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Articles by James Hansen

Dr. James Hansen is the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University Earth Institute. These are his personal opinions, and they do not represent any organization.

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  • Virginian coal protesters receive B-minus plea bargain for Kingsworth-like activism

    “You’re Hannah, right?” Hannah Morgan, a 20-year old from Appalachia, Virginia, was one of 11 protesters in handcuffs early Monday morning on Sept. 15 at the construction site for a coal-fired power plant being built in Wise County Virginia by Dominion Power. The handcuffs were applied by the police, but the questioner, it turns out, […]

  • Kingsnorth six acquitted in U.K. for coal-plant protest and vandalism

    Good news from the U.K.: The Kingsnorth Six were acquitted by a Crown Court jury. They were members of a group of 23 Greenpeace volunteers who had attempted to shut down the Kingsnorth coal-fired power plant, specifically the six were the ones painting the smokestack with “Gordon Bin It” when interrupted by the police. Their […]

  • Hansen: Governors aren’t getting it

    My recent experience with governors raises a question about whether this is an effective way to communicate about climate change. (Apologies for the length -- you may skip the three tales and go to the bottom line.)

    Dear Governor Pawlenty [PDF]

    Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty presides over a population that appreciates nature. Explorer Will Steger has done a marvelous job of informing the public there about climate change in the Arctic, the threat of climate change to species and indigenous people, and the relevance of climate change to Minnesota. Early actions made it appear that Minnesota would be a leader, defining energy policies and directions that would be a great example for other states.

    Specifically (get this!), in spring 2007 Minnesota passed and Gov. Pawlenty signed a law called the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, requiring 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 and a 1.5 percent per year improvement in energy efficiency.

    Some people used this to help paint Gov. Pawlenty green, second in greenness only to Arnold Schwarzenegger among Republican governors. Pawlenty, according to the Washington Post, is at the top of the list of candidates to be John McCain's running mate. Coincidentally, the Republican convention will be in Minnesota in September. But ... read on.

  • Fossil fuel moguls inflate reserve estimates to prevent efforts to move beyond their products

    When I was young, Yankee Stadium had ~70,000 seats. It seldom sold out, and almost any kid could afford the cheap seats. Capacity was reduced to ~57,000 when the stadium was remodeled in the 1970s. Most games sell out now, and prices have gone up.

    The new stadium, opening next year, will reduce seating further, to ~51,800. This intentional contraction is aimed at guaranteeing sellouts, increasing demand, allowing the owners, in pretty short order, to hike prices to double, triple, and more. The owners know that scarcity will fatten their wallets, even though it reduces the number of sales.

    This is more than a bit distasteful, as it discriminates against the lower middle class. Nevertheless, it should be a great stadium and as long as the owner is footing the bill without public subsidies for the stadium itself, we may have little grounds for complaint.

    The reason that I draw your attention to this practice is that fossil fuel moguls are intent on hoodwinking the entire planet with an analogous scheme.

    The basic trick is this: fossil fuel reserves are overstated. Government "energy information" departments parrot industry. Partly because of this disinformation, the major efforts needed to develop energies "beyond fossil fuels" have not been made.