Over the weekend, there was certainly an interesting collection of news and commentary that, taken together, raises lots of questions about the future of the coal industry in our region.
First, there was the bombshell new study from climate scientist James Hansen, as described by the great AP science writer Seth Borenstein:
The relentless, weather-gone-crazy type of heat that has blistered the United States and other parts of the world in recent years is so rare that it can’t be anything but man-made global warming, says a new statistical analysis from a top government scientist.
The research by a man often called the “godfather of global warming” says that the likelihood of such temperatures occurring from the 1950s through the 1980s was rarer than 1 in 300. Now, the odds are closer to 1 in 10, according to the study by NASA scientist James Hansen. He says that statistically what’s happening is not random or normal, but pure and simple climate change.
“This is not some scientific theory. We are now experiencing scientific fact,” Hansen told The Associated Press in an interview.
This is the world we have changed, and now we have to live in it — the world that caused the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed more than 50,000 people and the 2011 drought in Texas that caused more than $5 billion in damage. Such events, our data show, will become even more frequent and more severe.
There is still time to act and avoid a worsening climate, but we are wasting precious time. We can solve the challenge of climate change with a gradually rising fee on carbon collected from fossil-fuel companies, with 100 percent of the money rebated to all legal residents on a per capita basis. This would stimulate innovations and create a robust clean-energy economy with millions of new jobs. It is a simple, honest and effective solution.
The future is now. And it is hot.
In this Thursday, Aug. 2 2012 photo, Dr. James E. Hansen head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies gestures during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)