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Climate Hero Calls for Carbon Tax or Fee by Tim Foresman

posted Feb 1, 2014, 7:59 PM by Daniel Duesterhaus

Dr. Jim Hansen, a renowned pioneering climate scientist and hero, spoke on 29 January in Washington, D.C. for the John H. Chafee Memorial Lecture on “Minimizing Irreversible Impacts of Human-Made Climate Change.” He reminisced on the early battles with conservative voices in the Bush 41, Clinton, and Bush 43 White Houses regarding conveying the early science findings on global climate change. Against a backdrop of clever climate change skeptics, who received equal billing and preferential weight in policy, especially in the Bush-Cheney administration, Dr. Hansen continued to sound the clarion call for immediate action. His job at NASA was threatened by the White House Chief of Staff for broadcasting science facts that were not in accord with conservative views. Hansen is formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and currently Adjunct Professor and at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where he directs a program in Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions. He maintains a finger on the pulse of climate change science with a sobering array of facts reinforcing the scientific community’s evidence that fossil fuel emissions are pushing Earth’s climate to a “no return” tipping point. His passion for communicating with the public, which he feels is essential to prevent a catastrophic climate shift, is embraced in his first book “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity“ (2009, Bloomsbury Press).

It is his expert opinion that a carbon tax or fee, at the point of origin, must be instituted worldwide to create a global market system to dampen the pace of fossil fuels emissions. But, he adds importantly, the tax or fee must never go to government coffers, but rather be returned directly to the citizens with an across-the-board redistribution scheme. Dr. Hansen noted that the public today does not understand what is really going on with climate change. He sees positive signs, however, in the growing citizen groups getting involved each year. He pointed out that is meeting with Congress continuously in a civil and sober manner to maintain and increase pressure to counter the overly influential control of Congress by the fossil fuel industries. He believes that citizen engagement and a fee on carbon are the only hope for his grandchildren.