From The Guardian. N.B: Hansen lambasts the current international approach of setting targets to be met through “cap and trade” schemes as not up to the task. “This approach is ineffectual and not commensurate with the climate threat. It could waste another decade, locking in disastrous consequences for our planet and humanity,” the Hansens wrote.
Climate change policies failing, Nasa scientist warns Obama
Award-winning researcher James Hansen says new president’s rhetoric must be backed by action
James Randerson, science correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 1 January 2009 15.23 GMT
Current approaches to deal with climate change are ineffectual, one of the world’s top climate scientists said today in a personal new year appeal to Barack Obama and his wife Michelle on the urgent need to tackle global warming.
With less than three weeks to go until Obama’s inauguration, Prof James Hansen, head of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, asked the recently appointed White House science adviser Prof John Holdren to pass the missive directly to the president-elect.
Obama spoke repeatedly during his campaign about the need to tackle climate change, and environmentalists fervently hope he will live up to his promises to pursue green policies.
The letter, from Hansen and his wife Anniek, is a personal plea to the first couple. It begins: “We write to you as fellow parents concerned about the Earth that will be inherited by our children, grandchildren, and those yet to be born…Jim has advised governments previously through regular channels. But urgency now dictates a personal appeal.”
In a covering letter to Holdren, Hansen explains that he wrote the letter a few weeks ago while in London. His wife had suffered a heart attack (“fortunately we were near a very good hospital”) and while they waited for doctors to give the go-ahead to fly back to the US he decided to compose his petition to the new first family.
Hansen has been one of the most prominent advocates of action to tackle climate change since he first spoke on the issue at congressional hearings in the 1980s. His testimony to the senate featured in Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth and he has received numerous honours for his work on the issue, including the WWF’s top conservation award.
Hansen wrote that there is a “profound disconnect” between public policy on climate change and the magnitude of the problem as described by the science. He praised Obama’s campaign rhetoric about “a planet in peril”, but said that how the new president responds in office will be crucial. The letter contains a wish list of three policy measures to tackle global warming.