DR. JAMES HANSEN URGES PHASING OUT COAL BURNING
by Paul H. Carr
Summary of Dr. James E. Hansen talk
at New Hampshire State House,
“We have to figure out how to live
without fossil fuels someday. Why not now, before we have destroyed the
creation?” Dr. Hansen, Director of the NASA Goddard Space Science Institute and
Dr. Hansen showed a photo of
Warmer temperatures are caused by increases in carbon dioxide levels (CO2), which could reach a point of no return. Within decades, CO2 could reach 450ppm. Above this level, Antarctic ice will be on its way to disappearing completely. The Antarctic was ice free millions of years ago when sea levels were hundreds of feet higher than now.
Coal burning is the biggest
contributor to increases in carbon dioxide levels. A moratorium on building new
coal plants without carbon sequestration and a phasing out of present ones will
enable our earth to recover a sustainable CO2 level of 350 ppm,
as per the illustration on the right, “CO2 Amount with Coal Phase-out by
Each year several hundred thousand people in the world die of air pollution from coal. If that many people died from a nuclear plant malfunction, “we would shut them all down.”
To make Dr. Hansen's plan to save our plant economically viable, he urged levying a tax on carbon emissions with a 100% dividend. All the dividend money from the tax will be returned to the public, equal shares on a per capita basis. This will motivate conservation so that the money individuals receive from the dividend will exceed the added cost of energy from fossil fuels. There will be no price increase on energy from wind, solar, and nuclear.
Such a tax will give economic
incentive to speed the development of our wind and solar energy resources. They
are non-polluting, free, and will last as long as the sun burn out billions of
years from now. Installation and maintenance will create new jobs. There is
enough solar energy falling on the deserts of the Southwest to power the whole
In response to a question about nuclear power, Dr. Hansen advocated research on 4th generation nuclear plants. Present ones use only one per cent of the potential nuclear energy available. The waste has to be stored for centuries. He also recommended research on the sequestering coal generated C02. Right now, there is no such thing as “clean coal.”
More information is available on Dr. Hansen's webpage http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/ . Clicking on "Tell Barack Obama the Truth--The Whole Truth" is recommended.