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.