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posted by janrinok on Thursday May 12 2022, @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: 5, Insightful) by mcgrew on Thursday May 12 2022, @08:25PM (1 child)

    by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday May 12 2022, @08:25PM (#1244545) Homepage Journal

    There are no "self-made billionaires", they all started out with rich parents; e.g., Bill Gates' parents were high dollar lawyers for IBM. Were it not for that, you would never have heard of Bill Gates. You can grow up poor and still become a millionaire, but not a thousand times as rich as a millionaire; a billion is a thousand million (but you knew that).

    --
    Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16 2022, @06:38PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 16 2022, @06:38PM (#1245388)

    Ah yes, "You didn't build that!" for the new generation. Got it.

    The funny thing is, it's not just a roll of the dice. People lose fortunes all the time. Sure, some have a better head start than others - but only a few turn whatever head start they had to a fortune, and rags-to-riches is still entirely possible. It's just rare.

    Anything-to-riches is rare.

    Here's the funny thing about building a society; we do it not only to uplift the poor shivering lumpenproletariat wondering whether the cholera, the consumption or the hunger will get them first. We also do it to enable the gifted, the fortunate and the wise to uplift themselves, and by implication the whole of society (if by no other means, by means of paying taxes).

    But keep banging that envious drum, I'm sure the sound will feed a multitude.