James Hansen released an alarming statement this week on the twentieth anniversary of his first testimony to Congress on global warming. In it, the renowned climate scientist says that the conclusions of the global scientific consensus “have a certainty exceeding 99 percent.”
The thrust of the statement consists of an urgent call for renewable energy mobilization. He argues that, “A path yielding energy independence and a healthier environment is, barely, still possible.” To help us along this path, Hansen calls for several immediate steps – including charging CEOs of fossil energy companies with high crimes against humanity.
In addition, Hansen believes that we need a serious citizen-led movement to prod our politicians to action. This movement should have the following aims:
1. A moratorium on new coal-fired plants.
2. A carbon tax with a 100% dividend to wean fossil fuel usage.
3. Low-carbon, high-efficiency products.
4. National low-loss electric grid to allow for dispersed renewable energy.
5. Government changes in utility regulation so that profits depend on efficiency increases.
6. An increase in building code and vehicle efficiency requirements.
When it comes to understanding how power works in our current administration, Hansen does not mince his words. He says, “The fossil-industry maintains its strangle-hold on Washington via demagoguery.” Nonetheless, Hansen maintains that, “Democracy works, but sometimes churns slowly. Time is short..” The next election is crucial for getting this country on a clean energy track.
And if it takes putting some oil-mongers behind bars before they scour what’s left of the planet in the name of profit, then Hansen is all for it.