The news couldn’t be better — and it couldn’t be worse. Or ask yourself this: What do these two headlines have in common: “U.S. expected to be largest producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2013,” “Shift to a new climate likely by middle of the century, study finds”?
A great deal, it turns out. Evidently, as the U.S. Energy Information Agency reports, the U.S. will surpass Russia as the leading combined producer of oil and natural gas this year. For the time being, Saudi Arabia remains the globe’s number one oil producer. And yes, according to a new study in the journal Nature, sometime around the year 2047 (give or take the odd decade), the world will hit a “climate takeoff point.” Think of it as the moment when, according to the researchers, “the old maximum average temperatures become the new minimum temperatures, extending beyond any climate we have experienced since 1860,” that is, when systematic records first began being kept.
So for the U.S., we may be talking record fossil fuel production, while for the globe we are going to be talking record heat, record storms — of which a preview could be seen in the monstrous cyclone “half the size of India” that just came out of the warming waters of the Bay of Bengal — and record weather disruptions as the new norm on planet Earth. The connection, of course, is record emissions of carbon dioxide from the record burning of all those fossil fuels. It couldn’t be a nastier combo, something potentially straight out of Dante’s inferno. And, as always, TomDispatch has Michael Klare, author most recently of The Race for What’s Left, on the case.