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Hansen writes: "Global warming isn't a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves 'regardless of what we do.'"

Demonstrators protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline, 11/6/11. (photo: Evan Vucci/AP)
Demonstrators protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline, 11/6/11. (photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

Game Over for the Climate

By James Hansen, The New York Times

10 May 12


lobal warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”

If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, 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 level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

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. President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.

The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events - they were caused by human-induced climate change.

We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life. But add too much, as we are doing now, and temperatures will inevitably rise too high. This is not the result of natural variability, as some argue. The earth is currently in the part of its long-term orbit cycle where temperatures would normally be cooling. But they are rising - and it’s because we are forcing them higher with fossil fuel emissions.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 280 parts per million to 393 p.p.m. over the last 150 years. The tar sands contain enough carbon - 240 gigatons - to add 120 p.p.m. Tar shale, a close cousin of tar sands found mainly in the United States, contains at least an additional 300 gigatons of carbon. If we turn to these dirtiest of fuels, instead of finding ways to phase out our addiction to fossil fuels, there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. - a level that would, as earth’s history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.

We need to start reducing emissions significantly, not create new ways to increase them. We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month. The government would not get a penny. This market-based approach would stimulate innovation, jobs and economic growth, avoid enlarging government or having it pick winners or losers. Most Americans, except the heaviest energy users, would get more back than they paid in increased prices. Not only that, the reduction in oil use resulting from the carbon price would be nearly six times as great as the oil supply from the proposed pipeline from Canada, rendering the pipeline superfluous, according to economic models driven by a slowly rising carbon price.

But instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to make fossil fuels pay their true costs, leveling the energy playing field, the world’s governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels with hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This encourages a frantic stampede to extract every fossil fuel through mountaintop removal, longwall mining, hydraulic fracturing, tar sands and tar shale extraction, and deep ocean and Arctic drilling.

President Obama speaks of a “planet in peril,” but he does not provide the leadership needed to change the world’s course. Our leaders must speak candidly to the public - which yearns for open, honest discussion - explaining that our continued technological leadership and economic well-being demand a reasoned change of our energy course. History has shown that the American public can rise to the challenge, but leadership is essential.

The science of the situation is clear - it’s time for the politics to follow. This is a plan that can unify conservatives and liberals, environmentalists and business. Every major national science academy in the world has reported that global warming is real, caused mostly by humans, and requires urgent action. The cost of acting goes far higher the longer we wait - we can’t wait any longer to avoid the worst and be judged immoral by coming generations. your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

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We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

+91 # universlman 2012-05-10 17:21
This country which has been responsible for great invention and development of the energy sector in the past, is now, with its collective head in the sand, uninventing the wheel.

Thank you conservatives. You have lost the will to conserve and you will not do anything even to save yourselves.
+22 # Ray Kondrasuk 2012-05-10 23:54
Liberals... conservatives....

I've always puzzled over why liberals seek to conserve old growth forests, and conservatives seek to liberally log them off....
+31 # Regina 2012-05-11 08:46
Among other linguistic ironies, it's because the word "conservative" is misused to apply to a gang of extremists. The correct word is "reactionaries. " Their reaction to progressive ideas is to just say NO. Liberals liberally grant human rights and preservation of natural resources. Nobody messes up the english language more than professional newswriters, who, we would think, should know better.
+9 # tomo 2012-05-12 11:40
The discussion here is useful. What "conservatives, " as the term is now used, want typically is to preserve a right for the enterprisingly selfish to do whatever they want howsoever it may cancel the opportunities and birthrights of others. So help me, Thomas Jefferson was a great "conservative" in this sense; he found the notion of weak government attractive because he did not wish there to be any power that could inhibit his liberty to restrict the liberty of others--the slaves by whose labor Monticello existed. The reason "conservatives" think of themselves as conservative is because the liberty they seek to preserve (and it IS being preserved with a vengeance) has a long history in American tradition.

So those who care about trees, whales, the climate, clean air, un-polluted seas, the maintenance of non-human species, and the continuation of the human species itself, have to come up with a new term. These days they often call themselves "conservationis ts." One of the distinguishing marks of "conservationis ts" is that they are invariably despised by "conservatives."
"Conservatives" HAVE to despise them since the "conservationis ts" would impose restraints on the kind of freedom "conservatives" are bent on preserving.

By the way, "conservatives" are winning; "conservationis ts" are losing. Obama, it must be granted, adds to the muddle of what's happening by talking as a "conservationis t" while behaving as a "conservative."
+4 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-05-11 08:07
Wheel, which by the way IS intelligent design.
Go figure.
+7 # gilda92 2012-05-11 19:38
What's even worse: they have lost the will to do anything even to save their children.
+2 # tahoevalleylines 2012-05-11 23:36
Some wheels are more equal than others...

Particular attention should be given steel wheels running on steel rails; railways, "Second Dimension Surface Transport Logistics Platform". American situation in the period from the First World War up to the Viet Nam era was energy independent, a lending not a borrowing nation. We had balanced transport options.

Specifically, the fact was, railway connection could be seen at most towns and village, or within a few miles, usually. This meant commerce could be maintained with much less fuel needed than we now consume with rubber tire based transport.

The rub is, rail based transport is less convenient, and reverting to rail based distribution and local warehousing/sto cking effectively puts "just-in-time" back, from a daily luxury.

For over a half century, metropolitan areas with rail commuter lines also had freight and victuals services on the same tracks at off-peak times, to distribution warehouses in the heart of downtown, even on elevated lines like New York.

The railroads have declared ability to move the Canadian tarsands production in tank cars in event pipelines are not built. Why do we not see our collective anguish over climate redirected to a comprehensive effort to restore the railway matrix of Pre-WWII USA? See ASPO 1037, and book: "ELECTRIC WATER".
+26 # xflowers 2012-05-10 21:56
My sister lives in Canada and is very concerned about Tar Sands but tells me most Canadians are not. She doesn't see anything moving Harper away from exploiting the oil. The government up there sees it as a huge money pot for Canada, which it is. Canada, not the US will profit from it. The major force acting against it has been the indigenous tribes, and their concerns have focused on their lands and the pipeline the company wants to build through them to the west coast of Canada. The indigenous tribes, however, have been pretty passionate, declaring war on the pipeline. I think it is unfortunate that most of the protests have been directed at Washington. Something at least equally as forceful needs to be directed at Ottawa because I think Obama is right, he could not stop Harper. They are not politically aligned. A huge movement needs to happen in Canada if anything is going to stop this. The climate change message really needs to get out there to the Canadians.
-28 # Archie1954 2012-05-10 22:21
Surely the author as a journalist has current information on what is happening today in the world relating to a shortage of energy. The US calls them wars of freedom but I know they are energy wars and they are going to get more frequent and more violent. Canada's tar sands are at least a peaceful deposit of energy for the asking. The means of extraction requires modification to meet environmental concerns and this is being worked on diligently as we speak. The idea that the world is simply going to walk away from petroleum and shutter their industries is a fantasy so instead of complaining about it, get moving on bringing in new clean and renweable energy sources,but embrace the fact that until that happens oil is here to stay.
+11 # Stephen 2012-05-11 11:37
"Surely the author as a journalist... "
The author is not a journalist. He is the head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Since 1981. Which is why RSN assumed you would know that.
+11 # Glen 2012-05-11 12:48
Yes, Archie, oil really is here to stay. As has been said, it is much more than just running vehicles and so on. It is a huge industry with huge resources and economics intertwined. The industry has power and employs their own militias, with the backing of powerful countries. When oil is the basis for so many products, there will be no end to the process.

Trouble is, folks refuse to give up hope and face reality. Reality has been deemed negative and therefore against all hope.
+18 # DennisMerritt 2012-05-10 22:43
I wrote a blog describing "Hunger Games" as an allegory of our present political situation in America particularly with regard to the environment. (JungianEcopsyc I am very concerned about our democracy if "faith based reality" can trump scientific opinions like those of Dr. Hansen.
+16 # balancingact 2012-05-10 22:56
Thank you James Hansen for speaking out. First, companies are run by people and not robots that are programmed with no choice; also there's the whole shareholder-div idend thing to complicate matters.
Now we can ask all the reasons why people are pushing full force ahead with developing new projects that will invariably lead to transferring vast amounts of carbon from under the ground and into the atmosphere and oceans. But are the motivations all that relevant?

Yes, it can be very tough finding a new line of business, a new job, this can be extremely challenging! but there is no moral, ethical or social justice rationale, as I can see, that would offer a justification for these fossil fuel companies to continue unabated in altering the very atmosphere and climate that the collective of humanity relies on to thrive, flourish and experience meaningful and enjoyable lives.

Hansen is absolutely correct. It is well past time that our politicians- those folks who we elect to represent our best interests and the interests of people during the decades to come- either pass laws that move our nation's energy consumption away from burning fossil fuels or, if not, simply do the right and brave thing and resign from office so we can elect people who will. Period.
+11 # ABen 2012-05-10 22:56
The current GOP's use of the term conservative has little to do with any idea of conservation; in fact it seems a perversion of the notion of conservation. It seems the only thing they are interested in conserving is their own sense of power and entitlement. Go as green as possible as soon as possible!
+12 # LizR 2012-05-10 23:02
So much for the capitalist philosophy, it might have worked if anyone had been prepared to pay the real costs of their lifestyle, but they preferred to get a (supposedly) free lunch. The whole thing was infantile anyway, people with a sense of entitlement enriching themselves at others' expense, why can't they grow up and manage their lives sensibly? Oh well too late now I guess, as you say. Letting the apes run teh laboratory was a collosal failure.
+23 # Richard1908 2012-05-10 23:27
The wilful denial of so many people to the reality of climate change is frightening. One almost enjoys a vicarious thrill at the thought that humankind's collective stupidity will lead it to exactly the state it so richly deserves - extinction.

The tragedy is that Planet Earth's flora and fauna will suffer too, and our beautiful green and blue Planet Earth will be no more. Perhaps in a few billion years something will creep out of the primordial ooze and make a better go of it.
+15 # ruttaro 2012-05-12 07:18
Richard, I gave you a thumbs up but I feel or believe we need to do something. I'm a member of the "baby boomers:, got my AARP membership almost ten years ago. I recycle, have an organic garden and have burned 109 gallons of gasoline since 9/9/11. But I know that is not enough. I teach at a university and I stand in front of 90 to 100 students every quarter. I am confronted not by their youthful faces but reflection of my responsibility in helping to place the world on the path it is heading. I face the fact that we are all captured by the economic system and cannot live in the modern world without being hypocrites, whether we like it or not. Facing my students and confronted with that fact, I ask how can I call myself a moral man if I now do nothing? I, and we, have to do something on a greater scale. SO here is what I propose: we unite, young and old, and refuse to vote for any politician for any office who will not introduce legislation to do two things: 1)transition us off of fossil fuels and into renewables immediately, and 2) sponsor a constitutional
amendment making all public elections publicly funded. We would be like a union of voters, focused on this goal and no longer selling our vote cheap. If, like a union, we remain in solidarity, in this close election, we can get significant climate change discussion into the debate. If any of you agree, please give a thumbs up or think this is foolishness, then a thumbs down. (I know, not great research method.)
+16 # X Dane 2012-05-10 23:33
It now seems clear that the right wing not only want to take Obama down. they are willing to destroy the planet and the future of their children, forget about grandchildren. It is obvious that they will not have a chance.

Unfortunately the democrats are JUST as guilty for they NEED TO fight MUCH HARDER to IMPLEMENT WHAT DR. HANSEN ADVICED.

It is terrifying that we have NO STATES MEN, NOT JUST IN THIS COUNTRY, BUT IN the WORLD. For I see NO ONE, who is trying to unite the world leaders, and work for a just solution for ALL.

We will be the last generation to have had a good life, in a world with a fairly normal climate.

Our children will curse us.
+15 # X Dane 2012-05-11 00:30
James Hansen's article should be printed in all the papers. I am surprised, that the New York Times is printing it, considering that it is also owned by a big corporation, and we know that the big corporations are lying to us, non stop.

All the crap going on in congress is so totally asinine. They are squabbling about stupid things, when a lot of them DO understand the danger we are in.

I remember before Obama was elected some of the republicans in the house were talking about what could be done. they understood the danger I saw it on CSPANN.
Then Obama was elected, and NOW it was all about DESTROYING HIM.....and the rest of us

How can we get the young people motivated and mobilized to fight for their own survival??

Dr. Hansen is one of the most respected scientists, and I definitely believe him. I wish I didn't, for I feel sick about the LACK of future for my two daughter and grandsons.
+5 # cordleycoit 2012-05-11 05:46
If global warming is such an issue and it is, why are we spraying aluminum oxide in the atmosphere? Warming is real chemtrails are real and HAARP is real why are we warming the planet? Weird Science.
+6 # Barbara K 2012-05-11 05:58
Let Canada exploit its dirty oil. They don't have to make it cross our country to send to the open market, so we take all the risks and get none of the benefits. Let them get their oil to the open markets across their own land, we are not the dump they think we are.
+8 # Regina 2012-05-11 09:38
Canadians seem to have more say in their politics than Americans, including Canada's indigenous peoples. We're blindfolded and led by our noses, leashed to the highest bidders for government handouts and freebies and tax eliminations.
+11 # jwb110 2012-05-11 11:53
Quoting Barbara K:
Let Canada exploit its dirty oil. They don't have to make it cross our country to send to the open market, so we take all the risks and get none of the benefits. Let them get their oil to the open markets across their own land, we are not the dump they think we are.

British Columbia has already made it clear that they do not want the pipeline to cross their province on it sway to the sea. The ral issue behind this is that Houston TX has the largest refinery in the US and does not have "enough" oil to refine. Screw TX. Let them find some other way to make money.
+8 # X Dane 2012-05-11 15:56
Barbara, you and I seem to be in agreement on so much. This time I respectfully disagree with you. "Let them get their oil to the open market."
I think we should hope and encourage Canada to GIVE UP on the tar sands oil, for as Dr Hansen mentions it is TWICE AS POLLUTING as regular oil, which means that disaster is coming faster.

Instead we should do EVERYTHING possible to work together on developing green solutions. Start competitions, as we did with the space race. This race is a heck of a lot more important, for it is the race for our survival

We regular citizens have to DEMAND that our leaders get together to work on solutions for the planet. If disaster does happen it will not discriminate among nations.

It will destroy rich nations as well as poor.... developed as well as less developed. You can NOT pay your way OUT of it
+5 # X Dane 2012-05-11 16:09
It will definitely mean that we have to sacrifice a lot. For far too long we have just taken, taken and destroyed our environment. It is a question of dialing back our comfortable lifestyle, and work on sustainable solutions...... ....or in not so many years LOOSING EVERYTHING.

We will see the right wing and also the left showing their true colors.
They may well choose to continue their comfortable lifestyles. AND KILL THEIR CHILDREN'S FUTURE LIVES.

They might say like the nobles before the French revolution: "Apre nous, le delouge" And it truly will be the flood in a great many places.
+18 # genierae 2012-05-11 06:38
Think of what could have been accomplished if the Republicans in D.C. had cooperated with President Obama and the Democrats instead of obstructing every good piece of legislation. If the common good had been the top priority we would have seen major changes to our energy policy and the environment would be on the road to recovery. I truly believe that these right-wing Republicans are the biggest threat to our survival that we have ever faced, and we must organize in massive numbers against them if we are to put an end to their suicidal ways and save this planet.
+9 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-05-11 06:41

Time it is for a global revolution:

+8 # Gord84 2012-05-11 06:59
As a Canadian, please don't say Canada wants this. It is our conservative government and big oil, especially in Alberta. I believe the great majority of Canadians are opposed to this project.
+4 # X Dane 2012-05-11 16:20
Gord84, I believe you, but it is no longer enough to just SAY so, you Canadians need to stand with your indigenous people and people here in the US, and not just protest it, but PREVENT it.
I just wrote some suggestions to what we PEOPLE need to work for. AND IT SURE WILL NOT BE EASY. But if we want to survive.?? It is our only chance.
-28 # edge 2012-05-11 07:14
It is this THE SKY IS FALLING articles that have made many people skeptical!

For twenty years these scare tactics have predicted imminent doom. When these predictions don't come to fruition it is easy to relegate the "science" to the junk pile.
+18 # fredboy 2012-05-11 07:28
Hang on, everyone--the Climate will now have its way.
Our famous last words: We tried to warn you.
+9 # wantrealdemocracy 2012-05-11 07:54
We are not "uninventing the wheel" but killing our mother the earth on whom all life depends. Yes, our 'civilization' (such as it is) will end---but that could be a good thing. We, the people, must start over together to take control of all of our governments. The planet is now controlled by psychopaths blinded by selfish greed.

Don't vote for anyone in federal office now and get out and join OCCUPY!
-3 # rhgreen 2012-05-11 09:53
Hansen: "If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate"? Who is "we"? - the US? That's "do nothing" as opposed to doing what? - coercing Canada with big powerful country's imperialism? Gee, I thought Canada was a sovereign democratic country with the right to make its own decisions including making its own mistakes. I don't like the current govt, or the Tar Sands project for that matter, but it's our business. Act in your own jurisdiction - kill the XL Pipeline if you want. But if American environmentalis ts get too pushy then a lot of Canadians who detest the Harper Conservative govt will rally to them. Americans should certainly understand "Rally around the flag boys! Protect our sovereignty!". Americans do it often enough. So back off. Some of us will try to boot out Harper's Alberta-loving Conservatives at the next election.

Another difficulty few Americans are aware of is that constitutionall y both resources and environment are in provincial not federal jurisdiction. Federal coercion in those areas is possible but difficult. Harper is actually interpreting that jurisdiction thing pretty strictly. Don't say it shouldn't be like that. Canada can have the constitution it likes.
+5 # rhgreen 2012-05-11 12:24
I'm curious what the thumbs down represent. That a country's sovereignty is important only if it's the US? That the end justifies the means if it's Americans deciding the end and choosing the means? That nothing justifies another country doing something Americans don't like? Let me tell you a story that's not about a US vs. Canada issue. I was in Malaysia a few years ago and was with a Malaysian who had a Ph.D. in forestry from the UK. I said something about preserving MY forests for the good of the world and received a 20 min rant on how Americans (he meant North Americans) killed off their native people, cut the forests, strip-mined, built cities and factories that pumped smoke and acid rain and CO2, and industrialized and were now wealthy. Now they want to prevent countries like his from developing, and wanted them to instead be woodsy theme parks "for the good of the world". He pointed out that Malaysia does a creditable job of managing its forests (they do), a lot better than the US did in the 1800s (remember reading Paul Bunyan as a kid? - the legendary logger who is glorified for cutting down the upper mid-west forests?). It was a lovely rant and I told him that I saw his point. So would Albertans who until recently lived in a poor province. Tell you what. If the US completely stops mining and burning coal then maybe Albertans would listen to them about closing the Tar Sands project.
+5 # X Dane 2012-05-11 16:38
rhgreen. Now THIS comment makes sense as did the Malaysian, you talked with. He is right on with all his observations about our country and many of it's people. And as you correctly mentioned we need to lead by example.

This is why you are seeing green this time. I have made several comments here for this is SERIOUS, not just chit chat discussion, and I am beyond worried for the future of my children, grandchildren.. .and yours
+3 # tomo 2012-05-13 00:28
rhgreen: if there were thumbs down, they represent, I hazard, a conviction that "national sovereignty" shouldn't get the last word in such matters; rather there should be international law. When you retort, in effect, that the US has done nothing lately to promote international law and has done a great deal to destroy it, you are, of course, correct.
+4 # X Dane 2012-05-11 16:27
rhgreen, as per your reasoning the federal AND provincial will go to hell together.

+2 # jes7444 2012-05-12 00:18
UR exactly right - I was watching one of the canadian oil stocks which is one of the stocks returning a nice dividend - 9% - it appears that Canadian oil companies are trying find a way to get it to China by way of a pipeline and they are having a problem with environmentalis ts and others - not much we or anyone can do...Canadian Oil will try and do what they want but they may not succeed.....
+2 # Buddha 2012-05-11 10:02
The tar sands are horrible, but let's not fool ourselves. If Keystone XL wasn't built, Canada WOULD build a longer more expensive one to its own ports and export to China. China will continue building a coal plant on average of 1 per week. Across the globe, economic growth and higher profits are definitely being traded in Faustian fashion for a sustainable environment, and whether the Tar Sands are exploited or not isn't going to determine whether Global Warming happens or doesn't. It IS happening, and the Tar Sands are just one more brick in that wall.
+3 # Glen 2012-05-11 12:38
It's a mystery why you got thumbs down, Buddha. You are correct that economics and resources are ruling international behavior, including wars. It will not stop until resources are depleted and economies fall apart. Yes, Keystone is simply "one more brick in that wall."

China is a direct threat to the U.S. and Europe. More to come...
+5 # X Dane 2012-05-11 16:43
WRONG Glen WE are a far bigger threat to the world. We have for years used the major part of earth's resources. NOW IT IS TIME THAT WE WORK ON REVERSING THAT AND WORK ON SAVING OUR PLANET.
+2 # Glen 2012-05-12 15:56
Perhaps I should have defined "direct threat". It is meant to explain the competition between big countries who do use enormous amounts of oil and resources in general. There is also competition to control territory for defense or aggression. The U.S. is concentrating on keeping China out of certain areas of resources.

The U.S. may have used tremendous amounts of oil and such, but growing economies and countries such as China are in direct competition and WILL be sucking more oil than the U.S.
-2 # X Dane 2012-05-11 16:40
Buddha was wise. Please try to live up to that revered name.
+15 # b_niles57 2012-05-11 10:03
I have spent a long time on conservative blogs trying to convince deniers of climate change science. The unfortunate truth is: An extremely large segment of our population does not, and will not understand or accept the facts of Global Warming.

For the life of me, I can't understand it, but is as if their minds are wired a TOTALLY different way. I am convinced that the people I have interacted will NEVER agree to do something about GW, becuse they will NEVER agree that it exists. No fact, study, or even evidence from their own lives will sway their minds, which seem totally closed.(This seems to be a hallmark of average conservative mindset on a whole host of issues BTW) Facts mean nothing to them.

It is scary, and I don't know how to get around it. Until we do, the rest of us are really going to be screwed.
+2 # Regina 2012-05-12 16:31
Global warming is based on science. The ultra-right-win g opposes ALL science. They think that discoveries are debatable and up for votes -- we have a choice. They also think the earth is flat, only 6000 years old, and that humans lived alongside dinosaurs. They also have some weird ideas about American history and the Constitution, which they think they can amend as they choose. It is indeed scary.
0 # tomo 2012-05-13 00:49
Regina: Let me add to your list that a great many Americans seem to think: "God would never allow anything so bad as drastic climate change to occur. Therefore, it isn't occurring or about to occur." This is very convenient, but also very dangerous theology. It doesn't seem to be very biblical, either--for all some Christians would like to think it is. Deuteronomy has this incredible list of curses which Moses says God has in hand for those who forget His law. We who disregard justice, trample on neighbors, and abuse our habitat seem right on schedule when it comes to reaping divine wrath.
+8 # tm7devils 2012-05-11 10:31
Now's the time to tell your children to not have any (or any more) children...!!!
0 # tomo 2012-05-13 19:26
Or tell them, at least, that it's a splendid time to ADOPT children who will otherwise grow up without parental nurturing and anchoring.
+11 # Fraenkel.1 2012-05-11 10:44
The only thing that will save us from suffocating from global warming would be a drastic cut in the world's population. In the fifties demographics was a respectable subject. Now it's forbidden. Now we have science denial. All you need is faith.Then you can believe anything. The sad thing is that the same science that gave us cell phones, the polio vaccine and DNA is also responsible for some understanding of global warming. The science deniers shouldn't believe in any of that either. I always thought Canada was a progressive country.
+1 # tomo 2012-05-13 19:34
Yea, verily! I am astonished there seem to be no religious or political or academic leaders who are willing to call attention to easily observable links between population growth, on the one hand, and ecological and political disruption and mayhem on the other.
-2 # forparity 2012-05-11 12:02
Hansen: "Over the next several decades, the Western United States"

Gee, I wonder if that will be a repeat of the great drought from 900AD to 1300AD (400 yrs) that the West suffered though? Those darn injuns (careful folks - I'm 1/8 Cherokee)
0 # b_niles57 2012-05-14 08:39
Why do you bring up native americans at all? Just to show off your CHerokee heritage? As for drought- yes the same except: Man-made/avoida ble,not end-able/revers able, and part of a larger pattern of disasterous climate and weather.
-13 # forparity 2012-05-11 12:14
Hansen:"We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events - they were caused by human-induced climate change."

I'm just going to stick to Texas. Yep - as they say - they had a very very hot and dry year.

On the other hand, NOAA's official temperature and precipitation records for Texas, going back 117 years are very clear. During this period of time, there is no temperature trend, up or down, in Texas. Precipitation does show a miniscule increase in trend - but is so small, it's insignificant.

What about the extremely cold winter in Europe which killed tens of thousands? The cold winter in S America a couple years back that killed so many? The record ice in the Bering Sea this winter -- oops - they'd predicted that would be the first area to first go ice free. Hmm.

I called NOAA - sea level trends folks a few weeks back. Fact - in all of there long term records of sea level - they see absolutely no mathematical evidence that there has been any global (especially surrounding the US (4 oceans) during the past 100 years - just plugging along at a constant rate. Once again - no cause for alarm. In a few hundred years, folks will have to move their teepee up the beach a few more yards, just like they have done for centuries.

Oh, I'm sorry - did fools build fixed objects on the beach - big silly mistake.
+5 # X Dane 2012-05-11 16:58
That sarcasm is misplaced, forparity..
We should not call what is happening: Global warming. It is CLIMATE CHANGE.
The oceans ARE WARMING, which causes more precipitation. In the winters MUCH MORE SNOW and in the summer WAY TOO MUCH RAIN
Which causes SOME areas and extreme drought in others

A couple of years ago Australia had flooding, the size of FRANCE and GERMANY, COMBINED!!!!
Disaster is already happening.
-13 # forparity 2012-05-11 21:19
There is absolutely no evidence presented as of yet that the climate - extreme weather, etc,. has changed outside of normal cycles - not at this time.

Hurricanes (cyclonic) have decreased slightly
Tornadoes have decreased
Droughts are decreasing
Floods - nothing unusual there
SST (sea surface Temp) is not out of the ordinary
sea level rate of increase has not accelerated in the past 100 yrs, and recently has fallen.
Earths temp has not risen in the past 15-yrs, +/-.
The warming since the end of the last little ice age is cyclic, as was the cooling before that.
Arctic Ice cap is slightly above normal in the moment.
Global sea ice has not been decreasing - is stable.
Glacier melt has not accelerated - still just plugging along, since the warm up began after the little ice age ended (last 2-300 yrs).

Pollution is bad. Let's continue to address that.

The main thing we must focus on is population control, and that starts here at home, with immigration restrictions. We must decrease immigration - thus population explosion - in the US. If so, immediately, all pollution, including so called greenhouse gases, will continue to reverse course.

Disaster is not happening - many fewer people are dying from weather events then historically. Both here in the US, and globally.

You'll find no evidence of anything other than that other than wild crazy people just stating that it is worse.
+6 # X Dane 2012-05-11 23:05
Well foparity, I very MUCH disagree with you, and with all due respect I believe an accomplished scientist like James Hansen. I am NOTa crazy person but I follow what is going on in the world, and I can assure you that the glaziers melt are most certainly accelerating a LOT faster than earlier.

I have traveled a lot, and The glaziers in Norway, where I have family is melting at a speed that is worrisome. Much faster in the last few years.Proven.

And so is the Greenland Ice. Through deep fissures in the ice the melting water on top is running down and making the ice slide faster. The scientists are extremely concerned. NOT CRAZY PEOPLE.

In the 53 years I have lived in this country (in California) there has certainly been a change. And the Tornadoes in the middle American states come earlier and more often, and violently. Sorry forparity, but I sure disagree with you
-6 # forparity 2012-05-12 12:16
Glaciers have been melting for a long time. However in many areas they are not. In fact, many - like in the Himalayas are stable. Seeing as the planet has been warming up for the past several hundred years (with little mini-cycles of cooling and warming - this last 40 yr cycle is coming to an end, it would appear), it only makes sense that as a few hundred years of warming continues, that melting would accelerate a bit.

That "slippery" Greenland theory has been pretty much thrown out.

And, from Science Daily:

Researchers have found that the effects of the current warming/melting of Greenland's glaciers . . [also] occurred in the decades following an abrupt warming in the 1920s [prior to AGW].

CA changes? Nothing here you could experience. Temp in CA - state wide - hasn't warmed in the past 20 yrs. Looking at the temp records at NOAA, shows the temp trend from 1981 thru end of 2011 - is 0.02 F; which is below meaningless. Since 1996 (last 15 yrs) - the temp trend is -0.37 degrees F. per decade. Cooling, you see.

Sea level trend, here in LA, CA, per NOAA is rising at a whopping 3 1/4 inch clip/100 yrs. In every decade, back to 1920, it has been higher than present.

Tornadoes - no, there are not more - not more violent - not occurring earlier - number of deaths, resulting are way down than before the official start of AGW. - That's official.

In a warmer world - tornadoes will decrease.
-5 # forparity 2012-05-13 13:35
Norway - well, perhaps things are changing. i did mention that we're about due for two cyclic events:

1.) the current little mini 40 year warming cycle is due to flip. For the 40 years +/- before the current 40 yr warming cycle, it was cooling - fear about the expanding arctic ice (must have been expanding from the previous melt cycle.

2.) somewhere in here it's time for the typical 300-600 year cycle to flip. It's been about 400 years since the middle of the Little Ice Age cycle.


Norway's glaciers growing at record pace. The face of the Briksdal glacier, an off-shoot of the largest glacier in Norway and mainland Europe, is growing by an average 7.2 inches (18 cm) per day. (From the Norwegian daily Bergens Tidende.)

Who knows, perhaps they're cherry picking a bit -- but these folks are at least doing some homework:

List of Expanding glaciers:

Think about this - and about how long the cycle is - and when and why it started:

Alaskan Glaciers Grow for First Time in 250 years.

The times, they are a-changing.
+4 # Glen 2012-05-12 16:49
Hurricanes come and go, forparity, but just as with tornadoes, the intensity of both has increased. Flooding in North America, South America, and Europe has increased. Warming also increases more evaporation, which can cause increased snow and rain, confusing those who don't understand warming.

If there is no change in the Arctic, why are countries setting up claims and installing undersea markers for oil drilling, including sea lanes and international waters.

Deaths do not necessarily equate to warming or change. There are other signs and symptoms, such as many northern countries with bays rarely needing ice breakers in the winter now.

Much of what we are seeing is also destruction of the atmosphere, not just a greenhouse effect.

I, as X Dane, have traveled a great deal, and have discussed these issues with citizens of various countries, in addition to those in various states in the U.S. Just about everyone has declared major changes in their climate. One of the most remarkable was one of the islands off South America that was once tropical and is now dead dry. One fellow stated that if someone dropped a match on one end of the island, most folks wouldn't make it to the other end to jump in the water.

And how about the dozens of various types of animals migrating north? We see it in my state.

Yes, population control is paramount, but immigration isn't control. Having fewer babies is.
-5 # forparity 2012-05-12 17:19
First of all Glen, I did not state that changes have not occurred in the Arctic. However, in the moment the Arctic polar cap extent is slightly above normal (satellite history) for this time of year.The Bering sea set a record ice coverage this year. Hmm. Over and over again since the early 1800's records showed that the arctic ice cap went thru several thaw - then re-freeze cycles. We're probably at the end of this current 40 yr cycle -- back to the expanding cycle that occurred up until about the mid-late 70's. Note ; it was expanding (scientists were concerned - remember ?) at an alarming rate -- to where it ended up in 1979. It was expanding from much less ice during the 40 years preceding - you see.

Officially, both in the Atlantic basin and globally - both the total number of major cyclones and the total energy released by the sum of, was less in the 2nd half of the 20th century than the 1st half.


June 2011: "During the past 6-years since Hurricane Katrina, global tropical cyclone frequency and energy have decreased dramatically, and are currently at near-historical record lows. According to a new peer-reviewed research paper . ."

A lot of media alarmism - but there is no evidence that floods, droughts, heat, cold, is out of the ordinary -- just cycles repeating themselves.

There are studies predicting such - but no documentation proving that it has occurred as of yet.
-5 # forparity 2012-05-12 17:34
Glen and X Dane:

Here - from NOAA - noaa + "number of strong to violent (EF3-EF5*) Tornadoes"

Sometimes it doesn't load.

Note - even with modern radar, and all of the tornado chasers out there (now - few, if any aren't recorded - and many are recorded over and over again (problem, you see), there were still more before the age of AGW.

I don't have time - but it's not to hard to find the data from both NASA, Colo State U (they do the hurricane forecasts) - and the Chinese team -- all of which came up with very similar data -

And, on the cyclonic (hurricane) data - you have to understand - they are only looking at what is in the record. Satellite observations, of nay note) didn't begin until the '70's. And in the early 2oth century - we didn't even have radar. In other words, we only have measurements (scattered) for cyclones that either hit ground and were measured - in the eye (and most were not), and those that a ship managed to be caught in the middle of - that survived. Ah - many many hurricanes were never even witnessed, nor recorded - as they stayed out at sea.

We have rather accurate records for most all cyclones in the 2nd half of the 20th century - certainly, after 1970.

Still - more hurricanes were recorded in the 50 yrs prior, than the 50 years after - and now, we're at a 6 year low (decreasing).
+1 # Glen 2012-05-14 09:33
I understand your reasoning, forparity, and I've read a fair amount of information from various sources, including reports from people who have been studying the atmosphere their entire adult lives in various parts of the world.

My skepticism evaporated due to the reading, but mostly from personal experience in travel and local observations. There are amazing numbers of animals migrating north, and in my state in the middle of the country, we are seeing birds that have traditionally been found out west or in Mexico, Texas, and Florida and the southern coast. Armadillos are moving north in the thousands, local flora has also change dramatically, becoming more jungle like.

I have also lost my skepticism concerning the science behind manipulating the weather world wide. There definitely are changes coming, and chaotic weather patterns are indicative of that. Animals are reacting, which has always been a clear indication of change. Hell, they can even react to an earthquake before the tremor actually hits.

Best to observe our world first hand when possible.
-2 # forparity 2012-05-14 12:25
Best to consider that these "amazing" events, may occur over and over again as the earth has gone through these little cycles -- both the little short ones - like the 40 yr, or so cycles we've experienced several times in the past hundred and couple hundred years; as well as the longer 300-600 year cycles - the Medieval warm cycle - a thousand years back (it's a toss up, as to whether, or not it was warmer then, than now - or now.) -- then the Little Ice Age - the bottom of which (center point) was 400 years ago.

You made the point that animals react almost instantly. So, I'd assume then, that during the equally (or more or less) intense warming leading up to the 1940's that they all started migrating then -- then back, as we cooled for the next 35-40 years, just before we started warming up again?
0 # Glen 2012-05-15 09:53
There is a rapid change world wide, and a chaos that did not necessarily occur in the past. I have monitored the weather and climate for the last 40 years and have witnessed ups/downs. One period was due to air-pollution that caused major heat throughout the mid-west and sunlight shining amber on the ground day after day. Air-pollution regulations helped change that. Next came acid rain. And so forth. Regardless of those issues, the weather just keeps warming. By warming, I should say moderating, in that winters have moderated over the last 30 years, allowing for increased insects, growth and so forth. Warming does not necessarily mean extreme heat, but in many areas of the planet it does.

When I said animals react, I didn't mean instantly with the exception of earthquakes. The movement north in this part of the country has been taking place for two thirds of those 40 years. We shall see if they make the return migration even faster. Ahem. I remember the first time I saw an armadillo, in the early '90's, stumbling around in the underbrush in the woods, a long way from any town. Now, they are roadkill, wrecking fields and yards, etc.

When flying, I have seen increased amounts of smog, knowing that the worst of it cannot be seen. There is increased amounts of radiation, which may be seen in both flora and fauna, but in humans the increase in skin cancer and cataracts. Folks forget the atmosphere at large and that radiation.
+1 # tomo 2012-05-13 19:44
You should have mentioned, forparity, that it is a well-known fact that the Mayans built an immense snow machine ten thousand years ago, and installed it between earth and the moon's orbit (NASA reports on the difficulty of navigating around it) which is so contrived as to dump snow on the polar regions whenever they tend to melt too fast. This is an important part of your argument, and I'm surprised you omitted it.
-2 # forparity 2012-05-13 21:18
Really working on the sense of laughter here - but it's so far out there . . .
+1 # b_niles57 2012-05-14 08:57
Forparity- you are trying to argue against what science as a whole has concluded by trying to poke little holes in it. It doesn't work like that. Little individual exceptions like the Himilayas have NOTHING to do with the OVERALL change in climate
-2 # forparity 2012-05-14 09:52
Indeed. But what are the big climate related rules, that prove that the increase of man-induced C02 into the atmosphere, since the 1940's, have changed the climate?

FTR - the Himalayas are not a little thing. Neither are the hundreds of other exceptions.

The weather - climate - simply is going thru the usual cycles.

The fact that the media keeps this shrill reporting going on about the weather, and that some scientists are predicting future climate change doesn't make it occur, and the fact that many are also saying that we've been experiencing it, without producing the evidence to prove it - speaks volumes.
+6 # video4315 2012-05-11 15:19
Science, reality, and the conservative mind rarely travel the same path these days. It often appears that the right feels compelled to deny science and facts just because people on the left seem to believe it. Whether you believe that humans are a major contributor to climate change or not, one would think that a prudent person whould prefer to do SOMETHING rather than say, "We aren't doing it, and we aren't going to worry about the outcome, even it is purely natural."
0 # handmjones 2012-05-12 11:47
Part 1 - Hansen and others lead you up to a belief in anthropogenic climate change and then let you draw the conclusion that a major effort to go off fossil fuel will end it.
They never actually state that nor do they lay out a way forward with roughed in data. We need a plan that takes into account:
the vast amount of GHG to be given off during say a 30 year build-out of 'green' energy
a study proving that the switch would stop the positive feedback that is already occurring i.e. methane a very potent GHG is being given off by the tundra and seafloor as a result of and subsequently a cause of GW. The CO2 will not disapate quickly so the positive feedback is likely to continue unabated.
+1 # handmjones 2012-05-13 05:25
Part 2
Will we give up animal husbandry which also gives off methane (as do we)
Will we stop rice growing a major source of methane?
We take whole river systems and evaporate them into the atmosphere adding to the principal GHG. Modelers claim they needn't include water vapour as it all falls out in a few days but that's like seeing 7 billion people juggling balls and saying there are no balls in the air because they aren't permanent.
Will we give up making cement and steel which processes give off GHG even if we use 'green' power.
Accomplishing as complete a conversion to 'green' energy as possible by 2050 would require devoting a huge proportion of our GDP to the project and would result in a higher GHG level at that point with no real likelihood of significant delay in warming.
As so many have pointed out above each country is sovereign and all theoretical since producing countries are not going to quit as long as consuming countries keep buying For all of the Third World even a mild increase in price results in starvation riots.
-2 # easter planet 2012-05-13 23:16
Hansen exists in the isolated stratosphere of the upper-middle class. He puts out an e-mail bulletin (which you may subscribe to) but there is no way to send him a comment. He keeps putting forth this carbon pricing scheme, with full payment of the collected fees to "the people", which, to my mind, completely short-circuits the effect of so-called carbon pricing. If indeed fuel for cars and home heating actually got too expensive, trust me, down here in the real world, people would burn everything they can get their hands on, goodbye all the trees. As we all know, carbon ALREADY has a price - not a complete price factoring in all the detrimental effects of it, but you now pay SOMETHING for it. The REAL problem is that you pay NOTHING for the other 2/3 of your fuel, the OXYGEN! In reality, you STEAL that part of your fuel from the commons, so I insist that you start paying for the oxygen that you use. But the upper-middle class snobs do not like that proposal, because it would mean paying ME something, since I produce more oxygen that I consume, and it would correct the Malaysian Syndrome wherein we ask those people to not cut down their rainforest. With oxygen pricing, we would be PAYING them for the oxygen they produce, and that should be at a level high enough for them to justify leaving their forest intact.
+2 # OligarchyNot 2012-05-14 15:39
Given what fracking does to our most precious resource -- water --I believe it should be outlawed altogether and we should be finding clean energy solutions in an urgent way. But, realistically, I don't believe this is going to happen. We should then, at the very least, demand that if fracking is to take place, there are several things implemented to offset its effects and help the environment. Namely, implementing the carbon tax idea and investing in a nation-wide rail system to supplant the need to drive or fly in the U.S. But, most importantly, that the oil fracking industry be held responsible for cleaning up any tainting of our underground water supply, and that they must keep enough money on hand to do such clean up and not take everyone to court trying to prove that damage has been done. I’m only saying this because with our current short-sighted, corporate-contr olled political system, I don’t expect to be able to stave off the greed mongers from achieving their oil fracking goals, so those who want to allow this to happen must be made to compromise in a big way.
+3 # OligarchyNot 2012-05-14 16:12
What all the climate deniers don't seem to understand is that scientists are able to track C02 levels from the earth's distant past up until now by taking deep soil samples. Those samples tell them how high C02 levels have been in the past and what the consequences were and those samples show a dramatic increase in rapidly rising C02 levels beginning with the industrial revolution. Adding to this evidence is the visible evidence of melting ice sheets and islands disappearing around the globe, not to mention the exact same extreme weather the scientists predicted 30 years ago are now taking place. So far, the scientists have not been wrong. The only people who choose to disagree with the scientists are the anti-global warming groups created by the oil industry itself and their unquestioning followers, none of whom have any evidence to support their denial of global warming. They try to imply that scientists who make global warming claims are in it for the money, but the only money trail I see is the one leading directly back to the oil industry. Is being able to drive oil guzzling automobiles more important to you than having a livable planet for humans, animals and plants?

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