NASA's Hansen: Dictatorship Can Save the Earth

From: New American

by James Heiser  21 January 2011

As the tortured science which is invoked to support the theory of anthropogenic climate change continues to lose its credibility in the eyes of the American public, it appears that some of the theory’s advocates are weighing the virtues of using blunt force to impose the changes they believe are necessary to "save the world." Consider, for example, Dr. James Hansen (left) of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who seems to believe that Western freedoms may be part of the problem, and that Chinese tyranny may be able to lead the way to a greener future.

Hansen has long been one of the leading advocates of the theory that human activity is causing global warming; his congressional testimony in 1988 was a significant factor in raising the credibility of the controversial theory. And Hansen has certainly not shied away from controversy in the past: In 2006, Hansen publicly accusing the Bush administration of pressuring him to censure his research on global warming, and in 2009, he was arrested during a protest against coal mining in West Virginia — a stunt he repeated in 2010 in Washington, D.C.

But now Hansen is pointing to a China as a model for addressing global warming.

 (Presumably, Dr. Hansen would not have such a favorable assessment of the manner in which the Chinese dictatorship has used for dealing with political protesters.) In an essay entitled “China and the Barbarians: Part 1,” Hansen declares that the current American model of government will not be able to meaningfully cope with climate change, and calls on China to pressure the United States to act. (Hansen has apparently removed the article from his website, but it is currently still available here.)

In his essay, Hansen summarizes the “problem.” First, he believes, it is necessary to eliminate the use of so-called fossil fuels:

I must start with a fundamental law: as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, they will continue to be burned. This law is as certain as the law of gravity. No "caps", "goals" for future emissions, or other self-deceptions can alter this fact. Caps only alter who burns the fuel and the pace of burning – they will not leave fossil fuels in the ground, as science demands.

“As science demands”? One might very well question when that “order” was issued — and that is, of course, the point. Hansen confuses his personal policy positions with physical laws. In keeping with the "demands" of Hansen’s "science," something far more draconian than “cap and trade”-style fees for "fossil fuel" will become the new "fuel" for social change:

These facts expose the crucial element for solution of the energy and climate problem. A steadily rising carbon fee must be collected from fossil fuel companies. All funds should go to the public on a per capita basis to allow lifestyle adjustments and spur clean energy innovations.

In other words, those who rely on the use of such fuels will be taxed to fund the elimination of their use; the fees will implement “lifestyle adjustments” — which seems quite similar to code language used by other climate-change advocates for a substantial decrease in the standard of living in industrialized nations. But as devastating as “cap and trade” has been estimated to be for our standard of living, Hansen maintains that “cap and trade” would not go far enough:

Fossil fuel interests reign in Washington and other capitals. Big money forces legislatures to hatch ineffectual schemes such as "cap-and- trade-with-offsets", a system designed by big banks and fossil fuel interests that assures continued fossil fuel addiction.

But if “cap and trade” was too radical to survive the political process, despite a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House the past two years, how could Hansen hope that something far more radical could ever be implemented? He looks to the coercive might of China as a way around the "pitfalls" of the American legislative process:

Democracy of the sort intended in 1776 probably could have dealt with climate change, but not the fossil-money- "democracy" that now rules the roost in Washington. There was a flaw in my prior thinking that became clear to me during my visit to China. I had argued previously that global action to stem climate change required agreement between China and the United States for a rising carbon fee. That would work, but it is not realistic – such a treaty requires approval by the dysfunctional U.S. Congress.

In other words, since a treaty would have to survive a process where elected officials could still stop it from being ratified, clearly, something more direct is required, and that step is direct economic coercion by foreign powers, led by China:

However, there is a way around that, which becomes obvious with the realization that an initially modest carbon fee is in China's own interest. After agreement with other nations, e.g., the European Union, China and these nations could impose rising internal carbon fees. Existing rules of the World Trade Organization would allow collection of a rising border duty on products from all nations that do not have an equivalent internal carbon fee or tax. The United States then would be forced to make a choice. It could either address its fossil fuel addiction with a rising carbon fee and supportive national investment policies or it could accept continual descent into second-rate and third-rate economic well-being. 


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