Hansen: Declaration of Stewardship

Jim Hansen has clearly determined that the time to stay silent has long past. That urgency demands urgent voices. That he must — and other scientists — should speak out forcefully.

Hansen is not just speaking forcefully, he is also speaking eloquently.  This past week, at a Re-Energize America event, Hansen gave a speech that spoke to the risks of Global Warming and discussed his draft Declaration of Stewardship for the Earth and all Creation to be asked of every candidate (at all levels).

First, the challenge before us, the three major consequences of Global Warming:

  • First, there is the extermination of species. We could drive half of the plant and animal species on the planet to extinction.
  • Second, there is potential instability of the ice sheets. If additional global warming exceeds two degrees Fahrenheit, the West Antarctic ice sheet and part of Greenland surely will become unstable, causing eventual sea level rise of several meters. The disaster in New Orleans will be small potatoes compared with world wide catastrophes due to rising seas.
  • Third, there will be a noticeable increase in climate extremes, at both ends of the hydrologic cycle. Heavy rains and floods will increase, but so will extreme droughts and forest fires

 This is a rosy future.  A clear statement from perhaps the top scientist in the world re Global Warming / the climate crisis.

What is the Declaration? What does he want candidates to swear to?

Declaration 1: Moratorium on Dirty Coal: I will support a moratorium on construction of coal-fired power plants that do not capture and store CO2.

In explanation of this first declaration, I note that it is, by far, the most important thing that must be done to stop global warming.

Declaration 2: A Price on Carbon Emissions. I will support a gradually rising price on carbon emissions, reflecting costs to the environment, with mechanisms to adjust the price that are economically sound. A first step will be to eliminate subsidies of fossil fuels.

In explanation, the carbon price provides an effective way to support energy efficiency, conservation, renewable energy, nuclear power, and other low carbon energies, allowing these to compete against each other and permitting local choices. …  A price on carbon emissions is needed to stretch oil and gas supplies as we develop technologies needed for the world ‘beyond petroleum’.

Declaration 3: Increased energy efficiency and no-carbon energy sources. I will support effective actions to increase energy efficiency and conservation, remove barriers to efficiency, and increase use of low-carbon and no-carbon energy sources.

In explanation, there is great potential in energy efficiency, enough to satisfy near-term energy needs despite the moratorium on dirty coal, but barriers to efficiency must be removed.

Hansen’s piece is excellent. These three stewardship declarations are tremendous and clear statements.  His three-page speech is, well, highly recommended reading. 

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