Environmental Law & Economics: Kyoto Whip on Freedom

Radovan Kazda
Environmental Policy Analyst
Conservative Institute of M. R. Stefanik

Friday, January 07, 2005

Kyoto Whip on Freedom

By Radovan Kazda, conservative weekly magazine .týždeň (link)
The 80s of the last century, right in the period of the definitive fall of comunism in Europe, the issue of global climatic change seen from a scientific point of view started to gain ground. From the very beginning the issue has been interpreted as a consequence of industrial activities of people in developed countries. Global ecological problems were not a completely new topic at that time. According to a study by Adam J. Lieberman and Simon C. Kwon from the liberal Committee for Science and Health (USA) there are always new forms of „ecological drama“ presenting DDT agents, nitrates, asbestos, coffee or mobile phones in catastrophic links on an international level. As is shown up later, the negative influence of the use of these things was very often notably exaggerated and this influence is much lower than their importance for the quality of people´s life.
The UN plays an important role in the story of „climatic change catastrophy“. The climatic change issue started to gain weight at the moment when this grouping of countries, which have prinicipal problems relating to the observance of basic human rights, started widening their authority in analyzing the problems and attempts to solve it. In 1988 The UN and the World Meteorological Organisation initiated the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climatic Changes (IPCC). This society of government nominated scientists soon became an absolutely dominant platform for the interpretation of the problem and proposals of its possible solutions.
Then the General Agreement about climatic change was accepted at the UN conference dealing with environmental issues in Rio de Janiero in 1992. In 1997 the agreement participants accepted, the so called Kyoto Protocol, complementing the agereement. The protocol bound the parties to reduce the production of so called greenhouse gasses until 2012.
The Kyoto Protocol became a world issue and political phenomenon and could have been convincing evidence of the need of governments and international institutions in handling the so called „market failures“, i.e. the consequences of market exchange which may be difficult to foresee, and „by the market impossible to solve“, side damage. But then the protocol should have met the essential requirements for solutions to global ecological problems, i.e. a scientific consensus on the existence of a problem, agreement upon economically real options and general agreement by free countries on a proposed solution.
But in the case of the Kyoto Protocol we have many reasons to believe that it not only does not solve a serious threat but, on the contrary, it is a direct attack on the foundations of a free society.
1. We will not burn down
If we approach the problem from the European side of the Atlantic, a decision to reduce the production of greenhouse gasses seems to be quite a logical solution and everybody who questions the correctness of the Kyoto Protocol is considered to be almost insane. But the fact is that even at the time when the Kyoto Protocol was accepted, there was strong scientific opposition to claims that man causes catastrophic global warming by performing his activities. The Leipzig declaration, the Heidelberg appeal as well as the Oregon petition initiated at the turn of the millenium and signed by thousands of top scientists, is evidence of this opposition. A letter written by Frederick Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Science of the USA, that accompanies the Oregon petition, claims that the Kyoto protocol is based on wrong ideas and that the existing scientific findings do not prove the burning process harmful. On the contrary, an increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is environmentally beneficial.
2. Cautious retreat
Already in 1999 renowned physicist S.Fred Singer described how originally catastrophic forecasts of the IPCC had been changed and“softened“ and this is what is going on even today. As regards these forecasts it is necessary to say that only their notably simplified and not very exact interpretations given to the media create a „media frenzy”. According to a recent study by the American Media Research Center, even important nationwide cable TVs, but especially NBC, provide an unbalanced news service about the Kyoto Protocol. Incidentally, already in the 60s and 70s of the 20th century temperatures in the Northern hemisphere were lower then in previous decades which brought up an issue of an upcoming ice age that was very much fancied by the media...
The indeterminacy of the existence, the causes and consequences of climatic change, as well as the worthless absurdity of the Kyoto Protocol are objects for many serious scientific studies that are published in the USA Scientific disapproval is growing following an increase in the number of opponents who question the respective propositions of global warming as an issue: i.e. they ask whether global warming is a climatic phenomenon and whether it exists at all (for instance some aerial and satelite observations claim the opposite, and if yes: whether it is caused by activities of man, whether it is a negative phenomenon and whether civilisation is economically capable of reducing the phenomenon. When it comes to the last „whethers“ the scientific opposition is so significant that it is impossible to perceive the Kyoto Protocol as a document based on scientifc findings.
3. Pretended consent
„To believe that hundreds of scientists could reach full consent in dozens of disciplines is ridiculous. The aura of evidence which is used for the interpretation of IPCC conclusions is motivated more politically that scientifically“ says professor Lindzen, an important American meteorologist, who presented a very sceptical report on history around climatic changes to the American senate committee in 2001. The Kyoto Protocol itself contains a huge number of fundamental imperfections: besides the fact that it is scientifically unclear why it was created, the political solution that it brings is noteworthy: it touches the most important producers of CO2 (of course, especially the USA) but it does not pay any attention to producers ofa much more radical greenhouse gas – methane. Methane is widely produced in agricultural production even in less developed (mostly unfree) countries. The protocol does not respect the fact that the natural predisposition of the USA and other „accused“ countries (with in particular large woods) to allow a significant reduction in gasses that they produce. S. Fred Singer points out that the protocol binds to a radical reduction in CO2 emission only those countries where there is a very low potential for further increase in production. The protocol is very tolerant to developing countries with high growth potential like China or India. What sense does it make to „punish“ the successful only because they have been successful earlier than others? Even Russian president Putin did not have any doubts about the absurdity of the protocol, but this was only until he discovered that his country could make considerable profit and gain political advantages by trading with emissions. To strenghten the doubts about the sense of this protocol there are studies produced by several scientists (e.g. Tom Wigley from the National Center for Atmosphere Research, USA, or Patrick J. Michaels, Virginia Universtity) saying that the protocol will bring a temperature drop lower than 0,1 Celsius which is almost on a level of statistical error....And all this as a result of lost revenues from the production of (so far) harmless gas amounting to over 400 billion dollars annually in the USA, not to speak about a decrease in the country’s economic performance caused by trading with these „emissions“. Therefore the USA (and many other countries including Australia) have not joined the protocol until now.
It does not matter how seriously we perceive the issue of climatic change, it seems that its consequence – the Kyoto Protocol – brought a completely different hidden message behind it: you, who have achieved success through economic freedom and the observance of human rights, you have to suffer. In this case it is really hard not to see the inability of some countries to match the USA economically in any other way than by hindering its development. Therefore the European Union (falling economically behind the USA) negotiated with China (not only falling behind but ignoring human rights as well) a common procedure of the Kyoto Protocol implementation three years ago.
4. Totality sources
It seems that global ecological problems continue a leftist hunt for capitalism after the left´s project of social justice collapsed. The similarity of both visions is very distinctive: both hit almost the same point – „failure“ of the market: „social justice“ criticism of the imbalanced redistribution of wealth and new environmental „visionaries“ imbalanced gas production that is a fundamental predispositon for the creation of wealth. The problem is that almost nobody denies it: neither the Conservatives nor the theorists of economic liberalism. But those, in contrast to the left, cosider a free market to be the best precondition for moral decision making, and propose to solve the most serious risks that freedom brings upon itself, by a precisely defined and limited role for government.
5. Against freedom
A machine run by state paid scientists, and bureaucrats from state and international institutions has been massaging the global warming issue for two decades already. These people have fallen prey to the trickyness and ambiguity of a scientific problem which began to accumulate importance, very much like an avalanche for instance, through well financed EU projects (which are, by the way, not announced in order to define a problem, but to solve its consequences and and ways of solving), and especially through the UN. The UN established its own institution which initiated intergovernmental talks followed by annual meetings of the protocol participants at which they set restrictions for private property owners.
It would not be accurate to take these people as sworn enemies of America. They are a product of leftist destruction that has not affected America on such a great scale as Europe, but only because America is built on much stronger ownership foundations. But this is true only partially, because American academia, intellectuals or showbusiness celebritites as well as a major part of the media have succumbed to the enticing of environmentalist radicalism and to a desire to save the world from capitalism.
The left are not mentally equipped with respect towards private property. It is the horizon that they cannot see, therefore these people have no problem when unreasonably limiting the rights of anyone to use their own property to multiply their wealth.
Global warming is a good reason to restrict freedom, and another good reason to see America as a thorn in the side of the rest of the world.

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