Below is my (late) comment on Bill Mckibben's JULY 19, 2012 article in the Rolling Stone.  Please feel free to take anything from it where you see fit.


Global Warming's Terrifying New Math
Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe - and that make clear who the real enemy is 

My comments:

565 more gigatons of CO2 that we can "safely" put in the atmosphere?  Why adopting the bogus language of "safely emitting", when he acknowledges that: A) Two degrees C is NOT safe - prescription for disaster, actually; and B) 1 in 5 chance of exceeding 2 degrees C is worse odds than playing Russian roulette? (In fact, the range of odds according to the original study is up to 37% exceeding 2 degrees , with 20% being sort of the average odds.)

The authors of the original study (Meinshausen et al 2009) that the Carbon Tracker Initiative took their numbers from never said we can "safely emit" anything!  In fact, we've already put out way too much carbon into the atmosphere, that McKibben himself, famously advocating 350 ppm, should have known that we've already long passed the "safety" zone of atmospheric carbon, and must draw down, not emit further (preindustrial "safe" level was 280 ppm).

And, all those models agreeing with each other means NOTHING!  They all suffer from the same omissions and simplifications, they all don't model dynamic processes including Arctic methane feedback, ice sheet breakups/non-linear melt feedback, ocean biological feedback including response to ocean acidification, land ecosystem feedbacks to changes in temperature, precipitation, carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, oxygen cycle, other human impacts, etc...  All the biggest feedbacks that are likely to produce dramatic sudden changes (for the worse) are not modeled, simply because they're not well understood.  So, scientists who say we can still "safely" emit  565 more gigatons of CO2  is irresponsibly optimistic.  Ecologist and conservation biologists, who understand the state of the biosphere better than anyone on this planet, are already in the "triage" mode, debating which ecosystems/species are most critical to save (and if saving them is even still possible), while others are sadly let go, on a planet that's going to hell.

BTW, McKibben mixes gigatons of CO2 with gigatons of carbon in the same sentences - they're different by a ratio of 3.66.

As for McKibben's solutions, we have to remember that all our problems have to do with a profit-driven capitalist system, so simply fighting the fossil fuel industry means even if we're successful, all kinds of false solutions will be (and already have been) advanced, to drive up profits elsewhere, that are equally detrimental to the planet and the people.  The ones we've already seen include: planet-wrecking scale of biomass/biofuel for energy, genetic engineering combined with pesticide/herbicide use on steroids, deadly nuclear power, land and forest grabs by the global capital in the name of forest protection (while converting even more rain forests into monoculture plantations), carbon credit trading schemes that Wall Street traders and polluters love, that only reduce emissions compared to a hypothetical future invented for the scheme, on paper...

And even without the oil driver, if we don't dismantle the capitalist/imperialist system, wars (possibly nuclear) will still be provoked by the US imperialists in order to achieve, in their words, "total dominance" (land, ocean, space, economic, political, scientific, cultural), e.g., to control all the major producer regions of rare earth minerals (encircling China - wait, they're already doing that!), or, the last viable fisheries on a dying planet.  The military-industrial complex, and the Wall Street, are all in cahoots with the fossil fuel industry, and even without the latter (dream!) will see no reason to stop driving over half the federal budget into military spending (and their pockets), and global destruction.

Here are some good criticisms from:

1.  Keith Brunner, titled "The Dangers of Divestment Campaigns":
Excerpt: "Yes, the fossil fuel corporations are the big bad wolf, but just as problematic is the system of investment and returns which necessitates a growth economy (it’s called capitalism).  That Harvard University endowment fund manager has a “fiduciary responsibility” to get a certain annual return, which means they have to put their money into growing, profitable funds or firms or states (what’s the difference anyhow), which grow through exploiting people and dismantling ecosystems.  We aren’t going to invest our way to a livable planet."

2. Dr. Rachel Smolker, titled "Fighting Fossil Fuels must Include Opposing False Solutions" (at the same link).