By Sophie Strauss
Scientists today from all over the world have begun to realize the possible catastrophic effects of climate change that are facing our world today. These effects are happening quickly and are happening now, even though we may not all see it. The question is, are humans going to be able to come up with alternative energy sources fast enough? And if not, what economic sacrifices are going to have to be made in order for the human race to be able to go on as a whole?
The EarthScope reporter team interviewed Richard Heinberg, one of the world’s foremost peak oil experts, and the author of 12 books including his latest Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels. He is also a senior fellow at the Post Carbon institute and has spoken to hundreds of audiences in 14 countries.
“Climate change requires us to change our energy sources. Fossil fuels have been our main energy sources for decades now and they are economically very powerful; there are fuels that are energy dense and easily portable. They have really fueled economic growth in a way that nothing else ever has before… but of course burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide which is a principal greenhouse gas and so everyone who looks at the problem of climate change seriously comes to the conclusion that the only way that we are going to deal with this problem over the long term is to reduce our use of fossil fuels.”
Fossil fuels are the core reason for climate change. If humans want to solve the climate change crisis, there has to be a limit on the amount of fossil fuels being burned and people are going to need to find alternative energy sources. But, scientists agree that global warming is happening now and happening fast. So what if we can't find alternative energy sources before earth reaches the point of no return? According to the NOAA, the “point of no return” for our world's climate will have been reached by 2042. This doesn't give us much time to come up with new innovations without controlling our use of fossil fuels.
According to Richard Heinberg, “We are going have to be powering down our use of fossil fuels probably more rapidly than we are going to be able to replace them so that means we are going to have to give up some of our economic growth we have come to expect, we may even have to find ways to shrink our overall consumption of energy and resources… and again that is not something that politicians or ordinary people want to think about.”