Oil and gas will run out too fast for doomsday global warming scenarios to materialise, according to a controversial analysis presented this week at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. The authors warn that all the fuel will be burnt before there is enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to realise predictions of melting ice caps and searing temperatures.
Defending their predictions, scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say they considered a range of estimates of oil and gas reserves, and point out that coal-burning could easily make up the shortfall. But all agree that burning coal would be even worse for the planet.
The IPCC's predictions of global meltdown provided the impetus for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an agreement obliging signatory nations to cut CO2 emissions. The IPCC considered a range of future scenarios, from profligate burning of fossil-fuels to a fast transition towards greener energy sources.
But geologists Anders Sivertsson, Kjell Aleklett and Colin Campbell of Uppsala University say there is not enough oil and gas left for even the most conservative of the 40 IPCC scenarios to come to pass.
I suppose this is good news, although I somehow doubt the anti-global warming lobby will take it too enthusiastically because it implies we should burn less, not more, oil and gas.