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posted by janrinok on Thursday May 12, @11:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-let-the-changes-get-you-down dept.

Why our continued use of fossil fuels is creating a financial time bomb:

We know roughly how much more carbon dioxide we can put into the atmosphere before we exceed our climate goals—limiting warming to 1.5° to 2° C above pre-industrial temperatures. From that, we can figure out how much more fossil fuel we can burn before we emit that much carbon dioxide. But when you compare those numbers with our known fossil fuel reserves, things get jaw-dropping.

To reach our climate goals, we'll need to leave a third of the oil, half of the natural gas, and nearly all the coal we're aware of sitting in the ground, unused.

Yet we have—and are still building—infrastructure that is predicated on burning far more than that: mines, oil and gas wells, refineries, and the distribution networks that get all those products to market; power plants, cars, trains, boats, and airplanes that use the fuels. If we're to reach our climate goals, some of those things will have to be intentionally shut down and left to sit idle before they can deliver a return on the money they cost to produce.

But it's not just physical capital that will cause problems if we decide to get serious about addressing climate change. We have workers who are trained to use all of the idled hardware, companies that treat the fuel reserves and hardware as an asset on their balance sheets, and various contracts that dictate that the reserves can be exploited.

Collectively, you can think of all of these things as assets—assets that, if we were to get serious about climate change, would see their value drop to zero. At that point, they'd be termed "stranded assets," and their stranding has the potential to unleash economic chaos on the world.

Do you agree with this arguably pessimistic assessment of the situation, and have we already run out of time to take the action necessary to avoid exceeding climate goals? Criticism is easy, but what solutions do you have to the problem?


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  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Thursday May 12, @07:36PM (1 child)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Thursday May 12, @07:36PM (#1244516) Journal

    We can't just make everything that's unhealthy illegal though. All we can really do is inform people of the hazards and hope they listen. Not sure what you would have us do beyond that?

    I agree, so why the hard line on wearing masks that do nothing to mitigate the spread of a virus? After all, have you ever seen a virologist go into the hot zone wearing nothing but an N95 mask? No, of course you haven't, because it's ineffectual. To that same point, why force people to get vaccines they don't want, constrain their freedom of movement and other rights, because public health officials want to give the appearance of doing something?

    As you said, the correct course of action is to inform people of the hazards and hope they listen. But that means we also must accept that many people won't listen, and that's their decision.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @09:05PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @09:05PM (#1244581)

    So why do some people get so upset when I try to carry cobalt-60 around with me when I go out? Just tell me what you think the hazards are and I'll decide for myself if I should do that.