Most people are taking little notice because "intensive efforts by special interest groups [...] prevent the public from becoming well-informed." But animals are on the run, more than 50 percent of species may become extinct, ice sheets are disintegrating, and the sea may engulf Bangladesh. Calamities, devastation, desolation, disaster, global chaos, tragedy. We are at the critical tipping point. "Our children, grandchildren, and many more generations will bear the consequences of choices that we make in the next few years."
Hansen has the solution. First, eliminate government subsidies to fuel use. I agree. Second, tax carbon emissions. That is not an awful idea. But, how big should the tax be to avoid calamities, devastation, desolation, disaster, global chaos and tragedy? Hansen does not say, but it looks like an important detail to me. Third, create efficiency standards. That is an awful idea. Fourth, subsidize alternative sources of energy. This is the way to start all over again to create artificial problems, environmental and otherwise.
A problem of carbon taxes and efficiency standards is that only Strong Leadership can set up and implement them. A superficial look at Hansen's text indicates that Hansen identifies this problem:
Economists agree that the potential [improvement of energy efficiency] could be achieved most effectively by a tax on carbon emissions, although strong political leadership would be needed to persuasively explain the case for [i. e., impose] such a tax to the public. [...]A closer look reveals that he is actually for Strong Leadership. For example,
Such improvements [in standards of fuel efficiency] are entirely possible, but strong leadership would be required to bring them about. [My italics]
The government appears to be strongly influenced by special interests, or otherwise confused and distracted, and it has failed to provide leadership.Hansen complains about short-term profits. "Auto makers oppose efficiency standards and prominently advertise their heaviest and most powerful vehicles, which yield the greatest short-term profits. " But then immediately complains about long-term profits. "Coal companies want new coal-fired power plants to be built soon, thus assuring long-term profits." So it is profits that are bad.
He does not want foreigners touching "American" money. "The US is hemorrhaging wealth to foreign nations in order to pay for energy."
Making profits is bad. Foreigners suck blood. Strong Leadership is good. Maybe we are heading for a warmer world, but Hansen's alternative does not look cool to me.