global warming occurs, will it be harmful?
" The idea that global warming would melt the ice caps and flood coastal cities seems to be mere science fiction. A slight increase in temperature -- whether natural or mankind induced -- is not likely to lead to a massive melting of the earth ice caps, as sometimes claimed in the media. Also, sea-level rises over the centuries relate more to warmer and thus expanding oceans, not to melting ice caps.
" Contrary to some groups' fear mongering about the threat of diseases, temperature changes are likely to have little effect on the spread of diseases. Experts say that deterioration in public health practices such as rapid urbanization without adequate infrastructure, forced large scale resettlement of people, increased drug resistance, higher mobility through air travel, and lack of insect-control programs have the greatest impact on the spread of vector-borne diseases.
" Larger quantities of CO2 in the atmosphere and warmer climates would likely lead to an increase in vegetation. During warm periods in history vegetation flourished, at one point allowing the Vikings to farm in now frozen Greenland.
What are the policy proposals?
" The U.S. agreed to a 7% reduction of CO2 emissions from what they were in 1990 -- a target to be met by 2008-2012. This agreement would result in massive restrictions on energy use and large taxpayer-funded subsidies for new technologies.
" The Clinton Administration has supported a system of tradable permits to be used by companies that emit CO2. These permits could be bought and sold inter-nationally, giving companies an incentive to lower emissions and thus sell their permits. But this system would require massive international oversight on the order of a worldwide EPA to track CO2 emissions, and the costs to consumers would still be high.
" Because of the devastating effects that global warming policies will have on economic growth, the treaty that was discussed in Kyoto in December 1997 currently excludes developing nations. However, the US Senate has voted 95-0 against supporting a treaty that doesnt include developing nations.
What economic impact will the proposals have?
" According to a report by the Department of Energy, stringent targets to reduce fossil-fuel emissions in the US will cause energy-intensive industries, including steel, iron, chemical, rubber and plastic, to flee from the developed countries to undeveloped countries, taking with them hundreds of thousands of jobs.
" Carbon taxes will cause relatively large income losses in the poorest one-fifth of the population. The poor, because they spend a greater proportion of their income on necessities, would have few ways to cut back to compensate for higher living costs.
" Stabilizing emissions at 1990 levels by 2010 would reduce the growth of US per capita income by 5% per year.(Gary W. Yohe, Wesleyan University)
" The burden would fall on many individuals and families and would be unfair in that it would be quite unrelated to income, wealth or ability to pay. Instead, the burden would be determined by energy use patterns and circumstances, such as distance from work, condition and energy efficiency of homes, automobiles, and appliances.
" Senior citizens on fixed incomes would find their energy costs escalating and their income dwindling.
the policies actually stop global warming?
" By all estimates, only severe reductions in global CO2 emissions -- on the order of 60 percent or more -- will alter the computer forecasts. The resulting economic dislocations would be tremendous, potentially outweighing the negative impacts of even the most apocalyptic warming scenario.
" If the policies do not include developing nations the result will likely be a reallocation of emissions to developing nations, not a reduction of emissions.
" If the entire world is included and CO2 emissions are severely restricted, the science is not clear what impact, if any, it would have on the worlds climate.
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