Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ooops, That's Your New Simple Math

The lately developing statistics have a certain simplicity to them. We can't go on like this. In forty years, we're going to double the damage we've already done, and guess what? Life gets unsustainable.

The world has already burned half the fossil fuels necessary to bring about a catastrophic 2C rise in average global temperature, scientists revealed today.

The experts say about half a trillion tonnes of carbon have been consumed since the industrial revolution. To prevent a 2C rise, they say, the total burnt must be kept to below a trillion tonnes. On current rates, that figure will be reached in 40 years.
Chris Huntingford of the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology said: "Research often reveals new complexities, but this analysis could actually simplify matters for policy makers. The relationship between total emissions and future warming can be inferred largely from quantities we can observe, and is remarkably insensitive to the timing of future emissions."

The key implication of the research, the scientists say, is that access to fossil fuels must somehow be rationed and eventually turned off, if the 2C target is to be met. "If country A burns it then country B can't," said Bill Hare, a climate expert with the Potsdam Institute in Germany. "It's like a draining tank."

The research also highlights that continued high rates of fossil fuel use in the next decade will demand extraordinary cuts in emissions in future decades to hit the 2C target. Allen said: "If you use too much [carbon] this year, it doesn't mean the planet will come to an end. It means you have to work even harder the next year." (Emphasis added.)

Of course, there is another choice: self-annihilation.

It is necessary that in order for us to continue as a species, and have a world around us, that we The stark simplicity has a great appeal, and I can hardly wait to hear the engines turn off.

Hopefully, I'll be here on the way to Majorca when that happens.

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