Inside Climate News just ran an update on a story that I covered last year. My thoughts were, “I wonder if I can do that?” The fact that you are reading this today is evidence that I can. I went back to read the old post and found various errors in the post. I’ve tried to clean it up a little. Some of those errors were caused by my inexperience in blogging. I’ve come a long way and hope that I’m not making as many errors theses days.
Inside Climate News has, since I first learned about them, won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and just recently won an EPPY Award for investigative reporting. The Pulitzer Prize was their story on the Dilbert Disaster. A pipeline failure of Tar Sands type oil that polluted the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. The effects of this spill are still unknown. The EPPY Award was for their eight month investigative report on the air pollution problems associated with fracking. It is called, Big Oil + Bad Air.
The post below is important. It explains why we have to continue to fight projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline and promote clean energy. I have added several links at the end of the post to update current thinking. It is also one of the few posts that I’ve written that included no pictures.
I recently found a new(for me) website called, “Inside Climate News”. From their “about” section is this,
“Our mission is to produce clear, objective stories that give the public and decision-makers the information they need to navigate the heat and emotion of climate and energy debates”.
At the time I first found this site, I noticed that the most viewed story was, “The Most Important Climate Paper Few Have Ever Heard of”. The actual title of the article turned out to be,
“The Most Influential Climate Science Paper Today Remains Unknown to Most People”
The article is by Katherine Bagley. I’m going to copy/paste some of the article in hopes you will read it.
“The paper, “Greenhouse-Gas Emission Targets for Limiting Global Warming to 2C,” was published in April 2009 in Nature, the prestigious science journal. It was the work of researchers from Germany, the UK and Switzerland, led by Malte Meinshausen, a climatologist at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact….Though just six pages long, it’s dense, technical writing makes it largely incomprehensible to non-experts. And yet this paper is transforming the climate change debate….behind its complicated terminology is a simple question that affects every aspect of society and business: How much time do we have before the burning of fossil fuels pushes the climate system past tipping points? In a worst-case scenario, about 11 years at current rates of fossil fuel use, according to the paper….The study filled a factual void in a simmering debate over climate change. By 2006, the year the scientists began their research, many world governments had endorsed the scientific consensus that global temperature rise should be kept below 2 degrees Celsius in this century. But governments didn’t know how far down the path of global warming they had already gone—and how much further they could safely go….What they found was stark: To have a 50-50 chance of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees, humans would have to stick to a carbon budget that allowed the release of no more than 1,437 gigatons of carbon dioxide from 2000 to 2050.To have an 80 percent chance of avoiding that threshold, they would have to follow a stricter budget and emit just 886 gigatons.The paper found that by 2006, nations had already spent a quarter of that amount, or 234 gigatons. Meaning, the planet’s carbon budget would be exhausted by 2024, 11 years from now & if emissions levels stayed the same, or even earlier if they continue their upward trend….From a scientific point of view, burning all of the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves isn’t an option, the paper suggested. The reserves “vastly exceed the allowable CO2 emission budget for staying below 2C” of warming,…The paper has racked up more than 600 citations in Google Scholar, a more inclusive citation index that includes mentions in books, professional societies and on university websites….In science, that many citations reflects a rare consensus, according to Gavin Schmidt, deputy chief of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a climate modeler. He said that while a few minor details in the paper have raised discussion, the overall results are widely accepted….But what if governments buckled to activist pressure and decided to require firms to keep some of those reserves in the ground? What would that do to the market values of powerful energy companies? What would that do to the world’s financial systems? A newly formed group, made up of green-minded investors in London and called the Carbon Tracker Initiative, sought to assess those risks in a scientific way. They used Meinshausen’s paper as the basis of their own report, “Unburnable Carbon,” published in 2011….Using official records from U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, among other documents, Carbon Tracker discovered that the world’s top 200 fossil fuel companies have 2,795 gigatons of CO2 trapped in their fossil fuel reserves. And that figure didn’t include unconventional sources like tar sands, oil shale and methane hydrates.They also found that in the first 10 years of this century, humans had burned through one-third of Meinhausen’s 886 gigaton budget, leaving just 565 gigatons left to use over the next 40 years. In sum, 80 percent of all fossil fuel reserves would have to remain untouched to prevent uncontrollable warming,…Last month, global banking giant HSBC released a similar report using Meinshausen’s 50-50 carbon budget scenario. It found that the largest oil and gas companies, including BP, Shell and Statoil, could lose 60 percent of their market values if governments proceed with tough carbon reduction targets and force companies to leave reserves untapped….Bill McKibben, a mild-mannered college professor and one of the nation’s original climate activists, heard about Meinshausen’s findings in 2009. But it wasn’t until he read “Unburnable Carbon,” and saw just how much coal, oil and gas energy companies have in their reserves, that he decided to make the numbers the cornerstone of a campaign to break Washington’s silence on climate change….First, he repackaged Meinhausen’s science and the investors’ math into a Rolling Stone article called “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” In November, he launched a Do the Math tour to introduce the public to the numbers….What’s been surprising, McKibben said, is “the fossil fuel industry and skeptics haven’t done the slightest thing to say the math isn’t true….Leaton of the Carbon Tracker Initiative said he isn’t surprised by the popularity of McKibben’s efforts. “The way the campaign has framed these issues makes it easy for anyone who has ever balanced a budget to understand the problem … When you run out of money, that’s it, you’re out. When we’ve burned through the carbon budget, that’s it, we can’t afford for the sake of our planet to use more.”
So there you have it. If we burn carbon at the current rate we will blow through the 2 degree rise in no time. Scientists say that that is too great of a rise. This explains the fossil fuel companies fight to deny climate change. Look at what’s happening now and we’re only at .8% rise. The current most read story at, “Inside Climate News” is, “2013:Nation’s Drought to Persist and Worsen“.
Welcome to our new world.
I’ve copy/pasted several links. At this time I’m not sure that they will work in this blog. If not this is a link to Bill McKibbon’s article in the Rolling Stone.
The world still isn’t close to preventing what leaders call a dangerous level of man-made warming, a new United Nations report says. That’s despite some nations’ recent pledges to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions.
With every year that passes, we’re getting further away from averting a human-caused climate disaster. That’s the key message in this year’s “Low Carbon Economy Index,” a report released by the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The report highlights an “unmistakable trend.” The world’s major economies are increasingly failing to do what’s needed to to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. That was the target agreed to by countries attending the United Nations’ 2009 climate summit; it represents an effort to avoid some of the most disastrous consequences of runaway warming, including food security threats, coastal inundation, extreme weather events, ecosystem shifts, and widespread species extinction.
The politcal climate in the United States is not going to make saving the planet easy.
WAIT! STOP THE PRESS! I DO HAVE A PICTURE THAT WE CAN ALL UNDERSTAND AND A LINK TO A CLIMATE CARBON BUDGET PRIMER.
According to the latest carbon budget estimate, nearly two-thirds of the budget has already been spent, and carbon emissions are on track to exhaust the budget in 30 years. Credit: Paul Horn.