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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: 0, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @01:41PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @01:41PM (#1244382)

    > [...] and have we already run out of time to take the action necessary to avoid exceeding climate goals?

    For the past 30 years I have seen posters with the message "if we act NOW, we can stop global warming". Nothing changed in those 30 years and and it becomes harder every year, so I think it would be much more realistic to change those to posters to "Okay, we're too late, let's salvage what we can."

    • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @04:11PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @04:11PM (#1244444)

      To the point, the gloom and doom messages have always been: we have only several years to act before the climate becomes uninhabitable. The deadline passes, and we're all still here. The doom and gloom deadline is now shifted back several years.... and it goes on forever this way. It's a scare tactic, just bullshit.

      REPENT! THE END IS NEAR!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @04:55PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @04:55PM (#1244459)

        Wow, entitled boomer much?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @08:46PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @08:46PM (#1244565)

          Bah, cheap bot.

  • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Thursday May 12 2022, @02:55PM (5 children)

    by RamiK (1813) on Thursday May 12 2022, @02:55PM (#1244410)

    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.

    The global economy is an energy-for-food trade cycle with many of the energy suppliers being completely reliant on their fossil fuel exports for purchasing food. Putin is striking preemptively by taking over Ukraine's grain fields to substitute for Russia's oil fields in maintaining current Russia-Europe relations. However, most other OPEC members will just wake up one day to find themselves without cash flow to pay for essential food and medical supplies..

    Now that's what I call a "Financial Time Bomb".

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    compiling...
    • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Thursday May 12 2022, @03:42PM (4 children)

      by Opportunist (5545) on Thursday May 12 2022, @03:42PM (#1244436)

      How so? They pretty much purchase all their weapons from us and don't produce any themselves, so essentially all they can is starve to death because we sure won't deliver any anymore if they try to use them against us. What exactly seems to be the problem?

      • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Thursday May 12 2022, @06:06PM (3 children)

        by RamiK (1813) on Thursday May 12 2022, @06:06PM (#1244477)

        What exactly seems to be the problem?

        Well, you tell me, what would happen to the US economy when its customers can't afford food, machinery, guns, medicine and/or entertainment since there's no capital flow? e.g. how will China pay for CNC machines when so many of their plastic crap customers can't afford paying them and they themselves don't need to save on labor when there's so many hands willing to be paid literally in peanuts?

        Besides, starving nations don't tend to keep to their carbon caps...

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        compiling...
        • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Thursday May 12 2022, @06:49PM (2 children)

          by Opportunist (5545) on Thursday May 12 2022, @06:49PM (#1244492)

          Oh quite the opposite, nations where the people croak have a much lower carbon footprint... ok, after the corpses decomposed, but if you ponder the average carbon footprint of the average American... even the most obese one of them wouldn't cause more carbon burden decomposing than living another year.

          And hey, if you want to have a healthy economy, make sure your own population can afford your crap. That way you are independent of foreign whims, sell domestic!

          • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Thursday May 12 2022, @07:22PM (1 child)

            by RamiK (1813) on Thursday May 12 2022, @07:22PM (#1244508)

            make sure your own population can afford your crap. That way you are independent of foreign whims, sell domestic!

            The problem is that between self-sufficiency ideals and real world North Korea, you'll find trade blocks forming around members with nuclear arsenal Warsaw pact style that simply don't care about the carbon caps.

            --
            compiling...
            • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Friday May 13 2022, @10:07AM

              by Opportunist (5545) on Friday May 13 2022, @10:07AM (#1244699)

              Starving nations: Do you expect me to care?
              Me: No, I expect you to die.

              Gert Fröbe was such a great actor...

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @03:06PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @03:06PM (#1244416)

    In the current situation, there are certainly NO business as usual solutions.
    The elites through politricks, will continue to kick the can down the road while greenwashing the public into accepting the capitalist narrative for economic growth.

    When the news starts to show for example soda companies shutting down, consumerism turning negative by shuttering advertising companies, capitalism prioritizing environment over profit, countries prioritizing basic humanitarian needs, military exchanging guns for shovels, then and only then will we be taking things seriously enough to have conversations about effective solutions.

    Until then, get the fuck off my lawn!

    P.S. Thanks to the World war with Russia, we are actually doing some of these things and quickening the pace to get off our addiction to oil, a major piece of the solution. However, as we see in the news, we are gong to be building MORE oil infrastructure not less. Good luck with that!

  • (Score: 2) by Barenflimski on Thursday May 12 2022, @03:09PM

    by Barenflimski (6836) on Thursday May 12 2022, @03:09PM (#1244419)

    Ahhh, this is just what I wanted after my first cup of coffee.

    I'm going to go roll in the dandelions now.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @03:55PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @03:55PM (#1244440)

    We'll ride this out. We'll be OK.
    Tree cover across most of the world is actually *increasing* despite a larger population.
    Obesity is now a problem among the poor around the world! Not starvation!
    Climate change does not mean and inevitable decline. It will mean for many areas a longer growing season. There is no need to live like preindustrial people. In all of the world except sub-Saharan Africa, birthrates are falling, and with it, the impact of our species on the planet.

    For those who want to mod me Troll because I don't reinforce your end of the world scenario, consider that you may have a built-in predisposition to gloom and doom. That is maladaptive.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @05:23PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @05:23PM (#1244469)

      I see a lot of hopefullness in your comment, very little fact. All the scientists are saying otherwise, so without some well researched information I see no reason to agree with your interpretation. I do like the positivity though, we need more of that but the kind that gets people to work on real solutions

      Please tell us you're not one of the business-as-usual types that simply do not want to be inconvenienced!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @07:00PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @07:00PM (#1244498)

        Natural gas in the US due to the fracking revolution has dramatically cut America's CO2 emissions because gas mostly replaced coal for many things. Furthermore, natural gas is cheap. It really isn't all doom and gloom.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 14 2022, @04:24PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 14 2022, @04:24PM (#1244980)

          Ooh ooh I can't wait to get cancer from the polluted water table, but it isn't all bad, my hot cancer ahowers will be cheaper! Well, assuming they actually lower the consumer price instead of leaving it high when their costs drop. No one would do something so un-American right? Free markets are efficient and drive costs down right???

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday May 15 2022, @12:38AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 15 2022, @12:38AM (#1245037) Journal

        All the scientists are saying otherwise

        Not much point to that until those sayings become based on science.

        Please tell us you're not one of the business-as-usual types that simply do not want to be inconvenienced!

        I certainly want a better reason than nebulous religious beliefs for that inconvenience.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @04:16PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @04:16PM (#1244445)

    I'm not having kids and I'd probably be dead within 30+ years. So the climate change stuff probably won't affect me that much. The sea levels aren't going to change that much within the next 30 years - this is based on known science (the projections have the bigger increases much later than 30 years). If you look in the past there have also been lots of weather/climate problems Mini ice age, Krakatoa etc.

    So my environmental footprint is going to be a lot lower than those who have kids (especially those whose kids have more kids).

    My words to those who might care - the fossil fuels are like "savings" - stored energy accumulated over millions of years. Humans could use this savings wisely or just blow it away. Then once those savings are gone, the bunch that's left would have to actually live off the day to day "earnings".

    My suggestions on what wise use is from a big picture humanity view- development of space colony technology and related knowledge. Not those near useless expensive trips to Mars but actual space colony tech - like artificial gravity (could be via tethers counterweights etc) and knowledge like what's the minimum amount of gravity a human needs (this knowledge will remain useful for as long as humans remain somewhat human - this G number is important since the lower the G required the cheaper the space habitats can be).

    Developing such space tech will cost a fair bit of energy, time and resources. If humans burn away most of the fossil fuels then it will be harder and take longer.

    It's not as easy to get macroscopic living creatures into orbit using solar energy and other renewable energy sources.

    Also another thing to be careful of is the Kessler Syndrome ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kessler_syndrome [wikipedia.org] ).

     

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday May 15 2022, @12:41AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 15 2022, @12:41AM (#1245038) Journal

      My words to those who might care - the fossil fuels are like "savings" - stored energy accumulated over millions of years. Humans could use this savings wisely or just blow it away. Then once those savings are gone, the bunch that's left would have to actually live off the day to day "earnings".

      We could save wisely... or we could more wisely use it today. After all, when will we need to return to fossil fuels? If we're not going to use significant fossil fuels forever after, there's little value to those "savings".

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by istartedi on Thursday May 12 2022, @05:31PM (3 children)

    by istartedi (123) on Thursday May 12 2022, @05:31PM (#1244470) Journal

    Remember when the real concern was running out of oil? Way back when I was a kid in the 70s, "we will freeze in the dark" was a panic phrase. Then we realized the USA had a lot of coal. I used to count 300 hopper car freights going by at crossings. Natural gas fracking, efficiency, a bunch of stuff "saved the day" for fossil fuels but it has ALWAYS been a short term proposition.

    Fossil fuels will run out, climate change or not.

    That's the crisis that nobody denies, except the real hardcore whack jobs who actually believe in the "cornucopian theory" that oil is being continuously produced in the Earth from abiogenic sources.

    The proper use of fossil fuels should always have been to prime the pump towards sustainable energy. Fossil fuels enable an industrial society for a limited time. That society will either develop sustainable energy or not.

    So. Forget about climate change. Do you want to return to a pre-industrial society or move to sustainable energy? That's always been the real question, even before Al Gore was just the junior Senator from Tennessee.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @06:07PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @06:07PM (#1244478)

      Yes, conserving fuel, reducing pollution, and decentralizing energy production are all far better arguments. It is like the silly "climate change" was purposefully chosen because it is dumbest.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday May 12 2022, @06:35PM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday May 12 2022, @06:35PM (#1244486)

      real hardcore whack jobs

      You just made me remember the movie "the Aviator" about Howard Hughes. Most of the rich and powerful are seriously bent one way or another.

      --
      Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://www.newsweek.com/russian-state-tv-ukraine-war-dirty-bomb-putin-1754428
      • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Thursday May 12 2022, @10:48PM

        by istartedi (123) on Thursday May 12 2022, @10:48PM (#1244606) Journal

        History really rhymes. Musk is plainly in that category, and I really do hope he ends up dying on Mars rather than out of his mind in a motel room. Gotta say though, he doesn't *look* like spaceflight material. I hope he's at least had some rides on the Vomit Comet and been OK with it before attempting something that even hardened Air Force test pilots would find stressful. Come on, dude. Do some cardio. Get that resting heart rate in to the 50s.

  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday May 12 2022, @07:04PM (1 child)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 12 2022, @07:04PM (#1244499) Journal

    There is one political school of thought that would suggest that a future generation who will go extinct due to climate change should take personal responsibility and fix it.

    --
    I get constant rejection even though the compiler is supposed to accept constants.
    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday May 15 2022, @12:46AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 15 2022, @12:46AM (#1245040) Journal
      What future generation would that be? Once you base those scenarios on science rather than religious hysteria, you run out of existential threat.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @07:32PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @07:32PM (#1244515)

    to "see" the effect of fossile fuel, especially the liquid and gaseous ones, we need to go back and look at the world pre-pencil-vain-ia oil discovery.
    before that we gotta look at the world before coal made steam made "stuff move".
    lots of stranded asset happened there too.

    anyways, everything that changed after pencil-vain-ia oil discovery was mostly due to it.
    looking back, it was not a very happy time to live in.

    oil and gas needs to be credited for alot of enablement but also brought new problems, like how manufacturing by ford made all the money spend end up in the "goo juice outlet owners" hands ... thus leading to the great depression.
    the solution was to just move from stationary value holder "gold" to dynamic "value holder", that is "create (or produce) it, assign value (remember it), destroy it".

    after that, whoever commanded the well in the ground, was the sugar-daddy of the economy. sugar dispensers and we're just ants hoping to get a morsel. like the moms at a birthday party dispensing cake and managing a hoard of kids that have no clue about making cakes. we hope never to be the outlier ...

    and then it happened that we used enough fossile fuel to get out of the hole -aka- shitlife but we didn't stop. because of above new economy, ways to use and abuse oil where found. all sanity be damned.
    "we got it, let's use it". 2 hours to work @ 1 or more gallon each way, 5 days a week?
    pre-pencil-vain-ia the same amount of energy would have lasted a family of five a 1 month thru winter or so?

    anyways, without oil, all whales would have joined doodoos in nirvana. we still have soem whales, so that's good.

    so everything mentioned in article about stranded assets is just stuff that was build around fossile and for fossile fuel and ways to use more of it. it must have changed a mind set.

    a stranded asset it is not, if it leads to doom.

    the question, now, can we work renewables to a level that allows to power a decent life style pre 1920s, that is, everybody spent money on a "iron horse" called ford and then having no way to every feed it so that its work would yield enough return money? ... we saw that a million ford owners could not entice mr. ford (and the people providing the goo-juice) to "make the money go around" and "come back". there's another kind of "stranded asset".

    ah, also, stranded assets will be fossile fuel aristocrats, that is people heavy involved in and around fossile fuels. see above, about "money".
    "just yesterday joe told me that the lawnmower doesn't run on real dollar bills stuffed into the tank ..."

    note: i think a certain country in the middle east and its singular leader are the only thing that has kept the world from going WW3; "the spice must flow".

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @08:58PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @08:58PM (#1244576)

      the question, now, can we work renewables to a level that allows to power a decent life style pre 1920s, that is, everybody spent money on a "iron horse" called ford and then having no way to every feed it so that its work would yield enough return money?

      Good question, but incorrect exposition.

      Sure, moving things around has value. Logistics is important. But if you think that logistics is important, you'd better take a seat before I tell you how important primary industry inputs are. You know primary industries? Like logging, fishing, mining, agriculture?

      If we move to pure organic agriculture (i.e. no artificial fertilisers, no mined mineral fertilisers, all that jazz) we can expect our agricultural output to tumble by roughly (details depending) 50%. Of course, without the fuel to move it we'll have to pivot to much more shelf-stable outputs, but in your best case scenarios (massive returns of sewage to fields and so on - much of which depends upon heavy power usage by the way) we're losing around 30% of agricultural output simply because incorporation of such sources into the soil is less efficient than the concentrated, high availability forms that we currently use.

      Worldwide 30% drop in agricultural output leads directly to famine and war. On a global scale.

      I guess the good news is that malthusian factors would reduce the population ...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @10:01PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @10:01PM (#1244599)

        geez, now even the plants are fossile fuel customers ...
        i kid. i do not know a solution to "get to" nitrogen in the atmosphere off the top of my hat.
        that is, haber-bosch is energy intensive and countries with access to "cheap" energy make fertilizer?
        i know the ants defend the "mimosa living plant" weed something fierce. not sure why but it's prolly got something to do with the white spheruals that seem to harbor nitrogen fixing "stuff" and the ant seem to prefer making their nests around those roots. i think in other places it's the clover plant that does nitrogen fixing. "clover feed cows" *shrug*

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @12:44AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @12:44AM (#1244628)

          Nnnnnyeeeeesssss ....

          Congratulations, you found an incomplete (doesn't deliver as much per field, per season, as fossil fuel derived sources) solution to one part of one problem, that everybody already knew about.

          Your mama must be proud.

          Now, how are you planning to accelerate the potassium availability? Phosphorus? Calcium? Magnesium? Iron? Sulphur?

          Right, right, the magic bugs will capture them out of the atmosphere for direct delivery to the roots, right? Maybe? No? And in quantities that match the evil mines and industry (all driven by that evil energy!) that do this, right? And refine the various micronutrients such that farmers can treat their soil with precision, right? Using those big evil tractors that burn that evil gunk, right?

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday May 15 2022, @12:59AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 15 2022, @12:59AM (#1245041) Journal

          that is, haber-bosch is energy intensive and countries with access to "cheap" energy make fertilizer?

          Indeed. That's the key: extremely cheap energy. I see an AC replier asked:

          Now, how are you planning to accelerate the potassium availability? Phosphorus? Calcium? Magnesium? Iron? Sulphur?

          That same extremely cheap energy.

  • (Score: 2) by MIRV888 on Thursday May 12 2022, @07:54PM

    by MIRV888 (11376) on Thursday May 12 2022, @07:54PM (#1244533)

    One day the next dominant species will develop archaeology and attribute our existence in the geologic record to poorly calibrated equipment or a meteor impact.
    And that will be the story of us.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @08:54PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12 2022, @08:54PM (#1244573)

    Headline, AGW, Finance, 80+ comments? This can only mean one thing: khallow triggered!

    But not one post by our brave and noble quixotic libertarian? Is he alright? Now I am all worried.

    aristarchus

    • (Score: 2, Troll) by PiMuNu on Thursday May 12 2022, @10:54PM (1 child)

      by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 12 2022, @10:54PM (#1244608)

      Ubi est Khallow?

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @04:28AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13 2022, @04:28AM (#1244673)

        He's at the Bilderberg conference.

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