Sunday 2 September 2012

Global warming's terrifying new math

Bill McKibben's "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math" ( ) uses a lotta words. Here's a summary ...

The science ...

1. We now have a global average of 0.8°C of human-induced warming. Food crops are failing because of it. Arctic summer ice is the thinnest on record. Extreme weather is increasing in frequency & severity. Some small island nations are facing disappearance soon.

2. To avoid a worse climate disaster affecting the entire planet, we need to keep carbon-induced warming below 2°C. The 0.8°C we 've done so far is 40% of that. Another 0.8°C is baked in. So we're 80% of the way to huge global climate disaster.

3. If we pour about 565 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere by 2050, we'll cause disaster with 2°C of warming. We're dumping about 32 gigatons this year. It's going up about 3% a year. At this rate we'll blow through 565 in 2028.

4. Fossil fuel companies have the equivalent of 2,795 gigatons of carbon (or more) in the ground, and they're doing their best to get it extracted, sold and burned. That's enough carbon to raise the global temperature about 6°C, 11°F.

The economics & politics ...

1. The 32 gigatons of carbon we and our fossil fuel pushers & muels dump in the air every year is garbage. Unless we start paying deterrent fees for dumping this garbage, a carbon price or tax, we all fry. We don't want to pay it. We're happy to let the fossil fuel corps block it.

2. From #3 and #4 above, to avoid blowing past 2°C of warming we need to ensure that the fossil fuel companies leave 80% of those reserves in the ground.

3. The only way to do this is to start treating our fossil fuel pushers & mules as the criminal enemy.

Is there an alternative?

P.S. See George Monbiot's 27 Aug piece ( on the same theme.

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