The scientist many view as responsible for first persuading the world that it was in danger from global warming has said that he hopes there is failure at the UN Climate Change Conference, which begins next week in Copenhagen.
James Hansen, the 68-year-old director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, has been speaking with both the Guardian and theLondon Times.
And he has told both papers that any agreement that may emerge from the talks that are being held in the Danish capital from December 7 through December 18 is likely to be so "fundamentally wrong" that it would be better if those seeking to address the problem of climate change and/or global warming took a year out to "figure out a better path".
Mr. Hansen, whose first book Storms of my Grandchildren is due for publication next week, has, says the London Times, called for "civil resistance" and "activism" similar to that seen in the U.S. during the time of the Vietnam War in order to force governments to act with some urgency to address the issue which he has been bringing to the attention of the U.S. Congress during several appearances at the Capitol Building in Washington, beginning in 1989.
Indeed, back in March the Guardian reported on how Mr Hansen was taking part in protests at the headquarters of E.ON UK in Coventry, Central England. He is opposed to the construction of new power stations that use coal and E.ON wanted to, and may still wish to, build such a station at Kingsnorth in the Southeast of England.
Speaking at the time Mr Hansen, a native of Iowa who was arrested, along with actress Daryl Hannah, during a protest in June against mountaintop mining in Raleigh County, West Virginia, said that corporate lobbyists were being allowed to set the agenda on efforts to reduce carbon emissions, adding that "The democratic process doesn't quite seem to be working".
To emphasize the seriousness of the situation as he sees it, he is quoted by the Guardian as saying of climate change/global warming:This is analogous to the issue of slavery faced by Abraham Lincoln or the issue of Nazism faced by Winston Churchill. On those kind of issues you cannot compromise. You can't say let's reduce slavery, let's find a compromise and reduce it 50% or reduce it 40%
Mr Hansen's solution to the problem he has consistently highlighted is the introduction of a "carbon tax", which he believes could start at $1 per gallon of gas/petrol and increase as time progresses. He is dismissive of the "cap and trade" approach seemingly favored by many world leaders and one of the key elements of the Kyoto Protocol.
Comparing "cap and trade" to the "absurdity" of Catholic Bishops in the Middle Ages collecting money and sinners being granted redemption, Mr Hansen observed:We've got the developed countries who want to continue more or less business as usual and then these developing countries who want money and that is what they can get through offsets [sold through the carbon markets]
U.S President Barack Obama and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Al Gore have not escaped criticism from Mr Hansen, who has said that "We don't have a leader who is able to grasp it and say what is really needed".
Mr. Hansen, reportedly an advocate of nuclear energy, has himself been criticized for actually assisting climate change "deniers and delayers" by misrepresenting, and misunderstanding, the concept of "cap and trade". Joseph Romm, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Editor of ClimateProgress.org and an official in the Clinton administration, accused Mr. Hansen of "recycling myths" in an article for the Huffington Post in July.
Regarding the controversy over the emails between scientists at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Eastern England that were recently hacked and posted online, they suggest that evidence of climate change/global warming may have been manipulated and exaggerated, Mr Hansen, whilst regarding an investigation as necessary, noted:All that stuff they are arguing about the data doesn't really change the analysis at all, but it does leave a very bad impression