Sunday, August 31, 2014

The People’s March - James Hansen

People's Climate March Logo (Credit: Click to enlarge.
I wish to persuade you (if you live close enough to make it reasonable) that you should take the trouble to join us in the great People’s Climate March in New York City on 21 September.  The March web page is at

However, before plainly stating why the March is important, let me address several issues.

Multipath Strategy.  One can readily argue that any specific action, such as the People’s March, will not slow the fossil fuel juggernaut.  Indeed, by itself it would have little effect, and our media has shown themselves to be quite capable of ignoring even large demonstrations.

However the March is not occurring in a vacuum.  Success requires actions on many fronts, notably in the courts, on the streets, and within the political system.  That’s why I support Our Children’s Trust,, and Citizens Climate Lobby.  And that is not enough.

Getting the public and the business community fully behind effective climate action requires not simply getting them to agree that action is needed.  It requires getting them to understand the fundamentals about what actions are needed, and to demand those actions by governments.

Laser Focus on Solution.  Lessons have been learned on global and national levels.  These must not be forgotten.  We cannot let our political leaders pretend that they do not understand.

The ineffectual UN Kyoto cap-and-trade scheme was doomed from the start.  A “cap” approach inevitably raises 190 fights about each nation’s cap.  Countries must be bribed to accept a low cap, governments at home often refute them, and even ineffectual caps are unenforceable.
The way to phase down fossil emissions rapidly is via a rising carbon fee collected at domestic mines and ports of entry.  Each nation can choose how to use the funds, but in most nations the funds had better be distributed to all legal residents.

The carbon fee can be made near-global, because border duties would be collected on products from non-participating nations, a huge incentive for all nations to join.

Reparations.  Developed countries emitted most of the excess carbon that is in the air today, and are thus mainly responsible for human-caused climate change.  Many developing countries are at low latitudes where climate impacts will be severe.  Reparations are appropriate and needed.
Malarkey.  We have learned that it is not enough to get political leaders to admit the reality of human-caused climate change and promise to address it.  We must make specific demands, or we end up with ineffectual monstrosities such as the cap-and-trade bill in the U.S. Congress.

I recently read that a carbon tax was needed, or its “functional equivalent”, cap-and-trade. Functional equivalent?  Pretentious nonsense!  I hope the discussion above made clear that a “cap” approach does not have a prayer of reducing emissions fast enough.
The fastest way is a simple rising carbon fee that makes fossil fuel costs honest, our economies more efficient, and provides incentives for the public, businesses, and technology entrepreneurs.  The money that is collected should go to the public where it is needed, where it would spur the economy – not to the government to make the government bigger and more intrusive.

Why march, why you?  Remember that in the prior big moral issue, civil rights, the courts and political system hardly moved until pressured by people in the streets.

The People’s March - James Hansen

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