December 18, 2003

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if more than a handful of people had heard of the word Kyoto? No it’s not a new foreign import car. Kyoto is the international plan being discussed at a recent meeting of world leaders in Italy that would help bring global warming under control. The plan calls for a mandatory decline in carbon monoxide emissions that national scientists believe will halt the rising temperatures, worsening droughts and the possibility of rising sea levels caused by the melting of the polar ice caps.

The goal of the protocol is to cut the production of carbon monoxide by more than five percent below the 1990 levels. The transition would be made by 2010 if Kyoto is approved by the international community.

But just like all other international issues, there are a few countries dragging their feet. It seems rather ironic that one of the biggest issues of the meetings was an alleged request by OPEC leader Saudi Arabia for economic aid to the world’s largest petroleum producer, if the environmental mandates of the new protocol have an adverse effect on oil prices. So basically what the Saudi’s are saying is they may need help to remain one of the world’s richest nation’s if the artificially high oil prices evaporate when Kyoto forces the world to turn to alternative fuel sources such as wind or solar power or even cleaner burning ethanol.

Well, they don’t have to worry about the United States buying any less gasoline. The U.S. pulled out of the Kyoto talks several years ago calling the issue “fatally flawed” from the get-go. When we can’t get the powers that be to consider switching from foreign bought oil to home grown corn to fuel our cars and trucks, why would we expect them to make the switch for environmental issues? The oil lobby is simply too powerful. We’ll continue to be held over the “oil barrel” as long as the money is there to buy the political influence.

But even without the United States, which generates more than 1/3 of the world’s carbon monoxide from factories, motor vehicle emissions and other fuel burners, Kyoto may still go into effect. The protocol will be enacted if it reaches its goal of joining enough of the 180 world powers together to represent at least 55 percent of the gas blamed for global warming.

The difference maker will be Russia. Right now the vote is still out on whether the mother country and its 17-percent of the world’s carbon monoxide, will buy into Kyoto. There are mixed reviews. Let’s face it a lot of those poor folks in Siberia have been praying for global warming for a long time. The world’s coldest climate would welcome rising temperatures and obviously isn’t too worried about droughts.

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