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Global warming and the politics of fossil fuel

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Oilprice.com: How can you make the case for global warming using the decline in Arctic Sea ice, and how profound will the consequences be?

Fen Montaigne: No better evidence of the warming of the earth in the last century — and particularly in the last 30-40 years — exists than the melting of the cryosphere, or ice zones. More than 90% of the world’s glaciers are in retreat, and the disappearance of Arctic sea ice is nothing short of stunning.

I have seen this melting with my own eyes, having spent 5 months researching a book on the Antarctic Peninsula, where sea ice and glaciers are retreating rapidly. Earlier this year, I visited a glacier in Switzerland that has retreated by a half-mile since I last saw it 20 years ago; this is not mere anecdotal evidence, as nearly all the glaciers in the Alps, Andes, etc., are in rapid retreat. (Related articles: Extreme Energy, Extreme Implications: Interview with Michael Klare)

The world is warming. The overwhelming evidence is that it’s caused by human activities. The only question is how hot things are going to get. If we continue doing as little as we are doing now to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, it is entirely possible that the world might be 5 to 10 degrees F warmer in a century or two, which is not a world I’d like my children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren to be living in.

Oilprice.com: More broadly on the climate change scene, Yale Environment 360 recently published an article discussing the implications of a climate activist movement seeking to persuade universities, cities and other groups to sell off their investments in fossil fuel companies. What’s the long-term logic behind this movement and what will the impact be?

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