Young People’s Burden: Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions

In his latest article, James Hansen argues that our current emissions trajectory assumes large-scale extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere in the latter half of this century. This is likely to present an incredibly difficult and expensive burden for our children and grandchildren. From the abstract:

Proposed methods of extraction such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or air capture of CO2 imply minimal estimated costs of 104–570 trillion dollars this century, with large risks and uncertain feasibility. Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, possibly implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both, scenarios that should provide both incentive and obligation for governments to alter energy policies without further delay.

Recalculating the Climate Math – Bill McKibben

In The New Republic, Bill McKibben lays out the implications of a recent study by Oil Change International calculating the quantity of existing fossil fuel reserves that can be exploited without triggering catastrophic warming:

If we’re serious about preventing catastrophic warming, the new study shows, we can’t dig any new coal mines, drill any new fields, build any more pipelines. Not a single one. We’re done expanding the fossil fuel frontier. Our only hope is a swift, managed decline in the production of all carbon-based energy from the fields we’ve already put in production.

Link to the full article:

And the study itself: