Carbon Dioxide as a Pollutant


Staff member
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is committed to helping its Member countries and the entire international community to move towards sustainable development. It is critical to understand how economic, environmental, social and development policies can best reinforce each other to accomplish this. Climate change can impede progress towards sustainable development by harming the global ecosystem and the planet's life-support systems. Globally, it threatens to inflict huge costs on economies; locally, it can put communities at risk, particularly those dependent on natural resources. Governments and citizens around the world have a major stake in addressing this threat effectively, efficiently and equitably. The OECD and its affiliates are working with governments and other stakeholders to inform the debate through objective assessments of viable response strategies.
- Kyoto Summit, December 1997

Based on this idea, the pro-Kyoto crowd has declared Carbon Dioxide as a major pollutant and hence want to curtail the production of such gas from man-made activities such as:

Raising too many cows
Having any kind of industry
Fossil fuel based Powerplants
Automobiles, Trains, Planes

So, pressure is on Bush to enact legislation to reduce consumption of above items. What do you think?
Not to make wise cracks but I have a question that is going to sound like it. What do they propose to do about termites (methane, co2) and other living creatures?

Kyoto's ambitions are well meaning. But for today it is a little unrealistic. I made mention in another post of industry moving to third world countries and that being just a tempory step. That sooner or later space would look like the only place that had welcoming arms. That costs to do business will eventually drive them there. You are seeing some of that here. No one denies that we are polluting our world. I would think the step would be reduction, reduction, reduction to go that way. The other side would be investment into promising technoligies that might offer relief.

If we went back to no auto's then something else will have to take it's place. Think of the cost! To the industry. Heck to you the consumer. What if everyone agreed and oil companies tomarrow said, "We will stop making gasoline in two days." How will you get to work? How will food and products get to the store? How will you get there to buy them and with what? If the products your business or employer makes can not get to the market where will you get the money to get them? Are you, John Q. Public, ready today to grow your own food? To give up meat and dairy products? What would you do until the crops are ready? Are you ready to eat it off the plant with no heat to make it platable? Could you make a solar oven tomarrow? (Incidently, yes I could)

There are No Smoking signs everywhere. I am a smoker and I am not going to quit because someone mandated that I will. On that point, call me militant. Right or wrong. There is no way that I will believe that because I smoke that I have made a major contribution to the world's pollution problem. Any more than if I took a leak in the ocean that I am threating Holland by raising the level of the ocean to the degree that it will flood when the disturbance I created in doing so arrives there.

I think that the extent to which Kyoto wants to leap to off the bat, is a whole lot unrealistic.
Amazon forest 'will be dead in 50 years' 'probably unstoppable'

Extracts taken from

This would seem to nail the lid on the coffin!!

November 11, 1998
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Correspondent

The British government yesterday predicted the death of the Amazon rainforest in 50 years' time - and a resultant surge in global warming.

The disappearance of the Amazon forest is probably unstoppable because of the climate change already occurring, according to the UK's latest computer models of the climate.

Temperatures up to seven degrees higher than today and decreases in rainfall of up to 50 centimetres a year will kill off vast areas of what is now lush tropical forest, the world's richest wildlife habitat, and turn it into grassland or even desert.

But even more critically, the Amazon and other forested regions will be transformed from areas which now absorb carbon dioxide, the principal gas causing global warming, into areas which give it out.

The result will be an enormous and relatively sudden increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, perhaps more than 50 per cent, and a rapid or even runaway escalation of climate change in a "positive feedback loop" - global warming causing more global warming.

The predictions, some of the direst yet, were unveiled yesterday by the Environment minister, Michael Meacher, to coincide with the opening of the two-week conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which will try to carry forward last year's Kyoto climate change treaty.

"They make frightening reading," Mr Meacher said.

They come from Britain's latest supercomputer model of the global climate at the Meteorological Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Research in Bracknell, Berkshire, and five associated models of areas of potential impact - food production, water supplies, flood risk, human health and natural vegetation cover.

The predictions about Brazil come from the natural vegetation model run by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (ITE) in Edinburgh. This is the first time anyone has put a date on the death of the Amazon rainforest, and it suggests a very rapid end.

"The ecosystem model predicts that [forest] dieback will occur over vast areas of northern Brazil, beginning in the 2040s," the government report says. "After 2050, and as a result of vegetation dieback and change, primarily in Amazonia, Europe and North America, the terrestrial land surface becomes a source of carbon, releasing approximately 2 billion tonnes of carbon per year into the atmosphere."

At the moment the trees are absorbing between two and three billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year - nearly half the amount that is released from man-made sources.

"It is absolutely essential that world-wide political action is taken, going further than Kyoto to arrest and ultimately reverse this process," Mr Meacher said.
What I'm trying to say is, that although wet1 is right, some action has to made... and bloody soon!!

The theory that outlines the role that carbon sinks play in buffering this planets' environment is crucial.... not even the Kyoto agreement was close to what is required. Estimates are requiring drastic reductions in CO2 emissions within the next few decades... not the 5 or 6% reductions that were pushed around at Kyoto..... and now even a more watered down version is proposed!!!

Please, can someone calm my fears that this planet is in freefall!!


(And yes I live in Cambridge, I don't study there!! So any critisms would be welcome.. I love to learn thru others!!);)
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I understand your concerns. Climate change is a problem. But the proposed solution is not a solution. An analogy is on order. Say it is morally wrong to have abortion. So the solution is ban abortion . Right? with out any regard for why? This argument is going on for 15 years.

I met with some Chinese officials who feel that it is a way for the west to keep China from developing. A lot of other countries feel the same way that US and UK want the rest of the world to live like 2000 years ago. So that is not the SOLUTION.

Now, what if, just like you have hurricanes, tornados in a regular cycle - and no body is blaming hurricane on some secret weapon US has developed! - that the earth goes through a periodic larger cycle of climate change? Think about it.

Just as the computer can predict the formation of a hurricane just before it happens, so can a computer predict something is about to occur based on that data. The problem is, we do not have the technology to stop hurricane from forming (we are trying with polymers) nor we should try, same way we may not be able to do anything about the next major change.

Partly because, the energy required to arrest such change is so vast that the total energy produced by humans for 10 years will not make a dent on it. So if in 50 years, inspite of our efforts we have a change, we only blame our selves.

Computers are machines. Garbage in garbage out. A simulation program looks changes in human activities and tracks the changes in climate. It is possible that there may be very little co-relation. Even though it look that way. It is like co-relating the rise of stock market to the english derby or cricket matches in australia.

One thing everybody agrees that all first world nations cut down their trees to build houses, and factories and become rich. Now the same rich nations do not want the poor nations to cut down their trees to build houses and factories to become rich. Is it fair?

I say NO. Let us find some alternates and compromises. I will say to poor nations, cut down less trees but we will pay for you or provide you with technology to how to be more efficient because we did not know when we cut down our trees that we will be screwed. And I will tell my people, hey let us start planting trees - real trees instead of golf courses.

Do you know that if we plant large leafy trees on all the GOLF courses on this planet, we will solve the CO2 problem - if that is what caused this change, once for all! Nooo, the rich want their golf courses, let the poor suffer to have a roof over their head.
Latest on Kyoto: (NEWS, Except from WIRED.COM)

BONN, Germany -- Negotiators from 178 nations rescued the 1997 Kyoto Protocol after 48 hours of marathon talks ending Monday, leaving the United States isolated as the rest of the world embraced the first binding treaty on combating global warming.

Despite appeals from his closest allies at a summit in Italy this weekend, President Bush refused to reconsider his rejection of the pact, which he deems harmful to the U.S. economy.
European envoys said the treaty would be stronger with American participation, but that Washington would be welcome to join at any time.

"Almost every single country stayed in the protocol," Olivier Deleuze, the chief European Union negotiator, said. "There was one that said the Kyoto Protocol was flawed. Do you see the Kyoto Protocol flawed?" Paula Dobriansky, the head of the U.S. delegation, noted the deal will not require the United States to fund any part of the treaty, one of Washington's chief concerns.

"Although the United States does not intend to ratify that agreement, we have not sought to stop others from moving ahead, so long as legitimate U.S. interests were protected," she said. "This does not change our view the Kyoto Protocol is not sound policy." Dobriansky drew boos from the gallery when she said the Bush administration was committed to tackling climate change. "We will not abdicate our responsibility," she said.

As news of the deal swept through the delegations, hundreds of negotiators waiting in the convention hall lobby hugged each other in joy. Two hours later, conference chairman Jan Pronk signaled adoption of the draft with a rap of a gavel before the full conference. Pronk, wearing a fresh suit after working through two nights, was greeted by a standing ovation. "It is very important to show that global developments can be met and addressed by globally responsible decision-making," Pronk, the Dutch environment minister, said.

The breakthrough in talks on setting rules for implementation of the Kyoto Protocol came after nations agreed to drop legally binding sanctions for violators of the treaty, opposed by Japan. During talks that began at the expert level last Monday, delegates negotiated four crucial areas: financing, emission credits for forests soaking up carbon dioxide, mechanisms for offsetting pollution reduction targets as well as sanctions.

Addressing funding concerns by developing nations trying to improve emissions controls so they can one day join the treaty, the European Union announced a $410 million fund.Envoys admitted the deal fell short of tight rules they initially sought. "I prefer an imperfect agreement that is living to an imperfect agreement that doesn't exist," Deleuze said.

The deal clears the way for nations to continue the process of ratifying the protocol, which delegates hope to achieve in 2002, the 10th anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The treaty must be ratified by 55 nations responsible for more than half of global green gas emissions to take force. Some 30 nations have ratified the pact to date.

Threatened with the second breakdown of negotiations in eight months, Pronk urged the yawning delegates late Sunday to redouble their efforts and to contact their capitals for guidance. He appealed to them not to offer new amendments, which would lead to sure collapse. "This is a good text. It is a balanced text," Pronk said.

Most delegations agreed Sunday night to accept without any changes Pronk's compromise proposal on rules governing the protocol. But Japan held fast to its refusal to accept the accord's enforcement clause. Pronk said holdout countries, including developing countries seeking funding guarantees, carried enough weight to block ratification of the accord, which aims to curb the emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The deadlock forced the high-level delegates to continue a long series of consultations as minister after minister missed flights home from the conference, originally scheduled to end Sunday night. The climate talks were resumed in Bonn after failing once before when a conference last November in The Hague, Netherlands, collapsed in a last-minute dispute between the United States and the Europeans. That convention was held while ballots were still being counted in the U.S. election that brought Bush to office. He renounced the Kyoto pact three months later. In a major concession by the EU, the accord allows countries to offset their obligations to reduce industrial pollution by counting the proper management of forests and farmlands that absorb carbon dioxide, known as carbon "sinks."

Environmental groups said the heavy allowance for sinks effectively reduced the commitment in the Kyoto accord to cut emissions by 5.2 percent from their 1990 levels. In fact, the reduction would be closer to 1.8 percent, said the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.