Gallery: NASA Climate Scientist Compares Climate Change to Slavery


This week, NASA climate scientist James Hansen described climate change as a “great moral issue” similar to the movement to end slavery. He linked the climate change debate with the 19th century struggle to abolish slavery from the United States with his claim that both have enormous consequences and are behind the “injustice of one generation to others.” He made the comments in the lead-up to an award he will receive next week for his contribution to science.

Hansen argued that the lack of action on reversing climate change is handing future generations a world spiraling out of control with vast damage to ecosystems, flooded coastal regions and extreme weather. He will expand upon these comments on Tuesday, when he will receive the Edinburgh Medal. His acceptance speech will focus on his advocacy of a global tax on all carbon emissions.

Hansen first made climate change a topic of everyday discussion when he testified about the issue in front of Congress in the late 1980s. He developed one of the first global warming scientific models and is a prolific writer and researcher. Hansen’s work is frequently cited by climate change activists, including Al Gore. His climate activism has also led to several arrests for his protests against the coal industry and the Keystone pipeline.

Describing climate change as an inter-generational issue, Hansen believes that older generations did not realize their energy usage was causing problems for future generations. Now however, he said, the future will be one of climate-related disasters and species extinction because currently Americans “only pretend we don’t know” about climate science. To slow the effects of climate change, Hansen urges a flat-rate carbon tax to force cuts in fossil fuel consumption. Instead of the tax going into governments’ treasuries, however, the funds would be distributed equally among the public. The tax would then simulate the development of low-carbon energy while forcing the most wasteful energy users to curtail their consumption. Hansen’s heightened rhetoric in recent years, however, has earned him sharp criticism from former allies.

Via The New York Times

Photos via Wikipedia (Bill Ebbesen, tarsandaction)


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1 Comment

  1. Hyncharas April 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Hansen is partly right in that American citizens only hear what they want to hear, but the same issue is everywhere, in every country of the world. Fuel companies put on a public face; investing in Biofuels and renewable energy to show they are doing their part, but how much of this is the party line and how much is the truth? Despite the fact that the BP Gulf Oil Spill is still fresh in everyone’s mind and full of public outcry, people still use their cars instead of public transport, they still refuse to invest in electric-only vehicles, and there have been other oil spills since then from other companies.

    On top of this, do we really believe that if a rich fossil fuel source was discovered tomorrow, every fuel company in the world wouldn’t jockey for mining rights to harvest it “for the greater good” of protecting infranstructure? Please! Of course they would and governments would line up behind them, out of fear of losing access to a new pipeline of fossil fuels that could keep the lights on for millions of their citizens for another 20 years. Regardless if it destroys the environment for the next generation.

    But then again it’s only business… right?

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