Sunday, November 07, 2004

News from the green front - Kyoto to go into effect

Here's some small good news -- if you think the Kyoto Agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will work: It was reported on NPR last week that Russia has signed on, meaning that the protocol can now go into effect.

The United States, of course, has refused to sign the treaty -- another example of the present administration's misguided environmental and foreign policies.

I was rather ticked off by the choice words the NPR report used to describe the science behind the Kyoto Protocol:

"Scientists believe that carbon dioxide emissions contribute to global warming." (emphasis mine)

This phrasing may lead someone to think that scientists' beliefs about the causes of global warming have the equivalent weight as someone's belief in ghosts or the virgin birth.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Scientific belief is informed opinion, based on an accumulation of empirical evidence and framed in such a way that further empirical evidence will either further corroborate the opinion or invalidate it. Religious or other non-scientific beliefs are rarely amenable to such verification and/or falsification.

There are many in this country who will use the uncertainties inherent in science to argue that nothing ought to be done about global warming. As the world's largest single producer of greenhouse emissions, the U.S. should be leading the way, not obstructing progress.

1 comment:

John said...

Mysteriously, I'm having some trouble finding this story on the NPR website. It's possible I heard it on BBC World Report instead, which airs in my area early in the morning.