It is not rocket science.

As long as fossil fuels are the cheapest fuel, they will be burned. Fossil fuels only seem cheap, because the price does not include their full cost to society. Human health costs of pollution are borne by the public, not fossil fuel companies. Growing costs of climate change are also borne directly by the public or by governments, which also means the public.

Fossil fuel prices can be made honest by collecting a rising carbon fee from fossil fuel companies at the domestic sources of oil, gas and coal, i.e., the domestic mines or ports of entry. If the money is distributed 100 percent to the public, an equal amount to each legal resident, it is revenue neutral. Thus it is not a tax and does not make the government bigger. 

A carbon fee makes fossil fuels more expensive, allowing clean energies and energy efficiency to compete. Almost two-thirds of the public, people doing better than average in limiting their fossil fuel use, would receive more in their monthly dividend, transferred electronically to their bank account or debit card, than they pay in increased prices. 

This carbon “fee & dividend” is progressive
. Wealthy people, who travel more and have larger houses, have a large carbon footprint. Given today’s income disparities, this modest change seems beneficial, giving the little guy something to build on, if he uses the dividend wisely. 

By the time the fee reaches $100 per ton of carbon dioxide, it will add $1 per gallon at the pump, but the annual dividend will be about $1500, thus $4500 for a family with two or more children (half shares for children). Incidentally, the fee & dividend will provide a big incentive for illegal immigrants to become legal or go home. 

Economic studies show that fee & dividend spurs the economy, creates millions of jobs, and increases gross domestic product. It modernizes our energy infrastructure, and our manufacturers will have products to sell worldwide. 

A rising carbon fee is the only practical way to phase down global emissions. If the U.S. and China agree to a carbon fee, it can become near global. Participating nations would place a border duty on products from non-participating nations and give fee rebates to domestic manufacturers exporting to the latter nations. 

Citizens Climate Lobby, which now has 265 chapters in the U.S., and I have proposed fee & dividend to numerous politicians. Liberals tend to say “let’s use the fee for social programs or invest it in solar panels.” Bad idea. Let the market choose among technologies and efficiency. Conservatives say “let’s use the fee to reduce taxes,” usually specific taxes rich people abhor. 

Tell both parties “thank you very much, but we have uses for our money.” 

[ed. note:  We sure do – for getting ourselves well out of being trapped using fossil fuels for everything we drive, purchase, even eat!]

(February, 2016)
—James E. Hansen, NASA (retired)


Describe your business in 300 words or less

Planning and Community Development

I have enjoyed two careers, one in Urban Planning and Community Development, which led to the second implementing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in large, medium and small business settings. I currently combine these endeavors as a Senior Planner with Harris County Community Services Department Office of Housing and Community Development in Houston, TX. I am currently preparing maps to guide our agency’s assessment of flood damage to homes resulting from rain event that was declared a federal disaster by the President last week.

GIS Consultant

I also consult my GIS expertise on my own time with local planning consultants. I am descended from a long line of teachers, so easily diagnosing and repairing the skill sets of an agency’s employees who are working daily with their GIS is something of a specialty. I strive to add value in my wake by teaching people to fish, rather than reserving the catch for myself. Examples of this work were creation of maps and data used during the development of Houston’s Light Rail system planning, and helping perform a similar project for the Houston Airport System to study the social and environmental constraints and determinants regarding airport expansion planning.

Environmental Planning Consultant

I have also helped organize a team to perform as an environmental consultant satisfying the statutory requirements of proposed project environmental review at the request of cities outside the county of my employment. This is generally performed under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations and is thus known as HUD Part 58 Environmental Review for proposed projects involving any level of federal funding or federal agency permit(s). An example of a project for which I helped perform and complete the environmental assessment recently was Lake Charles, Louisiana’s proposed National Hurricane Museum and Science Center.


Ice Melt Paper Completes Peer Review, Begins Publication March 22, 2016

Earmark some days for the history books. March 22, 2016 was one of those days.


I’m sorry that the news is bad. Improved modeling with a paradigm shift away from inherent ice inertia toward CO2 as primary climate control knob finds that huge amounts of ice now melting are likely to wreck the ocean conveyor belt that keeps climate within bounds, and reticently sooner than even the newest models are predicting. Dr. James E. Hansen et al. published their new scientific paper after completing the peer review process. Now everyone in the world can read it in beginning with the journal ACP. Other respected climate scientists, such as Michael E. Mann (of “hockey stick” fame, infamy to a few), express having a hard time accepting the radical paradigm shift this paper posits, but find they cannot disagree with the conclusions. Indeed if the newer models prove correct they have huge implications including storms strengthened up to 1.5 times over those we’ve experienced, and multi-meter rising seas (potentially 1.7 m already by 2060), things we’d not expected humanity would face quite so quickly. Climate science had always assumed a weakening, but never a near-stop, in surface formation of deep ocean water.


This presents still more immediate and adverse consequences for some disproportionately affected, including hundreds of millions of Chinese and Indians who stake their lives on glacier-generated water streams. Such is the reason I originally titled this blog “Houston Climate Justice.” Tremendous questions of equity and equality rush toward us very rapidly now. And something seemingly as simple as ever-rising seas enwraps myriad effects on all nature regarding stronger storms, higher winds, salt water intrusion, lifting aquifers, massive habitat-flooding-wetlands and drainage changes, migrating deserts and pathogens, rapidly oscillating food chains and displaced species that face weakening and extermination, All bets must be considered off approaching 2060, 2080, 2100. And we, which is to say, all of us alive, all who have being, are clearly faced with forcing assertive collective policy action to happen now, and from our perspective maintaining such action forever, if we plan to preserve a humanly supportive planet. We can still do this, but it’s becoming increasingly less certain and it’s certainly getting ever harder to pull off. Please, my friends, begin to run, not walk, toward pricing carbon pollution to drive virtuous market behavior! #CCL #climatechange #sealevelrise #emissionsreduction #carbonfeeandrebate #pricecarbon


Source: http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/16/3761/2016/ (final publication of peer-reviewed paper)

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2015/20150704_IceMelt.pdf (original paper pre-peer review)

http://csas.ei.columbia.edu/2016/03/22/abbreviation-of-ice-melt-paper/ (easier 19-page excerpt by Dr. Hansen), includes this short note: Planetary energy imbalance induced by meltwater cooling helps provide the energy required by ice heat of fusion.  Ice melt to raise sea level 1 m requires a 10-year Earth energy imbalance 0.9 W/m2 (Table S1, Hansen et al., 2005b). Ed. Note: I must point out that we are within 0.1 W/m2 of this amount of global energy imbalance already, and it is up to you to influence your policy makers to attempt to interrupt global momentum toward and beyond that figure.

About this paper:














Takeaway quote from last 3 paragraphs of the paper:


(Original paper:)


“Our finding of global cooling from ice melt calls into question whether global temperature is the most fundamental metric for global climate in the 21st century. The first order requirement to stabilize climate is to remove Earth’s energy imbalance, which is now about +0.6 W/m2, more energy coming in than going out. If other forcings are unchanged, removing this imbalance requires reducing atmospheric CO2 from ~400 ppm to ~350 ppm (Hansen et al., 2008, 2013a).

The message that the climate science delivers to policymakers, instead of defining a safe ‘guardrail’, is that fossil fuel CO2 emissions must be reduced as rapidly as practical. Hansen et al. (2013a) conclude that this implies a need for a rising carbon fee or tax, an approach that has the potential to be near-global, as opposed to national caps or goals for emission reductions. Although a carbon fee is the sine qua non for phasing out emissions, the urgency of slowing emissions also implies other needs including widespread technical cooperation in clean energy technologies (Hansen et al., 2013a).

The task of achieving a reduction of atmospheric CO2 is formidable, but not impossible. Rapid transition to abundant affordable carbon-free electricity is the core requirement, as that would also permit production of net-zero-carbon liquid fuels from electricity. The rate at which CO2 emissions must be reduced is about 6%/year to reach 350 ppm atmospheric CO2 by about 2100, under the assumption that improved agricultural and forestry practices could sequester 100 GtC (Hansen et al., 2013a). The amount of CO2 fossil fuel emissions taken up by the ocean, soil and biosphere has continued to increase (Fig. S23), thus providing hope that it may be possible to sequester more than 100 GtC. Improved understanding of the carbon cycle and non-CO2 forcings are needed, but it is clear that the essential requirement is to begin to phase down fossil fuel CO2 emissions rapidly. It is also clear that continued high emissions are likely to lock-in continued global energy imbalance, ocean warming, ice sheet disintegration, and large sea level rise, which young people and future generations would not be able to avoid. Given the inertia of the climate and energy systems, and the grave threat posed by continued high emissions, the matter is urgent and calls for emergency cooperation among nations.” (p. 43-44, Hansen et. al. “Icemelt” draft discussion paper. 2015.)


(Paper after peer review complete:)

“The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 1992) states the following:

The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

Dangerous’ is not further defined by the UNFCCC. Our present paper has several implications with regard to the concerns that the UNFCCC is meant to address.

First, our conclusions suggest that a target of limiting global warming to 2°C, which has sometimes been discussed, does not provide safety. We cannot be certain that multi-meter sea level rise will occur if we allow global warming of 2 C. However, we know the warming would remain present for many centuries, if we allow it to occur (Solomon et al., 2010), a period exceeding the ice sheet response time implied by paleoclimate data. Sea level reached 6–9 m in the Eemian, a time that we have concluded was probably no more than a few tenths of a degree warmer than today. We observe accelerating mass losses from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and we have identified amplifying feedbacks that will increase the rates of change. We also observe changes occurring in the North Atlantic and Southern oceans, changes that we can attribute to ongoing warming and ice melt, which imply that this human-driven climate change seems poised to affect these most powerful overturning ocean circulation systems, systems that we know have had huge effects on the planetary environment in the past. We conclude that, in the common meaning of the word danger, 2°C global warming is dangerous.

Second, our study suggests that global surface air temperature, although an important diagnostic, is a flawed metric of planetary ‘health’, because faster ice melt has a cooling effect for a substantial period. Earth’s energy imbalance is in some sense a more fundamental climate diagnostic. Stabilizing climate, to first order, requires restoring planetary energy balance. The UNFCCC never mentions temperature – instead it mentions stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations at a level to avoid danger. It has been shown that the dominant climate forcing, CO2, must be reduced to no more than 350 ppm to restore planetary energy balance (Hansen et al., 2008) and keep climate near the Holocene level, if other forcings remain unchanged. Rapid phasedown of fossil fuel emissions is the crucial need, because of the millennial timescale of this carbon in the climate system. Improved understanding of the carbon cycle is needed to determine the most effective complementary actions. It may be feasible to restore planetary energy balance via improved agricultural and forestry practices and other actions to draw down atmospheric CO2 amount, if fossil fuel emissions are rapidly phased out.

Third, not only do we see evidence of changes beginning to happen in the climate system, as discussed above, but we have also associated these changes with amplifying feedback processes. We understand that in a system that is out of equilibrium, a system in which the equilibrium is difficult to restore rapidly, a system in which major components such as the ocean and ice sheets have great inertia but are beginning to change, the existence of such amplifying feedbacks presents a situation of great concern. There is a possibility, a real danger, that we will hand young people and future generations a climate system that is practically out of their control.

We conclude that the message our climate science delivers to society, policymakers, and the public alike is this: we have a global emergency. Fossil fuel CO2 emissions should be reduced as rapidly as practical.” (


Lift every voice and sing

Lift every voice and sing,
till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the
dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
bitter the chastening rod,
felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
yet with a steady beat,
have not our weary feet
come to the place
for which our fathers died?

We have come over a way that with tears have been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
out from the gloomy past,
till now we stand at last
where the white gleam
of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
thou who hast by thy might led us into the light,
keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee;
lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee,
shadowed beneath thy hand,
may we forever stand,
true to our God,
true to our native land.


A solution for today and tomorrow

Lest our interest in the deep wisdom of the foggy past keep us from clearly seeing and addressing the greatest challenge of our present (and future), let me repeat this suggestion that is taking off in the U.S.: It’s going to take a solid price against fossil carbon to allow free markets begin to work for us rather than against us to tamp down global heating due to excess greenhouse effect. And putting all of that money straight back into the pockets of citizens will move us faster toward greenhouse gas mitigation and climate change adaptation than can any other means.

The numbers bear out; with just around 0.06% of the GDP redirected into a carbon fee and rebate to the people, overall GDP goes up forever while costs of climate change are minimized. When it comes to climate change, as you’ll find in the link to the US National Climate Assessment released last week, the difference between “minimized costs’ and ‘usual costs’ is already almost too big to begin to imagine.  The online presentation is highly recommended.  It’s not political or skewed to a special audience.  And it effectively communicates what the U.S. and the world is facing right now.

A solution.

I dream of the big energy companies seeing the light before everyone else does and stepping up to administer a climate emergency “fee and dividend” program on behalf of the world’s governments to begin charging and rebating a significant and rising fee on fossil carbon at first domestic point of sale in every nation – at the mine, wellhead or port of entry! I think this could be done painlessly enough for the consumer by raising the fee/dividend amount in concert with market-driven price increases…each penny for big oil would mean another penny for the consumers too. Gasoline would go up in price twice as fast as it does now, but half that increase would go right back into the wallet on a per-capita, perhaps monthly or some faster basis. Not a dime of these funds would be kept by the energy companies who volunteer to collect them. Not a dime would get mucked up at the halls of Congress or the IRS. The whole rising fee would go back to the people who need it…to buy newer, more efficient cars, houses and appliances, to cope with increasing allergies and diseases, to minimize their exposure to ever-increasing costs of fossil fuels and their unfunded social costs. This is a good idea.  It will work.  Let’s get to it!


So, is God not Dead? – And How God Exists

The unitary God of the Israelites after their Egyptian bondage, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of kings Solomon, Saul and David, so also of the Great Prophet M., and of J.C. of Nazareth, is not dead, not by a long shot.  This self-same God has held many in variable thralls of love, terror, reverence, repentance, covenant, dispensation, fealty, bravery, humility and submission ever since Emperor Constantine held those great meetings.  Like the one in Nicenaea that lent us the creed recited in so many Christian churches weekly.  The conclaves were held to settle the truly thorny issues like monotheism/polytheism among 4th Century (Common Era) Roman subjects just as the religion was being consolidated as the state’s.  Today, I can’t even remember the name of the losing party that held tenaciously to his by then I guess outmoded belief in one single solitary god.  He’s not famous anyway.  As it has in every successful political decision ever rendered, a great compromise was struck, to honor three-in-one.  That compromise held as the theologians worked out the kinks right through the dark ages, past the Reformation (and the rest of the Renaissance era in a Monty Python “wink-wink” sort of way), and down to us in the scientific era.

The modern era has been a bit rocky, careening from the old wild west camp revivals to the great blossoming of science (with both Victorian civility and civic reform movements) in the late 1800s, to a strong holiness reaction capped by the prohibition era of the early 20th Century, even as some enjoyed their roaring ’20s and uncensored ‘30s, to the Head of Jesus painting (1944) and civic McCarthyism in the ’50s to the “Is God Dead?” cover of Life (1966) during the ’60s cultural revolution into which I was born, and then the twin <liberal “Jesus is just alright with me”/conservative fundamentalist> reactions since. But there’s no doubt that This God will be with us for a Long Time to come, especially if future State Leaders continue to commingle predominant spiritual and civic religions.

I wrote way back in June 2008 of my own personal beliefs in “How God Exists” in the human psyche, and how I believe it got in there in the first place; though most people would agree it is not proper to foist those personal beliefs on anyone else in the world who may read this comment.  So I won’t link to it directly; you can ask me by private message or in the comments below if you think you’d like a link (for crying out loud, just google my name with “how god exists”…it’ll be there 3 or 4 entries down…and, I’m not sure why “Paul Suckow” the Villanueva business professor comes up ahead of me on this!)…  But I do like the advice of a dear stats prof of mine who sadly got sick and left for home in Nigeria:  “Each person should read widely!” Come up with a personal best solution that fits the data and its chain of truth, sits well with your own headdome and heartstrings and most allows you to be charitable in dealing with others.

Far be it from any of us to discount the deepest feelings held by another.  Especially where these feelings have been so deepened by sectarian bloodshed over the millennia (which sadly continues in Nigeria and elsewhere today).  Regardless of their cosmic veracity, all such beliefs matter a great deal.  From them, a religion of the future is being worked on right now on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.  I pray they may all continue to eek out a touch more good than evil in the world around us.  Same wish goes for the sciences by the way.

To keep the global picture, I’ve been following the http://www.adherents.com web page for years now, and although it appears fairly static (graph is from 2005), it’s a helpful and fascinating collection, especially if one perseveres to the written sections that continue to the bottom (http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html).  Christianity holds up top rank.  The web page does note how this is somewhat an apples-oranges measure because Christianity is a far broader umbrella for nominal adherence than is Islam, which ranks five slots higher in “unification” among the classical/functional list of big world religions.  Of course three religions, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism (hey, even I thrill to “Also Sprach Zararthustra” as picked for Kubric’s 2001 theme music, don’t you?), and the Baha’i faith all rank above Islam in “unity.”  But then again Buddhism and especially Hinduism beat out Christianity in “diversity” ranking on the opposite end of that spectrum.  Check out the many interesting pages of http://www.adherents.com, but especially “List of the Major World Religions ordered by size”.  There’s even a fun count of religious beliefs mentioned by works of science fiction! (at least there was once when I visited there).



Happy spiritual questing to you all as you fill the “God-shaped vacuum” of your Lymbic system, and cheers on still another week wherever you may live in this paradise!