While chestnuts are roasting on an open fire and Jack Frost is nipping at our nose, our premiers and prime minister were finalizing a climate change agreement and approving massive pipeline expansions. Will reducing greenhouse gas emissions be enough to slow down the disruptive human influences on climate?
Modern civilization has many impacts on our climate, some examples are: altering the hydrologic cycles, reflecting atmospheric heat with high altitude ice crystals, urban heat islands and unnaturally heated water, etc. Our society produces a lot of heat; it should be possible to quantify the amount of heat produced, when burning the ancient hydrocarbon deposits, we collectively call fossil fuels.
It has taken up to 600 million years for the sun’s energy to be stored and converted into materials that we can burn. Imagine burning almost 100 million barrels of oil every day — that produces a lot of heat, and that represents just the tip of the iceberg. Add eight billion tons of coal and 3,500 billion cubic metres of natural gas to the global cauldron each year, and stir gently.
It is not surprising that each year we are consuming about 400 years of accumulation of fossil energy and that readily accessible fossil fuels, will start to be run out in less than 40 years. Our global use and abuse of fossilized fuel is out of control and we are squandering irreplaceable resources on this very fragile planet.
Will future generations find themselves with limited available resources and an extreme and unpredictable climate?