The math, McKibben explained, works like this. Global leaders recently came to an international agreement based on the scientific understanding that a global temperature raise of 2°C would have “catastrophic” consequences for the future of humanity. In order to raise global temperatures to this catastrophic threshold, the world would have to release 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Here’s the problem: Fossil fuel companies currently have 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide in their fuel reserves—and their business model depends on that fuel being sold and burned. At current rates of consumption, the world will have blown through its 565-gigaton threshold in 16 years.
To prevent the end of the world as we know it, it will require no less than the death of the most profitable industry in the history of humankind.
Sure, why not? Let’s take out the fossil-fuel complex.
Just a few hours ago, I was handling a piece that talked about Desmond Tutu and his description of the Alberta tar sands as ‘filth.’ I’m starting to think maybe he didn’t go far enough.