"The problem is not political will, it's the alligator shoes - the lobbyists. It's the fact that money talks in Washington, and that democracy is not working the way it's intended to work," says Hansen.
Hansen told US Congress earlier this week that CO2 is already almost certainly at unsafe levels, and the situation will only become more dangerous the longer we continue to largely ignore the problem. Currently, CO2 concentration is 385 parts per million and is rising by 2ppm a year.
Hansen called on a moratorium for any new coal-fired power plants. He also advocated the creation of a huge grid of low-loss electric power lines buried under ground and spread across America. Such a move would give clean energy like wind and solar power a chance to compete with polluting energy like coal and oil. He believes that in order for this to happen it has to be made a national priority in the next presidency.
"The new U.S. president would have to take the initiative analogous to Kennedy's decision to go to the moon."
Hansen also caused a stir by calling on chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for “high crimes against humanity”. Hansen says their agenda to cause public confusion about very real and legitimate science is nothing less than criminal. He likens the current situation to how tobacco companies once intentionally blurred the links between smoking and cancer—even when they knew full well that the link was strong and credible.
Hansen is no stranger to controversy. The Bush administration has attacked Hansen on several fronts, but the most frustrating attack is perhaps its outright attempt to silence scientific reports like the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. This multi-volume assessment, mandated by the Global Change Research Act of 1990, included a decade of thorough scientific study. Shortly after George W Bush became president, the White House barred government scientists from using its contents or even referring to it. In a severe “conflict of interest” move that has defined the Bush administration, oil industry lobbyist Philip Cooney was appointed chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Cooney resigned from the CEQ when he was caught changing data and deleting scientific information from reports in 2005. Immediately after his resignation he was hired by ExxonMobil.
Hansen says chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy are fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are intentionally spreading. It’s time, he says, for them to be held accountable for their propaganda. The oil lobby, driven by millions of dollars spent on sophisticated misinformation campaigns and organizations created solely to dissuade the public with anti-global warming rhetoric is endangering the public, he says.
Hansen says the oil industry is intentionally spreading doubt about a subject they know full well is a real and serious concern, and that it’s a crime that can no longer go unchallenged.
Posted by Rebecca Sato
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