If we’re limited to just the IPCC report, why ask us?
The truth is that nobody knows for sure. Most people (at least that I meet) seem to think the problem with global warming is simply that everywhere will get warmer, possibily with a side order of giant tidal waves like in “The Day after Tomorrow,” but the real risk is long term changes in climactic patterns. Just having the gulf stream stop would essentially destroy European civilization and force the migration of at least a hundred million people. But will that happen? What about the “cool and dry Earth” scenario, which could in fact destroy human civilization? Maybe that’ll happen and maybe not.
The long term effects, to be honest, range from “very slow change that overall we can handle” to “Rapid chance that will seriously fuck us over.” the Earth’s climate is too complex a system to really know what sure what the introduction of more energy will do.
Of course, as Blake points out, it’s theoretically possible that global warming could benefit us all. If you posit a scenario where the world’s patterns generally stay more or less the same but the world does warm up, you might get a situation with more rainfall and more usable land; the world’s deserts, as well as the Arctic areas of Russia and Canada, are presently more or less useless to human beings. Imagine what you could do if the Northwest Territory was eight degrees warmer and had lots of arable land. That seems unlikely, but you never know. So that’s the best case.
It’s quite technically feasible. There’s not really any particular reason why you could not replace most fossil fuel with nuclear energy. No, I’m not suggesting every car have a nuclear engine,. but you could have electric vehicles juiced up by nuclear power plants, homes heated with nuclear-generated electricity, so on and so forth. There’s still a place for fossil fuels (aircraft) but, technically speaking, 90% of fossil fuel use could be replaced.
Not in the slightest. The up front cost would be colossal, in the trillions, and the world’s rich countries would have to subsidize the poor. And you still have a lot of idiots opposed to nuclear power who don’t seem to grasp that with a little care, nuclear energy WON’T destroy the planet’s ecosystem, while fossil fuels very well might.
Nuclear power. See above.
Cutting demand for energy is not an option. I’m sorry, but reducing world fuel usage from today’s levels will have little impact at all, at least within the ranges discussed in Kyoto and that sort of thing. Cutting our emissions of greenhouse gases by 25% will simply delay global warming, not stop it, and in the long run who cares if it’s ten years late getting to the dance? You have to cut it by a huge amount, eighty percent or more, by ELIMINATING fossil fuel usage in any application where it’s not really needed.
Not sure I understand the question.
The potential risk is the death of four to six billion people and the complete breakdown of human civilization. I’m not saying that will happen but it’s theoretically possible, if global warming results in a radical climate change, under many possible scenarios.
Of course, that’s also true of an asteroid strike; a nice big ol’ rock could kill every human on the planet in six months, and it’s perfectly possible that it could happen this April (it’s frighteningly easy for asteroids to get close to us without us noticing.) But that’s very unlikely. What I don’t know, and what nobody really knows for sure, is the odds to apply to any given climate change scenario.