James Hansen sends message to NRCCC on the importance of stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline

February 6, 2014

James Hansen sends the NRCCC the following explanation on why the Keystone XL Pipeline must be stopped.

The science tells us, clearly, that we must (1) phase out coal emissions; there is an enormous amount of carbon in the remaining coal, and (2) not go down the unconventional fossil fuel path, where there is also a huge amount of carbon. 
He adds, “The tar sands would be a huge step down the unconventional fossil fuel path.” 
Tar sands are only a fraction of the unconventional fossil fuels, but the tar sands alone contain more than twice the carbon in all the oil that has been burned in history. 
Tar sands proponents say that most of the tar sands oil will be too hard to get out, and that their rate of extraction so far is small. However, building the pipeline is exactly the action that is needed to begin to jack that rate up, which is what Canada wants to do -- they have plans to quintuple the rate [of extraction] over 10-15 years. That's a path we cannot go down -- it is time to draw a line. 

The bottom of the conventional fossil fuel barrel is coming into sight.  If we would now put a rising fee on carbon emissions, we could phase down our fossil fuel use and have a chance of preserving Creation.  However, if we open up the unconventional can widely, Nature is toast. …

Commentary  by Fred Krueger (below)

What stands out to me from Dr. Hansen’s comments is the amount of carbon dioxide contained in the tar sands. This is largely unreported in the popular literature as few people are aware that the tar sands contain twice the amount of carbon in comparison in all of the oil that has been burned in our history up to this time.

Already CO2 is up to 400 parts per million (ppm) in the planet’s atmosphere from the 250 ppm level that existed prior to the industrial era. The tar sands, if tapped, would bring the level of CO2 in atmosphere up to 600 ppm to 700 ppm, a level that climate scientists say will irrevocably send the world’s climate into catastrophic climate turbulence.

The present increase in atmospheric CO2 has increased from 250 ppm to 400 ppm, yet this has been sufficient to cause a great increase in climate disruption. Higher levels of CO2 will cause far greater impacts to the world’s climate. As people of faith, we have read the studies and reports from many Christian and Jewish organizations which declare this as an urgent moral issue. We have to right to so disrupt the climate of the world for any reason. Alternatives are available and the right and proper moral choice is to use clean, alternative fuels and begin now to phase out all carbon sources of energy.

Religious groups are increasingly declaring this as the crucial moral issue of our generation.




James Hansen