THE RECORD WE DON’T WANT IN THE GBWR

October 4th, 2016

We cannot afford to sink another well, dig another mine nor build another pipeline. Full stop.

This summer we set yet another temperature record for Earth. Sadly, the record is not likely to stand for more than a year. Oliver Milman, writing in Planet at its hottest in 115,000 years thanks to climate change, experts say for The Guardian, explains:

The global temperature has increased to a level not seen for 115,000 years, requiring daunting technological advances that will cost the coming generations hundreds of trillions of dollars, according to the scientist widely credited with bringing climate change to the public’s attention.

A new paper submitted by James Hansen, a former senior Nasa climate scientist, and 11 other experts states that the 2016 temperature is likely to be 1.25C above pre-industrial times, following a warming trend where the world has heated up at a rate of 0.18C per decade over the past 45 years.

This rate of warming is bringing Earth in line with temperatures last seen in the Eemian period, an interglacial era ending 115,000 years ago when there was much less ice and the sea level was 6-9 meters (20-30ft) higher than today.

As Oil Change International wisely encourages: When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

Traditional climate policy has largely focused on regulating at the point of emissions, while leaving the supply of fossil fuels to the market. If it ever was, that approach is no longer supportable. Increased extraction leads directly to higher emissions, through
lower prices, infrastructure lock-in, and perverse political incentives. Our analysis
indicates a hard limit to how much fossil fuel can be extracted, which can be implemented only by governments: No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built, and governments should grant no new permits for them [emphasis mine, JH].

Continued construction would either commit the world to exceeding 2°C of warming, and/or require an abrupt end to fossil fuel production and use at a later date (with increasing severity depending on the delay). Yet right now, projected investment in new fields, mines, and transportation infrastructure over the next twenty years is $14 trillion – either a vast waste of money or a lethal capital injection. The logic is simple: whether through climate change or stranded assets, a failure to begin a managed decline now would inevitably entail major economic and social costs

We need to be the Earth’s keepers lest the Holls Doyles of the world will leave us no Earth to keep.

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