Climate outcome ‘hangs on coal’

If growth in carbon dioxide emissions is to be constrained and even reversed then the world cannot afford a coal renaissance, scientists have said.

Some commentators have argued that falling reserves of oil and gas will automatically limit CO2’s rise.

But at an American Geophysical Union meeting, researchers said reserves of coal dwarfed those of other fuels.

It was even possible oil’s demise could trigger an acceleration in emissions through more coal use, they added.

“We can replace oil with liquid fuels derived from coal,” said Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University in California.

“But these liquid fuels emit even more carbon dioxide than oil, so the end of oil can mean an increase in coal and even more carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, and even more rapid onset of dangerous climate change.”

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2 Responses to “Climate outcome ‘hangs on coal’”

  1. MD says:

    Can someone please explain to me exactly why we care about this? I recently saw a National Geographic presentation which stated that if we do nothing, then the temperature rises. When this happens, the forms of life we have today will be unsustainable. However, they went on to say that this in fact was the situation some several millions of years ago. Then the average world climate was about 6 degrees warmer. During that time the life forms on the planet were very abundant, but different. So why exactly do we care? Is it to preserve mankind? That may be the wrong thing to do WRT the long run health of the planet, the solar system, and who knows, maybe the universe.

    MD

  2. Dennis says:

    MD, I agree with you for the most part. I think the train has left the station and it won’t be coming back. You and I have discussed before if the warming is man-made or natural and I think we’ve agreed that it doesn’t matter in the end because it is happening regardless of the underlying cause.

    People talk about ‘saving the planet’. I think that’s a silly notion. The planet and life will survive. Humanity, however, will probably suffer a major die-off due to the impending changes.

    I wrote a piece back in December of 2006 that speaks to all of this somewhat.

    http://samadhisoft.com/2006/12/07/061208-friday-historical-inevitability/

    We love the world as it appears to us – just as we all love the music that was current when we were teenagers. But, if the world warms and millions die and the mix of species existent changes drastically, those folks who live a few hundred years from now will simply love the world as they find it. They won’t pine away for the ‘old’ world as we know it anymore than we pine away for the ice ages.

    So, to answer your question, “Why do we care?”. I don’t think I write about it all because I hope to change it. I sincerely doubt that it can be changed. I write to promote awareness – not change. I think awareness is a thing that is inherently good in and of itself and needs no additional justification.