Financial collapse or six degrees global warming. Take your pick

Brilliant author, journalist and former economics reporter Will Hutton of the Guardian cuts to the chase. He has just written a column which is headed “Burn our planet or face financial meltdown. Not much of a choice.”

That headline should get our attention. In it he says

A new report, Unburnable Carbon 2013, showed that stock markets worldwide are cumulatively valuing coal, oil and energy companies’ huge reserves of fossil fuels as if they will all be burned, even though, at best, only 40% could ever be used if the world is to cap the increase in global temperatures by 2C this century. Further, in 2012, the top 200 energy companies spent $674bn on finding new reserves, reinforcing the collective absurdity. In other words, there is either a carbon bubble with investors and companies wildly over-speculating on the value of owning fuel reserves that can never be burned, or nobody believes there is the remotest chance that the world will stick to the limits on fossil fuel use congruent with containing global warming.

My husband has just been reading Richard Heinberg’s book The End of Growth and is now reading The Ecotechnic Future.  If I weren’t so obsessed with learning how to use twitter to advantage I would read them too, as he regularly tells me to do. The End of Growth proposes a startling diagnosis: humanity has reached a fundamental turning point in our economic history. The expansionary trajectory of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits.

I see that Jeanette Fitzsimons, former Green Party Co-leader, is speaking in Wellington on May 14th on the same topic as Heinberg and Hutton. That is the issue of the times. It is wonderful Jeanette has the time to read and think since leaving Parliament.

5-majors-total-oil-output-by-MATTHIEU-AUZANNEAU-blog-LE-MONDE-enI came upon the Guardian article with the above headline through twitter and also, through twitter, have seen the graph above of the 25.8% decline in oil production since 2004 (thanks Southern Limits for that). Every major oil company’s production has declined including BP, Total, Chevron, Shell and Exxon.

Recently I have been waking confused in the night with a dream about too much happening and I believe it might be caused from the relentless feast of information streaming in from the internet. It is so much to take in and I wonder sometimes where it is getting me.

That is why I am pausing and writing something about where I am.

The climate sceptic Lord Monckton came to New Zealand lately attracting big audiences of those who would rather not believe the bad news. I discovered a Waipara truffle grower Gareth Renowden who has patiently rebutted his Radio New Zealand Nights interview fact by fact. Have a look at Gareth’s website

We had old friends from Auckland visit the other day. They told us the are concerned about climate change and worry for their grandchildren. The debate on power prices will come and go, the government might change next year, bombs will go off in crowded Boston streets and explosions in factories in Waco. There might be a big earthquake in China, but the biggest challenge that we humans face is the rapid changing of the climate. We ourselves have had record droughts in summer and the downpours in the Bay of Plenty and Nelson will come more often. And in America the hurricane season is coming. Sandy last year. Will they get a year off from extreme weather events?

Last year’s visiting academic Guy McPherson gave us a powerpoint featuring a series of worsening official reports, and simply concluded that financial collapse is the only way to stop climate change. Scary stuff.

So when the Guardian headlines Will Hutton’s options of a burning planet or a financial collapse we need to choose between our pension funds and our grandchildren. Financial collapse is the only way to save life on the precious blue planet.

My twitter account is@deirdrekent