How Many Days During July Would You Predict Math Problem You Dirty Rat: Fossil Fuel Fires Up Global Warming

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You Dirty Rat: Fossil Fuel Fires Up Global Warming

The temperature is a little warm.

The forecast for this day in early August 2012 said 111 degrees in Fresno/Clovis, California where I live. This is relatively common in this region, where 40 or more days above 100 are common for the summer. But it looks like more of the United States will get similar treatment.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center says July was the hottest month on record.

In fact, according to its State of the Climate report, January through July were the warmest first seven months of any year on record for the contiguous United States. The national temperature of 56.4 degrees was 4.3 degrees above the long-term average, with only the Pacific Northwest, which was near average, bucking the trend.

And of course, Alaska is a little cooler. My friend Steve likes to post data about his runs at scenic Kincaid Park in Anchorage. The last one was 55 degrees. suffocating

Overheating of the atmosphere

This temperature stuff is more than just fodder for oblique discussions about the weather. The ramifications are enormous and most scientists predict dire consequences if the trend is not reversed.

Author and climate activist Bill McKibben describes the scenario in stark terms. In a piece for Rolling Stone, which has some of the best investigative journalism in the country, he highlights three numbers to watch.

The first is 2 degrees Celsius, which refers to the window the world has before succumbing to the significant effects of climate change. The second is 563 gigatons of carbon dioxide, which refers to the amount of climate-warming pollutants that can be released before reaching that two-degree threshold.

Carbon dioxide, public enemy

The third, and perhaps the most significant McKibben number, is 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide. This is the amount of carbon locked up in all known reserves of oil and coal. If these reserves are exploited and fossil fuels are burned, we will be on the road to universal environmental destruction.

The cost would be astronomical, the devastation unparalleled.

The way to deal with this seems obvious. Or relatively Fossil fuels are the most expensive fuel on the planet. But society would rather kick the can down the road to the next generation.

Who is the villain?

Boosting fossil fuels

McKibben says it’s obvious. The bad guys are coal and oil executives.

“Climate change operates on a geological scale and over a period of time, but it is not an impersonal force of nature; the more carefully you do the math, the more you realize that this is fundamentally a moral problem; we found the enemy. and they are Shell,” he says.

Unfortunately, oil companies have the enviable position of having more money than their critics. Although BP reported a loss of $2.2 billion in the second quarter of 2012, it is still doing well. That compares with a net profit of $5.7 billion in the same period a year earlier.

The Associated Press reports that BP’s revenue for the quarter fell 9 percent and the company set aside another $847 million for the Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster and cleanup, “bringing the total provision to just over $38 billion.”

Money is the game

It’s not a problem. BP can afford it. In fact, it has created an advertising campaign that portrays the company in such charitable terms, its past is fading into the state of distant memory. Says gawker.com’s Hamilton Nolan: “Remember how BP’s relentless pursuit of profit at the expense of safety caused the Gulf of Mexico to flood with oil a while back? No. I don’t remember. You? Hmm. The what I do remember is BP’s absolutely incredible Olympic spirit!”

On the earnings side, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil fared better with Shell posting a second-quarter profit of $5.7 billion, down 13% from the same period a year earlier, and Exxon posting $8.4 billion of dollars, 22% less, according to the New York Times. Reporter Clifford Krauss quotes Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as saying, “Despite global economic uncertainty, we continue to invest throughout the business cycle, taking a long-term view of resource development.”

Talking like that drives McKibben crazy. “There is not a more reckless man on the planet,” he says of Tillerson. It adds that Tillerson told Wall Street analysts that he plans to spend $37 billion a year on exploration through 2016.

Avoid disasters

The problem is that oil companies hold the future of the planet in their hands, and as long as they keep making money, they won’t back down from extracting, refining and burning as much of their fossil fuel reserves as possible. McKibben says the only way to deal with this is to tax carbon, making alternative energy cheaper.

Of course, alternative energy is already struggling to achieve parity with fossil fuels. But it could use a boost.

In the meantime, McKibben says the best recourse is moral outrage for those who would like to stop this push toward global warming. Enemy #1 is not Jimmy Cagney, nor is it Snidely Whiplash (both personal favorites). It’s a bunch of rich executives ruining the world for a few more bucks.

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