California set a record for greenhouse gas reductions in 2020, but it means nothing to the global warming problem, or to any of the proposals for solutions. This is not the same sort of problem as it was when the Kyoto Protocol, the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was written, which will expire in 2012.
In any case, the U.S. government is already committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 83% below 1990 levels by 2020, as the White House just released a Climate Action Plan, which will be the subject of debate Wednesday. This is as aggressive as the Bush Administration, which promised that its targets would be “substantially higher than those of the Kyoto Protocol.”
The U.S. has already been working for many years to “reposition a manufacturing sector that can meet the growing demand for advanced and alternative energy sources,” including wind and solar. This means that we’re trying to shift from “an economy that makes its primary sources of energy from fossil fuels,” toward one that “makes use of more renewable energy as an integral part of the national economy.”
But all these efforts mean virtually nothing to the climate because they assume that the Earth’s climate is now stabilized, so that it will continue to get warmer. But the climate is a bit unstable in this century. It’s just not sure how that equilibrium will be reached, and it can’t be stabilized if it’s not going to get hotter.
The problem is, the last time we found that our climate was really stable was at the end of the last century, when we had a very strong El Nino climate pattern, with temperatures over a whole area of the Northern Hemisphere that were in the range of minus 15 degrees C (minus 25 degrees F) during the cold season. The atmosphere then had a huge greenhouse effect. Most people believed that this was the condition of stability that we were going to eventually reach.
But then the following year, an event occurred which created a huge amount of warming; this is called the Little Ice Age. Most of the people who predicted that our climate would stabilize and would stay neutral during the Little Ice Age were wrong. But the one thing they were right about was that the cooling that followed the Little Ice Age