An overwhelming majority of the huge coal reserves in China, Russia and the United States should stay in the ground to keep from exceeding global leaders’ 2 degrees Celsius target for earth’s maximum temperature increase.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by the University College London published in the magazine Nature this week.

If the average temperature of the Earth increases more than 2 degrees Celsius, it’s "game over" for the climate, as climate writer and activist Bill McKibben would say.

Already the burning of fossil fuels has led to an average global temperature increase of nearly 1 degree Celsius, leading to hotter summers, acidic oceans, drought, floods, fire, infestations and other dire warning signs.

"Policy makers must realize that their instincts to completely use the fossil fuels within their countries are wholly incompatible with their commitments to the 2 degree Centigrade goal," said the study’s lead author, Dr. Christophe McGlade.

The 2 degrees Celsius goal (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) was set during the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference because the science is now clear that we mustn’t exceed that temperature cap if we’re to avoid the worst of climate catastrophes (even at 2 degrees Celsius some island nations may disappear from rising sea levels).

This is all the more reason

  • Not to build coal export terminals on the West Coast that could lead to 40 more trains per day rumbling through North Idaho
  • Not to drive more, even through gas prices have dropped below $2 per gallon

Let’s all work together to keep Idaho and our planet a place fit for our grandkids!