James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and author of “Storms of My Grandchildren,” joins “Viewpoint” host Eliot Spitzer to discuss the implications of “Perception of Climate Change,” a new study he co-authored with Makiko Sato and Reto Ruedy. Their findings show that recent heat waves can be linked to global warming.
Hansen describes how observed seasonal temperatures have corroborated the predictions of global warming climate models he first warned of in the 1980s.
“If we continue with business as usual this century, we will drive to extinction 20 to 50 percent of the species on the planet,” Hansen says. “We are pushing the system an order of magnitude faster than any natural changes of climate in the past.”
“We’re gonna have to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and that is not as difficult as you think. If we would just make fossil fuels pay for their true cost to society, we could begin to move to different energies and energy efficiency,” Hansen contends. “We should be collecting a fee from fossil fuel companies that gradually rises over time and 100 percent of that money should be distributed to the public, not one dime to the government. If we did that, the people who do better than average in limiting their fossil fuel use will actually get more in this dividend than they would pay in increased energy prices.”
Spitzer suggests that the concept of a carbon tax return to the public is a conservative idea. Hansen agrees, asserting, “It should come from conservative people once they understand the situation. Because if we don’t do that, then we’re gonna reach a point where the government takes over, which is the last thing that conservatives want.”