Year 4, Month 12, Day 1: Aaaaaand the countdown continues….

The Irish Times tackles the keep-the-coal-in-the-ground story:

Most of the world’s coal reserves “will have to stay in the ground” and further investment in mines and coal-fired power stations could go ahead only if it did not jeopardise the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres warned yesterday.

Addressing a coal and climate summit in Warsaw, organised by the World Coal Association to coincide with the UN’s 19th climate change conference, she urged the industry to “honestly assess the financial risks of business-as-usual” in the context of its contribution to global warming.

So I revamped yesterday’s letter and sent it along. November 20:

The slow catastrophe of global climate change may be the primary reason all our remaining coal needs to stay buried, but it’s not the only one. The climatic consequences of increasing atmospheric CO2 overshadow the extraordinary history embodied in our fossil fuels. Countless millions of years before humanity’s emergence, trees and plants soaked up the abundant sunlight of the Carboniferous Era, then fell to the forest floor. The passage of eons effected their transformation into the oil and coal we now burn with such profligacy.

Everywhere in the world, we treat our oldest things with reverence. Whether it’s a song from bygone days, a cave painting from our species’ prehistory, or a document hallowed by passing millennia, we respond with justifiable awe to any reminder of time’s vastness. From this perspective, the casual waste of fossilized sunlight thousands of times older than our species is another facet of the metastasizing environmental tragedy wrought by our addiction to fossil energy.

Warren Senders

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