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The Great Burning

April 16, 2015

Part two of a four-part video series. Released in conjunction with Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels.

 
What will we do when the Great Burning comes to an end?

In this short video, Richard Heinberg explores why The Great Burning — the combustion of oil, coal, and natural gas — must come to an end during the next few decades. If the twentieth century was all about increasing our burn rate year after blazing year, the dominant trend of twenty-first century will be a gradual flame-out.

This video is the fourth in a four-part series by Richard Heinberg and Post Carbon Institute. The themes covered in these videos are much more thoroughly explored in Heinberg’s latest book, Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels. (View the entire series here.)
 
Special thanks to New Society Publishers for partnering with us on this fantastic series and to Shutterstock.com for granting image rights.

 


 

Afterburn-cover-230

 

Buy the Book Read the Introduction  
 
Use Discount Code PCI2015 for 20% off your purchase.

  • John von

    please make Afterburn available as an audiobook

  • dave

    Many countries are on a pollution march like China and Indonesia.
    But over the top fear just discredits the cause.

  • “Over the top fear”? If this video is you idea of that almost comical assertion then you aren’t paying attention to the science of climate change as it is rapidly evolving. Squawking about China and other countries is a bit disingenuous as the US is still a top emitter of CO2.

    If CO2 were the only problem your dismissal of the direness of our situation might have at least one leg to drag along. With the now runaway venting of CH4 from permafrost and clathrates you should be scared to death (which I aver you will be if you live another decade)

  • Wonderful videos so far, Richard. But I think you’re missing an important element: MONEY! Carbon pollution is free, or almost free, thus fossil fuels seem artificially cheap. We must align our survival instinct and financial incentives by intelligently pricing carbon emissions the way Citizens’ Climate Lobby proposes: a revenue neutral, steeply rising, completely refundable upstream fee on fossil fuels, coupled with border carbon duties to align other countries. Forget the UN: it’s not going to work as long as the market is rigged.

  • Landbeyond

    You are right up to “the now runaway venting of CH4 from permafrost and clathrates”. Not that CH4 from permafrost is not an issue, and likely to worsen, but it’s my understanding that no one (including Natalia Shakhova and her colleagues) is saying categorically that the clathrates are other than a potential and probably long-term danger. I would not put too much faith in the Arctic News website.

  • Kindly show me were a 4 fold increase in CH4 in a few decades is nothing to worry about. “potential”, with the steaks as high as they are wouldn’t you agree that the precautionary principle would be a wise path to walk? Do you insure your home, car, health and other items on a low probability of loss?

    As for faith in Arctic News, I’d rather listen to scientists with their boots on the ground than a naysayer in a comment thread (nothing personal).

  • Landbeyond

    Did I say CH4 is not increasing? I was referring specifically to clathrates, which need more investigation.

    Who are these “scientists with their boots on the ground”? Shakhova? I agree with her.

    Not sure how you define “naysayer”, but at least I am a real person, unlike the “Sam Carana” who runs Arctic News.

  • You do realize that “clathrates” are CH4 held in stasis by the frozen H2O cage (clathrate). While you didn’t say that methane wasn’t increasing but rather you implied that it was nothing to be too concerned about. I aver that you are mistaken to be so cavalier about a gas that has been pivotal in most of the past extinction events.

    Yes, Shakhova is one of the scientists that I follow but there are others.

    The Sam Carana issue (which I find to be amusing) is one that I am aware of but who runs the site, whether an individual or a group that has chosen to use one name, is immaterial to me. The information, however, is very material to me.

    Even big banks and insurance companies can see the writing on the climate change wall. Do you imagine that you are smarter than the scientists that they have access to?

    Naysayer: n 1./ One who is assertively negative in attitude. 2./ One who critically disagrees.

  • Landbeyond

    I know what clathrates are. I did not imply anything; I questioned your assertion regarding “the now runaway venting of CH4 from permafrost and clathrates”, which you do not seem to be defending. It is only your opinion that I am being “cavalier” about CH4.

    The “information” on CH4 from Arctic News seems to be “exclusive” to that site, which might cause some to be wary of its veracity.

    “Even big banks and insurance companies can see the writing on the climate change wall.” As can any rational person.

    “Do you imagine that you are smarter than the scientists that they have access to?” No: what is your point? I hope you are not a disciple of Guy McPherson, who accuses anyone questioning his baseless assertions about imminent human extinction of being a climate change denier.

  • Actually, information on CH4 is available from a variety of sources. Both NASA and NOAA keep tabs on atmospheric gasses. http://goo.gl/eMhK65

    Have a great weekend…

  • Landbeyond

    “Actually, information on CH4 is available from a variety of sources.” Did I say it wasn’t? So you have no need to rely on the claims of a fictional being.

  • “Actually, information on CH4 is available from a variety of sources.” Did I say it wasn’t? Well, yes you did sorta: “The “information” on CH4 from Arctic News seems to be “exclusive” to
    that site, which might cause some to be wary of its veracity.” Did I read this incorrectly?

    Which “fictional being” are you referring to?
    Later….

  • Landbeyond

    Yes, you did. The quotes around “information” were meant to distinguish it from what I would consider real information from other, less questionable sources.

    The fictional being is “Sam Carana”.

  • beedy parker

    For fun, re our great burning, a bit of history: The Watts riots (1965) brought out the phrase “Burn, Baby Burn” Then, the Republican Convention (2008) cried out in defiance “Drill, Baby, Drill”, unaware of where this leads: to the very real “Burn, Baby, Burn” consequence of accelerated global warming, and the actual “wildfires” of the forests and the tundra, cascading into more GHGs and reduced carbon sink