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Energy Society sample essay

The Kyoto Protocol

The official name of the Protocol is The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is an agreement by 165 countries for mandatory targets for the reduction of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. These gases—carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and several fluorinated gases are believed to contribute significantly to global warming.

The targets of the Protocol are primarily industrialized countries, which are expected to reduce their combined emissions to 95% of 1990 emission levels between 2008 and 2012. The Protocol was agreed on in 1997, although it only took effect in 2005.

Between the years 1990 and 2000, the overall emissions of industrialized countries have been reduced by 3%, but largely because of the drastic reduction of emissions from former Soviet countries because of their failing economies. Other industrialized countries overall had an increase of 8% emissions. It is estmated that emissions from industrialized countries will be 10% above 1990 emission levels by the year 2010.

For industrialized countries, the emission reduction target of the Kyoto Protocol is only around 5%, and many climate scientists are concerned that this is not enough to curb the effects of global warming. They believe that in order for the agreement to actually help solve the problem, the emission rates would be cut down by 60%. This has led to the opinion that the agreement lacks real value, more so without US backing. However, advocates believe that the Protocol lays out the groundwork for future negotiations. Emission reduction laws were already signed in many countries and would continue to take effect even when the Protocol itself has ceased to exist.
“Happy Kyoto Day” –

This site has an unusual approach to the problem of determining the Kyoto protocol’s merit. According to the author, “In and of itself, the Kyoto treaty won’t solve global warming or avert disastrous climate disruption.” The author states that the protocol is essentially a catalyst. It will put the world in an environmentally aware mindset—even if the Kyoto protocol fails, it will force the world to come up with something better. It will also encourage economic changes that strive towards greater efficiency and sustainability. Lastly, the protocol “is a symbol, a conscious step in the right direction for the planet.
“Kyoto & global warming: good stuff or part of a dark conspiracy to dominate the world?” –

According to this site, “global warming alarmism” is indeed the “mother of all environmental scares.” The author states that it is definitely not settled whether human activity has had any significant effect on global warming; global warming is a theory, not a fact. Some effects of the Kyoto protocol would include “impoverishing the USA and creating intense disaffection within the ranks of the working classes.” Basic necessities would become very expensive. “Electricity would double in cost, fuel would skyrocket.” Lastly, the author claims that the Kyoto protocol is a political “device to lead the Social Communists closer to world dominion.”
One of the worst effects that global warming could have would be the rise of sea levels, due to the melting of ice caps and to thermal expansion of the world’s waters. A hundred years from now, if the worst global warming predictions come true, millions of people will be displaced from their homes, which will be submerged. This will have drastic economic and cultural impacts. The effects of the mass displacement on the economy could reach far into the future. The loss of farmland, of business districts, etc. may spawn another (much worse) Great Depression in many areas. Forced cultural dispersion will be commonplace, making the ubiquitous problem of the generation gap much more considerable.
Many people who would call themselves environmentalists would not necessarily have good knowledge of environmental issues. They may pay lip service to the environmentalist cause without inconveniencing themselves in any respect to protect it. But I would venture to say that a majority of those who call themselves environmentalists would be willing to go out of their way to ‘serve’ the world.
However, it is certain that, as in other controversial issues, there would be much hypocrisy. If by ‘environmentalists’ we mean those who are—or claim to be—‘concerned’ about the environment, then certainly most of them would just be claiming belief in the cause, but be too lazy. In them would be an awareness of an ideal—the preservation of the environment—but a lack of initiative, probably because of the lack of any immediate incentives.

References

Kyoto Protocol, 2006, Department of the Environment and Heritage, Australian Greenhouse Office, Available at: http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/international/kyoto/index.html

The Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand Ministry for the Environment, Available at: http://www. climatechange.govt.nz/about/kyoto.html

Cascio, Jamais, 2006, Happy Kyoto Day, Available at: http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/002119.html

Kyoto & global warming: good stuff or part of a dark conspiracy to dominate the world?, 2006, Available at: http://uspolitics.tribe.net/thread/e4978f31-0439-4b70-bbf3-f0ce93a09a42

Q&A: The Kyoto Protocol, 2005, BBC News, Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/ 4269921.stm

The Kyoto Protocol – A brief summary, 2006, European Union, Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/ environment/climat/kyoto.htm

Kyoto Protocol, 2006, Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Available at: http://en.wikipedia. org/w/index.php?title=Kyoto_Protocol&oldid=80236719

Kyoto Protocol comes into force, 2005, BBC News, Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/ science/nature/4267245.stm

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