt it will one day just be gone.
50. LittletonCo
2:21 AM GMT on February 21, 2006
NumberWise - There are two reasons to dismiss the article on alcohols and alcohols as better fuels than gasoline:

1) If this were a serious, critical article of the technologies, the author would discuss gasoline, ethanol, and methanol in terms of price PER ENERGY UNIT, not price per gallon. As is, this is an opinion piece.

2) If alcohols were serious competitors to gasoline we would already be using them without the regulations and government subsidies that have created the ethanol industry.
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49. Fshhead
2:11 AM GMT on February 21, 2006
Would anyone care to comment on this article on alcohol as an alternative fuel?

Really good article.Sounds good to me.
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48. Trouper415
12:41 AM GMT on February 21, 2006
Joining the Kyoto Treaty makes people think it will kill the economy. However, it would just revamp the economy and would ready us for when the last drop of oil is tapped out of the ground in roughly 50 years. We would still keep our capitalistic goals, however our economy instead of being based on oil, would be based on alternative energy. It would create jobs and solve a problem we're going to have in a few years anyways.
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47. NumberWise
7:06 PM EST on February 20, 2006
I have been lurking on this blog for quite some time, and I've learned a great deal. I appreciate that you all take the time to write so well and support your opinions.

Would anyone care to comment on this article on alcohol as an alternative fuel?

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46. F5
11:21 PM GMT on February 20, 2006

Although you specifically addressed Dr. Masters, let me put my .02 here (probably should adjust downward for inflation :)...)

We have no reliable records, in the sense that the records that do exist are taken under identical circumstances across all periods.

Clearly, there are ice core samples, which show specific heating/cooling periods of the earth, we have tree rings, sediment extractions, etc., which paint a general picture of the earth's climate over millenia. Temperature records are relatively new phenomena, depending on location. I believe I read that from a certain location in England, they have temperature records from the 1600's, whereas in New York, it's more like the mid/late 1800's I believe.

Land temperature records are where the problems start to occur. Land use has changed dramatically, and it alone is a complicated study. The amount of albedo, vegetation concentration/type, man-made structures (concrete, asphalt, steel, etc.), and other aspects can affect local temperature readings. Clearly, most urban areas have changed dramatically over the past 100 years (some didn't even exist or were nothing more than small cow-towns at the beginning of any records), and now many are paved over with glass, steel, concrete, and asphalt. How do you compare a temperature reading today with one taken 10/20/50/100 years ago and account for that variability? It would be difficult, if not impossible to do. This is why some people wonder to what extent we have actually warmed up, and to what degree we will continue to warm up. Estimates vary wildly.

In addition, AGW (anthropogenic global warming), may or may not be occuring at all and instead it may be all natural climate variability. And here's the real kicker...Even if it is AGW, it may have little or nothing to do with CO2 and other GHG, and may have much more to do with land use. So, it's possible we could spend billions or trillions of dollars combating GHG and instead should be modifying land use. Going even further, it may be that if land use is as big a forcing agent as some suspect it might be, then it's entirely possible that the increase in regional temperature may be minimal at most, and there is no need to worry about CO2 at all.

The point is that most AGW proponents focus in on GHG emissions as the panacea to resolving the issue and it may have little if any impact on the situation. And as others have noted, reducing CO2 will have little effect without also reducing nitrogen emissions as wel). In fact, most GHG, including water vapor, contribute significantly more to atmospheric warming than CO2 does.

Sorry if this rambled on a bit. It's easy to go down a rat's hole when discussing climate science. There are just so many unknowns/variability factors, that should make skeptics of all of us.

Lastly, while some people point to various "models" that are purported to "prove" certain things, it should be noted that while these models are useful for "modeling" effects, they should be for just that...modeling. They should not be used for "predicting", which is what many people try to do.
45. SarahFromFLA
11:20 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
It probably didnt. But can we say Definitely Not?

If under-ocean plate movements can affect the development of El Ninos, what else may be happening?

Remember the old story about the 5 blind men who touched different parts of an elephant, I wonder sometimes if we are a bit similar in studying the various interactions of Earth, oceans and atmosphere.
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44. ForecasterColby
11:08 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
The Tsunami almost certainly did not affect hurricane season. However, the cause of the LIA is unknown.
43. SarahFromFLA
10:54 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
I do believe there are many good reasons why we must seek clean, alternative fuel sources, while conserving, whether humans are contributing to warming or not.

However, a few questions, Dr. Masters.

When they look at climate change, how far back do reliable records go?

Do they include the years following climate cooling events such s Laki and Tambora?

Werent we just coming out of a cooler period around the time the industrial revolution really got going?

Does anybody know, definitively, what caused The Little Ice Age, beyond the speculation of increased volcanic activity and decreased sun spot activity? If we dont know for sure what causes climate cooling, how can we really be certain what causes warming trends?

Is there anybody who can honestly say they completely understand the interactions of the Earths crust, the ocean currents and atmospheric currents? For example, is it possible that last years tsunami played some role n the 05 hurricane season?

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42. Snowfire
10:35 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
Those interested in this topic may care to check out my take on the subject here.
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41. Califonia
10:13 PM GMT on February 20, 2006

Posted By: FUBFEE at 9:40 PM GMT on February 20, 2006 (and earlier).

Why not take all those billions in the administrations tax credit give aways from the oil exec's...

...It still doesn't justify the billion's in tax credits to the industry.

OK - let's look at those tax credits.

First, you may be echoing what you have heard or read from others (usually with political motive), who state that as fact, knowing that people will blindly believe it.

That's fine - let me know if that's the case - you have no reason to believe that what they said is not true, but it may not be true.

If you do specifically know what tax credits the oil exec's take on their personal tax returns, and have data showing that those credits are not cancelled out by alternative minimum tax or other procedures, and know the amounts for each executive (or at least a lot of them) on their tax returns so you can show it does go into the billions, we can discuss them and determine whether it makes sense to continue them.

Usually when you start looking into the "nuts and bolts" of credits and deductions you find that it's not as "rosy" as it seems when people talk about them.

Side note: The true owners of the oil companies are the stockholders.

Anyone who feels the companies are making outrageous profits should just buy stock and keep the profits for themselves.

If they like, they can personally redistribute the profits to poor people of their choosing. No need to rely on the government to do that when you can do it yourself.

40. Califonia
10:03 PM GMT on February 20, 2006


I don't think any of the polar ice melt is running into the Mississippi, or rivers in California. And although a couple millimeters per rise in sea level can cause a couple millimeter difference in an estuary, river levels farther inland aren't affected by the sea level.

When we started building levees and trying to defeat the natural course of rivers and the regular flooding of adjacent areas, we knew it would lead to these types of problems in the future.

Now we are having to deal with the results.

9:19 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
Why not get an investment group together and fund your own alternate energy research? Make the profit yourself. Not depend on the government to do what the private sector should be handling.

Thats a good idea if there were money in it, the private sector would have jumped all over it. Not all have the belief that the Gov't must stay out, but heck, you may be right. It still doesn't justify the billion's in tax credits to the industry.
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38. Skyepony (Mod)
9:19 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
Here's an interesting article concerning the rise in sea water & rivers. How we've just kept building the levees as well as homes behind them leaving ourselves open to disaster. A few highlights....

"The probability of a catastrophic levee failure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in the next 50 years is two in three," Mount said on the sidelines of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual conference.

He said one of the frequent earthquakes in California could destroy the levee system that has been built up since the middle of the 19th century, sending flood water over a wide area.

Mount said it could have a similar impact to the Asian tsunami in 2004.

Another 5,600 hectare (14,000 acre) zone around St. Louis in Missouri faces a similar threat from the Mississippi river, according to Adolphus Busch, head of the Great Rivers Habitat Alliances.

Eighty-five percent of the Mississippi is now held back by levees and the level of the river has risen by four metres (13 feet) since the start of the century, he said.

Greater rainfall linked to global warming will only increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, according to Anthony Arquez, an expert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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37. Califonia
9:00 PM GMT on February 20, 2006

Posted By: pfdude at 8:55 PM GMT on February 20, 2006.

Any data on Canada?

I'm Cdn and our new Prime Minister is talking about backing out of Kyoto.

Sorry this is so long, but it gives the info - does not seem to indicate they will be "backing out", just that they don't like the idea of "redistributing wealth" by sending their $$$ to other countries.

VANCOUVER (CP) - Canada's new Conservative environment minister is taking over leadership of a key
United Nations body overseeing the Kyoto Protocol but plans to use the post to push the party's differing vision on climate change.

Rona Ambrose confirmed Friday that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has given notice to the UN that she (Rona Ambrose) will succeed her Liberal predecessor Stephane Dion in Canada's presidency of the Conference of Parties.

The group is responsible for negotiating the next phase of greenhouse-gas emission reductions under the treaty, which marked the first anniversary of its implementation on Thursday.

"It's a great opportunity, a privilege," Ambrose said after meeting B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner.

"We have some action plans that we have that you'll become familiar with in a short while around attacking climate change and clean air. It gives us an opportunity at the international stage to come forward with some of these ideas."

But despite the appointment, Ambrose did nothing to diminish the perception that the Conservatives aren't committed to the agreement.

"We are a signatory to 59 international agreements that I'm learning about all the time and a lot of them we're very active in," said Ambrose, an MP from Edmonton.

"On Kyoto, I will tell you that our government and our prime minister is very clear that there has to be a direct benefit to the Canadian environment and potentially to Canadian commercial investment in clean-air technology."

Ambrose said the government will pursue elements of the
Kyoto protocolthat fit within her mandate to focus on domestic air pollution.

The use of emissions credits under Kyoto to offset over-production of greenhouse gases is a problem for Ambrose.

"There will not be opportunities under this government, unlike the previous government, to purchase hot-air credits and allow Canadian companies to pollute on Canadian soil," she said.

"Any sort of emission trading, whether it's domestic, international, has to have a direct benefit to the Canadian environment."

Ambrose is on what she calls her "clean-air" tour, meeting her provincial counterparts and interest groups such as the Suzuki Foundation, a Vancouver-based environmental group.

The meeting was amicable, said Ann Rowan, the foundation's sustainability director, and suggests at least initially that Ambrose is someone the group can work with.

"She's a very personable person and I think interested in doing the right thing," said Rowan.

"She's got a tougher job than many of the other ministers. They're going to be focused on immediate issues and a lot of the issues she'll have to deal with and bring to the cabinet table are of a long-term nature."

After meeting Alberta counterpart Guy Boutilier in Edmonton on Thursday, Ambrose spelled out the Tories' opposition to emissions trading, saying she saw no benefit to "shipping hot-air credits overseas."

The Conservatives have not been enthusiastic about Kyoto, fighting the former Liberal government's proposed changes to the Environmental Protection Act that would have regulated greenhouse-gas emissions.

Ambrose's home province of Alberta opposed Canadian participation in Kyoto because of the potential damage it could do to the oil and gas industry.

The new government has not yet spelled out its position on Kyoto and Ambrose did not say Friday whether its policy would be made public by the time Parliament resumes in April.

The UN Framework Convention of Climate Change, which oversees implementation of Kyoto, said this week it expects Canada to respect its treaty obligations and meet its environmental targets.

Emissions trading is considered an important part of Kyoto. Countries unable to meet their targets would be allowed to buy carbon credits from countries that exceed theirs.

Canada currently falls short of its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It must meet its initial reductions target or face a penalty in the next phase beyond 2012.

Negotiations on the second phase will begin this year.

36. pfdude
3:52 PM EST on February 20, 2006
Any data on Canada?

I'm Cdn and our new Prime Minister is talking about backing out of Kyoto. (sorry world, I didn't vote for him)
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35. DenverMark
8:36 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
JeffB - good point. I guess we have to decide which is worse, giving it to our politicians or to Saudi Arabia,etc.
If taxes are raised, the law needs to mandate that the additional revenues are spent to increase our energy efficiency and develop new sources of energy.
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
34. DenverMark
8:26 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
Califonia - your last post says it all. $1.2 billion on energy efficiency and renewable energy? By comparison, I think we spend that much on the war in Iraq every day.
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
33. jeffB
8:28 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
Some will say tax gasoline to raise the price to $4 or $5 per gallon, but I prefer to see the market work things out, which is probably going to happen in a few short years anyway.

One difference, of course, is that raising prices via taxes would direct more money into our own government, while raising prices via market forces would direct more money to oil-producing nations. Opinions as to which of these would be better will vary. :-)
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32. DenverMark
7:45 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
Califonia - I agree with you 100%. We need to take action ourselves while keeping what's left of our sovereignty as a nation. The U.S.Constitution beats the U.N.Charter any day!

Cregnebaa - Your points on China and India's population and GDP per capita are quite valid. Both nations do still have a very large (and poor) rural population. On the other hand, they are industrializing and developing their urban areas rapidly and will produce far more greenhouse gases in the years to come, as they will expect to have a much higher standard of living like the U.S.,as you state. This shows the futility of the Kyoto Protocol, as the large increases in emissions in the developing world will greatly outstrip any reductions in the Kyoto nations and the U.S.

On Dr.Masters' scenarios, I think #3 or #4 are actually most likely. The huge increase in demand for oil, along with production peaking and beginning to decline, will cause oil prices to rise so high that alternatives will have to be developed. Hopefully, the world economy will not have to crash totally, or a major war to occur, for this to happen.

I think the U.S. does need to kick its oil habit, and the scenario I just mentioned will do it. When the price of gas hits even $4 to $5 per gallon and stays there, the big gas guzzling vehicles will disappear forever. BTW, I drive a Honda Civic, and would consider a hybrid for my next car.

Some will say tax gasoline to raise the price to $4 or $5 per gallon, but I prefer to see the market work things out, which is probably going to happen in a few short years anyway. I have no faith in politicians (of either party) to spend additional tax revenues wisely.
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
31. Califonia
8:05 PM GMT on February 20, 2006

Posted By: FUBFEE at 7:07 PM GMT on February 20, 2006.

Why not take all those billions in the administrations tax credit give aways from the oil exec's and use it to fund real alternative energy research?

Why not get an investment group together and fund your own alternate energy research? Make the profit yourself. Not depend on the government to do what the private sector should be handling.

In any event, here ya go...

February 6, 2006

Department of Energy Requests $23.6 Billion for FY 2007

Increased Funding to Advance National Security, Reduce Dependence on Oil, and Boost Economic Competitiveness

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman today announced President Bush’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Budget for the Department of Energy (DOE) requests $23.6 billion, a $124 million increase over the FY 2006 request.

The FY 2007 budget request makes bold investments to improve America’s energy security while protecting our environment, puts policies in place that foster continued economic growth, spurs scientific innovation and discovery, and addresses the threat of nuclear proliferation. These funds directly advance the goals of the Advanced Energy Initiative, which aims to break America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy; and the American Competitiveness Initiative, which encourages innovation to strengthen our nation’s ability to compete in the global economy - both announced in President Bush’s State of the Union Address on January 31, 2006.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy ($1.2 billion)

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy budget requests $1.2 billion, $2.6 million (0.2%) more than the FY 2006 appropriations. Much of this funding is an integral part of the Advanced Energy Initiative and expands key programs that focus on developing new energy choices, including: Hydrogen Fuel Technology ($114 million); Fuel Cell Technology ($82 million); Biomass ($150 million), including research into cellulosic ethanol, made from switch grass, wood chips and stalks; the Solar America Initiative ($148 million); Vehicle technology ($166 million); and Wind projects ($44 million)

30. Inyo
7:23 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
I'm not gonna bet on us changing before things get very bad.. so even though i don't believe it is likely, i hope hurricanechaser and f5 are correct and #2 comes true.

incidentally, near the end of what has been by far one of the hottest winters in memory here, we are in a cold snap with sleet and hail around LA and snow coating all the nearby mountains. it got below zero farenheit in the high country of southern california last night.
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29. Cregnebaa
1:54 PM EST on February 20, 2006
Denver Mark

"These two nations combined contribute 20% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, almost as much as the U.S"

Yet the population of the US is about 296million, the combined population of India and China is 2,380 million. That's 8 times the population, and still less co2 emmissions than the US!

"I do not consider China and India to be poor countries"

Their GDP per capita is only US$3,400 for India and US$6,200 for china, and the US is only US$41,800, I would say they were poor in populations terms to the US and Europe.

I'm sure these countries are sure to believe that they should be able to have the same emissions per person as the US. If this happens then the current human produced CO2 emissions will over double for the entire world.

Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 323
6:56 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
Why not take all those billions in the administrations tax credit give aways from the oil exec's and use it to fund real alternative energy research?
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27. ForecasterColby
6:52 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
26. Califonia
6:04 PM GMT on February 20, 2006

HurricaneMyles - I sent you email.


It would be irresponsible for the US government to sign a document putting US citizens under the laws and regulations of non-Americans who have not been elected by us, and who could potentially have reasons for wanting to see American taxpayers forced to pay $$$ to entities outside the country.


If we wish to participate, that is the far more responsible way to do it.
25. ForecasterColby
5:43 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
Hey, check out the effects on the sun in the first photo.
24. natemann133
10:37 AM CST on February 20, 2006
Wow amazing lenticular clouds, I don't know if I've ever seen such a well defined picture of them.
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23. DenverMark
3:01 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
BTW, I very much oppose "carbon taxes" or other heavy taxation to try to reduce fossil fuel use. This would be very harmful to our economy and the politicians would just squander the extra revenue, probably to finance more wars!!
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
22. DenverMark
1:33 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
Having considered the statistics Dr.Masters quoted, I'm glad the U.S. did not sign on to the Kyoto Protocol. As I've stated before, the biggest problem with Kyoto is that China and India get a free ride. These two nations combined contribute 20% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, almost as much as the U.S. In addition, their emissions are increasing faster than any other countries listed above. I do not consider China and India to be poor countries. They have booming economies and are taking jobs away from many Americans. If their emissions continue to increase as they have in the last 10-15 years, this will far exceed any progress made in Europe,Japan and Canada in lowering emissions. I have friends who have spent time in China, and the air pollution is terrible. Unfortunately, don't expect much cooperation from the rulers in Beijing. Staying in power and making money are all that matters to them. However, U.S. corporations share responsibility for this by shifting most of their production overseas to take advantage of very cheap labor while not being willing to invest in cleaner power plants and other facilities. India might be more willing to work at reducing emissions. Now a disclaimer- I do not have anything against ordinary citizens of these countries. My wife is Vietnamese, and I have many Asian friends. My complaint is with the governments and the big corporations.

Now,looking at some other comparisons, greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. have increased a bit less than in Canada and Japan. While we do need to clean up our power plants in the Midwest and not send pollution up to Canada, some of the criticism the U.S. gets from Canada (and Europe) may not be justified.

To sum up, the answer is not in signing onto a flawed treaty and giving up more of our sovereignty to the U.N.
Since we don't know how much of the warming is manmade vs. natural, we should take some reasonable steps in the U.S. including improving fuel efficiency of our vehicles and reducing use of coal to generate power. While it is very controversial, yes, nuclear power needs to be looked at again. Much of the power generated in western Europe and I believe also in Japan is nuclear, and their safety record is excellent. We can't let incidents such as Chernobyl (due to extreme negligence in the former Soviet Union) scare us away from an important alternative to fossil fuels. This is where everyone needs to put the pressure on our elected officials and corporate executives.

Finally,I believe worldwide oil production will peak in the next 10 years while demand increases greatly (especially in Asia). The price of oil will skyrocket, and alternative sources of energy will be developed. When the price of gasoline spiked last fall, sales of large SUV's plummeted. That's just a hint of what's to come.
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
21. HurricaneMyles
2:49 PM GMT on February 20, 2006

Who elects most leaders in the developed countires? The people do. If they dont like something there leaders do, they'll elect different ones who will do what they want. Once again you are cofusing something diffcult to implement, which this is not, and something that is difficult to GET implemented, which this is. People aren't going to change thier ways easily, and even if you say counties can just make laws, people can get them changed quite easily, at least here in the US.
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20. oriondarkwood
1:52 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
My comments to Dr. Masters top 5 things to happen to good ole Mother Earth (plus two that I am sure the good Doctor fiqured but didn't make his top 5)

1) A dramatic climate change disaster or potential disaster will suddenly unfold, spurring the nations of the world to cut emissions drastically (similar to what the emergence of the Antarctic Ozone Hole did for regulating CFCs).

OD - They will be pillaging, looting and revolt in the streets, the world leaders will be drink Dom in the fallout shelter and REM will be playing on every radio station on earth (ie "Its the end of the world as I know it and I feel fine..").

Seriously, Doc Masters has a point. Think how many of the world's largest cities are within 30 miles of a ocean. If all ice on earth melted either at once or over time. The sum effect would be the oceans rising 220 feet (http://science.howstuffworks.com/question473.htm ). And we all know what heats up sooner or later cools down (ie a new ice age)

2) We luck out, and climate change turns out to be at the cool end of the scientific uncertainty estimates.

OD - Would be interesting roll of the cosmic dice, and its a bigger chance that one would think. If the Hurricane season of 2005 taught us nothing else, it taught us how little we know about climate and weather on this huge hunk of rock that is our home.

3) The global economy will crash due to war, natural disaster, climate change, or other causes, bringing drastically reduced emissions.

I think this is more of a chance that the 1st one. Like it or not we have always waged war over land first, a idea second. Until recent history, currently its not a global war yet but thier are two different idea sets that are hurling headlong into flashpoint (those two idea sets being:

1. Christian vs Islam
2. Have's vs Have nots).

It would not suprise me to see war from one of this idea set s in my lifetime

4) A revolutionary low-cost energy technology will emerge to replace fossil fuels.

OD - Again a interesting idea, and a legit one. Oil is a finite resource, so a finite amount of money can be made from it. They are techonlogies if they where ever produced would be a infinite incoming stream that would make Bill Gates look like the local homeless hobo that offers to wash your windows with a dirty rag.

5) Aliens will land and give us their non-polluting, limitless energy technology.

OD - In exchange we would hold a lotto to pick who would be thier dinner (LOL). Seriously I believe in life in the universe other than our own. However I believe they would not interfere with us until we where a more stable race (ie almost every human invention has been turned into a weapon or a way to kept the meatgrinder of war chuning).

The two things that I spoke of early that I thought should be thrown into the mix but didn't make Dr. Masters top 5 is:

1. The world ends - all it takes is a good size hunk of space rock and all this globabl warming becomes a mood point (so does the human race). Ditto for a man made globalkiller (ie nuclear war, virus, chemical leak etc.. etc..)

2. We leave - we good to another planet to pollute it
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19. F5
1:45 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
I've been wondering how long it would be before Dr. Masters responded to the latest "report" from Dr. Hansen. Sounds like it will be Wednesday. I have alread read Dr. Hansen's report, as well as several rebuttals. I'll wait till he posts his blog with a summary to post the rebuttal links.

With regards to the scenario's above, I'd sy the most likely is #2, except I wouldn't use the word "lucky". I think our temperature measurements are wrong to begin with.

Read this blog page, and then read the two links at the bottom of the blog for further information


For anyone interested in reading a great blog that truly seems research oriented and not politically oriented, I urge you to bookmark Dr. Pielke's blog site from Colorado State University...Climate Science

18. fredwx
8:13 AM EST on February 20, 2006
If the US signed up for the Kyoto accords we would have faced the task of reducing our own CO2 output by about 20%. Without a viable alternative fuel the bottom line would be economic chaos!
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17. ForecasterColby
12:27 PM GMT on February 20, 2006
*rolls eyes*

Here we go again. *makes exit*
16. Califonia
6:25 AM GMT on February 20, 2006
Posted By: hurricanechaser at 5:12 AM GMT on February 20, 2006.
Hey Califonia,

May I ask you as to what you personally believe is the direct cause of the recent global warming?

Ack. I could write a BOOK to answer that question.

1. I don't have enough data to have a good opinion - there are several things that could contribute (below).

2. If anyone knows who keeps the OFFICIAL GLOBAL WARMING numbers and statistics, and exactly how those are calculated, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I don't know what the heck is being measured. Temperature? Heat Content? Atmosphere? Land? Ocean? By satellite? Hourly? Daily? I REALLY WANT TO KNOW.

3. I believe the planet may be in a warming trend, generally speaking, but I would want to see the data before committing.

If it turns out we actually are warming:

4. I believe that CO2 can limit the amount of infrared radiation radiated from the planet - and it is possible that human activities could be contributing to that.

5. From what I've read we have little knowledge of the amount of geothermal heating going on at the ocean floor - scientists have been surprised by new findings recently. This could lead to higher sea surface temperatures (and higher land surface temperatures). It's not being well monitored.

6. Solar output, of course, is the big factor, and it's variable.

7. They haven't figured out clouds yet. Some seem to trap heat, others seem to reflect it - they have not determined what the overall net result is.

8. Particulates - they seem to be "cooling only". Recent theories are that large eruptions can have cooling effects that last many decades.

Here's how I think I would sum it up:

If the earth is warming, I believe it is warming as part of a natural warming cycle, and it would be warming whether or not humans were participating. At the same time, I believe that human activities may be contributing somewhat.

I do not believe anything catastrophic will result from warming.

There are MANY things to worry about that will have far more consequences, particularly in our lifetimes, such as H5N1 Bird Flu or other pandemics, pollution and other issues due to overpopulation, escalation of the current war resulting from Iran's current policies, and many more...

15. Califonia
6:11 AM GMT on February 20, 2006

Posted By: HurricaneMyles at 5:29 AM GMT on February 20, 2006.

What I did say was that it would be hard to get implemented because not many people want to take the steps needed to reduce fossil fuel use.

That's why you target PRODUCTION. Users would have no choice. Prices would go up and driving would go down until the two reached a balance point.

There's really no implementation required. The producing countries cut production and people have to live with it. If they don't like it, they must go to alternative energy sources.

Because Kyoto fails to address production (and other issues), Kyoto looks to me more like a "redistribution of wealth" program, not something designed to make dramatic progress.

14. arcturus
5:55 AM GMT on February 20, 2006
Excellent photos of lenticular clouds Dr. Masters.

The aliens are going to solve the earths problem. New food option on the galactic McDonalds menu. Exta value meal #9 Human with a side of fries and a drink.

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13. fredwx
5:34 AM GMT on February 20, 2006
Is Global Warming a natural cycle or manmade?

There is a known relationship between sunspot cycles and Solar radiation see link below). The sun has been increasing its output over the past couple of hundred years or so and likely has caused a good portion of the observed global warming (perhaps as much as 1/2 to 2/3) but human activity is likely adding to the problem.

There is little doubt that the level of CO2 has been increasing rapidly and that is the result of burning hydrocarbons. CO2 is a greenhouse gas which adds to the warming of the planet. The arguments are mostly about how much does the increasing CO2 contribute.

The issue is now about what can we do about it. Even if we cut our burning of hydrocarbons, there still will likely be global warming due to increasing solar radiation.

We can think seriously about alternatives to oil such as clean burning hydrogen and increasing nuclear energy if we want to eliminate the burning of hydrocarbons. The problem is that even at $65/bbl, oil is still cheaper than most alternative fuels. Only when the cost of alternatives fall in-line with oil will there be any real change.

Solar - Global Warming link

Increasig Solar radiation and sunspots

CO2 link
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12. hurricanechaser
5:33 AM GMT on February 20, 2006
Hey everyone,

Just for the record, we agree on the need to reduce our dependence on the use of fossil fuels and find better sources of alternative energy.

11. HurricaneMyles
5:22 AM GMT on February 20, 2006

I never said it would be hard to implement, or that some people wouldnt profit, or that it wouldnt cause people to conserve. What I did say was that it would be hard to get implemented because not many people want to take the steps needed to reduce fossil fuel use.
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10. hurricanechaser
5:02 AM GMT on February 20, 2006
Hey Califonia,

May I ask you as to what you personally believe is the direct cause of the recent global warming?

Just for the record everyone, I don't offer many suggestions to the perceived problem because I personally don't think one truly exists.

Therefore, it is unfair for anyone to suggest that I don't care about all the possible worse case scenarios, for if I did agree to that premise, then I naturally would desire to see solutions to that problem.

Only my personal opinion and nothing more, but I believe we have plenty of time to act in the future if there were to be truth in the other argument.

Naturally, many will disagree that we don't have any time to wait, but time will tell and if I happened to be correct, no one will remember nor really care.

That pretty much sums up my perspective on this so very divisive issue.

I guess we might as well begin discussing Abortion next (lol).

Your friend,

9. hurricanechaser
4:08 AM GMT on February 20, 2006
I propose the possibilty which is no less reasonable that the current warming and the relatively insignificant warming that will most likely continue throughout this century, will be the result of Natural climate variability and not a direct result of human released greenhouse gas emissions.

Another possible cause that is as logical as some of the suggetions put forth thus far(with all due respect), would be that the recent global warming is directly related to all the hot air coming from those like Dr. Hansen who keep spouting this unsubstainted propaganda.

The reason I don't care to spend so much of my time debating this issue(like some such as snowboy implies I should instead of my simple monologues:)is that there is no legitimate analysis that proves that the human race is in so much trouble as these alarmists would have us think.

Like Califonia has so well articulated on many occasions, a little warming may not be such a bad thing and is more likely the direct result of natural climate variability which no one in the scientific community can ignore, is just as much the reason for the increase in global temperatures whether they chose to admit it or not.

How can one take the worse case scenarios seriously, when the computer modeling that is used to make these claims is flawed and not based on real life scenarios of reasonal rates of greenhouse gas emissions that will actually be released into the atmosphere.

Based foremost on such erroneous and widespread deciminated opinions that have no substantiated proof accompanying these extreme predictions, the general public will continue to blame every new majorly hyped snow storm like the recent one on global warming.

Moreover, the same will be true for any future big hurricane landfalls which most likely would've occurred had the industrial revolution not materialized.

This debate is so distorted by perceptions or should I say misconceptions that play on peoples fears with all the what if it were true excuses, because the evidence alone can't support the argument.

I will once again state unequivacolly that I support wholehertedly the use of and research for alternative sources of energy, but not because of any preconceived dire scenarios related to global warming.

I support their use because we are being held hostage by foriegn countries who can manipulate our policies based on our overwhelming depence on their oil.

In short, we may agree on many of the proposed solutions(certainly not the Kyoto protocal)but we will simply have to agree to disagree as to the legitimacy of the perceived problem as it is related to human causes.

This debate will be never ending because it is based solely on ones interpreation of the evidence regardless of which side of the issue you are on.

The ONLY thing that is conclusive is that the Earth has indeed warmed.

This begs the question, how can anyone state unequivacolly that the Earth would not have been just as warm without the release of our greenhouse gas emissions?

The answer to that question is a perfect example as to why it is simply based on ones interpretation of the direct cause of the warming.

I suggest that we will never know the answer to the true cause, during any of our lifetimes regardless of how many articles and blogs are written on this issue.

It is ironic how people say that they have a problem with others stating their opinions as fact so to speak, when anyones argument that global warming is directly attributed to human causes is nothing more than conjecture and speculation no matter how fervently it is presented.

In other words, I personally believe that Natural climate variability is the direct cause of the current global warming and will conceede that it most likely has been minimally affected by human causes.

I hope everyone is having a great night and taking advantage of the human induced warming coming from their thermastats.:)

Your friend,

8. Califonia
4:39 AM GMT on February 20, 2006
Posted By: HurricaneMyles at 4:27 AM GMT on February 20, 2006.

Sounds easy Cali...but would you like to ask all the developed and developing countries to cut production, or ask the businesses that actually do the producing?

It IS EASY, HurricaneMyles.

You would ask the countries, just like now. The companies would have to comply with the laws of those countries, just like they already do.

Oil producing countries should love the idea - it would probably double the price of oil and they would make more $$$ for pumping less oil. They would sign up in a minute.

Your gas prices at the pump would double and you would quit driving so much. Same with home heating costs - you would wear more clothing indoors and keep fewer rooms heated in large homes.

The emissions cuts would be instant and real, and would happen across the globe in every country. No waiting until year twenty-xx to get results.

7. michalp
4:45 AM GMT on February 20, 2006
#6 the world gradually warms up.

People move to Canada. Other's settle in Antarctica.
I sell my house in Florida before it's too late.
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6. Trouper415
4:38 AM GMT on February 20, 2006
Thanks Dr. Masters for the update. I think you will see in the next 5 years, the USA joining the Kyoto Treaty.

Giants in 06
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5. fredwx
4:29 AM GMT on February 20, 2006
I think the best way to lower CO2 levels is option 4. There are already alternatives like Hydrogen, nuclear, wind, solar, etc. What is missing is the technology to produce enough energy from alternatives at a cost equal or less than burning oil, coal or natural gas. We were able to place a man on the moon in under 10 years, I am sure we could tackle this challenge as well.

Of course, part (possibly a significant part) of global warming is due to increasing solar output and I don't think we can do anything about that.
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4. HurricaneMyles
4:22 AM GMT on February 20, 2006
Sounds easy Cali...but would you like to ask all the developed and developing countries to cut production, or ask the businesses that actually do the producing? Even if you did ask, I'm sure you'd nothing but laughter. They aren't going to cut production just like most Americans wont give up thier cars.

If we want to "stop" global warming, we need a fundamental change in thinking; atleast here in America. Well, at least how to "stop" global warming according to human induced global warming enthusiasts.
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3. Califonia
3:50 AM GMT on February 20, 2006

Why not just have the oil and coal producing countries all cut their production by 5%? Seems a lot easier...

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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