Wednesday, August 31, 2011

James Hansen Arrested at White House

He might be the world's foremost climate scientist.  NASA Goddard Space Laboratory director, Dr. James Hansen was arrested outside the White House today while protesting against the Athabasca Tar Sands and the Keystone XL pipeline.

Before he was taken into custody today, Hansen took a megaphone and implored Obama to act "for the sake of your children and grandchildren."

"If Obama chooses the dirty needle it will confirm that the president was just green-washing all along," Hansen, 70, who took a vacation day from his job at the New York based institute to participate in the protest, said in an e-mailed statement.

PBS aired a tar sands/pipeline debate between environmentalist Bill McKibben and Robert Bryce, senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute.   McKibben organized the protests at which Hansen was arrested.  Bryce made the case in favour of the Tar Sands in a very direct fashion.

McKibben:

this tar sands in Alberta is a big deal. It's the second largest pool of carbon on Earth, after the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. Jim Hansen of NASA, who was arrested today, really the world's foremost climate scientist, said -- as he was speaking this morning, said, if we go ahead and begin tapping these unconventional energy sources, of which the tar sands are the biggest example, it is -- and here I quote - "essentially game over for the climate."
 
Since, for once, Obama can stop a project without having Congress in the way, this has become the focal point. And these arrests have -- actually now over 500 people. The numbers are just growing and growing day after day.

Bryce:

I appreciate Bill McKibben passion on the issue. I understand his position. But my position is very simple. I'm for cheap, abundant, reliable energy, particularly now in the U.S., when we have over 45 million Americans on food stamps, we have more than nine million unemployed. The actually unemployed or underemployed is probably twice that number. 

We need cheap, abundant, reliable energy. And this project will in particular provide abundant and reliable energy. The tar -- the oil sands in Canada have over 100 billion barrels of oil in them. And we need it no, given -- particularly because we want North American energy production. 

Of course what Bryce leaves out is "cheap for whom?"   Cheap for the end users, the American consumer, but devastatingly costly for the masses, mainly in the Third World, enduring the scourge of climate change.   Bryce and those who think like him put a price on those lives ruined and lost - and it's "cheap."

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Universe give me patience please! This is so very disgusting.

Beijing York said...

I heard the "ethical oil" bullshit was used against actress and protester Darryl Hannah this morning. Supposedly she had a WTF look on her face as the CTV interviewer went on about oil producing countries that treat their women like 2nd class citizens. Ezra Levant must be proud, grrrrrr.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, of course, let's consider oil producing (Arab) countries that treat their women like second class citizens. If we focus hard enough on that maybe we can avoid considering the men, women and children who stand to be driven from their homes, a good many to perish, from our indulgence in filthy, unconventional fossil fuels, a.k.a. the Tar Sands. These "ethical oil" people are such hypocritical assholes - the lot of them.

sassy said...

MOS - well stated!

LMA said...

As quoted on climateprogress.org, James Hansen said:

"If the tar sands pipeline is approved, we will be back, and we will grow...For the sake of our children and our grandchildren we must find somebody who is working for our dream". Inspiring words for us all.

Bryce, as a representative of the Manhatten Institute and big oil, argues in the debate that the tar sands oil is "going somewhere", in other words this oil will be extracted and burned, period. Bill McKibben argues that the tar sands are a vast geological carbon sink similar to the Amazon rainforest, and there should be at least a 5-10 year moratorium on development.

I wonder why big oil is in such a huge rush to get this pipeline built and the oil flowing? Is it really to supply energy needs, or is it because they know that in the coming decade the world is going to be hit hard with the reality of climate change and finally turn away from fossil fuels?

Anonymous said...

Whether you buy 'ethical' oil from Suncor in Canada, or 'unethical' oil from Suncor in Syria, I don't really see the difference. The same amoral people get the money either way.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon8:55, there is a difference, a huge difference. Sweet crude oil from the Middle East is far easier to extract and refine. That translates into far less energy and greenhouse gases to get it to the pump compared to the very energy intensive Tar Sands bitumen that has to be mined or boiled out of the ground, upgraded and then refined through a much more costly process. Tar Sands bitumen also savages the boreal forest and produces a lot of toxic waste, some of it atmospherically released, most of it held in toxic tailing ponds that are visible to the eye from the International Space Station. The bitumen sludge is full of acids, carcinogens and abrasive particles. It's not oil.

The Mound of Sound said...

To the anonymous poster who is about to join the discussion with fanciful tales about NASA satellite data and one Roy Spencer, it's a load of hogwash. Spencer took a century of data model and then cherry picked the most favourable decade. The model he used to reach his conclusions contained no effective ocean, no southern oscillation. It was, as the climate scientists at realclimate.org contend, a "tuned" study massaged to fit the desired conclusions. You can learn a great deal about Dr. Spencer by searching that site.

Then again I'm sure the Director of NASA's Goddard Space Laboratory, Dr. James Hansen, hasn't heard about the NASA satellite data you're referring to, right?

And, by the way, don't swallow nonsense by some "fellow" at the Heartland Institute. It's horseshit.

Anonymous said...

Interesting -- Alberta sells its oil to the US, but Eastern Canada gets none of it. We really are treated like second class citizens down here. S. McCabe

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon5:00 - do you really want bitumen piped into and refined in Ontario?

Ben said...

Hi there - would appreciate proper credit and link to the photo as the only requested conditions for use of the photos - http://www.flickr.com/photos/tarsandsaction/sets/72157627423532685/?page=4 - Thanks!