Would anyone know whether this article, written by the Moscow
correspondent for a leading Indian daily, The Hindu, is an accurate
representation of the views of Russian scientists on climate change? 


Priya Kurian
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science and Public Policy
The University of Waikato, Hamilton, NEW ZEALAND
Tel: (+64-7) 838-4466 ext. 6109
Fax: (+64-7) 838-4203

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Sent: Friday, 18 July 2008 4:29 a.m.
Source: The Hindu
( http://www.hinduonnet.com/2008/07/10/stories/2008071055521000.htm
<http://www.hinduonnet.com/2008/07/10/stories/2008071055521000.htm> )
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Leader Page Articles

Challenging the basis of Kyoto Protocol

Vladimir Radyuhin

Russian scientists deny that the Kyoto Protocol reflects a consensus
view of the world scientific community. 
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. 'The Kyoto
theorists have put the cart before the horse,' says renowned Russian
geographer Andrei Kapitsa. 'It is global warming that triggers higher
levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not the other way round.'
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.
'We 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,'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. 'Even if all CO2 were removed from the earth atmosphere, global
climate would not become any cooler,'says solar physicist Vladimir
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 Earth'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. 
'There 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,'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 'no scientific foundation.' 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 Union's support for Russia'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.
'The Kyoto Protocol is a huge waste of money,' says Dr. Sorokhtin. 'The
Earth'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
Academician Kapitsa denounced the Kyoto Protocol as 'the biggest ever
scientific fraud.' 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.
'The 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,' says ecologist Sergei
Russian scientists deny that the Kyoto Protocol reflects a consensus
view of the world scientific community. Academician Kapitsa complains
that opponents of the man-caused global warming are routinely denied the
floor at international climate forums. 
'A large number of critical documents submitted at the 1995 U.N.
conference in Madrid vanished without a trace,' the scientist says. 'As
a result, the discussion was one-sided and heavily biased, and the U.N.
declared global warming to be a scientific fact.'
Critics concede that the thrust of the Kyoto Protocol is towards
promoting energy-saving technologies, but then, they argue, it should
have been just that--a protocol on energy efficiency and energy
conservation. The problem with the Kyoto process, critics say, is that
it shifts the emphasis away from genuine ecological problems, such as
industrial, air and water pollution, to the wasteful fight against
harmless gases.
'Ecological treaties should seek to curb emissions of sulpher dioxide,
nitrogen oxides, heavy metals and other highly-toxic pollutants instead
of targeting carbon dioxide, which is a non-toxic gas whose impact on
global warming has not been proved,' says Dr. Golubchikov. 
Russian researchers compare the Kyoto Protocol to the 1987 Montreal
Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which called for
phasing out Freon-12 as a preferred refrigerant. It has since been
proved, says Dr. Golubchikov, that chlorine-containing Freon-12 destroys
ozone only in laboratory conditions whereas in the atmosphere, it
interacts with hydrogen and falls back to Earth as acid rain before it
can harm ozone. 
The Montreal Protocol brought billions of dollars in profits for U.S.
DePont, which held global patent rights for Freon-134, an alternative
refrigerant that does not interact with ozone. 'Within 10 years of the
Montreal Protocol the output of refrigeration compressors in the U.S.
increased by 60 per cent, whereas in Europe it declined by a similar
proportion. In Russia, which accounted for a quarter of the global
market of refrigerants, the industry ground to a complete stop,' says
Yevgeny Utkin, Secretary of Russia's Inter-Agency Commission for Climate
The ultimate irony of the Montreal Protocol is that the new refrigerant
is the most potent among greenhouse gases blacklisted under the Kyoto
Protocol, and moreover is explosion-prone. The Freon bubble burst when,
in 1989, the ozone layer suddenly jumped to the pre-Montreal Protocol
level and has since continued to rise. Russian critics of the Kyoto
Protocol are convinced that the greenhouse gases bubble will likewise
prove short-lived. 
Global cooling
Who remembers today, they query, that in the 1970s, when global
temperatures began to dip, many warned that we faced a new ice age? An
editorial in The Time magazine on June 24, 1974, quoted concerned
scientists as voicing alarm over the atmosphere 'growing gradually
cooler for the past three decades', 'the unexpected persistence and
thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland,' and other
harbingers of an ice age that could prove 'catastrophic.' Man was blamed
for global cooling as he is blamed today for global warming.
'Climatologists suggest that dust and other particles released into the
atmosphere as a result of farming and fuel burning may be blocking more
and more sunlight from reaching and heating the surface of the earth,'
The Time lamented.
Russian scientists say that today's alarmism over greenhouse gases is as
baseless as concerns about man-raised dust were 30 years ago. Solar
physicists claim that the Earth has entered a 30-year period of global
cooling predicated upon a cyclic decline in solar activity. They cite
U.S. global weather reports as indicating that global temperatures have
stopped rising since the turn of the century. 'The global warming in
1970-1998 was merely a phase in the 60-year cycles of natural warming
and cooling,' Dr. Bashkirtsev says.
Russian climate researchers working in Antarctica confirm that
temperatures on the sixth continent have been declining in recent years.
According to geographer Nikolai Osokin, the ice cover in Antarctica,
which accounts for 90 per cent of the global ice stock, has overall been
This year global temperatures have been showing a distinct downward
trend, and according to the Earth System Science Center at the
University of Alabama in Huntsville, in May, 'the globe was cooler than
at any time since January 2000.' 
This is good news for Dr. Bashkirtsev, who together with another Russian
solar physicist three years ago, bet climate scientist James Annan
$10,000 that the Earth would cool down over the next decade. It is more
than a wage; it is a contest between two concepts of climate change. The
Russian scientists believe in sun-driven climate changes, while the
British researcher creates man-caused climate-warming models on the
Earth Simulator supercomputer in Japan's Yokohama. 

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