Science Demonstrates the Negative Effects of New Fossil Fuel Extraction on the Climate

Science Demonstrates the Negative Effects of New Fossil Fuel Extraction on the Climate

The world has endured its warmest month on record. Southern Europe, the US, and China have all experienced heat waves that broke numerous temperature records.

Fossil fuels are hydrocarbon-based energy sources that formed from the remains of ancient plants and animals over millions of years. They are a non-renewable source of energy and are among the most widely used energy resources in the world.

Climate experts have been warning for decades that as global warming continues, occurrences of this kind will increase. The major culprit behind this is the burning of fossil fuels. So it’s extremely concerning that the UK government has announced its intention to grant hundreds of licenses for new North Sea oil and gas extraction.

Although using fossil fuels to produce electricity and heat has allowed humanity to advance and thrive, we are currently suffering from unforeseen side consequences. Global temperatures are rising as a result of the carbon dioxide that has been added to the atmosphere, making heatwaves hotter and downpours more violent. The resulting large-scale disruption and suffering is becoming ever more visible.

Until we achieve “net zero” global carbon dioxide emissions, this warming will persist with worsening climate repercussions. Following then, humans will continue to endure a warmer climate for several generations. The collective choices we make now will matter in the future.

The small-scale, but high-profile, disruptions caused by Just Stop Oil protesters in the UK are extremely frustrating for many. However, their lone demand that there be no permits issued for new coal, oil, or gas projects in the UK is in line with the evidence supporting the international agreements the UK has ratified.

Temperatures are rising

The scientific community has known that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide would warm the climate since the 1860s. The use of fossil fuels has also been connected to the observed rise in both carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures going back to 1938. In the present, global temperatures are higher and rising more quickly than at any time during the history of human civilization.

In response to the overwhelming scientific evidence, the UK and 193 other nations came together in 2015 to ratify the Paris agreement on climate change. One of the agreed goals is to limit global warming to well below 2℃, and even aim for 1.5℃, compared to the pre-industrial era.

But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent summary report, which all nations explicitly supported, provides a sobering picture of the situation. If we burn all of the fossil fuels that we currently have access to, then global warming will exceed 1.5℃ and may reach 2℃.

Some of the coal, oil, and gas that we can already extract must be left unburned in order to stay within the parameters specified by the Paris Agreement. The effort to halt future global warming will be made more difficult by new fossil fuel extraction projects.

Build up renewable infrastructure

There are other options. The UK government’s official advisers, the Climate Change Committee, have put forward a vision for UK power generation consistent with a net zero future. They say that the UK could provide all of its energy needs by 2050 through a combination of renewables, bioenergy, nuclear, hydrogen, storage and demand management, with some carbon capture and storage for fossil gas-based generation in the meantime.

The UK could achieve energy security without adding to global warming if it adopted China’s lead and swiftly increased its investments in renewable energy. China emits the most carbon dioxide of any country in the world. But it is installing more renewable energy generation than the rest of the world combined.

The best strategy to reduce future climate-related disruptions is to drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and stop issuing new permits to extract oil and gas. The sooner those who have the ability to influence our destiny, the better, understand this.