Suggesting that we can reverse climate change or that it’ll be okay because we’re leveling off emissions is thinking that doesn’t reflect the real dynamics of our world. CO2 lasts in the atmosphere for lifetimes, meaning we are already locked in to some amount of climate change. If we were to just level off our emissions and leave it at that, we would still be adding far more CO2 annually to the atmosphere than we can cycle back down to Earth without contributing to climate change.
These are just two angles on some of the misaligned, but generally well-intentioned thinking that one can run across in the daily energy and climate news. Below are two recent examples, both of which pop-up in articles from people trying to find a foothold to defend the widespread exploitation of the reserves of natural gas and oil that have been opened up by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in a warming world — a tough argument to pull off.
Myth 1: We can reverse climate change. This is from New York Times Op-ed columnist Joe Nocera last Friday:
A reduction of carbon emissions from Chinese power plants would do far more to help reverse climate change than — dare I say it? — blocking the Keystone XL oil pipeline.