Kyoto: Think Globally, Act Locally

Earth from spaceToday, the Kyoto Protocol goes into effect. Of course, President Bush declined to add the United States to the list of 141 countries ratifying the decision.

USA Today reports that a number of businesses, nonprofits, and many states are already taking steps to get closer to Kyoto compliance.

Nine eastern states (the six New England states plus Delaware, New Jersey, and New York) have formed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative requiring large power plants to reduce carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade system. Auto-clogged California is even trying to force automakers to limit emissions.

Another example: In October 2003, Lewis & Clark College in Portland became the first college in the nation to achieve Kyoto compliance - at a cost of just $10 per student.

Think globally, act locally. What else can Oregonians do to reduce our impact on the Earth?


  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    Treaties go through the Senate, of course, not the president. He only tries to lobby senators how to vote.

    On Kyoto, how did Gordon Smith vote? Indeed, can it be called a 'vote' when he makes no choice, (between yes or no), and only raises his hand sieg heil when he is told?

  • (Show?)

    This is indeed a sad day for me. Kyoto represents a near global consensus that global warming is a threat to our species and our planet--and the U.S. opposes it, without offering any other plan to cut greenhouse gases. The President says that Kyoto would hurt our economy. But you know what Mr. President? Nobody can run a business on a dead planet. Nobody.

    There are a few things Oregon can do, like adopting California's tailpipe emissions standards (currently enforced in CA, MA and NY) and passing legislation to require utilities doing business in the state generate or buy a certain percentage of their energy from green power (17 states currently have such a requirement--including Texas!)

    But mostly I feel Oregon is lacking in political leaders who understand and are passionate about developing a 21st century economy that will be good for people, the environment and business. I believe that the European Union is poised to kick our a** nationally in the development of just such an economy.

    And one need look only south of here to California to see a what a governor can do to develop a local economy based on just the same principles. I never thought I'd be praising a Republican governor for leadership on the environment, but those are the sad times we live in, folks.

    More on Arnie's initiatives here

  • (Show?)

    Sorry everyone. No matter how hard I try, I cannot figure out how to make a hyperlink work correctly in these comments. So here's the address for more on Arnie's California initiatives:

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Democrats are not blame-free for Kyoto's rejection. The Senate voted 95-0 in 1997 in opposition to any treaty that would hurt the US economy or not apply to all nations. They were referring to Kyoto, which is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a compllete answer to the CO2 problem. Of course, the US accounts for 25% of fossil fuel use, so any headway will require a change in the way we do things.

    My guess is that Peak Oil will reduce consumption here before any environmental efforts do. Of course, we are likely to go hogwild burning coal, which releases more CO2 per BTU than any other fuel, along with many other pollutants.

    Efficiency, solar, wind, local economy, scaled-back lifestyle: these are what can, must be done.

  • Rob Kremer (unverified)

    So CO2 is now a pollutant? When did that happen?

    I'd like to ask a question: has anyone on this site ever done a sustained inquiry into the science behind the global warming hypothesis and the climate change models?

    Does anyone know, if we were to implement the Kyoto treaty and meet all its goals, how much global CO2 would actually be reduced?

    Does anyone know how much the climate models predict implementation of Kyoto would actually reduce the expected rise in global average temperatures?

    Does anyone wonder if the costs of implementing Kyoto would be worth the benefits, even those benefits estimated by the International Panel on Climate Change?

    Does anyone know how accurate the global climate models are when used to take actual CO2 data and predict the actual global temperature increases?

    Does anybody know anything about the climate history of the last 10,000 years, a period in which global temps have increased as the globe moved out of the last ice age?

    Does anyone know that the early part of the second millenia AD was a period in which the average global temperatures were higher than they are today, when vineyards flourished in Scotland and Greenland was green?

    Does anyone know that the northern hemisphere experienced a "mini ice-age" from about 1500 til 1800, and we have been warming ever since?

    I've seen a lot written and discussed about global warming and Kyoto, almost always by people who have never truly looked into the above.

  • (Show?)

    They were referring to Kyoto, which is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a compllete answer to the CO2 problem.

    I agree, Tom, that Kyoto is not the complete answer to the problem. If this is just a feel-good agreement, then we will never solve global warming.

    But if my hunch is true, I believe Kyoto is an agreement that marks a turning point in how people all across the world will view the importance of this issue. There will be more political support in countries that adopted the treaty for policies to eradicate CO2 emissions.

    And, I believe the Kyoto countries will begin to develop technologies that allow them to operate their economies successfully and reduce their CO2 at the same time. (One need only look at Japan, a signator to the treaty, whose automakers have a near-monopoly in the U.S. on the growing hybrid car market.)

    My fear is that pretty soon, Kyoto countries will be selling their green technologies to the rest of us, creating jobs for their citizens while we struggle to play catch up.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Leslie, I agree that Kyoto is important as a first step in recognizing the need for profound change in technology and economy.

    Rob, any released substance that causes harm is a pollutant. A gallon of water in your lungs would pollute you, although water is necessary for life. You need to stop thinking in black and white dichotomies.

    Climate can change for many reasons. Most are beyond human meddling, so far. Release of a good part of the CO2 stored in coal and petroleum is not beyond our abilities, unfortunately. The scientific consensus is pretty damn clear on the likelihood of human caused warming, and on the likelihood that the warming will cause many problems. Of course, as always, those who make billions on the current technology will bankroll plenty of their own scientists [emphasis on "own"] to minimize the problem and confuse the public. Think back, if you will, to the days of healthy cigarettes, leaded gasoline, and asbestos insulation.

  • (Show?)

    In the case of Kyoto, it has to go through the President on the way to the Senate. That's why it never got voted on during the Clinton administration: Bill knew it would get voted down.

    Rob, nice questions. Fortunately, we have answers.

    So CO2 is now a pollutant? When did that happen?

    "Pollutant" is an inexact term. It is a greenhouse gas, one of six targeted by Kyoto.

    I'd like to ask a question: has anyone on this site ever done a sustained inquiry into the science behind the global warming hypothesis and the climate change models?

    Owing to the Bush-reqested report from the National Academy of Sciences in 2001, we didn't need to. The Academy's findings? "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise."

    Does anyone know how much the climate models predict implementation of Kyoto would actually reduce the expected rise in global average temperatures?

    "The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding agreement under which industrialized countries will reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2% compared to the year 1990 (but note that, compared to the emissions levels that would be expected by 2010 without the Protocol, this target represents a 29% cut)." (UN Environment Programme)

    Does anyone know ...

    A lot of people understand the data, Rob, which are complex. Every single question you ask is addressed in the National Academies report. Go have a look.

  • Anthony (unverified)

    I don't have a comment about Kyoto, but I thought Oregonians might be interested in the BBC article below, which features a series of photograps showing results of temperature increases. One of them shows Mt. Hood:

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    CO2 as a pollutant:

    ... a pollutant is a substance that causes harm when present in excessive amounts. CO2 has been in the atmosphere since life on earth began, and in the right amounts CO2 is important for making the earth hospitable for continued life. But when too much CO2 is put into the atmosphere, its becomes harmful. We have long recognized this fact for other pollutants. For example, phosphorus is a valuable fertilizer, but in excess, it can kill lakes and streams by clogging them with a blanket of algae.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    As if there weren't enough references and writings, here're two touching on Kyoto consciousness which I like:

    Seen at Znet, their usual strong and credible quality (from medialens): Fears For A Finite Planet, by David Cromwell, February 16, 2005. Excerpt: Rampant Corporate Globalisation And The Climate Crisis "Our continuing uneconomic growth makes us complicit in a process that is triggering an ecological catastrophe for our children and generations beyond them. They will justifiably sit in judgment on our failure to have prevented its devastating consequences knowing that we chose to look the other way." (Mayer Hillman, environmentalist and author) ... Global society is in the grip of a system of economic and political power that views human suffering and impending environmental collapse as incidental to the core issues of revenues generated and costs incurred. But this is not up for discussion in the mainstream media.

    <h2>Veteran environmentalist Mayer Hillman, author of 'How we can save the planet' (Penguin, 2004), notes that the mass media is "complicit in this frightening state of denial." Hillman points out that the "blind ideological commitment to a burgeoning economy is fundamentally frustrating attempts to protect the global environment adequately." (Hillman, 'Clarion call on climate change', BBC news online, 6 February 2005,</h2>

    And an item by the prolific Bill McKibben, who I met in town signing his book a few years ago, so I watch for his work. Tilting at Windmills, Published on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 by the New York Times

    Excerpt: Local Environmentalism is Undermining One of Our Best Options for Slowing Global Warming The planet faces many environmental challenges, but none of them come close to global warming. In the past month new studies have shown that the trigger point for severe climate change may be closer than previously thought, and the possible consequences even more severe. Just to slow the pace of this rapid warming will require every possible response, from more efficient cars to fewer sprawling suburbs to more trains to - well, the list is pretty well endless.

    But wind power is one key component. Around the world it's the fastest growing source of electric generation, mostly because the technology, unlike solar power, has evolved to the point where it's cost-competitive with fossil fuels. The Danes already generate nearly a quarter of their power from the breeze; the Germans and the Spaniards and the British are rapidly heading in the same direction.


  • Nev (unverified)

    What can Oregonians do:

    Become a carbon neutral household. How?

    1) Buy green power 2) Buy green tags to offset the emissions from the gas you use (take the bus, drive less, carpool) 3) Support the Biodiesel family of bills before the OR Senate 4) Buy products that don't contain fossil fuels (dish detergent, laundry detergent, candles) 5) Plant some trees to sequester CO2 6) Change all your investments to green companies (a mirror ETF of green tech companies is being created and in SEC waiting period now...see current Solar Today issue for details) 7) Recycle 8) Ask your local officials if they spend more than 10K per month on any one building and then ask they WHY? Urge them to contact the OR-DOE to talk about conservation/on-site solar 9) Ask the same thing of your kids schools. Talk to OR businesses and encourage them to use the pass through program also through the OR-DOE. Less money on power bills = more money for the classroom! 10) Install a solar water heater. U of Wisc. study shows it's the equivalent of doubling your car's fuel efficiency.

    etc., etc., etc.,

    Progressive Oregonians need to be leading by example here.

    Be the change you want to see in the world! (gandhi)

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Published on Friday, February 18, 2005 by Knight Ridder

    New Data Point to Man-Made Global Warming, Severe Climate Change

    by Seth Borenstein

  • John (unverified)


    I’ve been doing a little digital legwork on the issue if global warming of late. The effort was sparked by a recent Register-Guard article:

    I emailed City Councilors and Eugene’s Mayor on this issue, suggesting they consider a resolution advising the Governor to sign similar legislation as has been passed by California and other forward-thinking states that put stricter limits on auto emissions. This is the response I got back from one of them:

    More news: I already heard back from one of the IGR committee members, and they're ahead of us on this one!

    A bill has been introduced in the Legislature -- SB 344 -- which "Directs Environmental Quality Commission to adopt regulations implementing California motor vehicle emission standards beginning with 2009 model year."

    At yesterday's meeting of the IGR committee, the bill was unanimously given a "priority 2 support" recommendation. That means (assuming the Council concurs, which I'm sure it will) our lobbyist will inform legislators that the city is on record as supporting the bill. The fact that it's priority 2 rather than 1 simply means that it's not at the top of the most urgent bills for our lobbyist to work on.

    The bill's been assigned to the Senate committee on Environment and Land Use. You may want to contact the office of your state senator and find out when/if the bill is scheduled for a hearing, and try and generate some citizen support.”

    ****------end of his email

    Now, SB344 is NOT the bill mentioned in the Feb. 7 R-G article, but I looked it up anyway. When I searched for SB344 on the OR State legislature web site:

    I came up with this information:

    SB 344 By COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND LAND USE -- Relating to motor vehicle emission standards. 01/20 (S) Introduction and first reading. Referred to President's desk.
    01/24 (S) Referred to Environment and Land Use.

    NOTE: Matter within { + braces and plus signs + } in an amended section is new. Matter within { - braces and minus signs - } is existing law to be omitted. New sections are within { + braces and plus signs + } . LC 191

                         Senate Bill 344



    The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor's brief statement of the essential features of the measure as introduced.

    Directs Environmental Quality Commission to adopt regulations implementing California motor vehicle emission standards beginning with 2009 model year.

                        A BILL FOR AN ACT

    Relating to motor vehicle emission standards; amending ORS 468A.360. Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon: SECTION 1. ORS 468A.360 is amended to read: 468A.360. (1) { + (a) + } After public hearing and in accordance with the applicable provisions of ORS chapter 183, the Environmental Quality Commission { - may - } { + shall + } adopt motor vehicle emission standards. { + (b) For the 2009 model year of motor vehicles, and all subsequent model years, the standards shall be identical to California standards for which a waiver from the application of 42 U.S.C. 7543 has been granted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2) The commission may, as far as practicable or applicable in this state, change the standards adopted under subsection (1)(b) of this section from time to time to ensure conformity with the emission standards of California. (3) + } For the purposes of this section, the commission may include, as a part of { - such - } { + the + } standards, any standards for the control of noise emissions adopted pursuant to ORS 467.030. { - (2) - } { + (4) + } The commission shall furnish a copy of standards adopted pursuant to this section to the Department of Transportation and shall publish notice of the standards in a manner reasonably calculated to notify affected members of the public. ----------

    I don’t know precisely what the BEST measure is to advance the cause of doing Oregon’s fair share of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but I think it would be worth contacting your reps in Salem and finding out. In addition, it may be of value for others in the state to contact their respective city councilors and Mayor to ask for similar statements of support for the idea. If the governor has resolutions and/or letters from enough public officials/city councils/concerned citizens, he may do the right thing and make it law!

    If you need to find out who your legislators are:

  • John (unverified)

    Here is MORE information on who in the environmental community supports SB344: (It is listed by bill subject matter: under Transportation)

    It is supported by the Oregon Environmental Council. Contact Chris Hagerbaumer - 503-222-1963 for information about how to help!

  • Richard (unverified)

    It seems there are some uncertainites which I find at least curious. Fairly interesting as well.
    It is of good to reduce emissions. Winds of arctic oscillation blamed for melting sea ice Extreme changes in the arctic oscillation in the early 1990s -- not warmer temperatures -- are largely responsible for the decline of Arctic Ocean sea ice, say researchers at the University of Washington. Hockey Stick on Ice Politicizing the science of global warming. Friday, February 18, 2005 12:01 a.m.

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