How can someone get his facts so right and his conclusions so wrong? Right after Matt Telfer eloquently lays out the problem of increasing CO2 levels in our atmosphere, he proposes that we bring more fossil fuels to market. Many feel that if we burn all our known fossil fuel reserves, we are doomed (due to anthropologically produced warming that triggers irreversible tipping points where natural systems accelerate the process). Some people feel we are already there. The market value of a fossil fuel company is based on its’ proven reserves. The reserves, in turn, create a tremendous market force to exploit them; yet Matt’s “answer” seems to be finding and developing more reserves.
Our nation began doing something about our dependence on fossil fuels back in the 1970s, but was sidetracked when more powerful technology was developed to extract ever harder-to-reach deposits. Each new technology has brought increased risks to public health and environmental damage. Ironically, the extraction technologies also require increasing amounts of energy (think even more CO2 released). That is the sorry history and future trajectory of our fossil fuel addiction. Unfortunately, we seem neither to have the wisdom nor the self-discipline to leave the stuff in the ground. Again, like an addict, many seem willing to endure ever-increasing risk to get our next “fix.”
Our only hope is to let existing known reserves dwindle and have prices on fossil fuels naturally rise. This will slowly put the damper on fossil fuel use. Meanwhile we need to devote all our energy, ingenuity and resources toward conservation, efficiency and the development of renewables. The good news is that more and more people are now aware of the dark side of our fossil fuel dependence/addiction. We can only hope that this time, we don’t get diverted.