Friday, August 04, 2006


Kyoto is unaffordable...

....when you are pissing money aware on other things.

Cass Sustain in the Washington Post has a great piece on why America should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Actually, it is how the total cost of fighting War in Iraq will soon exceed the total projected cost of Kyoto.

The total cost of implementing the Kyoto Accord in the United States is projected be about $300 billion. Ironically, that cost is the same as the ongoing War in Iraq. The same war that the Bush Administration claimed would be both (a) Cheap - only $50 million max. They have since gone back to the piggybank at least 10 times for extend the ole' war line of credit. (b) Painless - Iraqis will celebrate in the streets and usher in a new democratic regime. Oops, someone miss read that script and also forgot to plan for security after the fall.

The Bush administration has repeatedly stated that the cost of adhering to the Kyoto Protocol would be prohibitive, causing (in President Bush's own words) "serious harm to the U.S. economy." I suppose the ongoing cost - both financially and with human lives - of the Iraq war

The real issue is actual global and not just limited to the United States. For the world as a whole, the comparison between the Iraq war and the Kyoto Protocol is even more dramatic. The worldwide cost of the war is already much higher than the anticipated worldwide cost of the Kyoto Protocol -- possibly at least $100 billion higher. The worldwide cost of the war now exceeds $500 billion, a figure that includes the cost to Iraq (more than $160 billion) and to non-American coalition countries (more than $40 billion). For the Kyoto Protocol, full compliance is projected to cost less than $400 billion, because the United States would bear most of the aggregate costs.

As Sustain points out there are legitimate questions which can be asked about these numbers. For the Kyoto Protocol, the estimates require a lot of projection and guesswork; much depends on issues of implementation, which could drive costs up or down. Many environmentalists believe that the $325 billion figure is inflated. Perhaps technological innovations would significantly reduce that cost.

Congressional appropriations for the Iraq war will soon exceed $300 billion and counting (generally at a rate of more than $4 billion per month). But to obtain an adequate total, it is necessary not only to take account of appropriations but also to consider the full range of costs, which include more than 2,000 deaths and many thousands of injuries to U.S. servicemen and women. Specialists disagree about how to monetize these costs; some people object to the whole exercise.

In addition, a full assessment would have to look at benefits as well as costs. The Kyoto Protocol would reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, but to evaluate the agreement we need to know how much good it would actually do. What would the United States get for its $325 billion investment? Scientists agree that the Kyoto Protocol would make only a small dent in climate change by 2100. Its defenders respond that the agreement would spur new technologies and provide an international framework for major reductions.

By the time it ends, the war in Iraq is expected to cost the United States at least $500 billion and possibly $1 trillion or more. But if the war leads to a large decrease in the risk of terrorist attacks and to a wave of democratization in the Middle East, perhaps the money will have been well spent.

Bottom line. Priority wins the day. Conservatives appear much more enamoured with saving oil supplies for an unknown period of consumption rather than actual committing to exploring the possibilities of alternative energy.

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