More Fossil Fuels or a Stable Climate? We Can't Have Both, IEA Report Says

CREDO fracking/CC BY 2.0

In amongst all the cooing yesterday about the IEA report projecting that tapping into shale gas and unconventional oil sources could make the US a net exported of natural gas by 2020 and become "almost self-sufficient" in energy by 2035, there's a critical piece of information that really hasn't been emphasized enough in most of the coverage (but not by Oil Change International).

In the words of the International Energy Agency:

No more that one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2°C goal.

That's of course referring to keeping global average temperature rise below 2°C, the threshold below which climate scientists say we need to remain if we're to have anything approaching a stable climate like the one in which pretty much all of human civilization has developed in. It's also worth noting that we're about halfway there already.

In other words, the IEA is saying that we have a stark choice: Either keep two-thirds of all proven reserves of fossil fuels in the ground, unused, or destroy the climate as we know it.

Put in that context, whether or not the US achieves energy independence really doesn't matter one bit.

Against that backdrop, it's a pointless, petty, short-sighted strategy to keep mindlessly pursuing more and more fossil fuels—especially when we know for other reports that even using just today's renewable energy technology, and not having one bit of further technological advancement, we could be using renewables for 80% of our power needs by mid-century.

Again, for the umpteenth time, we collectively as a nation, as a civilization, as a species, have been given information showing that our present choices are pulling us down a path to planetary environmental disaster. And again, for the umpteenth time, the crucial question is, will we heed the warnings? Will we make the collective choice to not keep willingly enslaving ourselves to the fossil fuel industry?

Tags: Fracking | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Causes | Oil