Global warming is not reversible, at least not anytime soon. But it can - and must - be slowed.
Joe Romm at Climate Progress made a great point yesterday in highlighting one of the most dangerous myths of climate change: that it is reversible. It's not, Romm explains, at least not in the sense that people often think it is:
We’d have to drop total global emissions to zero now and for the rest of the century just to lower concentrations enough to stop temperatures from rising. Again, even in this implausible scenario, we still aren’t talking about reversing climate change, just stopping it — or, more technically, stopping the temperature rise. The great ice sheets might well continue to disintegrate, albeit slowly.
This doesn't mean any progress is futile and we shouldn't do everything we can to slow the warming. Romm's point is that language matters and we need to frame the issue factually. Claiming that the warming we've already seen -- and that is forecasted to continue this century -- can be reversed with better fossil fuel technology is simply a lie. What we can -- and must -- do is slow the change to prevent ever greater disaster, which means leaving most of the fossil fuels we've already discovered in the ground.