Hansen: Run for your lives! 'Game over' for the climate
NASA scientist James Hansen says if we use Canadian tar sands for energy, it will be "game over" for the climate.
In other words, our goose will be cooked -- as well as the rest of humanity.
If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.
Canada's tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet's species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.
That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California's Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.
Hansen is forecasting weather events decades in advance when meteorologist have great difficulty in telling us whether it's going to rain this weekend. I'm sure the models tell him what he is writing is true. But are the models accurate? Not a one so far.
I don't want to refer to Hansen as a "Chicken Little." That would give him too much respect. Chicken Little was absolutely sincere in running around saying "The sky is falling!" Hansen - not so much. And his hysterics do the cause of science no favors.