Carbon Fast for Lent? Ironically, it’s the speed at which we mine and burn that’s at the heart of our predicament

February 5, 2008 at 4:45 pm | Posted in Carbon, Climate change, CO2, Emissions, Energy, Fossil fuels, Gee-ology, Hansen | Leave a comment

My Guardian first three reads today are all connected by the term Carbon Fast:

  • fast decline in production of oil and gas (carbon-based fuels), though enormous stocks of coal remain
  • fast during Lent to reduce carbon emissions—and keep them at a new low instead of going back to feast on carbon from Easter onwards!
  • fast rise in carbon dioxide emissions (and equivalent greenhouse gases), the result of growth in aviation and other industrial operations

Those two fundamental words—carbon and fast—are so crucial to explaining where we are now, why we are here, and how we need to respond to combat climate change.

By coincidence, recently I was accosted by an older gee-ologist after an energy industry lecture we both attended. As soon as he had ascertained I was an engineer, and in no way connected to the energy industry, he was on the attack—all guns a-blazing!

To cut a long story short, his geologist arguments in favour of global warming coming from an as-yet-unidentified extra-terrestrial source—denying both the importance of carbon and the significance of the speed at which we are emitting CO2 and other gases—did not go unanswered. I listened and responded, but I wish I could just have handed him a copy of James Hansen’s article:

Feb. 2004: Defusing the Global Warming Time Bomb (310 kB PDF N.B. first page is blank so just skip it). Magazine article published 2004 in Scientific American 290, no. 3, 68-77.

along with others on this page, and said:

“Here’s a little bedtime reading for you. Cheerio!”

Instead, I calmly tried to unravel his points and, lo! and behold!, out-of-the-blue, reinforcements arrived on the scene to enlighten him and back me up. Thank you 😉

Here are the three connected stories that fit together one way or another, like pieces of a carbon fast puzzle …

The great fuel folly

Church advocates carbon fast for Lent

MPs call for climate change minister


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