Jim Hanson’s “Storms of my Grandchildren”

Jim Hanson’s “Storms of my Grandchildren is an important look at climate reality from a man who knows, and is scared and angry.

In summary the only way to limit atmospheric CO2 to 450 ppm is to stop burning coal, now, and to leave the “alternative fossil fuels” – hard to reach oil, shale oil, tar sands and coal gas in the ground.  All the readily available oil and gas will be burned no matter what; and it will be needed and must be conserved for building the necessary renewable energy infrastructure over the next generation. Burning that will take us to 425 ppm with a chance to bring it back into a safe range below 350 ppm.

That lays out our program for Australia – absolutely no to more coal power plants, a stop to coal burning, mining and exporting unless it is used with C capture (unlikely). That could save the world, as it gives us leverage to demand other countries stop.  No harm to our economy or lifestyle, only benefits as we replace coal electricity with efficiency and renewables as it phases out, reduce pollution, including particulates and mercury, and export renewable energy tech instead of coal into huge and eager markets.

Now to the Carbon price policy.  I can’t help but agree with Jim that the far better method is a fee on C excised at the mine or source – no exceptions.  All the money goes back to the people, not industry. That way we support vibrant new innovation and industry that has low C intensity by choosing where we spend our money. We will keep more of our refunded $ by shopping for low C intense products (such as renewable electricity, insulation, organic food etc) to avoid high C fees.  We won’t mind increasing fees – necessary to position the true cost of fossil C use vs. renewables so renewables will quickly flourish – because every increase will be just more $ back to us that we can spend to make ourselves more resilient and secure.

Cap and trade is a disaster. Has not worked, will not work.  The only advantage to cap and trade is for the energy companies and the traders. Its a scam to support business as usual including the traders at Goldman Sachs who just about bought the world economy down with their “rip the face of the client” attitude (I also just read 13 Bankers), their humungous lobbying, control of Washington, and revolving door employment. With their huge bail outs the banks are more concentrated and powerful than ever. They will only get wealthier off of us (a form of tax socialized to the wealthy), and bring the fiscal and environmental system to its knees again, because they know the government will bail them out for being “too big to fail.”

Trading and derivative games with not just our fiscal system but our environment is really a pact with the devil.

As Hanson says (read him):
Policy makers pretend the Cap and Trade is not a tax, therefore they will keep the price low – we need a high price that gives an accurate market signal of the true cost of releasing fossil C, otherwise the market can only fail us, as it has almost terminally
The Cap is always not across the board as policy makers succumb to lobbyists.
The cap puts a floor on emissions.
Any special efforts made by individuals or businesses only release others from curbing their emissions.
The promised offsets rarely work to offset the already emitted emissions – they are usually scams to start with and incompletely monitored. Nature is requiring all emissions to be stopped – moving the lawn furniture makes money for the traders who arrange the moves, but doesn’t fool nature.
Handing out some money for renewables seems beneficial, but that money could and should have come from removing fossil subsidies. If pollution and waste are priced and people have the money, the market along with some regulation will find the best products.
Gov getting their hands on the money just means they dole it out for favours. They tote up the 5 billion for clean energy, but don’t emphasize how much of its going back to the polluters for oxymoronic clean coal, or even much more in exceptions, and free permits, or the $ lost in inefficient schemes at the whim of unknowledgeable, uncaring, lobbied policy makers.

The Australian scheme is partly right: a price with $ back to the people but is spoiled by having exclusions, handouts to polluters, and allowing offsets and trading in the future. Those must be stopped.  The fight is on.


Paul Taylor, PhD
Author: The Biochar Revolution
Transforming Agriculture and the Environment


About jboydedu

The Australian Centre for Sustainability Literacy is a division of Julie Boyd and Associates, who have been working for three decades to educate students in becoming positively contributing world citizens. We use a careful integration of solid research and evidence from a broad range of fields across education, community, business and leadership to support the 7th Generation concept which says that all decisions need to be made for the benefit of 7 generations forward.
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