Russian Scientists Deny Kyoto Protocol Reflects a Consensus View of the World Scientific Community
by Vladimir Radyuhin
As western nations step up pressure on India and China to curb the emission of greenhouse gases, Russian scientists reject the very idea that carbon dioxide may be responsible for global warming.
Russian critics of the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for cuts in CO2 emissions, say that the theory underlying the pact lacks scientific basis. Under the Theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming, it is human-generated greenhouse gases, and mainly CO2, that cause climate change. â€œThe Kyoto theorists have put the cart before the horse,â€ says renowned Russian geographer Andrei Kapitsa. â€œIt is global warming that triggers higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not the other way round.â€
Russian researchers made this discovery while studying ice cores recovered from the depth of 3.5 kilometres in Antarctica. Analysis of ancient ice and air bubbles trapped inside revealed the composition of the atmosphere and air temperature going back as far as 400,000 years.
â€œWe found that the level of CO2 had fluctuated greatly over the period but at any given time increases in air temperature preceded higher concentrations of CO2,â€ says academician Kapitsa, who worked in Antarctica for many years. Russian studies showed that throughout history, CO2 levels in the air rose 500 to 600 years after the climate warmed up. Therefore, higher concentrations of greenhouse gases registered today are the result, not the cause, of global warming.
Critics of the CO2 role in climate change point out that water vapours are a far more potent factor in creating the greenhouse effect as their concentration in the atmosphere is five to 10 times higher than that of CO2. â€œEven if all CO2 were removed from the earth atmosphere, global climate would not become any cooler,â€ says solar physicist Vladimir Bashkirtsev.
The hypothesis of anthropogenic greenhouse gases was born out of computer modelling of climate changes. Russian scientists say climate models are inaccurate since scientific understanding of many natural climate factors is still poor and cannot be properly modelled. Oleg Sorokhtin of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Ocean Studies, and many other Russian scientists maintain that global climate depends predominantly on natural factors, such as solar activity, precession (wobbling) of the Earthâ€™s axis, changes in ocean currents, fluctuations in saltiness of ocean surface water, and some other factors, whereas industrial emissions do not play any significant role. Moreover, greater concentrations of CO2 are good for life on Earth, Dr. Sorokhtin argues, as they make for higher crop yields and faster regeneration of forests.
â€œThere were periods in the history of the Earth when CO2 levels were a million times higher than today, and life continued to evolve quite successfully,â€ agrees Vladimir Arutyunov of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Chemical Physics.
When four years ago, then President Vladimir Putin was weighing his options on the Kyoto Protocol the Russian Academy of Sciences strongly advised him to reject it as having â€œno scientific foundation.â€ He ignored the advice and sent the Kyoto pact to Parliament for purely political reasons: Moscow traded its approval of the Kyoto Protocol for the European Unionâ€™s support for Russiaâ€™s bid to join the World Trade Organisation. Russian endorsement was critical, as without it the Kyoto Protocol would have fallen through due to a shortage of signatories. It did not cost much for Russia to join the Kyoto Protocol since its emission target was set at the level of 1990, that is, before the Russian economy crashed following the break-up of the Soviet Union. According to some projections, Russia will not exceed its target before 2017. Notwithstanding this, the Russian scientific community is vocal in its opposition to the Kyoto process.
â€œThe Kyoto Protocol is a huge waste of money,â€ says Dr. Sorokhtin. â€œThe Earthâ€™s atmosphere has built-in regulatory mechanisms that moderate climate changes. When temperatures rise, ocean water evaporation increases, denser clouds stop solar rays and surface temperatures decline.â€
Academician Kapitsa denounced the Kyoto Protocol as â€œthe biggest ever scientific fraud.â€ The pact was lobbied by European politicians and industrialists, critics say, in order to improve the competitiveness of European products and slow down economic growth in emerging economies. â€œThe European Union pushed through the Kyoto Protocol in order to reduce the competitive edge of the U.S. and other countries where ecological standards are less stringent than in Europe,â€ says ecologist Sergei Golubchikov.
Read the rest of this article at India’s national newspaper, The Hindu.