|The Week That Was
Oct 4, 2003
1. New on the Web: RUSSIA UNLIKELY TO RATIFY KYOTO. Will it go down the drain? Essays by geologist Tim Patterson (Carleton University, Ottawa) in the Moscow Times and by Fred Singer.
2. PRESIDENT PUTIN AND RUSSIAN MINISTERS EXPRESS DOUBTS ABOUT KYOTO ("SCIENTIFICALLY FLAWED")
3. TOP RUSSIAN CLIMATE EXPERTS SKEPTICAL ABOUT KYOTO PROTOCOL
4. YOU CAN'T CONTROL THE CLIMATE, ARGUES PHILIP STOTT:
5. AFTER MOSCOW, WHY DOES CANADA STILL CLING TO KYOTO?
6. FAILED ATTACKS ON WEATHER SATELLITE CLIMATE DATA
7. And finally, FOR THOSE TRYING TO FIGURE THE FUTURE OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL:
CNN, 29 Sept 2003
MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin said Russia had not decided whether to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, leaving the future of the landmark pact to curb global warming in doubt. At a conference on climate change, he said calls had been made on Russia to ratify the protocol and that would probably be repeated at the week-long meeting. But Russia was not ready to make a decision.
The decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol will be adopted after this
issue is thoroughly considered by the Russian government, Russian President
Vladimir Putin declared at an international conference on climate change
in Moscow today, Channel One television reported. The head of state stressed
that over the past 13 years Russia had decreased the emission of greenhouse
gases by about 30 percent, thus "having offset" an almost 40-percent
advance in greenhouse gases released by other countries. The President
noted that this reduction had been due to some structural changes in the
Russian economy. Putin has urged the scientific community to unite efforts
to define the level of the real danger of climate changes and identify
the level of anthropogenic influence on the climate system.
No timetable for Russian Kyoto approval, says deputy prime minister Gordeyev
MOSCOW - Russia needs time to consider the Kyoto Protocol and has no schedule to approve it, Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Thursday, ensuring the environmental pact will not come into force for some time. But he repeated Moscow's support in principle for the landmark treaty, which aims to cut emissions of the gases that cause global warming. "There is no strict timetable at the moment," Gordeyev, who is also agriculture minister, told reporters. "The Russian government looks on the Kyoto protocol positively, but we say that the protocol, especially concerning scientific matters, leaves a lot of questions unanswered."
Under the treaty's weighting system, countries responsible for producing 55 percent of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, have to approve it before it comes into force. The United States, by far the world's biggest polluter, has pulled out, leaving Russia with the casting vote on the treaty, agreed to in the Japanese city of Kyoto in 1997. Many environmentalists had hoped Russia would ratify the protocol before an international scientific conference on climate change opens in Moscow next week. While this hope has been dashed, they now suggest President Vladimir Putin might speak at the conference and give the right signal to the State Duma lower house of parliament to approve the pact.
Putin said in June he was broadly in favor of the treaty but described
it as scientifically flawed. Many scientists say the treaty, especially
now that Washington has pulled out, would do nothing to cut the amount
of carbon dioxide in the air, although it could slow the pace of growth.
Source: Reuters > > ---
The Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions in its present form discriminates
against Russia, President Vladimir Putin's leading advisor on economic
affairs, Andrei Illarionov, said on Tuesday as experts met in Moscow for
a conference on climate change. Illarionov highlighted a "strange
situation" in which, he said, Russia accounted for just six percent
of global carbon dioxide emissions and yet will be obliged to reduce them,
while countries such as the United States and China will be unrestricted.
Kyoto would be particularly harmful to a country such as Russia, which
is on the cusp of a period of rapid economic growth and technological
MOSCOW: Leading Russian climate experts poured scorn on the Kyoto Protocol yesterday, strengthening the hand of government critics of the agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions, which needs Russia's ratification to go into force.
Russian scientists who spoke at the UN World Climate Change Conference argued that the protocol's advocates have failed to provide sound proof that the emissions the pact would limit are a key force behind global warming.
Prof. Kirill Kondratyev, an influential climate expert with the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that theories linking global warming to greenhouse gas emissions ignored numerous other factors, such as the ocean's impact on climate and volcanic eruptions. "The only people who would be hurt by abandoning the Kyoto Protocol would be several thousand people who make a living attending conferences on global warming," said Kondratyev. (BNA Daily Environment Report, Oct. 2)
Another top Russian researcher, Valentin Dymnikov, expressed similar doubts about the impact of concentrations of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas, on climate change. He said that existing models of atmospheric change lack accuracy and aren't reliable enough. Skeptical statements from Russian researchers will provide arguments for government officials who appear to be increasingly dubious about the Kyoto Protocol.
President Vladimir Putin raised new doubts about the fate of the agreement when he told the conference Monday that his Cabinet has not decided whether Russia should ratify it.
His statement represented a step back from Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's pledge a year ago to ratify the agreement in the "very near future," and disappointed its European and UN backers.Putin's economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, told reporters yesterday that ratification would stall Russia's economic growth and said the government will take as much time as it needs to weigh all the consequences before making up its mind.
To go into force, the 1997 protocol must be ratified by no fewer than 55 countries, accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions in 1990. Since the United States rejected the treaty, the minimum can be reached only with Russian ratification.
Illarionov said that the United States rejected the protocol because it considered that compliance would be too costly, but that it would be less affordable for Russia, whose economy is much smaller. He also said scientists had failed to prove the need for curbing emissions.
Russia's Natural Resources Minister Vitaly Artyukhov cited critics of the Kyoto Protocol who said that the adverse effects of greenhouse gas emissions were probably overestimated. He said vaguely that the government would take a "well-considered" approach to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, "taking into account Russia's opportunities."
Russia's emissions have fallen by 32 percent since 1990, largely due to the post-Soviet industrial meltdown, but they have started to rise again amid the economic revival of the past few years.
Putin's ambitious goal of doubling Russia's gross domestic product by
2010 might come into conflict with the Kyoto Protocol, which would require
Russia to overhaul its industries in order to cut emissions and could
slow growth. Illarionov said that doubling the GDP will bring Russia's
emissions to 104 percent of their 1990 level, conflicting with the protocol.
New Scientist vol 179 - 20 September 2003, page 25
Let me declare my position: I am a mildly left-wing global-warming sceptic. For me, the real questions have never been, "Is climate changing?" or "Are humans influencing climate?" Climate always changes, and humans affect climate in many ways, not just through carbon dioxide emissions. I don't believe we will ever be able to manage the climate in a predictable manner by trying to manipulate just one of the enormous number of natural and human factors involved.
My position is reinforced by recent scientific research. Over the past few weeks, a number of studies have emerged that cast doubt on the significance of human-made global warming and the climate models on which the dominant theory is largely based. But don't be surprised if you haven't heard of them.
One of the most important investigates the link between climate change and galactic cosmic rays (GSA Today, vol 13, p 4). Cosmic rays are known to boost cloud formation - and in turn reduce temperatures on Earth - by creating ions that cause water droplets to condense. Geochemist Ján Veizer of the Ruhr University at Bochum, Germany, and the University of Ottawa in Canada, and Nir Shaviv, an astrophysicist at the Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, calculated temperature changes at the Earth's surface by studying oxygen isotopes trapped in rocks formed by ancient marine fossils. They then compared these with variations in cosmic-ray activity, determined by looking at how cosmic rays have affected isotopes in iron meteorites.
Their results suggest that temperature fluctuations over the past 550 million years are more likely to relate to cosmic-ray activity than to CO2. Cosmic rays could account for as much as 75 per cent of climate variations, they argue. By contrast, the researchers found no correlation between temperature variation and the changing patterns of CO2 in the atmosphere.
This research underlines the serious gaps in our knowledge of how CO2 behaves in the atmosphere. It is often taken as read by politicians, the media and much of the scientific community that increased levels of the gas lead directly to higher temperatures. Yet the mechanism is far from understood. This was emphasised by Veizer in a paper in Nature in 2000 (vol 408, p 698), in which he and two colleagues from the University of Liège in Belgium illustrated the serious mismatches between CO2 levels and climate variability in the geological record.
Another study, published last month, highlights weaknesses in the "general circulation models", the computer simulations of the Earth's atmosphere that are among the chief tools of modern climate research. In Progress in Physical Geography (vol 27, p 448), Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics point out that a number of scientists have already called for better models that more accurately reflect the extremely complicated interactions between atmosphere, ocean, land and ice cover.
Improving them, they argue, will require long-term monitoring of several key factors that affect the climate that are not yet sufficiently understood by climate scientists. These include radiation, magnetised plasma and energetic particles from the sun; the crucial properties of clouds; and variations in the shape of the Earth, which has a significant influence on atmospheric flow and climate.
Soon and Baliunas go on to stress that no general circulation model has successfully simulated the observation that while temperatures at the surface of the Earth have continued to rise, the lower atmosphere has not warmed at all. Yet if CO2 plays the substantial role in climate change the global warming lobby insists it does, this layer should be warming faster than the surface air.
It seems clear, then, that our climate models are very limited, and that we have a long way to go before the observations on which they are based can be used to dictate policy. Though the "global warming myth" has become immensely powerful, the science of climate change remains deeply uncertain. I believe it is vital to acknowledge this uncertainty. Our crucial mistake is in trying to manage the climate in the vain hope that we can predict it. Instead, we should put our resources into adapting economically and socially - especially at a local and regional level - to whatever it throws at us. I am certain of only one thing: the climate will surprise us.
5. After Moscow, why does Canada still cling to Kyoto?
Charles Frank ("Kyoto ride promises to be a rocky one", Oct 3) missed a most important reason why the Kyoto Accord should be dumped. As I explained at an anti-Kyoto news conference in Ottawa last November, Kyoto almost certainly won't work since science does not support it.
Thousands of climate scientists, worldwide, understand that, while we are still decades away from understanding what really drives global climate, it is NOT significantly influenced by human activity. The Sun, ocean currents, volcanoes and other natural factors have far more impact than humanity has ever had.
What is most remarkable about the Moscow climate conference is the prominent
role scientists played in the decision to delay ratification of Kyoto.
Russian scientists recognize that climate has varied naturally for hundreds
of millions of years and will continue to do so no matter what treaties
governments sign. Contrary to the rhetoric of Canadian Environment Minister
David Anderson, data from weather satellites show that the Earth has not
warmed appreciably in the past quarter century. Mr. Anderson and his European
counterparts have fallen victim to the unrealistic predictions of computer
modelers instead of listening to those of us who base our opinions on
real climatological data. Kyoto supporters apparently do not appreciate
that the climate system is far too complex to properly simulate with today's
immature computer models.
Dr. S. Fred Singer
Christy, J.R., Spencer, R.W., Braswell, W.D., 2000. MSU tropospheric
temperatures: Dataset construction and radiosonde comparisons. Journal
of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 17, 1153-1170.
7. And finally, for those trying to figure the future of the Kyoto Protocol:
"I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."