- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, suggested last week it’s time for a second global-warming treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But a new study this week seems to question the point of the current warming treaty.

Mr. McCain told the Consumer Federation of America’s annual meeting March 11 that U.S. ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change might be unnecessary for reducing greenhouse gases, since the treaty exempts India and China from reducing emissions, the newspaper Roll Call reported.

Mr. McCain then suggested, according to Roll Call, a second treaty that would “demand that India and China also join in [the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.]”

Mr. McCain also urged greater pressure on U.S. businesses to reduce emissions: “The key to this is to convince business and industry that it’s to their economic benefit to bring forward technologies … to drastically reduce [greenhouse gases].” I would agree with Mr. McCain the U.S. doesn’t need to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Our rationales, of course, would differ.

The vast majority of the greenhouse gas effect — perhaps 99.7 percent — is beyond human control. There’s no direct evidence the minuscule manmade contributions of greenhouse gases to the environment are having any measurable or significant effect on global climate.

In addition to the scientific shortcomings of global warming hysteria, the economic consequences of the Kyoto Protocol can be summed up as “all costs and no benefits.”

The global warming treaty is estimated to cost $100 trillion in real terms for the hypothetical prevention of a 1 degree Centigrade rise in the average global temperature.

In contrast, Mr. McCain’s complaint about the Kyoto Protocol apparently boils down solely to the treaty’s exclusion of developing nations like China and India, the second- and sixth-biggest greenhouse gas emitters.

Mr. McCain’s call for a new treaty to include China and India is ludicrous. Neither country can develop economically without tremendous energy-use increases. That’s why they didn’t sign on to Kyoto. Remember, one major reason for the rise in gas prices over the last year is China’s increased demand for oil.

There’s also no meaningful way to enforce greenhouse gas limits in the developing world. Though U.S. environmentalists often take advantage of our easy-access legal system to enforce U.S. environmental laws and regulations, no similar mechanisms exist in countries like China and India.

But all this talk about Kyoto and Son of Kyoto is somewhat beside the point, according to other recent news.

Climatologist Tom Wigley, a global-warming disciple from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, reported in the journal Science this week that, even if we could somehow magically “freeze” the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases at today’s levels — an unrealistic scenario where greenhouse gases are not added to or removed from the atmosphere — global warming would still occur because of the heat stored in the oceans.

Because the oceans respond relatively slowly to climate change, they will continue contributing to global warming even if we stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, Mr. Wigley says. He estimates the ocean’s “warming commitment” to be 1 degree Centigrade by the year 2400.

Mr. Wigley further estimates that, even if we freeze present greenhouse gas emissions — another unrealistic scenario — average global temperatures will rise between 2 degrees Centigrade to 6 degrees Centigrade by 2400.

But then Mr. Wigley disingenuously concludes, “In order to stabilize global mean temperatures, we eventually need to reduce emission of greenhouse gases to well below present levels” — even though his own are said to show global warming would occur even if we completely stopped emitting greenhouse gases. Moreover, Mr. Wigley announced more than two years ago no treaty was likely to stop climate change and that renewable energy technologies might help but don’t exist now in any meaningful form and won’t anytime soon.

I have no confidence in Mr. Wigley and his crystal ball-like projections about our exceedingly complex climate system neither he nor anyone else is close to understanding. But the global warming lobby does believe and parrot Mr. Wigley’s predictions of gloom-and-doom.

And if Mr. Wigley is their man, they’re stuck with his conclusions — namely, neither Kyoto nor Son of Kyoto will accomplish anything — other than, of course, driving the world, particularly developing countries, toward economic ruin.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and CSRwatch.com, and is an adviser to the Free Enterprise Action Fund.

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