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The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 17, 2007

Climate Change/
Global Warming/Dimming

Soil & Water Conservation Society of Metro Halifax (SWCSMH)

Updated: May 24, 2016      Limnology

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 was awarded jointly to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and to former US Vice President, Mr. Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change. "


5 Minutes to Midnight ---- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2007

"As in past deliberations, we have examined other human-made threats to civilization. We have concluded that the dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those posed by nuclear weapons. The effects may be less dramatic in the short term than the destruction that could be wrought by nuclear explosions, but over the next three to four decades climate change could cause drastic harm to the habitats upon which human societies depend for survival....... This deteriorating state of global affairs leads the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists--in consultation with a Board of Sponsors that includes 18 Nobel laureates--to move the minute hand of the “Doomsday Clock” from seven to five minutes to midnight"; January 17, 2007.

The Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change

Pie chart on greenhouse-gas emissions in 2000 by source (PDF); Executive summary (full) (PDF); and Executive summary (short) (PDF)

Signposts (with acknowledgements to the Chronicle Herald); November 07, 2002


What is the Kyoto protocol?

It is an agreement negotiated by more than 160 countries in 1997 to reduce greenhouse gases. Different nations have different targets but the overall goal is to cut emissions 5.2 % below 1990 levels by 2012.

What's with the name?

It's named after the Japanese city where the negotiations took place. The full name is Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Treaty on Climate Change.

What's a greenhouse gas?

It is an invisible gas that traps heat from the sun. Without some greenhouse gases, life as we know it could not exist because the planet would be too cold. The problem is that levels of such gases have been increasing, upsetting a natural balance in the atmosphere. Most scientists say this will make Earth's climate warmer.

What's wrong with warmer temperatures?

Scientists expect more severe weather events such as droughts, floods, and heat waves; more deaths from heat stress; flooding and erosion in coastal regions; more forest fires; northward movement of pests and diseases that have until now been confined to hot countries; additional stress on wildlife and on all ecosystems.

Where do greenhouse gases come from?

The most important one, carbon dioxide, is produced when fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas are burned. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution- in the second half of the 18th century when workers began moving from agriculture to industry- concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen 30%.

Do scientists agree that climate change is a problem?

There are a few skeptics but the great majority of scientists believe warming due to human activities is already underway. The Kyoto protocol is a recognition by the world's major nations that the evidence has become so strong that it can't be ignored.

What would Canada have to do to fulfill its commitment under the protocol?

Cut emissions 6% from 1990 levels. Since emissions have risen rapidly since 1990, that means a cut of about 20% from current levels.

Is it true that some countries don't have to do anything to cut their emissions?

The treaty is to be implemented in stages. The first round of cuts applies only to wealthy, developed nations because they have created the lion's share of the problem. Poor countries have refused to act until they see solid evidence that the rich countries are acting. It is hoped that developing countries like India and China will come on board in the next phase or "commitment period".

[Img-bullet_p.gif]  Top Greenhouse Gas Emitters
Country Millions of tonnes of
pollutants per year, 1995
Percentage of
global total
1. United States 1,407 23 %
2. China 871 14
3. Russia 496 8
4. Japan 308 5
5. India 248 4
6. Germany 228 4
7. United Kingdom 148 2
8. Ukraine 120 2
9. Canada 119 2
10. Italy 112 2
11. South Korea 102 2
12. Mexico 98 2
13. France 93 2

What if developing countries don't play ball?

That's a major concern. Most of them are more concerned with immediate survival issues than climatic change that is decades away. Rich countries are trying to sweeten the pot by offering them technical and financial support to cut emissions.

[Img-bullet_p.gif] At Climate Meeting, Unlikely Ally for Have-Nots; November 01, 2002

[Img-bullet_p.gif] Proposal to Reduce Greenhouse Gases Loses Momentum; November 01, 2002


How can greenhouse emissions be cut?

The surest method is to reduce the use of fossil fuels. That can be done by improving the efficiency of energy use, and by shifting to alternate fuels such as wind and solar power. Another part of the solution is to protect "carbon sinks" such as forests and farmland, which absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

Why is there such strong opposition to the deal?

Reducing emissions could reduce revenues to the oil and gas industry, and make it more difficult to develop new projects. Consumers and all industries would have to change the way they use energy.

What will it cost to implement the deal?

Opponents such as the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters say compliance could cost 450,000 jobs in manufacturing alone.

The Suzuki Foundation says there would actually be new jobs as new technologies developed.

The Government says Canada's economy would continue to grow but not as fast as it would if nothing were done to stop emissions.

Would the agreement do anything to combat smog?

Since fossil fuels are a major source of smog, anything that reduces their use will also reduce smog.

Have people been consulted on the protocol?

There have been elaborate consultations with the provinces, industry and the public over atleast five years!

[Img-bullet_p.gif] Kyoto consultations have cost Canada $22.3m since 1998!

Who supports the protocol?

Polls suggest that most Canadians in all provinces with the possible exception of Alberta support the climate treaty. One recent poll suggested that support in Alberta has fallen substantially in the past few months.

Does the Federal Government have a plan to implement the treaty?

Ottawa has put forward a draft proposal saying it wants to allow for provincial input. Supporters of action on climate say it is impossible to provide a complete and detailed plan for a massive effort that is expected to take many years.

[Img-bullet_p.gif] Emissions plans lacking: Scientist blasts Ottawa's tack, says Alberta's proposal weak; November 06, 2002


Why did the United States pull out of the protocol?

President George W. Bush said complying with the deal would hurt the U.S. economy. It was a dramatic reversal because the Clinton administration had been a leading advocate of the protocol.

[Img-bullet_p.gif] But the USA was deeply concerned before; December 04, 1997

Anyone else change their mind?

Australia has also withdrawn.

How important is Canada's role in Kyoto, since it only accounts for a small percentage of global emissions?

Canada is seen as having a lot of respect in the world and its participation could influence other nations. It is also an advanced country with the capacity to push new technologies.

How does the treaty come into effect?

When it is ratified by 55 countries which account for 55% of the emissions addressed by the protocol. So far it has been ratified by more than 95 countries including all the European Union members, Japan, and Norway. Russia, New Zealand, and Canada are expected to ratify soon, bringing the treaty into effect.

Health Effects

Global warming may fuel northward spread of viruses; July 22, 1996!

Ratifying Kyoto would save lives, doctors say; Smog costs Ontario $1b yearly in hospital costs, absenteeism - study; September 26, 2002


Dr. Craig Venter's energy institute is centered on a group of ancient microbes, archea, which inhabit the deepest parts of the earth and ocean. The archea do not infect humans, making them safer to manipulate. Dr. Venter said he hoped that they could be genetically engineered to suck out carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, relieving the threat of greenhouse warming, and to convert the gas into hydrogen, a source of nonpolluting energy!


"Canada's freshwater fisheries dead within 50 years":

David Schindler, the recipient of the first-ever Stockholm Water Prize from the Queen of Sweden in 1991; this prize is intended as an aquatic science equivalent to the Nobel Prize; May 28, 2000

Highlights of the Federal Action Plan released in October, 2002 (with acknowledgements to the Chronicle Herald); December 28, 2002:

Global dimming

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