J.C. Moore Online
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Posts Tagged ‘Kyoto Treaty’

Climate Change: Extreme Weather and Wildfires

Fri ,19/08/2011

2011 Wildfire Terlton OK

In 1998, the US refused to ratify the Kyoto Treat which would have limited the release of greenhouse gases, primarily CO2, into the atmosphere. The refusal was based mainly on the highly inflated financial costs, without adequately considering the costs of inaction. On a per capita basis the US emits six times as much CO2 as any other country. Without our participation and leadership, the world has failed to stem the release of CO2 into the air, and scientists tell us that this is leading to a warmer Earth, more extreme weather, crop failure, droughts, and wildfires. We have  certainly experienced many of those things recently and it should make us think about what our failure to ratify the Kyoto Treaty may mean to us.

Three weeks ago the local Cleveland American’s front-page story was about the heat wave and the drought. Channel 6 Weather reported that this year Oklahoma set a record for highest temperatures of any state, ever. Recently, NASA reported this has been the hottest decade since records began in 1880, with 2010 and 2005 tied for the hottest years. A recent poll of climate scientists found that 97% of those active in research agree that the Earth is getting warmer and the main factor is man’s release of carbon dioxide into the air. The other 3% of the scientists get enough publicity to keep the public confused, especially since the climate scientists cannot claim certainty in their predictions, but only increased chances.

A recent paper from the University of Colorado predicted that global warming would cause higher probabilities of extreme weather, heat waves, droughts, crop failure, and wildfires. We’ve certainly seen all that happen this year. Last week, the Cleveland American’s front page story was on the devastating wildfires in the surrounding Pawnee County. Around 15,000 acres of our county burned, 40 homes when up in flames, one person died, and many were injured.  It stretched the resources of our emergency services to the limit and had it not been for the heroic efforts of our firefighters, many of them volunteers, the devastation would have been much worse.

Skeptical scientists, and many of our politicians, dispute the scientific evidence and claim there is not really a problem. They say that efforts to stop global warming will cause us too much inconvenience and expense. We might want to think about how inconvenient and expensive it is for us to lose our crops, homes, and in some cases our loved ones?

Cap and Trade Requires Paying “True Cost”

Mon ,16/11/2009


Many of our Legislators have  expressed the idea that cap-and-trade is a tax that would be expensive and hurt the economy, particularly farming.  That isn’t necessarily so. The “true cost”  of a resource includes not only the price but also the cost of cleaning up the environment and disposing of the waste. Cap-and-trade is a way of seeing  that those who  use or profit from a resource pay the “true cost”.  It would require those who increase pollution to buy credits to do so while those who find ways to decrease pollution would receive credits. That encourages entrepreneurship and provides incentives for using our resources wisely. Structured properly, cap-and-trade would actually be good for many sectors of the economy.

 There have been many esimates of the cost of a cap-and-trade bill.  There is one false claim that it would cost each U.S. household $3,100 a year. That number was arrived at by doing some creative math on a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study. However, John Reilly, the MIT economist who authored  the study, says that  number is wrong and is a misinterpretation of his work. More recent EPA estimates are that it would cost an average of about $140 per household anually.  Then, there is also the claim that the cost of doing nothing would be much higher in the long run because of resource scarcity and environmental damage. Its hard to put a monetary value on that. Either way, paying the “true cost” of energy use is fair and would create incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Claims that cap-and-trade will not work are also in doubt as it has worked successfully in the past. It was used to reduce the U.S. sulfur dioxide emissions that produced acid rain in Canada – and it turned out to be much less expensive than either the industry or the government predicted. Also, after much criticism and a slow start, the European Union may meet or even exceed its Kyoto emission goals by 2012.1 In Oklahoma, Western Farmer’s Electric Co-op has voluntarily used cap-and-trade to offset its carbon emissions by encouraging farming practices that reduced emission. Under cap-and-trade, those practices would not only save money on energy usage but would earn credits that would add to farm profits.

(1)  http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-vine/europe-really-track-meet-its-kyoto-goals