Carbon emissions continue to rise

I frequently post warnings from scientists (who, contrary to popular belief, are not driving home in their Ferraris at night to go rolling around on beds full of government grant money with hookers and bricks of cocaine) warning us about all of the various things that could happen if we don’t stop pumping CO2 into the air like we just don’t care.

These things range from reduced crop yields, reduced agricultural space, and disappearing fishing villages and islands up to sea levels rising by 28 feet and swallowing most of New York City and downtown Los Angeles, wide spread famine, millions of refugees and war, mass extinction, and the end of Western Civilization as we know it.

Now, considering the least bad things that could happen are still pretty bloody bad, you’d think we might stop and reassess whether or not it’s worth it to keep on chugging along and take our chances.

You would be wrong.

The latest word on climate change is not good — world emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use rose 1.4 percent last year to set a new record, according to the International Energy Agency. At this pace, the agency reports, global temperatures could rise a startling 9 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, which would be disastrous for all nations.

And yet this latest report has received minimal attention in the United States, at least outside the climate science community and its usual advocates. While House Republicans spin their wheels trying to blame the White House for errant IRS officials, and the Senate just seems permanently gridlocked on any topic of substance, elected officials in Washington appear incapable of grasping the seriousness of the problem.

Nero might as well be fiddling while Rome — and every other human habitat — faces an uncertain future. U.S. energy policy ought to be near the top of the national agenda, but instead it’s treated as simply part of a political game (and a monotonous one at that), with every debate about renewable energy or reducing dependence on fossil fuels generating a predictable argument over short-term consequences like prices at the pump or whether it means more or fewer jobs on Gulf of Mexico oil rigs or Canadian pipelines next year.

Meanwhile, the enormous long-term costs of adding so many man-made gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere are hardly discussed at all. Well, here’s a wake-up call, America. The IEA report suggests that unless the U.S. and other countries take more aggressive steps toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, any hope of limiting global warming to something manageable — less than half that 9 degrees — will probably be lost.

When the blighted bleak, dystopian hellish future exists, when my kids drop me off at the Soylent Green factory for processing, I’ll give them a hug and nod, because… well, we will all kind of deserve it for leaving them a blighted bleak dystopian hellish future in which they have to eat us to continue to live.

I think I’d go well with a nice bourbon glaze.


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