“Do The Math” Math

As most of you probably know, the idea for a fossil fuel divestment movement came from an article that Bill McKibben wrote over the summer for Rolling Stone in which he outlined the scope and urgency of climate change. In it, he presented three crucial numbers. [Skip to the last paragraph to see the main point of this post.]

2 degrees celsius is the upper limit of warming set by the UN, the “reddest of red lines.” It’s our benchmark, our limit, our ceiling that we cannot break through.

565 gigatons is how much carbon dioxide humans can release into the atmosphere by 2050 if the planet is to stay below 2 degrees celsius of warming.

2,795 gigatons is the amount of carbon that fossil fuel companies own in their reserves. And they’re planning to burn all of it, which is clearly incompatible with the first two numbers and therefore with the future of humanity.

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 9.47.40 PM

These numbers formed the basis of the 350’s “Do The Math” tour, where Bill McKibben and other climate leaders toured the country to ignite a climate movement.

The point of this post is this: those 3 three numbers can from a report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative. The report is called: “Unburnable Carbon –Are the world’s financial markets carrying a carbon bubble?” The report goes into more detail on the global carbon budget. For example, this important fact is included in the report: “According to the latest IEA projections of energy-related fossil fuel CO2 emissions, unburnable carbon will be reached in just 16 years if energy consumption continues unfettered.7 This is based on global annual energy emissions increasing from 30.12 GtCO2 in 2011 to 37.58 GtCO2 in 2027, totalling 570.11 GtCO2 over the period. ”

This is a crucial read for anyone interested in climate issues! Lots of great graphics too.

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