Published on Monday November 19, 2012
BRUCE CHAMBERS/APOil companies currently have proven reserves of oil, gas and coal worth $27 trillion.
By Linda McQuaigColumnist
In the interest of fighting climate change, most of us avoid buying SUVs — fortress-like vehicles that aren’t necessary unless one intends to take the whole family for a spin through downtown Baghdad.
Most of us also recycle and keep the thermostat low. However, these gestures are doing almost nothing to stop the warming of the planet.
Yet climate change has disappeared from the political agenda. While the media diligently scrutinize the security risk posed by a hot relationship between a general and his biographer, there’s little airtime to consider the security risk posed by something even hotter: the planet. (A Pentagon-commissioned study in 2003 concluded that global warming would lead to brutal storms, flooding, drought and widespread human strife. “Once again, warfare would define human life.” But back to the general . . .)
The news on the climate front is devastating.
In a report earlier this month, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the world’s largest accounting firms, states the world has “passed the critical threshold” and that current carbon reductions amount to “a fraction of what is required against the international commitment to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.”
In order to keep within that limit by 2050, the accounting firm says the world will have to dramatically accelerate its annual pace of carbon reduction — to a rate never before achieved, and then continue at that rate “for 39 consecutive years.” No problem!
That’s if we want to keep warming to just 2 degrees Celsius — which may be too high. So far, we’ve warmed the planet by only 0.8 degrees Celsius — and yet that little bit of warming packs quite a punch, as the U.S. east coast learned last month.
The PwC report notes that, at current rates, we’re headed for 6 degrees of warming by the end of the century.
Yet this alarming news was barely reported. The media apparently didn’t think it necessary to inform us that the Earth has basically been tossed onto the barbecue.
The good news is, with great effort, we can still turn things around. But blocking the path to a green future are the world’s most powerful corporations, whose phenomenal wealth derives from selling the very fossil fuels that are driving up the temperature.
In a brilliant article in Rolling Stone, Bill McKibben sets out exactly why Big Oil and the rest of the fossil fuel industry so fiercely resist action to tackle climate change.
The companies currently have proven reserves of oil, gas and coal worth $27 trillion.
If the world were to reduce carbon emissions enough to keep the temperature increase below 2