During his big emotional climate speech this week, President Ovbama said:
“I don’t want my grand-kids to not be able to swim in Hawaii or not be able to climb a mountain and see a glacier because we didn’t do something about it,That’d be shameful of us.”
But for some who study climate change the only shame is this: Obama’s plan does not go nearly far enough. It’s meek and dangerously self-congratulatory, sapping the movement of urgency while doing almost nothing to maintain the future habitability of the earth.
“The actions are practically worthless,” said James Hansen, a climate researcher who headed NASA’s Goddard’s Institute for Space Studies for over 30 years and first warned congress of global warming in 1988. “They do nothing to attack the fundamental problem.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” he wrote, when asked if the plan would make continued climate activism unnecessary. Obama’s plan, and for that matter the proposed plan Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, he continued, “is like the fellow who walks to work instead of driving, and thinks he is saving the world.”
Hansen suggested a gradually rising fee for fossil fuel extraction, collected at the port of entry or, in domestic cases, the place where the material actually comes out of the ground. “As long as fossil fuels are allowed to (appear to be) the cheapest energy, someone will burn them,” he wrote in an email to msnbc. “It is not so much a matter of how far you go. It is a matter of whether you are going in the right direction.”
The right direction is away from a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. If that grim milestone is reached the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that irreversible damage to society would be the likely result.
In Copenhagen in 2009, world leaders agreed to work together to keep global temperatures below that mark. In Paris this coming November and December, climate ministers will gather again in hopes of negotiating a new agreement, one that puts the world on a path for less than 2 degrees of warming.
The White House is reviewing the criticisms and told msnbc that it would respond shortly.
You gotta love the single mindedness on display at MSNBC in the poll that accompanies the story:
There’s no option for a simple “No, I don’t support it”. Typical.