[UPDATE: Zimmerman is issuing a retraction of sorts. I remain unimpressed, and do not agree that Roger bears no responsibility for what he prints in his columns on Prometheus. Especially given that Roger himself had already posted about Hansen’s article (accusing him of “megalomania” in the process) and therefore was well aware when he ran Zimmerman’s post that his claims were patently false.
LATER UPDATE: Roger has promptly and courteously responded, noting that the post is being pulled and Michael Zimmerman “will be rewriting it in light of comments from [me] and others”. I sincerely thank Roger and Michael for the way they are handling this.]
For Hansen, as for Heidegger, coal plants that produce power desperately needed by hundreds of millions of people are the same as-at least this is one way to parse Hansen’s phrases-the death trains that carried Jews and other undesirable “degenerate” races to their death at Auschwitz and other death factories. Burning coal can be equated with burning human beings. Why? Because coal plants shorten lives today, and may kill many more people in decades to come because of the climate change induced by burning coal.
Here is the Guardian article cited at Prometheus. Hansen explicitly states that coal as the “largest fossil fuel reservoir of carbon dioxide” threatens other species with extinction. Note the sentences immediately following the ones Pielke and Zimmerman have [in a manner George Will would appreciate] deliberately taken out of context:
The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death. When I testified against the proposed Kingsnorth power plant, I estimated that in its lifetime it would be responsible for the extermination of about 400 species – its proportionate contribution to the number that would be committed to extinction if carbon dioxide rose another 100 ppm.
[Note: Hansen's use of this metaphor as a description of the likely fate of some non-human species has been consistent. There is nothing new about this.]
Roger and his guest can’t attack Hansen’s actual position so they tilt at strawmen. The false claim is repeated later:
Hence, a dictator who ordered millions of people to be gassed and then burned in crematoria is not “essentially” different from a coal executive who orders that coal be extracted by the ton and burned in great power plants. Both are manufacturing death. For the coal executive, death will take the form of millions of humans and countless species destroyed by global warming.
This is a clear misrepresentation of Hansen’s actual statements. At no point in his article in the Guardian cited by Pielke and Zimmerman does Hansen claim that burning coal will be responsible for the deaths of human beings, let alone “millions” of them. Roger and his guest are putting words into Hansen’s mouth to distort his point beyond recognition.
As Roger has anointed himself the overseer of proper citations I trust that he will retract his posting of Zimmerman’s false statements and apologize for the gross misrepresentation of Hansen’s words.
The piece as a whole is based in a fantasy bordering on moronity. Zimmerman tries to frame Hansen’s statement about coal as indicative of an environmentalism rooted in anti-modernism, which falls laughably apart when one takes but a second to confirm that Hansen does not favor a moratorium on all fossil fuel use, favors new generation nuclear reactors, and generally has never said a thing to support Zimmerman’s absurd “thesis”.
Zimmerman’s hysteria is almost pitiable:
What could be the next step that Hansen recommends? Suspension of legal procedures and civil liberties, in order to bring about the dramatic social and political changes needed to restore the ecological balance that he envisions as necessary for planetary salvation?
Sound vaguely familiar? It should. This is not the first time Roger and Zimmerman have teamed up in equating vocal climate change action proponents with totalitarianism. Earlier Roger and Zimmerman posted a disgusting hit job on Bill McKibben (which Zimmerman himself later acknowledged was over the top):
McKibben does not go so far as to describe the violence to which his technocratic regime would have to go in order to win “consensus” and to enforce on the entire human population the new rules of the game. Come to think of it, this new kind of politics doesn’t look so new after all.
The idea that Roger Pielke Jr. is somehow an “honest broker” in peddling this rubbish is absurd. His protestations that he does not “attack” scientists while he calls them “boneheaded”, accuses them of stealing, falsely claims they have equated him with mass murderers, and as here compares them to Nazi sympathizers are as insulting as they are hollow.
I look forward to a correction at Prometheus, and I hope this will be the end of the Pielke-Zimmerman “action on climate change=totalitarian antimodernism” canards.