Climate Change Bills Are Over-Due

The bills for our fossil fuel use are finally being paid. In 2015, experts concluded that “burning the presently available fossil fuel resources is sufficient to destroy the [Antarctic] ice sheet” (Winkelmann et al. 2015). 

Although this research is focused on Antarctica, all other ice would melt at the same time. How much time will it take to create an ice-free planet? 

No one knows for sure. 

  • The actual combustion of fossil fuel reserves may happen within a thousand years if present rates of growth continue. 
  • Taking into account thermal inertia delays, complete melting of the ice might take thousands of years—but the momentum of this inertia would be irreversible. 
  • “The legacy of what we're doing over the next decades and centuries is really going to have a dramatic influence on this planet for many tens of thousands of years,” Ken Caldeira, a researcher at Stanford University's Carnegie Institute of Science and one of the study's four coauthors, told Chelsea Harvey of the Washington Post (Harvey 2015). 

As the world's carbon dioxide pollution from humans continues to increase, the geography of generation has shifted. 

  • Since the beginning of the Industrial Age, the relative proportions of carbon dioxide emissions have shown the rapid growth of China and India, as well as the continuing importance of the United States and Europe. 
  • This is significant because CO2 is released and stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.

 According to data collected by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and revised by BP in 2014, China accounted for 25% of global CO2 fossil fuel emissions, the US 15%, and Europe (including a tiny portion of Eurasia) 13%. Europe and a tiny portion of Eurasia have a combined stake of 29 percent (1751–2014); the United States has a share of 20 percent; China has a share of 10%; and India has a share of 3%.

You may also want read more about Global Climate Change here.