Let’s face it: climate change is getting scarier by the week. In this all-American year, record wildfires, record temperatures in the continental U.S., an endless summer, a fierce drought that still won’t go away, and Frankenstorm Sandy all descended on us. Globally, billion-dollar weather events are increasingly dime-a-dozen affairs, with a record 14 of them in 2012 so far. So is a linked phenomenon, the continuing rise in the volume of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, especially from burning fossil fuels, that get pumped into the atmosphere. The latest figures from 2011 indicate that those gases once again made an appearance in record amounts with no indication that abatement is anywhere on the horizon.
With new studies and more data, it seems, come ever more frightening projections of just how much the temperature of this planet is going to rise by 2100. After all, as Michael Klare, TomDispatch regular and author of the invaluable The Race for What’s Left, points out, the International Energy Agency’s latest study suggests a possible temperature rise by century’s end of 3.6 degrees Celsius. That should startle the imagination, involving as it would the transformation of this planet into something unrecognizably different from the one we all grew up on. And keep in mind that it’s by no means the top estimate for temperature disaster. A new World Bank report indicates that a rise of 4 degrees Celsius is possible by century’s end, a prospect that bank president Jim Yong Kim termed a “doomsday scenario.”
In the meantime, the most comprehensive study to date of how humans have affected the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere predicts that the planet’s temperature could rise by an unimaginable 6 degrees Celsius by 2100. These days, it increasingly looks like we’ve entered the lottery from hell when it comes to Earth’s ultimate temperature — especially now that a recent report from the United Nations Environment Program suggests carbon in the atmosphere has increased by 20% since 2000 and that “there are few signs of global emissions falling.”
With this in mind, consider the latest “good news” reported (and widely hailed) in the world of fossil fuels, courtesy of Michael Klare.