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NASA: it rained so hard the oceans fell

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Craig Fugate, head of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, put it bluntly,

“The term ’100-year event’ really lost its meaning this year.” 


Well in the short term the seas will start rising again. As the NASA report states:

“water flows downhill, and the extra rain will eventually find its way back to the sea. When it does, global sea level will rise again. ‘We're heating up the planet, and in the end that means more sea level rise’".

What happens in the medium and long term depends on us. We humans really have only one question to answer: To burn or not to burn?

OPTION A: Leave most fossil fuels in the ground -- forever. 

OPTION B: Keep doing what we are doing and dig up every last crumb of carbon and burn it.

The climate science is clear that we cannot burn most of the fossil fuels we already know about and also have a stable enough weather system that we can continue to prosper.  

As local Nobel laureate and world famous climate scientist, Andrew Weaver, explained in a talk at UBC the other night, just reducing the rate at which we burn fossil fuels won’t prevent dangerous levels of climate change beyond 2C warming. Instead we must totally eliminate fossil fuel emissions.  

Weaver showed that even if humanity cut 90% of our fossil fuel use by 2050 but kept burning that last 10% into the future, then we would still heat the climate by more than 2C. That sends us into the realm of dangerous and dramatic climate changes that Canada, USA and every major nation has stated clearly we must avoid.

As Weaver summed it up:

"At some point we just have to say stop.”

In Canada that means forcing our governments to take responsibility for leaving most of our fossil fuels reserves – like BC coal, Alberta oil sands, frackable natural gas -- in the ground forever. It also means transitioning our own lives and businesses off of fossil fuel burning completely.

What we are doing right now -- our current path – is to burn it all. We have absolutely no limits, and none planned, for any of our nation’s fossil fuel resources. Weaver was asked to summarize the current climate policies of our federal government. He responded: “This will be quick. There aren’t any.” Instead we are heading full tilt towards ever “weirder” and ever more extreme weather.

Meteorologist Masters:

“I suspect that crazy weather years like 2010 will become the norm a decade from now, as the climate continues to adjust to the steady build-up of heat-trapping gases we are pumping into the air. Forty years from now, the crazy weather of 2010 will seem pretty tame. We’ve bequeathed to our children a future with a radically changed climate that will regularly bring unprecedented weather events–many of them extremely destructive–to every corner of the globe. This year’s wild ride was just the beginning.

Hansen, an expert on the climate of both Earth and Venus, has a starker warning for us. In the face of continued political inaction to stop the climate threat, he decided to calculate what it would take for Earth’s climate to repeat what happened on our sister planet Venus – a runaway greenhouse effect that would boil away the oceans and destroy all life on the planet:

“I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and the tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty. “

Our Canadian government is currently using our tax dollars to market an aggressive expansion of the tar sands under the banner of “ethical oil”.

Hansen got arrested along with more than 1,200 others protesting this very attempt to expand production of the unconventional tar sands deposits for global markets saying:

it is probably feasible to avoid dangerous climate tipping points, but only if conventional fossil fuel emissions are phased down rapidly and unconventional fossil fuel are left in the ground. If governments allow infrastructure for unconventional fossil fuel to be developed, either they don't ‘get it’ or they simply do not care about the future of young people.”

Repeatedly he has stated that if we fully exploit our unconventional tar sands it means game over for hopes of avoiding dangerous climate change.

At this point the climate science is clear that the only truly “ethical oil” is the oil we leave in the ground forever.

More in Climate Snapshot

"Carbon tsunami" lead by Enbridge Northern Gateway takes aim at BC

A flood of mega-carbon projects threaten to quickly turn British Columbia into one of the world's dirtiest economies.

Car Carbon series: cool new animation, plus the jaw-dropping impact it left out

What weighs sixteen billion pounds yet hides in plain sight?
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