(Image Source: James Hansen)
In 2011, the world emitted more than 10 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere and the amount for 2012 is likely to exceed 11 billion tons. This massive pace of carbon emissions puts the world directly on the worst-case path of human-caused climate change. This path, modeled by IPCC as the A1FI is the highest CO2 emissions scenario resulting in the most global temperature increase and/or the most drastic alterations to the global environment.
A1FI model range starts in 2000 and, as you can see, the pace of CO2 emission increase follows directly along this worst-case path through 2011. What this also shows is that the world, overall, has neither pursued a balance (A1B) between fossil fuels and renewables or a transition (A1T) from fossil fuel to renewable energy. Instead, the rate of global carbon emissions increase since 2000 shows that the world has chosen to emphasize fossil fuel use and chosen not to invest in alternative energy to the degree that it replaces carbon-based fuels.
This is not to say that certain countries haven’t made great strides. But it does show that, overall, the world has failed to put in place the investments and technologies that will allow it to transition away from fossil fuels that dump massive volumes of dangerous CO2 into the atmosphere. One can see the preference the world has placed on continued fossil fuel burning by looking at the discrepancy between worldwide subsidies of oil vs worldwide renewable energy subsidies. On the one hand, oil subsidies are in the range of 500 billion dollars each year while worldwide renewable energy subsidies are less than 1/5 that number.
And what does all this emphasis on fossil fuels buy us, in the end? According to A1FI climate models, world temperatures increase by an average of 6.4 degrees Celsius by 2100 to devastating and terrible effect. This ‘catastrophic high burn’ scenario would leave posterity with a hellish world, one that grows steadily more hellish until global temperature increases top 12 degrees Celsius by 2300.
My view, is that this future is not worth one cent, much less the 500 billion dollars plus we pay each year to subsidize it.