NASA Scientist: We face a Planetary Climate Emergency

NASA scientist James Hansen explains that we are facing a planetary emergency and that the public is still largely unaware of how menacing it is.

The danger is that we could pass tipping points, such as melting of ice sheets, which could lead to rapid increases in sea level.

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Cole: If the public understood what is about to befall them, they’d agree with me that mining, distributing and burning coal should be criminalized, like, today and that a global crash program to depend primarily on green energy by 2020 should be launched by all the countries of the world.

Likewise, climate change denial should be treated with the same horror in polite society as genocide denial, with similar ostracization.

Scotland plans to get 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2015. That is a country in a hurry, and we all should be like that.

7 Responses

  1. Dear Professor Cole

    “If the public understood what is about to befall them, they’d agree with me that mining, distributing and burning coal should be criminalized, like, today and that a global crash program to depend primarily on green energy by 2020 should be launched by all the countries of the world.”

    Is this proposal, like, realistic? It precludes a confrontational foreign policy.

    Will China and India see this as yet another obstacle to impede their industrialisation and development? It is known as “pulling up the ladder after you”. Mr Romney’s declaration of economic war against China might give the Chinese food for thought.

    They have just announced a $25 Billion new railway network to transport coal from their mines to the population centres.

    link to reuters.com

    “The around 1,800-kilometre railroad will connect key coal producing provinces including Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi with the centre of China and will involve a total investment of about 154 billion yuan ($24.2 billion), the country’s second largest miner said in a filing with the Hong Kong bourse late on Thursday.”

    The Indians are expanding their rail network too.

    link to thehindubusinessline.com

    “Production target

    Coal India has set a production target of 452 million tonne (mt) for the current financial year and it expects to move a total of 477 mt, including the coal that has piled at its pit heads.

    For the Railways, coal is a key commodity — accounting for 46 per cent of total freight loading and 38 per cent of total freight earnings. ”

    The Japanese are using record volumes of LNG to compensate for shutting down their reactors.

    Big LNG Tanks and Tankers: Japan Uses More Natural Gas After the Fukushima Crisis

    link to factsanddetails.com

    LPG ship Japan’s LNG imports began rising at a record pace in 2011 as utilities ramp up gas-fired power generation to offset a near-record low in nuclear plant utilisation in the wake of the Fukushima radiation crisis.

  2. Desertec is ready to fuel the entire world with solar energy. Algeria and other countries in north africa could under in an energy renaissance.

  3. If we are at a tipping point, shouldn’t we criminalize the burning of all fossil fuels?

    Burning coal produces CO2, but so does burning natural gas (just less).

    I don’t understand those who sound the alarm (and I’m not saying there’s no imminent danger – I don’t know), yet only propose incremental solutions. I knew I were heading for a cliff, I wouldn’t just slow down, I’d slam on the breaks.

    • Because radical solutions would be unrealistic. Even in the absence of the bizarre opposition to the fact the climate change is occurring, cutting off fossil fuel use cold turkey is logistically and economically impossible.

      Even if we did switch off of fossil fuels tomorrow, we are deep into the problem and are going to have to deal with the consequences over the next decades.

      The sad thing is that if this transition had begun in the early 1990s, when there was plenty if data to support it, we could have made a meaningful difference without too much pain.

      • About 50% of our country’s energy comes from coal. Criminalizing it seems about as radical and unpractical ceasing all fossil fuel consumption.

        Another argument I don’t get is “stopping cold turkey won’t make much of a difference anyway.” Well then, carry on.

        If we had multiple Katrina/Sandy events a year, and started rapidly losing coast line due to an increase in sea level, you think we’d figure out a way to make burning fossil fuels “logistically and economically” feasible? I do.

        What I observe is that most people want “feel good” solutions (hey, let’s not burn coal!). But, when confronted with the drastic measures that are (probably) needed to fix this problem, they back away.

        Are we at a tipping point or not?

  4. there is a proven nuclear enregy source that does not produce much spent fuel, no plutonium and it can use up existing spent fuel stkpiles.
    This is proven american tech that was shut down under nixon by the mili/indudtrial boys as they wanted plutoocnium for bombs!
    The Chinese are now funding test reactors of it running on thorium with molten salt called LFTR plants,or MSR.

  5. To All of the Above:

    You’re right that we can’t afford anything drastic.

    But if we can’t afford it, it’s because we created this economy driven by short-term greed, no savings, no R&D money, no infrastructure repairs, and a dogma that we can use military dominance to get foreigners to do our dirty work for us.

    If we had any honor left, we’d admit that we are willingly sacrificing some number of our fellow citizens to climate disasters. That we’ve put a price tag on each others’ heads out of convenience, and now the convenience has been figured into the value of everything such that we can’t give it up.

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