by John Foran, originally published by Resilience.org | Dec 8, 2015
“AMY GOODMAN: What did you make of President Obama’s speech on Monday here at the U.N. Climate Summit?
JAMES HANSEN: Well, we have to decide, are these people stupid or are they just uninformed? Are they badly advised? I think that he really believes he’s doing something. You know, he wants to have a legacy, a legacy having done something in the climate problem. But what he is proposing is totally ineffectual. I mean, there are some small things that are talked about here, the fact that they may have a fund for investment and invest more in clean energies, but these are minor things. As long as fossil fuels are dirt cheap, people will keep burning them.
– Interview on Democracy Now!, December 4, 2015
Thus spoke climate scientist James Hansen after listening to the statements of the heads of state at the Paris COP 21 negotiations last week. He went on to say: “What I am hearing is that the heads of state are planning to clap each other on the back and say this is a very successful conference. If that is what happens, we are screwing the next generation, because we are doing the same as before…. we hear the same old thing as Kyoto [in 1997]. We are asking each country to cap emissions, or reduce emissions. In science when you do a well conducted experiment you expect to get the same result. So why are we talking about doing the same again? This is half-arsed and half-baked.”
We are now entering the second and final week of the talks, and there is considerable discussion in much of the world press about the growing possibility of a historic agreement. Ministers will settle down to resolve the many parts of the treaty text still in brackets, with diametrically opposed competing proposals still very much found across the still sizable forty-plus page document.
But like Hansen and many others here in Paris, I come not to praise the COP, but to bury it. That, certainly, was the verdict of the International Tribunal of the Rights of Nature, held over two days in a packed auditorium in Paris on December 4 and 5. And a careful look at how the case was made is the subject of this essay.”
John presents a compelling perspective of cases presented at the International Rights of Nature Tribunal –
The prosecutors, witnesses, and judges knew their subjects. They were all qualified experts, skilled in a variety of ways of approaching the climate crisis, which at bottom is a human, existential issue. It can only be confronted honestly and squarely by each of us rising to the occasion and taking responsibility in a time of planetary crisis.