Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dr. Hansen Warns Congress: Climate Chaos Ahead! Tax Carbon to Spur Clean Energy Revolution

Yesterday, I cycled over to the Longworth House Office building to meet my former EPA colleague, Julie Simpson, who's on a fellowship to Rep. Moran's office focusing on environmental issues. Together, we heard NASA's lead climate scientist Dr. James Hansen deliver fearsome news: our burning of fossil fuel is pushing Earth's climate into instablilty. As I reported at the Carbon Tax Center site, Dr. Hansen strongly advocated a gradually-increasing revenue-neutral carbon tax to spur a clean technology revolution. He recommends that all carbon tax revenue be directly distributed in equal "dividends" to individuals.

After the hearing, Julie and I headed downstairs for lunch, and were thrilled to find ourselves in line with Dr. Hansen and his sister. After asking, we joined them for lunch. Quite an honor to "break bread" with the world's leading climate scientist who's repeatedly stood up to those seeking to ignore or silence him. I asked Dr. Hansen's opinion of "clean coal," sharing my concerns about the vast additional coal energy needed to separate CO2 from hot flue gas and sequester it deep in the ground. Dr. Hansen is a quiet, calm professorial type, but his answer was forceful and unequivocal: "There is no such thing as clean coal, and there never will be."

Hansen will lead a peaceful protest this Monday at the U.S. Capitol power plant to call on Congress to phase out coal power, a leading cause of global warming. See Capitol Climate Action for his short video calling for action.

Staff on Capitol Hill are working long hours on a whole range of emergencies, including climate legislation. Many members of Congress are finally taking the climate threat seriously. But many still deny or minimize the crisis, and many others still seem to think "cap-and-trade" with its alluring name and hiding of the price, will magically do the trick.

Much more work ahead.

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