Blink and you'll miss it, but one line in a recent Washington Post interview on climate change with experts from fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil offhandedly suggests a nightmarish, desperate future if global leaders don't act fast—one that centers around a possible average temperature rise of up to 7 or more degrees Celsius.
It's fine and dandy to decide to keep global temps 1.5 c above pre-industrial levels, but is anyone willing to do what's necessary to achieve that? Probably not.
I am in complete denial. No, I don't deny that climate change is real, or that it is man made. I deny that there is any reason to expect that a change in policy that would short circuit impending global warming is a reasonable expectation.
And if I am right, that we can expect more of the same (hand wringing and token investments), if we do make an investment it will be good money after bad rather than hedging our bets with infrastructure changes.
What is coming is flooding, erosion, and ill timed rain to grow food on land now in production. What is coming is vastly less protein sourced from the oceans. Aquifers pumped dry because of less rain in the summer.
We can invest in windmills, or dams and canals. We can buy solar panels or terrace sloping lands. We can buy aircraft carriers, or install armies and legal systems to dissuade mass migrations.
As is always the case, the rich will do better than the poor. But I see no reason to expect those starving Billions will simply die instead of trying to get what you got.
So even Exxon, who funded a deny campaign, has agreed that what is coming is coming. What further proof do you need?
"do what is necessary to achieve that"??? What do you suggest??!! Over the last 100 years we have placed 10 trillion tones of CO2 into the atmosphere, and you think the 5 million or so put in this year will make some difference? What is this thinking based on? It is the trillions of tones already there that will acidify the oceans and blanket the earth, causing temperature rise, not the few millions of tones we will put in next year.
You are no better than the deniers who said it is not coming, only you suggest that not only some "cure' is possible but that it is reasonable to suggest mankind will sacrifice today to save strangers tomorrow.
The amount of carbon in fossil fuels varies. Coal is the worst and natural gas is the best so far as carbon content is concerned. Converting from coal to natural gas isn't all that difficult and also eliminates a lot of other harmful byproducts of burning coal.
Renewal energy is not limited to wind, solar, or dams. There is also the natural internal heat of the Earth itself that can be tapped. And unlike wind and solar, geothermal is "constant". Plus it is "safe". And is within our current level of technology today. So we are not without "options", only the willingness to do what is necessary.
It is my understanding that 1.5 if not 2 is already baked in to the system and short of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere there is nothing we can do about it. What we can do though is begin reducing our emissions now in attempt to make the future for our children less chaotic than it might other wise be.
Latest research indicates that methane losses from mining and distributing natural gas are far in excess of estimates making natural gas possibly worse for global warming than coal. The 50% reduction in carbon emissions from natural gas is meaningless in light of the methane losses that are occurring before the gas is even burnt.
Wait! Wait! Did I just hear Rush Limbaugh say "Those liberals at Exxon are just against all corporations!"?
Damn those liberals!
We need a crash program of an Apollo mission scale or bigger to develop technologies to remove the excess CO2, or were screwed. Either we'll do it or our kids and grand-kids will have to do it. Fortunately, material science is making some startling advances in these areas as we chat here. It's going to be possible to eventually scrub the excess out scientifically, the problem will be the cost and the political will.
Removing CO2 from atmosphere is technically feasible, but much more expensive than buying fossil fuel reserves as mineral rights. I favor a carbon tax with revenue dedicated to buying fossil fuel results as mineral rights. We would have to commit to not only devoting all revenue from that tax to buying fossil fuel as mineral rights, but also adding a tax on energy regardless of carbon footprint to finish buying all now known reserves as mineral rights SO TOO BIG TO FAIL FOSSIL FUEL FIRMS CAN LIQUIDATE ALL THEIR HOLDINGS. Yes, we also need to remove CO2 from atmosphere in effort to get through learning curve to make it economically feasible.
Yes, it is very important to stop leaks. US weather/earth observation satellites are able to see methane from orbit and pinpoint the source.
The technology is available now. What is lacking is any will to move to a lower energy standard of living until the technology is in place. Many people want green energy but only if it is available in the amounts necessary to preclude a diminished in standard of living. Unfortunately given those restraints there isn't any way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the extent necessary to hold the 1.5 or 2 degree level. We have waited too long. There was a time when we could have addressed global warming with just a slower increase in the standard of living as we moved away from carbon based fuels. Given the time restraints now, it seems that any solution that precludes a reduction in the standard of living is doomed to be too little, too late.
We aren't going to remove CO2 from the atmosphere unless someone comes up with some sort of aerosol removal system. The energy requirement for moving the volumes of air through some sort of removal apparatus is prohibitive absent some significant advance in energy production technology. First step: Stop Putting it Up There!
I think it's too late for a economic based solution.
One of the big efforts by the United States led group is to get the small island nations to agree that there will be no compensation because of loss and damage caused by climate change. Corporations taking part in the summit with their "solutions" to climate change are protected by a huge police presence where demonstrators are whisked away and hidden from any journalist present. Freedom of speech not allowed in Paris. World leaders met and talked about volunteer efforts that will be made by each country. In the US we know from the republican controlled Congress, whatever Obama promised is not going to happen. Past vocal climate change attendees from various countries are not allowed to participate and just disappear from the scene. All seen in interviews by Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now" covering the summit for the entire two weeks.
It is as if the director of Auschwitz stated publicly in 1940 that, yes, indeed, we are going to build an extermination site and slaughter Slavs, Jews and Gypsies by god. Now Ecocide Global, formerly Exxon Mobil, has admitted that their activities will result in Auschwitz, global. Isn't this some kind of future crime (what was that movie)?
The business-as-usual track could certainly lead to to temperatures in the range of 6-7C around the end of this century and later even way beyond that. Nobody knows to the extent that slow positive feedbacks will kick in as global warming increases. While the worst case scenarios are not likely to happen it is important to understand that they could happen and that defines what is at stake. The 1.5C target makes much more sense than the 2C target scientifically but the speed of emission reductions would basically have to double and I don't see any evidence of that happening. There would also have to be a tremendous effort to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and again there is no evidence of plans for that. Frankly, the targets seem to be no more than rhetoric. It looks like, barring positive feedback we are headed for at least around 3C and mostly quite a bit higher because it very likely that tipping points for positive feedbacks will be passed.
Interesting when one article on CD explains how European governments are working toward lower emissions and crowing about their sense of responsibility toward poor nations, and another article discusses how these very same governments support TPP and have instructed their minions to block any discourse that might impair trade.