Wednesday, September 19, 2012

They're Like Junkies, They Really Are

We know that existing, known fossil fuel reserves already on the books of global energy companies are five times greater than the maximum amount of fossil fuel we can consume and hope to remain within the 2C safety mark for global warming.

Put another way, four fifths of the known resources need to be left in the ground, unused, at least until we have in place the necessary systems to strip massive volumes of CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Western governments and the emerging economies say they get it.   Global warming must be acted upon.    We have to sharply curb carbon emissions.  Oh yes, absolutely, we get it.   But they don't.

Take two prominent fossil fuelers - Canada and Australia.   Canada styles itself a petro-power thanks mainly to its reserves of bitumen.   Australia is all about coal.

The Australian government is implementing a carbon tax.  Yeah.  At the same time it's clearing the way for the development and export of massive quantities of coal to China and India that, when burned, will guarantee our grandkids face a 6C future.

Plans to open up a new Australian "coal export rush" would turn a single Queensland region into the seventh largest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions on the planet, undermining international efforts to keep global warming below 2C, a new report has warned.

Nine proposed "mega mines" in the Galilee Basin would, at full capacity, result in 705m tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere, according to a Greenpeace Australia analysis. This level of emissions would surpass those of all but six nations in the world. By comparison, the UK emitted 549.3 million tonnes of CO2 from all sources in 2011.

...Greenpeace warns that a growth in coal-fired emissions represented by the nine Queensland mines would be in line with the International Energy Agency's model of a "catastrophic" 6C rise in temperatures.

"At a time when the science could not be clearer on the need to reduce global carbon emissions, and when governments worldwide are shifting to a low-carbon economy, exploiting the Galilee Basin is a reckless proposition," the report states. "It is imperative that the Galilee Basin coal reserves remain in the ground."

And there's the rub.   Yes this Aussie coal needs to remain in the ground.   So should all the filthiest fossil fuels, including Athabasca bitumen.   Future fossil fuel consumption should be restricted to the lowest carbon forms such as light, sweet crude oil and they should only be a bridge to alternate, clean energy.

But find a government sitting stop major fossil fuel fields that will acknowledge much less embrace the notion of their resources being left unexploited.  It's like asking a coke addict to leave that line unsnorted.

If we are to have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change the first sign will be when some national government proclaims that it will not allow its fossil fuels to be extracted.  You'll know when it happens by the sound of the world's biggest crack pipe being smashed to smithereens.


lungta said...

"Canada styles itself a petro-power thanks mainly to its reserves of bitumen."

petro-powers own their own oil. they have a nationalized oil company which develops and profits from their oil reserves .
Canada is following the Nigerian style of sell off development which enriches a few elite and impoverishes the country.

i often laugh at the efforts to sequester co2...the only reason life exists is earth originally sequestered co2 in these deposits.

Sixth Estate said...

You've hit on a key point here. By the time the Conservative transformation of the Canadian economy is over, there will be effectively nothing left except resource extraction. At that point it would become essentially impossible for the Canadian government to enact any sort of climate change prevention program.

opit said...

LOL No. You've ignored his point. The Earth has been practicing sequestration by itself just fine for millennia. And the part where increased co2 concentration stimulates increased plant growth - which breaks down more co2 in a natural reduction cycle which first created a breathable atmosphere - doesn't seem to want to lodge in your beanie either.
If the Canadian government is fool enough to emulate the Australians - over vast public outcry - then what it will have managed to do is send away money that could have been used to adapt to climate change and other general problems : like another dust bowl from unsustainable agricultural practices and further culturing poisonous blue-green algae in our lakes and ponds, etc. from overuse of fertilizer. We have real problems like Great Lakes pollution to deal with instead of hyperventilating over an unprovable hypothesis. Nor does climate change by itself validate said dream.

The Mound of Sound said...

Opit, sorry, but you've joined the tinfoil hat brigade. Please don't expect me to respect your opinions. There's far too much at stake. Come up with viable science, please, anything to refute the daily influx of research that, year on year, corroborates this theory and it'll be a different matter.

You're smart enough to follow the money. Do you think, even for a minute, that if the science could be disproven, refuted, that the fossil fuelers wouldn't have parted with a few dozen millions to get this irritant out of their side?

But they don't have to produce what, if they're right, any mid-level laboratory should find. Instead, Opit, they rely on folks like you. Ask yourself why that is. Try to be honest.