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?
Fen Montaigne: I won’t attempt to predict the impact of the divestment movement. But to me one thing is clear: If in the next 100 years the world’s oil, gas and coal companies develop all the fossil fuel assets that they’re now sitting on, the world is going to be a very unpleasant place in which to live, barring some technological miracle that enables us to suck vast amounts of CO2 out of the air. It’s this realization that is driving the divestment movement and the fight to slow climate change.