The second round of the Doha Climate Talks began on November 27 to discuss global initiatives to reduce emissions and slow climate change. Many wonder, "is climate change already irreversible?"
In a word, yes. But not for the reasons you would think.
Climate change, while one could argue man has played a part in it, is a natural cycle of the earth. A report released in October by the United Kingdom’s weather service, the Met Office, which has played a large role in proliferating “climategeddon” as I like to call it, showed that global warming has reached a plateau for the past 16 years.
Now the Met Office has chosen to refute these claims stating that the time span which shows the plateau is too small to demonstrate that global warming has stopped. They say that plateaus of 10-15 years are not uncommon. However, this only proves the point that the Earth goes through natural ups and downs in temperature regardless of our actions.
If the industries of humans were so destructive to the climate, why has the global temperature stayed steady for the past decade or so and only recently began to rise again? The simple fact of the matter is, no one really knows what the climate will do next. Back in the 1970’s scientists were telling us we were experiencing man-made “global cooling.”
So what’s at stake during the Doha Climate talks?
The biggest issue is the Kyoto Protocol which expires at the end of this year.and has largely been a failure. The majority of nations who signed on to the treaty failed to meet their emissions reduction targets. Moreover, the strides to reduce emissions in the EU and elsewhere were largely erased by the exponential increase in China’s carbon emissions. If you look at the data, from 1990 to 2011, the global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by a total of 11 gigatons. China is responsible for over 7 gigatons of emissions. That’s 64% of the world’s total.
The U.S. increased emissions by only a small fraction of that total with 0.43 gigatons. In fact, carbon emissions in the U.S. are the lowest they have been since 1992. Even more eye-opening is a study conducted by the Science and Public Policy Institute entitled, “Analysis of U.S. and State-By-State Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Potential 'Savings' In Future Global Temperature and Global Sea Level Rise.”
The study shows that if the nation stopped producing carbon dioxide all together (sending us back into the Dark Ages), the savings in global temperature would be a whopping 0.08°C by the year 2050 and 0.17 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. The savings from the cessation of U.S. emissions would be eliminated by global emissions in 6.5 years. To put this in perspective, let’s say we decided to power down the entire state of Texas, the nation’s largest producer of carbon dioxide. It would only take a little over a year for China’s emissions to cancel out our emissions reduction.
Like the past three UN Climate Change talks, the talks in Doha will likely accomplish very little. Even if a renewal of the Kyoto Protocol is agreed upon, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell (no pun intended) that China will sign on because of the impediments it would cause to their growing economy. America has shown that nations do not need a global treaty to force them to reduce their carbon emissions. Treaties like the Kyoto Protocol infringe upon a nation’s sovereignty by creating one-size-fits-all regulations.
As the Doha talks continue, if another Kyoto Protocol is drafted, I would urge the Obama administration to refrain from signing the treaty. Our industries are already suffering under the weight of EPA Clean Air Act Regulations. While I disagree with the methods of the EPA, their regulations have shown that emissions can be reduced with domestic solutions; we do not need an international body to tell us what is best for our nation.