KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com Climate Science Climate Science en-us Copyright 2019, KOMU.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Tue, 15 Oct 2019 HH:10:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ 144 25 Explaining fossil fuels and their timetable https://www.komu.com/news/explaining-fossil-fuels-and-their-timetable/ https://www.komu.com/news/explaining-fossil-fuels-and-their-timetable/ Climate Science Tue, 17 Sep 2019 12:22:19 AM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist Explaining fossil fuels and their timetable

Carbon dioxide (CO2). You’ve probably heard about it a lot. It’s a fossil fuel, commonly released into the atmosphere by humans from the burning of oil and coal. The top 3 fossil fuels include petroleum (crude oil), coal, and natural gas (which is mostly methane, although it also contains ethane, propane and butane).

Now, these are called fossil fuels because they, well, are from the remains of prehistoric plants and animals. Seriously. We’re talking about carbon remains that, over millions of years, were converted by heat and pressure in the Earth's crust into carbon-containing fuels. While drilling for fossil fuels it isn’t uncommon to drill through actual fossils.

All of this is to say that it took a LOOOOONG time for this energy source to be created. We cannot replace these energy sources as simple as we would plant a new tree after cutting one down. Only if it took that tree millions of years to be big enough to cut back down would that be comparable.

This also means there is a finite amount of this energy that can be extracted from within our Earth. It is estimated that with what we’ve found so far, we have around 132 years left of coal, 51 years left of natural gas, and 50 years left of oil. Remember, these numbers are based on what reserves has been found by the end of 2018, and will change if more is found by energy companies. 

However, while there is an “end” to the amount of energy we can take from within the deep Earth, we must realize that if we were to release ALL of these fossil fuels into the atmosphere…we’d be beyond ourselves. In fact, it is expected that we will have to leave between 65 to 80 percent of current known reserves untouched if we are to even stand a chance of keeping average global temperature rise below our two-degrees Celsius global target.

This means we’d have to actively choose to leave these resources in the Earth, though we may have access to them. Do you think we can do that? Of course, now we are getting into that gray area. Because this isn’t a black and white situation. Fossil fuels are good for the economy. However, that specific economy comes at the cost to our planet and harming and at times killing the life on it. There are pros and there are cons and it is up to you to decide for yourself which you believe is more important. That’s all I’m going to say about that because I’m just here to explain the science.

Regardless, it is clear that we need new sources of energy, and we can’t simply shut off all fossil energy overnight. We need an energy replacement that is renewable, readily available, abundant and doesn’t continue to pollute our atmosphere with chemicals that take hundreds to thousands of years to be mixed out of our air.

We’ll go over these renewable resources on the next Show Me Climate report. 


This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.

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The difference between weather and climate; comparing past warming pace https://www.komu.com/news/the-difference-between-weather-and-climate-comparing-past-warming-pace-102660/ https://www.komu.com/news/the-difference-between-weather-and-climate-comparing-past-warming-pace-102660/ Climate Science Sun, 15 Sep 2019 8:45:24 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist The difference between weather and climate; comparing past warming pace

To start this climate conversation, we have to begin somewhere. So, let's start with the basics: the difference between weather and climate. It is vital to understand this difference in order to understand our changing climate.

Weather and climate are often used in the same sentences and are too often thought to be interchangeable. The thing is, weather and climate are NOT the same thing.

Weather is what is happening right now, or what the weather was like yesterday, or tomorrow, or on April 10th, 1985 or April 10th 2085. The weather is the atmospheric conditions at a specific time and place.

Climate, on the other hand, is the big picture. It is the overall weather pattern over a long period of time. Often when I talk about the “average” high temperature for this time of year, I am using a 30-year average of high temperatures. Climate is the fact that we often have hot and humid Missouri summers. Weather is a hot day, or a cool day, or a “seasonal” average day. so, The only reason I know it is an “average” weather day is because of climate.

So, let’s think really big. What has the climate been like the past, let’s say, 800,000 years? Because you can bet there have been fluctuations in the climate, including heat waves and ice ages.

From ice cores, tree rings, even coral reefs, scientists are able to see the fluctuations in climate and the atmosphere’s makeup over time. What we can see are peaks and valleys in temperature anomalies.

It is interesting to note that temperatures seem to skyrocket after ice ages, creating most of the fastest warming periods we see in history…over a period of thousands of years of course. In fact, during these post-ice age heating periods the temperature generally rose anywhere from 0.06 to 0.1 degrees Celsius every 100 years.

In just the past 100 years, since the 1918, the global temperature has risen 1.1 degrees Celsius. That means we have been warming between 11 and 18+ times faster than at the end of an ice age; and we don’t see signs of this warming stopping or slowing…yet.

But there has to be a reason for this unnatural, intense and rapid global warming. It can’t just “be happening”. That’s not how our atmosphere works. There is always a reason; a cause to the effect. Read and watch that report next. 


This story is part of SHOW ME CLIMATE, an ongoing KOMU 8 series devoted to ethically explaining climate change without politics using fact-based data to deliver important information about our world and the Show-Me State.

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