“The year 2010 saw the lowest volume of Arctic ice since scientists started to measure, more rainfall on land than any year in recorded history, and the lowest barometric pressure ever registered in the continental United States. Measured on a planetary scale, 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest year in history. Jeff Masters, probably the world’s most widely read meteorologist, calculated that the year featured the most extreme weather since at least 1816, when a giant volcano blew its top….”
This from an article by Bill McKibben in Salon.com (What Obama Can Do To Save the Planet). According to McKibben, the tar sands region of Alberta is “the continent’s biggest carbon bomb. Indeed, they’re the second largest pool of carbon on planet Earth, following only Saudi Arabia’s slowly dwindling oilfields.” The problem is that it isn’t the smooth, oily stuff; it’s the nasty gooey stuff. So, it takes a good deal of carbon to pump the stuff and then convert it into a usable form.
Burning all of this gooey carbon would be too much, says McKibben. “If you could burn all the oil in those tar sands, you’d run the atmosphere’s concentration of carbon dioxide from its current 390 parts per million (enough to cause the climate havoc we’re currently seeing) to nearly 600 parts per million, which would mean if not hell, then at least a world with a similar temperature.” 360 parts per million is what NASA scientist James Hansen has determined as the level that we need to get back to in order to curb the damage from climate change.
To get this carbon bomb into the market place, Canada needs to run a pipeline through the U.S. Hence the title of McKibben’s article, “What Obama Can Do To Save the Planet.” Obama can singlehandedly decide that this pipeline is not in “the national interest.”