NASA’s James Hansen has apologized for his coal train/death train analogy (discussed here), in a post titled “Averting Our Eyes.” While I didn’t think the National Mining Association deserved an apology, Hansen came to see that others were legitimately offended:
I regret that my words caused pain to some readers. I hope that they will accept my apology for having caused discomfort, an apology that is heartfelt.
At the same time, Hansen is — like all of us — searching for the words, the metaphors, the pictures, really, anything that can help the public grasp the genuine scale of the dangers we face:
Burning all fossil fuels, if the CO2 is released into the air, would destroy creation, the planet with its animal and plant life as it has existed for the past several thousand years, the time of civilization, the Holocene, the period of relative climate stability…. We cannot pretend that we do not know the consequences of burning all fossil fuels.
I think that we still have a long way to go in making the danger clear, in part because of the inertia of the climate system and the danger of passing tipping points — points at which little or no additional forcing is needed to cause large, relatively rapid, undesirable effects….
We cannot avert our eyes and pretend that we do not understand the consequences of continued “business as usual.”
… the special interests have been cleverer than us, preventing the public from seeing the crisis that should be in view. It is hard for me to think of a different equally poignant example of the foreseeable consequence faced by fellow creatures on the planet. Suggestions are welcome.
Hansen does have more to say in his apology: