Climate Change and Earth’s Carbon Budget
ICSUSA Article May 2017 - So it seems we should be taking Will Rogers quote seriously; we should “stop digging.” The primary reason is that we, the citizens on this planet, and the planet itself, have a carbon budget. Just as with our check books and credit cards there is a limit to how much we can spend. The Earth’s carbon budget is how much carbon can we burn and still keep temperature increases below 2 degrees centigrade [3.6 ºF]. Data says we should keep temperature increases below this amount to avoid the worst effects of climate change and the extreme weather events, rising sea levels, droughts and other impacts that will result. And we do actually have a budget. Note the horizontal bar chart with the large numbers associated with it. The top line shows that we have put into the atmosphere 2,103,192,995,039 [trillion] tons of carbon dioxide or 72% of the planet’s budget. We can only place 796,807,004,961 [billions] of tons more of this GHG into our air. At our current rate of consumption we will exceed our carbon budget in less than 20 years.