[Vision2020] Game Over for the Climate

Art Deco art.deco.studios at gmail.com
Fri May 11 18:27:20 PDT 2012

Thank you Ted for your analysis and information.

An additional perspective on global warming may be gained by Googling:
earth "thermal history"  What can be learned from this, as I am sure you
know, is that it is very probable that the rise in the average global
temperature over the last 150 years, and in fact over the last 25 years is
unprecedented in modern geologic  times.  This geologically rapid change
appears to be closely correlated to the increase of atmospheric carbon
dioxide levels and other human activities.  The physics of carbon dioxide
levels/green house effect also supports that the relationship is not merely
correlative, but causal.

Opinion v. scientific fact?

Scientific fact and theory are statements of probability, some like gravity
have a probability very close to 1.  But since there is always a chance
that future observations will conflict with any given theory, the
probability of 1, or certainty is never reached.  That is how scientific
theories are like opinions.  One hopes that a scientific theory is
supported by voluminous and very careful research unlike many popular
opinions, but that is not always the case.

So whether you call a particular knowledge claim a theory or an opinion,
its truth depends on a number of factors including whether it is
verifiable, and if so, what are is the evidence for believing it, and what
probability should be assigned to that belief.  Those interested in
understanding this bit of epistemology may find various books containing
readings in the philosophy of science helpful.


On Fri, May 11, 2012 at 4:55 PM, Ted Moffett <starbliss at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks for the invitation to offer "insight" regarding sea level rise due
> to anthropogenic climate change, the credibility of NASA climate scientist
> James Hansen, or the reliability or theory of knowledge regarding
> scientific predictions, for example when you wrote
> "All scientific theories are probabilistic, and therefore opinions --
> opinions hopefully based on probabilities based on careful research and
> reasoning."
> I would not call the scientific theory, for example, indicating that our
> sun is primarily driven by hydrogen fusion an "opinion," as you put it...
> maybe we just understand this word differently.  It is such a well
> established scientific fact, that it is not opinion, anymore than the force
> of gravity is an "opinion."  To say that super string theory is the final
> complete theory of physics would be an opinion, given it has not been
> empirically demonstrated.  Anyway, this sort of debate could go on
> forever...
> I think anthropogenic climate change is also very well established
> science, though there remain many variables and probabilities that climate
> scientists continue to investigate and debate.  For example, the MIT
> Integrated Global Systems Model has been refining and developing a
> predictive model for anthropogenic climate change, which they state is
> "unique," and their results from 2009 in the American Meteorological
> Society's* Journal of Climate*, indicate a median probability of surface
> warming of 5.2 degrees Celsius by 2100, with a 90% probability range of 3.5
> to 7.4 degrees, with what is sometimes called a business as usual scenario
> regarding burning of fossil fuels etc.
> http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/roulette-0519.html
> http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090519134843.htm
> Often criticism of climate science by deniers of this serious problem
> focus on the IPCC, or Hansen, or other more publicly well known lightning
> rod figures or institutions in this discussion.  But there are numerous
> independent credible scientific organizations that are all coming to
> roughly the same conclusion: anthropogenic climate change is a serious
> problem meriting serious action, with high probabilities of catastrophic
> impacts, as the MIT study referenced above concludes.
> As far as Hansen, sea level rise from anthropogenic climate change,
> and anthropogenic climate change impacts in general, I have bombarded this
> list with a flood of scientific studies on this issue.  For example, from
> the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "Global sea level
> linked to global temperature"
> http://www.pnas.org/content/106/51/21527.full  From the abstract:  "For
> future global temperature scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on
> Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report, the relationship projects a
> sea-level rise ranging from 75 to 190 cm for the period 1990–2100." 190 cm
> is about six feet of sea level rise by 2100.
> Several times I posted the following analysis by U of C climate scientist
> Pierrehumbert (His bio:
> http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/raymond-t-pierrehumbert/
> ), that addresses Hansen's well known statement about the development of
> the Canadian Tar Sands being "game over" for stopping climate change, the
> wording in the subject heading in this thread.
> If I understand Pierrehumbert correctly, he implies Hansen's statement to
> be hyperbolic, though if you read his analysis, he presents science
> indicating anthropogenic climate change is a very long term and serious
> problem.  Pierrehumbert notes that "coal is the 800 giga tonne gorilla at
> the carbon party" and thus the largest threat to inducing climate change.
> If I read correctly, he does not include methane hydrates as a fossil fuel
> that could contribute to climate change, but astonishingly enough, methane
> hydrates contain more carbon than any traditional fossil fuel, coal, oil or
> natural gas, and are under development: [Vision2020] 5/2/2012: U.S./Japan
> Completes Trial of Methane Hydrate Production
> http://mailman.fsr.com/pipermail/vision2020/2012-May/082787.html  .  If
> humanity can develop technology to exploit methane hydrates on a massive
> scale, without other mitigating factors, as we continue burning oil and
> coal... You do the numbers for atmospheric CO2 rise!
> I omitted the graphs from the following pasted in version of this analysis:
> http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/11/keystone-xl-game-over/
> Keystone XL: Game over?
> Filed under:
>    - Carbon cycle<http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/category/climate-science/carbon-cycle/>
>    - Climate Science<http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/category/climate-science/>
> — raypierre @ 2 November 2011 -
> The impending Obama administration decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline,
> which would tap into the Athabasca Oil Sands production of Canada, has
> given rise to a vigorous grassroots opposition movement<http://www.thenation.com/blog/164082/stop-pipeline-rise-against-keystone-xl>,
> leading to the arrests so far of over a thousand activists. At the very
> least, the protests have increased awareness of the implications of
> developing the oil sands deposits. Statements about the pipeline abound.
> Jim Hansen has said that if the Athabasca Oil Sands are tapped, it’s “essentially
> game over”<http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/27/idUS323166223820110627>for any hope of achieving a stable climate. The same news article quotes
> Bill McKibben as saying that the pipeline represents “the fuse to biggest
> carbon bomb on the planet.” Others say the pipeline is no big deal, and
> that the brouhaha is sidetracking us from thinking about bigger climate
> issues. David Keith, energy and climate pundit at Calgary University,
> expresses that sentiment here<http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/38870/>,
> and Andy Revkin says<http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/05/can-obama-escape-the-alberta-tar-pit/>“it’s a distraction from core issues and opportunities on energy and
> largely insignificant if your concern is averting a disruptive buildup of
> carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”. There’s something to be said in favor of
> each point of view, but on the whole, I think Bill McKibben has the better
> of the argument, with some important qualifications. Let’s do the
> arithmetic.
> There is no shortage of environmental threats associated with the Keystone
> XL pipeline. Notably, the route goes through the environmentally sensitive
> Sandhills region of Nebraska, a decision opposed even by some supporters
> of the pipeline<http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-26/transcanada-s-keystone-pipeline-threatened-by-proposed-nebraska-re-routing.html>.
> One could also keep in mind the vast areas of Alberta that are churned up
> by the oil sands mining process itself<http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/oct/30/energy.oilandpetrol>.
> But here I will take up only the climate impact of the pipeline and
> associated oil sands exploitation. For that, it is important to first get a
> feel for what constitutes an “important” amount of carbon.
> That part is relatively easy. The kind of climate we wind up with is
> largely determined by the total amount of carbon we emit into the
> atmosphere as CO2 in the time before we finally kick the fossil fuel habit
> (by choice or by virtue of simply running out). The link between cumulative
> carbon and climate was discussed at RealClimate here<http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/hit-the-brakes-hard/>when the papers on the subject first came out in Nature. A good
> introduction to the work can be found in this National Research Council
> report <http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12877> on Climate
> Stabilization targets, of which I was a co-author. Here’s all you ever
> really need to know about CO2 emissions and climate:
>    - The peak warming is linearly proportional to the cumulative carbon
>    emitted
>    - It doesn’t matter much how rapidly the carbon is emitted
>    - The warming you get when you stop emitting carbon is what you are
>    stuck with for the next thousand years
>    - The climate recovers only slightly over the next ten thousand years
>    - At the mid-range of IPCC climate sensitivity, a trillion tonnes
>    cumulative carbon gives you about 2C global mean warming above the
>    pre-industrial temperature.
> This graph gives you an idea of what the Anthropocene climate looks like
> as a function of how much carbon we emit before giving up the fossil fuel
> habit, without even taking into account the possibility of carbon cycle
> feedbacks leading to a release of stored terrestrial carbon.  The graph
> isfrom the NRC report, and is based on simulations with the U. of Victoria
> climate/carbon model tuned to yield the mid-range IPCC climate sensitivity.
> Assuming a 50-50 chance that climate sensitivity is at or below this value,
> we thus have a 50-50 chance of holding warming below 2C if cumulative
> emissions are held to a trillion tonnes. Including deforestation, we have
> already emitted about half that, so our whole future allowance is another
> 500 gigatonnes.
> Proved reserves of conventional oil add up to 139 gigatonnes C (based on
> data here <http://www.eia.gov/emeu/international/reserves.html> and the
> conversion factor in Table 6 here <http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/convert.html>,
> assuming an average crude oil density of 850 kg per cubic meter). To be
> specific, that’s 1200 billion barrels times .16 cubic meters per barrel
> times .85 metric tonnes per cubic meter crude times .85 tonnes carbon per
> tonne crude. (Some other estimates, e.g. Nehring (2009)<http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/364/1532/3067.abstract>,
> put the amount of ultimately recoverable oil in known reserves about 50%
> higher). To the carbon in conventional petroleum reserves you can add about
> 100 gigatonnes C from proved natural gas reserves, based on the same
> sources as I used for oil. If one assumes that these two reserves are so
> valuable and easily accessible that it’s inevitable they will get burned,
> that leaves only 261 gigatonnes from all other fossil fuel sources. How
> does that limit stack up against what’s in the Athabasca oil sands deposit?
> The geological literature generally puts the amount of bitumen in-place at
> 1.7 trillion barrels (e.g. see the numbers and references quoted here<http://aapgbull.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/abstract/93/2/203>).
> That oil in-place is heavy oil, with a density close to a metric tonne per
> cubic meter, so the associated carbon adds up to about 230 gigatonnes —
> essentially enough to close the “game over” gap. But oil-in-place is not
> the same as economically recoverable oil. That’s a moving target, as oil
> prices, production prices and technology evolve. At present, it is
> generally figured that only 10% of the oil-in-place is economically
> recoverable. However, continued development of in-situ production methods
> could bump up economically recoverable reserves considerably. For example this
> working paper<http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/11/keystone-xl-game-over/www.npc.org/Study_Topic_Papers/22-TTG-Heavy-Oil.pdf>(pdf) from the National Petroleum Council estimates that Steam Assisted
> Gravity Drainage could recover up to 70% of oil-in-place at a cost of below
> $20 per barrel *.
> Aside from the carbon from oil in-place, one needs to figure in the
> additional carbon emissions from the energy used to extract the oil. For
> in-situ extraction this increases the carbon footprint by 23% to 41% (as
> reviewed here <http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/4/1/014005>) .
> Currently, most of the energy used in production comes from natural gas
> (hence the push for a pipeline to pump Alaskan gas to Canada). So, we need
> to watch out for double-counting here, because our “game-over” estimate
> already assumed that the natural gas would be used for one thing or
> another. A knock-on effect of oil sands development is that it drives up
> demand for natural gas, displacing its use in electricity generation and
> making it more likely coal will be burned for such purposes. And if high
> natural gas prices cause oil sands producers to turn from natural gas to
> coal for energy, things get even worse, because coal releases more carbon
> per unit of energy produced — carbon that we have *not* already counted
> in our “game-over” estimate.
> Are the oil sands really the “biggest carbon bomb on the planet”? As a
> point of reference, let’s compare its net carbon content with the Gillette
> Coalfield in the Powder river basin, one of the largest coal deposits in
> the world. There are 150 billion metric tons left in this deposit,
> according to the USGS <http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2008/1202/>. How much of
> that is economically recoverable depends on price and technology. The USGS
> estimates that about half can be economically mined if coal fetches $60 per
> ton on the market, but let’s assume that all of the Gillette coal can be
> eventually recovered. Powder River coal is sub-bituminous, and contains
> only 45% carbon by weight. (Don’t take that as good news, because it has
> correspondingly lower energy content so you burn more of it as compared to
> higher carbon coal like Anthracite; Powder River coal is mined largely
> because of its low sulfur content). Thus, the carbon in the Powder River
> coal amounts to 67.5 gigatonnes, far below the carbon content of the
> Athabasca Oil Sands. So yes, the Keystone XL pipeline does tap into a very
> big carbon bomb indeed.
> But comparison of the Athabaska Oil Sands to an individual coal deposit
> isn’t really fair, since there are only two major oil sands deposits (the
> other being in Venezuela) while coal deposits are widespread. Nehring
> (2009)<http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/364/1532/3067.abstract>estimates that world economically recoverable coal amounts to 846
> gigatonnes, based on 2005 prices and technology. Using a mean carbon ratio
> of .75 (again from Table 6 here <http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/convert.html>),
> that’s 634 gigatonnes of carbon, which all by itself is more than enough to
> bring us well past “game-over.” The accessible carbon pool in coal is sure
> to rise as prices increase and extraction technology advances, but the real
> imponderable is how much coal remains to be discovered. But any way you
> slice it, coal is still the 800-gigatonne gorilla at the carbon party.
> Commentators who argue that the Keystone XL pipeline is no big deal tend
> to focus on the rate at which the pipeline delivers oil to users (and
> thence as CO2 to the atmosphere). To an extent, they have a point. The
> pipeline would carry 500,000 barrels per day, and assuming that we’re
> talking about lighter crude by the time it gets in the pipeline that adds
> up to a piddling 2 gigatonnes carbon in a hundred years (exercise: Work
> this out for yourself given the numbers I stated earlier in this post).
> However, building Keystone XL lets the camel’s nose in the tent. It is more
> than a little disingenuous to say the carbon in the Athabasca Oil Sands
> mostly has to be left in the ground, but before we’ll do this, we’ll just
> use a bit of it. It’s like an alcoholic who says he’ll leave the vodka in
> the kitchen cupboard, but first just take “one little sip.”
> So the pipeline itself is really just a skirmish in the battle to protect
> climate, and if the pipeline gets built despite Bill McKibben’s dedicated
> army of protesters, that does not mean in and of itself that it’s “game
> over” for holding warming to 2C. Further, if we do hit a trillion tonnes,
> it may be “game-over” for holding warming to 2C (apart from praying for low
> climate sensitivity), but it’s not “game-over” for avoiding the second
> trillion tonnes, which would bring the likely warming up to 4C. The fight
> over Keystone XL may be only a skirmish, but for those (like the fellow in this
> arresting photo
> <http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/nasa-scientist-hansen-arrested-at-tar-sands-protest-a-grim-sign-of-the-times-20110831>)
> who seek to limit global warming, it is an important one. It may be too
> late to halt existing oil sands projects, but the exploitation of this
> carbon pool has just barely begun. If the Keystone XL pipeline is built, it
> surely smooths the way for further expansions of the market for oil sands
> crude. Turning down XL, in contrast, draws a line in the oil sands, and
> affirms the principle that this carbon shall not pass<http://www.realclimate.org/images//balrog.jpg>into the atmosphere.
> * *Note added 4/11/2011*: Prompted by Andrew Leach’s comment (#50 below),
> I should clarify that the working paper cited refers to recovery of
> bitumen-in-place on a per-project basis, and should not be taken as an
> estimate of the total amount that could be recovered from oil sands as a
> whole. I cite this only as an example of where the technology is headed.
> ---------------------------------------
> Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett
> On Thu, May 10, 2012 at 7:30 PM, Art Deco <art.deco.studios at gmail.com>wrote:
>> You are using 3.3 mm rise per year as a basis for your projections.
>> While there is still a great deal of speculation about the subject, it
>> appears that this rate is rising, and rising at a rate faster than was
>> projected just three years ago.  The latest findings having to do with the
>> melting of Antarctic ice from below.  Even three years ago the expected
>> change in rate per year rise is climbing rapidly.
>> http://www.skepticalscience.com/predicting-future-sea-level-rise.html
>> [Last updated three years ago]
>> http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0509/Warm-water-threatens-vast-Anatarctic-ice-shelf-video
>> [Antarctic Ice Melt]
>> Here are two parts of many of the problem your analysis faces:
>> 1.  Average temperature of the earth's surface during the Pliocene Era
>> [5.332 million to 2.588<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliocene#cite_note-ICS2009-1>million years ago] is only a controversial guess and since no comprehensive
>> measurements of such temperatures were available.   The size of this era
>> makes any generalization about long range projections of little value since
>> it appears that there were numerous global climate/temperature changes
>> during this lengthy period [2.744 million years].
>> 2.  Since the Pliocene Era, continental drift and associated geological
>> changes has greatly changed the configurations of land and sea that affect
>> climate.  Without factoring in these changes, projections based purely on
>> this era are likely subject to considerable error.
>> I do not pretend to be an expert on this subject, but I have been
>> following it since a Geology Class in 1972.   I have personally seen the a
>> great deal of glacial ice loss in the Canadian Rockies of which I have been
>> a frequent visitor since 1950.  Perhaps Ted Moffett can offer some insight
>> here.
>> w.
>> On Thu, May 10, 2012 at 6:30 PM, Paul Rumelhart <godshatter at yahoo.com>wrote:
>>> I must think differently than most people.  When I see somebody say "The
>>> world is going to end!  We're all going to die!  But, wait!  I have a
>>> PLAN!"  I immediately become skeptical.  Doesn't mean he's wrong, it just
>>> means that I'm going to assume he's exaggerating for effect unless I find
>>> out otherwise.
>>> I don't have a lot of time tonight to go through this, but let's take a
>>> quick look at the Pliocene era.  Here's what James Hansen says:
>>> "If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn
>>> our conventional oil, gas and coal<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/coal/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier>supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually
>>> would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million
>>> years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That
>>> level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the
>>> ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and
>>> destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable.
>>> Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction.
>>> Civilization would be at risk. "
>>> So I did some quick research.  The sources I found have the CO2 levels
>>> somewhere between 350 and 400 ppm during this period, which we are indeed
>>> just passing now.  The odd thing is that the temperature during the
>>> Pliocene was about 2-3C warmer than it is today, even at CO2 levels equal
>>> to today's levels.  This was back in the day when CO2 levels followed
>>> temperature, by the way, since there were no evil humans driving SUVs.
>>> This is a open question in geology, apparently.  This is actually good
>>> news, since the Earth did not accelerate into a hothouse world due to
>>> positive feedbacks driven by the loss of the Arctic ice pack (it hadn't yet
>>> formed, which is why the sea level was higher).  In fact, 2.5 Mya is the
>>> onset of the Pleistocene, during which the Earth was slid into an Ice Age
>>> with short periods of warmth interspersed among long periods of glaciation,
>>> the last one ending 15000 years ago or so.  The CO2 level during this
>>> period (the Pleistocene) fluctuated between 100 and 300 ppm.  Only lately
>>> have they been as high as they are now (~394 ppm).  Given that fact, it
>>> makes me wonder if we don't need higher CO2 levels to prevent us from
>>> slipping into another Ice Age, since these same levels were not enough to
>>> stop the last one even though temperatures were warmer than now, and the
>>> Arctic ice pack did not yet exist.
>>> As one of the premier climate scientists, I suspect that James Hansen
>>> knows all this.  My conclusion: he wanted to use the 50ft sea level rise
>>> number as a scare tactic.  Sea level rise, even at the worst estimate
>>> provided by the IPCC, would take 4618 years to raise 50ft, by my
>>> calculations (50ft = 15240 mm / 3.3 mm/yr = 4618 years).
>>> Paul
>>> On 05/10/2012 04:46 PM, Art Deco wrote:
>>> First, notice this is an OP/ED article.
>>> Second, notice that Hansen presents a lot of facts, then makes
>>> predictions on that basis.
>>> Hence, if you want to dispute his facts, do so.
>>> If you want to dispute the probability of his conclusions based on the
>>> facts presented or alternative facts, do so.
>>> However, he has a right, and perhaps even a moral obligation given the
>>> seriousness of his claim, to present warnings to the world.
>>> Scientists do what Hansen is doing all the time, and have been do so for
>>> a long time.  The most common cases are about the consequences of using
>>> various prescription drugs, OTC drugs, and nutrients, medical devices,
>>> fillings, medical procedures, etc.
>>> All scientific theories are probabilistic, and therefore opinions --
>>> opinions hopefully based on probabilities based on careful research and
>>> reasoning.  Scientific theories predict impacts on all of us.  They ought
>>> be put into the market place of ideas for all of us to evaluate.
>>> "Leave the rest to politicians."  Are you fucking out of your mind?  Are
>>> you not aware of what egregious messes contemporary politicians have gotten
>>> us into, and how little regard they have for the truth and the overall well
>>> being of human kind?
>>> w.
>>> On Thu, May 10, 2012 at 1:26 PM, Paul Rumelhart <godshatter at yahoo.com>wrote:
>>>>  I remember a day when scientists used to stick to the facts.  They
>>>> would say things like "we can't tell you what to do, but we can tell you
>>>> that our analyses have shown that this and this and this are likely with
>>>> this level of uncertainty".  Nowadays, scientists are fricking political
>>>> activists.  They give their opinions in articles in Rolling Stone and
>>>> charge big sums of money for speaking engagements at various venues, and
>>>> get arrested for protesting oil pipelines.
>>>>  Can James Hansen show with scientific certainty that his plan would
>>>> keep all the alarmist predictions of disaster at bay and then it would no
>>>> longer be "game over"?  What is the scientific definition of "game over"?
>>>> Climate scientists need to, in my opinion, take back their scientific
>>>> neutrality.  Here's what we've found, here's what our degree of confidence
>>>> is.  Leave the rest to the politicians.
>>>>  It's statements like "the science of the situation is clear — it’s
>>>> time for the politics to follow" that make me immediately skeptical of
>>>> everything he says.
>>>>  Paul
>>>>    ------------------------------
>>>> *From:* Art Deco <art.deco.studios at gmail.com>
>>>> *To:* vision2020 at moscow.com
>>>> *Sent:* Thursday, May 10, 2012 11:49 AM
>>>> *Subject:* [Vision2020] Game Over for the Climate
>>>>   [image: The New York Times] <http://www.nytimes.com/>
>>>> <http://www.nytimes.com/adx/bin/adx_click.html?type=goto&opzn&page=www.nytimes.com/printer-friendly&pos=Position1&sn2=336c557e/4f3dd5d2&sn1=cc8f29dd/870b4e4f&camp=FSL2012_ArticleTools_120x60_1787506c_nyt5&ad=BOSW_120x60_May4_NoText&goto=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Efoxsearchlight%2Ecom%2Fbeastsofthesouthernwild>
>>>> ------------------------------
>>>> May 9, 2012
>>>> Game Over for the Climate By JAMES HANSEN
>>>>  GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was
>>>> so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama<http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2012/04/i-have-the-utmost-respect-for.html>in Rolling Stone in which he said that
>>>> Canada<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/canada/index.html?inline=nyt-geo>would exploit the
>>>> oil<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/energy-environment/oil-petroleum-and-gasoline/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier>in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”
>>>>  If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the
>>>> climate.
>>>>  Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain
>>>> twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire
>>>> history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to
>>>> burn our conventional oil, gas and coal<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/coal/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier>supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually
>>>> would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million
>>>> years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That
>>>> level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the
>>>> ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and
>>>> destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable.
>>>> Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction.
>>>> Civilization would be at risk.
>>>>  That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad
>>>> enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the
>>>> semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent
>>>> drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with
>>>> heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the
>>>> Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer
>>>> be irrigated. Food prices<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/f/food_prices/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier>would rise to unprecedented levels.
>>>>  If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce
>>>> emissions dramatically. President Obama has the power not only to deny tar
>>>> sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in
>>>> part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave
>>>> tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.
>>>>  The global warming<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/globalwarming/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier>signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would
>>>> happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have
>>>> increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat
>>>> waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens
>>>> of thousands, were not natural events — they were caused by human-induced
>>>> climate change.
>>>>  We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the
>>>> atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life. But
>>>> add too much, as we are doing now, and temperatures will inevitably rise
>>>> too high. This is not the result of natural variability, as some argue. The
>>>> earth is currently in the part of its long-term orbit cycle where
>>>> temperatures would normally be cooling. But they are rising — and it’s
>>>> because we are forcing them higher with fossil fuel emissions.
>>>>  The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from
>>>> 280 parts per million to 393 p.p.m. over the last 150 years. The tar sands
>>>> contain enough carbon — 240 gigatons — to add 120 p.p.m. Tar shale, a close
>>>> cousin of tar sands found mainly in the United States, contains at least an
>>>> additional 300 gigatons of carbon. If we turn to these dirtiest of fuels,
>>>> instead of finding ways to phase out our addiction to fossil fuels, there
>>>> is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. — a level that
>>>> would, as earth’s history shows, leave our children a climate system that
>>>> is out of their control.
>>>>  We need to start reducing emissions significantly, not create new ways
>>>> to increase them. We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected
>>>> from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections
>>>> to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month. The government would
>>>> not get a penny. This market-based approach would stimulate innovation,
>>>> jobs and economic growth, avoid enlarging government or having it pick
>>>> winners or losers. Most Americans, except the heaviest energy users, would
>>>> get more back than they paid in increased prices. Not only that, the
>>>> reduction in oil use resulting from the carbon price would be nearly six
>>>> times as great as the oil supply from the proposed pipeline from Canada,
>>>> rendering the pipeline superfluous, according to economic models driven by
>>>> a slowly rising carbon price.
>>>>  But instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to make fossil
>>>> fuels pay their true costs, leveling the energy playing field, the world’s
>>>> governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels with hundreds
>>>> of billions of dollars per year. This encourages a frantic stampede to
>>>> extract every fossil fuel through mountaintop removal, longwall mining,
>>>> hydraulic fracturing, tar sands and tar shale extraction, and deep ocean
>>>> and Arctic drilling.
>>>>  President Obama speaks of a “planet in peril,” but he does not provide
>>>> the leadership needed to change the world’s course. Our leaders must speak
>>>> candidly to the public — which yearns for open, honest discussion —
>>>> explaining that our continued technological leadership and economic
>>>> well-being demand a reasoned change of our energy course. History has shown
>>>> that the American public can rise to the challenge, but leadership is
>>>> essential.
>>>>  The science of the situation is clear — it’s time for the politics to
>>>> follow. This is a plan that can unify conservatives and liberals,
>>>> environmentalists and business. Every major national science academy in the
>>>> world has reported that global warming is real, caused mostly by humans,
>>>> and requires urgent action. The cost of acting goes far higher the longer
>>>> we wait — we can’t wait any longer to avoid the worst and be judged immoral
>>>> by coming generations.
>>>>  James Hansen <http://www.giss.nasa.gov/staff/jhansen.html> directs
>>>> the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is the author of “Storms
>>>> of My Grandchildren.”
>>>> Room for Debate: Should Churches Get Tax Breaks?<http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/05/09/should-churches-get-tax-breaks?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fopinion%2Findex.jsonp>
>>>>   --
>>>> Art Deco (Wayne A. Fox)
>>>> art.deco.studios at gmail.com

Art Deco (Wayne A. Fox)
art.deco.studios at gmail.com
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