What Worries the World's Most Famous Climate Scientist?

Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, 02/12/15

James Hansen is fretting about the Paris climate talks, and for good reason.

You might recall that Hansen was the NASA scientist that boldly warned the United States Congress about the perils of rising global temperatures as early as 1988.

And you might remember that officials with the U.S. administration of George W. Bush instructed the world's most famous climate change scientist not to talk about how fossil fuel burning could have a dangerous effect on climate in 2004.

But Hansen kept on talking about melting ice, rising seas, flooded coastal cities and super storms. And now he's worried that Paris will be another bureaucratic gabfest that avoids the true remedy: rapid fossil fuel emissions reductions driven by a carbon levy.

By rapid, Hansen doesn't think the world's industrial economies have time to be self-satisfied about stabilizing carbon dioxide emissions around 450 parts per million or even the alarming present amount of 400 ppm. No, to restore the Earth's energy balance, now unsettled by centuries of greenhouse gas emissions, the world needs to aim for 350 ppm and possibly lower.

Everyone agrees that business as usual will take the world to 600 ppm by 2050, along with a rise of temperature by four degrees.

That grim future will give the world drowned coastal cities, parched crops, millions of refugees and failing ecosystems. Nobody really knows what would remain of civilization, as we know it.

Hansen worries politicians still don't get the urgency. He also worries that U.S. President Barack Obama and others will sell our children and theirs "down the river" in Paris with more promises and no action.

He worries, too, that Big Green, a plethora of well-funded non-government organizations, have got their priorities all wrong. They mostly think the world can copy Germany's renewable revolution and be blissful ever after.

In a recent and worrisome communiqué posted on his website, Hansen details his concerns by highlighting a few facts about climate change that the mainstream media often ignore.