Events are spiraling down so rapidly that I struggle to sleep. Declining production and rising costs of conventional oil are making it commercially viable to extract unconventional fossil fuels, such as shale gas and tar sands, that should be left in the ground. Ironically, environmental groups’ insistence that renewables are the only alternative to fossil fuels actually assures expansion of fracking, locking in long-term dependence on gas for electricity, and crude oil for vehicles.
Yet my greatest frustration is with our own inability as scientists to communicate the energy story. We could phase down fossil fuel emissions with a simple rising fee on carbon collected from fossil fuel companies, with funds distributed uniformly to the public. This would drive efficiency and carbon-free energies, thus discharging our responsibility to future generations, other cultures and other life on Earth. Instead, our governments subsidize fossil fuels and facilitate more and more invasive mining practices.
-James Hansen is former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is now adjunct professor at the Columbia University Earth Institute, and director of the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions.
CliMates: Empowered for Change
Photo courtesy of Dan Louis
By Dan Louis
CliMates is a growing international network of 150 students and young professional representing 35 countries began from a combination of excitement and frustration after a simulation of the Copenhagen negotiations in Paris in 2011. I attended part of CliMates’ 2nd International Summit at Columbia on Wednesday August 27th; the summit itself ran from August 26th-29th. The panel “Reduce the Vulnerability and Empower the Most Vulnerable Populations” was one of many thematic sessions and featured three speakers with 10 minute presentations each and a Q/A sessions afterwards. Hamilton 301, was packed with about 20 people, most of which were students and part of CliMates from Peru, France, Colombia, Chile, Italy