Al Gore himself descends on Wednesday to personally bless the conclave’s work product — which, based on past history, we can be assured will range somewhere between flawed, fraudulent, and downright farcical.
Kyoto was supposed to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide below 1990 levels during the period 2008–2012. But, since it was signed, the atmospheric concentration of this putative pollutant continued to rise, pretty much at the same rate it did before Kyoto. Incidentally, even if the world had lived up to the letter of the Kyoto law, the effect on global temperature would have been too small to measure.
The purpose of the Poznan meeting is to work out some type of framework that goes “beyond Kyoto.” After completely failing in its first attempt to limit carbon dioxide emissions internationally, the U.N. will propose reductions even greater than those Kyoto required. Kyoto failed because it was too expensive. Anything “beyond” it will cost that much more, and is even less likely to succeed.
Besides, the world cannot afford any expensive climate policies now. Economic conditions are so bad that carbon‐dioxide emissions — the byproduct of our commerce (not to mention our respiration) — are likely falling because of the financial chill, not the climatic one. Indeed, a permanent economic ice age would likely result from any mandated large cuts in emissions.
And, before proposing an even harsher treaty, the U.N. ought to pay attention to its own climate science. It regularly publishes temperature histories from its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was formed in the late 1980s with the express charge of finding a scientific basis for a global climate treaty.
Since Kyoto in December 1996, a very funny thing has happened to global temperatures: IPCC data clearly show that warming has stopped, even though its computer models said such a thing could not happen.
According to the IPCC, the world reached its high‐temperature mark in 1998, thanks to a big “El Niño,” which is a temporary warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that occurs once or twice a decade. El Niño years are usually followed by one or two relatively cold years, as occurred in 1999 and 2000. No one knows what really causes these cycles but they have been going on sporadically for millennia.
Wait a minute. Starting an argument about global warming in 1998 is a bit unfair. After all, that’s starting off with a very hot temperature, followed by two relatively cool years.