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James Hansens Draft Message: Tell Barack Obama the Truth – The Whole Truth (7 posts)

  1. chrisc

    Tell Barack Obama the Truth – The Whole Truth

    Embers of election night elation will glow longer than any prior election. Glowing even in other nations, and for good reason. We are all tied together, more than ever, like it or not.

    Barack Obama’s measured words on election night, including eloquent recognition of historic progress, from the viewpoint of a 106-year-old lady, still stoke the embers. But he was already focusing on tasks ahead, without celebratory excess.

    Well he should. The challenge he faces is unprecedented. I refer not to the inherited economic morass, as threatening as it is. The human toll due to past failures and excesses may prove to be great, yet economic recessions, even depressions, come and go.

    Now our planet itself is in peril. Not simply the Earth, but the fate of all its species, including humanity. The situation calls not for hand-wringing, but rather informed action.

    Optimism is fueled by expectation that decisions will be guided by reason and evidence, not ideology. The danger is that special interests will dilute and torque government policies, causing the climate to pass tipping points, with grave consequences for all life on the planet. The President-elect himself needs to be well-informed about the climate problem and its relation to energy needs and economic policies. He cannot rely on political systems to bring him solutions – the political systems provide too many opportunities for special interests.

    Here is a message I think should be delivered to Barack Obama. This is a first draft.

    Criticisms would be much appreciated.


    Posted 9 years ago #
  2. mark

    Hansen is pushing Obama to build more nuclear reactors, which suggests that expertise in climatology does not necessarily translate into expertise in energy or the impacts of radiation upon creatures using DNA.

    The key thing is "power down" (as Richard Heinberg calls it), not trying to replace our current overconsumption with something else. But few people want to hear that.

    Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Climate Change

    Brice Smith Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

    why nuclear power makes the climate crisis worse

    Posted 9 years ago #
  3. emanuel

    The reason most political pundits do not talk about lowering consumption and reducing or eliminating growth is because that means an end to the the international banking cartel and the two political systems (capitalism and socialism) it has propped up over the last century (idealistic socialism notwithstanding). If you challenge such fundamental assumptions, you don't get published many places anymore, and your grant money dries up. If you self-publish and go on lecture tours, and if you actually start having some influence, then bad things start happening to you.

    Geez have I become cynical or what? :)


    Posted 9 years ago #
  4. chrisc

    Oops, I hadn't read the whole thing (blush)!

    I agree nuclear power is not an answer (or if it is then the question must be stupid), this free book should be suggested to Hansen...

    David Fleming, creator of the concept of Tradeable Energy Quotas and author of the forthcoming and rather wonderful “Lean Logic”, has just published The Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy, which is a thorough demolition of the case for nuclear power being a solution to peak oil and climate change.


    The report’s key findings are;

      1. The world’s endowment of uranium ore is now so depleted that the nuclear industry will never, from its own resources, be able to generate the energy it needs to clear up its own backlog of waste.

    -2. It is essential that the waste should be made safe and placed in permanent storage. High-level wastes, in their temporary storage facilities, have to be managed and kept cool to prevent fire and leaks which would otherwise contaminate large areas.

      1. Shortages of uranium – and the lack of realistic alternatives – leading to interruptions in supply, can be expected to start in the middle years of the decade 2010-2019, and to deepen thereafter.
      1. The task of disposing finally of the waste could not, therefore, now be completed using only energy generated by the nuclear industry, even if the whole of the industry’s output were to be devoted to it. In order to deal with its waste, the industry will need to be a major net user of energy, almost all of it from fossil fuels.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  5. chrisc

    A comment attached to a pro-nukes article by Mark Lynas:

    There is a premise missed in the nuclear debate. The assumption is that nuclear energy provides an energy source, and so the debate revolves around whether the benefit of its relatively low carbon footprint outweighs its other obvious disadvantages. In the context of our present climate emergency it is reasonable that some thinkers consider all other problems relatively insignificant.

    However, Dr. Fleming's "Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy" convincingly challenges the initial assumption, showing that on a full life-cycle analysis of nuclear energy production (including decommissioning and waste management) nuclear is becoming an energy sink, not an energy source.

    In other words nuclear makes our energy challenge even harder and thus makes our climate challenge even harder, as well as creating its own unique brand of problems.

    For those who haven't seen it the report is available here:

    Posted 9 years ago #
  6. truthmod

    In order to deal with its waste, the industry will need to be a major net user of energy, almost all of it from fossil fuels.

    Ouch. If this is true, then the debate should be completely changed. Isn't it sad that such fundamental facts do not enter the debate? McCain attacked Obama for wanting "safe nuclear power," but neither of them brought up the point above.

    The concept of building up these stores of highly unstable and dangerous nuclear waste, and creating another industry in vaulting the stuff, is such typical capitalism. That's really the essence of the whole system--putting off dealing with, and externalizing the bad by-products and the inequalities. Well, it may have "worked" for a century or two, but we've got a major wake up call coming.

    I think some of these mainstream global warming promoters really do want fundamental change (i.e. sustainability rather than growth) and that they just can't bring themselves to say it publicly. But most of them are probably so deeply ensconced in the mainstream industrial paradigm that they can't imagine anything else. Saying that we need to end growth and stop consuming more than can be sustained goes against almost everything that this culture knows. Imagine a president who asks the people to start planting organic "victory gardens" and to stop buying new cars, new ipods, and new lcd stop investing in the stock market and start bartering food, crafts, and services with their local communities. It's pretty hard to imagine.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  7. chrisc

    Of course most the waste will probably never be properly disposed of and since many of the reactors are by the sea they will end up underwater. Insanity.

    Posted 9 years ago #


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