Hansen in The Globe

by Milan on October 5, 2010

in Climate change, Climate science, Ethics, Oil sands

Finally, a Globe and Mail article that expresses the critical concept: Oil sands should be left in the ground: NASA scientist. Written by Bob Weber and Sylvia Strojek, the article quotes extensively from NASA climatologist James Hansen:

We should not develop the unconventional fossil fuels. Those fuels – coal and tar sands – are so dirty and have such large regional negative consequences that it only makes sense to leave them in the ground.

This whole issue – carbon dioxide and climate – is a matter of inter-generational injustice where the current generation is getting the benefit of burning the fossil fuels and the consequences occur primarily with young people and future generations just because … it takes time for the largest effects to occur.

Hansen is campaigning against the $9 billion Josyln North operation. If some kind of legal victory can be secured against it, this would be the first time a proposal for an oil sands mine has been turned down.

Difficult as it is, the idea of leaving fossil fuels unburned is starting to spread.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan October 6, 2010 at 9:22 am

One error in the article is when it says that James Cameron and James Hansen have reached ‘similar conclusion[s]’.

Cameron apparently believes that: “the resource could be a gift to Alberta and Canada in an energy-starved world, but could become a curse if not handled properly”.

By contrast, Hansen believes that as much of the oil as possible should be left in the ground.

Those conclusions don’t seem similar to me.

. October 7, 2010 at 10:48 am

Oilsands expansion ‘fool’s gold,’ scientist warns

Disastrous cleanup costs of global warming await future generations, hearing told

By Sheila Pratt, edmontonjournal.com October 6, 2010

EDMONTON — Expansion of Alberta’s oilsands must be avoided if the world is going to avoid disastrous effects of climate change, says one of the world’s leading climate scientists.

James Hansen, of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, travelled from New York to appear Tuesday at the Energy Resources Conservation Board hearing into the proposed Total Joslyn North mine near Fort McMurray. The open-pit mine is slated to produce 100,000 barrels a day.

The Joslyn project is the first new oilsands megaproject to seek approval in several years. An upgrader near Fort Saskatchewan to serve the mine was approved last month.

Hansen said he chose to come to the hearing because stopping expansion of the oilsands is critical in the battle against global warming.

“To achieve a safe level of carbon emissions, we cannot have more coal-fired plants, no more oilsands or shale oil,” he told the hearing.

“Of course we need energy, and this looks like a gold mine. But it’s fool’s gold.”

That’s because future generations will have to pay to have the carbon removed from the atmosphere, and that’s much costlier, he said.

“If that cost were added to the mining, they’d never do it,” Hansen said.

If the world moves away from coal and leaves remaining unconventional oil reserves in the ground, it has a chance to see carbon emissions decline rapidly over the next few decades — “up to 80 per cent by mid-century.”

. October 14, 2010 at 4:54 pm

“Next up was famous climate change scientist Dr. James Hansen, who began his presentation identifying that global warming is occurring at a rapid pace and is directly related to the carbon dioxide emissions that human industrial activity is putting into the air. He also mentioned that the Arctic sea ice continue to recede and are at their lowest levels ever. Also, in Glacier National Park, which people in Alberta depend on for fresh water, will have no glaciers in the next 20-30 years if the tar sands continue at the pace they are on right now. People will have to rename the park if there are no more glaciers left. Hansen continues that the tar sands mining is illogical and we cannot continue to burn coal or develop unconventional fossil fuels such as tar sands and tar shale. Hansen was very clear that if business-as-usual is continued with tar sands operations, it will drive a significant amount of species to extinction, increasingly add more toxic carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere contributing to global warming, and will leave young people and future generations with a desolate planet. Hansen concluded calling tar sands ‘fools gold’ as a short-term fix for mining companies. He emphasized that these problems of carbon dioxide emissions are only solved by phasing out coal mining and simply leaving tar sands and tar shale in the ground.

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