Only the reactionary fringe agree with the CSC view that climate change is a myth, but why do we then conclude that the answer is CO2 reduction? Nobody is asking the question "What good will this achieve - is this worth the cost?".
There is considerable uncertainty in the Global Climate Models which forcast the temperature rise, with almost all the variation in the end-of-century predictions coming from the different models (and their assumptions) rather than different scenarios (high emmisions, low emmisions, etc). Thus if we forcast the temperature in 2100 if we take no action, or if we implement Kyoto and achieve the target savings, an average of GCM's predict that we will achieve a saving of 0.15 C. Put another way, the Kyoto temperature in 2100 is the no-action temperature of 2094.
The usual debate is framed as "Global warming could cost us 2000 billion, so we should be prepared to spend a few billions to avert this catastrophe". Yet nobody asks how much the cost of global warming will be reduced by the measures. Not much, it would seem. Our choice is not "Spend billions or suffer a cost of trillions", it is "Spend billions (or not) AND suffer a cost of trillions, because we will have to deal with the consequences of global warming anyway. The cost of Kyoto has been estimated at about 1% of global GDP (every year). One year's Kyoto costs for the USA alone would be sufficient to provide clean water and sewage systems to all of Africa. So which is better use of our scarce resources? (yes, I know, it would only take a few days of the US military budget - that would be an even better diversion)
We should do what makes sense - but normal economics will ensure that we do this anyway. Cleaner energy such as nuclear rather than coal where the scale makes this economical as in China, more efficient cars, lights, houses, etc. But let's not do stupid and ineffective things just to be "carbon neutral".
81stcolumn, you make some good points. If we could reduce the amount spent on military hardware we'd have much greater resources to do good stuff. A year's Kyoto cost might provide fresh water to the world, 6 month's (or less) US military spending would also (and would also reduce emissions).
Of course, what we're both indulging in is the fun of specious comparison.
However the sensible point is: everybody talks of the cost of GW, NOBODY talks of the benefit of GW reductions. There is an implicit assumption that if we suffer the economic pain of reducing emissions, then we can offset this against the cost of GW. Kyoto cost $100Bn, GW cost $200bn, net benefit $100bn.
But this is NOT true. Whether you take the lowest or highest estimate of GW, and the lowest and highest cost of Kyoto, we can only offset Kyoto costs against the REDUCTION in the cost of GW. Kyoto has so little effect that we will have the cost of GW anyway: our choice is Kyoto plus GW, or negligibly worse GW. Thus if GW contaminates water so that we have to spend $$ to replace water supplies, we'll have to do that anyway. It is not either-or.
My argument is not "Do nothing". It is "Do sensible things".
Apart from Pres. Bush and his cronies everybody accepts the reality of global warming. Everybody, it seems, is convinced that the only answer is drastic reduction in our carbon emissions. Lost in the debate is the question of whether this will actually do any good.
If Kyoto is fully implemented and we achieve the reductions in CO2 expected from it, then (based on a consensus of Global Climate Models of about 6 years ago) the forcast reduction in warming will be about 0.15C. Put another way, the reduced temperature in 2100 will be what the temperature would have been in 2094 without Kyoto. This will cost $US75bn to $346bn per year, depending on the trading model, about twice the cost of the global warming itself (this cost won't be significantly reduced).
Although these figures may be out of date now, I haven't seen them challenged or updated. The whole debate has swung between two extremes: from "Global Warming is unproven, we should do nothing", to "Global Warming is the greatest threat mankind has ever faced, we must urgently and dramatically reduce our carbon emmissions". Both extremes are wrong.
It certainly makes sense (as it would anyway) to drive smaller cars, use renewable or non-polluting energy sources, etc., and we should take sensible steps to reduce our emissions. Overzealous policies however are like doing penance and attending mass to ward off the plague: they do nothing to reduce the problem, and they reduce the resources that society has to mitigate the problem's effects.
It is worth noting that for one year's cost of Kyoto (fully implemented) the whole world could be provided with clean water supplies. Lost in the global warming debate is the question "Is it sensible to spend this amount of money on an inneffective policy". This is a classic case of politicians wanting to be seen to be doing something, anything, even if it doesn't make sense.