Why isn’t Gore hounding the Olympic torch?

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The Article

Tibetan protesters aren’t the only ones who ought to be dogging the Olympic torch relay.

When Al Gore received his Nobel Peace prize he said that global warming is a “moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.”

Ted Turner recently told PBS’ Charlie Rose that if steps aren’t taken to control global warming, “in 30 or 40 years… most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals. Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state—like Somalia or Sudan—and living conditions will be intolerable.”

And the U.N. deputy high commissioner for human rights says that, “Global warming and extreme weather conditions may have calamitous consequences for the human rights of millions of people.”

But despite their melodramatic rhetoric—and the just-reported news that the Olympic torch relay will release more than 11 million pounds of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 550 SUVs—you won’t see Al, Ted or anyone from the U.N. trying to tackle an Olympic torch bearer even though China easily—and unapologetically—wins the gold medal for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA) reported last year that China became the No. 1 CO2 emitting country in 2006, blowing past the U.S. emissions level by a whopping 8 percent. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had projected that China wouldn’t surpass the U.S. in CO2 emissions until 2020.

Now a new study from researchers at the University of California-Berkeley has not only verified the NEAA report, but says that China’s emissions are growing at a rate of 11 percent—two- to four-times the rate projected by the IPCC.

It seems that the IPCC is as bad at forecasting CO2 emissions growth as it is at forecasting global temperature change.

The Berkeley researchers attribute the IPCC’s shortcomings to reliance on obsolete data that are almost a decade old. Since then, they say, “China’s economic and technological growth has accelerated beyond anticipation.”

Adding insult to injury, the Berkeley researchers point out that, while the emissions from countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol will be a cumulative 116 million metric tons lower by 2010 than they would have been without any agreement, China’s emissions will have increased by 600 million metric tons over that same period.

Now that’s what I call a carbon offset.

It’s no wonder that Kyoto signatories in the European Union are starting to wonder why they struggle to meet their emissions obligations without wrecking their economies, while China unabashedly emits CO2 like there’s no tomorrow.

While burning coal for electricity, a primary source of manmade CO2 emissions, is rapidly becoming a politically incorrect energy source, it seems China can’t get enough of it.

In 2006-2007, China added 186,000 megawatts of coal-fueled electrical generation capacity, equivalent to twice the entire electricity grid of the United Kingdom. Acquiring sufficient coal for its ever-increasing power needs turned China in 2007 into a net importer of coal for the first time, helping to more than double the price of coal over the last year.

Don’t look to China to save the West from “manmade” global warming—whether real or imagined.

In vowing to not allow international action on climate change to interfere with its economic development, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman told the Financial Times in early 2007 that, “developed countries bear an unshirkable responsibility” for causing global warming.

The Chinese attitude—as well as that of India, which is verging on becoming the third largest CO2 emitter—is that 95 percent of worldwide CO2 emissions since the industrial revolution came from the West, so global warming is the West’s problem. “Both Beijing and New Delhi fear that binding emission caps that limit energy use could threaten future economic development—and condemn many of their people to perpetual poverty,” reported the Financial Times.

In a prescient moment in 1997, the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 against the Kyoto Protocol because developing countries, like China and India, were not bound to reduce their CO2 emissions.

Now that China has blown past the U.S. 15 years earlier than expected, the Senate’s prescience seems to have vanished as it has scheduled a June floor debate on the Kyoto Protocol-on-steroids Lieberman-Warner global warming bill.

Even if the bill’s heavy-handed provisions achieved its main goal—a 70 percent reduction in U.S. CO2 emissions by 2050—atmospheric CO2 levels would only be reduced by less than 5 percent, according to the EPA. Such a trivial reduction in atmospheric CO2 would likely have virtually zero-impact on global climate albeit at great societal cost.

Nevertheless, the Senate’s apparent abandonment of its 1997 position seems to have led climate alarmists to sense that their personal nirvana of a carbon-restricted, energy-constipated U.S. is well within sight. No wonder the Tibetans are chasing after the flame alone.

Steven Milloy
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