Summary. Increased burning of fossil fuels leads to greater global warming, resulting in disasters from extreme weather events. These carry heavy financial burdens. An important, but unproven technology for mitigating global warming is removal and burying waste carbon dioxide using carbon capture and storage. Worldwide research, development and demonstration, while active, is considered inadequate to lead to industrial implementation by about 2020. Expanded support by government funding and private investment is needed to attain commercialization of this technology. Considered as a zero-sum undertaking, current investment expenditures in capture and storage would abate future expenses of responding to extreme weather disasters.
Increased Use of Fossil Fuels. Energy use around the world is projected to continue increasing in coming decades, due mostly to use by developing countries, especially China and India, as they progress toward becoming advanced industrialized nations themselves. Most of this energy demand will still be satisfied by burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and petroleum) although the share provided by renewable sources is increasing.
Stronger Greenhouse Effect. This increased burning of fossil fuels is directly responsible for the ever-increasing content of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the earth’s atmosphere. This has led to an increase in the long-term global average temperature, whose trend over time coincides with the trend of increasing use of fossil fuels and emission of CO2.
Climate Models Confirm Man-Made Greenhouse Gases Are Responsible for Warming. Climate models that include the extra CO2 from fossil fuels over the past 50 years successfully reproduce the observed rise in global temperature. But if the extra CO2 is omitted, the predicted temperature falls below the observed values. This shows, first, that the climate models correctly predict past events, and second, that past temperature increase is due to the extra CO2 from fossil fuels.
Climate Models Predict Increased Occurrence of Extreme Weather Events. Since the above results validate climate models, they can be used to project future climate developments. The United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects increased occurrences of extreme weather events, such as heat waves and heavy rain, as more greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere. These in turn lead to harms and damages to human life, including wildfires in forests, flooding, droughts and decreased agricultural production.
For more on this story, visit: Global Warming Blog by Henry Auer: Carbon Capture and Storage Investment Is Strongly Needed.