Whether or not Donald Trump pulls the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement we’re still on the superhighway to catastrophe. Remember, for all the hoopla about “Paris” its major achievement was a wish, a goal to stop worldwide average temperature increase at 1.5 degrees Celsius. At the meeting, the nations of the world submitted all kinds of national plans for greenhouse gas reduction. Nice, but the agreement has no teeth, no means of enforcement. Essentially each country can do as it wants.
And as a Scientific American article of the time stated, the plans unveiled at Paris come nowhere near meeting 1.5 degree limit. Right after its adoption, writer David Biello stated in an article published in Scientific American that “Instead, national plans would result in global emissions of 55 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2030, compared to roughly 35 billion metric tons today. An analysis of 146 of the submitted plans by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which range from preserving forests in Indonesia to cutting coal in the U.S., suggests they could keep global warming to less than 3.7 degrees Celsius if fully implemented by 2030.”
3.7 degrees Celsius is way, way above what human civilization can tolerate. As I wrote in a December 2105 column that temperature increase of “Four degrees of warming will put three-fourths of Shanghai “underwater” by 2100. That’s a city of 24 million people.” Other major cities will face inundation as well. See the video at the tail end of this article in Rolling Stone.
Worse is the matter of “feedback loops” and “tipping points.” At some point, increased world temperatures cause changes that make the world even hotter. So the loss of sea ice in the Arctic means less sunlight get reflected back from white surfaces and more heat gets absorbed by the sea. In a worst case that leads to “tipping points” when the feedback loops get so devastating that nothing can be done to stop them. The word “irreversible” comes into use here. The tipping point is not some language being used by wild-eyed environmental “extremists.” The IPCC, the international body of experts with the most authority to report about climate, uses that terrifying language.
And it could be getting worse. Where Bill McKibben explained last fall that we have to fight every new fossil fuel projects some scientists and engineers are moronically finding fuels that would vastly increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. On May 19 of this year, CNN Money reported that the Chinese Minister for Land and Resources announced: “A major breakthrough that may lead to a global energy revolution.” China was able to take methane hydrates out of the South China Sea. The mineral is natural gas in a frozen form. A chunk of the stuff can actually be set on fire and so it gets the friendly name of “flammable ice.”
The CNN article states, “Gas hydrates are estimated to hold more carbon than all the world’s other fossil fuels combined, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.” The world already has five times the amount it can safely burn and now, in theory, it has 10 times that amount.
If they actually burn this stuff we may actually produce the human extinction event described by climate scientist James Hansen in his “Storms of My Grandchildren.” In that book, he very seriously talks about a scenario where the climate heats uncontrollably until the atmosphere reaches temperatures that are on Venus!
Have a nice day.