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Calling for Global Carbon Tax, James Hansen Says We're Failing 'Miserably' at Tackling Climate Crisis


Calling for Global Carbon Tax, James Hansen Says We're Failing 'Miserably' at Tackling Climate Crisis

Jessica Corbett, staff writer

Former NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen—often called "the father of modern climate change awareness" for, among other things, his famous 1988 Senate testimony about global warming caused by human activity—believes the international community has failed to take adequate action to address the global climate crisis.


In his upcoming book, Sophie’s Planet: A Search for Truth About Our Remarkable Home Planet and Its Future, Hansen reportedly writes that former President Barack Obama “failed miserably” to tackle the global crisis, calling his policies “late, ineffectual, and partisan.”

Is it a minor point to note that the title says “We’re” and Hansen says “Obama”?

Obama did fail to take any significant action on climate, much as he failed to take any significant action on immigration.

Reagan, it appears, was not the only Teflon president.


My climate axioms:

  1. If you smoke you might get lung cancer so don’t go there. If we ignore climate change our grandchildren might starve so don’t go there.

  2. If your town has a large fire you need firefighters and fire trucks, not academic observers. It’s called “Drawdown.” Don’t just study it, do it!

  3. We live in a highly technological age. Wishing for the horse and buggy age isn’t going to help us inhibit or reverse climate change. So, we need actual R&D, a moon shot not a frisbee shot. The top areas are heating buildings in winter, nighttime electricity generation, transit and Arctic albedo remediation.

  4. The critical power behind R&D is new ideas with merit. Building dumb monorail systems for showoff doesn’t work as well. Therefore, we must get good at identifying and funding novel ideas that will work, without regard for the amount of corrupting money behind that particular idea.

Disclosure: I’m a prolific inventor in the climate and renewables fields.

  1. The R&D money to put the fossil fuel industry out of business isn’t there, because the fossil fuel industry has an enormous thumb that they put on top of Congress, on top of all universities to induce raw, craven cowardice, and probably on most large foundations too. So, death it shall be.


Thank heaven for Hansen. Carbon tax is, IMHO, THE equitable market instrument for carbon exploitation.

The approach to climate crisis is shaped by the vagaries of fractional reserve banking. IMF and WB and nation states wiggle around carbon questions with REDD a non-starter that in the words of water boy Gov. Schwarteneger ‘ís baaaack’ as REDD+.

A couple of unavoidable points. Fractional reserve banking is the colonizer methodology of configuring a monetary system. Keep in mind that DEBT is how banks create money. In colonization by the west, Indigenous Peoples are subjected to genocide (present tense also includes consequences of past devastation)the system remains in place withREDD. Ask yourself: WHO lives in the forests being sequestered and RESTRICTED for market purposes? You Guessed it: Indigenous Peoples - who are also the very best stewards of restoration and conservation.

But instead of breaking with the insanity of fractional reserve banking run amok, the rut is being dug deeper. Remember the old saw about “stop digging”? The system is beginning to really sweat because people of conscience are beginning to recognize that insanity.

Become very aware of the block-chain technology/ triple accounting and how this technology is reshaping things - like the internet of things. We’re in for a bumpy ride. Forbes magazine has started a crypto confidential section, as has MIT tech review w/ Chainletter and Bloomberg. It ain’t bein done for nada. This is real.

Switzerland recently defeated a sovereign currency referendum to end fractional reserve banking.

Yes, financial systems are loathe to give up their centuries old right to genocide and fractional reserve banking. And yes, climate carbon and money are joined at the hip.



Mr. Hansen,

“We” are not failing, our “Unrepresentative Government” is.


Anytime honesty is a part of an equation that also has the variables of government, corporations and oligarchs a negative solution is preordained.


Watch all of the people attack him because of his lack of “pragmatism”. After all, the Republicans would never allow it, right? Those people seem to miss very obvious things, like, how did Republicans get that power to begin with when their policies are so deeply unpopular? How could the Democrats fail to push for solutions to an issue that poses an actual threat to our species? Talk about an abdication of leadership. Could it be that the Democrats lack a coherent alternative that they push for, that their corruption doesn’t allow them to push for policies their donors don’t approve of, and because of the impact of the policies that the mediocre and corrupt politicians that organizations like the DCCC and the donors behind those organizations have pushed for, people in large numbers are simply not voting. So, a context exists where everything continues to get worse and there is no real solution within the political system to reverse course. Global warming could result in the end of human civilization, and Obama’s lack of true leadership on the issue, and the lack of leadership among the politicians in power, is damning. The people of this country and the world deserve better than what this economic system, and what our political system and these two rotten parties offer. Given the impact our country has globally, the utter failure of this political system has worldwide implications, and since the Democrats are the only party with a chance to actually do something on the issue, their failure as a party is monumental. Obama’s children, Pelosi’s children and grandchildren have no other planet to escape to. You’d figure that would get them to re-think not only their decisions, but the policies they have long supported, which have undermined environmental stewardship in countless ways. Yeah, they did some decent things here and there, more than the Republicans have done, but their support for particular policies far more than negated any good those policies caused.

A carbon tax is better than cap and trade programs though. It isn’t nearly enough by itself, but it would be a lot harder to escape than cap and trade programs. Cap and trade programs, if they worked in practice as they do in theory, would result in progressively fewer credits being on the market, which would drive up the price of carbon pollution. However, in every single cap and trade program (not counting the SOx cap and trade program here, which was radically different for a number of reasons), there are always too many credits in the system, there are always too many offsets, credits are almost always given away free to the worst polluters and corruption is rife throughout the system. So, it is a fake solution in practice, where neoliberal politicians can pretend to be doing something that they know isn’t going to have much of a positive impact. In the EU’s system, carbon credits have been hovering around $10, sometimes much lower. Right now, I think, about $14. If I am not mistaken, it is estimated that the credits would have to be at least $40 or so to engender any real cuts in carbon emissions.


A carbon “tax” is a good idea within the context of a variety of actions taken, not THE SOLUTION. Most of the carbon tax proposals out there rely on “the free market” approach which is highly unpredictable in how effective this tax would be on reducing GHG emissions. Given the acute nature of substantial action on the issue of climate change, actions that we know can reliably cut GHG emissions need to included to ensure targets are reached.

It also matters how such a carbon tax is constructed and implemented. Citizen Climate Lobby has an interesting “fee and dividend” approach There is another proposal out there put forward by former Repub Sec of State that is much less attractive (IMHO).


It’s like being on the Titanic and you can see the iceberg dead ahead, and you hear Captain Trump shouting for full speed…It will also end just about the same, only this time on a global scale.


Climatologist Keven Anderson makes a convincing case that the “carbon budget” idea should replace target year approaches (e.g., 80% reduction by 2050) as the means to determine how much GHG emissions each nation is allowed. Having a carbon budget is a more realistic and effective means of determining the appropriate paths forward to address climate change.


Announcing a carbon budget for five years from now can be toothless. Five years from now the new legislature announces, “Oh, that was the old legislature making you all those promises!” In fact, most members of the new legislature were around in the old legislature too, but it’s all about blaming “somebody else” for a failure that everybody knew was coming. Then the same game can be repeated for another five years.

Setting climate goals sounds, at first, more R&D friendly than subsidizing solar panels made in some Chinese factory.


I’ve attended several CCL meetings and believe they’re a credible organization that could influence governmental regulatory action. And yes, a carbon tax would be a part of other actions taken, ie, how to invest the tax funds raised - alternate energy sources, energy conservation programs and travel/transport technology. Firmly reject Hyperloop, Boring Company tunnel highway and self-driving ‘driverless’ car schemes as legally punishable fraud. Monorail, on the other hand, is only stupid when it is designed to fail as was the case in Seattle 1997-2006.


Recall that ol’ Reagan buddy removed the solar panels put up by Carter to help power the White House. No president has ever taken global poisoning/warming seriously. Bush II suppressed Hansen’s data. Obama, lip service, and now utter denial.


Question: Which EV technology has the most potential to reduce fuel/energy consumption, (BEV, PHEV or HFCEV)? Answer: PHEV. Plug-in Hybrid. Just for argument sake, PaulK, under what considerations do you think this is correct?
Disclaimer: I’m the designer of the Seattle Circulator Monorail Plan, the least expensive, least impact, most productive monorail proposal blacklisted in Seattle, yet still possible to construct if the city leaders weren’t so damned corrupt nor the activist community there so obsequious to fabulously phony authorities.


I have an all inclusive term for the catastrophe we’re all enmeshed in. It goes beyond global poisoning/warming and is simpler. It’s just called the 6th mass extinction. How many species that become extinct is up to the stupid humans that are in leadership positions. Time’s ticking and almost up for humans to avoid the big E. Tick, tock!


Hansen has expertise in climate science, not in finding solutions. I doubt if the carbon tax he proposes is a simple answer. Food & Water Watch did a study on the British Columbia carbon tax and concluded it had no effect on emissions. That organization also questions the effectiveness of cap and trade programs although there are studies showing the program run by nine northeastern states has had some effect in reducing emissions. Food & Water Watch is advocating government regulations to reduce emissions and is supporting the OFF Fossil Fuel Act in Congress that was introduced by Tulsi Gabbard which would mandate through regulations 100% renewable energy for electricity by 2035… There is a not of agreement on what needs to be accomplished but strong differences of opinion on how to get there.


Start with ridding the world of all military and ban eating meat. Go from there. Stop murdering trees to put the dead in for instance.


Anderson explains the kind of carbon budget he suggests in the link below and numerous other youtube videos. A bit different than what you are talking about. Hope checking out what he has to say sorts out the confusion.

Here is a shorter one but there are others that go into more detail.


He would not only be saying “Full Speed Ahead”, he would give an order to make sure his lifeboat was the first put into the water.


There are no technological solutions to anthropogenic mass extinction, which includes what humans are doing to the atmosphere.
You want to profit from the stupidity of humans and their relentlessly increasing population growth. You’re one of those geoengineer types who believes in technoutopia, and you see $$$$ in the death of the earth. Most people like you only care about future human generations, not all the innocent animals we share the planet with. They use terms like resilience and sustainability, and talk about ludicrous things like “albedo remediation.”
The simple fact is that unless humans decrease their population and consumption growth, and reverse the paving and other ruination of the planet inherently required by technoindustrial society, we’re doomed.
Horse and buggy lifestyles had some problems, but horses only made manure, which is useful for crops, and the world was a lot quieter before the machines took over.
The invention of the infernal combustion engine and a lot of other so-called modern industrial conveniences was the beginning of the end of a living planet.