James Hansen Tallies Carbon Resources

James Hansen Tallies Carbon Resources
James Hansen Tallies Carbon Resources

James Hansen, the original prophet of global warming, has finally given off demanding that oil company executives be jailed for denying global warming and has become a supporter of nuclear power. His letter to climate scientists two months ago has once again opened up the debate as to whether the power of the atom will be necessary in coping with climate change. In a recent address to climate scientists, Hansen presented the above chart as a measure of how much fossil fuels have already been consumer, how much is readily available as reserves, and how much is out there as long-range resources.

Conventional resources are illustrated to the left, unconventional to the right. Already consumed is represented in purple, estimated reserved in light blue and recoverable resources in yellow. There are, of course, no “unconventional” ways of mining coal since it just involves digging holes in the ground. But the world’s coal resources still dwarf everything else at 10,000 gigatons, completely off the chart. Unconventional gas and oil resources are also outstanding, with potential gas resources also off the chart at 2000 gigatons.

The lesson Hansen wants us to draw is that, in terms of carbon emissions, we ain’t seen nothing yet. The potential for filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide are immense. Therefore a transition to nuclear and renewables is necessary.

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