Tuesday 30 October 2012

Tipping point

We've induced nearly 1°C of global warming above the pre-industrial average. The effects of that 1°C of warming are what science was predicting ten years ago for 2°C of warming---food crop failures, huge losses of arctic ice, nearly 400,000 deaths a year from global warming, much more extreme weather like hurricane Sandy. 

The 32 gigatons of carbon we dump into the atmosphere every year have already baked in nearly another degree of warming, no matter what we do from here on in. And we're still increasing that dump by about a gigaton a year.

So we've little or no chance of limiting warming to 
2°C. That means we've little or no chance of avoiding extremely dangerous climate change starting about now.

And that's just the beginningFossil fuel companies have 2,795 gigatons of carbon or more in the ground. They're doing their best to get it extracted, sold and burned. That much carbon will raise average global temperature about 6°C and cause irreparable damage to the planet (graphic here).

To avoid this, starting right now we'd have to reduce carbon emissions 3–4% per year worldwide by taxing carbon and leaving nearly all those oil and gas deposits in the ground.

We're doing nothing like that. There's no sign we can agree worldwide on anything like it. Not least because a 3-4% yearly reduction in carbon emissions is incompatible with continuing worldwide economic growth (details here). With negative economic growth, our economies crash.

Organised money (aka the 1%) and its useful idiots (aka the political & economic right) understand this. They're sure that effective global warming reversal will turn their country into USSR 2.0. So they're fighting it with everything they have.

And they're winning.

Further reading ...

Bill McKibben, Global warming's terrifying new math, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

Climate Vulnerability Monitor, http://daraint.org/climate-vulnerability-monitor/climate-vulnerability-monitor-2012/

Danielle Droitsch, NASA's James Hansen: tar sands is the "dirtiest of fuels" and "game over for the climate, http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ddroitsch/nasas_james_hansen_says_tar_sa.html

George Monbiot, The heat of the moment, http://www.monbiot.com/2012/08/27/the-heat-of-the-moment/

Naomi Klein, Capitalism vs the climate, http://www.thenation.com/print/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate

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