Only Public Grassroots Activism Will Force Governments to Act on Climate: Dr James Hansen

In case you haven't seen it yet, world renowned climatologist Dr James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has an excellent new piece in The Guardian wherein he talks at length about his journey from straight science to self-imposed media silence to seemingly reluctant and outspoken (not to mention arrested) climate activist.

There's lots of good stuff in in so I highly encourage you to read the original linked above, but there's one particular part that really jumps out at me. It's how even the most outwardly green governments, Hansen uses Norway as the example, really engage in greenwashing all the time and have not yet fully acknowledged the sort of radical change that has to happen to tackle climate change, and how only public activism can change that. Here's that passage:After talking about how he had thought the inaction of world governments must have just not understood the severity of the situation as presented by scientists, Hansen wrote letters and visited multiple world leaders.

What I found in each case was greenwash - a pretense of concern about climate but policies dictated by fossil fuel special interests.

The situation is epitomized by my recent trip to Norway. I hoped that Norway, because of its history of environmentalism, might be able to take real action to address climate change, drawing attention to the hypocrisy in the words and pseudo-actions of other nations.

So I wrote a letter to the prime minister suggesting that Norway, as majority owner of Statoil, should intervene in its plans to develop the tar sands of Canada. I received a polite response, by letter, from the deputy minister of petroleum and energy. The government position is that the tar sands investment is "a commercial decision", that the government should not interfere, and that a "vast majority in the Norwegian parliament" agree that this constitutes "good corporate governance". The deputy minister concluded his letter: "I can however assure you that we will continue our offensive stance on climate change issues both at home and abroad."

A Norwegian grandfather, upon reading the deputy minister's letter, quoted Saint Augustine: "Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue."

The Norwegian position is a staggering reaffirmation of the global situation: even the greenest governments find it too inconvenient to address the implication of scientific facts.

Moving on Hansen says, perhaps shockingly on the face of it but less so when you realize the head of IPCC Dr Rajendra Pachauri has said similar things on grassroots direct action, "It becomes clear that concerted action will happen only if the public, somehow, becomes forcefully involved. One way citizens can help is by blocking coal plants, tar sands, and the mining of the last drops of fossil fuel."

Right on.

Read the original: Am I an activist for caring about my grandchildren's future? I guess I am
James Hansen photo: World Development Movement via flickr
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More on James Hansen:
Climatologist James Hansen Urges Obama to Ban Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
Climate Expert James Hansen Supports Cap and Dividend System
Climatologist James Hansen Says He Hopes the COP15 Talks Fail (Yes, Really)
Dr Hansen, Please Keep Speaking Out On Climate Policy - Just Talking Science Isn't Enough

Tags: Activism | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Solutions | Greenwashing