The outright ‘size’ of humans on Earth, the frenzy, the terrific effort of needs!
Biggest Threat Comes From Stuff We Haven’t Built Yet
With best management of ‘current and committed’ fossil-fuel infrastructure, we just might keep gas concentrations below 450ppm, 496 million tons, which will limit warming at or below 2 degrees C.
The trend is still fossil:
Since 2000 the world has added 416 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants, 449 gigawatts of natural gas–fired power plants and even 47.5 gigawatts of oil-fired power plants… new highways, millions of new cars, gas-fired factories… the U.S. still generates half of its electricity via coal burning, and so on.
Carbon-neutral is slow:
Including nuclear & hydro, all carbon-free sources of energy combined provide a little more than 2 of today’s total power of 15 terawatts.
Carbon-neutral must grow:
To keep gas concentrations at today’s level in 2030, we should have installed at least 10 terawatts years ago. To meet demand and keep concentrations near 450ppm by 2050, carbon-neutral sources must reach 30 terawatts.
We have a ‘terawatt challenge’, Mr. Jones.
“What if we never built another CO2-emitting device, but the ones already in existence lived out their normal lives?”
“We found that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 would stabilize at less than 430 ppm and the increase of global mean temperatures since preindustrial time would be less than 1.3°C. In light of common benchmarks of 450 ppm and 2°C, these results indicate that the devices whose emissions will cause the worst impacts have yet to be built.”
Arrrgh… wars galore as populations shift, oceans acidify, food chains collapse, gloom and doom, gloom and doom, oh woe. We’re overwhelmed and a’that.
‘Complex Systems’ is a term to truly, truly ponder. Folks sift for dominance of one form or another, others imagine chaos, but tipping points are opposed by reactions, vigorous reactions…. If we’re diligent, perhaps strong efforts worldwide will meet terrific upcoming challenges.
We’ll need optimism.
Many environmental authors and some scientists use a bully pulpit to thump opportunists and lunatics, already ill equipped to confront good science. We can scare cynics toward good sense, but it’s better to lead the rest of us toward a workable horizon. We’ll need pointers and working prototype.
I shouldn’t be so strong. But I think we’re well past the matter of excess gas; we should be. All slogging toward forward options, discovering our choices, is the premier mission.