Jim Hansen calls Cap and Trade the "Temple of Doom"

Hansens's 1988 testimony - the birth of the cap and trade temple

Law of unintended consequences? Hansens's 1988 congressional testimony - the moment of birth of the CO2 worry, which later morphed into the cap and trade Gorian temple (i.e. Jim, you started it)

Note: this letter from Dr. Jim Hansen of NASA GISS is reprinted below unedited, exactly in email as it was received by me, including the title below. You can reference a PDF version on his Columbia U page here I’ll have to agree with Dr. Hansen though, Cap and Trade is about the closest thing to the “Temple of Doom” our economy would face. No word yet from Harrison Ford if he’ll play Jim in the movie. What is most interesting is who he didn’t mention in the last paragraph.- Anthony


Worshipping the Temple of Doom

My response to the letter from Dr. Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Australian Department of Climate Change, is available, along with this note, on my web site.

Thanks to the many people who provided comments on my draft response, including Steve Hatfield-Dodds, a senior official within the Australian Department of Climate Change.  I appreciate the willingness of the Australian government to engage in this discussion.  I believe that you will find the final letter to be significantly improved over the draft version.

Several people admonished me for informal language, which detracts from credibility, and attempts at humor with an insulting tone (e.g., alligator shoes).  They are right, of course – these should not be in the letter.  So I reserve opinions with an edge to my covering e-mail note.

My frustration arises from the huge gap between words of governments, worldwide, and their actions or planned actions.  It is easy to speak of a planet in peril.  It is quite another to level with the public about what is needed, even if the actions are in everybody’s long-term interest.

Instead governments are retreating to feckless “cap-and-trade”, a minor tweak to business-as-usual.  Oil companies are so relieved to realize that they do not need to learn to be energy companies that they are decreasing their already trivial investments in renewable energy.  They are using the money to buy greenwash advertisements.  Perhaps if politicians and businesses paint each other green, it will not seem so bad when our forests burn.

Cap-and-trade is the temple of doom.  It would lock in disasters for our children and grandchildren.  Why do people continue to worship a disastrous approach?  Its fecklessness was proven by the Kyoto Protocol.  It took a decade to implement the treaty, as countries extracted concessions that weakened even mild goals.  Most countries that claim to have met their obligations actually increased their emissions.  Others found that even modest reductions of emissions were inconvenient, and thus they simply ignored their goals.

Why is this cap-and-trade temple of doom worshipped?  The 648 page cap-and-trade monstrosity that is being foisted on the U.S. Congress provides the answer.  Not a single Congressperson has read it.  They don’t need to – they just need to add more paragraphs to support their own special interests.  By the way, the Congress people do not write most of those paragraphs – they are “suggested” by people in alligator shoes.

The only defense of this monstrous absurdity that I have heard is “well, you are right, it’s no good, but the train has left the station”.  If the train has left, it had better be derailed soon or the planet, and all of us, will be in deep do-do.  People with the gumption to parse the 648-pages come out with estimates of a price impact on petrol between 12 and 20 cents per gallon.  It has to be kept small and ineffectual, because they want to claim that it does not affect energy prices!

It seems they would not dream of being honest and admitting that an increased price for fossil fuels is essential to drive us to the world beyond fossil fuels.  Of course, there are a huge number of industries and people who do not want us to move to the world beyond fossil fuels – these are the biggest fans of cap-and-trade.  Next are those who want the process mystified, so they can make millions trading, speculating, and gaming the system at public expense.

The science has become clear: burning all fossil fuels would put Earth on a disastrous course, leaving our children and grandchildren with a deteriorating situation out of their control.  The geophysical implication is that most of the remaining coal and unconventional fossil fuels (tar shale, etc.) must be left in the ground or the emissions captured and put back in the ground.  A corollary is that it makes no sense to go after every last drop of oil in the most remote and pristine places – we would have to fight to get the CO2 back out of the air or somehow “geoengineer” our way out of its effects.

A more sensible approach is to begin a rapid transition to a clean energy future, beyond fossil fuels – for the sake of our children and grandchildren, already likely to be saddled with our economic debts, and to preserve the other species on the planet.  Such a path would also eliminate mercury emissions, most air pollution, acid rain and ozone alerts, likely reversing trends toward increasing asthma and birth defects.  Such an energy future would also halt the drain on our treasure and lives resulting from dependence on foreign energy sources.

What is it that does not compute here?  Why does the public choose to subsidize fossil fuels, rather than taxing fossil fuels to make them cover their costs to society?  I don’t think that the public actually voted on that one.  It probably has something to do with all the alligator shoes in Washington.  Those 2400 energy lobbyists in Washington are not well paid for nothing.  You have three guesses as to who eventually pays the salary of these lobbyists, and the first two guesses don’t count.

I get a lot of e-mails telling me to stick to climate, that I don’t know anything about economics.  I know this: the fundamental requirement for transition to the post fossil fuel era is a substantial and rising price on carbon emissions.  And businesses and consumers must understand that it will continue to rise in the future.

Of course, a rising carbon price alone is not sufficient for a successful rapid transition to the post fossil fuel era.  There also must be efficiency standards on buildings, vehicles, appliances, electronics and lighting.  Barriers to efficiency, such as utilities making more money when we use more energy, must be removed.

But the essential underlying requirement is a substantial rising carbon price.  Building standards, especially operations, for example, are practically unenforceable without a strong cost driver.  The carbon price must be sufficient to affect lifestyle choices.

648 pages are not needed to define a carbon fee.  It is a single number that would be ratcheted upward over time.  It would cover all three fossil fuels at their source: the mine or port of entry.  Consumers do not directly pay any tax, but the fee’s effect permeates everything from the price of fuel to the price of food (especially if it is imported from halfway around the world).

As a point of reference a fee equivalent to $1/gallon of gasoline ($115/ton CO2) would yield $670B in the United States (based on energy use data for 2007).  That would provide a dividend of $3000/year to legal adult residents in the United States ($9000/year to a family with two or more children).

A person reducing his carbon footprint more than average would gain economically, if the fee is returned 100 percent to the public on a per capita basis.  With the present distributions of income and energy use, it is estimated that about 60 percent of the people would get a dividend exceeding their tax.  So why would they not just spend their dividend on expensive fuel?  Nobody wants to pay more taxes.  They prefer to have the money for other things.  As the price of fossil fuels continues to increase, people would conserve energy, choose more energy efficient vehicles, and choose non-fossil (untaxed) energies and products.

Hey, does anybody know a great communicator, who might level with the public, explain what is needed to break our addiction to fossil fuels, to gain energy independence, to assure a future for young people?  Who would explain what is really needed, rather than hide behind future “goals” and a gimmick “cap”?  Naw.  Roosevelt and Churchill are dead.  So is Kennedy.

Jim

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masonmart

I see severe instability in the man.
Can anybody help me with what information he has to support his claims over and above what is on the table to all of us mere mortals.

WestHoustonGeo

Quoting:
“A person reducing his carbon footprint more than average would gain economically, if the fee is returned 100 percent to the public on a per capita basis.”
Commenting:
Who’s he trying to fool? All that money will disappear – paying interest on what we already owe and funding new expanded hand-outs. What’s left goes in the pork barrel.

Bill Illis

He certainly believes very strongly in what he is saying. But that should give us pause for two reasons.
He has been working on this issue since the mid-1970s and, after reviewing 35 years of climate data and climate theory and climate models, if his belief is so strong after all this time, then perhaps he is right.
On the other hand, a strong belief that cannot be proven is sometimes a dangerous thing. He likes to insert the words “dangerous climate change” into every paper he comes into contact with. It could easily turn out to be “dangerous climate change theory” instead.
We need more evidence and less words.

Pamela Gray

Why are people ignoring poor lil’ ol’ Hansen’s cry that the sky is falling? For the same reason we ignore the once repeated warts and frogs warning, breathing in cold air and the sniffles warning, don’t bath and expect to live much longer warning, take this snake oil and get better add, kill and cat and bury it to cure [fill in the blank], spit when you curse so your curse does not fall on you, if you froth at the mouth or have a tendency to say goddammit you must be possessed warning, etc.
But that gives me an idea. If Hansen still believes in global warming here is some advice he should take seriously:
Touch a frog (go on rub it all over you, go stand out in the cold, don’t bath, take snake oil, kill a cat, froth at the mouth and swear, then call me in the morning. I have just the hospital for you.

Bill Marsh

“The science has become clear: burning all fossil fuels would put Earth on a disastrous course”
Gee, over what time period? ALL fossil fuels – oil, coal, etc. That would be a very hard thing to accomplish I would think.
He is stating the obvious, just as obvious as staitng — The science has become clear: drinking all the fresh water available would put Earth on a disastrous course —
I’m really surprised he seems surprised that Congressmen/women vote for bills they haven’t read, its a pretty common practice as far as I can tell.

Larry

Hansen is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The rambling, strident tone of his semi-delusional mind set is beginning to break him. You reap what you sow.

TerryBixler

Wow! Hansen has forgotten the science if he ever knew any and is now a religious zealot. No engineering and free market, he just commands it to be so. I think our government is now dominated by people who have never produced anything in their whole life. No work, only telling others to do to do whatever has crossed their minds. A total fantasy world. Hansen, Obama, Jackson, just say it and it must be so.

Tom

If we grant the assumption that it is necessary to impose some sort of carbon tax to protect the environment, stop climate change, and save the world, then Hansen is right that the cap-and-trade system is highly susceptible to corruption and influence peddling, and won’t have the needed impact. His scheme (a tax at the wellhead that is 100% returned as a per capita rebate) actually sounds reasonable and much less subject to corruption.
We’ve already seen the Obama administration put the screws to the secured bondholders of Chrysler in order to put the UAW first in line for the lion’s share of the new company, violating everything American used to believe about contracts and private property rights. Why would cap and trade be any different?
Of course, I wouldn’t be reading this blog if I thought we needed a draconian tax to save the world. But it is a proposal with some merit, I think, if you grant the underlying assumption.

MattN

Well, at least we agree Cap’n’Tax is the wrong approach….

Michael D Smith

Well, if you can somehow get past all of the data and real evidence that says we should do nothing at all, Jim & I finally agree on something. His approach makes a lot more sense than cap & trade (and will therefore never be adopted).
Any new proposal coming out of Washington must help destroy the economy, redistribute wealth, AND be counter-effective to its original intent to be considered. Cap & trade meets all three objectives just fine, thank you.

John Luft

Hansen says “Several people admonished me for informal language, which detracts from credibility,…… ”
No…what detracts from credibility is his constant hysterics and his apparent belief that he is somehow in control of the world economy. This guy shows all the earmarks of being certifiably nuts.

John Galt

A person reducing his carbon footprint more than average would gain economically, if the fee is returned 100 percent to the public on a per capita basis. With the present distributions of income and energy use, it is estimated that about 60 percent of the people would get a dividend exceeding their tax.
Anyway you look at it, this is wealth redistribution. To make it worse, the government plans to give the public it’s dividend through more social services. It used to be when you took money from somebody in order to give it to somebody else, it was called theft.
We all know how efficiently government works, so figure most of this money will be lost in overhead. Some new or existing agency must enforce cap-and-trade, monitor emissions and compliance, etc. Do we really need another IRS-like bureaucracy?
Government programs never die and they don’t fade away, either. If the cap-and-trade funds are used to fund new programs, then what is the incentive for the government to actually reduce emissions? With lower emissions there will be less income from cap-and-trade, meaning money to pay for those programs must come from somewhere else.
And don’t forget the exceptions. Since an industry can be made exempt, how much money will be spent on lobbyists and by lobbyists trying to get exemptions for their clients? This will be a great windfall of reelection funds and PAC money for the politicians.

UK Sceptic

It seems that not only has Hansen grossly overestimated the impact of so called AGW, he grossly underestimated the venality of politicians. How thick can the man be?
Way to go, John.

Jim Papsdorf

At least he’s got the part about the alligator shoes right !!!
Lobbyists are helping to write the Trade and Cap bill !!!!
How is THAT for hypocrisy !!
EXCLUSIVE: Lobbyists help Dems draft climate change bill
Democratic lawmakers who spent much of the Bush administration blasting officials for letting energy lobbyists write national policy have turned to a coalition of business and environmental groups to help draft their own sweeping climate bill.
And one little-noticed provision of the draft bill would give one of the coalition’s co-founders a lucrative exemption on a coal-fired project it is building.
http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/may/04/green-lobby-guides-democrats-on-climate-bill/

This is the same James Hansen that sais “the Democratic process isn’t working.” The same guy that was rebuked by his former boss who said that Hansen “embarrasses NASA” and that his “models are useless.” That being said, cap-and-trade has worsened the perceived problem in Europe. It will do the same here, and at a higher cost to boot.

P Walker

OT – sorry , but did anyone here catch the debate between Dr. Jason Box and Dr. Bob Wagner in Ohio last Saturday ? I’m not sure of the venue , but would like to get someone’s impressions . BTW , I visit this site daily and find it the best !

This is an example of one of the pretend scientists who will pretend to control the weather.
I agree with the seriously ‘unstable’ commenter.

Jim F

“…What is it that does not compute here? Why does the public choose to subsidize fossil fuels, rather than taxing fossil fuels to make them cover their costs to society?…”
Maybe they value freedom, Jim, rather than having you and your ilk run their lives, which is the aim of all your ranting, isn’t it? While you’re out there trying to influence the world to your point of view, why don’t you give us a definitive tabulation of those “costs” you go on about.

Frank K.

Hansen’s rant is so target rich, I don’t know where to begin. One juicy nugget is this:
“648 pages are not needed to define a carbon fee. It is a single number that would be ratcheted upward over time. ”
He then goes on to talk about several different “fee” (read tax) numbers! But, who holds the ratchet wrench here? Who gets to decide? If some unnamed politico comes along and “ratchets” up the gas “fee” to $5/gallon, do I get any say? Who is this going to hurt most? Do you think manufacturers are NOT going to pass this “fee” increase along to consumers?
“I get a lot of e-mails telling me to stick to climate, that I don’t know anything about economics.”
Perhaps, Mr. Hansen, you should take the hint…

JEM

Bill Illis – we have something down the road here called the Winchester Mystery House: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winchester_Mystery_House
Mr Hansen has become something of a Sarah Winchester. He’s got some overwhelming sense of guilt that compels him to keep going. Problem is, he thinks the rest of us need to live in his nightmare.

TomLama

This is nothing more than the “good cop, bad cop routine” mixed with the “nothing up my sleeves” act.
Hansen, of course has been delegated the role of “bad cop.”
Now we are all supposed to be relieved when the “bad cop” Hansen does not get his tax and we are stuck with “cap & trade.”
As each year goes by Americans find themselves with ever increasing inventories of untapped Natural Gas, Oil, & Coal. The last time I checked, building nuclear plants was a “shovel ready job.”
The US economy is being strangled by American hating, anti capitalist, envirostatists.
Neither the government nor its supporters have America’s continuing economic growth or well being in mind. They only want to control the economic engine of our society down to our last Supreme Court polluted breath.
And this power grab based on a lie can be so easily defeated. All you have to do is tell people you know that the planet has cooled for nearly ten years.

J. Peden

Why does the public choose to subsidize fossil fuels, rather than taxing fossil fuels to make them cover their costs to society?
Possibly because “the public” wants to not be found dead, as though having been trapped within each’s own personal Concentraion Camp?

John Boy

Big surprise at the truck load of Hansen bashing that will occur here. Most of the posters here are so focused on particular trees that they fail to see the forest.
He’s been studying climate for 30 years. He must have been deluded by all the science, err wait, let me put that in a way it will be understood here, ‘science.’
Heck, we may need more CO2 to grow more food for more people with ever increasing fossil fuel based living standards.
Those in alligator shoes are going to win because they are in control. In their self interest, they’ll doom all of us.
The boy of John

Jacob

Hansen is right. Cap-and trade is bad policy.
His carbon tax, returned as a rebate to people isn’t bad at all. We can live with it. Especially if it prevents the cap-and-trade debacle.
It’s won’t help much in reducing emissions, the Europeans also have in place a gasoline tax of perhaps 2$ per gallon, their gas consumption is a little lower than in the US but not that much.
I would propose a carbon tax to replace the income tax (or part of it).

Pofarmer

When I read the headline, I was thinking, “Oh, he gets it, he understands it will wreck economies worldwide.”
After reading the article, I understand that is definately not the case.
He would make an interesting villain in a James Bond movie.

BernardP

Politicians prefer cap-and-trade over a carbon tax because it is a hidden government levy. Could it be a good thing that a true believer like Hansen is against cap-and-trade? There is no proposition to to implement a carbon tax. The alternative to cap-and-trade is do-nothing.
Hansen’s position is one more good reason for the politicians to delay cap-and-trade legislation while they contitue to study the urgent AGW problem.
Meanwhile, world temperature are trending down and polar ice extent is trending up. A general wake-up call has to happen at some point.

Barry

I wonder just where he thinks that money would go? Obviously he doesn’t mind spending more of his tax paid salary to get to work. He probably brings in 6 figures a year by now.
But what about those who are barely surviving, the fast food workers and grocery store clerks who can barely afford to pay for food now. Not to mention all the laid off auto workers and off shored IT people. Just which choice will these people make, pay rent, or get to work?
Just what does he propose to get things rolling again? Oh that’s right, he lives in a bubble where real people don’t need to eat food and you can just magically replace your means to get to work by some uninvented highly expensive eco-friendly fuel.

Barry

James Hansen is an educated idiot.
Food requires tractors, diesel, to plant, columbines, diesel or gas, to harvest, trucks, diesel, to ship to your door. Just how does this guy expect all these freshly out of work people to pay for food, if he wants to jack up the price of oil?
With his ideas, I bet food would experience at least a doubling of cost.

Ron de Haan

OT, AVO is expecting Redoubt to blow it’s dome.
http://scienceblogs.com/eruptions/2009/05/waiting_for_redoubts_big_boom.php

GerryM

“I get a lot of e-mails telling me to stick to climate, that I don’t know anything about economics.”
I am left with the feeling that it would have been better for our children and grandchildren if Jim had stuck to astronomy and not drifted into climatology. In reality what he is saying is sensible, (except the bit about the extremely small contribution humans make to GHGs being the reason for the coming armageddon), we should be moving away from fossil fuels, and indeed we are, but it will take decades, or even centuries, to get to a position where they are available in industrial strength, and he’d persuaded himself we only have twenty minutes.
I take no sides in this particular argument, but can see that as carbon is free, giving everyone on earth the same amount at birth will lead to a redistribution of wealth of a sort. The problem I see is that once the poorer people have received money for their carbon they will themselves start to use more carbon, or their enhanced wealth will be of no use to them. Positive feedback in action.

tallbloke

Jim asks:
“What is it that does not compute here?”
Well his models don’t compute future climate with any certainty, and his grip on computing the speed at which current energy sources can be replaced with clean tech is tenuous to say the least.
Now he’s telling Obama he’s not in the Kennedy, Roosevelt, Churchill league.
The only thin ice around is that which Jim finds himself standing on.

Peter

Only in academic environments can one have such an advanced case of cranial-rectal syndrome, and not have someone slap you back to reality. It is cooling. It has colled for long enough to statistically invalidate the models, as Lucia has shown, but does this give Hansen pause? Not for a moment.
JH: Gavin! How’s the climate?
GS: Just like we thought in 19 of 20 cases!
JH: 19 of 20! I knew it! We’re doomed!
GS: The ice has mostly all melted, the glaciers are gone, and the waves are lapping at my front door!
JH: Whats this realisation with almost no warming, and lots of ice?
GS: Oh, that’s just the observed reality.
JH: Reality!? We don’t deal in reality, we’re in a university!

Alan Chappell

People…. don’t worry, be happy, Obama will spend us out of trouble, after all he is deaf, blind and not dumb but a little bit ah, ignorant?

James P

“Why do people continue to worship a disastrous approach?”
He said it…

Russ R.

Both approaches are an abomination, on an economy that is already in the ditch. There are energy costs is all products, and if the costs of those products go up, which they will, people will buy less of them. That will put people out of work, which will further depress the economy.
Energy is the life-blood of our way of life, and Jim Hansen is a crack-pot doctor, who thinks a good bleeding, is the cure for what ails us.

coaldust

The letter is full of hyperbole such as:
Such a path would also eliminate mercury emissions, most air pollution, acid rain and ozone alerts, likely reversing trends toward increasing asthma and birth defects.
It would eliminate mercury emissions? It certainly would not eliminate them. At least he recognizes that mercury emissions are bad, I wonder how he feels about CFLs?
It would reverse a trend toward birth defects? On what basis does he make this statement? What is causing the birth defects? Is it mercury or air pollution, or perhaps Jim believes acid rain, ozone, or CO2 causes birth defects?

J. Peden

Heck, we may need more CO2 to grow more food for more people with ever increasing fossil fuel based living standards.
Such as yourself, John Boy? Have you lowered your own fossil fuel CO2 imprint to pre-Industrial Revolution levels?
Why not “Be the first on your block to create your very own personal Concentration Camp”, John Boy?

Gordon Ford

He seriously needs to go on extended stress leave!

Douglas DC

This man is [snip] .”when our forests burn!” they do every summer.What you do about it is up to to the USFS/BLM/BIA…

Would Hansen finally agree then with McKitrick’s T3 tax, one wonders…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_McKitrick#T3_Tax_proposal

Jason

Hansen is exactly right here.
We should applaud him.
Cap and trade in any form (and especially the form being considered in Congress) will have an insignificant impact on CO2 emissions.
Any policy that has a significant impact on emissions MUST have a significant impact on the economic situation of average Americans.
What Hansen doesn’t understand, but folks on capital hill do, is that the American public is unwilling to make the significant sacrifices required to implement his vision of a low emission world.

My dear friends, as as foreigner i can tell you: You are doomed indeedif somebody there takes this man seriously.
This man is really sick.
If that tale about the “alligator shoes” people would be true, why is it so that they are not after him?
And “but the train has left the station”…once again those trains!!
He is clearly projecting his internal problems.
OK, It is funny, but at the same time very sad.

Chris

Can someone help me here with regard to the carbon tax (if enacted in whichever form)? Not all fossil fuel (coal, oil, natural gas) is burned. The chemical industry uses benzene (from oil or coal), natural gas, and ethane derivatives to make rigid polyurethane foam used as insulation in buildings, appliances, etc. Primary driver for demand is higher energy efficiency. But why would a rigid polyurethane producer need to pay a carbon tax on raw materials (listed above) that aren’t converted to CO2? As far as I can tell, I’ve seen no answer to this. The same logic applies to polyethylene produced from ethane derivatives. This stuff eventually gets landfilled, not burned.

MartinGAtkins

I get a lot of e-mails telling me to stick to climate, that I don’t know anything about economics.
And
As a point of reference a fee equivalent to $1/gallon of gasoline ($115/ton CO2) would yield $670B in the United States (based on energy use data for 2007). That would provide a dividend of $3000/year to legal adult residents in the United States ($9000/year to a family with two or more children).
Someone should tell him he knows nothing about the climate or economics. Small wonder NASA are too scared to sack him, he’s a freaking nut case.

gary gulrud

I love the missive’s signature, Jim. Wonder if the Pope goes with Ben?

Pamela Gray

Remember the Revolution. There are a great many parallels here regarding cap and trade, and taxes related to resource use as a source of government income and the parliament acts that significantly figured into the American Revolution. The trouble is that currently, it isn’t some foreign entity that is pushing this into our homes. It is our own government and on both sides of the color divide. Read the following entries from Wiki but replace the name of the acts imposed by Britain with CO2 terminology compliments of Hansen and the like, and parliament with federal or state government. And me a lefty. Whoulda thought such comments could come from the mouth of a lefty. Kinda destroys the blanket statements from some that this is all the fault of lefty’s.
The Stamp Act
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stamp_Act_1765
The Townshend Act
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Townshend_Acts

Pamela Gray

Regarding food, they would stay the same but farmers would go out of business. We can’t change the price of food that goes to the middle man just because our costs have gone up. And if prices do go up because someone down the chain raised theirs, the farmer sees none of that income.

David in Davis

Much to my surprise, I have found two things on which I can agree with Dr. Hansen, namely that cap and trade is bad policy and – again to my surprise – his position on nuclear power; not because I believe in CO2 induced global warming, but because we must sooner or later find economically and technologically viable alternatives to fossil fuels for the simple reason they likely will be essentially exhausted within a century or so. I have often wondered at the irrationality of those who are so rabid about saving us from the “crisis” of AGW but remain antinuclear power. This prompted me today to google “Hansen nuclear”. Turns out that Hansen strongly favors 4th generation nuclear research and development which was terminated by the Clinton administration in repayment for support from the antinuclear environmental lobby. See here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2008/11/28/hansen-to-obama-pt-iii-fast-nuclear-reactors-are-integral/. Thorium molten salt reactors and other 4th generation technology promise all of the benefits of conventional nuclear while eliminating most if not all of its problems including the need for pressurized vessels and the waste issue. This appears very doable. See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_reactor.
The President, DOE Secretary Steven Chu, and the Congress need to drop cap and trade and get onto something actually useful, development of advanced nuclear technology. Wind and solar are unlikely to ever be sufficient to meet energy demand, and the ultimate solution, fusion (hot or cold), may never be practically achievable – though fusion research obviously should continue as well.

hunter

Can we all agree that Hansen is as crazy as Lovelock?

Not taking into consideration any global warming or whatsoever, a tax fuel, as many countries in the world have, helps when there is a cronic budget deficit and provided the money is well used it makes the economy to depend less on foreing loans; the logical alternative, as in any family home, (economy=oikos=home) is to spend much less. As simple as that.