Despite all the progress climate scientists have made in understanding the risks we run by loading the atmosphere with CO2, the world is still as addicted to fossil fuels as ever.
Climate change is a global issue - from the point of view of the Earth's climate, a molecule of CO2 emitted in Bejing is the same as a molecule emitted in Sydney.
By burning fossil fuels, we are already dumping 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, which has a profound effect on the climate. So, like it or not, we're already messing with a system we don't understand.
From the industry's point of view, the problem is not that coal companies blast the top off mountains, turning the area into a moonscape and polluting the air and releasing toxic chemical into what's left of the local streams and aquifers. It's that the people who live near the mines are too cozy with their cousins.
In the U.S. alone, weather disasters caused $50 billion in economic damages in 2010.
The oil industry fought hard to keep Keystone alive, making wildly exaggerated claims that the pipeline - the country's largest infrastructure project - would create tens of thousands of jobs and decrease America's reliance on oil from the Middle East.
With so much at risk, you might expect Australia to be at the forefront of the clean-energy revolution and the international effort to cut carbon pollution. After all, the continent's vast, empty deserts were practically designed for solar-power installations.
Nobody disputes that cheap natural gas would be a good thing for the economy. The question is, is this a sustainable new development that can be counted on for decades to come, or simply a 'bubble' brought on by a land grab and drilling frenzy?
Drill everything, mine everything, roll back regulations, tweak the science, expedite permits. Sound familiar? The Republicans offer up more 19th-Century solutions to our 21st-Century energy problems.
Once we start deliberately messing with the climate systems, we could inadvertently shift rainfall patterns (climate models have shown that rainfall in the Amazon might be particularly vulnerable), causing collapse of ecosystems, drought, famine, and more.
Climate scientists have long pointed to the Southwest as one of the places in the U.S. that is most vulnerable to global warming impacts, especially drought. And if there's one thing that even climate denialists don't dispute, dry things burn.
Australia has suffered a decade of drought, epic floods, a Category 5 cyclone, and a plague of locusts. But just because Aussies have the biggest carbon footprint in the world, it doesn't mean they're stupid.
Without electrons, there is no Google. And without clean electrons, there will be no Google customers, since we'll all be too busy fleeing from rising seas, droughts, and disease.
In reality, studies show that investments to spur renewable energy and boost energy efficiency generate far more jobs than oil and coal.
Subsidies are hugely important; they represent America's de facto energy policy.
Americans don't pay much attention to environmental issues, because they aren't sexy. I mean, cleaning up coal plants and reining in outlaw frackers is hugely important work, but it doesn't get anybody's pulse racing.
Ethanol doesn't burn cleaner than gasoline, nor is it cheaper.
Compared to coal, which generates almost half the electricity in the United States, natural gas is indeed a cleaner, less polluting fuel. But compared to, say, solar, it's filthy. And of course there is nothing renewable about natural gas.
Among all the tests President Obama faced in his first term, his biggest failure was climate change.
Australia is the only island continent on the planet, which means that changes caused by planet-warming pollution - warmer seas, which can drive stronger storms, and more acidic oceans, which wreak havoc on the food chain - are even more deadly here.