For a long time scientists have been telling us that so long as we kept average rise in global temperatures to below 2C, which might happen if carbon in the atmosphere rose to 450 ppm, there would be little danger of runaway global warming, but to be on the safe side we needed to keep emissions to 400 ppm. Even as late as 2010 it was reasonable to think that this could be achieved without much difficulty. According to the Hubbert Curve oil production would peak between 2008 and 2014 and renewables would come into their own.
In the last five years the situation has changed dramatically. We have already passed 400 ppm in May 2013 and Hubbert has turned out to be totally false. A staggering, mind-blowing amount of oil has been discovered in the last five years. In 2012 scientists calculated that we could afford to burn another 565 Gigatonnes of carbon. Currently the world is burning about 30 Gt a year, so that gives us about 20 years to save the earth for our children. But the oil firms already have nearly 3000 Gt in proven reserves, and much of it has already been sold on the futures markets. If it is left in the ground unthinkable amounts of money will be lost. The momentum towards that 450 ppm is now almost unstoppable.
But we have to stop it and, if we awaken to our peril, we can. Surely these are the most important decades there have ever been in the history of humanity. With the many new technologies now available, a much better post-fossil fuel world is completely feasible. We all need to play our part by putting pressure on the politicians. But we need to do it and do it now. Now… Now… Now…
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