In the August 2, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, noted environment writer Bill McKibben published a must-read piece of great importance. McKibben cuts through reams of complexity to find the simple math that determines the accelerating rate of climate change, what the threshold point is, and how the current global corporate-state plan is to exceed it. Whatever the flaws in his liberal politics or limitation of his proposed solution to the mother of all problem, McKibben deftly shows how urgent a crisis climate change really is.

Some highlights from the article:

“The official position of planet Earth at the moment is that we can’t raise the temperature more than two degrees Celsius – it’s become the bottomest of bottom lines. Two degrees….”

“Since we’ve increased the Earth’s temperature by 0.8 degrees so far, we’re currently less than halfway to the target. But, in fact, computer models calculate that even if we stopped increasing CO2 now, the temperature would likely still rise another 0.8 degrees, as previously released carbon continues to overheat the atmosphere. That means we’re already three-quarters of the way to the two-degree target.”

“With only a single year’s lull in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis, we’ve continued to pour record amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, year after year…carbon emissions will keep growing by roughly three percent a year – and at that rate, we’ll blow through our 565-gigaton allowance [before crossing the tipping point of 2 degrees Celcius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) average global temperature rise] in 16 years, around the time today’s preschoolers will be graduating from high school. `The new data provide further evidence that the door to a two-degree trajectory is about to close’, said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist. In fact, he continued, `When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of about six degrees.’ That’s almost 11 degrees Fahrenheit, which would create a planet straight out of science fiction.”

“We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn. We’d have to keep 80 percent of those reserves  locked away underground to avoid that fate. Before we knew those numbers, our  fate had been likely. Now, barring some massive intervention, it seems certain.”

“The three numbers I’ve described are daunting — they may define an essentially impossible future. But at least they provide  intellectual clarity about the greatest challenge humans have ever faced. We know how much we can burn, and we know who’s planning to burn more.”

“What all these climate numbers make painfully, usefully clear is that the planet  does indeed have an enemy – one far more committed to action than governments or  individuals. Given this hard math, we need to view the fossil-fuel industry in a  new light. It has become a rogue industry, reckless like no other force on  Earth. It is Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our planetary  civilization.”

“Climate change operates on a geological scale and time frame, but it’s not an impersonal force of nature; the more carefully you do the math, the more thoroughly you realize that this is, at bottom, a moral issue; we have met the enemy and they is Shell.”

“I can say with some confidence that we’re losing the fight, badly and quickly – losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.”