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The trouble is that emissions reduction has been left too late, and the longer it’s left the worse our predicament. Here’s the “Keeling curve” of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration:
James Hansen testified to the US government in 1988; global warming had been understood since the mid 1970s, but Hansen’s testimony serves as a milestone that should have been a wake-up call. Look how much easier it would have been starting from the lower concentration. Now, according to the IPCC, we have to halve emissions in the next ten years for a two-thirds chance of avoiding catastrophic tipping points. Losing the remaining Arctic sea ice is already baked in, and I dread to think what effects that will have. Very difficult times seem unavoidable.
Methane is far from inexhaustible; the UK has already exhausted most of its own in the North Sea – because, incredibly, Margaret Thatcher ordered it to be burned off, to get at the then more valuable oil reserves beneath. Paradoxically, Thatcher took global warming seriously. I supposed she assumed that nuclear would save the day, yet she also axed the UK nuclear power programme, buying US pressurised water reactors instead.