Coal Tattoo

CCS project stops, but global warming keeps going

Dry soil cracks in the heat near Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City on Monday, July 18, 2011. (AP Photo/The Daily Oklahoman, John Clanton)

West Virginia elected officials may want to pretend that their opposition to any limits on greenhouse gas emissions had nothing to do with American Electric Power’s scuttling of a major carbon capture and storage project in Mason County. But in the wake of that AEP announcement, one thing can’t be ignored: The world continues to get warmer.

Here’s what Climate Science Watch said on Monday:

In a Capitol Hill briefing on the recently released State of the Climate in 2010 report, Tom Karl, Director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, rebutted the skeptic argument that global warming has stopped …

These indicators on a global scale constitute an “unmistakable signal that there is warming from the top of the atmosphere to the bottom of the oceans,” Karl concluded. 2010 was tied for the warmest year on record with 2005, while Greenland’s ice sheet lost the most mass in the last ten years. Changes to the Arctic’s climate are “occurring faster than in most of the rest of the world,” he said. The September Arctic sea ice extent was the third smallest of the past 30 years.

On his indispensable blog, Climate Progress, Joe Romm headlined his story, “Sorry Deniers, the Earth Just Keeps Warming – Thanks to Us“.

I mentioned last week how Hoppy Kercheval at MetroNews opined that the move by AEP to ditch its CCS project was “understandable”:

Customers are already squeezed because of the natural growth in rates and the sluggish economy. Requiring them to pay for a carbon sequestration experiment that might one day lead to lowering the planet’s temperature by a fraction of a degree won’t fly.

West Virginia, in fact the entire country, has more immediate problems.

More immediate? How about which problem is really more serious in the long-term picture?

Malee, a three-month old Asian elephant, cools off with a spray of water in her wading pool at the Oklahoma City Zoo in Oklahoma City, Monday, July 18, 2011. Much of the nation is in the grip of a broiling heat wave. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Joe Romm has a post called What if the CO2 Ceiling Debate Were Like the Debt Ceiling Debate that gets to the heart of those questions:

The national debt isn’t the greatest short-term problem we face. That is spurring jobs and economic growth.

And the debt certainly isn’t close to the greatest long-term problem we face. That would obviously be unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases, which threaten human civilization with multiple simultaneous catastrophes — from endless superstorms to permanent DustBowls.