Posted by: JohnnyRook | June 23, 2008

Crimes Against Humanity: James Hansen Calls for Trials of Oil, Coal Chief Executives

Kudos to James Hansen for once again having the courage to say what others are afraid to even think.

From today’s UK Guardian:

James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

That’s right, Hansen, the self-proclaimed “moderate conservative” is calling on Congress to put oil and gas companies CEO on trial for the crime of knowingly lying to the public about the danger that Climaticide poses for billions of the world’s population and at least half her species of flora and fauna. In other words for attempting to block action on a global holocaust.

Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, will testify before Congress today on the 20th anniversary of his historic, groundbreaking testimony to Congress. Analysis of those remarks here. Full text of Hansen’s 1988 remarks here (PDF).

Over the last two decades Hansen has gone from being a reluctant public figure to a committed climate activist. While continuing to carry out his scientific research, he has become increasingly outspoken despite attempts by the Bush administration to muzzle him (and many of his colleagues.) See Mark Bowen’s book Censoring Science for the full story. Also check out this NPR interview with Hansen and Bowen.

Last Friday Hansen set down with Dot Earth’s Andy Revkin to discuss his historic testimony and the urgent need for action to stop Climaticide now.

So, will Hansen’s call for a Nuremberg for oil and coal CEO’s actually lead to trials? Not likely, not right away, given Congress’s inability to stop the Iraq War, protect the constitution, or hold telecoms accountable for their crimes, but it is a good thing to start talking about. Our current situation is dire and it is time to take off the kid gloves (the Climaticide denialists have had theirs off for decades now).

Let the CEO’s and their denialist minions bluster, threaten and whine. But let them sweat a little too because this is just the beginning. Once again, James Hansen is out in front, but others will soon follow. Allow me to be one of the first to express support:

Put the bastards on trial on national television. If they are found guilty, lock them up until hell freezes over, or better yet until we get back down to 350ppm, the ice stops melting, and billions of people ceased to be threatened by increased flooding, drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, and famine.

Unless we act as quickly and dramatically as Hansen suggests, Climaticide will impose cruel and unusual punishment on us and our descendants for many, many generations to come.

UPDATE: Here is a link to Dr. Hansen’s prepared remarks–Global Warming 20 Years Later: Tipping Points Near (PDF and PowerPoint) given today, June 23, 2008 to The National Press Club and The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

[Crossposted at Daily Kos]



  1. Strange no one has bothered to actually go back and look at the predictions Hansen made in his 1988 testimony?

    The last page of his prepared remarks had a historical time-series of global mean temperature through 1987, plus predictions for various scenarios through 2019.

    Well, we have 20 more years of data now – how do his predictions look so far? Wildly wrong.

    Check it out – all the data here:

  2. No, Hansen’s predictions look basically sound. Denialists never seem to understand that a few months or a single year”s worth of data is meaningless. What strong>do matter are the five-year moving averages. The GISS data which you link to from you own page, while showing some year-to-year fluctuation in the annual mean, show a consistent rise in the 5 year mean.

    If you misunderstood the recent nature article which supposedly supported global cooling see Joseph Romm’s analysis here:

    Moreover, we’ve learned a few things in the last 20 years about how the oceans heat up and how that process has sheltered us from feeling the full effects of increasing greenhouse gases. However, there is a limit to how much heat the oceans can absorb. Once that limit is reached all the heating in the pipeline will become apparent.

    For more see here:

    and here:

    Add in the fact that we’ve been in La Niña mode for a couple of years now, and it’s not hard to understand what’s going on.

    Even if Hansen’s predictions were completely wrong, which they are not, why do you ignore the rest of the paper which has proven to be very prescient? And, for that matter, what about all the other evidence?: the rapid rise in CO2, the increase in extreme weather intensity, the melting away of arctic sea ice which you don’t mention.

    It’s hard to take your position seriously when you cherry pick the data in order to find something to quibble about, while ignoring all the other information and how if fits together.

  3. Humans – as a species – have not yet decided whether to survive. There is no multigenerational vision or plan.

    See the case of Kivalina v Exxon for possible legal action against carbon fuel companies.

    It is not so much a crime against humanity — as it is that humanity has abdicated its future.


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