Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Pipelines and Warming

Raypierre at Real Climate looks at the so-called Keystone XL pipeline and consequences for global warming. This pipeline is aimed at transporting oil from the Athabasca tar sands to Texas for refining, and is important because that tar sands is one of the worlds largest pools of hydrocarbons - large enough that its full exploitation is likely to tip the world over the 1 trillion tons of carbon injected into the atmosphere mark - enough, says Raypierre, to warm the Earth by about 2 degrees C.

This has provoked some resistance by anti-AGW activists, but it's just a tactical battle in the larger fight against carbon. The other obvious energy source is coal.

I hate to say it, but I think that these battles are lost. Billions of people are not going to choose starvation today, or even giving up their cars and private jets, because of warming a hundred or even twenty years from now.

The world needs energy and wants it even more. The only ways to provide it without pumping far more CO2 into the air is to make nuclear and solar energy competitive, and the only way to get along with a lot less energy is for there to be a lot fewer of us.

And we also need to figure out how to live in a considerably warmer world.