Tuesday, 17 September 2013
The Scorched Earth
James Hansen and colleague's latest paper, 'Climate Sensitivity, Sea Level and Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide', appearing in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society here and here [warning: pdf download], is suitably blunt. Burning all fossil fuels would generate approximately 20 degrees C average warming over land areas and appoximately 30 degrees C at the poles. Certainly fatal for civilization, most human life as we know it and countless other-than-human species and beings too. Hansen et al conclude that, '[i]t seems implausible that humanity will not alter its course as consequences of burning all fossil fuels become clearer.' But they then add the caveat, '[y]et strong evidence about the dangers of human-made climate have so far had little effect.' Quite - or arguably there is no evidence whatsoever of the brakes being applied yet. The race for unconventional fossil fuels is just heating up.