In his debut, a leading climatologist lambasts world governments for their ineffectual response to the dangers of global warming.
After sounding the climate alarm in papers and conferences for two decades, here Hansen takes off the gloves, faulting “the undue influence of special interests and government greenwash” for the failure to take the actions necessary to stabilize Earth's climate. Much of the book is a heady crash course in the science of global warming, and the author makes readily apparent the nuances of human-caused and other factors involved in climate change. Offered within the context of Hansen's work of the past eight years—including his widely reported clashes with the Bush administration—the science sections are followed by his own prescriptions for action. Unlike politicians, he writes, nature does not compromise. He dismisses key aspects of legislation now before Congress as well as the Kyoto approach to international climate treaty-making, arguing that setting goals for a gradual slowing down of emissions will not solve the problem. “Ladies and gentlemen, your governments are lying through their teeth,” he writes. Coal use must be prohibited unless ways can be found to capture and dispose of carbon dioxide emissions. Relying on renewables and increasing energy efficiency will not do the trick either. Dismissing the cap-and-trade approaches now being considered by lawmakers, Hansen proposes a fee-and-dividend approach as the best way to phase out fossil fuels. He considers nuclear power a possible safe-energy alternative and calls for the United States to build a test fast-reactor nuclear power plant. Hansen blames the Obama Administration for listening to the advice of Environmental Defense and other well-meaning environmental groups, which are satisfied with gradual legislative progress. As the author writes, we're simply out of time.
With urgency and authority, Hansen urges readers to speak out—taking to the streets if necessary—to protect the Earth from calamity for the sake of their children and grandchildren.