The Houston Chronicle reports that well-known NASA climate scientist James Hansen is calling for all older coal-fired power plants that do not capture and store the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide to be bulldozed before the middle of the century. Hansen is also calling for a cessation of the building of coal-fired power plants. To put this in context, over 150 such plants are in the planning stage in the United States. Hansen is speaking today at the National Press Club.
Hansen believes that energy efficiency measures can make the sharp reduction in coal use that he calls for feasible. Since coal is used for about one half of all electricity generated in the United States these energy efficiency measure would have to be sweeping. Since climate scientists say that we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 to limit global warming to a level that would not be catastrophic Hansen’s proposal seems quite sensible. The alternative, of continuing to use coal to meet increasing energy demand in the United States, can only lead to disaster on scale that is difficult to contemplate.