When I was working in the field in the early 1990s, the concentration of carbon-dioxide was roughly 340 ppmv. I knew it was rising, of course; but I was surprised to read today that it is now just short of 400 ppmv. This is worrying enough, but yesterday, that titan of the field, James Hanson, wrote an Op Ed in the New York Times where he said this:
Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.
I don’t have a lot to add. Hanson goes on to say that we know the science and now it is time to work on the politics.
I have one thing to say about that.
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