a comment I left on Atrios
"All self-described environmentalists are selfish. They all want to force society to change its behavior to suit their (the environmentalist's) desire."
I responded thus:
I think it's because all environmentalists have taken to heart the whole 'drive to pass on your genes' part of ecology....
and tofu-eating-environmentalist-monkeys are just smart enough to see that oil will destoy our biosphere eventually.
Remember, the only reason our planet is so mild at this time in geologic history is because for billions of years plants (mopstly microscopic plants) have taken Carbon (CO2, CO, etc..) out of the air and buried it underground. It used to be a lot hotter here... and a lot more energy used to be in the atmosphere (the more gas you have, the more molecules you have to hold the energy, thus, more measurable energy)
The Carbon was released by volcanic activity, at a fairly stable rate, in the first place, and sequestered by plants and eventually by plate tectonics. It's a good thing too. The molecular bond between the carbon and the oxygen in CO2 is especially good at absorbing sunlight. When this happens the molecule speeds up. When molecules speed up, the temperature of the whole (in this case atmosphere) heats up. ergo - Global Warming.
Global warming does NOT mean it gets hotter. it means that there is more energy in the system. More energy means higher highs and lower lows. Remeber this when you are in the middle of a heat wave in late september or when it's still snowing in May.
so, what happens when in the span of say 200 years, you dig up and re-release all this carbon that was taken out of the atmospheric system and placed into the geologic crust-mantle system.
I'd be lying if i said I knew for sure, but
anyone who says it's no problem is full of manure
an addendum: Compare our atmosphere with that of Mars or Venus. Not to say that life is sustainable there, but look at their atmospheres for examples of what happens when gasses vented by a planet are left to their own strictly chemical equilibrium. Lots of CO2, very little nitrogen, and no oxygen at all.
also Venus, whose size is nearly identical to our own has many times the gas volume (and thus atmospheric pressure) as our earth. The only thing reducing the atmosheric pressure on this planet Earth are plants and micro-organisms which turn atmospheric gas into solids (sugars, wood, and other compounds which when left to cook underground over time turn into oil and coal.