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

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @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.

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

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

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @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, @04:24PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 14, @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, @12:38AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 15, @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.