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The Forum > Article Comments > Practical realities of carbon trading > Comments

Practical realities of carbon trading : Comments

By Des Moore, published 27/4/2007

With the various difficulties involved, not least being measurement and certification, it is unlikely that an international emissions trading scheme can be developed.

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The article starts by correctly saying current approaches to carbon trading are deeply flawed and then concludes that since the solution is tough perhaps the problem is misconceived. How about both the problem and the solution are tough? A few of us are getting the impression the climate is getting weirder to the point that it may be a grossly unfair legacy to future generations. The future adaptation task may be too big if it requires disruptive population shifts and conflict over water rights with more losers than gainers. Some sacrifice now may ease that burden and possibly make the adaptation effort manageable.

I believe that carbon trading can be internationally standardised albeit with tough measures like penalty tariffs and a crackdown on avoidance by inflated offsets. It just takes the political will to do it; the longer we do nothing the worse the problem becomes.
Posted by Taswegian, Friday, 27 April 2007 10:27:20 AM
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There is also mounting evidence that much of the increase in atmospheric CO2 is not even human induced, being part of longer term ocean circulation cycles.

The data from Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii show a gradually increasing trend over the decades from 1958 but with an annual cycle of increase and decrease of about 7ppm. This underlying trend increase was about 0.75ppm each year in the early decades to about 1.2ppm over recent ones.

1ppm of CO2 amounts to about 5.2Gt with the current annual human induced emissions recorded at about 7Gt, which should total 1.4ppm.

But the really interesting part of the data set is found in the 1997/98 El Nino year when CO2 levels jumped by more than 3ppm or 16Gt. There was no corresponding jump in human emissions.

And while some could claim that the resulting drought reduced photosynthesis and carbon absorption, they ignore the fact that on the other side of the Pacific there is a balancing wet season that would account for any shortfall.

The most likely explanation is in the deep ocean upwelling that produces the normally dry La Nina conditions off Chile and Peru in four out of six years and the corresponding four out of six wet to medium years in Australia. This deep ocean upwelling has been lifting water that has been on the ocean floor for 800 to 1000 years and it takes a few years for sufficient volume of this water to warm up and produce our El Nino dry seasons.

And when this cold water has warmed up it's capacity to hold CO2 in suspension is reduced and that CO2 is released into the atmosphere. And it just so happens that 900 years ago when this water descended in the southern ocean it was in the middle of the medieval warming period when high CO2 levels were being absorbed by our oceans.

Why should we get into a lather about a natural cycle in CO2 levels?
Posted by Perseus, Friday, 27 April 2007 10:47:44 AM
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perseus, we should get in a lather because human generated co2 is being added to the environment. if there are other causes as well, even more necessity for action.

we know we are adding co2 because burning oil and coal does it, and we have transformed a lot of solid carbon into co2 in the last 200 years. we have also greatly reduced the forests that might have aided in reclaiming carbon.

i can't think of any reason to not pursue 'steady-state' operation of human/nature interaction, since we live in a finite world. whether we get to a balance with nature now or later does matter: change of climate and species extinction are approaching levels which alarm even the dimmest, and terrify some scientists who are well placed to know where we are going.
Posted by DEMOS, Friday, 27 April 2007 12:28:47 PM
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The way hard facts can go right over your head, Demos, leaves me breathless.

Global temperatures at the peak of previous interglacial periods have been 2 to 3 degrees warmer than now but the subsequent cooling was well in train while the CO2 was still rising.

The recorded temperature rises have been contaminated by urban heat islands and rural albedo changes. The IPCC crony who claimed to have done definitive research to exclude these contaminants has refused to supply even a simple list of the weather stations he drew data from. So, surprise, surprise, we are unable to check his findings and are expected to take his claim that global mean temperatures have been rising since 1910 on faith. They were actually higher in the late 1800s.

But don't ever let facts get in the way of a good panic. Given your probable net worth you have nothing much to lose either way, and the idle talk of the vacuous is cheapest of all.
Posted by Perseus, Friday, 27 April 2007 1:40:48 PM
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The thrust of the article - practical realities of carbon trading - has been somewhat lost in the old "is it or isn't it" arguments. Only history will tell us which party is right, and by that time it will be too late - either way - to re-adjust the economic factors that result from a decision today.

Effectively, we are betting our entire economic performance on two unknowns: one, that the dire predictions of "reduce emissions or the planet will die" turn out to be correct; and two, that the rest of the world - which is substantially more significant in the overall equation - will play by the same ecological rules.

Each is a big bet; together, it is a massive wager to place on behalf of the citizens of this country.

But politically, we will undoubtedly be part of a some global carbon trading scheme real soon now. The scaremongering has done its work, and no-one can realistically stem the tide.

My prediction is simple. On a global scale, carbon trading will become the biggest swindle in the history of finance.

Billions of dollars will change hands, guaranteed.

Major countries such as India and China will game the system to the point where it becomes an utter farce, and will be the biggest - albeit indirect - beneficiaries of the exercise. Their economies will be significantly strengthened at the expense of dutiful and simple-minded saps like us, together with most of Europe and possibly even the US.

The second biggest beneficiaries will be the traders, who will cream off their percentages despite the fact that, unlike commodities, there is actually no tangible product at the end of the chain.

Unfortunately my son is a couple of years too young to take advantage of it - if he were just about to leave University I'd give him some serious advice.

Remember "The Graduate"?

"Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you - just one word.
Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: 'Plastics'."

Today, that word is "Carbon"
Posted by Pericles, Friday, 27 April 2007 5:16:35 PM
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Interesting how sceptics fail to address the global contamination of anthropogenic CO2. Carbon based chemicals, when burnt, all convert to CO2 - after their carcinogenic, mutagenic and tetragenic compounds have wrought havoc on the health of the ionosphere, plant life, humans and animals.

Then we have the very concerning issue of the endocrine disruptors, PCDD's (dioxins), also damaging our eco systems, in fact, our entire food chain. These chemicals escape from unregulated, poorly combusted industries (of which there are plenty).

Then there is the example of the Sydney Harbour where the "expert" regulators and state government allowed toxic industries, manufacturing chlorinated chemicals, to pollute our waterways.

Regulators have also been exposed for their incompetence regarding the catastrophe in the beautiful town of Esperance, seriously contaminated with lead after discovering the deaths of 4,000 birds and elevated lead levels in the population. This community has finally been advised not to fish from oceans and not to drink rainwater.

Today's West Australian newspaper reported that "The Bureau of Statistics found the number of endangered or vulnerable species of birds and animals climbed 44 per cent to 171 in 2006."

The measures required to cease contaminating this country with these pollutants is the same strategy necessary for mitigating anthropogenic CO2.

As any chemist will tell you, it's the dose which makes the poison!

And the sceptics continue to deny that the precipice we are tottering on is very narrow indeed.

Unfortunately it will be the pro-corporate, pro-industry ranters, colluding with compliant governments, who will resist the science of anthropogenic CO2 whilst continuing to poison this nation to its detriment.
Posted by dickie, Friday, 27 April 2007 6:34:23 PM
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