Re: [carfree_cities] James Hansen and Copenhagen
- Annie Leonard, the lady who did the "Story of Stuff" animated film, has now
done one on Cap'n'Trade.
----- Original Message -----
From: "J.H. Crawford" <mailbox@...>
Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 16:10
Subject: [carfree_cities] James Hansen and Copenhagen
James Hansen is calling for Copenhagen to fail. He says,
and I agree, that cap-n-trade is a bad deal. It's time
for a carbon tax:
Copenhagen climate change talks must fail, says top scientist
'We don't have a leader who is able to grasp [the issue] and say what is
really needed. Instead we are trying to continue business as usual,' say
James Hansen. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA
The scientist who convinced the world to take notice of the looming danger
of global warming says it would be better for the planet and for future
generations if next week's Copenhagen climate change summit ended in
In an interview with the Guardian, James Hansen, the world's pre-eminent
climate scientist, said any agreement likely to emerge from the negotiations
would be so deeply flawed that it would be better to start again from
"I would rather it not happen if people accept that as being the right track
because it's a disaster track," said Hansen, who heads the Nasa Goddard
Institute for Space Studies in New York.
"The whole approach is so fundamentally wrong that it is better to reassess
the situation. If it is going to be the Kyoto-type thing then [people] will
spend years trying to determine exactly what that means." He was speaking as
progress towards a deal in Copenhagen received a boost today, with India
revealing a target to curb its carbon emissions. All four of the major
emitters - the US, China, EU and India - have now tabled offers on
emissions, although the equally vexed issue of funding for developing
nations to deal with global warming remains deadlocked.
Hansen, in repeated appearances before Congress beginning in 1989, has done
more than any other scientist to educate politicians about the causes of
global warming and to prod them into action to avoid its most catastrophic
consequences. But he is vehemently opposed to the carbon market schemes - in
which permits to pollute are bought and sold - which are seen by the EU and
other governments as the most efficient way to cut emissions and move to a
new clean energy economy.
Hansen is also fiercely critical of Barack Obama - and even Al Gore, who won
a Nobel peace prize for his efforts to get the world to act on climate
change - saying politicians have failed to meet what he regards as the moral
challenge of our age.
In Hansen's view, dealing with climate change allows no room for the
compromises that rule the world of elected politics. "This is analagous to
the issue of slavery faced by Abraham Lincoln or the issue of Nazism faced
by Winston Churchill," he said. "On those kind of issues you cannot
compromise. You can't say let's reduce slavery, let's find a compromise and
reduce it 50% or reduce it 40%."
He added: "We don't have a leader who is able to grasp it and say what is
really needed. Instead we are trying to continue business as usual."
The understated Iowan's journey from climate scientist to activist
accelerated in the last years of the Bush administration. Hansen, a
reluctant public speaker, says he was forced into the public realm by the
increasingly clear looming spectre of droughts, floods, famines and drowned
cities indicated by the science.
That enormous body of scientific evidence has been put under a microscope by
climate sceptics after last month's release online of hacked emails sent by
respected researchers at the climate research unit of the University of East
Anglia. Hansen admitted the controversy could shake public's trust, and
called for an investigation. "All that stuff they are arguing about the data
doesn't really change the analysis at all, but it does leave a very bad
impression," he said.
The row reached Congress today, with Republicans accusing the researchers of
engaging in "scientific fascism" and pressing the Obama administration's top
science adviser, John Holdren, to condemn the email. Holdren, a climate
scientist who wrote one of the emails in the UEA trove, said he was prepared
to denounce any misuse of data by the scientists - if one is proved.
Hansen has emerged as a leading campaigner against the coal industry, which
produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other fuel source.
He has become a fixture at campus demonstrations and last summer was
arrested at a protest against mountaintop mining in West Virginia, where he
called the Obama government's policies "half-assed".
He has irked some environmentalists by espousing a direct carbon tax on fuel
use. Some see that as a distraction from rallying support in Congress for
cap-and-trade legislation that is on the table.
He is scathing of that approach. "This is analagous to the indulgences that
the Catholic church sold in the middle ages. The bishops collected lots of
money and the sinners got redemption. Both parties liked that arrangement
despite its absurdity. That is exactly what's happening," he said. "We've
got the developed countries who want to continue more or less business as
usual and then these developing countries who want money and that is what
they can get through offsets [sold through the carbon markets]."
For all Hansen's pessimism, he insists there is still hope. "It may be that
we have already committed to a future sea level rise of a metre or even more
but that doesn't mean that you give up.
"Because if you give up you could be talking about tens of metres. So I find
it screwy that people say you passed a tipping point so it's too late. In
that case what are you thinking: that we are going to abandon the planet?
You want to minimise the damage."
. James Hansen's book Storms of My Grandchildren is published by Bloomsbury,
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J.H. Crawford . Carfree Cities
mailbox@... . http://www.carfree.com
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