Despite working harder than any scientist on the planet to bring reality to government climate policies, Hansen himself is also in denial about one aspect of climate change, namely the implications of reducing CO2 emissions.
Wealth is proportional to energy consumption. Over 90% of energy comes from burning carbon. Most “renewable energy” is dependent on burning carbon for manufacture, installation, and maintenance. Basic physics dictates that reducing CO2 emissions must also shrink the economy.
Notice that in this and almost every other article on climate change there is never an honest acknowledgement of the implications of reducing CO2 emissions.
The reality is that one way or the other we are going to have fewer and poorer people soon.
A carbon tax is one way. Raising interest rates is another. A one-child-policy is another. Starvation, forced migrations, disease, and war are another.
We get to choose. Doing nothing is also a choice.
“All we’ve done is agree there’s a problem,” Hansen told the Guardian. “We agreed that in 1992 [at the Earth summit in Rio] and re-agreed it again in Paris [at the 2015 climate accord]. We haven’t acknowledged what is required to solve it. Promises like Paris don’t mean much, it’s wishful thinking. It’s a hoax that governments have played on us since the 1990s.”
Hansen’s long list of culprits for this inertia are both familiar – the nefarious lobbying of the fossil fuel industry – and surprising. Jerry Brown, the progressive governor of California, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, are “both pretending to be solving the problem” while being unambitious and shunning low-carbon nuclear power, Hansen argues.
There is particular scorn for Barack Obama. Hansen says in a scathing upcoming book that the former president “failed miserably” on climate change and oversaw policies that were “late, ineffectual and partisan”.
“The solution isn’t complicated, it’s not rocket science,” Hansen said. “Emissions aren’t going to go down if the cost of fossil fuels isn’t honest. Economists are very clear on this. We need a steadily increasing fee that is then distributed to the public.”
“It’s not too late,” Hansen stressed. “There is a rate of reduction that’s feasible to stay well below 2C. But you just need that price on carbon.”