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October 17, 2006

Comments

EB Christen

Thank you Sir Arthur. I had also responded to the particular Nassau Institute article in question. The original article can be found here:

http://www.nassauinstitute.org/wmview.php?ArtID=623

While I strongly believe in free and open markets and have been supportive of many of the views put forward by the Nassau Institute, I found that article grossly irresponsible. The Bahamas is not a country that can afford to flirt with global warming.

Furthermore, it is ludicrous to assert that resources are not becoming increasingly scarce - especially critical resources like oil and water. While I also agree with their assertion that human ingenuity has found its way beyond many of the most difficult problems, we can already see directly, today, that the oil crisis is both an environmental concern and a national security concern: an environmental concern because of our carbon economy's contribution to global warming, air pollution and water pollution; a national security issue because petrodollars currently aid regimes that are ideologically opposed to everything the west stands for.

To defend free markets is to defend the institutions that foster them and enable them to operate. A narrow political agenda should not be allowed to threaten the long term prosperity and well being of the western world. Get real.

Rick Lowe

Thanks for the not so honourable mention Sir Arthur :-), however, in the interest of reasoned debate the Nassau Institute piece can be found at this link: http://www.nassauinstitute.org/wmview.php?ArtID=623

Also, you might wish to consider the following points:

H. Sterling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis pointed out in an opinion piece that:

"According to the International Energy Agency, as much as 85 percent of the projected increase in CO2 emissions will come from developing countries - the same countries and regions exempted from the proposed treaty (China, India, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, etc.). The U.N. estimates exempted countries will contribute 76 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions within the next 50 years. By 2025, China alone will emit more carbon dioxide than the current combined total of the United States, Japan and Canada. Thus, even if developed countries unilaterally stopped all their greenhouse gas emissions immediately (something no one seriously proposes), total greenhouse gas emissions would continue to rise."

So with this in mind, does it make economic sense for America to risk its economy on the Kyoto Protocol when China, the worlds fastest growing economy will be exempt? Also, this does not take into consideration how polluted China is today. And this will only worsen as they develop.

So the question that should be asked is, like China, what is The Bahamas doing about these emissions, other than lecturing America on what they are doing about them?

The answer is nothing. That's right, nothing but talk!

For example:

We import vehicles that do not meet the emissions standards already in place in the US (and these specifications are becoming more stringent with each passing year in the US as manufacturers try to out do each other with the most environmentally friendly vehicles). We allow vehicles to spew black soot from their exhausts with impunity. It has been reported that our government owned electric company stores used oil in 55 gallon drums and these will eventually leak into the water table, if they have not done so already. We have road side garages that dump their used oil and coolant into the ground and release freon into the air.

An important consideration to bear in mind is that, although we have a large middle class, the majority of the people in The Bahamas can be considered poor, so it will be an immediate hardship on them to implement these "clean air" programmes in the short term. They will obviously have to be phased in over many years.

Once The Bahamas decides to seriously deal with these issues, Fred Mitchell can then lecture America and any other country whose standards are lower than ours. But until then, we should not embarrass ourselves on the world stage by calling the kettle black.

See this link for further details: http://blogbahamas.typepad.com/blog_bahamas/2006/10/more_on_weather.html

EB Christen

No one is disputing that the Bahamas are currently hypocrites on the issue of Global Warming. We pollute a lot and we have limited or no regulation in place and enforcement would be even more of a joke.

However, the essence of the criticism against the Nassau Institute has nothing to do with that. Nay sayers to global warming can allow politicians to get away with endless debate and foot dragging. The evidence is overwhelming that global warming is a fact and that it will endanger the current way of living of millions of people. To reject this argument at a theoretical level or in principle is to allow politicians in this country and the world over to play proverbial football with the issue rather than tackling it. The impact the Bahamas can have on global warming is small, but we can improve our air quality with good regulation and enforcement and we can better protect our seas. We don't need Mitchell jetting off to convince anyone about anything, but we do need to be clear that the United States current position is wrong and indefensible and that Bahamians need to really take responsibility of this beautiful but fragile ecosystem we have been so fortunate to inherit.

While I am agreed that Kyoto may be the wrong approach and while I am agreed that the developing countries must share their weight, we know full well that if the USA and the western powers don't take the lead then global warming will dramatically alter the current climate of the planet. This we know for a fact. The key here is to move beyond debate about the theoretical issue of whether global warming is or is not happening - the majority of scientists are firmly agreed that it is - and to get to the point where discussions on the matter are focused on how to tackle the issue. Large strides have already been made in various parts of the world, but more is needed. Again, any and all solutions should use market based mechanisms to affect change - I also agree with this point, but change is needed.

The Nassau Institute, which has historically backed transparency & accountability and forward thinking policies in general, should not be on the wrong side of this issue. In so doing, it will alienate the majority of open minded and free thinking Bahamians among the youth of this country. That is not a smart approach for an institution that has thus far fostered intelligent debate on a wide variety of issues.
College educated youth are the only natural ally for growth among the members of the Institute and, by and large, the environment is close to the top of their agenda. Failure to recognise this and ensure that the Institute's position is in step with the views of the vast majority of genuine and independent scientists (not those on some corporations pay roll) places the Institute in the wrong camp on this issue.

My stark comment, 'Get Real' is precisely a plea that its members rethink this approach, because if it wants to affect change in this country, then a wiser choice is needed.

Rick Lowe

First of all the article never denied global warming was taking place.
The jury is still out on the causes. Is it burnuing fossil fuels or it is natural as with past warming? This is the debate among scientists, and you can't simply dismiss the skeptics as to the cause as ideological becuase it does not fit with our desire to "protect" ourselves.
When is the apocolypse coming? What do you propose fixing to prevent it? How do we fix it? What is the precise cause?
These are questions that must be answered rather than rushing off because the majority of 928 scientists believe burning of fossil fuels is the causing global warming.
This is where theory meets the road.

EB Christen

When an article is posted that 'denies' man made global warming - it is effectively denying global warming. The reason, if humans aren't responsible for the warming, then there is little or nothing that we can do about it. It is precisely this view that the majority of scientists are trying to show as false. They are virtually unanimously saying that global warming can be reduced if humankind reconsiders its current practices.

I, for one, am no alarmist. There is no apocolypse coming, but if something isn't done, water levels will steadily rise and eventually the Bahamas will be in big trouble. These islands haven't always been above sea level. The choice is: can we use market based reforms today to prevent the likelihood of global warming becoming that dangerous rather than having to use shock government intervention 50 or a 100 years down the road when we realise our mistake as it chokes us, kills the fish and heats the planet to alarming levels?

What is wonderful about all of this is that the focus of global warming is also addressing issues like quality of life: air quality and water quality for example.

Even more amazing/frightening is that national security concerns and oil dependence are suddenly linked to the issue as well.

With such a confluence of 'interests' it should be fairly easy to convince reasoned and sensible people about the correct way to proceed: market based incentives that reduce emissions from the transport and industrial sectors combined with market based incentives to push the energy market from non-renewables like oil, gas and coal to renewable energy sources like tidal, wind, hyrdro and thermal.

Taking an alarmist tone doesn't help the debate. It is not as if the recommended actions aren't there and it is not as if the people calling for change are frothing environmentalist radicals. We just believe that a market based world can also be a better world and that market based incentives work when you have the time and the luxury to implement them still.

The car manufacturers currently putting the biggest dent in fuel consumption and fuel efficiency have been the Asian car makers - specifically the Japanese - not the Americans. The sad fact is that America currently does little and its 'message' to the world is 'we don't care and we will consume whatever we want, no matter the cost to everyone else.' That is the wrong message.

Rick Lowe

Thanks Etienne:
I think you are beginning to see where I am coming from.
It's easy to say something needs to be done and the government needs to do it.
After you pass that point, the questions are endless.
Those same "Japanese" manufacturers that are based in the US are forcing the "American" manufacturers and "German" manufacturers to change.
That's the positive side of the debate.
Now. How do we change the millions of vehicles on the road in the near term to run on some other fuel? And how do we change the entire fuel service outlets in the near term?
How many years will this take? If that is the right direction after all.

larry smith

Pacific islanders are developing alternatives to the use of fossil fuels. The Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji reports the use of biofuels in remote island electrification using locally produced coconut oil, while in the Solomon Islands a number of buses are running on Cocoline, a blend of 80% coconut oil and 20% kerosene. The overview can be seen at
http://www.unesco.org/csi/smis/siv/Forum/keyissues15b.htm

Etienne Christen

@Rick
Generally, it is the American market where the 'gas guzzlers' have historically been sold. Europe and Asia both tend to use smaller more fuel efficient cars and that trend is strengthening. The American manufacturers and American consumers have been slow to catch on. Bahamians are even slower - including myself (although not by choice).

I would never advocate changing the cars that are currently on the road, aside from enforcing emissions regulation on the big trucks and buses in particular. The fact that a truck that belches black smoke over the entire road is simply allowed is frightening. That isn't an environmental issue at that point - it's a health care issue for other drivers and pedestrians.

What I would advocate is pushing for regulation that uses market incentives to push for more fuel efficient cars on the road. You want a gas guzzler? Your duty is now 200%. You want a fuel efficient car or a hybrid - your duty is now only 25%. Something to that effect - that kind of thinking. Evolution, not revolution, is required. I am in no way advocating heavy handed regulation - for me - that is always a bad idea.

We need a consensus that the status quo isn't good though and there needs to be more cooperation between the private and public sector on how to address the environmental, health and tourism related issues that the transport sector currently raises.

A. Braynen

The problem with consensus is it is not science. There was a time when the consensus was that the world was flat, just because every body believed it did not make it so. I am not skeptical about global warming, I actually think based on the worlds pass that it is probably happening, what I have a hard time believing despite the consensus is that we humans are having an impact on it. Lets not forget that the world has had documented heating and cooling periods when humans were not even on the planet.
If this is in fact a normal natural process then what impact would our efforts really have on this process. Finally it is not wrong to question conjecture as that is what the global warming debate really is.

larry smith

This is the kind of "reasonable" disinformation that is being generated by lobby groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is funded by GM and Ford and which opposes US vehicle fuel efficiency standards (for example).

Clearly, a scientific consensus IS science - the general agreement of our best minds based on the best evidence available.

There was no scientific consensus about a flat earth. The idea that the earth is round originated in ancient times, was popularized by Pythagoras and Aristotle, and was accepted by virtually all educated people by the 2nd century AD.

Although a few early Christian writers had theological objections, it is a myth that Columbus finally proved the earth was round.

Modern scientific method involves peer review and empirical falsifiability. The record of peer-reviewed scientific journals over the past decade shows conclusively that there is no serious disagreement on global warming among reputable scientists - even "skeptics" acknowledge that we have caused greenhouse warming and it will continue. Uncertainty or dispute are limited to the severity of future changes and what to do about them.

How unusual are modern temperatures compared to those of the past?

Temperatures of the most recent decades are the warmest of the past 2,000 years.

Older records show that climate has changed abruptly in the past, and also reveal a remarkable correspondence between carbon dioxide change and temperature change during the Earth's glacial cycles.

And leaving aside the argument over doomsday, what's wrong with pursuing a sensible transition to a new energy economy that doesn't destroy the world we live in and that will have to happen someday?

Conjecture refers to a hypothesis that has been formed by speculating with little hard evidence. If the entire world scientific community agrees on a hypothesis based on empirical evidence that has been thoroughly peer-reviewed,how can it be dismissed as conjecture?

Rick

Please see the Nassau Institute (http://www.nassauinstitute.org) on Monday night (February 5, 2007) for a report from the Fraser Institute including an independent review of the recent IPCC report.

The alarmist approach that concerns me, leading to more bureaucracy where that is never a good thing.

The "fix" will then be more government control rather than allowing the market to take its course.

Well meaning people like you should be setting the example for us to follow, not pressuring the government to do more.

As we know, government is part of the problem in The Bahamas as it relates to the environment already.

Finally, we should not dismiss it as conjecture. But should we swallow it all hook line and sinker when other "experts" have misgivings about the exaggerations of the IPCC data?

Joan

The dialogue above is most interesting. I have come to it a bit late, but certainly not too late to point out there is nothing in the article I wrote for the Nassau Institute denying global warming. Please re-read the article if you are interested in understanding what was said by me on the subject.

In spite of Sir Arthur's less than kind remarks about me (us?) the emotion this article seems to have triggered in him, is indicative of a lack of objectivity - at least on this subject. The net result is to confirm my statement about environmentalism - i.e. that it has become "an article of faith" -I might add here "at the expense of reason".

Maggy

I have always wanted a compendium of novena prayers. Thank you for sharing all these prayers with us. It brings joy and happiness to everyone. I know, I do feel that way.n

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