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NASA's Hansen Explains Decision to Join Keystone Pipeline Protests

"Einstein said to think and not act is a crime," James Hansen tells SolveClimate News. "If we understand the situation, we must try to make it clear."

Aug 29, 2011
(Page 2 of 2 )

James Hansen: No, it is not logical. In a study funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, a group of retired four-star generals and admirals concluded that climate change, if not addressed, will be the greatest threat to national security. The definition of how not to address climate change is to develop unconventional fossil fuels such as tar sands. That would guarantee that there will be far greater national security problems.

It is a nonsense argument, because oil is an internationally traded quantity, with the source practically disappearing.  It does matter how much oil you import.  We need an energy policy that puts a price on carbon so we wind down our oil addiction.  That is the only way to obtain national security.

SolveClimate News: Can you give three reasons why the president should follow your advice and reject the request to build Keystone XL?

James Hansen: Our children and grandchildren; the other species on the planet; and creation.

Solve Climate News: Most people don't understand the link between a pipeline such as Keystone XL and climate change. How do you deal with that?

Jim Hansen: It is exceedingly difficult. Turn on your television and listen to the advertisements that the fossil fuel companies are broadcasting. How can we compete against such enormously powerful moneyed interests? Look how difficult it was to fight against the tobacco companies. They are puny compared with the fossil fuel special interests, which permeate governments around the world.  The dynamic can change and will change, but it requires a growing movement. I don't know exactly how we can do it, but we must.

Solve Climate News: What is motivating you to travel to the White House and risk arrest?

James Hansen: Einstein said to think and not act is a crime. If we understand the situation, we must try to make it clear. I decided six or seven years ago that I did not want my grandchildren to look back in the future and say "Opa understood what was happening, but he didn't make it clear."

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