Justifiably Correct (1) The problem of global warming is considered as one of the most troubling issues of contemporary era. It has been noticed that the average air temperature in different parts of the world is being on the constant rise, ever since the humanitys existence began to depend more and more on exploitation of fossil fuels. Whereas in 1870, the carbon fuel emissions in the air were almost non-existent, in 2000 their amount has reached 6 billion tons. Many scientists agree that these emissions are directly linked to Global warming, although there is no universal conformity, in regards to this matter. While burning, fossil fuels release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This causes a so-called greenhouse effect, when suns energy does not reflect back into the space, but gets trapped underneath the layer of greenhouse gases. This leads to Earth atmosphere being excessively heated up.
In its turn, this will eventually affect the lives of people. In order to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions into the air, a so-called Kyoto Protocol was being signed by 170 countries, during the Third Conference of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, on December 11, 1997. According to this protocol, the industrialized and developing nations are presented with their own quotas, in regards to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. The ultimate goal of Kyoto Protocol is to reduce such emissions worldwide by 10%-15% before the year of 2012. The countries that have signed the Protocol, agree to be subjected to UN monitoring, which is meant to insure that every particular participant stays committed to its obligation, within a context of Protocol. These obligations vary greatly, in accordance to geopolitical status of every country.
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Thus, 137 developing countries that have signed Protocol, including Brazil, China and India, have no responsibilities, under the agreement, beyond monitoring and reporting emissions, despite the fact that their share in Global CO2 emissions is substantial. The Kyoto Protocol has been a subject of public criticism, ever since it was being signed. In the next part of the paper, we will analyze the ideological foundation, upon which critics of Kyoto Protocol base their line of arguments. (2) The biggest problem with the issue of Global warming is the fact that there is no scientifically substantiated proof that greenhouse effect is being caused by peoples industrial activity alone. The article There is No Global Warming, which can be found on the site of American Policy Center, states: Scientific research through U.S. Government satellite and balloon measurements shows that the temperature is actually cooling – very slightly – .037 degrees Celsius.
In 1936, the Midwest of the United States experienced 49 consecutive days of temperatures over 90 degrees. There were another 49 consecutive days in 1955. But in 1992 there was only one day over 90 degrees and in 1997 only 5 days (APC).
In other words, the Kyoto Protocol is based on scientific assumption, not the hard facts. We all know what happens when countries domestic and international policies are being adjusted to correspond to such assumptions. The story with Iraqis weapons of mass destruction can serve as the best example.
It is no surprise that United States and Australia were reluctant to ratify this protocol, because there is simply too much uncertainty about it. They rightly consider environmental initiatives, on the part of countries of E.U., as such that are being politically motivated. European countries are simply trying to undermine American domination in worlds economy. United States is the largest producer of CO2; therefore, without this country ratifying Kyoto Protocol, it will not have any considerable effect. In fact, it is the large transnational corporations that are responsible for the bulk of carbon dioxide emission. Their influence on politics is far greater than the governments of many nations could ever dream of exercising.
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Yet, these corporations cannot be officially invited to sign Kyoto Protocol, because people in many countries will realize that their own governments do not control national economy. John Vidal illustrates this fact in his article CO2 Output from Shipping Twice as Much as Airlines: The figures from the oil giant BP, which owns 50 tankers, and researchers at the Institute for Physics and Atmosphere in Wessling, Germany reveal that annual emissions from commercial shipping range between 600 and 800m tonnes of carbon dioxide, or up to 5% of the global total. This is nearly double Britain’s total emissions and more than all African countries combined (Vidal).
This is why the solution to Global warming has nothing to do with awakening of citizens environmental awareness, as politically correct politicians would like us to believe. It cannot escape peoples attention that the dangers of Global warming are being popularized by the same people, who in early ninaties were trying to link thinning of ozone layer over Antarctica to the industrial progress, associated with 20th century. In his article A Necessary Apocalypse, John Dunn says: Ozone depletion did serve a useful Green purpose in drawing public attention to the atmosphere, and confusing people as to exactly what the problem was all about (Dunn).
However, in few years, after the beginning of this environmental craze, it was being proven that usage of aerosol sprays cannot be related to the widening of ozone holes over Antarctica. In fact, these holes had simply patched themselves up, without any involvement on the part of people, within a year.
As for today, there are no more talks about the dangers of aerosol sprays and about the wickedness of human race, which destroys its own environment. We cannot be absolutely sure that the same thing will not happen with the issue of Global warming. Numerous signs point out to the fact that the effects of Global warming are being artificially exaggerated. First of all, it became a statement of fashion to express concerns about Global warming. Second of all, scientists do not agree on its exact causes. Third of all, the immediate effects of Global warming are going to remain negligible for at least another hundred years.
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It appears very doubtful that the governments of different countries are going to be able to effectively address the issue of CO2 emissions, because most of worlds nations are democracies. The governments in such countries are being rarely elected for longer than 4-5 years and their foremost concern has always been addressing the immediate needs of their citizens, in order to expect reelection. Whatever is going to happen in hundred years from now cannot be referred to as peoples primary concern, no matter how hard we try. What makes many people to doubt that Kyoto Protocol might benefit the environment is the fact that dealing with the issue of reduction of CO2 emissions is being delegated to UNs bureaucracy. Throughout the history of its existence, there was no single instance of UN being able to deal with the issue of global concern in effective manner. It became a customary practice for the UN officials to begin their meetings with discussion of how to end worlds hunger, for example, while the gap between poor and rich countries continues to widen. There are good reasons to believe that the same thing is going to happen with UN intention to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions, because UN simply lacks the effective means to control the implementation of its own resolutions. For example, China is one of the biggest producers of CO2, but despite this fact, Kyoto Protocol does not require this country to shut down coal-operated power plants, the way it requires Western countries.
At the same time, such important participants of Kyoto agreement as Ethiopia and Somalia, are made eligible for the large financial donations from developed countries, as the mean to encourage citizens of these countries to become more environmentally aware. All this reveals Kyoto Protocol as another initiative of UN bureaucracy to legitimize the misuse of finances, on its part. The Kyoto Protocol cannot be associated with effectiveness in principle, because it bases its notions on wishful thinking, without making provisions for the implementation of CO2 reduction policies in every particular country. In his article What Makes Greenhouse Sense?, Thomas Schelling provides us with the insight on the metaphysical inconsistency of Kyoto Protocol as whole: With the Kyoto Protocol, commitments were made not to actions but to results that were to be measured after a decade or more. This approach has disadvantages. An obvious one is that no one can tell, until close to the target date, which nations are on course to meet their goals A government that commits to actions at least knows what it is committed to, and its partners also know and can observe compliance.
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In contrast, a government that commits to the consequences of various actions on emissions can only hope that its estimates, or guesses, are on target, and so can its partners (Schelling).
Thus, it appears that Kyoto Protocol has more to do with international transfers of large amounts of money, rather then with protection of environment, which provides critics of this agreement with valid reasons to have a negative attitude towards it. (3) The best way to address criticism directed at Kyoto Protocol can be found within a philosophical context. Despite the fact that the scientific data that links industrial emissions of CO2 to Global warming is largely inconclusive, there can be no doubt that these emissions do add to strengthening the greenhouse effect. One only needs to spend some time living in such cities as Mexico or Beijing to end up with sustaining harm to its health, because of the smog that constantly hangs over these cities. Thus, there can be no doubt that emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere negatively affect people and the environment.
Therefore, it is only natural for worlds nations to try to seek a solution to the problem. There can be no doubt that Kyoto Protocol is highly ineffective measure of dealing with the issue of Global warming; however, so far, the humanity could not come up with anything better. Kyoto Protocol is the first attempt of worlds nations to tackle the issue of global implications, which incorporates the notions of legal responsibilities, even though these notions are not being clearly defined. The research study Full Carbon Accounting and the Kyoto Protocol: A Systems-Analytical View, which can be found on the web site of International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, leaves no doubt as to the positive essence of Kyoto Protocol: The Protocol contains, for the first time, legally binding commitments to limit or reduce the emissions of six greenhouse gases or groups of gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6), but falls short of prescribing non-compliance measures (IIASA).
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Kyoto protocol marks the beginning of era of collective responsibility for the state of environment. It is no longer permissible, on the part of nations leaders, to remain ignorant of the issues that have universal importance, while relying on Gods graces, when it comes to cleaning up their peoples mess. Therefore, despite the fact that Kyoto Protocol has largely a declarative essence, it paves the way to more effective agreements, which are yet to be signed in the future.
As it is being suggested in the article The Kyoto Protocol Is in Effect!, which can be found on the web site of Windows to the Universe: The Kyoto Protocol will not cause enough change to stop global warming caused by increased amounts of greenhouses gases, but it is a good first step. More hard work needs to be done to fight Global warming and its possible effects on the world’s climate (Windows to the Universe).
More and more people, throughout the world, are beginning to understand that they are just a part of the environment, rather then its masters. The realities of 20th century present humanity with numerous challenges, which can only be successfully dealt with on Global level. This will cause a situation, when nations successfulness will directly depend on their ability to consider Global issues as such that have very practical implications. In order to be able to survive in the future, nations need to learn how to put the idea of common good above everything else.
It is very doubtful of whether this can be accomplished with the mean of educational methods alone. Ever since former European colonies in Africa, Asia and South America have gained independence, the living standards of citizens there began to decline steadily. This creates a situation when it is underdeveloped countries that need to be concerned about Global warming more then any other, as such that depend on agriculture. However, as practice shows, people in the countries of Third World rarely have any other concerns than a physical survival from day to day. At the same time, these countries contribute to Global warming indirectly, by adding to the problem of worlds overpopulation. For example, the population of Ethiopia has tripled, within the last twenty-five years, while being subjected to never-ending famine and civil wars. More people require more energy to be produced.
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In its turn, the production of energy results in emissions of CO2. Therefore, it is wrong demanding from the nations of Third World to remain faithful to certain environmental standards, because only very few people in such countries understand what the concept of environmentalism stands for. The contribution of underdeveloped nations to reducing the amount of carbon dioxide being ejected into the atmosphere should be the implementation of birth control and compulsory sterilization policies. This is what they should be receiving financial donations for and not for their commitment to the ideas of democracy, as it is the case nowadays. We need to understand that the issue of reducing the emissions of CO2 into Earths atmosphere is more complex than it is being commonly assumed. Western countries are being blamed for the bulk of CO2 emissions, while not many people understand that these emissions come as a result of Western economies working to satisfy the industrial and technological demands of poor nations, which do not contribute to civilizations scientific and cultural progress.
This is why the idea of common but differentiated responsibility, upon which the Kyoto Protocol is based, can be thought of as very beneficial, within a context of protection of environment, because it corresponds to the objective reality. Thus, we can say that Kyoto Protocol contains many progressive ideas, which unfortunately cannot be fully exploited, because their full implementation would contradict to the notions of political correctness. However, as we have mentioned before, Kyoto Protocol should still be considered as an important step on the way of making this world a better place to live. (4) In order to summarize this paper, we need to emphasize its main points: 1) Despite the criticism directed at Kyoto Protocol, it would be wrong to disregard it altogether, just as it is wrong to disregard environmental awareness as essential part of proper lifestyle. 2) Kyoto Protocol promotes the notion of common responsibility, when it comes to protection of environment, which it views as measurable category, for the first time in history of humankind. In its turn, it signifies the beginning of a new stage of peoples evolution, as specie.
3) Kyoto Protocol outlines legal measures that can be taken against countries-signatories, in case when they break the terms of Protocol, even though it does not enforce them. However, it appears to be only the matter of time, before participating parties are going to face the prospects of very immediate punishment, if they fail to comply with environmental undertakings that are being assigned to them. This will cause countries leaders to think twice, before they decide in favor of particular strategy of economic development. Thus, it appears that Kyoto Protocol needs to be discussed within evolutional framework. Only when we do this, the hidden positive aspects of the agreement become apparent. Kyoto Protocol is meant to introduce humanity to the idea of sacrificing the immediate benefits, made possible by the process of industrialization, for the sake of insuring its survival in the long run.
It will be up to people to choose in favor of course of action, which they think is the most applicable, under given circumstances.
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2008. http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/02/a_necessary _apocalypse.html Hawken, Paul The Ecology of Commerce. New York: Harper Collins, 1994. Full Carbon Accounting and the Kyoto Protocol: A Systems-Analytical View. 2005. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. 22 Jan. 2008. http://www.iiasa.ac.at/Publications/Documents/IR-9 9-025.pdf Schelling, Thomas What Makes Greenhouse Sense?.
2002. Foreign Affairs. University of Colorado at Boulder. 22 Jan. 2008. http://www.colorado.edu/economics/morey/4545/globa l/schelling-ghsense.pdf Singer, Fred The Kyoto Protocol: A Post-Mortem. 2004.
The New Atlantis. 22 Jan. 2008. http://www.thenewatlantis.com/archive/4/singer.htm There is No Global Warming. 2006. American Policy Center. 22 Jan. 2008. http://www.americanpolicy.org/un/thereisnoglobal.h tm The Kyoto Protocol Is in Effect! 2005.
Windows to the Universe. University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).
22 Jan. 2008. http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/headline_un iverse/earth_science/stories_2004/kyoto_news.html Vidal, John CO2 Output from Shipping Twice as Much as Airlines. 3 Mar. 2007.
Guardian Unlimited. Environment. 22 Jan. 2008. http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/st ory/0,,2025726,00.html Abstract: This paper discusses Kyoto Protocol within a context of Global warming and agreements socio-political implications. Outline: Introduction Opposing views Addressing criticism Conclusion.