There is much speculation as to the total CO2 equivalent of all greenhouse gases mankind has pumped into the atmosphere directly and indirectly (positive feedback loops of thawing tundra and permafrost, ocean clathrates, etc). There was a study done in 2005:

“The total CO2 equivalent (CO2-eq) concentration of all long-lived GHGs is currently estimated to be about 455ppm CO2-eq” (Solomon et al. 2007), as of 2005.”

And more recently there was a study done roughly 8 years later by Ron Prinn, Professor of Atmospheric Science in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, which came up with a figure of 478ppm.
Robert Scribbler has written an informative post which puts all of this in context, including the temporary negative feedback of aerosols from the burning of fossil fuels. From my research, his essay provides the clearest picture of where we are at: a world locked into roughly 4C of warming if all emissions stopped today.

We know that fossil fuels remain the primary source of energy throughout the world with countries like India and China continuing to increase their consumption of coal:

The facts are horrifying enough. At some point fossil fuels will cease to be burned, and for the cynical-minded that time appears to be when industrial civilization can no longer physically dig them out of the ground.


On the highway to a smokestack hell, Faust met a devil who said to him:

“Give me all your tomorrows, all your children and all your children’s children, and I will make this one day, for you, a paradise.”

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Understanding how much warming may be in store from all the CO2, methane, N2O and other greenhouse gasses humans have pumped into the atmosphere can be a bit problematic. First, definitions have tended to be confused due to the fact that equilibrium climate sensitivity measures (Charney) used to project warming for this century by the IPCC only take into account about half of long-term (slow feedback) warming should CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels remain high.

For example, equilibrium climate sensitivity measures show an effective rate of warming by about 3 degrees Celsius (C) for every doubling of CO2 from 1880 onward. By this…

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