The world's leading authority on global warming, the Intergovenmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is a United Nations-sponsored organization made up of 2,500 scientists from around the world. These scientists project that during our children's lifetimes, global warming will raise the average temperature of the planet by 1.4 - 5.8°C. Other leading scientists say 2.7 -11°F. There is no dispute that the temperature will rise. The disagreement is over how much it will rise, and how soon. There is also no scientific debate that CO2 has not been increasing. Pre- Industrial Revolution levels of carbon dioxide were about 280 ppm ( parts per million ), and current levels are about 370 ppm.
There is great concern that once the atmosphere has warmed past some critical level, various feedback mechanisms will kick in and push the temperature beyond the point where the planet will become inhospitable for human life. Once these feedback mechanisms have kicked in, it is unlikely that we can do anything to intervene. It is now generally believed that a substantial fraction of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere will remain in the atmosphere for decades to centuries, and about 15-30% will remain for thousands of years. Thus, even with a reduction in CO2, the greenhouse effect of global warming will continue for some time to come. And considering the current signs from the environment, accelerating industrial emissions, and the long life of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, some worry that it may already be too late to prevent this scenario. The world must figure out a way to permit growth in China, India, and other developing nations while lowering consumption of coal, gasoline, and other fossil fuels. Currently, China is building a new coal-fired power station about every two weeks. This leads us to the focus of this thread. As the oil we so depend on declines, can we really turn to coal and biomass for our energy transition to renewables? Will we shovel coal into the boiler until the train runs right off the proverbial cliff?
Global Climate Change & Peak Oil
As oil and natural gas production go into decline in North America, the alternative we will ultimately turn to is coal-whether we like it or not.
--Dale Allen Pfeiffer, FTW
While ASPO geologists say there is not enough oil and gas left for the IPCC scenarios of global warming to come to pass, they do agree that burning coal could make those predictions reality. Coal produces the most CO2 per energy unit derived from its use. Thus, as we increase the use of coal in the future, especially in power plants, the CO2 levels will rise. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and produces the most carbon dioxide (CO2) of any fossil fuel, and burning coal produces 72% more CO2 than burning natural gas.
And if that isn't enough, then we have Global Dimming. Global dimming is a gradual reduction in the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface due to particulates in the atmosphere like sulfur dioxides. Some scientists now consider that the effects of global dimming have masked the effects of global warming, and that reducing air pollution may therefore have a huge and previously unpredicted impact on temperatures and sea levels. A rise in temperature could trigger a rapid and irreversible release of the huge deposits of methane hydrates currently sequestered beneath the ocean floor, releasing methane gas, one of the most powerful of the greenhouse gases. We have been forewarned; will we ever be forearmed? We must powerdown.