Does Bali Bust Mean Climate Catastrophe?

by Val Germann

It’s obvious now that no meaningful agreement on emissions reduction will come out of the current Bali climate talks. Oh, sure, there will be some kind of announcement, of some kind of “breakthrough,” but rest assured that it won’t amount to anything compared to the problem itself, which in this writer’s view is insurmountable. That is, it could well be that the human race has painted itself so thoroughly into a climate corner that there simply is no viable “solution” available. This is so because anything “effective” would promptly and completely crash our world’s current globalized economy. Let me tell you, no politician, anywhere, is going to sign on to that.

To see what I mean here let’s take a look at the “target” being proposed at Bali right now, taken from an article appearing today on the TERRADAILY website:

One of the rows is over a previous commitment made by Kyoto’s industrialised countries, which said they had an “ambition” to reduce their own carbon emissions by between 25 and 40 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels.

This goal has gained new traction because of recent scientific studies indicating that reductions on this order are necessary to prevent not just “global warming” but “catastrophic climate change.” However, the year 2020 is only 13 years away and to meet that goal would require an immediate reduction in fossil energy use, world wide, of several percent per year (!) because the world is emitting far more CO2, et. al., today than it was in 1990!

Such a draconian energy reduction program would rapidly bring on world wide recession, and then depression, followed by even more warfare than we’re seeing now. Such a program would reverse, at a stroke, the mantra of “growth” that has driven the world’s economies for the last several hundred years. It’s not going to happen.

What is going to happen is more of what we’re getting now, a rapid and continuing increase in total emissions. Take a look at this quote, from THE INDEPENDENT yesterday:

BP, the British oil giant that pledged to move “Beyond Petroleum” by finding cleaner ways to produce fossil fuels, is being accused of abandoning its “green sheen” by investing nearly £1.5bn to extract oil from the Canadian wilderness using methods which environmentalists say are part of the “biggest global warming crime” in history.

Yes, indeed, here is the future for petroleum production world wide, tar sands, the actual crack of doom for any possible future reduction in overall emissions. How bad is this tar sands business? Read this quote from the same article as above:

“It takes about 29kg of CO2 to produce a barrel of oil conventionally. That figure can be as much 125kg for tar sands oil. It also has the potential to kill off or damage the vast forest wilderness, greater than the size of England and Wales, which forms part of the world’s biggest carbon sinks.

Oh, yes, that’s true, as is the fact that the world’s best fuel, natural gas, is being combined with billions of gallons of fresh water to create the third-rate “petroleum” that will be, because it must, the ever-increasing source of “new production” in the oil patch. For instance, Venezuela has immense quantities of similiar material and there is enough of the stuff around the world to continue some kind of really nasty “Age of Oil” almost indefinitely, all the way to the suffocation of mamalian life on Earth.

The bottom line is that all the hot air in the world, at Bali or any other “climate conference,” is not going to make one bit of difference in the real world of energy production and consumption. We humans are going to continue to do exactly what we’ve been doing and the word on that is coming from the top, the very top.

As for the rest of us, let us enjoy what we can, while we can. Our betters desire that we continue to drive giant SUVs back and forth to the grocery store for a quart of milk, and to consume apricots from Turkey, as this writer bought by mistake the other day. So be it, and the Devil take the hindmost! —

About Val

I am a long-time teacher of science and astronomy with a strong interest in resource conservation and the environment.
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