naturalSCIENCE Logo
Home
Cover Stories
Articles
Letters
News
Books
Open Forum
Comment
Whatsnew



Re: Misleading and biased article

A Letter from Jo House
A response from the Publisher




Date: Fri, 01 Jun 2001 10:32:02 +0100
From: Jo House jhouse@bgc-jena.mpg.de
To: publisher@naturalscience.com
Subject: Misleading and biased article


naturalSCIENCE Kyoto View Biased and Misleading?

I find your article Kyoto Agreement on Greenhouse Gases Achieves Little misleading. It appears to lay the blame for climate change mostly at the feet of developing countries and claims that it will be impossible to tackle climate change without them committing to reductions in emissions. While pointing out that the developing world is responsible for half current emissions, it fails to say that this is hardly surprising as they constitute probably more than three quarters of global population. In fact the US alone is responsible for 25% of current global emissions and a far higher percentage of historical emissions. Emissions per capita in the US are twice those in Europe, a region which has a similar standard of living but manages to be far more energy and carbon efficient. Still it is important that all developed regions, that have caused the current problems, and historical emissions that will persist in the atmosphere causing climate change for centuries, and who have greater ability to respond as they already have better standard of living and available financial resources, take the lead in cutting emissions and show some responsibility for their actions.

This [our article, presumably] reads more like propaganda for the oil and coal industry than a true reflection of the current state of knowledge and international scientific and political opinion.

Regards

Jo House
Max Planck Institut fuer Biogeochemie
Postfach 10 01 64
07701 Jena
Germany
jo.house@bgc-jena.mpg.de

A response from the Publisher

Joe House characterizes our news comment as "misleading and biased." As to bias, we admit it. We favor market mechanisms for allocating resources over bureaucratic dictation, a method that has generally proved destructive of human welfare. We also oppose schemes for environmental management that are politically unrealistic. In our 1997 article to which Joe House draws attention (1), we expressed the belief that Kyoto was a political non-starter. Events appear to have proved us correct. Not a single European Union nation has ratified the Treaty, nor has any other developed nation (2).

As to misleading, Joe House apparently takes exception to what he calls our "claim" that "it will be impossible to tackle climate change without [developing nations] committing to reductions in emissions." What we actually said was that ratification of the Kyoto treaty was unlikely if less developed countries do not commit to reduce emissions, because that was stipulated as a condition for ratification by the US Senate. But in any case, even were the so-called "First World" removed from the face of the earth, global carbon dioxide emission would, on present trends, exceed today's emissions by around 2020. By then, China's emission will likely exceed those of America today, India will have more people that China and should, therefore, be on track to exceed China's emissions, and there will be several billion other non-First-Worlder's seeking to achieve or exceed China's standard of energy use. So what is misleading? The potential for environmental damage by anthropogenic greenhouse gases remains with or without the First World.

As to the claim that our article "reads… like propaganda for the oil and coal industry" we will say only this, that if the Coal Alliance or any other industry association in the non-renewable energy sector supports the call for carbon taxes made both in our 1997 article (1) and our recent editorial (2), we are happy to share their view.

Alfred Burdett

References

(1) naturalSCIENCE News Comment. December 11, 1997. Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gases achieves little

(2) naturalSCIENCE Editorial. April 05, 2001. After Kyoto: A realistic approach to climate management





Your comment on this item is invited and should be addressed to: publisher@naturalscience.com. For further information on submitting a contribution to naturalSCIENCE, please see the Author Guide


Home
Cover Stories
Articles
Letters
News
Books
Open Forum
Comment
What's New
naturalSCIENCE ISSN 1206-940X Copyright © 1997/2003, Heron Publishing, Victoria, Canada