Game over for the planet? James Hansen’s call for broad action

James Hansen, of NASA, has an op-ed in the New York Times. Excerpts:

GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening.

Canada’s tar sands contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now.

That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.

If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically… and leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground. We need to start reducing emissions significantly, not create new ways to increase them. The science of the situation is clear — it’s time for the politics to follow.

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One Response to Game over for the planet? James Hansen’s call for broad action

  1. Mary Manous says:

    It is hard to see how we can go on with life as usual with the realities that Hansen describes. Even Exxon Mobil now acknowledges that there is Global Warming and supports a carbon tax. When will the powers that be take the lead on turning this around? Here is a link to an interview with author Steve Coll who wrote ExxonMobil: A ‘Private’ Empire. http://www.npr.org/2012/05/02/151842205/exxonmobil-a-private-empire-on-the-world-stage Very thought provoking.

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