Hansen has long been one of the leading advocates of the theory that human activity is causing global warming; his congressional testimony in 1988 was a significant factor in raising the credibility of the controversial theory. And Hansen has certainly not shied away from controversy in the past: In 2006, Hansen publicly accusing the Bush administration of pressuring him to censure his research on global warming, and in 2009, he was arrested during a protest against coal mining in West Virginia — a stunt he repeated in 2010 in Washington, D.C.
But now Hansen is pointing to a China as a model for addressing global warming. (Presumably, Dr. Hansen would not have such a favorable assessment of the manner in which the Chinese dictatorship has used for dealing with political protesters.) In an essay entitled “China and the Barbarians: Part 1,” Hansen declares that the current American model of government will not be able to meaningfully cope with climate change, and calls on China to pressure the United States to act. (Hansen has apparently removed the article from his website, but it is currently still available here.)
In his essay, Hansen summarizes the “problem.” First, he believes, it is necessary to eliminate the use of so-called fossil fuels:
I must start with a fundamental law: as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, they will continue to be burned. This law is as certain as the law of gravity. No "caps", "goals" for future emissions, or other self-deceptions can alter this fact. Caps only alter who burns the fuel and the pace of burning – they will not leave fossil fuels in the ground, as science demands.
“As science demands”? One might very well question when that “order” was issued — and that is, of course, the point. Hansen confuses his personal policy positions with physical laws. In keeping with the "demands" of Hansen’s "science," something far more draconian than “cap and trade”-style fees for "fossil fuel" will become the new "fuel" for social change:
These facts expose the crucial element for solution of the energy and climate problem. A steadily rising carbon fee must be collected from fossil fuel companies. All funds should go to the public on a per capita basis to allow lifestyle adjustments and spur clean energy innovations.
In other words, those who rely on the use of such fuels will be taxed to fund the elimination of their use; the fees will implement “lifestyle adjustments” — which seems quite similar to code language used by other climate-change advocates for a substantial decrease in the standard of living in industrialized nations. But as devastating as “cap and trade” has been estimated to be for our standard of living, Hansen maintains that “cap and trade” would not go far enough:
Fossil fuel interests reign in Washington and other capitals. Big money forces legislatures to hatch ineffectual schemes such as "cap-and- trade-with-offsets", a system designed by big banks and fossil fuel interests that assures continued fossil fuel addiction.
But if “cap and trade” was too radical to survive the political process, despite a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House the past two years, how could Hansen hope that something far more radical could ever be implemented? He looks to the coercive might of China as a way around the "pitfalls" of the American legislative process:
Democracy of the sort intended in 1776 probably could have dealt with climate change, but not the fossil-money- "democracy" that now rules the roost in Washington. There was a flaw in my prior thinking that became clear to me during my visit to China. I had argued previously that global action to stem climate change required agreement between China and the United States for a rising carbon fee. That would work, but it is not realistic – such a treaty requires approval by the dysfunctional U.S. Congress.
In other words, since a treaty would have to survive a process where elected officials could still stop it from being ratified, clearly, something more direct is required, and that step is direct economic coercion by foreign powers, led by China:
However, there is a way around that, which becomes obvious with the realization that an initially modest carbon fee is in China's own interest. After agreement with other nations, e.g., the European Union, China and these nations could impose rising internal carbon fees. Existing rules of the World Trade Organization would allow collection of a rising border duty on products from all nations that do not have an equivalent internal carbon fee or tax. The United States then would be forced to make a choice. It could either address its fossil fuel addiction with a rising carbon fee and supportive national investment policies or it could accept continual descent into second-rate and third-rate economic well-being.
That’s right: economically surrender to China’s implementation of a system of carbon fees — “in China’s own interest” — and “force” the United States to either capitulate, or be economically devastated. What is unclear is whether Hansen recognizes that such an action would be the moral equivalent of a declaration of war. Imperial Japan’s perceived need for access to fossil fuels has been estimated to have been among the motivating factors for the attack on Pearl Harbor; when a nation’s leaders believe that a foreign power is restricting its access to energy, dramatic action may be taken. But a reader may conclude that Hansen seems too obsessed with China’s superior form of leadership to be swayed by such reasoning:
I have the impression that Chinese leadership takes a long view, perhaps because of the long history of their culture, in contrast to the West with its short election cycles. At the same time China has the capacity to implement policy decisions rapidly. The leaders seem to seek the best technical information and do not brand as a hoax that which is inconvenient.
That’s right: the regime which drives tanks over its own citizens, which systematically destroyed its intellectual elite to serve the ideological insanity of a dictator, which slaughters the next generation of its children through a “one child” policy, denying a fundamental human right to its people, and which earned a status previously only held by the Nazis for denying one of its citizens (who was rotting in jail for his political views) even the presence of a representative to receive a Nobel Peace Prize — this regime is Hansen’s great hope for saving the world. After all, they cannot be dissuaded from their path by “election cycles.” Yes, Dr. Hansen: That’s what makes them a dictatorship.
This is what the environmental movement has come to: hoping a totalitarian power will credibly threaten the United States with economic destruction so that the bleak economic future envisioned by green fanatics can be imposed by the people of the West. James Delingpole succinctly summarized the problem in his blog for Telegraph.co.uk:
We look at James Hansen’s quotes and think: “Hang on a second. This is the guy in charge of one of the world’s four main climate data sets. He’s paid for by the US taxpayer, supposedly to represent US interests. And he’s a scientist who’s supposed to be politically neutral. Is it just me – or has one half of the world gone totally mad?”
This is, of course, madness. And that is what has become of the environmentalist ideology.