Environmental column echoes ‘scary’ study

Congratulations are in order to The Chronicle-Journal for taking on a new columnist on environmental issues.

Jason MacLean’s column of Aug. 12 entitled, It’s a Pipe (line) Dream, brings to mind the findings of a recent report called Unburnable Carbon by Carbon Tracker Initiative.

This organization based in London, U.K., is made up of financial analysts who review investments and stock portfolios for risk in the context of climate change.

The conclusion of their report is that we have a huge carbon bubble which represents a financial disaster waiting to happen.

In a nutshell their conclusion rests on three interrelated points.

Firstly, since 1995 it has been globally accepted that we cannot exceed a 2-degree Celsius rise in average global temperature above pre-industrial levels. We are presently at a 0.8 C rise and the damage to the ecological state of the planet and human health and safety is already telling.

Secondly, based on this temperature rise limitation, scientists have determined that there is a limit to how much more carbon we can put into the atmosphere and remain within the 2-degree Celsius limit — a carbon budget for the planet if you will.

That amount is estimated to be 565 gigatonnes of carbon.

At the rate we are emitting carbon year over year, we will blow through this ceiling within 20 years. I can only imagine how our kids will thank us for this gift!

The last and most scary point underlying this report is that our friends running the fossil-fuel industries and the various petro-states which include Canada to a limited degree have reserves of about 2,795 gigatonnes and counting of carbon they are planning to sell to be burned.

The marketing and burning of these reserves is incorporated into the very financial lifeblood of these industries and countries to the tune of trillions of dollars of projected future earnings and asset values.

The math does not work if the health of the planet and the human species is to be considered.

We are 2,000 gigatonnes of carbon over budget!

To go over budget pretty well guarantees the destruction of the ecological foundation of human life.

Clearly, these reserves cannot be allowed to see the light of day and must remain in the ground.

The projected financial value of these reserves is the carbon bubble declared by the U.K. analysts.

Fossil fuel industries and their associated infrastructure companies such as pipelines are no longer healthy investment choices for either the planet or your retirement fund.

Instead of $15 billion for a new pipeline, how about investing the money in renewable energy research and development.

Now that would make our kids happy.

Barry Beaupre

Published in The Chronicle-Journal, Thunder Bay, August 24, 2013