Scientists warn "Fate of Humanity" rests on climate action

From Climate Sensitivity, Sea Level, and Atmospheric CO2, (Hansen, Sato, Russel and Kharecha). This is a highly technical paper, comparing dynamic models of the earth's climate against actual data from eons of history. The paper concludes by noting that so-called "unconventional" fossil fuels are more damaging to the climate than the "conventional" fuels of the past century, and ends with this sobering assessment.


Most remaining fossil fuel carbon is in coal and unconventional oil and gas. Thus, it seems, humanity stands at a fork in the road. As conventional oil and gas are depleted, will wemove to carbon-free energy and efficiency -- or to unconventional fossil fuels and coal? If fossil fuels were made to pay their costs to society, costs of pollution and climate change, carbon-free alternatives might supplant fossil fuels over a period of decades. However, if governments force the public to bear the external costs and even subsidize fossil fuels, carbon emissions are likely to continue to grow, with deleterious consequences for young people and future generations.

It seems implausible that humanity will not alter its energy course as consequences of burning all fossil fuels become clearer. Yet strong evidence about the dangers of human-made climate change have so far had little effect. Whether governments continue to be so foolhardy as to allow or encourage development of all fossil fuels may determine the fate of humanity.