Climate clock is ticking

The effects of human-induced climate change kill around 300,000 people per year and annually cost 125 billion dollars. Current food shortages are largely the result of drought and floods caused by our use of fossil fuels. The death toll is escalating as our use of coal and oil soars.

The question debated by real science is not if, but when will the “business as usual” approach to using greenhouse gases, push global warming to the point of no return and wipe us out.

Will it be the rapid collapse of the land-based ice sheets or the release of methane stored as frozen hydrates?

There is five billion tons of known oil, coal and gas in the world and an estimated one to 100 billion tons of methane frozen in the ground waiting to melt and release. Methane is also 20 times stronger a green house gas than CO2. Burning all of the unconventional fossil fuels, especially the tar sands, would likely trigger the Venus syndrome.

The top-rated climate scientist in the world, James Hansen from NASA stated, “If we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the run-away greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus Syndrome is a dead certainty.”

Venus has a temperature of 450°C (842°F), hot enough to melt lead. It once held water but the runaway greenhouse effect heated the planet so much that the water molecules were destroyed.

The sun’s energy hitting Earth is slightly more than half that of Venus. Burning the tar sands and tar shale could, over time, put Earth’s temperature to around 225°C (437°F).

Mr. Harper and the fossil fuel industry do not want you to know this. In fact, the oil industry has hired advocates to create disinformation and doubt, while the government of Stephen Harper has cut funding to our own climate scientists.

No one can say for sure when business as usual will end human life, but some of the most notable climate scientists in the world suggest that continuing as we are, humanity or at least civilization, will be terminated in about 89 years, the end of this century.

This does not mean that all seven billion of us will make it that far.

Korry Zepik