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Dr. James Hansen Grants Follow-On Interview – Gives United States and World Just 4 Years to Reverse Global Warming

Posted Feb 11 2009 2:50pm

As I shared with you recently, NASA’s Dr. James Hansen shared with the Obama family and the world a letter on the climate crisis. He used it to close out calendar year 2008 and turn the page into a new year and new administration in the White House. His words were as compelling as always.

Luckily for us, he made himself available for a follow-on interview, granted to Robin McKie of The Observer newspaper. In it, he issued some of his harshest criticism yet for the industrialized world’s reliance on coal for energy and transportation. Naturally, I agree. He went on, however, to call for urgent and sweeping actions to respond to the climate crisis, including the broad abandoning of coal. Wow! Well done, sir!

I will not presume to attempt to improve on Dr. Hansen’s work in any way. However, there are a few key points which are not covered in the interview which bear elucidation:

1) The great tipping point is the proverbial line in the sand beyond which the planet is incapable of self-regulation and we see massive collapses of portions of our biosphere leading to cataclysmic starvation of people and wildlife as well as species extinction on a scale not seen since the last ice age.

We have moved past the tipping point when measured as a function of carbon in our atmosphere. The reason that we hear so little about that point is that no one really knows what to do about it. Nevertheless, we quite literally are living on borrowed time and must be prepared for the true effects of being past the tipping point to engage severely and without warning.

2) A carbon tax is the only long-term solution to the climate crisis. Simply put, what this tax will do is build into every product and service its true environmental cost with an emphasis on global warming. As you know from reading my work here on Keyboard Culture, carbon is the enemy of a healthy climate and until we identify its role in everything we do, we will remain slaves to cheap carbon-based energy and transportation.

You can read the entire interview with Dr. Hansen at

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/18/obama-climate-change

photo credit: Jeremy Harbeck

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