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There Can Be No Sustainability

Scientists first introduced climate change to the public by focusing on the complex analysis of climate data, things like floods, droughts, storms and melting ice. These are just the Symptoms of climate change, not the Cause. Suppose you went to the doctor because you’re not feeling well. He looks at the symptoms and says, “I think it’s the flu. Go home and rest, you’ll be fine.” Really?

When looking at the Cause of climate change the diagnosis will be different. The Cause is determined by the Carbon Ratio. That’s the ratio of the carbon in the atmosphere in the form of CO2, compared to the carbon in the earth in the form of fossil fuels. When considering the Carbon Ratio the doctor now says, with certainty, “You have a terminal disease. Go home and make arrangements.”

The doctor knows this to be true because it is the “C” in CO2 – carbon dioxide – and the “C” in CH4 – methane that traps the thermal energy. More thermal energy, more extreme weather. Less thermal energy, less extreme weather. It is no more difficult than that.

To better understand, think of the Carbon Ratio like ping-pong balls in a lottery cage. If there are too many balls in the cage the chances of winning are diminished. If we take ping-pong balls out of the lottery cage and put them in a lock-box they can no longer influence the odds of winning or losing. They are now out of the game and no longer in play.

The same is true for photosynthesis. When photosynthesis takes CO2 out of the atmosphere and locks it away in the form of fossil fuels, it can no longer influences the earth’s temperature.

If we go back millions of years there was much more carbon in the atmosphere, more thermal energy and more extreme weather.

It took photosynthesis 65 million years to change the Carbon Ratio to the point where the climate cooled, the weather calmed down and agriculture evolved.

If we could keep the carbon concentration at that same level, 285 ppm, our civilization would be able to continue for tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years. But that’s not what happened. Instead, our ancestors figured out how to take the carbon out of the earth and use it to power the steam engine, and the Industrial Revolution. Soon after came petroleum and the internal combustion engine. Carbon got us where we are today folks, and the location of this carbon will determine where we will be tomorrow.

It doesn’t matter how fast we put the carbon back in the atmosphere. Once fossil fuels are combusted, the damage is done, forever; the carbon is now back in carbon cycle and available to increase the earth’s temperature, forever.

No corporation can ever again claim to be sustainable, or even environmentally friendly, as long as they use the energy created from fossil fuels.


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