Worshipping the Temple of Doom

My response to the letter from Dr. Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Australian Department of Climate Change, is available, along with this note, on my web site.

Thanks to the many people who provided comments on 
my draft response, including Steve Hatfield-Dodds, a senior official within the Australian Department of Climate Change.  I appreciate the willingness of the Australian government to engage in this discussion.  I believe that you will find the final letter to be significantly improved over the draft version:
    Dr. Martin Parkinson
    Department of Climate Change
    Government of Australia
    Re: Australia’s Response to Climate Change

    Dear Secretary Parkinson:

    Thank you for your letter of 6 April, in which you provided reasoning behind the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) announced in your Government’s White Paper1 and the updated plans, with more ambitious reduction targets, announced today.
    The White Paper is forthright about the “need for action on climate change”, stating:
    Carbon pollution is causing the world’s climate to change, resulting in extreme weather, higher temperatures, more droughts, and rising sea levels.

    Eleven of the past 12 years rank among the 12 warmest years since records began and
    Australia had warmer-than-average mean annual temperatures for 16 of the past 18 years.

    As one of the hottest and driest continents on earth, Australia will be one of the nations hit hardest and fastest by climate change if we don’t act now.
    This kind of straight talk is admirable, as is the statement in your 6 April letter that “We strongly agree with you that climate change requires urgent and significant changes in human activity.”

    I am also encouraged by the policy proposed in the White Paper to return 100 percent of revenue from permit auctions to Australian households and businesses. Unless the tax is fully returned to the public, in a transparent fashion, they will almost certainly not consent to having the carbon fee rise to the needed level.

    However, I note that your plan is still based on the disastrously ineffectual cap-and-trade approach. Below I point out principal flaws in this approach based on empirical evidence. I hope you will reconsider your plan – such an ineffectual cap-and-trade approach would waste another decade at a time when the threat of passing climate tipping points makes it unconscionable to waste another year...


My frustration arises from the huge gap between words of governments, worldwide, and their actions or planned actions. It is easy to speak of a planet in peril. It is quite anothe to level with the public about what is needed, even if the actions are in everybody’s long-term interest.

Instead governments are retreating to feckless “cap-and-trade”, a minor tweak to business-as-usual. Oil companies are so relieved to realize that they do not need to learn to be energy companies that they are decreasing their already trivial investments in renewable energy.

They are using the money to buy greenwash advertisements. Perhaps if politicians and businesses paint each other green, it will not seem so bad when our forests burn. Cap-and-trade is the temple of doom. It would lock in disasters for our children and grandchildren. Why do people continue to worship a disastrous approach? Its fecklessness was proven by the Kyoto Protocol. It took a decade to implement the treaty, as countrie extracted concessions that weakened even mild goals. Most countries that claim to have met their obligations actually increased their emissions. Others found that even modest reductions of emissions were inconvenient, and thus they simply ignored their goals.

Why is this cap-and-trade temple of doom worshipped? The 648 page cap-and-trade monstrosity that is being foisted on the U.S. Congress provides the answer. Not a single Congressperson has read it. They don’t need to – they just need to add more paragraphs to support their own special interests. By the way, the Congress people do not write most of those paragraphs – they are “suggested” by people in alligator shoes...

The full letter to the Secretary of the Australian Department of Climate Change, is available, along with the rest of Dr. Hansen's note, at this link.


Doctor James Hansen, an adjunct professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences. His website can be found at:http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/