Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. James Hansen

Many here surely know of Mr. Hansen.

Mr. James Hansen is without a doubt the number one climate science authority in the United States government, perhaps in the world right now. His credibility, and ultimately his power is such that even President Bush cannot or will not fire him – even though while director of Goddard, and as a private citizen, Hansen has struck out on a bold course few have dared.

For a primer by all means read “Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Surprising Truth About Global Warming” by Mark Bowen.

But even more importantly go directly to the source. Hansen has a personal website where he posts his recent scientific papers (even in draft form), testimony and letters. It’s an incredible resource. He also emails these items out to a list –

To be added to the list distribution, please e-mail with “ADD” as the subject of your message.

The reason for my post now is one of his latest posts “Mr. Rogers and Darth Vader”. It’s an astonishing document showing a directness and clarity of action that is demanded of our leadership now – but few are showing. This document deserves wide circulation and more scientists, political leaders and members of the media should follow his example. The times demand it.

Let’s remind ourselves: The man is a conservative mid-westerner – in the best sense surely. But above all he’s a scientist and a citizen of the world.

The document is a letter written by Mr. Hansen to Mr. Rogers, Chairman of Duke Energy – with an overlay of explination to us (the public) as to his intentions and its meaning. Read the whole thing – it’s a quick 4 pages – but here’s some choice quotes.

He starts with a pleasant introduction but before long lowers the guns. A sample:

It appears that energy industry leaders may be choosing a path analogous to that taken by Big Tobacco when it first became clear that smoking caused serious health problems. Tobacco companies manufactured and magnified public doubt about scientific evidence; they masqueraded PR as news and expert opinoin; they emphasized maintaining “balance”in a “controversy”, and they supported doctors and scientists who disputed the evidence, thus proclaiming concern about discovering the truth while actually suppressing it.

Wow, right? But he pulls no punches and gets personal:

Mr. Rogers, as a leader in the Electric Power industry, your decisions will affect not only energy bills faced by your customers, but the future planet that your children and grandchildren inherit. If you insist that new coal plants are essential for near-term power needs, you may submit your company and your customers to grave financial risk, and leave a legacy that you will regret.

If only our political leaders had such balls! (and authority)

He ends the letter requesting:

…a one-day discussion with top experts in the country in energy efficiency, renewable energies, clean coal with carbon capture, and nuclear power…I can arrange a meeting here at Columbia University, and would seek your advise on participants….Would you please call me at….?

After closing the letter Hansen goes on to talk about the “Darth Vader” of his title starting with a description of a very misleading ad produced by ExxonMobil. Hansen says:

The ExxonMobil ad is instructive because it show that, although the voice behind the black hood has changed, a Neanderthal voice replaced by a more mellifluous one, actual policies and strategies have not changed one iota. Their intent is for the public to remain as their slavish addicts, hooked on fossil fuels. They are not investing their huge resources into becoming a (clean) energy company (can you imagine, if they would, that we would be be unable to exploit Nevada sun by 2030?)

His damn appropriate invective goes on, and he closes with this advice:

In the meantime, back on the ranch, the most useful thing that most of the public can do to save the planet is to take actions to block construction of new coal-fired power plants. It is also important to be sure that fossil fuel mining is prevented in national parks, off-shore regions under state influence, any place where the public has influence and can help assure that fossil fuels are left in the ground.

You also might buy a single share of stock in the evil empire an make some noise at a stockholders meeting. Who knows, if Darth Vader is continually whacked on the side of his helmet with a two-by-four, hard enough, he many eventually realize that there are other forms of energy besides fossil fuels.


He’s da man!

(Update: Just noticed that Mr. Hansen has posted himself over at Gristmill.)


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2 Responses to “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. James Hansen”

  1. Global Warming 101 - a short reading list for everyone « Checklist Toward Zero Carbon Says:

    […] condensed explanation, at the end of a letter addressed to Governor Gibbons of Nevada by Jim Hansen. (It starts on page 5, but the letter is very good […]

  2. “Cap and Bulldoze” (!!!!!!!) « Checklist Toward Zero Carbon Says:

    […] Notes on the News ·Tagged global warming, James Hansen, Jim Gibbons, Nevada, solar thermal James Hansen sent off another wonderful letter today – this time addressed to Governor Jim Gibbons of […]

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