Global Climate Imagery

Update below.

James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who, through much of his career, has pressed elected officials to limit greenhouse gas emissions, used an set of images in recent testimony before Congress that has stirred some controversy.

“Coal will determine whether we continue to increase climate change or slow the human impact. Increased fossil fuel CO2 in the air today, compared to the pre-industrial atmosphere, is due 50% to coal, 35% to oil and 15% to gas. As oil resources peak, coal will determine future CO2 levels. Recently, after giving a high school commencement talk in my hometown, Denison, Iowa, I drove from Denison to Dunlap, where my parents are buried. For most of 20 miles there were trains parked, engine to caboose, half of the cars being filled with coal. If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains – no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species.”

Andrew Revkin of the NY Times has written Hansen to ask if he has any second thoughts about the death trains, crematoria analogy. While waiting for his response many others have weighed in, including Peter Singer the bioethecist, and Kenneth Jacobson of the ADL.

Read on.

[Cross posted at]


Hansen responded to the criticism of his imagery — originally coming from a Mining Company CEO — on his own website.

Averting Our Eyes

Andrew Revkin in his DotEarth also provides Hansen’s comments, along with a few comments of his own.

Dr. Hansen, like many who commented on Dot Earth after I wrote about his statements, insists that the parallels hold between the denial and passivity that allowed a human cataclysm to sweep Europe in plain sight and the denial and inaction now as the world prepares to build hundreds of conventional coal-burning power plants. In his recent statements and the new one, he warns that the tens of billions of tons of resulting emissions of carbon dioxide, if not captured and stored, will disrupt climate patterns, ecosystems and sea levels that have been remarkably stable through most of modern human history. The result will be an end to “creation” as we have grown to love it, he says.

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