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Tuesday
Dec182012

GLOBAL WARMING: THE BOTTOM LINE

It's December in Vermont and I'm staring up the side of a mountain that is shrouded in fog. Beads of water are collecting on my goggles. From my perch on the chairlift I straighten my legs and watch a few islands of slush run down my skis. Below me, a couple walk their dog in the barren grass bordering a swath of man-made snow that snakes upward into the gloom.

This is not an ideal day for skiing, though one that's likely to become more prevalent in the years to come if you're to believe all the talk of global warming. According to a recent article, winter temperatures are projected to increase 4 to 10 degrees by the end of the century, effectively halving the duration of the ski season in the Northeast. Of course, inconveniencing winter sports enthusiasts is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. In his sobering article for Rolling Stone Magazine, Bill McKibben simplifies the math involved with curtailing our planet's rising temperature. He explains that, according to scientists, humans will be able to emit roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by midcentury and still have a chance to avoid the most dire predictions for our planet. Unfortunately, there are approximately 2,795 gigatons of carbon in the untapped reserves of the major fossil fuel companies. These reserves of coal and oil and gas represent roughly $27 trillion, a major financial incentive for these companies. And if we burn all of that carbon, which represents five times the "safe" amount we can sustain, the planet will "crater", to use McKibben's words.

I'm hopeful we can avoid such a fate. Technical advances in the production of renewable energy sources could reduce costs and disincentivize the extraction of fossil fuels. Consumer habits can change. But the first step in attaining that goal is global awareness of the stakes involved. I welcome and look forward to any illustration opportunities that might communicate possible solutions to what is quickly becoming the most important issue we face.

Reader Comments (2)

I have come to the conclusion that we all have a little blame global warming and its consequences and guilt even more politicians who do not slow down.

http://www.globalwarmingweb.com/what-is-global-warming.html

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnny

I have come to the conclusion that we all have a little blame global warming and its consequences and guilt even more politicians who do not slow down.

http://www.globalwarmingweb.com/global-warming.html

August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnny

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