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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 20th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Though in favor of the Sunday Washington rally and demonstration to show support for a Presidential Clean Energy policy, it is a letter from Dr. James E. Hansen that helps us formulate what we instinctively found structurally wrong in the way the issue was presented at the rally.

It seemed to us that the rally – booked as a CLIMATE PRESIDENTIAL event – was effectively just an anti Keystone Pipeline and anti Fracking event – thus putting in front, in the eyes of many in the crowd,  the main issues of the day. But the deep issues are CLIMATE CHANGE, AIR POLLUTION, WATER POLLUTION, LAND DEGRADATION, and the hold the fossil fuels industries have on our government.

What should have been stressed was rather those issues, and the need of the Administration to address those issues, and saying that the two operative technologies that the business as usual crowd want to use, and that we abhor, are like going the wrong way at a moment that we have reached A FORK IN THE ROAD - the image used by Jim Hansen (Dr. James E. Hansen.  ( www.columbia.edu/~jeh1 )

The speeches at the Rally should have thus started by stressing that FORK IN THE ROAD – The one that has positives for the economy, and that we want the President to take, and the other that continues us on the road to doomsday. We do not want those two technologies mentioned above because they take us down the wrong path, but we want the President to lead the country out of the economy debacle by using the right way out of the fork  in the road – and he has our backing if he leads in the right way. The truth is that the main media – the TV channels – did not cover the event because it presented mainly the negatives – the “anti” action, and it did not show the positives – the suggested technologies AND TAXES TO HELP – that could put us on the right path from this moment’s FORK IN THE ROAD.

We continue here by posting excerpts from the content of Dr. Hansen’s e-mail – in a reorganized way to help us make above point. And please – let us remember – we are the FOSSIL FUEL FOOLS – if we do not advocate the carbon tax to help us get out from the fake illusion that extending the carbon-age with new carbon technologies does anything but accelerate our voyage to a doomsday destiny. (by the way – that is why I wore that yellow fools’ nose at the Washington rally as mentioned in our reporting.)


The economics is crystal clear. We are all better off if fossil fuels are made to pay their honest costs to society. We must collect a gradually rising fee from fossil fuel companies at the source, the domestic mine or port of entry, distributing the funds to the public on a per capita basis. This approach will provide the business community and entrepreneurs the incentives to develop clean energy and energy-efficient products, and the public will have the resources to make changes.

This approach is transparent, built on conservative principles. Not one dime to the government.
The alternative is to slake fossil fuel addiction, forcing the public to continue to subsidize fossil fuels. And hammer the public with more pollution. The public must pay the medical costs for all pollution effects. The public will pay costs caused by climate change. Fossil fuel moguls get richer, we get poorer. Our children are screwed. Our well-oiled coal-fired government pretends to not understand.


We stand at a fork in the road.

Conventional oil and gas supplies are limited. We can move down the path of dirtier more carbon-intensive unconventional fossil-fuels, digging up the dirtiest tar sands and tar shales, hydrofracking for gas, continued mountain-top removal and mechanized destructive long-wall coal mining. Or we can choose the alternative path of clean energies and energy efficiency.

Transition to a post-fossil fuel world of clean energies will not occur as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy.

Fossil fuels are cheap only because they are subsidized and do not pay their costs to society. Air and water pollution from fossil fuel extraction and use have high costs in human health, food production, and natural ecosystems, with costs borne by the public. Costs of climate change and ocean acidification also are borne by the public, especially young people and future generations.

Thus the essential underlying policy, albeit not sufficient, is for emissions of CO2 to come with a price that allows these costs to be internalized within the economics of energy use. Because so much energy is used through expensive capital stock, the price should rise in a predictable way to enable people and businesses to efficiently adjust lifestyles and investments to minimize costs.

An economic analysis indicates that a tax beginning at $15/tCO2 and rising $10/tCO2 each year would reduce emissions in the U.S. by 30% within 10 years. Such a reduction is more than 10 times as great as the carbon content of tar sands oil carried by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (830,000 barrels/day). Reduced oil demand would be nearly six times the pipeline capacity, thus rendering it superfluous.

If a rising price is placed on carbon, the tar sands will be left in the ground where they belong. And the remarkable life and landscape of the original North American people will be preserved.

The climate science is crystal clear. We cannot go down the path of the dirty fuels without guaranteeing that the climate system passes tipping points, leaving our children and grandchildren a situation out of their control, a situation of our making. Unstable ice sheets will lead to continually rising seas and devastation of coastal cities worldwide. A large fraction of Earth’s species will be driven to extinction by the combination of shifting climate zones and other stresses. Summer heat waves, scorching droughts, and intense wildfires will become more frequent and extreme. At other times and places, the warmer water bodies and increased evaporation will power stronger storms, heavier rains, greater floods.

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