13 July 2009

146 Days - Why Joe Romm Needs to Get Some Perspective

Climate change blogger Joseph Romm (a good guy who's on our side) is slamming Dr. James Hansen in the blogosphere these days.

First, I should mention that anybody who messes with Hansen messes with me! (Just so we're clear where I stand on this.)

I don't want to go into details. In fact, I don't even want to send you to the original postings and the spinoffs.

I just want to say this. James Hansen understands the climate change emergency far better than almost anyone else on Earth, and certainly (it is now obvious) better than Joe Romm, who (I will grant him) deeply understands American political responses to climate change.

I've written about this before — we enviros seem to have a penchant for critiquing our own, even those who know more than we do. So, when James Hansen says we desperately need a carbon tax, Joe, don't disagree with the man. When he says that the new Waxman-Markey climate change bill in the USA isn't enough, don't disagree with the man.

When you say, "I have previously explained why W-M takes us sharply off of the BAU [business as usual] emissions path over the next decade, probably reducing coal use more than 25% by 2020," please understand that cutting coal use 100% by 2020 is one of the few ways we've got to save the future.

We must get all our fossil fuel emissions down to zero. Say it with me. ZERO. Z-E-R-O. That's zed (zee to you Americans), ee, ar, oh.

Not "42% emissions reduction by 2030." Not "an 83% reduction by 2050." We must reach zero fossil fuel emissions fast, or we risk losing it all. (And I'm talking that really big ALL!) Indeed, any target that isn't zero is not a serious target.

The perspective that Joe Romm is missing is the global perspective. He's so caught up in the American scene that he's forgetting Hansen's global view. And it's not pretty.

So please, sure, be proud of your Waxman-Markey legislation, but don't go braggin' all over that it's going to save the world. It just isn't, because it doesn't talk about getting to zero fast.

It doesn't consider all the people all over the world already impacted by climate chaos. And it does not come from that place of compassion that asks, "What do we really need to do to safeguard the future, for all the children, of all species?"

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?