Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama's Biggest Challenge - Saving Planet Earth

NASA scientist and leading American climate change expert James Hansen gives Obama just four years to save the world from global warming. From The Guardian:

"We cannot afford to put off change any longer," said Hansen. "We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead."

Hansen said current carbon levels in the atmosphere were already too high to prevent runaway greenhouse warming. Yet the levels are still rising despite all the efforts of politicians and scientists.

Only the US now had the political muscle to lead the world and halt the rise, Hansen said. Having refused to recognise that global warming posed any risk at all over the past eight years, the US now had to take a lead as the world's greatest carbon emitter and the planet's largest economy. Cap-and-trade schemes, in which emission permits are bought and sold, have failed, he said, and must now be replaced by a carbon tax that will imposed on all producers of fossil fuels. At the same time, there must be a moratorium on new power plants that burn coal - the world's worst carbon emitter.

While committed to tackling global warming, Obama comes into office with a plate heaped full of crises ranging from the US economy to global security, Iraq and Afghanistan to undoing damage needlessly inflicted by the Bush administration. Let's hope that he gives climate change the priority it deserves.


LeDaro said...

Hey MoS, you lucky man. Ezra Levant is in love with you.;) Look how many reference just in one post. There are other posts where he showers praises on you. Lucky you. ;)

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks, LD, but I'll pass. What Levant says about anything or anyone, including me, is of no interest whatsoever to me. I'll get by just fine ignoring him.

LeDaro said...

I am doing a little post on him anyway. Just for fun. Check it out in few minutes.

Scruffy Dan said...

I always get queasy when people like Hansen (or any scientist) use firm dates like this. It isn't that I don't believe him when he says we need to act urgently (we do), but even his latest paper (the one that started the whole 350ppm target) says we don't know for how long we can overshoot it without hitting some big tipping points.

I can assure you that if strong action hasn't been taken in the next 4 years that Hansen will still be pushing for it, and deniers will be using this prediction (inaccurately) as 'proof' he is just an alarmist.

I think it is suffice to say the longer the we delay the bigger the challenge will become. Firm dates like this (unless backed up by publish research, which this isn't) do more harm than good.

Note: Please don't reed this to say that I don't respect Hansen's work. I do, very much respect his work, I just think he goes a bit overboard on occasion when communicating his work to the public.

Ingrid Sherman said...

I agree Obama must do everything he can to stop Global Warming, but each one of us must do our part also. Using eco friendly products that are highly concentrated will go a long way towards stopping Global Warming. Lets stop looking to our government to make a difference, lets each one of us do our part to make our world a better place for us and all our animal friends.