Doomsday Fast Approaching: Avoidable If We Choose
Unearthing 1 trillion metric tonnes of carbon will rise above already expected global temperatures
By Jordan Smith, Staff Writer
Midnight on the proverbial doomsday clock has been announced. No, we are not there yet. We do know how far we are from it, though. Today, the United Nations top climate scientists announced that once humanity has unearthed 1,000,000,000,000 metric tonnes of carbon, half of which has already been unearthed, and spewed its resulting waste into the atmosphere, we will have surpassed the agreed upon ceiling of a two degree Celsius increase in global temperatures.
It is difficult for many people to wrap their heads around that kind of grandiose number, let alone apply it to anything meaningful. Meaningful it is though, given that we have already dug up over half of it. Justin Gillis’ article in The New York Times states, “that the trillionth tonne will be released somewhere around 2040, according to calculations by Myles R. Allen, a scientist at the University of Oxford and one of the authors of the new report.”
For those of us who think that maybe we will run out of fossil fuels to gouge out of the earth before we reach calamitous levels of global warming would be sorely mistaken. There is still 3,000,000,000,000 tonnes in the ground according to Gillis’ article. That will surely be extracted should those money grabbing oil companies get their way.
Gillis’ article points to attempts made at recovering some of these greenhouse gases by the Norwegian government. However, these attempts have proven to be high risk and extremely costly and thus put on hold. Despite the setback, there are tentative plans to have financing in place to incentivise firms to develop a functioning carbon capture and storage (CCS) program by 2020.
According to Process Industry Match (an organization that supports dialogue between all parties affected by the industrial process sector, including investors, firms, and end users) the Norwegian project at Mongstad, on the nations South West coast, would not even be recycling the captured carbon but instead it would, “be transported by pipeline for storage under the seabed in the North Sea.” Furthermore, the document released from Process Industry Match states that, “the Centre has been constructed with a capture capacity of up to 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.”
According to the U.N. study, we will spit out approximately 500,000,000,000 (the last half of the 1,000,000,000,000) tonnes of carbon emissions by 2040. If such CCS projects, which capture 100,000 tonnes per year, come to fruition by 2020 as hoped, by the Norwegian estimates, it will only have captured 2,000,000 tonnes by 2040. That leaves the planet with 499,998,000,000 tonnes of carbon emissions to still deal with, assuming no other CCS projects come online. If there were other such facilities it would take 250,000 of them to fully capture the emitted carbon gases. This does not seem like a realistic solution.
There are a multitude of issues that arise from such projects of recovery. The first is that the core problem of unmitigated carbon consumption is not being addressed. These projects do not provide any impetus to move away from fossil fuels but perplexingly encourage further extraction of it. They give fossil fuel extractors and producers something to deflect criticism to when being lambasted for their environmentally degrading practices.
A recent interview with Al Gore and Motherboard (a subsidiary of Vice Magazine) points to the real issues that face humanity’s struggle with climate change. Gore explains that, “our [U.S. citizens] democracy has been hacked… big money has now perverted our democracy, hacked it, taken it over and twisted it to serve the purposes of special interests.”
True that Gore’s statement only applies to U.S.